Wrangell

Photo of this volcano
  • United States
  • Alaska
  • Shield
  • 1912 CE
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 62.006°N
  • 144.017°W

  • 4278 m
    14032 ft

  • 315020
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: October 2017 (BGVN 42:10) Citation IconCite this Report


Occasional steam plumes and wind-blown ash, but no recent eruptive activity

A previous report on Wrangell noted that the heat flux from a crater on the N side of the summit rim had increased by an order of magnitude between 1964 and 1986 (SEAN 11:04). Wrangell has several active fumarolic areas in its summit caldera. These fumaroles frequently produce steam plumes that are mistaken for eruptive activity. The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) receives several reports per year from pilots and local residents who observe larger than normal steam clouds over the summit. Although there have been some events possibly involving wind-blown ash, there have been no recent confirmed eruptions.

Activity during 1996-2000. According to Neal and McGimsey (1997), a pilot reported a suspicious cloud around 18 January 1996 rising about 1.5 km near Wrangell. The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed that a robust steam plume had been visible over the volcano for several weeks.

McGimsey and Wallace (1999) reported that, on 3 June 1997, a pilot reported steam rising from the summit. On 24 June another report described a steam plume rising about 200 m above the summit. This sighting was not observed on satellite imagery.

McGimsey and others (2004) reported that on the morning of 14 May 1999, a NWS observer in Gulkana (about 75 km WNW) reported anomalous steam emissions containing a small amount of ash. During clear weather at approximately 0930 local time, a rapidly billowing grayish-white plume rose to about 900 m above the N summit crater. The observer stated that at this time of year, on clear days, a small, wispy, steam plume is usually visible above Wrangell in the early morning, and dissipates by early afternoon. On this day, the plume developed quickly, was abnormally voluminous, and had a grayish color.

A pilot had also observed the activity and noticed that more "dirt" surrounded the N crater than usual, and that on the upper part of the Chestnina Glacier high on the SW flank, blocks of ice were chaotically jumbled (higher relief between blocks) and that the glacier surface was much more crevassed than he had ever previously seen. He also observed that one of two known fumaroles at 3,350 m elevation on the S flank, which typically issue steam through ice holes, was surrounded by a sizeable patch of bare rock, a new development since his last recent flight over the area. The pilot further reported that he had observed no sign of flowage or melting events high on the flank, but that he had not flown over the lower reaches of the glacier. As of 1700 that day the NWS observer in Gulkana could still see a small steam plume and with binoculars could see that the snow around the summit area appeared to be light gray and that this was a definite color contrast and not an effect from shadows.

According to Neal and others (2004), a Trans Alaska Pipeline worker reported an unusually strong, white steam plume on 18 March 2000 between 0500 and 0600 local time. Later that day a National Park Service (NPS) employee in Kenny Lake reported robust steaming during the previous month from multiple sources on the SW flank between approximately 600-1,500 m below the summit. AVO found no anomalies in satellite imagery and concluded that no significant unrest had occurred.

Activity during 2002-2003. Neal and others (2005) reported that on 1 August 2002, AVO received several calls reporting a dark cloud drifting downwind from the general summit area and a dark deposit high on its snow-covered flank. AVO seismologists, however, checked data from the Wrangell seismic network and, based on a lack of correlative seismicity, concluded that no eruption or explosion had occurred. AVO also consulted with a local NPS geologist, who suggested that high winds had lofted fine-grained material exposed in the area near the summit fumaroles. On 4 August, an AVO geologist traveling in the area verified that a diffuse, light gray stripe extended a short distance down the flank of the volcano, emanating from the W caldera rim.

Subsequently, a local resident presented AVO with a video showing the waning portion of the event and his written observations. The witness described multiple dark billowing black ash puffs; the wind was from the E and the puffs were not rising over the summit. By the time he had returned to a good vantage point to film, about 10-12 minutes later, the billowing had stopped and the puffs had "turned a more grayish color."

According to the authors, the video showed discrete, light gray "puffs" that moved downwind and retained their individual integrity. There were no other weather clouds in the vicinity. A light gray, relatively motionless and irregular-shaped cloud sat near the caldera rim. A breeze could be observed at ground level (indicated by motion in the trees) but at altitude, clouds were not shearing rapidly. High on the snow-covered flank, a gray-colored swath extended from a high point at the W caldera rim near Wrangell's crater. The end of the video footage showed two distinct dark areas on the rim that were normally snow-covered. The resident's son reported a similar but more vigorous event on 2 August at about the same time of the day, but AVO received no further inquiries or reports.

AVO concluded that no volcanic process of significance had occurred. However, the authors stated "these observations remain enigmatic: lack of any seismicity would seem to preclude a phreatic or magmatic eruption and yet the pulsatory, 'puffing' nature of the dirty clouds is difficult to reconcile with a wind phenomenon."

McGimsey and others (2005) reported that NPS geologist Danny Rosenkrans contacted AVO with photographs taken by a local resident on 11 June 2003 showing an unusual towering cloud over the summit. Although the authors acknowledged that it could simply have been a common cumulus cloud, they noted that the absence of cumulus clouds in the area over nearby Mts. Drum and Sanford suggested that calm weather conditions permitted steam emissions from the known summit fumaroles to coalesce and form the plume-like cloud.

McGimsey and others (2005) also reported that on 18 September 2003 the Center Weather Service Unit called with a Pilot Weather Report of a steam plume 600-700 m over the volcano. The pilot reported no ash or sulfur smell. AVO scientists checked satellite imagery and seismograms and found nothing unusual.

Activity during 2007. McGimsey and others (2011) stated that an M 8.2 earthquake in the Kurile Islands on 13 January 2007 may have triggered seismicity at Wrangell and other nearby volcanoes. There were no reports of steaming immediately following this event; however, two weeks later, on 7 February, a relatively large local earthquake was recorded on the Wrangell network that was followed another two weeks later by steaming from the summit. According to the authors, this was the first report of Wrangell steaming in several years.

The authors also mentioned additional episodes of steaming in March 2007. On 25 March, a resident living about 80 km N of the summit reported a strong sulfur odor, an occurrence the resident stated was rare in his 15 years of living in the area. Earlier that day, the Wrangell network had recorded several multi-station seismic events. The authors note that several months later, local residents sent AVO photographs taken on 20 June of steaming from Wrangell and a deposit of ash extending from the W crater many hundreds of meters down the SW flank (figure 2). According to the authors, this ash was likely redistributed from the summit craters by strong winds. No anomalous seismic activity was observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. View of the northwest flank of Wrangell volcano on 20 Jun e2007 showing a dark stripe of probable redistributed ash extending from West Crater. The photo was taken at Mile 20 of the Tok Cutoff (Hwy 1), between Gakona and Slana. Strong north winds were reported. Note the steam plume rising from skyline saddle near North Crater (left). Photo by Norma Traw, courtesy of AVO.

Activity during 2010. A report by Neal and others (2014) noted that no significant eruptive activity or restlessness had occurred in 2010. However, the authors stated that AVO had received a report of possible vapor emission from the summit area. In May 2010, a single LIDAR swath taken during a summit overflight by glaciologists from the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, depicted the topography of North Crater, a long-known fumarolic source on the NW rim of the ice-filled summit caldera. According to the authors, there are several secondary depressions, including a complex, kidney-bean shaped pit about 20 m deep and 200 m across, located in the center of North crater. This result is broadly consistent with previously recorded surveys of North Crater using photogrammetric techniques.

Neal and others (2014) reported that in early November 2010, a long-time local resident called AVO to report "more activity at the Mount Wrangell summit than he had ever seen before." He sent AVO several images of the volcano taken on 2 November and assured AVO that when the activity in question began, there had been no weather clouds in the area. He noted about ten "bursts" from the summit and said this was unusual compared to the typical steady emissions often seen. The authors stated that AVO reviewed available seismic and satellite data and, finding no evidence of volcanic signals, concluded that the phenomenon was most likely weather-related.

