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August 8, 2008
Jennifer Adleman 907-786-7497 jadleman@usgs.gov
Clarice Nassif Ransom 703-648-4299 cransom@usgs.gov

Third Aleutian Volcano Erupts Explosively

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Kasatochi Volcano in Alaska's Aleutian Islands erupted explosively Aug. 7, sending an ash plume more than 35,000 feet into the air and forcing two biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to evacuate the island.

"Kasatochi went from a quiet volcano to an explosive eruption within 24 hours and with very little warning," said USGS volcano scientist Marianne Guffanti. "We are thankful our colleagues were able to get out before the eruption began. They were rescued just in time by a local fishing boat." 

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Kasatochi is the third volcano to erupt in the Aleutian Islands in three weeks. Okmok Volcano erupted unexpectedly and explosively on July 12, followed by Cleveland Volcano, 100 miles away, on July 21. Both volcanoes sent ash plumes skyrocketing and caused commercial airline flights to be diverted or cancelled.

 Scientists relied on seismic instruments on other volcano networks in the area to detect activity at Kasatochi volcano. 

"Fortunately, the existing seismic networks on nearby volcanoes picked up the activity at Kasatochi volcano," said Tom Murray, scientist-in-charge of the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO). "They were installed with funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to reduce the hazard to aviation from volcanic ash. These networks were crucial in recognizing that this volcano had entered the first stage of a major eruption."

"Our hope is to have monitoring equipment on all volcanoes that pose the greatest threats to public safety," said Guffanti. "Satellite imagery is useful to see the big picture of what is happening and what is going into the atmosphere. But direct instrumentation, such as placing seismic monitors around a volcano, will help give an early warning and give people more time to plan for hazardous events." 

Scientists are working around the clock to monitor the volcanoes and keep the public and emergency responders informed. 

Listen to a podcast interview with Guffanti at http://www.usgs.gov/corecast/details.asp?ID=91. You can learn about the USGS Volcano Hazards Program at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov.

The AVO is a partnership of the USGS, University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys. Information about all of the current volcanic eruptions in Alaska including activity statements, images, background materials and related hazards can be found at the AVO home page: http://www.avo.alaska.edu.


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