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ALASKA VOLCANO OBSERVATORY WEEKLY UPDATE
U.S. Geological Survey
Friday, January 3, 2020, 2:58 PM AKST (Friday, January 3, 2020, 23:58 UTC)


SHISHALDIN VOLCANO (VNUM #311360)
54°45'19" N 163°58'16" W, Summit Elevation 9373 ft (2857 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

The eruption of Shishaldin Volcano that began in late July, 2019 continues with short duration explosive activity from the summit crater and effusion of lava flows on the upper flanks of the volcano. This morning, beginning about 9:30 AKST, seismicity at the volcano began increasing over a period of several hours and eventually led to a brief period of sustained ash emission resulting in an ash cloud that reached as high as 27,000 feet above sea level according to reports from passing pilots. The ash cloud consisted of a linear, directed ash plume that extended from the volcano to the southeast at least 75 miles. The ash cloud also produced minor amounts of volcanic lightning. Seismicity has abruptly decreased and for now there appears to be no sign of continued ash emission. Satellite images of the volcano obtained throughout the week showed consistently elevated surface temperatures indicating continued effusion of lava.

Thus far, the 2019 eruption has produced lava flows, pyroclastic flows, lahars (mudflows), and minor ash fallout on the flanks of the volcano. For most of the current eruption, ash emissions have been restricted to the immediate vicinity of the volcano and altitudes of less than 15,000 ft. asl, until today when an ash cloud reached as high as 27,000 ft. asl. During this heightened level of activity more powerful explosions could occur with little warning and produce higher ash clouds that may pose a hazard to aircraft.

Shishaldin is monitored by local seismic and infrasound sensors, satellite data, web cameras, a telemetered geodetic and tilt network, and distant infrasound and lightning networks.


Shishaldin volcano, located near the center of Unimak Island in the eastern Aleutian Islands, is a spectacular symmetric cone with a base diameter of approximately 16 km (10 mi). A 200-m-wide (660 ft) funnel-shaped summit crater typically emits a steam plume and occasional small amounts of ash. Shishaldin is one of the most active volcanoes in the Aleutian volcanic arc, with at least 54 episodes of unrest including over 24 confirmed eruptions since 1775. Most eruptions are relatively small, although the April-May 1999 event generated an ash column that reached 45,000 ft above sea level.

CLEVELAND VOLCANO (VNUM #311240)
52°49'20" N 169°56'42" W, Summit Elevation 5676 ft (1730 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: ADVISORY
Current Aviation Color Code: YELLOW

Slightly elevated surface temperatures were observed in satellite data once this week, but were not noted later at other times, although cloudy conditions obscured most views of the volcano. Seismicity remains low and no significant activity was observed in local or regional infrasound data during the week.

Additional episodes of lava effusion and explosions are likely and will occur without advance warning. The most recent explosion of Cleveland occurred on January 9, 2019. These 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 less likely and/or frequent.


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.

PAVLOF VOLCANO (VNUM #312030)
55°25'2" N 161°53'37" W, Summit Elevation 8261 ft (2518 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: ADVISORY
Current Aviation Color Code: YELLOW

Slightly elevated levels of seismicity continue at Pavlof Volcano. Occasional earthquakes continue to be detected at Pavlof Volcano but have not increased in size or frequency this week. The volcano has not exhibited any other outward signs of unrest, although viewing conditions have been poor throughout the week.

The level of unrest at Pavlof can change quickly and the progression to eruptive activity can occur with little or no warning. We continue to monitor Pavlof closely and will provide any new information about the status of the volcano when or if it becomes available.


Pavlof Volcano is a snow- and ice-covered stratovolcano located on the southwestern end of the Alaska Peninsula about 953 km (592 mi) southwest of Anchorage. The volcano is about 7 km (4.4 mi) in diameter and 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 ASL have been generated by past eruptions of Pavlof, and during the March 2016 eruption, ash plumes as high as 40,000 feet above sea level were generated and the ash was tracked in satellite data as distant as eastern Canada. The nearest community, Cold Bay, is located 60 km (37 miles) to the southwest of Pavlof.

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

Slightly elevated seismicity was noted early this week, until data transmission from the Semisopochnoi network temporarily ceased for much of the week. As of this morning, seismic data is again being received by AVO and we are now able to continue seismic monitoring of Semisopochnoi. No activity was detected in satellite images, although cloudy conditions have obscured views of the volcano most of the week. Explosive activity has occurred intermittently at Semisopochnoi over the last year, and could resume without advance warning.

Semisopochnoi is monitored with an on-island seismic network and remotely by satellite and lightning sensors. Furthermore, an infrasound array on Adak Island may 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 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.

For definitions of Aviation Color Codes and Volcano Alert Levels, see: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/color_codes.php

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CONTACT INFORMATION:

Matt 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.