In the late morning of 12 July 2008, the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) received an unexpected call from the U.S. Coast Guard, reporting an explosive volcanic eruption in the central Aleutians in the vicinity of Okmok volcano, a relatively young (~2000-year-old) caldera. The Coast Guard had received an emergency call requesting assistance from a family living at a cattle ranch on the flanks of the volcano, who reported loud "thunder," lightning, and noontime darkness due to ashfall. AVO staff immediately confirmed the report by observing a strong eruption signal recorded on the Okmok seismic network and the presence of a large dark ash cloud above Okmok in satellite imagery. Within 5 minutes of the call, AVO declared the volcano at aviation code red, signifying that a highly explosive, ash-rich eruption was under way.
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Eruption of Alaska volcano breaks historic pattern