Volcano erupts in the Aleutian Islands

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A file photograph of the summit of Okmok Caldera
Image: J. Reeder - USGS.

A volcano named the Okmok Caldera in Alaska's Aleutian Islands archipelago erupted Saturday morning, spraying rock and ash across the immediate region. This occurred only hours after Alaska Volcano Center's seismologists began detecting tremors in the area. Geophysicist Steve McNutt said that ash would be a hazard over a wide area: "You wouldn't want to be within 10 miles of this place, depending again which way the wind is going".

Although the area is very remote with few human inhabitants, nine people from Fort Glenn - a private cattle ranch - had to be evacuated. A rescue helicopter was dispatched from the Coast Guard cutter Mellon, but was forced back after taking damage from the volcanic ash. The endangered people were later rescued by the fishing boat Tara Gaila, which had responded to the Coast Guard request for evacuation assistance.