Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | August 11, 2008

Lawyer Sanders says volcanic activity is ramping up in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

Kasatochi Volcano in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands erupted explosively Aug. 7, sending an ash plume more than 35,000 feet into the air and forcing two biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to evacuate the island.   This is the third volcano in the Aleutian Islands to erupt in the last month. 

The Aleutians are a chain of small islands that separate the Bering Sea (north) from the main portion of the Pacific Ocean (south) and extend in an arc southwest, then northwest, for about 1,100 miles (1,800 km) from the tip of the Alaska Peninsula to Attu Island, Alaska, U.S. The archipelago consists of 14 large islands, some 55 smaller islands, and innumerable islets, all of which occupy a land area of 6,821 square miles (17,666 square km) and are part of the U.S. state of Alaska. The major island groups from east to west are the Fox Islands, the Islands of the Four Mountains, and the Andreanof, Rat, and Near islands. The Komandor Islands near the Kamchatka Peninsula (Russia) are geographically part of the Aleutians.

The Aleutian Islands form a segment of the Circum-Pacific chain of volcanoes (often called the Ring of Fire) and represent a partially submerged continuation of Alaska’s Aleutian Range.  Most of the islands bear marks of volcanic origin; some volcanoes remain active. The shores are rocky and worn by the surf, and the approaches are dangerous; the land rises abruptly from the coasts to steep, bold mountains. The main navigational lanes through the chain are the Unimak, Umnak, Amukta, and Seguam passes.

Characterized by fairly uniform temperatures, high winds, heavy rainfall, and persistent fog, the Aleutians are practically devoid of trees but are covered with a luxuriant growth of grasses, sedges, and many flowering plants. The Aleutian Islands unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge covers 4,250 square miles (11,000 square km) and extends between Unimak (east) and Attu (west) islands.

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