Report on Makushin (United States) — April 1986

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 11, no. 4 (April 1986)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Makushin (United States) Increased steaming from six summit area vents

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1986. Report on Makushin (United States). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 11:4. Smithsonian Institution.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


United States

53.891°N, 166.923°W; summit elev. 1800 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On 20 December, pilot T. Madsen (Aleutian Air) noticed anomalous amounts of steam rising from six large and closely spaced steam vents just E of the summit. The largest plume was 500-600 m high. No ash was observed in the white plumes. Air temperature at 2,400 m was -6.7°C, warm for that altitude. Steaming remained anomalously vigorous for the next two days before returning to a more normal level. Based on John Reeder's observations . . . since 1979, the summit steam activity is continuous and normally reaches heights of 100 m or slightly less.

Geologic Background. The ice-covered, 1800-m-high Makushin volcano on northern Unalaska Island west of the town of Dutch Harbor is capped by a 2.5-km-wide caldera. The broad, domical structure of Makushin contrasts with the steep-sided profiles of most other Aleutian stratovolcanoes. Much of the volcano was formed during the Pleistocene, but the caldera (which formed about 8000 years ago), Sugarloaf cone on the ENE flank, and a cluster of about a dozen explosion pits and cinder cones at Point Kadin on the WNW flank, are of Holocene age. A broad band of NE-SW-trending satellitic vents cuts across the volcano. The composite Pakushin cone, with multiple summit craters, lies 8 km to the SW of Makushin. Frequent explosive eruptions have occurred during the past 4000 years, sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows and surges. Geothermal areas are found in the summit caldera of Makushin and on the SE and eastern flanks of the volcano. They represent the largest and most investigated high-temperature geothermal resources in Alaska. Small-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded at Makushin since 1786.

Information Contacts: J. Reeder, Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys (ADGGS).