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Report on Atka Volcanic Complex (United States) — March 1987

Atka Volcanic Complex

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 12, no. 3 (March 1987)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Atka Volcanic Complex (United States) Ash eruption from Korovin summit and two nearby vents

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1987. Report on Atka Volcanic Complex (United States) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 12:3. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198703-311160

Atka Volcanic Complex

United States

52.331°N, 174.139°W; summit elev. 1518 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On 18 March at 1954 a NOAA 10 satellite image showed three distinct plumes, each 95 km long, drifting ENE. The estimated vent locations were: 52.38°N, 174.15°W (Korovin's summit); 52.31°N, 174.24°W; and 52.29°N, 174.21°W (5.5 km WSW and 6.5 km SW of Mt. Kliuchef, a cone on Korovin's S flank). More accurate locations will be determined by USGS Anchorage. Just before midnight on the same day US Navy pilot Jeffrey Sullivan observed a southward-drifting ash plume rising to at least 3,000 m altitude, lit by an orange "flame" from Korovin. Smaller orange flickering "flames" from two other vents at lower elevation were visible. Two of the vents were ~2 km apart and the third vent was ~10 km NE of the other two vents.

Earlier in the day (at 1300) Julie Dirks and other Atka residents noticed sulfur smells (~18 km from the volcano). Although the weather was clear Dirks did not notice any "unusual" eruptive activity. On 19 March a SIGMET notice was issued to warn pilots of volcanic ash 185 km on either side of a line from 52°N, 175°W to 54°N, 172°W. The warning remained in effect until 0930. Pilots reported that the ash cloud reached 3,600 m.

Geological Summary. The Atka Volcanic Complex consists of a central shield and Pleistocene caldera with several post-caldera volcanoes. A major dacitic explosive eruption accompanied formation of the caldera about 500,000 to 300,000 years ago. The most prominent of the post-caldera stratovolcanoes are Kliuchef and Sarichef, both of which may have been active in historical time. Sarichef has a symmetrical profile, but the less eroded Kliuchef is the source of most if not all historical eruptions. Kliuchef may have been active on occasion simultaneously with Korovin volcano to the north. Hot springs and fumaroles are located on the flanks of Mount Kliuchef and in a glacial valley SW of Kliuchef. Korovin, at the NE tip of Atka Island, is the most frequently active volcano of the complex, and contains a double summit with two craters. The NW summit has a small crater, but the 1-km-wide crater of the SE cone has an open cylindrical vent of widely variable depth that sometimes contains a crater lake or a high magma column. A fresh-looking cinder cone lies on the flank of the partially dissected Konia volcano, located on the SE flank of the dominantly basaltic Korovin. Some late-stage dacitic lava flows are present on both Korovin and Konia.

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