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  • United States
  • Alaska
  • Stratovolcano
  • 847 CE
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 61.38°N
  • 141.75°W

  • 5005 m
    16416 ft

  • 315030
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Churchill.

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

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

Basic Data

Volcano Number

Last Known Eruption



847 CE

5005 m / 16416 ft


Volcano Types


Rock Types


Tectonic Setting

Continental crust (> 25 km)


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

Geological Summary

The Bona-Churchill massif in the St. Elias Mountains forms the highest Quaternary volcano in the United States. A 2.7 x 4.2 km wide caldera caps the summit of 4766-m-high Mount Churchill, which is now known to be the source of the White River Ash, produced during two of the largest explosive eruptions in North America during the past 2000 years (McGimsey et al. 1992). The 5005-m-high summit of Mount Bona lies 4 km across a high saddle from the younger Mount Churchill. The source vent of the widespread bilobate White River Ash deposit, which blankets more than 340,000 sq km of eastern Alaska and NW Canada, was initially thought to be a pumice mound that is mostly buried beneath the Klutlan Glacier NE of Churchill volcano. More recent work has revealed thick young pumice deposits mineralogically and chemically similar to the White River Ash deposits along the rim of the Mount Churchill caldera.


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

Clague J J, Evans S G, Rampton V N, Woodsworth G J, 1995. Improved age estimates for the White River and Bridge River tephras, western Canada. Can J Earth Sci, 32: 1172-1179.

Coulter S E, Pilcher J R, Plunkett G, Baillie M, Hall V A, Steffensen J P, Vinther B M, Clausen H B, Johnsen S J, 2012. Holocene tephras highlight complexity of volcanic signals in Greenland ice cores. J. Geophys. Res. 117, D21303.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Jensen B J L, Pyne-O’Donnell S, Plunkett G, Froese D G, Hughes P D M, Sigl M, McConnell J R, Amesbury M J, Blackwell P G, van den Bogaard C, Buck C E, Charman D J, Clague J J, Hall V A, Koch J, Mackay H, Mallon1 G, McColl1 L, Pilcher J R, 2014. Transatlantic distribution of the Alaskan White River Ash. Geology 42:10, 875-878.

Lerbekmo J F, Campbell F A, 1969. Distribution, Composition, and Source of the White River Ash, Yukon Territory.. Can J Earth Sci, 6: 109-116.

Lerbekmo J F, Westgate J A, Smith D G W, Denton G H, 1975. New data on the character and history of the White River volcanic eruption, Alaska. In: Suggate R P and Cresswell M M (eds) {Quaternary Studies}, Wellington: Roy Soc New Zeal, p 203-209.

McGimsey R G, Richter D H, DuBois G D, Miller T P, 1992. A postulated new source for the White River Ash, Alaska. U S Geol Surv Bull, 1999: 212-218.

Richter D H, Preece S J, McGimsey R G, Westgate J A, 1995. Mount Churchill, Alaska: source of the late Holocene White River Ash. Can J Earth Sci, 32: 741-748.

Richter D H, Rosenkrans D S, Steigerwald M J, 1995. Guide to the volcanoes of the western Wrangell Mountains, Alaska--Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. U S Geol Surv Bull, 2072: 1-31.

Robinson S D, 2001. Extending the Late Holocene White River Ash distribution, northwestern Canada. Arctic, 54: 157-161.

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
0847 ± 1 years Unknown Confirmed 6 Tephrochronology WRAe
0060 ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed 6 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) WRAn

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.


White River | Klutlan Glacier | Bona-Churchill

Photo Gallery

A U.S. Geological Survey climbing party ascends the Klutlan Glacier en route to 4766-m-high Mount Churchill. Their field studies led to the recent discovery that this volcano was the site of two of the most voluminous eruptions in North America in the past 2000 years. The White River Ash, two voluminous ash layers that extend across most of Canada's southern Yukon, originated from the summit caldera of Churchill volcano, which forms a twin volcano with 5005-m-high Mount Bona. The two peaks comprise the highest volcano in the United States.

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

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

There are no samples for Churchill in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences Rock and Ore collection.

Affiliated Sites

Large Eruptions of Churchill 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.