Report on Veniaminof (United States) — July 1993

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 18, no. 7 (July 1993)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke

Veniaminof (United States) Ash and steam eruption begins on 30 July; Strombolian activity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1993. Report on Veniaminof (United States). In: Venzke, E (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 18:7. Smithsonian Institution.

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United States

56.17°N, 159.38°W; summit elev. 2507 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

After 6 years of quiet, eruptive activity resumed on 30 July. Observers in Perryville . . . reported seeing black clouds ejected from the summit beginning at 1430 on 30 July and continuing into early August. A white steam cloud was present during the intervals between black emissions. A small eruption plume was observed on satellite imagery by the U.S. National Weather Service on 30 July, but none were seen in the following days. On the morning of 31 July, Perryville observers saw a gray cloud rising from the volcano and extending to the S. Commercial airline pilots on 2 August observed continued intermittent venting of black ash with a low ash cloud rising nearly 300 m.

Pilot reports on 3 August indicated that black ash was erupting from the summit vent of the intracaldera cone at 30-60 second intervals to a height of 2,400-3,000 m above sea level (840 m above the vent). Pilot reports also described a new steam vent that had formed in the icefield adjacent to the active cone, with the melting perhaps caused by a subglacial lava flow. At mid-day on 3 August, pilots of Reeve Aleutian Airways and personnel from the FWS (Alaska Peninsula/Becharof National Wildlife Refuge) observed the eruption site. They described intermittent ash emission and block ejection from the prominent cinder cone (summit elevation 2,160 m) located within the summit caldera. Material was being thrown an estimated 150-300 m above the cone. Steam was emanating from a depression 180-275 m wide in the glacial ice E of the cone's base. Residents of Port Heiden . . . reported a very light ash fall on the night of 3 August. Residents of Perryville, Chignik, and Chignik Lake, S and E of the volcano, also heard a "rumbling noise" accompanied by a slight tremor at about 2200 that night.

On the morning of 6 August, a resident of Port Heiden observed eruptions of ash and steam occurring at 3-4 minute intervals. These small plumes were reaching only several tens of meters above the summit. There were no reports of ashfall at other nearby villages. On 12 August, a pilot reported ash venting 600-900 m above the crater with the ash cloud carried ENE.

Observations indicate that the eruption is Strombolian (characterized by intermittent bursts of molten material several tens of meters above the vent), similar to previous historical eruptions at this volcano. As this activity continues, occasional ash falls are possible at Perryville and other nearby villages. AVO has no seismic monitoring equipment on Veniaminof and for this reason is not using the Level of Concern Color Code. A scientist from the Geophysical Institute at the Univ of Alaska installed a seismometer in Perryville on 4 August and an additional instrument will be installed closer to the volcano. These should aid efforts to identify future continuing activity.

Geologic Background. Massive Veniaminof volcano, one of the highest and largest volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula, is truncated by a steep-walled, 8 x 11 km, glacier-filled caldera that formed around 3700 years ago. The caldera rim is up to 520 m high on the north, is deeply notched on the west by Cone Glacier, and is covered by an ice sheet on the south. Post-caldera vents are located along a NW-SE zone bisecting the caldera that extends 55 km from near the Bering Sea coast, across the caldera, and down the Pacific flank. Historical eruptions probably all originated from the westernmost and most prominent of two intra-caldera cones, which reaches an elevation of 2156 m and rises about 300 m above the surrounding icefield. The other cone is larger, and has a summit crater or caldera that may reach 2.5 km in diameter, but is more subdued and barely rises above the glacier surface.

Information Contacts: AVO.