ANCHORAGE-One of the most active volcanoes in the Aleutian arc could be working toward a massive, explosive eruption that could affect air travel, scientists said Thursday. Satellite images of Pavlof Volcano taken Thursday showed strong thermal readings, consistent with what the Alaska Volcano Observatory is calling a "vigorous eruption of lava" at the volcano about 590 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula. The volcano lies directly in the path of hundreds of daily international flight paths, and an explosive eruption could severely interrupt those operations. Seismic activity is high at the volcano, with about one tremor recorded every minute. Mudslides � called lahars � caused when lava melts snow on the peak, have triggered some seismic activity as well. The mudslides took place on the southeast side of the volcano, an area inhabited by few, if any, people. Pavlof is about nine miles from Pavlof Bay, a popular fishing ground, but at the moment it isn't posing an immediate threat. Hazards the volcano could present include light ash fall on nearby communities, mud flows, lava flows and hot debris avalanching on the volcano's flanks. Several small towns are in the area, including King Cove, about 35 miles to the southwest, with a population of roughly 800, and Cold Bay, nearly 40 miles southwest, with a population of about 90. The ash plume was visible from King Cove, but none was falling on it yet. "What we think we're in for is several months of low-level eruptions punctuated by a few large and explosive events." A string of eruptions took place during the 1970s and 1980s, but the last one took place in 1996, making this 11-year period the longest it has gone without an event. A series of ash explosions and lava eruptions took place for several months after the last eruption. During past eruptions, sporadic lava flow has gurgled out for several months. Photo Above: A quiet Pavlof Volcano is pictured in the photo above as the large cone to the right of center.
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