Kiska

Photo of this volcano
  • United States
  • Alaska
  • Stratovolcano
  • 1990 CE
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 52.103°N
  • 177.602°E

  • 1220 m
    4002 ft

  • 311020
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: May 1990 (BGVN 15:05) Citation IconCite this Report


Steam and ash plume

A steam cloud emerging from an upper flank vent . . . was seen from neighboring Amchitka Island on 1 June at about 1000. Ash began mixing with the steam after ~30 minutes, and steam and ash emission remained visible until weather conditions obscured the volcano 3 hours later. At about 1500, a Reeve Aleutian Airways pilot reported a steam plume rising to ~3.5 km altitude, associated with a dispersed gray haze at about the same altitude. Authorities issued a NOTAM. When a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) vessel traveled past the N and W sides of Kiska Island on 3 June, no ash was visible on flank snow cover, although some light snow might have fallen since the eruption. Steaming from the W vent appeared typical. A plume from Kiska was clearly evident on radar aboard the Soviet vessel RV Vulkanolog, as it passed ~200 km N of Kiska on 4 June at 0800. However, no ashfall was noted at the ship.

Information Contacts: AVO; Nikolai Seliverstov (chief of expedition, RV Vulkanolog), IV; Eugene Yogodzinski (RV Vulkanolog), Cornell Univ; Anchorage Times, AK.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Kiska.

Bulletin Reports - Index


Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

09/1969 (CSLP 69-116) Eruption generates ash and steam plumes; small lava flow

04/1987 (SEAN 12:04) Plume on satellite image

05/1990 (BGVN 15:05) Steam and ash plume




Information is preliminary and subject to change. All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


September 1969 (CSLP 69-116)


Eruption generates ash and steam plumes; small lava flow

Card 0751 (12 September 1969) Ash and steam plumes and lava seen; source uncertain

"Last night the people on Amchitka visually sighted a volcano erupting about 50 miles NW of the island. It was on one of the smaller islands which they could not identify. They observed volcanic ash to approximately 1,200 feet and steam to about 12,000 feet. They visually sighted flames and lava last night at approximately 1000 GMT on 12 September. The eruption was observed at periods of about two minutes during the most active period of the volcanic activity." Positive identification of the erupting volcano has not yet been made.

Card 0752 (17 September 1969) Overflights identify Kiska as source of activity

The following was received via cable from D.B. Stone on 15 September. "Kiska volcano seen to be active. Much steam, strong sulfur smell, air temperature as recorded by aircraft 10°C higher over N tip of island than over adjacent sea. Unable to see other islands due to poor weather. Kiska likely source of events seen from Amchitka."

The following report is from a telephone conversation with L. Kerry on 16 September, 7:00 p.m. EDT. "The first report we had was the 12th of September from the people working on Amchitka Island, who called in and reported that there was steam and that it seemed to be throwing something up into the air. This wasn't happening on the afternoon of the 13th when our military plane flew over. These first reports were just visual reports from Amchitka and because of overcast skies, they could only see it occasionally in snatches. There were no explosions heard, or none were reported to us, and they didn't say if there was any eruption cloud. The plane definitely pinpointed the volcano on 'Little Kiska' island. They measured a definite rise in temperature from as close as they could get in the plane of 15°C; there was steam and there seemed to be evidence of a small lava flow. The latest report we have from witnesses on Amchitka seems to indicate that it is beginning to stop; and a pilot reported the volcano is down to just steam a day ago."

Information Contacts:
Card 0751 (12 September 1969) John B. Townshend, College Observatory, Coast and Geodetic Survey, College AK, USA.
Card 0752 (17 September 1969) D.B. Stone, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, College, AK; Leonard Kerry, Adak Observatory, FPO Seattle, WA.


April 1987 (SEAN 12:04) Citation IconCite this Report


Plume on satellite image

From a 15 April NOAA 9 satellite image (at 1704), Steven Shivers (USGS) noted a narrow plume drifting ~60 km E from the volcano. No reports of an eruption have been received from airplane pilots or ground observers.

Information Contacts: J. Reeder, ADGGS; T. Miller, USGS, Anchorage; W. Gould, NOAA/NESDIS.


May 1990 (BGVN 15:05) Citation IconCite this Report


Steam and ash plume

A steam cloud emerging from an upper flank vent . . . was seen from neighboring Amchitka Island on 1 June at about 1000. Ash began mixing with the steam after ~30 minutes, and steam and ash emission remained visible until weather conditions obscured the volcano 3 hours later. At about 1500, a Reeve Aleutian Airways pilot reported a steam plume rising to ~3.5 km altitude, associated with a dispersed gray haze at about the same altitude. Authorities issued a NOTAM. When a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) vessel traveled past the N and W sides of Kiska Island on 3 June, no ash was visible on flank snow cover, although some light snow might have fallen since the eruption. Steaming from the W vent appeared typical. A plume from Kiska was clearly evident on radar aboard the Soviet vessel RV Vulkanolog, as it passed ~200 km N of Kiska on 4 June at 0800. However, no ashfall was noted at the ship.

Information Contacts: AVO; Nikolai Seliverstov (chief of expedition, RV Vulkanolog), IV; Eugene Yogodzinski (RV Vulkanolog), Cornell Univ; Anchorage Times, AK.

Eruptive History


Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).


Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1990 Jun 1 1990 Jun 1 (?) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Upper NW? flank
[ 1987 Apr 15 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
1969 Sep 11 1969 Sep 16 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1964 Mar 18 Unknown Confirmed 0 Historical Observations
1962 Jan 24 Unknown Confirmed 3 Historical Observations North flank (Sirius Point)
[ 1927 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1907 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.

Photo Gallery


A steam plume rises from the summit of conical Kiska volcano, the westernmost historically active volcano of the 2500-km-long Aleutian arc. Three sides of the volcano, including the northern side seen here, are bounded by steep cliffs up to 450 m high. An elliptical crater, breached to the north, caps the stratovolcano, which occupies the northern tip of the elongated island. A flank cinder cone formed in 1962 at the northern coast.

Photo by E.V. Kleff, 1985 (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory).
See title for photo information.
The view WNW from the western side of Little Sitkin Island includes the broad snow-free island of Davidof, part of the rim of a largely submerged caldera, across the right center. The snow-capped peak behind Davidof is historically active Segula volcano. In the background at far left is the snow-capped Kiska volcano.

Photo by Steve Ebbert, 2000 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
See title for photo information.

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database


The following 1 samples associated with this volcano can be found in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections. Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description
NMNH 76100 Unidentified

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