Aerial view, looking south, of Bogoslof Island, which is the summit of a largely submarine stratovolcano located in the Bering Sea 50 km (31 mi) behind the main Aleutian volcanic arc. The island is about 1.5x 0.6 km (1 x 0.4 mi) and, due to energetic wave action and frequent eruptive activity, it has changed shape dramatically since first mapped in the late 1700's. Its most recent eruption, in 1992, produced the conical, rubbly lava dome (150 m [492 ft] high)and offshore spire at bottom center. Photograph by T. Keith, U.S. Geological Survey, May 10, 1994.
This April AVO will celebrate twenty years of volcano research and hazard mitigation in the North Pacific.
AVO was founded in 1988 in the wake of the 1986 eruption of Augustine Volcano and only
18 months before the reawakening of Redoubt Volcano in Cook Inlet. Over the next twenty years, eighteen
Alaskan volcanoes have erupted including several significant events near main population
centers in south-central Alaska. At least seven more volcanoes were restless,
producing significant gas plumes, sudden acidic crater lakes and floods, or strong
earthquake swarms. To understand this activity and issue timely warnings of
potential impacts, AVO staff have been busy expanding monitoring networks, researching
volcanic processes, educating students and citizens about volcano hazards, and building
relationships with other government agencies and the private sector.
Expanded monitoring of volcanoes yields results - USGS Fact Sheet.
Reducing the threat to aviation in the North Pacific
AVO works hard to reduce the risk to aviation posed by
volcanic activity in Alaska and in the neighboring volcanically active areas of the Russian Far East.
The magnitude of the risk has more than doubled in twenty years. In 1988, about 100 flights per day travelled
near or downwind of more than 100 potentially active volcanoes in the North Pacific. In 2008, 250 jets carrying as many as 30,000 people and hundreds
of millions of dollars in cargo travel daily through the area. Since the 1989-90 eruption of Redoubt Volcano
and a dangerous encounter between a Boeing-747 and an ash cloud, AVO's warnings, in coordination with the
Federal Aviation Administration and National Weather Service, have helped prevent additional damaging incidents.
Two decades of increased monitoring of Alaska's active volcanoes
Map showing monitoring status of Alaska volcanoes (current as of spring 2008). This map is published in: Schaefer, J.R., and Nye, Chris, 2008, The Alaska Volcano Observatory - 20 years of volcano research, monitoring, and eruption response: Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, Alaska GeoSurvey News, NL 2008-001, v. 11, n. 1, p. 1-9, available at http://wwwdggs.dnr.state.ak.us/pubs/pubs?reqtype=citation&ID=16061 .
Since 1988, AVO's real-time seismic monitoring network
has grown from four to thirty one volcanoes across Alaska. In addition
to seismic networks tracking volcanic earthquakes, AVO now routinely uses web cameras, real-time GPS, satellite
imagery, lightning detectors, and other tools to monitor the Aleutian
arc and detect eruptions. We now share some of this real-time monitoring data online:
Increasing understanding of eruption histories
AVO geologists conduct field studies to decipher the histories of Alaskan volcanoes and
identify the range of hazards during future eruptions.
This information is summarized in hazard assessment reports [available here
]. Since 1988, sixteeen
preliminary hazard assessments have been published. Most recently, the hazard assessment for
Augustine Volcano was used during eruptive activity in 2005-2006 to prepare citizens and officials
in the Cook Inlet region for expected impacts.