Monday, 6 May 2013

Volcanic activity - Alaska / Australia

 A remote Alaskan volcano rumbled to life last Saturday with three explosions; it started emitting a continuous plume of ash, steam and gas in an area important to air traffic. The low-level explosions at Cleveland Volcano, which lies below a major air-traffic route between North America and Asia, were not severe enough to cause a significant threat to planes. But the incident did prompt federal aviation authorities to divert some traffic north of the volcano as a precaution.

Australia's only active volcano is rumbling fiercely, with new NASA photos revealing its lava lake has overflowed its crater. The volcano in question, Big Ben, is located on Mawson Peak in the remote southern reaches of the Indian Ocean on Heard Island, an Australian territory. People only bother to visit Heard and its neighbour McDonald Island every couple of years, because there's little there but chilly wastelands and the territory is a nature reserve people are not allowed to visit without a permit. Even fisherfolk chasing the apparently tasty patagonian toothfish, aka Chilean Sea Bass, don't often bother landing. No permanent human presence exists on the islands, beyond an automated weather station.
NASA keeps an eye on the islands, though, because of the volcano on Heard Island's Big Ben. Last October an eruption seemed imminent. NASA has now released the image above showing that the volcano's caldera appears to have filled with so much lava that some has since cascaded down Mawson Peak's flanks.

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