Activity during 2012. According to Herrick and others (2014), no eruptive activity or significant unrest had occurred in 2012, but as in previous years AVO received reports of fumarolic activity high on its flanks. The authors noted that, because of seismic station outages, AVO had removed Wrangell from its monitored list on 27 January 2012, where it remained for at least through the rest of the year. At the same time, the Aviation Color Code and Volcano Alert Level were downgraded from Green/Normal to Unassigned.

Herrick and others (2014) reported that on 11 March 2012, local observers noted "puffs of steam." AVO analysts using satellite images detected small plumes above known fumaroles. On 20 March 2012, a citizen noticed unusually rigorous steaming and described it as looking like "a pressure cooker shot through with nails." Steam rose from both the summit and a location on the SW flank at an elevation of about 3 km. Other calls to AVO registered concern about the significant plumes. Because no other evidence of significant volcanic unrest was detected, AVO concluded these events were likely generated by normal fumarolic activity.

References. Neal, C., and McGimsey, R. G., 1997, 1996 volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report OF 97-0433, 34 p.

McGimsey, R. G., and Wallace, K. L., 1999, 1997 volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report OF 99-0448, 42 p.

McGimsey, R. G., Neal, C. A., and Girina, O., 2004, 1999 Volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report OF 2004-1033, 49 p.

McGimsey, R. G., Neal, C. A., Dixon, J. P., Malik, N., and Chibisova, M., 2011, 2007 Volcanic activity in Alaska, Kamchatka, and the Kurile Islands: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5242, 110 p. Available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5242/.

Neal, C. A., McGimsey, R. G., and Chubarova, O., 2004, 2000 Volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report OF 2004-1034, 37 p.

Neal, C. A., McGimsey, R. G., and Girina, O., 2005, 2002 Volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report OF 2004-1058, 55 p., available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2004/1058/.

McGimsey, R. G., Neal, C. A., and Girina, O., 2005, 2003 volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1310, 62 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1310/.

McGimsey, R. G., Neal, C. A., Dixon, J. P., Malik, N., and Chibisova, M., 2011, 2007 Volcanic activity in Alaska, Kamchatka, and the Kurile Islands: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5242, 110 p. Available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5242/.

Neal, C. A., Herrick, J., Girina, O. A., Chibisova, M., Rybin, A., McGimsey, R. G., and Dixon, J., 2014, 2010 Volcanic activity in Alaska, Kamchatka, and the Kurile Islands - Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5034, 76 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20145034/.

Herrick, J. A., Neal, C. A., Cameron, C. E., Dixon, J. P., and McGimsey, R. G., 2014, 2012 Volcanic activity in Alaska: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5160, 82p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20145160/.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: https://avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://dggs.alaska.gov/).

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

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.

04/1986 (SEAN 11:04) Twenty years of increased heat flow; crater ice melts; fumarole temperatures increase; larger plumes

10/2017 (BGVN 42:10) Occasional steam plumes and wind-blown ash, but no recent eruptive activity




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


April 1986 (SEAN 11:04) Citation IconCite this Report


Twenty years of increased heat flow; crater ice melts; fumarole temperatures increase; larger plumes

University of Alaska geologists have documented a major long-term increase in heat flux at Mt. Wrangell, an andesitic shield volcano with a summit caldera 6 km long, 4 km wide, and 1 km deep. Heat flux from a crater on the N side of the summit caldera rim has increased by an order of magnitude since the great earthquake of 1964 (magnitude 8.3) centered ~250 km to the SW. Annual aerial photogrammetric surveys and digital cross sections demonstrate that since 1965 about 85% of the 4.4 x 107 m3 of ice in the north crater (figure 1) has melted; all melting at that altitude is caused by volcanic heat. Fumaroles remained at the boiling point (86°C at 600 mb pressure) from 1961 through the late 1970's, but some superheating may have begun by 1980, and in 1982 superheating was evident as vapor rose 1 m above the vents before condensing. In 1985, a temperature of l92°C was measured at the edge of one fumarole. The fumarole gases were dominantly water, but the SO2 content of the dry fraction was 28% in 1982 and 35% in 1985; most of the remaining gas was CO2 (gases were collected by Roman Motyka and Matthew Sturm, 1982, Matthew Sturm and Daniel Solie, 1985; analyses by W. Evans, USGS, and Roman Motyka).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. E-W cross-section of Wrangell's N crater, showing changes in the ice volume of the crater between 1957 and 1983; after Benson and Motyka (1978) and Benson and others (1984).

