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Report on Cleveland (United States) — October 2013


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 38, no. 10 (October 2013)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman. Edited by Julie A. Herrick.

Cleveland (United States) Dome growth and destruction during 2012-2013

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2013. Report on Cleveland (United States) (Herrick, J.A., and Wunderman, R., eds.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 38:10. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN201310-311240


United States

52.825°N, 169.944°W; summit elev. 1730 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

In the previous Bulletin report (BGVN 37:01) we discussed a cycle of lava-dome growth within the summit crater from late 2011 through early 2012. That cycle of extrusion and destruction of domes continued into 2013. The lava dome observed on 30 January 2013 persisted to the end of this reporting period, September 2013. The dynamic conditions at Cleveland caused the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) to report numerous changes in the Aviation Color Code and Alert Level, fluctuating between Yellow/Advisory and Orange/Watch throughout this time period (table 5).

Table 5. During 2012-2013, AVO announced changes in the Aviation Color Code and Volcano Alert Level for Cleveland. AVO and other US Observatories use a combination color code and alert level system that addresses both airborne and ground-based hazards (Gardner and Guffanti, 2006); the lowest level in this 4-step system is Normal/Green and the highest is Warning/Red. Courtesy of USGS-AVO.

Date of Change Aviation Color Code/ Volcano Alert Level
31 Jan 2012 Orange/Watch
23 Mar 2012 Yellow/Advisory
28 Mar 2012 Orange/Watch
30 May 2012 Yellow/Advisory
19 Jun 2012 Orange/Watch
05 Sep 2012 Yellow/Advisory
10 Nov 2012 Orange/Watch
21 Nov 2012 Yellow/Advisory
06 Feb 2013 Orange/Watch
08 Mar 2013 Yellow/Advisory
04 May 2013 Orange/Watch
04 Jun 2013 Yellow/Advisory

Continued explosions during 2012-2013. Cleveland has a history of frequent, minor ash emissions particularly during 2005-2009 (McGimsey and others, 2007; Neal and others, 2011) and with more frequency during 2011-2013 (Guffanti and Miller, 2013; De Angelis and others, 2012). During 2012-2013, Cleveland remained unmonitored by ground-based seismic instrumentation; volcanic unrest was primarily detected by the seismic network located on nearby Umnak Island (figure 12). Observations were also conducted with satellites that have capabilities of distinguishing ash from meteorological clouds during clear conditions: GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite), POES (Polar Operational Environmental Satellite which carries the AVHRR scanner), and the Terra and Aqua satellites that carry MODIS sensors.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Locations of Cleveland volcano (red triangle) and the infrasound stations in Alaska. Black dots are individual infrasound sensors co-located with seismic monitoring stations, yellow dots are infrasound arrays. The inset shows Umnak Island where the Okmok volcano stations are located; this is the closest seismic network to Cleveland. Map modified from De Angelis and others, 2012.

Additional assessments of explosive activity in this period were aided by (1) direct observations from mariners or pilots (PIREPS); (2) near real-time recordings of ground-coupled airwaves that characteristically arrive at seismic stations as extremely slow velocity signals, ~1 order of magnitude smaller than typical seismic velocity in the crust (De Angelis and others, 2012); (3) new infrasound detection capabilities recently expanded to include a station on Akutan (~500 km ENE of Cleveland).

De Angelis and others (2012) determined that 20 explosions were detected between December 2011 and August 2012, particularly by infrasound sensors as far away as 1,827 km from the active vent, as well as ground-coupled acoustic waves recorded at seismic stations across the Aleutian Arc. By retrospectively examining the record of airwaves from Cleveland, those authors determined that many explosions had gone unnoticed in satellite images, likely because of poor weather conditions that obscured the signal or because these explosions were brief, small, and lofted little ash.

Significant ash explosions in April-June 2012 and May 2013. During the 2012-2013reporting period, explosions from Cleveland's summit crater were most frequently detected during April and June 2012 (figure 13). Additional explosions were reported by AVO through July 2013. Relative quiescence (which included minor thermal anomalies visible in satellite images) followed and continued through September 2013.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Satellite image of Cleveland collected on 9 June 2012 by the satellite Worldview-2. Snow persisted on the flanks during this time, but recent, minor ash deposits were visible around the summit crater. In this view, N is at the top of the image and the narrow isthmus connecting Cleveland to the rest of Chuginadak Island is at the R-hand side of the image (although not visible here). Courtesy of USGS-AVO and Digital Globe.

During 2012-2013, at least two explosions were large enough to generate ash plumes that reached >4 km above the summit crater. Both were reported by the Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) on 7 April 2012 and 4 May 2013. The April event produced a plume that rose ~6 km a.s.l.; AVO reported that ash drifted E at 18 m/s. The 4 May 2013 event (figure 14) generated an ash plume that rose ~4.6 km a.s.l. Based on POES data and AVO observations, the ash drifted SE at ~10 m/s and dissipated within 5 hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. (A) AVHRR satellite image of Cleveland was taken at 0643 on 4 May 2013. This infrared image shows elevated temperatures that were present at Cleveland's summit and a small, low-level eruption plume containing minor amounts of ash trailed to the E. The thermal anomaly appears as a white dot in the center of the image. Courtesy of USGS-AVO/UAF-GI. (B) True-color Terra MODIS satellite image acquired at 2050 on 4 May 2013 shows an eruption plume from Cleveland. The diffuse ash plume extended from Cleveland's summit and across the SW point of Umnak Island. Courtesy of USGS-AVO and Land Atmosphere Near-real time Capability for EOS (LANCE) system operated by the NASA/GSFC/Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS).

