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Report on Cleveland (United States) — April 2017


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 42, no. 4 (April 2017)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke. Edited by A. Elizabeth Crafford.

Cleveland (United States) Growth and destruction of six lava domes between June 2014 and February 2017

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2017. Report on Cleveland (United States) (Crafford, A.E., and Venzke, E., eds.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 42:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN201704-311240


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Large lava flows descend the flanks of Alaska's Cleveland volcano, located on Chuginadak Island in the Aleutians, slightly over 1,500 km SW of Anchorage (figure 18). However, dome growth and destruction by frequent small ash explosions have been more typical behavior in recent years; historical activity, including three large (VEI 3) eruptions, is recorded back to 1893. The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) and the Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) are responsible for monitoring activity and notifying air traffic of aviation hazards associated with Cleveland. This report summarizes activity between July 2011 and June 2014, and provides details of activity from June 2014 through February 2017.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Morning sunlight illuminates the southeast-facing slopes of the Islands of the Four Mountains on 15 November 2013 in this photograph taken from the International Space Station (ISS). The islands, part of the Aleutian Island chain, are the upper slopes of volcanoes rising from the sea floor: Carlisle, Cleveland, Herbert, and Tana. Carlisle and Herbert volcanoes are distinct cones and form separate islands. Cleveland and the Tana volcanic complex form the eastern and western ends respectively of Chuginadak Island; clouds obscure the connecting land area. Astronaut photograph ISS038-E-3612 acquired with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 400 mm lens, provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 38 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. Caption by William L. Stefanov, Jacobs at NASA-JSC. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Summary of activity during July 2011-June 2014. Dome growth and destruction characterized activity at Cleveland during 2011-2014. Eruptive episodes are challenging to determine due to weather conditions and the remoteness of the volcano; detectible ash plumes are intermittent, and thermal anomalies caused by dome growth are often obscured in satellite imagery. Seismic and infrasound data on explosions often provide valuable information. Dome growth was clearly documented between late July and October 2011 (BGVN 36:08, 37:01). An ash cloud observed on 29 December 2011 was followed by observations of dome growth in satellite data on 30 January 2012. Significant ash explosions occurred during April and June 2012 (BGVN 38:10). AVO also reported ash plumes on 12 July and 20 August 2012. Another small ash cloud was noted by AVO on 10 Nov 2012.

Details of the 2013 activity are provided in Dixon et al. (2015) and summarized here. Elevated temperatures in mid-January 2013 were followed by observations of a new lava dome that measured 100 m in diameter on 30 January 2013, and a second lava extrusion on 9 February. Elevated surface temperatures were intermittently observed until the next ash explosion on 4 May 2013, which was followed by a larger series of explosions on 6 May that filled the crater with tephra and created flowage deposits on the NE, E, and SE flanks. On 26 July, analysis of a satellite images suggested a new lava flow within the summit crater.

From August through 28 December 2013 the infrasound and seismic networks detected a number of additional explosions and periods of infrasonic tremor (see table 8 in Dixon et al., 2015). Most of these events did not have an accompanying ash signal in AVHRR satellite images, suggesting minor to no ash emissions. A detectible ash cloud on 30 December 2013 was preceded by strongly elevated surface temperature readings in the summit area on 28 December (BVGN 39:08). Ash plumes were again detected at the summit on 2 January, 25 February, and 6 March 2014. Cleveland was quiet for almost three months until an explosion on 5 June with a weak ash signal was detected.

Summary of activity during June 2014-February 2017. The growth and explosive destruction of six lava domes at Cleveland were recorded between June 2014 and February 2017. Although an explosion on 5 June 2014 was the last recorded explosion with confirmed ash until 14 June 2015, thermal and visual satellite evidence suggested dome growth activity during July-September and late November 2014. Weakly elevated surface temperatures at the summit were intermittent through February 2015. Minor ash deposits on the flanks were observed on 14 June 2015 in addition to stronger elevated surface temperatures, suggesting a new dome growth episode. An explosion on 21 July 2015 was thought to have destroyed the dome, and strongly elevated surface temperatures indicating new dome growth continued through July and August.

Moderately-elevated surface temperatures were detected at the summit in satellite data from January through 16 April 2016 when a new explosion was recorded. Satellite views in late April indicated that the August 2015 lava dome had been replaced with a small cinder cone within the summit crater. Explosions with no ash reported occurred twice in May, before the extrusion of a small amount of lava forming a new lava dome was observed on 17 May 2016, and which continued to grow for about one week. Moderately-elevated surface temperatures reappeared in mid-July, and field crews observed incandescence in a vent at the summit in late July. Satellite thermal anomalies were persistent from mid-May through September 2016. A new explosion on 24 October 2016 destroyed the dome emplaced in May; satellite views in November showed a deep pit within the summit crater. Weakly elevated surface temperatures reappeared in early December 2016. Moderately-elevated surface temperatures reappeared on 31 January 2017, [followed on 3 February by satellite observations that indicated] a new dome of similar size to earlier ones was once again filling the summit crater.

