BOGOSLOF ISLAND, Alaska (CBS4) – A volcanic eruption prompted the aviation alert level to be raised to its highest level temporarily.

The event happened on Bogoslof Island, part of the Aleutian island chain. It caused a “code red” to be issued. The cloud from the eruption reached at least 35,000 feet, and possibly as high as 45,000 feet, well above the standard passenger jet cruising altitude.

“We actually went to color code red this afternoon because of numerous lightning detections and increased seismic signals,” Jeffrey Freymueller of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks tells CNN.

“Lightning in the Aleutians is mostly due to volcanic plumes, as the meteorological conditions for lightning are not common,” Freymueller said. “The combination of lightning and seismic data allowed us to go to red within about half an hour of the start of the eruption.”

The eruption lasted for about 50 minutes, the Alaska Volcano Observatory said.

The volcano sits under the flight path of many Asia-North America flights. The ash cloud could pose a risk to the planes. Volcanic ash is abrasive, melts at jet engine temperatures, and can cause engine failure.

In 2010, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland caused the cancellation of flights around Europe for six days.


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