ALASKA VOLCANO OBSERVATORY WEEKLY UPDATE
U.S. Geological Survey
Friday, March 19, 2021, 12:44 PM AKDT (Friday, March 19, 2021, 20:44 UTC)


SEMISOPOCHNOI VOLCANO (VNUM #311060)
51°55'44" N 179°35'52" E, Summit Elevation 2625 ft (800 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

Two small explosions from Seimisopochnoi were detected in regional infrasound data at 11:50 UTC (03:50 AKDT) and 13:34 UTC (05:34 AKDT) this morning prompting the AVO to raise the Aviation Color code from Yellow to ORANGE and the Volcano Alert Level from Advisory to WATCH. Cloudy weather conditions are obscuring satellite views of the volcano and it remains unknown if the explosions produced low-level ash clouds or local ash deposits. A possible volcanic gas cloud was observed in satellite data from Thursday and retrospective analysis identified a minor ash deposit on the flank of Semisopochnoi on March 14.

Small eruptions producing minor ash deposits within the vicinity of the volcano are typical of activity during unrest at Semisopochnoi since September 2018. Local seismic stations have been offline since November 11, 2020. New explosions could occur at any time with no warning.

Semisopochnoi is monitored remotely by satellite and lightning sensors. An infrasound array on Adak Island could detect explosive emissions from Semisopochnoi with a 13 minute delay if atmospheric conditions permit.


Remote Semisopochnoi volcano occupies the largest, young volcanic island in the western Aleutians. The volcano is dominated by an 5-mile (8-km) 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. Prior to 2018, the previous 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 40 miles (65 km) northeast of Amchitka Island and 130 miles (200 km) west of Adak.

VENIAMINOF VOLCANO (VNUM #312070)
56°11'52" N 159°23'35" W, Summit Elevation 8225 ft (2507 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

Low-level eruptive activity continues at Veniaminof. Ash emissions declined over the past week. No explosions were detected in regional infrasound data since Sunday but elevated surface temperatures and robust degassing were observed from the volcano in satellite data all week. A low-level steam and gas plume has been observed extending from the summit in web camera images when viewing conditions were clear. Elevated seismicity continues to be observed in limited seismic data.

Eruptive activity at Veniaminof usually consists of minor ash emissions, lava fountaining and lava flows from the small cone in the summit caldera. Ash emissions are typically confined to the summit crater, but larger events can result in ash fall in nearby communities and drifting airborne ash.

A limited amount of seismic data from the local network that had been offline since December 8, 2020, have been recently restored. While the network has not been fully restored the additional information will aid in the detection of changes in unrest that may lead to a more significant explosive eruption. The Alaska Volcano Observatory continues to monitor Veniaminof with satellite and webcam data and remote infrasound, regional seismic and lightning networks.


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 14 times in the past 200 years. Recent eruptions in 1993-95, 2005, 2013, and 2018 all occurred at the intracaldera cone and lasted for several months. These eruptions produced lava spattering and fountaining, minor emissions of ash and gas, and small lava flows into intracaldera icefield. Minor ash-producing explosions occurred nearly annually between 2002 and 2010. Previous historical eruptions have produced ash plumes that reached 15,000 to 20,000 ft above sea level (1939, 1956, and 2018) and ash fallout that blanketed areas within about 40 km (25 mi) of the volcano (1939, 2018).

OTHER ALASKA VOLCANOES

Information on all Alaska volcanoes is available at : http://www.avo.alaska.edu.

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CONTACT INFORMATION:

Matthew Haney, Acting Scientist-in-Charge, USGS
mhaney@usgs.gov (907) 786-7497

David Fee, Coordinating Scientist, UAFGI
dfee1@alaska.edu (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.