ALASKA VOLCANO OBSERVATORY INFORMATION STATEMENT
U.S. Geological Survey
Wednesday, December 8, 2021, 4:19 PM AKST (Thursday, December 9, 2021, 01:19 UTC)
53°23'49" N 168°9'58" W,
Summit Elevation 3520 ft (1073 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN
Between September and November 2021, the Alaska Volcano Observatory observed a change from the long-term deformation pattern at Okmok volcano as measured by two continuous Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) stations within the caldera. The deformation pattern at Okmok typically consists of near-continuous inflation, with episodes during which this motion accelerates, and is generally thought to be related to magma injection somewhere between 2–4 km (1.2–2.5 miles) below the caldera floor. In contrast, the changes that we observed recently are consistent with a pressure increase at a shallower depth—less than 1 km (0.6 miles) below the caldera floor. The map location of this new deformation source is near Cone D, just south of the young tephra cone Ahmanilix, created during the 2008 eruption. The deformation has since returned to background levels. There have been no notable changes in seismic activity during this time period, and satellite images have shown no surface changes.
The recently observed deformation is consistent with a small intrusion of magma at a shallow depth, but other non-magmatic processes such as hydrothermal activity cannot be ruled out. If the deformation was caused by a shallow magma intrusion, this may increase the likelihood of an eruption. Previous eruptions at Okmok have occurred with little precursory seismic activity, and AVO continues to monitor the volcano closely.
Ground deformation at Okmok is monitored with 4 continuous GNSS instruments, two inside the caldera and two outside. Data for these stations are downloaded remotely and analyzed daily. The volcano has had a local real-time seismic monitoring network since 2003. Currently, the network consists of 7 three-component seismometers on the eastern portion of Umnak Island, including 4 within the caldera. Okmok is also monitored by satellite data, a web camera, and remote infrasound and lightning networks.
Okmok volcano is a 10-kilometer (6-mile) -wide caldera that occupies most of the eastern end of Umnak Island, located 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor in the eastern Aleutian Islands. Okmok has had several eruptions in historical time typically consisting of lava flows crossing the caldera floor, such as in 1945, 1958, and 1997. However, in 1817, Okmok produced an explosive eruption that resulted in ash fall in the Dutch Harbor area. The volcano last erupted in July–August 2008, producing continuous ash emissions that fluctuated between about 1,500 and 9,000 meters (5,000 and 30,000 feet) above sea level for the 5-week duration of the eruption, with an initial plume height of 15,000 meters (50,000 feet) during the first 12 hours. This eruption resulted in the construction of a new cone (Ahmanilix) within the caldera.
The nearest settlement is Nikolski, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) west of the volcano. A ranch caretaker family lives at Fort Glenn on the flank of the volcano about 10 kilometers (6 miles) east of the caldera rim during the summer months.
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, email@example.com (907) 786-7497
David Fee, Coordinating Scientist, UAF, firstname.lastname@example.org (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.