During April 1986, nearby residents reported occasional plumes rising as much as 1 km above the summit, with several observations of large plumes the last week of the month. On 30 April, the plume was estimated to be 1 km high and 300 m wide. Geologists plan overflights to monitor the activity.

References. Benson, C., and Follett, A., 1986, Application of photogrammetry to the study of volcano-glacier interactions on Mt. Wrangell, Alaska: Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, v. 52, no. 6, p. 813-827.

Benson, C., and Motyka, R., 1978, Glacier-volcano interactions on Mt. Wrangell, Alaska: Annual Report, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, 1977-78, p. 1-25.

Benson, C., Sturm, M., and others, 1984, Glacier-volcano interactions, Mt. Wrangell, Alaska: Annual Report, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, 1983-84, p. 102-104.

Information Contacts: Carl S. Benson, Geophysical Institute, Univ of Alaska, Fairbanks; Roman Motyka, Alaska Dept of Natural Resources, Juneau.


October 2017 (BGVN 42:10) Citation IconCite this Report


Occasional steam plumes and wind-blown ash, but no recent eruptive activity

A previous report on Wrangell noted that the heat flux from a crater on the N side of the summit rim had increased by an order of magnitude between 1964 and 1986 (SEAN 11:04). Wrangell has several active fumarolic areas in its summit caldera. These fumaroles frequently produce steam plumes that are mistaken for eruptive activity. The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) receives several reports per year from pilots and local residents who observe larger than normal steam clouds over the summit. Although there have been some events possibly involving wind-blown ash, there have been no recent confirmed eruptions.

Activity during 1996-2000. According to Neal and McGimsey (1997), a pilot reported a suspicious cloud around 18 January 1996 rising about 1.5 km near Wrangell. The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed that a robust steam plume had been visible over the volcano for several weeks.

McGimsey and Wallace (1999) reported that, on 3 June 1997, a pilot reported steam rising from the summit. On 24 June another report described a steam plume rising about 200 m above the summit. This sighting was not observed on satellite imagery.

McGimsey and others (2004) reported that on the morning of 14 May 1999, a NWS observer in Gulkana (about 75 km WNW) reported anomalous steam emissions containing a small amount of ash. During clear weather at approximately 0930 local time, a rapidly billowing grayish-white plume rose to about 900 m above the N summit crater. The observer stated that at this time of year, on clear days, a small, wispy, steam plume is usually visible above Wrangell in the early morning, and dissipates by early afternoon. On this day, the plume developed quickly, was abnormally voluminous, and had a grayish color.

A pilot had also observed the activity and noticed that more "dirt" surrounded the N crater than usual, and that on the upper part of the Chestnina Glacier high on the SW flank, blocks of ice were chaotically jumbled (higher relief between blocks) and that the glacier surface was much more crevassed than he had ever previously seen. He also observed that one of two known fumaroles at 3,350 m elevation on the S flank, which typically issue steam through ice holes, was surrounded by a sizeable patch of bare rock, a new development since his last recent flight over the area. The pilot further reported that he had observed no sign of flowage or melting events high on the flank, but that he had not flown over the lower reaches of the glacier. As of 1700 that day the NWS observer in Gulkana could still see a small steam plume and with binoculars could see that the snow around the summit area appeared to be light gray and that this was a definite color contrast and not an effect from shadows.

