Pavlof Volcano is a stratovolcano in the Aleutian Range on the Alaska Peninsula. It has been one of the most active volcanoes in North America, and in the past 100 years, Pavlof has erupted at least 24 times and may have erupted on several other occasions. The remote location and weather with limited visibility, combined with few local inhabitants, may have allowed some historical eruptions to occur unnoticed.
This volcano is being monitored by scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory because, although there is very little human activity on the land immediately surrounding Pavlof, the sky above is heavily traveled by aircraft. Each day dozens of flights loaded with passengers and freight fly above the volcano. Volcanic eruptions can emit large amounts of volcanic ash high into the atmosphere resulting in air traffic safety concerns and significant financial losses when flights must be rerouted.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory is a joint program of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the State of Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys. The observatory was formed in 1988 to monitor and study Alaska’s volcanology, hazardous volcanoes, to predict and record eruptive activity, and to mitigate volcanic hazards to life and property. The observatory now monitors more than 20 volcanoes in the Cook Inlet and Aleutian Arc region due to the hazard of ash plumes for aviation. Read more here and here. Explore more of Pavlof Bay and the Alaska Peninsula here: