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Report on Semisopochnoi (United States) — 17 March-23 March 2021


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 March-23 March 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Semisopochnoi (United States) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 March-23 March 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (17 March-23 March 2021)


United States

51.93°N, 179.58°E; summit elev. 1221 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

AVO reported that satellite data showed minor ash deposits on Semisopochnoi’s flanks and a possible gas cloud on 14 March. Two small explosions on 19 March, at 0350 and 0534, were recorded by regional infrasound sensors and prompted AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code and the Volcano Alert Level to Orange and Watch, respectively. A small explosion at 0230 on 21 March was followed by a series of smaller explosions. A volcanic gas cloud was visible in satellite data during the previous day. Three small explosions were detected during 22-23 March, though high weather cloud cover, at 9.1 km (30,000 ft) a.s.l., prevented satellite confirmation; no ash was visible above the cloud deck.

Geological Summary. Semisopochnoi, the largest subaerial volcano of the western Aleutians, is 20 km wide at sea level and contains an 8-km-wide caldera. It formed as a result of collapse of a low-angle, dominantly basaltic volcano following the eruption of a large volume of dacitic pumice. The high point of the island is Anvil Peak, a double-peaked late-Pleistocene cone that forms much of the island's northern part. The three-peaked Mount Cerberus (renamed Mount Young in 2023) was constructed within the caldera during the Holocene. Each of the peaks contains a summit crater; lava flows on the N flank appear younger than those on the south side. Other post-caldera volcanoes include the symmetrical Sugarloaf Peak SSE of the caldera and Lakeshore Cone, a small cinder cone at the edge of Fenner Lake in the NE part of the caldera. Most documented eruptions have originated from Young, although Coats (1950) considered that both Sugarloaf and Lakeshore Cone could have been recently active.

Source: US Geological Survey Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO)