Volcano May Delay Air Flights


Officials are monitoring a remote Alaska volcano that could launch an ash cloud, potentially threatening intercontinental flights. The volcano, also known as Mount Cleveland, is on the Aleutian Islands, southwest of mainland Alaska. According to University of Alaska Fairbanks Scientist Steve McNutt, the volcanic activity could heighten and affect air travel. McNutt said 90% of air freight from Asia to Europe and North America flies over Alaska air space, and hundreds of flights -- including more than 20,000 passengers -- fly through Anchorage's air space daily. The volcano's most recent significant eruption took place in 2001. It produced three explosions that led to ash clouds as high as 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) above sea level, according to the volcano observatory. Last year, volcanic ash spewing from Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights across Europe. The Grimsvotn eruption came about 13 months after Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano belched smoke and ash into the skies, forcing the cancellation of thousands of flights per day at the peak of the problem.