At Alaska’s Aleutian island chain, three volcanoes are erupting at the same time, with at least two spewing low levels of ash and steam. The Great Sitkin volcano, Mount Pavlof, and the Semisopochnoi volcano are all at an orange volcano alert level as of Sunday 15 August, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.
It’s been at least seven years since three Aleutian volcanoes erupted simultaneously. This increased volcanic activity, at this point, is not causing any disruptions, but it is an interesting situation; since volcanoes can be unpredictable, scientists are keeping a careful watch.
Only minute amounts of ash have been detected at Mount Pavlof and Semisopochnoi, and none from Great Sitkin. However, lava is flowing from Great Sitkin, and large seismic tremors and several explosions have been detected at Semisopochnoi.
Pavlof is located almost 600 miles away from Anchorage. Its nearest city is Cold Bay, a small community that is home to fewer than 120 residents. Great Sitkin lies roughly 25 miles northeast of the city of Adak. Semisopochnoi Volcano, meanwhile, is on an uninhabited island that forms the easternmost land location in the United States.
Simultaneous volcanic activity in the Aleutians is uncommon, it’s not unheard of. The Aleutian Arc is a chain of volcanoes spread along the subduction boundary between two tectonic plates, the Pacific Plate pushing beneath the North American Plate. The chain stretches from the Alaskan Peninsula to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. The volcanic islands that make up the so-called Aleutian Arc are part of a horseshoe-shaped zone that can be traced along the rim of the Pacific Ocean where many of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
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