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Augustine Volcano Still Erupting

Augustine Volcano continued to erupt Tuesday, with the volcano producing a continuous crescent-shaped plume of steam, and ash and gas speeding down the flanks of the island mount and into the sea.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory made hourly updates early Tuesday on its Web site with each one beginning the same way — "Eruption is in progress."

The volcano on an uninhabited island has been continuously erupting since Saturday, with explosions thrusting particles almost five miles into the skies around south-central Alaska.

With winds shifting the ash away from major air routes, airlines cautiously resumed dozens of flights that had been canceled as a precaution. Ash particles can damage engines.

Alaska Airlines on Tuesday resumed all flights to and fromKodiak Island and Anchorage, the state's largest air hub, said spokeswoman Amanda Tobin. The airline had canceled all of its 36 Anchorage flights Monday night as a precaution. Flights to and from Kodiak had been canceled Sunday and Monday.

Era Aviation also was back to a normal schedule after canceling five flights to Kodiak Monday, according to President Paul Landis.

"This is a nonstory as long as public health is concerned, but it's a different thing for the aviation community," said Joel Curtis, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service.

The volcano's constant release of gas, rock and ash — rather than a quiet buildup beneath the mountain — may be averting a more powerful eruption, said scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

"This current material shows the vent is staying open and letting off pressure continuously," said Michelle Coombs, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Wind currents were moving the ash in a northerly direction early Tuesday. A very light ash fall was expected over Kamishak Bay and northward to the western Cook Inlet. An ash fall advisory also was issued for the Alaska Range near the Big River Lakes area.

After a 10-day lull, Augustine resumed erupting Friday. The continuous ash plume began issuing from a newly cleared vent on Saturday afternoon, Coombs said.