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  • United States
  • Alaska
  • Caldera
  • 1912 CE
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 58.27°N
  • 155.157°W

  • 841 m
    2758 ft

  • 312180
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Novarupta.

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

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Novarupta.

Basic Data

Volcano Number

Last Known Eruption



1912 CE

841 m / 2758 ft


Volcano Types

Lava dome

Rock Types

Andesite / Basaltic Andesite

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Continental crust (> 25 km)


Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km

Geological Summary

Novarupta, the least topographically prominent volcano in the Katmai area, was formed during a major eruption in 1912. This eruption was the world's largest during the 20th century and produced a voluminous rhyolitic airfall tephra and the renowned Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes (VTTS) ash flow. At the end of the eruption a small, 65-m-high, 400-m-wide lava dome grew to an elevation of 841 m within the source vent of the VTTS ashflow, a 2-km-wide area of subsidence NW of Trident volcano. The NE side of the Falling Mountain lava dome of the Trident volcanic cluster, as well as Broken Mountain and Baked Mountain, was removed by collapse of the Novarupta depression, which is marked by radial and scalloped arcuate fractures. Much larger collapse took place at Katmai volcano, 10 km to the east, where a 3 x 4 km wide caldera formed in response to magma reservoir drainage toward Novarupta.


The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography.

Fierstein J, Houghton B F, Wilson C J N, Hildreth W, 1997. Complexities of plinian fall deposition at vent: an example from the 1912 Novarupta eruption (Alaska). J Volc Geotherm Res, 76: 215-227.

Green J, Short N M, 1971. Volcanic Landforms and Surface Features: a Photographic Atlas and Glossary. New York: Springer-Verlag, 519 p.

Henning R A, Rosenthal C H, Olds B, Reading E (eds), 1976. Alaska's volcanoes, northern link in the ring of fire. Alaska Geog, 4: 1-88.

Hildreth W, 1983. The compositionally zoned eruption of 1912 in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Katmai National Park, Alaska. J Volc Geotherm Res, 18: 1-56.

Hildreth W, 1987. New perspectives on the eruption of 1912 in the Valley of Ten Tousand Smokes, Katmai National Park, Alaska. Bull Volc, 49: 680-693.

Hildreth W, Fierstein J, 2000. Katmai volcanic cluster and the great eruption of 1912. Geol Soc Amer Bull, 112: 1594-1620.

Hildreth W, Lanphere M A, Fierstein J, 2003b. Geochronology and eruptive history of the Katmai volcanic cluster, Alaska Peninsula. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 214: 93-114.

Houghton B F, Wilson C J N, Fierstein J, Hildreth W, 2004. Complex proximal deposition during the Plinian eruptions of 1912 at Novarupta, Alaska. Bull Volc, 66: 95-133.

Miller T P, McGimsey R G, Richter D H, Riehle J R, Nye C J, Yount M E, Dumoulin J A, 1998. Catalogue of the historically active volcanoes of Alaska. U S Geol Surv Open-File Rpt, 98-582: 1-104.

Motyka R J, Liss S A, Nye C J, Moorman M A, 1993. Geothermal resources of the Aleutian arc. Alaska Div Geol Geophys Surv, Prof Rpt, no 114, 17 p and 4 map sheets.

Smith R L, Shaw H R, Luedke R G, Russell S L, 1978. Comprehensive tables giving physical data and thermal energy estimates for young igneous systems of the United States. U S Geol Surv Open-File Rpt, 78-925: 1-25.

Wood C A, Kienle J (eds), 1990. Volcanoes of North America. Cambridge, England: Cambridge Univ Press, 354 p.

Eruptive History

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

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 1950 Jul 5 ± 4 days ] [ Unknown ] Discredited    
[ 1949 May 19 ] [ Unknown ] Discredited    
1912 Jun 6 1912 Oct (?) Confirmed 6 Historical Observations

The Global Volcanism Program has no synonyms or subfeatures listed for Novarupta.

Photo Gallery

A 65-m-high, 380-m-wide lava dome lies within a circular ejecta ring and caps the 1912 vent of Novarupta volcano. A 60-hour-long eruption beginning on June 6, 1912, the Earth's largest eruption during the 20th century, produced The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes ash-flow deposit, which forms the flat ground at the right. The face of Falling Mountain, behind Novarupta dome, was sheared off by a 2-km-wide collapse around the Novarupta vent. This view from the NE shows snow-capped Mageik volcano in the background.

Photo by Tom Miller (U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Volcano Observatory).
Mount Mageik (left) and steaming Mount Martin (distant right) tower above the flat-bottomed floor of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes (VTTS). The VTTS was formed by ash flows during the 1912 eruption of Novarupta volcano, the Earth's largest eruption of the 20th century. Glacier-clad Mount Mageik has a broad summit capped by 4 knobs, each of which is a spatter and lava-flow vent.

Photo by Game McGimsey (U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Volcano Observatory).

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

The following 14 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 108924 Rhyolite
NMNH 116660-1 Andesite-dacite pumice
NMNH 116660-2 Andesite-dacite pumice
NMNH 116660-3 Andesite pumice
NMNH 116660-5 Rhyolite pumice
NMNH 117233-84 Tuff
NMNH 117233-85 Tuff
NMNH 117233-86 Tuff
NMNH 117233-87 Tuff with pumice and lapilli
NMNH 117259-20 Fumarole deposit
NMNH 117259-21 Fumarole deposit
NMNH 117259-22 Fumarole deposit
NMNH 117259-23 Fumarole deposit
NMNH 117259-24 Fumarole deposit

Affiliated Sites

Large Eruptions of Novarupta Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
MODVOLC - HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert System Using infrared satellite Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, developed an automated system called MODVOLC to map thermal hot-spots in near real time. For each MODIS image, the algorithm automatically scans each 1 km pixel within it to check for high-temperature hot-spots. When one is found the date, time, location, and intensity are recorded. MODIS looks at every square km of the Earth every 48 hours, once during the day and once during the night, and the presence of two MODIS sensors in space allows at least four hot-spot observations every two days. Each day updated global maps are compiled to display the locations of all hot spots detected in the previous 24 hours. There is a drop-down list with volcano names which allow users to 'zoom-in' and examine the distribution of hot-spots at a variety of spatial scales.
MIROVA Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity (MIROVA) is a near real time volcanic hot-spot detection system based on the analysis of MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data. In particular, MIROVA uses the Middle InfraRed Radiation (MIR), measured over target volcanoes, in order to detect, locate and measure the heat radiation sourced from volcanic activity.