Activity during June 2014-February 2015. An ash-bearing explosion occurred in the late evening hours of 5 June 2014, resulting in a detached cloud with a weak ash signal observed in a satellite image that rapidly dissipated; no additional ash explosions were observed over the next 12 months. Weakly elevated surface temperatures were observed in satellite data on 7 July, and a vigorous steam-and-gas plume was observed on 8 and 9 July. Typical steam-and-gas emissions and persistent elevated surface temperatures in the summit crater were noted in satellite observations during clear periods through July and August, but AVO received no reports from pilots or mariners of any eruptive activity. Scientists working on the island in early August noted incandescence and puffing activity of steam and gas at the summit, and witnessed several small rockfall events. A newly installed webcam and other geophysical equipment at station CLCO near Concord Point on the SE coast of Chuginadak Island, about 15 km E of the volcano's summit, became operational in September 2014. In mid-September several rockfall signals were detected by the new local seismic network, and indicated the continued instability of volcanic debris on the steep upper flanks of the volcano.

Elevated surface temperatures were observed at the summit on clear days with occasional minor steaming visible in webcam images from late September to late October 2014. On 14 November AVO reported that vigorous steaming from the summit crater was observed in webcam images during the prior week, although they remarked that steam emissions are routinely observed at Cleveland and do not necessarily indicate an increase in unrest. On 28 November, they noted that a small mound of lava in the crater was observed in clear satellite views earlier that week that may have corresponded with the appearance of a faint thermal signal in the satellite data; the lava possibly extruded around 24 November. Satellite views on 19 December 2014 showed weakly elevated surface temperatures at the summit vent.

Low-density gas emissions and weakly elevated surface temperatures in the summit region were observed on 1 January 2015, and during clear weather up to 9 January. After this, nothing of note was observed in satellite or webcam images, and no significant activity was detected in seismic or infrasound (air pressure) data until weakly elevated surface temperatures were again detected in satellite data on 25 February. A low-level steam-and-gas plume emanated from the summit on 24 February, and again was identified in multiple satellite images on 28 February. During March, April, and May 2015, no significant activity, except for occasional steaming from the summit crater, was observed during periods of clear weather, causing AVO to downgrade both the Aviation Color Code (ACC) and the Volcano Alert Level (VAL) to Unassigned on 28 May 2015.

Activity during June 2015-March 2016. AVO issued a new VONA (Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation) on 17 June 2015 returning the Aviation Color Code to Yellow (Yellow is 2nd lowest on a 4-color scale), and the Volcano Alert Level to Advisory (also 2nd lowest on a 4-level scale). This was based on satellite detection of elevated surface temperatures at the summit and an image from 14 June showing very minor ash deposits on the upper flanks. They interpreted the increase in temperature as consistent with renewed growth of the small lava dome within the crater. Elevated summit surface temperatures were again observed on 30 June, and during three clear days in early July. On 21 July AVO detected an explosion in both infrasound and seismic data, and raised the ACC to Orange and the VAL to WATCH. Satellite views were obscured by clouds, though a dusting of ash on the upper flanks was noted by a nearby field crew and recorded by the webcam later in the day. The explosion destroyed the dome that had formed in November 2014. Strongly elevated surface temperatures were recorded at the summit during the last week of July, including a thermal alert pixel from the MODVOLC system on 31 July.

Slightly elevated surface temperatures were recorded at the summit during the first week of August 2015. On 4 August, a field crew working in the area reported a small amount of lava covering the crater floor. Surface temperatures of the cooling lava measured by the crew were in the range of 550-600°C. Minor ash-and-gas emissions were also observed. A small explosion occurred on 6 August at 2203 AKDT, but no ash cloud was identified. Strongly elevated surface temperatures suggestive of lava effusion were noted in satellite data through 18 August, and weakly elevated temperatures were recorded for the rest of August and September. A small swarm of earthquakes was detected on 29 August.

AVO lowered the ACC to Yellow and the VAL to ADVISORY on 14 October 2015, citing the likely cessation of lava effusion, while minor steaming, weakly elevated surface temperatures, and slightly above-background seismicity continued through November 2015. Exceptionally clear weather during late November allowed many views of the volcano, showing only modest steaming from the summit. Elevated surface temperatures were detected twice during December, and an increase in frequency of small VT (Volcano-Tectonic) events was noted on 22 and 23 December, but otherwise no significant seismicity or emissions (other than steam plumes) were detected.

