ALASKA VOLCANO OBSERVATORY WEEKLY UPDATE
U.S. Geological Survey
Friday, December 21, 2018, 2:30 PM AKST (Friday, December 21, 2018, 23:30 UTC)
56°11'52" N 159°23'35" W,
Summit Elevation 8225 ft (2507 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE
The eruption of Veniaminof continues. Lava fountaining and an eruption plume were observed on December 15 in web camera and satellite imagery. High surface temperatures were observed over the next few days along with steam plumes. Over this time, the relatively steady seismic tremor transitioned to numerous discrete seismic events. A sulfur dioxide plume from this period was observed in satellite views as it travelled north over the Seward Peninsula. Seismic tremor began again on Thursday, December 20 and has waxed and waned over the past 18 hours. Elevated surface temperatures and steam emissions were observed in satellite views however high-resolution satellite views suggest that no further lava effusion has occurred since December 15.
Mount Veniaminof volcano is an andesitic stratovolcano with an ice-filled 10-km diameter summit caldera located on the Alaska Peninsula, 775 km (480 mi) southwest of Anchorage and 35 km (22 mi) north of Perryville. Veniaminof is one of the largest (~300 cubic km; 77 cubic mi) and most active volcanic centers in the Aleutian Arc and has erupted at least 13 times in the past 200 years. Recent significant eruptions of the volcano occurred in 1993-95, 2005, and 2013. These were Strombolian eruptions that produced lava fountains and minor emissions of ash and gas from the main intracaldera cone. During the 1993-95 activity, a small lava flow was extruded, and in 2013, five small lava flows effused from the intracaldera cone over about five months. Minor ash-producing explosions occurred nearly annually between 2002 and 2010. Previous historical eruptions have produced ash plumes that reached 20,000 ft above sea level (1939 and 1956) and ash fallout that blanketed areas within about 40 km (25 mi) of the volcano (1939).
52°49'20" N 169°56'42" W,
Summit Elevation 5676 ft (1730 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE
A short-lived explosion occurred on Saturday, December 16 at 7:37 AM AKST (16:37 UTC). A small ash cloud was observed in satellite views traveling to the northeast. Elevated surface temperatures were observed following this explosion. Conditions were mostly cloudy for the remainder of the week, however occasional clear satellite views showed no further temperature anomalies.
Future explosive activity is likely and would occur without warning. Previous explosions have produced hazardous conditions primarily near the volcano, but occasionally they have been large enough to produce a drifting ash cloud.
Cleveland volcano is monitored by only two seismic stations, which restricts AVO's ability to detect precursory unrest that may lead to an explosive eruption. Rapid detection of an ash-producing eruption may be possible using a combination of seismic, infrasound, lightning, and satellite data. The local web camera, one seismic station, and the local infrasound array are offline due to an equipment failure on September 23rd. This hampers efforts to rapidly detect explosive activity; however, Cleveland remains monitored with a single seismic station and regional instruments.
Cleveland volcano forms the western portion of Chuginadak Island, a remote and uninhabited island in the east central Aleutians. The volcano is located about 75 km (45 mi) west of the community of Nikolski, and 1500 km (940 mi) southwest of Anchorage. The most recent significant period of eruption began in February, 2001 and produced 3 explosive events that generated ash clouds as high as 39,000 ft above sea level. The 2001 eruption also produced a lava flow and hot avalanche that reached the sea. Since then, Cleveland has been intermittently active producing small lava flows, often followed by explosions that generate small ash clouds generally below 20,000 ft above sea level. These explosions also launch debris onto the slopes of the cone producing hot pyroclastic avalanches and lahars that sometimes reach the coastline.
GREAT SITKIN VOLCANO
52°4'35" N 176°6'39" W,
Summit Elevation 5709 ft (1740 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: ADVISORY
Current Aviation Color Code: YELLOW
Low-level unrest continues at Great Sitkin Volcano. Seismicity remains elevated with small earthquakes occurring at rates above background levels.
Great Sitkin Volcano is monitored with a local real-time seismic network, which will typically allow AVO to detect changes in unrest that may lead to an explosive eruption. Rapid detection of an ash-producing eruption would be accomplished using a combination of seismic, infrasound, lightning, and satellite data.
Great Sitkin Volcano is a basaltic andesite volcano that occupies most of the northern half of Great Sitkin Island, a member of the Andreanof Islands group in the central Aleutian Islands. It is located 43 km (26 miles) east of the community of Adak. The volcano is a composite structure consisting of an older decapitated volcano and a younger parasitic cone with a 2-3 km diameter summit crater. A steep-sided lava dome, emplaced during an eruption in 1974, occupies the center of the crater. Great Sitkin erupted at least three times in the 20th century, most recently in 1974. That eruption produced a lava dome and at least one ash cloud that likely exceeded an altitude of 25,000 ft above sea level. A poorly documented eruption occurred in 1945, also producing a lava dome that was partially destroyed in the 1974 eruption. Within the past 280 years a large explosive eruption produced pyroclastic flows that partially filled the Glacier Creek valley on the southwest flank.
51°55'44" N 179°35'52" E,
Summit Elevation 2625 ft (800 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: UNASSIGNED
Current Aviation Color Code: UNASSIGNED
No eruptive activity has been detected at Semisopochnoi since November 1 when a satellite link for transmitting seismic data failed. Since that time, no changes have been observed in satellite data, and no explosions have been detected from the Adak Island infrasound array; the last explosion detected by infrasound was October 31. On Wednesday, December 19, AVO lowered the Aviation Color Code to UNASSIGNED and Alert Level to UNASSIGNED for Semisopochnoi due to the lack of evidence for ongoing eruptive activity. Seismic unrest may be continuing undetected. Pauses in eruptions lasting weeks to months are known to occur during volcanic eruptions. A return to eruptive activity may occur with little or no warning.
Remote Semisopochnoi volcano occupies the largest, young volcanic island in the western Aleutians. The volcano is dominated by an 8-km (5-mile) diameter caldera that contains a small lake and a number of post-caldera cones and craters. The age of the caldera is not known with certainty but is likely early Holocene. The last known eruption of Semisopochnoi occurred in 1987, probably from Sugarloaf Peak on the south coast of the island, but details are lacking. Another prominent, young post-caldera landform is Mount Cerberus, a three-peaked cone cluster in the southwest part of the caldera. The island is uninhabited and part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. It is located 65 km (40 mi) northeast of Amchitka Island and 200 km (130 mi) west of Adak.
OTHER ALASKA VOLCANOES
Information on all Alaska volcanoes is available at : http://www.avo.alaska.edu.
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Michelle Coombs, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS
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The Alaska Volcano Observatory is a cooperative program of the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.