According to Neal and others (2004), a Trans Alaska Pipeline worker reported an unusually strong, white steam plume on 18 March 2000 between 0500 and 0600 local time. Later that day a National Park Service (NPS) employee in Kenny Lake reported robust steaming during the previous month from multiple sources on the SW flank between approximately 600-1,500 m below the summit. AVO found no anomalies in satellite imagery and concluded that no significant unrest had occurred.

Activity during 2002-2003. Neal and others (2005) reported that on 1 August 2002, AVO received several calls reporting a dark cloud drifting downwind from the general summit area and a dark deposit high on its snow-covered flank. AVO seismologists, however, checked data from the Wrangell seismic network and, based on a lack of correlative seismicity, concluded that no eruption or explosion had occurred. AVO also consulted with a local NPS geologist, who suggested that high winds had lofted fine-grained material exposed in the area near the summit fumaroles. On 4 August, an AVO geologist traveling in the area verified that a diffuse, light gray stripe extended a short distance down the flank of the volcano, emanating from the W caldera rim.

Subsequently, a local resident presented AVO with a video showing the waning portion of the event and his written observations. The witness described multiple dark billowing black ash puffs; the wind was from the E and the puffs were not rising over the summit. By the time he had returned to a good vantage point to film, about 10-12 minutes later, the billowing had stopped and the puffs had "turned a more grayish color."

According to the authors, the video showed discrete, light gray "puffs" that moved downwind and retained their individual integrity. There were no other weather clouds in the vicinity. A light gray, relatively motionless and irregular-shaped cloud sat near the caldera rim. A breeze could be observed at ground level (indicated by motion in the trees) but at altitude, clouds were not shearing rapidly. High on the snow-covered flank, a gray-colored swath extended from a high point at the W caldera rim near Wrangell's crater. The end of the video footage showed two distinct dark areas on the rim that were normally snow-covered. The resident's son reported a similar but more vigorous event on 2 August at about the same time of the day, but AVO received no further inquiries or reports.

AVO concluded that no volcanic process of significance had occurred. However, the authors stated "these observations remain enigmatic: lack of any seismicity would seem to preclude a phreatic or magmatic eruption and yet the pulsatory, 'puffing' nature of the dirty clouds is difficult to reconcile with a wind phenomenon."

McGimsey and others (2005) reported that NPS geologist Danny Rosenkrans contacted AVO with photographs taken by a local resident on 11 June 2003 showing an unusual towering cloud over the summit. Although the authors acknowledged that it could simply have been a common cumulus cloud, they noted that the absence of cumulus clouds in the area over nearby Mts. Drum and Sanford suggested that calm weather conditions permitted steam emissions from the known summit fumaroles to coalesce and form the plume-like cloud.

McGimsey and others (2005) also reported that on 18 September 2003 the Center Weather Service Unit called with a Pilot Weather Report of a steam plume 600-700 m over the volcano. The pilot reported no ash or sulfur smell. AVO scientists checked satellite imagery and seismograms and found nothing unusual.

Activity during 2007. McGimsey and others (2011) stated that an M 8.2 earthquake in the Kurile Islands on 13 January 2007 may have triggered seismicity at Wrangell and other nearby volcanoes. There were no reports of steaming immediately following this event; however, two weeks later, on 7 February, a relatively large local earthquake was recorded on the Wrangell network that was followed another two weeks later by steaming from the summit. According to the authors, this was the first report of Wrangell steaming in several years.

The authors also mentioned additional episodes of steaming in March 2007. On 25 March, a resident living about 80 km N of the summit reported a strong sulfur odor, an occurrence the resident stated was rare in his 15 years of living in the area. Earlier that day, the Wrangell network had recorded several multi-station seismic events. The authors note that several months later, local residents sent AVO photographs taken on 20 June of steaming from Wrangell and a deposit of ash extending from the W crater many hundreds of meters down the SW flank (figure 2). According to the authors, this ash was likely redistributed from the summit craters by strong winds. No anomalous seismic activity was observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. View of the northwest flank of Wrangell volcano on 20 Jun e2007 showing a dark stripe of probable redistributed ash extending from West Crater. The photo was taken at Mile 20 of the Tok Cutoff (Hwy 1), between Gakona and Slana. Strong north winds were reported. Note the steam plume rising from skyline saddle near North Crater (left). Photo by Norma Traw, courtesy of AVO.

