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Sarychev Peak eruption update for 6/17/2009

Sarychev Peak is now the number “sulfur dioxide” event of 2009, with a plume reaching out eastward over the Pacific. Meanwhile, the ash is causing many an unhappy air traveler over the last few days.

Flight path for Continental Flight 009 from Newark to Tokyo, diverted back to Newark due to the threat of ash from Sarychev Peak. Image courtesy of Flight Aware.

The eruption at Sarychev Peak is continuing to disrupt all sorts of flights that head towards Asia. There are lots of unhappy travelers who have had to “enjoy” a 12 hour flight that took them from Newark, NJ to … Newark, NJ (see yesterday’s Continental Flight 009 above). There have been a multitude of flights affected by the ash, many reported here on Eruptions by travelers or relatives (keep them coming!) It will be interesting to see how long the airlines will have to deal with changing flightpaths and diverting aircraft due to this ongoing eruption.

In another front for the eruption, it appears that Sarychev Peak is releasing a fairly significant amount of sulfur dioxide that is drifting across the Pacific Ocean. The NASA Earth Observatory has an image of the sulfur dioxide plume. Not only does this now register as the largest sulfur dioxide event of the year, but the extent of the plume suggest that the ash column might be as tall as 21 km / 69,000 feet! The SO2 from the eruption can be traced as far as the Alaskan Aleutians, while the visible plume heads thousands of kilometers into the Pacific.


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