ALASKA VOLCANO OBSERVATORY WEEKLY UPDATE
U.S. Geological Survey
Friday, August 5, 2022, 12:23 PM AKDT (Friday, August 5, 2022, 20:23 UTC)
Pavlof Volcano continues to erupt from the active vent on its east flank, just below the summit. Seismic tremor and elevated surface temperatures in satellite data were observed throughout the week, and numerous minor explosions were detected daily in seismic and infrasound data. Web camera images were mostly obscured by clouds over the past week and no definitive ash emissions were observed. Based on past observations, it is likely that the small explosions detected in geophysical data were accompanied by minor ash emissions to altitudes under 10,000 ft (about 3 km) above sea level. These explosions are short-lived and the ash that is erupted dissipates quickly near the summit.
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 regional 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 an active vent on the east side 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 eruption of lava from the summit crater of Great Sitkin Volcano continued this week. Satellite-based radar observations showed thickening of the lava flow around the vent but no significant changes in the lava flow area or length. Weakly elevated surface temperatures were observed at the summit in satellite data on days when the volcano was not obscured by clouds. Seismic activity remains low with occasional small local earthquakes detected throughout the week.
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 regional 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.
Unrest continues at Cleveland volcano. Elevated surface temperatures and steam and gas plumes from hot degassing in the summit crater were observed in satellite data over the past week, when not obscured by clouds. Minor sulfur dioxide gas emissions were detected on July 29. The local geophysical network experienced an outage beginning on August 2 that remains unresolved. There is no prognosis available as to when the data flow will be restored. There have been no observations of explosive activity detected in regional seismic or infrasound data over the past week.
Episodes of lava eruption 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.
Low-level unrest continues at Semisopochnoi volcano. Seismicity consists of occasional earthquakes detected over the past week. Web camera views, when not obscured by clouds, showed steam emissions at times from the north crater of Mount Cerberus. No explosive activity was observed in seismic or infrasound data.
Small eruptions producing minor ash deposits within the vicinity of the active north crater of Mount Cerberus and ash clouds usually under 10,000 ft (3 km) above sea level have characterized the recent activity and could begin again with little warning.
Semisopochnoi is monitored by local seismic and infrasound sensors, satellite data, web cameras, and regional infrasound and lightning networks.
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.
OTHER ALASKA VOLCANOES
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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.