(NEW YORK DAILY NEWS) Scientists in Alaska are worried that a massive volcano on a remote island about a thousand miles southwest of Anchorage is primed to erupt and spew a giant ash plume that could paralyze intercontinental travel.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory on Tuesday bumped the alert status for the Cleveland Volcano from yellow to orange — one step below the highest alert level.
"Renewed eruptive activity of Cleveland Volcano has been observed in satellite data," the observatory said, noting that a new 130-foot lava dome — a visible bulge of gathering lava — had formed in the mountaintop's crater.
The group said there have been "no observations" of explosive activity, but cautioned it "remains possible for intermittent, sudden explosions of blocks and ash to occur at any time, and ash clouds exceeding 20,000 feet above sea level."
Cleveland Volcano, also known as Mount Cleveland, is a 5,675-foot peak located on the Aleutian Islands, the chain of more than 300 volcanic islands extending from mainland Alaska that mark the barrier between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea.
About 90% of air freight from Asia to North America and Europe flies over Alaska, along with some 20,000 commercial travelers a day, according to a news report.
Experts say a significant eruption could lead to a shutdown of the airspace, sparking the worst travel nightmare since a giant ash curtain from an Iceland volcano grounded millions of global travelers in April 2010.
For more on this story, CLICK HERE.