Isolated Alaskan communities are using the internet to follow the ongoing eruption of Mount Augustine. The volcano, located in the Cook Inlet, 285km to the southwest of Anchorage, has been spewing out dust, ash and dangerous pyroclastic flows since mid-January.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory website, provides images, seismic activity data, and hourly updates from scientists on goings on at the peak.
Associated Press reports that the monitoring website has received 158 million this year, from all over the world. However, the site's real raison d'etre is to serve the isolated villages around the volcano.
Better informed decisions about school closures and carrying dust masks are now made. Local health worker Vince Evans told the AP reporter: "When I wake up, I turn it on and keep track of Augustine through the night."
The eruption has grounded flights and dusted surrounding countryside with a layer of ash, and scientists with the US Geological Survey say the eruptions may continue for some months. Vulcanologist Game McGimsey said: "No erupting volcano in Alaska has ever been this closely monitored before."®