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Alaska Volcano Observatory
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The questions below are ones that we frequently receive from people interested in Alaska's volcanoes. Since some of these questions are answered by information in this website (and other websites), we've provided links for you to follow to learn of the answer(s).

How many active volcanoes are there in Alaska?

Where can I find a list of latitudes and longitudes for volcanoes in Alaska?

How can I volunteer at / intern at / study at / work for AVO?

Why are there volcanoes in Alaska?

How do Alaskan volcanoes form?

If nobody lives up there, what hazards are there from eruptions at Alaskan volcanoes?

How do you monitor volcanoes?

How often do volcanoes in Alaska erupt?
Most reports of eruptive activity date from 1760 on although a few vague reports of eruptions exist between 1700 and 1760 (Grewingk, 1850). At least 265 historical eruptions have occurred at 29 Alaskan volcanoes and another 45 are possible since 1760 giving a frequency rate of 1.1 - 1.3 eruptions per year. Since many eruptions early in this period surely went unreported, this is a minimum figure.

The problem of estimating eruption frequency through an analysis of the historical record is well-illustrated in Fig. 5 where the number of eruptions per decade in the Aleutian Arc is plotted for the past 200 years. Reported eruptions show a general increase beginning in the 1870-1880 decade and continuing to the 1920-30 decade where the rate of increase levels off. This increase is assumed to represent expanded travel to this remote area and advances in rapid communication (i.e., newspapers and more recently radio) of eruptive events; interestingly enough, the decades including World Wars I and II show significant decreases. The sharp increase in the 1980-1990 decade has been followed by a return (estimated in part - see caption of Fig. 5) to pre-1980 levels.

A more meaningful eruption frequency estimate can perhaps be calculated over the 50 year period 1945 (the end of World War II) through 1994, a time that marked the beginning of widespread air travel and other commerce in this remote part of the world. During this 50 year interval, 90 eruptions have been reported from 23 volcanoes for a frequency of about 2 (1.8) eruptions per year.

Although these are estimates of the number of separate eruptions per year, many individual eruptive episodes are spread over weeks and even months. In any one year, therefore, it is not unusual for 3 or 4 Alaskan volcanoes to have experienced eruptive activity.

The number of separate eruptions from individual historically active centers ranges from 1 to 39 and over 60% of the 265 eruptions have come from only 7 volcanoes (Veniaminof, Pavlof, Shishaldin, Akutan, Makushin, Okmok, and Bogoslof Island). These frequently active volcanoes occur along (or, in the case of Bogoslof, behind) a 640 km of the arc in an area where movement between the North American and Pacific plates is most nearly orthogonal. Most of these volcanoes are also marked by long-lived but sporadic strombolian and vulcanian eruptive activity resulting in some difficulty in defining individual eruptions." From The Catalog of Historically Active Volcanoes of Alaska (1998)

Can I use the images from the AVO website?

Where do I find high-resolution images of Alaska's volcanoes?

Do you have any images of Alaska volcanoes erupting?

Does AVO work on other volcanoes?

Why do you work with Russian volcanologists?

Where can I find more information about a specific eruption?

Can you send me a sample of volcanic ash or rock?


Still can't find your question? Do you have a question you'd like to see listed here? Please contact us.
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URL: avo.alaska.edu/faq.php
Page modified: May 21, 2014 15:32
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