Report on Veniaminof (United States) — March 2006

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 31, no. 3 (March 2006)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Veniaminof (United States) Modest ash emissions during September 2005-22 April 2006

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2006. Report on Veniaminof (United States). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 31:3. 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)

On 7 September 2005, the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) noted several minor bursts of ash from the volcano during the afternoon. Ash bursts continued to occur through at least 9 September, with ash rising less than 3 km altitude, and with the ash confined to the caldera. Over the following 2 weeks, minor ash emission continued at a rate of 1-5 events per day based on interpretations of seismic data. AVO reported that it was likely that diffuse ash plumes rose to heights less than ~ 3 km and were confined to the summit caldera. Cloudy weather during 16-23 September prohibited web-camera and satellite observations of Veniaminof, but seismic data indicated diminishing activity. On 28 September seismicity had remained at background levels for over a week, and there was no evidence to suggest that minor ash explosions were continuing.

On 4 November 2005, a low-level minor ash emission occurred from the intracaldera cone beginning at 0929. Ash rose a few hundred meters above the cone, drifted E, and dissipated rapidly. Minor ashfall was probably confined to the summit caldera. During the previous 2 weeks, occasional steaming from the intracaldera cone was observed. Very weak seismic tremor and a few small discrete seismic events were recorded at the station closest to the active cone. However, AVO reported that there were no indications from seismic data that a significantly larger eruption was imminent.

On the morning of 3 March 2006 ash again rose a few hundred meters above the intracaldera cone, drifted E, and dissipated rapidly. Ashfall was expected to be minor and confined to the summit caldera. Seismicity was again low and did not indicate that a significantly larger eruption was imminent. Over the week of 5-10 March, seismicity was low but slightly above background.

On the morning of 10 March, AVO received a report from a pilot of low-level ash emission from the intracaldera cone. Clear web-camera views on 9 March showed small diffuse plumes of ash extending a short distance from the intracaldera cone. The Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported a steam/ash plume noted on web-cam and satellite on 13 March 2006 at 0500Z (12 March 2006 at 2000 hours local), moving NNW at 9.2 km/hr and falling to the land surface. Web-cam images on 22 March showed a very diffuse steam-and-ash plume that was confined to the summit caldera, and on 24 March showed a steam-and-ash plume drifting from the summit cone at a height of less than 2.3 km. This level of activity was similar to that on 23 March, but higher than activity on 21 and 22 March, when a very diffuse steam-and-ash plume was confined to the summit caldera.

The flow of seismic data from Veniaminof stopped on the evening of 21 March 2006, and the problem was expected to continue until AVO staff could visit the site to repair the problem. Absent seismic data, the volcano could potentially still be monitored in other ways such as using web-camera and satellite images. Imagery was obscured by cloudy weather after 21 March. On 26 March 2006, a pilot reported a small ash plume rising above the volcano. Low-altitude ash emissions from Veniaminof were visible during 31 March to 7 April. On 6 April, a pilot reported an ash plume at a height of 3 km. AVO stated in its weekly report of 14 April 2006 that the seismicity at Veniaminof remained low but above background. Internet camera and satellite views had been obscured by cloudy weather, and AVO lacked new information about ash clouds or 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: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of the U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, and Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL:; Charles R. Holliday, Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), Offutt Air Force Base, NE 68113 (Email: