Cleveland Volcano: Will Ash Plume Disrupt Summer Air Travel? [REPORT]

By Staff Reporter on May 7, 2013 10:57 AM EDT

Cleveland Volcano
An ash plume over the Cleveland Volcano threatens the Alaskan flight corridor. An eruption at Cleveland Volcano is captured from above. (Photo: Creative Commons)

The Cleveland Volcano of Alaska erupted three times Saturday morning with a violent release of gases and ash into the air. According to eTravel Blackboard, the ash cloud over Alaska is now 15,000 feet above sea level and rising at a rate that may threaten the integrity of a major flight corridor leaving from Anchorage, Alaska. In 2001, a Cleveland Volcano eruption produced an ash cloud that reached 39,000 feet.

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According to International Business Times, 90 percent of air travel from Asia to Europe or North America fly along the Alaskan flight corridor. As commercial aircrafts fly as high as 35,000 feet above sea level, the plume over the Cleveland Volcano has not yet become a threat to air safety.

"Cleveland Volcano falls along an oceanic route, and the aircraft fly very high," a Federal Aviation Administration representative told International Business Times. "You are only going to divert if you've got an ash cloud in your direct route of traffic."

While some small planes opted to re-route farther north to fly around the eruption, Reuters reported that no flight cancellations have been necessary.

The Cleveland Volcano is located at the western region in the small island of Chuginadak, 940 miles southwest of Anchorage. Chuginadak Island is in the east central section of a strip known as the Aleutian Islands. The Aleutian Islands include 14 large volcanic bodies of land. In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey data indicates that there are more than 100 volcanoes across the state of Alaska. As many as 40 volcanoes remain active.

If its ash plume continues to rise, the Cleveland Volcano will not be the first volcano to disrupt air travel. In 2010, the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull caused major flight cancellations that left passengers stranded at European airports for days. An ash plume 30,000 feet high and thousands of square miles wide, the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano caused at least 20 European countries to close or partially close its airspace.

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