Three Volcanoes Erupting Simultaneously on Island Chain in Alaska

by Anna Dunn

In a rare event, three volcanoes just erupted simultaneously on an Island Chain in Alaska. Thankfully, according to The Alaska Volcano Observatory, they aren’t posing a threat to any local communities or air travel in the region.

Many may assume that volcano eruptions are quick events, but that’s not always the case. For instance, according to NBC, these three volcanoes have been erupting for over a week. The vast and very remote island chain serves as a border between the Bering Sea and the North Pacific.

The eruptions are occurring on Alaska’s 800 mile Aleutian island chain. At least two of the volcanoes are spewing ash and steam. All three of the volcanoes, Pavlof Volcano, Great Sitkin, and Semisopochnoi Volcano, are under threat level orange, meaning an eruption is currently ongoing with minor ash emissions.

Matthew Loewen, an expert with the Alaska Volcano Observatory, spoke to NBC about the eruptions.

“Alaska has a lot of volcanoes, and we typically see maybe one eruption every year, on average. To have three erupting at once is less common, but it does happen,” he said.

Because of the fact that all of the Volcanoes are quite remote, the biggest threat these eruptions pose is to air travel. With many being some of the easternmost locations in the US, there is a lot of air travel in the region between Asia and the United States. Ash can be terrible for airplanes.

“The Aleutian Arc sits between North America and Asia, so we have a lot of air travel going over and ash is very dangerous for airplanes,” Loewen told NBC. “We’re always paying attention to ash with our volcanoes in Alaska.”

But while they’re closely monitoring the situation, this is also an exciting time for the scientists. The last time three simultaneous eruptions in the region was seven years ago, so there’s plenty to do.

The Three Volcanoes Are in an Incredibly Remote Location Nicknamed ‘The Pacific Ring of Fire’

Pavlof Volcano is around 600 miles away from Alaska’s biggest city, Anchorage. The closest town to Pavlof is Cold Bay, which hosts around 120 residents. Great Sitkin, however, is a bit more in the middle of the Island Chain. Its closest town, Adak, is only 25 miles away. Adak has a population of around 200 residents.

Semisopochnoi is the farthest out of the three, nearing Russia. It’s near the easternmost point of the United States.

All three of these volcanoes are a part of a zone in the pacific where a ton of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. The zone, which is horse-shoe shaped, is referred to by many scientists as the “Pacific Ring of Fire.” The islands are located on top of several tectonic plates that continuously mash together.

Luckily, it looks like these eruptions will cause very little damage.