Moderately-elevated surface temperatures were detected at the beginning of the second week in January 2016, followed by several small earthquakes per day during the third week, and weakly elevated temperatures. Low-level seismicity and elevated surface temperatures were next observed during the last week of February; a brief burst of small local earthquakes was recorded on 28 February followed by weakly elevated surface temperatures during the first week of March. Moderately-elevated surface temperatures were again observed during the last week of March.

Activity during April-September 2016. A new explosion on 16 April 2016 was detected in both infrasound and seismic data, but satellite views were obscured by clouds. AVO raised the ACC to Orange until 29 April, when they noted that recent satellite imagery indicated that the August 2015 lava dome had been replaced with a small cinder cone within the summit crater; seismic activity remained lower after the explosion. Another explosion on 5 May at 1844 local time led AVO to raise the ACC back to Orange, although no ash emissions were observed above the cloud deck. A brief explosive event on 10 May was detected by pressure sensors near the volcano, and again no ash was reported.

A small volume of lava was extruded from the summit on 17 or 18 May, as confirmed in satellite data. The low-relief, 50-m-diameter dome was similar in size and shape to the ten domes observed since 2011, the most recent of which was extruded and destroyed earlier in May. During the week of 20 May, this lava dome enlarged to about 60 m in diameter. Dome growth appeared to have paused or ceased by 23 May. Weakly elevated surface temperatures were observed in mostly clear views by satellite on 25 and 26 May, which is consistent with the presence of the new lava dome. The Aviation Color Code was lowered from Orange to Yellow by AVO on 3 June when no other signs of eruptive activity were observed. Occasional clear satellite views detected weakly elevated surface temperatures that AVO interpreted as consistent with cooling lava during June 2016.

The MIROVA infrared data suggests ongoing thermal anomalies from late May through September 2016 (figure 19). AVO reported weakly-to-moderately-elevated surface temperatures reappearing during the second and third weeks of July. Field crews conducted an overflight during the last week of July and observed incandescence from a vent in the summit crater. Low-level steam plumes and minor degassing were observed a number of times during August. A small swarm of earthquakes occurred on 29 August; owing to the small number of telemetered seismometers on Cleveland, the locations and magnitudes of the earthquakes could not be determined precisely. Thermal anomalies were observed in satellite data during the last week of August and slightly elevated surface temperatures were observed on clear satellite images a number of times in September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. MIROVA data from 18 January 2016 to 18 January 2017 showing a persistent thermal anomaly from Cleveland starting about the time of the observation of the new lava dome (17 or 18 May) through late September 2016. A new thermal anomaly appears in late December 2016. AVO reported elevated surface temperatures on 6 January 2017. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during October 2016-February 2017. AVO detected an explosion at 1310 local time on 24 October 2016 that was heard by residents in Nikolski (75 km E), prompting AVO to raise the ACC to Orange and the VAL to WATCH. No evidence of an eruption cloud was detected above the weather cloud present at 8.5 km altitude, and no ashfall was reported in Nikolski. However, clear post-explosion webcam views of the volcano showed a darkened area around the summit crater which may have been the result of minor ash fallout. Narrow dark streaks were also observed extending down the upper snow-covered part of the edifice, which according to AVO may have been produced by small flows of meltwater and ash. They lowered the ACC back to Yellow on 4 November 2016. Satellite views from early November indicated that the lava dome emplaced in late May was mostly destroyed in the 24 October explosion, and was replaced with a deep pit within the summit crater. Minor steaming was observed from the summit during a few periods of clear weather in November.

Observations of weakly-elevated surface temperatures returned 8 and 9 December, with minor steaming at the summit observed on clear days. A MIROVA thermal anomaly signal reappeared around 25 December. This was followed by AVO's observation of weak-to-moderate elevated surface temperatures during first week of January 2017. Low-level steam plumes were seen on clear days later in the month. Moderately-elevated surface temperatures appeared in satellite data on 31 January. [On 3 February 2017 the appearance of a new dome] led AVO to raise the ACC to Orange. Satellite observations indicated that a new lava dome had been extruded and was partially filling the summit crater. The new dome was about 70 m in diameter and similar in size to previous lava domes that have developed on the floor of the crater.

References: Dixon, J.P., Cameron, C., McGimsey R.G., Neal, D.A., and Waythomas, C., 2015, 2013 Volcanic activity in Alaska-Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015-5110, 92 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155110 .

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, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://www.dggs.alaska.gov/); Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Alaska Aviation Weather Unit, NWS NOAA US Dept of Commerce, 6930 Sand Lake Road, Anchorage, AK 99502-1845(URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).