Huge Fireball Meteor over Alaska Sets off Volcano Warning System 360 Miles Away
A huge “fireball” meteor that lit up skies across west Alaska also set off newly installed sensors for detecting volcanic activity, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has said.
The event, which took place on October 15, triggered six of the sensors’ alarms at a new monitoring station on the Kenai Peninsula. The sensors are built to detect low-frequency sound waves in the atmosphere during volcanic activity, but in this case they picked up waves coming from the meteor that had streaked across the sky around 360 miles away.
In a Facebook post, the USGS said the meteor also triggered an alarm at Mount Spurr—a large, active volcano that sits around 80 miles from Anchorage that last erupted in 1992. However, as other monitoring systems also picked up on the waves, “it quickly became clear that this was not activity at Mount Spur,” the post said.
Scientists with the USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory worked with researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute to investigate the cause. They found the meteor passed over Alaska around 40 miles from the Athabaskan community of Kaltag, which sits on the Yukon River.
In a blog post for the American Geophysical Union, UAF science writer Ned Rozell said witnesses reported the fireball in regions hundreds of miles apart. One resident of Ruby described it as an “enormous ball of light in the sky,” saying it was moving north to south. Another resident said it looked like “fireworks” that split into four dots.
David Fee, head of the infrasound program at UAF’s Geophysical Institute and researcher with the AVO, said he believes the meteor exploded somewhere east of Kaltag. “I typically don’t work on meteors, but they are often really nice infrasound sources to help better understand the performance of our networks, and I think provide valuable information on meteors and bolides themselves,” he said.
Courtesy of newsweek.com