Aleutian volcano dumps ash on Nikolski

Posted: Tuesday, February 20, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The eruption of the Mount Cleveland volcano early Monday sprinkled ash on the village of Nikolski and sent an ash plume to 35,000 feet.

Mount Cleveland, a 5,675-foot mountain on the western half of Chuginadak Island, erupted explosively about 6 a.m. and continued to spout ash with an occasional eruptive pulse until about midafternoon when it began to quiet down, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

''There's no imminent danger to property and people, because no one lives on the island that we know about,'' said seismologist Seth Moran.

The ash plume was seen easily by villagers in Nikolski, which is 45 miles east of the volcano.

''You can see it. It's kind of a grayish-pink color off in the distance,'' said schoolteacher Deanna Cole.

A thin layer of ash had been deposited about noon, seen on four-wheelers, the tops of fuel drums and the roof of the church, said resident Scott Kerr.

''It's like snow, kind of a white dusting,'' Kerr said.

The school's handful of students got excited knowing a volcano nearby was erupting.

''We've had students do reports on volcanoes, and we have ash under the microscope as we speak,'' Cole said. The village clinic provided masks for the children to wear on the way home and advised them not to play outdoors, she said.

By late afternoon, the ashfall had stopped and the ash cloud was moving east

The cloud spread to more than 100 miles long as it headed east but had no immediate affect on air travel, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Until more is known about the current ash plume, it has to be considered a hazard to aviation, Moran said. Air carriers have been calling the observatory, and some commercial pilots are varying their routes, he said.

Since 1893, Cleveland has erupted at least 11 times, most recently in May 1994.

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