A volcano in Alaska that has laid dormant for over a century may be about to erupt.
Tanaga, a 5,924-foot stratovolcano located in a remote area of the Aleutian Range, has been swarming with earthquakes over the past two days.
Earthquakes are rumbling the area several times per minute. With each new earthquake the likelihood of an eruption looks even more likely, the Alaska Volcano Observatory reported. Scientists have raised the alert level on the volcano to “Orange,” which means it is under watch.
The Tanaga volcano, in November 2012. The volcano has not erupted in over a century.
There is also increased activity at Takawangha volcano, which is on the same island as Tanaga, about 5 miles east. Scientists are not yet sure whether an eruption would come from Tanaga or Takawangha, if one were to happen.
The largest earthquake over the past 24 hours was a magnitude 3.9 rumble.
David Fee, member of the Alaska Volcano Observatory and research professor at the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, told Newsweek: “The activity is definitely above background. The seismicity is elevated and we are seeing numerous earthquakes near Tanaga and Takawangha volcanoes. It does not mean that an eruption is imminent or will occur, but we are watching the volcanoes closely for other signs of volcanic activity or an eruption.
The Tanaga volcano has been dormant since 1914.
Luckily, the island is uninhabited meaning, an eruption would not have an immediate impact on people. However the nearest community of Adak, which is 62 miles to the east, could see ashfall.
“The primary hazard from an eruption would be from volcanic ashfall and drifting ash clouds, which could disrupt air and marine travel,” Fee said.
Eruptions at Tanaga remain somewhat of a mystery. As it has not erupted for over a hundred years, scientists do not have great detail on what happened.
“There are multiple volcanoes in this area of elevated seismicity,” Fee said. “Relatively little is known about past eruptions at Tanaga, but we believe they generally consisted of blocky lava flows and occasional ash clouds.”
The volcano also erupted between 1763 to 1770, as well as in 1791 and 1829. While there is no great detail about these eruptions, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports that they occurred both from the summit vent and a satellite vent on the volcano’s northeast flank
Takawangha has erupted ash and lava flows from craters at its summit, in the last few thousand years, the USGS reported. The volcano could produce avalanches if it erupted again, due to its edifice being unstable.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory is continuing to monitor the situation very closely.
Do you have a tip on a science story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about volcanoes? Let us know via [email protected]
Source : Newsweek