Alaska Volcano alert: Scientists increase watch level to ORANGE as eruptions ‘could occur’

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The Alaska Volcano Observatory has raised the colour code to ORANGE and the alert level to WATCH for the state’s Semisopochnoi volcano. In the latest report, the observatory warns “new explosions could occur at any time with no warning”.  

The volcanic activity summary states: “High-resolution satellite imagery on February 7 shows a second small ash deposit extending at least 3 km to the northeast from North Cerberus Crater on Semisopochnoi Island, similar to the first observed on February 6.

“Clouds obscured views into the crater and the southern side of the volcano. Any ash clouds associated with these deposits have not been observed and are likely low-level (<10,000 ft) and short-duration.

“Because of evidence for continued low-level ash emissions, the Alaska Volcano Observatory is increasing the Aviation Color Code to ORANGE and the Volcano Alert Level to WATCH.

“Small eruptions producing minor ash deposits within the vicinity of the volcano are typical of activity during unrest at Semisopochnoi since September 2018.

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“Local seismic stations have been offline since November 11, 2020. New explosions could occur at anytime with no warning.”

An ORANGE aviation colour code means the volcano is “exhibiting signs of elevated unrest”, according to the AVO’s definition.

A volcano with this aviation colour code shows “increased potential of eruption” an uncertain timeframe or “eruption is underway with no or minor volcanic-ash emissions”. 

If a volcano is raised to aviation colour code RED, it suggests “eruption is imminent with significant emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere likely”, or that an eruption is already underway or suspected with “significant emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere”. 

Over the last few days, the situation at the Semisopochnoi volcano has been developing.

Before being raised to aviation colour code ORANGE in the last 24 hours, the Semisopochnoi volcano was previously raised to code YELLOW.

On February 7, the Alaska Volcano Observatory tweeted: “Satellite images from Worldview-3 showing thin ash deposits to the north of Cerberus crater, at #Semisopochnoi. The Aviation Color Code/Volcano Alert Level at Semi is now YELLOW/ADVISORY.”

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