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17 January 2006
Volcano activity near Anchorage

Augustine volcano, view from northDave from Bird TLC reports that the Augstine Volcano, on Augustine Island in the Cook Inlet about 280 km southwest of Anchorage [map], has been spewing ash and smoke and a little lava for the past few days. Apparently, these eight "explosive events" have been enough to throw ash 52,000 feet into the air resulting in cancelled airline flights into Anchorage and "a buying frenzy of dust mask, tarps, visqueen and vehicle air filters."

The Anchorage Daily News initially reported expectations of a major eruption, then in the last few days predictions have been downgraded to 'not likely' because time between eruption events had lengthened. At 8:00 AKST this morning however, the assessment is much more serious:

Seismicity at Augustine Volcano has increased markedly in the last hour. Based on these measurements, we believe that an explosive eruption has become more likely and could occur without further warning.

Augustine volcano, 1/16/2006This morning's seismic data shows perhaps why the geologists are concerned. Scroll to the bottom of the recording and you'll notice a dramatic increase in intensity of signals. They've now upgraded the volcano status to RED indicating that a serious eruption is occurring or explosive eruption is expected at any time.

It appears that the recent bout of Augstine activity started just before Christmas, but became more intense Thursday and Friday of last week. Augustine last erupted seriously in 1986. The Alaska Volcano Observatory has details and a live webcam. Television news channel KTUU has a fly-by video of some steam and ash spewage.

We'll keep our fingers crossed Dave...

UPDATE: Another eruption at 7:58 AKST this morning similar in energy to last week's - It lasted 5 minutes. National Weather Service issued an ash fall advisory for the Kenai Penninsula. I won't be complaining about our cloudy weather here in Michigan anymore...

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