FAIRBANKS — Nine years after it erupted, Kasatochi Island is beginning to resemble its neighbors.
Kasatochi is a speck in the middle of the Aleutian chain between Dutch Harbor and Adak, about 75 miles east of the latter. The volcanic island had no modern history of erupting until August 2008. In a few days that summer, the island changed from the lush, green home of a quarter million seabirds to a gray pile of ash.
Two biologists escaped the island aboard a fishing boat less than one hour before the eruption. The cabin in which they were living disappeared, vaporizing in a hurricane of hot gases and ash.
After the eruption, Kasatochi seemed dead. Scientists visiting the island one year later searched for one hour before finding the first sprigs of vegetation. A few insects survived the eruption deep within rock folds, but Kasatochi was a quiet place that stunk of sulfur.