Report on Semisopochnoi (United States) — 17 July-23 July 2019
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 July-23 July 2019
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2019. Report on Semisopochnoi (United States). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 July-23 July 2019. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
51.93°N, 179.58°E; summit elev. 1221 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
AVO reported that data from local seismic and infrasound sensors likely detected a small explosion at Semisopochnoi on 16 July. No ash was visible in cloudy satellite images although none was expected from an explosion of its size. A small plume drifted 18 km from the vent but had no indication of ash. A strong tremor signal was recorded at 2339 on 17 July and an infrasound signal was detected from an array located 260 km E on Adak Island. The event likely produced ash emissions, though none were visible above the cloud deck at 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. Seismic activity continued to increase. On 18 July a short-lived, low-level eruption prompted AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code to Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale) and the Volcano Alert Level to Watch (the second highest level on a four-level scale). A low-level plume was visible in occasional cloud-free satellite images. Seismic activity decreased abruptly that night and ground-coupled airwaves stopped being detected on adjacent islands, suggesting that the eruption had paused or ended. Seismic activity remained low at least through 21 July.
Geologic Background. Semisopochnoi, the largest subaerial volcano of the western Aleutians, is 20 km wide at sea level and contains an 8-km-wide caldera. It formed as a result of collapse of a low-angle, dominantly basaltic volcano following the eruption of a large volume of dacitic pumice. The high point of the island is 1221-m-high Anvil Peak, a double-peaked late-Pleistocene cone that forms much of the island's northern part. The three-peaked 774-m-high Mount Cerberus volcano was constructed during the Holocene within the caldera. Each of the peaks contains a summit crater; lava flows on the northern flank of Cerberus appear younger than those on the southern side. Other post-caldera volcanoes include the symmetrical 855-m-high Sugarloaf Peak SSE of the caldera and Lakeshore Cone, a small cinder cone at the edge of Fenner Lake in the NE part of the caldera. Most documented historical eruptions have originated from Cerberus, although Coats (1950) considered that both Sugarloaf and Lakeshore Cone within the caldera could have been active during historical time.