Short-lived explosion at Cleveland volcano, ash to 5.2 km (17 000 feet), Alaska

cleveland-volcano-eruption-december-29-2018

A short-lived explosion was detected at Cleveland volcano early December 29, 2018. Ash cloud was reported rising up to 5.2 km (17 000 feet) above sea level. The Aviation Color Code remains Orange since December 12.

Local seismic sensors recorded a short-lived explosion at 03:17 UTC on December 29, 2018 (18:17 AKST, December 28), the Alaska Volcano Observatory reports. A pilot report indicates an ash cloud to 5.2 km (17 000 feet) a.s.l. Local winds are from the west. 

Explosions from Cleveland typically produce relatively small volcanic ash clouds that dissipate within hours; however, more significant ash emissions are possible, AVO volcanologists said.

A small explosion at Cleveland was also recorded by the seismic network December 8. A second small explosion with a higher peak amplitude was detected at on December 12, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level to Watch. No ash cloud was observed, though weather clouds obscured views of the volcano. Elevated surface temperatures were visible in satellite data on December 15.

Another small explosion occurred on December 16, generating a minor ash cloud that drifted NE.

Cleveland volcano is monitored with a limited real-time seismic network, which inhibits AVO's ability to detect precursory unrest that may lead to an explosive eruption. Rapid detection of an ash-producing eruption may be possible using a combination of seismic, infrasound, lightning, and satellite data.

Worldview-3 satellite image of the summit crater of Cleveland Volcano collected on July 10, 2018. The 80-meter (262 feet) diameter circular lava flow that was extruded in late June 2018 can be seen as well as minor steam emissions. Credit: Dave Schneider, AVO/USGS

Approaching the east side of Mount Cleveland on July 26, 2016. Credit: John Lyons, AVO/USGS

Geological summary

Beautifully symmetrical Mount Cleveland stratovolcano is situated at the western end of the uninhabited, dumbbell-shaped Chuginadak Island. It lies SE across Carlisle Pass strait from Carlisle volcano and NE across Chuginadak Pass strait from Herbert volcano.

Cleveland is joined to the rest of Chuginadak Island by a low isthmus. The 1730-m-high (5 675 feet) Mount Cleveland is the highest of the Islands of the Four Mountains group and is one of the most active of the Aleutian Islands. The native name for Mount Cleveland, Chuginadak, refers to the Aleut goddess of fire, who was thought to reside on the volcano.

Numerous large lava flows descend the steep-sided flanks. It is possible that some 18th-to-19thcentury eruptions attributed to Carlisle should be ascribed to Cleveland (Miller et al., 1998).

In 1944 Cleveland produced the only known fatality from an Aleutian eruption. Recent eruptions have been characterized by short-lived explosive ash emissions, at times accompanied by lava fountaining and lava flows down the flanks. (GVP)

Featured image: Worldview-3 satellite image of the summit crater of Cleveland Volcano collected on July 10, 2018. The 80-meter (262 feet) diameter circular lava flow that was extruded in late June 2018 can be seen as well as minor steam emissions. Credit: Dave Schneider, AVO/USGS

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