Activity during 2010. A report by Neal and others (2014) noted that no significant eruptive activity or restlessness had occurred in 2010. However, the authors stated that AVO had received a report of possible vapor emission from the summit area. In May 2010, a single LIDAR swath taken during a summit overflight by glaciologists from the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, depicted the topography of North Crater, a long-known fumarolic source on the NW rim of the ice-filled summit caldera. According to the authors, there are several secondary depressions, including a complex, kidney-bean shaped pit about 20 m deep and 200 m across, located in the center of North crater. This result is broadly consistent with previously recorded surveys of North Crater using photogrammetric techniques.

Neal and others (2014) reported that in early November 2010, a long-time local resident called AVO to report "more activity at the Mount Wrangell summit than he had ever seen before." He sent AVO several images of the volcano taken on 2 November and assured AVO that when the activity in question began, there had been no weather clouds in the area. He noted about ten "bursts" from the summit and said this was unusual compared to the typical steady emissions often seen. The authors stated that AVO reviewed available seismic and satellite data and, finding no evidence of volcanic signals, concluded that the phenomenon was most likely weather-related.

Activity during 2012. According to Herrick and others (2014), no eruptive activity or significant unrest had occurred in 2012, but as in previous years AVO received reports of fumarolic activity high on its flanks. The authors noted that, because of seismic station outages, AVO had removed Wrangell from its monitored list on 27 January 2012, where it remained for at least through the rest of the year. At the same time, the Aviation Color Code and Volcano Alert Level were downgraded from Green/Normal to Unassigned.

Herrick and others (2014) reported that on 11 March 2012, local observers noted "puffs of steam." AVO analysts using satellite images detected small plumes above known fumaroles. On 20 March 2012, a citizen noticed unusually rigorous steaming and described it as looking like "a pressure cooker shot through with nails." Steam rose from both the summit and a location on the SW flank at an elevation of about 3 km. Other calls to AVO registered concern about the significant plumes. Because no other evidence of significant volcanic unrest was detected, AVO concluded these events were likely generated by normal fumarolic activity.

References. Neal, C., and McGimsey, R. G., 1997, 1996 volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report OF 97-0433, 34 p.

McGimsey, R. G., and Wallace, K. L., 1999, 1997 volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report OF 99-0448, 42 p.

McGimsey, R. G., Neal, C. A., and Girina, O., 2004, 1999 Volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report OF 2004-1033, 49 p.

McGimsey, R. G., Neal, C. A., Dixon, J. P., Malik, N., and Chibisova, M., 2011, 2007 Volcanic activity in Alaska, Kamchatka, and the Kurile Islands: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5242, 110 p. Available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5242/.

Neal, C. A., McGimsey, R. G., and Chubarova, O., 2004, 2000 Volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report OF 2004-1034, 37 p.

Neal, C. A., McGimsey, R. G., and Girina, O., 2005, 2002 Volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report OF 2004-1058, 55 p., available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2004/1058/.

McGimsey, R. G., Neal, C. A., and Girina, O., 2005, 2003 volcanic activity in Alaska and Kamchatka: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1310, 62 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1310/.

McGimsey, R. G., Neal, C. A., Dixon, J. P., Malik, N., and Chibisova, M., 2011, 2007 Volcanic activity in Alaska, Kamchatka, and the Kurile Islands: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5242, 110 p. Available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5242/.

Neal, C. A., Herrick, J., Girina, O. A., Chibisova, M., Rybin, A., McGimsey, R. G., and Dixon, J., 2014, 2010 Volcanic activity in Alaska, Kamchatka, and the Kurile Islands - Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5034, 76 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20145034/.

Herrick, J. A., Neal, C. A., Cameron, C. E., Dixon, J. P., and McGimsey, R. G., 2014, 2012 Volcanic activity in Alaska: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5160, 82p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20145160/.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: https://avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://dggs.alaska.gov/).

