The Alaska Volcano Observatory has issued an eruption advisory for the 5,676 foot-tall (1,730 meter) Cleveland Volcano, and experts are preparing for the volcano’s first big eruption in 10 years.
Cleveland Volcano is situated on the uninhabited island of Chuginadak in the Aleutian chain, which is roughly 940 miles (1,500km) southwest of Anchorage.
The advisory has been issued after abnormal thermal readings were detected through satellite images last week.
Data readings have indicated that the volcano may erupt at any moment. If an eruption did occur ash clouds as high as 20,000 feet (3.7 miles) above sea level would be expected, which could severely disrupt air traffic.
Airlines operating through the region are aware that an eruption could happen suddenly and without further warning, and are preparing for potential travel chaos.
Cleveland Volcano is one among many that lie in the Aleutian chain, and is located directly below commercial airline flight path between Asia and North America.
John Power, scientist-in-charge at the Alaska Volcano Observatory has reported, “Cleveland is a particular bugaboo for us because it is right on the air route.”
The last eruption of Cleveland occurred in 2001 when ash exploded more than 5 miles into the atmosphere. Since then a number of smaller eruptions have occurred.
Cleveland Volcano is the most active among Alaska’s 90-odd volcanoes, however, no seismic equipment is set up in its vicinity due to its remoteness, officials have said.