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Pavlof-ian response

May 28, 2013

Alaskan volcano Pavlof located down the Aleutian chain is threatening to disrupt air traffic. Another volcano Mount Cleveland poses a similar threat.

Pavlof is located close to the end of the Alaska Peninsula and is one of the most active volcanoes in the region, erupting more than 40 times since the late 1700s. Cleveland is located on Chuginadak Island, in the Aleutian chain, about 640 kilometres farther West, and has had 19 eruptions since 1980. Neither volcano is close enough to any settlements to pose a threat, but local flights near Pavlof have been grounded four or five times because of concerns about ash clouds, which can damage aircraft engines.

About 20,000 to 30,000 people fly daily between North America and Asia over routes that pass close to the Aleutian Islands. Most international flights are above 30,000 feet. When an Icelandic volcano erupted in the spring of 2010 it sent ash plumes high enough to disrupt flights across Europe for several days.

The Ted Stevens International airport in Anchorage is a major northern transportation hub. It’s the halfway point for numerous NY and Chicago to Japan/Korea flights:


Pavlof probably won’t be disruptive to air-traffic. But volcanoes can erupt whenever, sending ash into the air and disrupting the man-made birds in the sky. The Ted Stevens airport would bear the brunt of any significant traffic disruption.