During 2012-2013, AVO reported that explosions were frequently attributed to dome destruction. Those events often completely removed the new lava domes from the crater (table 6).

Table 6. Cleveland's lava dome history during 2012-2013 based on a variety of observations of the Cleveland summit crater. Note that an earlier dome was destroyed during 25-29 December 2011 and was confirmed absent by 24 January 2012. Courtesy of USGS-AVO.

New Dome Date Observations
30 Jan 2012 40 m across. Dome was gone by 11 March 2012.
26 Mar 2012 70 m across. Dome was gone by 4 April 2012.
25 Apr 2012 25 m across. Dome was gone some time before 29 April 2012.
03 May 2012 25 m wide. Dome was gone by 6 May 2012.
30 Jan 2013 100 m wide. Dome persisted through September 2013.

More on elevated surface temperatures during 2012-2013. In addition to the case shown in figure 14A, thermal anomalies in the vicinity of Cleveland's summit crater were frequently detected during this reporting period. AVO inferred that these observations reflected a variety of volcanic activity such as fresh, hot tephra from recent explosions, the hot open conduit at the bottom of the summit crater, incandescent rock such as the above mentioned domes (table 6) at the surface, or hot volcaniclastic flow deposits on the flanks (figure 15).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Composite image of the Cleveland summit area compiled from Landsat-8 images acquired on 8 June 2013. N is at the top of the image. Thermal infrared data are overlain onto a visible wavelength image; the extent of lava flows erupted during early May 2013 appears bright with colors corresponding to temperatures in the key (upper-L-hand corner). Temperature values are given in Kelvin, and range from 303-312 K (86-102 °F). The longest lava flows extended to ~715 m downslope from the summit. The summit was also covered by dark ash deposits and is surrounded by a low cloud deck. Courtesy of USGS-AVO.

AVO reported that a satellite-based thermal alarm was triggered on 12 June 2012, attributed to the formation of hot lahars or rubble flows on Cleveland's flanks. While no lava dome was present at that time (see table 6), this was a significant event that transported debris to 700 m elevation on the NW flank (note that Cleveland has a summit elevation of 1,730 m). Other deposits, likely from other lahars, were mobilized on the NNW and NNE flanks. The deposits were mainly confined to drainages; deposits extended >1.5 km in length. Flowage features on the SE and SW flanks reached >1 km in length. AVO scientists also noted that all flanks had shown signs of melted snow but cautioned that the visual effect could also be attributed to non-eruptive remobilization of existing fragmental material on the steep flanks.

Volcaniclastic deposits were also noted based in satellite images on 10 November 2012. These features were located on the E flank and extended ~1 km down the slope.

References: De Angelis, S., Fee, D., Haney, M., and Schneider, D., 2012. Detecting hidden volcanic explosions from Mt. Cleveland Volcano, Alaska with infrasound and ground-coupled airwaves, Geophysical Research Letters, 39, L21312, doi:10.1029/2012GL053635.

Gardner, C.A. and Guffanti, M.C., 2006. U.S. Geological Survey's Alert Notification System for Volcanic Activity, USGS Fact Sheet 2006-3139.

Guffanti, M., and Miller, T., 2013. A volcanic activity alert-level system for aviation: review of its development and application in Alaska: Natural Hazards, 15 p., doi:0.1007/s11069-013-0761-4.

McGimsey, R.G., Neal, C.A., Dixon, J.P., and Ushakov, Sergey, 2007. 2005 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 2007-5269, 94 p., available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2007/5269/.

Neal, C.A., McGimsey, R.G., Dixon, J.P., Cameron, C.E., Nuzhaev, A.A., and Chibisova, Marina, 2011. 2008 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 2010-5243, 94 p., available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5243.

Geological Summary. The beautifully symmetrical Mount Cleveland stratovolcano is situated at the western end of the uninhabited Chuginadak Island. It lies SE across Carlisle Pass strait from Carlisle volcano and NE across Chuginadak Pass strait from Herbert volcano. Joined to the rest of Chuginadak Island by a low isthmus, Cleveland is the highest of the Islands of the Four Mountains group and is one of the most active of the Aleutian Islands. The native name, Chuginadak, refers to the Aleut goddess of fire, who was thought to reside on the volcano. Numerous large lava flows descend the steep-sided flanks. It is possible that some 18th-to-19th century eruptions attributed to Carlisle should be ascribed to Cleveland (Miller et al., 1998). In 1944 it produced the only known fatality from an Aleutian eruption. Recent eruptions have been characterized by short-lived explosive ash emissions, at times accompanied by lava fountaining and lava flows down the flanks.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a)U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/), b)Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA (URL: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/), and c)Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://www.dggs.alaska.gov/); and Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 6930 Sand Lake Road, Anchorage, AK 99502, USA (URL: http://vaac.arh.noaa.gov/list_vaas.php).