ALASKA VOLCANO OBSERVATORY WEEKLY UPDATE
U.S. Geological Survey
Friday, August 25, 2023, 11:30 AM AKDT (Friday, August 25, 2023, 19:30 UTC)
The most recent significant explosive event at Shilshaldin Volcano – the seventh to occur during this eruptive period – happened last week on August 14–15. The eruption produced an ash cloud that reached as high as 30,000-36,000 feet above sea level and extended to the northeast about 60 miles (100 km). Low-level activity confined to the summit of the volcano has continued since, but no significant explosive activity was observed in seismic or infrasound data. Elevated surface temperatures were commonly observed over the last week, and a robust gas plume from the volcano's summit was observed in webcam images when views were clear.
Although the last week has been relatively quiet at Shishaldin Volcano, seismic activity started to increase overnight and continues to climb. This is accompanied by strongly elevated surface temperatures, suggesting that eruptive activity is once again beginning to build and could lead to another significant explosive event. AVO scientists are closely watching this increasing activity.
Shishaldin has had seven periods of explosive eruptive activity resulting in significant ash emissions since July 12. It is unknown how long this eruptive period will last. Previous eruptions of Shishaldin Volcano have lasted weeks to months with repeated cycles of activity similar to those seen since July 12. Before the current activity, the 2019–2020 eruption of Shishaldin was the first to result in lava flows outside the crater area since 1976. Minor eruptions in 2004 and 2014 erupted lava confined to the summit crater. Previous eruptions of Shishaldin have produced ash clouds like those seen during the current eruption, most recently in January 2020. Routine evaluations of satellite, seismic, and infrasound data provide warning of unrest associated with the production of ash clouds. In addition, ashfall forecast models are kept up to date on the public activity page (https://avo.alaska.edu/activity/Shishaldin.php).
Local seismic and infrasound sensors, web cameras, and a geodetic network monitor Shishaldin Volcano. In addition to the local monitoring network, AVO uses nearby geophysical networks, regional infrasound and lightning data, and satellite observations to detect eruptions.
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 10 miles (16 km). A 660 ft-wide (200 m) 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.
Slow eruption of lava is continuing at Great Sitkin Volcano. Earthquake activity remained slightly elevated this week, and elevated surface temperatures and weak steaming at the volcano's summit were observed in satellite and webcam data.
The current lava flow at Great Sitkin Volcano began erupting in July 2021. No explosive events have occurred since a single event in May 2021.
The volcano is monitored by local seismic, geodetic, and infrasound sensors, web cameras, regional infrasound and lightning networks, and satellite data.
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 miles (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 mile (1.5 km)-diameter summit crater. A steep-sided lava dome, emplaced during the 1974 eruption, 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.
Earthquake activity beneath Trident Volcano remained elevated over the past week, with volcanic earthquakes and deep low frequency earthquakes and tremor noted most days. Views of the volcano in satellite and webcam data were mostly cloudy and showed nothing indicative of volcanic unrest.
The current period of seismic unrest began on August 24, 2022. Earthquake depths at the beginning of the swarm were mainly deep, around 16 miles (25 km) below sea level, and became progressively shallower to around 3 miles (5 km) over the following four days. Since late August 2022, most earthquakes have occurred within the shallow crust, with depths less than 4 miles (6 km) below sea level; however, an increasing number of earthquakes have been occurring deeper (greater than 9 miles or 15 km depth). Starting in May 2023 an increase in low-frequency earthquakes and tremor has been observed—in addition to the regular earthquakes—near Trident Volcano. Such low-frequency events are often associated with the movement of magma or volcano-related fluids within the ground. Ground uplift at Trident Volcano has also been detected in satellite radar data. Snow cover prohibits winter observations, which limits our ability to provide precise timing, but data from June 3, 2023, indicates that about 2 in (5 cm) of ground uplift has occurred since October 6, 2022. Uplift is most significant on the volcano’s south flank.
Increases in seismic activity have been detected previously at Trident Volcano and other similar volcanoes and did not result in eruptions. We expect additional shallow seismicity and other signs of unrest, such as gas emissions, elevated surface temperatures, and ground movement, to precede any future eruption if one were to occur.
Trident Volcano is monitored by local seismic sensors, web cameras, regional infrasound and lightning networks, and satellite data.
Trident is one of the Katmai group of volcanoes located within Katmai National Park and Preserve on the Alaska Peninsula. Trident consists of a complex of four cones and numerous lava domes, all andesite and dacite in composition, that reach as high as 6,115 ft. (1,864 m) above sea level. An eruption beginning in 1953 constructed the newest cone, Southwest Trident, and four lava flows on the flank of the older complex. This eruption continued through 1974 and produced ash (an initial plume rose to 30,000 ft. or 9 km above sea level), bombs, and lava at various times. Fumaroles remain active on the summit of Southwest Trident and on the southeast flank of the oldest, central cone. Trident is located 92 miles (148 km) southeast of King Salmon and 273 miles (440 km) southwest of Anchorage.
Earthquake activity at Mount Cleveland returned to background levels and has been very low over the last week. Because of this, AVO lowered the Aviation Color Code and Volcano Alert Level at Cleveland to GREEN/NORMAL earlier today (Friday, August 25). Although clouds obscured satellite and webcam images of the volcano over much of the week, slightly elevated surface temperatures and gas emissions from the summit crater were observed at times. These are normal and do not indicate a significant change in unrest.
Episodes of lava effusion and explosions can occur without warning. Explosions from Mount Cleveland are typically short-duration and typically present a hazard to aviation near the volcano. Significant explosions could produce a more widespread aviation hazard but are less likely and occur less frequently.
Cleveland volcano is currently monitored by a local seismic network, infrasound sensors and web cameras. In addition to the local monitoring network, AVO uses nearby geophysical networks, regional infrasound and lighting data, and satellite observations to detect eruptions. We now have enough stations at the volcano to locate volcanic earthquakes thanks to a partnership between AVO and the AVERT (Anticipating Volcanic Eruptions in Real-Time) project at Columbia University. Based on past events, explosive eruptions of Cleveland may occur with little or no warning. Rapid detection of an ash-producing eruption may be possible using a combination of seismic, infrasound, web camera, 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.
Matt Haney, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS firstname.lastname@example.org (907) 786-7497
David Fee, Coordinating Scientist, UAFGI email@example.com (907) 378-5460
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.