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.

Eruptive History


There is data available for 14 Holocene eruptive periods.

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 2002 Aug 1 ] [ 2002 Aug 2 ] Uncertain 1  
[ 1999 May 14 ] [ 1999 May 14 ] Uncertain 1  
[ 1969 Aug 16 ± 15 days ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1   West Crater
[ 1930 Jun 30 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
[ 1921 Jul 3 ] [ 1921 Jul 3 ] Uncertain     North flank?
1911 Apr 14 1912 Sep 14 (?) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
[ 1907 Apr 1 (in or before) ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
1902 Jul 15 ± 45 days Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations West Crater
1900 Jun (in or before) Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1899 Sep 3 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1884 Oct 26 ] [ 1885 Feb 4 ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1819 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1784 Jul ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
0190 ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (uncorrected)

Deformation History


There is no Deformation History data available for Wrangell.

Emission History


There is no Emissions History data available for Wrangell.

Photo Gallery


This view, across the Copper River to the SE, shows 4949-m-high Mount Sanford (left) and 4317-m-high Mount Wrangell (right), two massive andesitic shield volcanoes. The dissected Sanford shield volcano has a broad, bulbous top that is surrounded by steep-walled glacial cirques. Most of the volcano formed in the Pleistocene, but part of the summit region may be of Holocene age. Eruptive activity at the younger, less-dissected Wrangell volcano has continued into historical time.

Photo by Donald Richter (Alaska Volcano Observatory, U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
Mount Wrangell, a 4317-m-high andesitic shield volcano on the right skyline, is the only one in the Wrangell volcanic field to have had documented historical activity. Two large calderas truncate the summit; the inner ice-filled caldera contains 3 craters. Minor, possibly phreatic eruptions have occurred during the 20th century. At left is rounded Mount Zanetti, a 3965-m-tall flank cone; the sharp-topped peak at the extreme left of this view from the SW is a flank cone of the neighboring Pleistocene Mount Drum volcano.

Photo by B. Cella (National Park Service).
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An aerial view shows a portion of the 4 x 6 km, ice-filled summit caldera of Mount Wrangell, a 4317-m-high andesitic shield volcano. It is the only volcano in the Wrangell volcanic field to have had documented historical eruptions. These have consisted of minor, possibly phreatic eruptions. Fumarolic activity (right center) continues from one of three cinder cones on the rim of the caldera.

Photo by Chris Nye (Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Alaska Volcano Observatory).
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Alaska's Mount Wrangell is one of the most voluminous andesitic shield volcanoes in the world and is more than three times the volume of Mount Rainier. The massive volcano has a diameter of 30 km at 2000 m elevation and a volume of about 900 cu km. Eruption of unusually fluid andesitic lavas at high eruption rates produced long lava flows that contributed to its low-angle shield morphology. The small snow-covered peak on the left is Mount Zanetti, a flank vent about the same volume as St. Helens. Wrangell is seen here from Glenallen, 80 km to the west.

Photo by Chris Nye (Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys).
See title for photo information.
U. S. Geological Survey geologist W. C. Mendenhall viewed smoke and vapor columns and ash-covered snow during a 1902 expedition in the Mount Wrangell area. A photograph shows a smoke (and ash?) column rising above the summit crater and was probably taken during the summer of 1902. Ash darkens the snow over a wide area of the southern slopes of the volcano. The small cone on the far left horizon is Mount Zanetti.

Photo by W. C. Mendenhall, 1902 (U. S. Geological Survey).
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Smithsonian Sample Collections Database


The following 4 samples associated with this volcano can be found in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections, and may be availble for research (contact the Rock and Ore Collections Manager). Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description Lava Source Collection Date
NMNH 117233-30 Volcanic Ash Chetaslina Ash Flow --
NMNH 117233-37 Pumice Chetaslina Ash Flow --
NMNH 117457-2 Rhyolite Capital Mt --
NMNH 117457-3 Obsidian -- --

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