Despite heavy cloud cover, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite was able to confirm new eruptive activity at Alaska’s Pavlof Volcano in early June, 2014.
This true-color image was captured at 22:55 UTC (6:55 p.m. EDT) on June 1, 2014. Near the center of the image, red outlines a “hotspot” – an area where the thermal bands on the MODIS instrument detected temperatures higher than background. This hotspot lies at the caldera of the Pavlof Volcano, the most active volcano in the Aleutian Chain. According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), the elevation of surface temperature is consistent with lava flow at the surface of the volcano.
The last active phase of Pavlof ended in July of 2013. After almost a year of quiet, the volcano rumbled back to life on May 31, 2014 when a weak incandescent glowing was observed at the summit, seismic activity was detected, and small explosive signals were detected by an infrasound sensor. Although ash was not initially reported, by June 2 pilots were reporting ash plumes rising up to 12,000 feet and lava flow was confirmed down the north flank of the volcano. Low-level ash clouds were reported in association with the hot lava flow as it interacts with glacial ice.
The AVO raised the Aviation Color Code and Volcano Alert Level to Red on the afternoon of June 2 due to increasing tremors and observation of ash plumes above 20,000 feet. The eruptive activity began to decline on June 3, and the Aviation Color Code and Volcano Alert Level returned to a lower Orange level. By June 8, the volcano continued in active eruption, although activity seemed to be diminishing. There have not been reports of ash falling on nearby towns to this point. The nearest community is called Cold Bay, and is located about 60 km (27 mi) southwest of Pavlof.