ALASKA VOLCANO OBSERVATORY WEEKLY UPDATE
U.S. Geological Survey
Friday, May 13, 2022, 1:11 PM AKDT (Friday, May 13, 2022, 21:11 UTC)
Pavlof Volcano continues to erupt from the east vent near the volcano’s summit. Seismic tremor and elevated surface temperatures are consistent with low-level eruption and effusion of short lava flows on the upper flank. No explosions or ash emissions were observed in satellite or webcam images this week.
Periods of lava spatter and fountaining from the vent on the volcano’s upper east flank have been occurring since mid-November 2021. This activity has built a small cone and sent flows down the flank that melt the snow and ice and produce variable amounts of meltwater. The meltwater typically incorporates loose debris on the flank of the volcano and forms thin (less than 2 m thick) lahars. The lahar deposits extend down the east-southeast flank for several kilometers, not quite to the base of the volcano.
Previous eruptions of Pavlof indicate that the level of unrest can change quickly and the progression to more significant eruptive activity can occur with little or no warning.
Pavlof is monitored by local seismic and infrasound sensors, satellite data, web cameras, and remote infrasound and lightning networks.
Pavlof Volcano is a snow- and ice-covered stratovolcano located on the southwestern end of the Alaska Peninsula about 592 mi (953 km) southwest of Anchorage. The volcano is about 4.4 mi (7 km) in diameter and currently has active vents on the north and east sides close to the summit. With over 40 historic eruptions, it is one of the most consistently active volcanoes in the Aleutian arc. Eruptive activity is generally characterized by sporadic Strombolian lava fountaining continuing for a several-month period. Ash plumes as high as 49,000 ft (15 km) above sea level have been generated by past eruptions of Pavlof, and during the March 2016 eruption, ash plumes as high as 40,000 ft (12.2 km) above sea level were generated and the ash was tracked in satellite data as distant as eastern Canada. The nearest community, King Cove, is located 30 mi (48 km) to the southwest of Pavlof.
Slow lava effusion from the summit crater of Great Sitkin Volcano continued this week, as observed in a satellite radar image from May 11. Elevated surface temperatures were detected throughout the past week which is consistent with continued lava effusion. Seismic activity remains low.
The terrain is steep near the terminus of the lava flow lobes, and blocks of lava could detach without warning and form small rock avalanches in these valleys. These avalanches may liberate ash and gas and could travel several hundred meters beyond the lava flows; they would be hazardous to anyone in those areas.
Great Sitkin is monitored by local seismic and infrasound sensors, satellite data, web cameras, and remote infrasound and lightning networks.
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 26 mi (43 km) east of the community of Adak. The volcano is a composite structure consisting of an older dissected volcano and a younger parasitic cone with a 1.5 km-diameter summit crater. A steep-sided lava dome, emplaced during the most recent significant eruption in 1974, occupies the center of the crater. That eruption produced at least one ash cloud that likely exceeded an altitude of 25,000 ft (7.6 km) 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.
The eruption at Semisopochnoi volcano continued throughout the past week. Seismicity remained elevated with ongoing periods of seismic tremor. Multiple explosions were detected in seismic and infrasound data on all but one day this week. Clear satellite and web camera views most of the week showed low-level ash emissions.
Small explosions have characterized the recent activity and show no signs of abating. These produce minor ash deposits within the vicinity of the active north crater of Mount Cerberus, with ash clouds typically lower than 10,000 ft (3 km) above sea level.
Semisopochnoi is monitored by local seismic and infrasound sensors, satellite data, web cameras, and remote infrasound and lightning networks.
Remote Semisopochnoi volcano occupies the largest, young volcanic island in the western Aleutians. The volcano is dominated by a 5-mile (8 km) diameter caldera that contains a small lake and several post-caldera cones and craters. The age of the caldera is not known with certainty but is likely early Holocene. Prior to 2018, the previous known historical 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 40 mi (65 km) northeast of Amchitka Island and 130 mi (200 km) west of Adak.
Elevated surface temperatures have been observed at Cleveland in clear satellite views since May 4, and elevated sulfur dioxide emissions were observed in satellite data May 8-11. Based on these observations, AVO increased the Aviation Color Code and Volcano Alert Level to YELLOW/ADVISORY on May 11. No other signs of unrest have been detected.
Episodes of lava effusion and explosions can occur at Cleveland without advance warning. Explosions are normally short duration and only present a hazard to aviation in the immediate vicinity of the volcano. Larger explosions that present a more widespread hazard to aviation are possible but are less likely and occur less frequently.
Cleveland volcano is monitored by only two seismic stations, which restricts AVO's ability to precisely locate earthquakes and 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.
Cleveland volcano forms the western portion of Chuginadak Island, a remote and uninhabited island in the east central Aleutians. The volcano is located about 45 miles (75 km) west of the community of Nikolski, and 940 miles (1500 km) 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 (11.8 km) 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 (6 km) 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.
Strong northwesterly winds in the vicinity of Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes have picked up loose volcanic ash erupted during the 1912 Novarupta-Katmai eruption and carried it to the southeast toward Kodiak Island today (May 13). The National Weather Service has issued a SIGMET for this low-level event and suggests that the maximum cloud height is 6,000 ft above sea level.
This phenomenon is not the result of recent volcanic activity and occurs seasonally in the spring and fall during times of high winds and dry snow-free conditions in the Katmai area and other young volcanic areas of Alaska. All of the volcanoes of the Katmai area (Snowy, Griggs, Katmai, Novarupta, Trident, Mageik, Martin) remain at color code GREEN.
Resuspended volcanic ash should be considered hazardous and could be damaging to aircraft and health. For more information on volcanic ash and human health, visit the following website: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/">http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/. Official warnings about these ash resuspension events are issued by the National Weather Service: http://www.weather.gov/afc">http://www.weather.gov/afc. Forecasts of airborne ash hazard to aircraft: http://www.weather.gov/aawu">http://www.weather.gov/aawu . Volcanic Ash Advisories: http://vaac.arh.noaa.gov/">http://vaac.arh.noaa.gov/ . Forecasts of ash fall: http://www.weather.gov/afc">http://www.weather.gov/afc. Air quality hazards and guidance from Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Air Quality: http://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/Advisories/Index">http://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/Advisories/Index
OTHER ALASKA VOLCANOES
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Michelle Coombs, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS firstname.lastname@example.org (907) 786-7497
Tarsilo Girona, Acting Coordinating Scientist, UAFGI email@example.com (907) 322-4085
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.