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Report on Pavlof (United States) — November 1986


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 11, no. 11 (November 1986)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Pavlof (United States) Eruption continues; lava flow reaches ocean

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1986. Report on Pavlof (United States) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 11:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198611-312030


United States

55.417°N, 161.894°W; summit elev. 2493 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The eruption continued into December with steam plumes from the N-summit vent and ash emissions from a SE flank vent 200-300 m below the summit (table 2). Steam and ash emissions were continuing at 1840 on 10 December when pilots saw an orange-red glow in a cloud above the summit. They did not observe any material moving through the clouds. The next day at 1324, airplane pilots reported that 3-4 lava flows had moved down the SSE flank and that one had reached the Pacific Ocean at Pavlof Bay, 10 km from the summit [but see 11:12]; a 300-m-high steam column rose where the flow entered the water.

Table 2. Summary of reports describing activity at Pavlof, 17 November-16 December 1986, collected by John Reeder. Observers (initials in brackets): Edward Livingston, Lee Goch, James Fredenhagen, Don Munson, and Harold Black (Reeve Aleutian Airways); Clayton Brown (Alaska Fish and Game); Jerry Chisum (MarkAir); Marsha Brown (FAA, Cold Bay); unnamed observers from Reeve Aleutian Airways (RA), MarkAir (MA), Peninsula Airways (PA), and a private plane (Cessna).

Date Time Activity Reported Observers
17 Nov 1986 1006-1600 Constant steaming from N vent; black ash pulsed (every 5- 8 minutes at 1200) from SE vent, feeding a plume to 3,600-4,200 m altitude that drifted 25-30 km S; ash covered the entire SE flank. CB, EL, JC, MA
18 Nov 1986 1200-1652 Steam emission from N vent; ash emission from SE vent, drifting SW. JC, JF, CB
19 Nov 1986 1030 Ash plumes to 3,000-3,300 m altitude emitted at 5-minute intervals from SE vent. EL
19 Nov 1986 1600 No eruption apparent despite clear visibility. RA
21 Nov 1986 1522 Small amounts of ash formed 1.5-km-long plume. PA
23 Nov 1986 1545 Plume rose to 3,000 m altitude; drifted NE. Cessna
26 Nov 1986 1130 Dark gray ash pume rose 90-150 m above summit from SE vent and drifted 8 km SE. LG, DM
02 Dec 1986 1045 Ash column from SE vent rose to 3,000 m, drifted E. MB
02 Dec 1986 1359 60-m-high brown ash cloud from SE vent. JC, MB
10 Dec 1986 1840 Pilots at 3,600 m altitude observed an orange-red glow in a thin cloud horizon at 2,500 m altitude (just above the summit). LG, DM
11 Dec 1986 1324 SE-vent ash plume reached 4,500-5,400 m altitude and drifted WSW for 32 km; three to four narrow lava flows had moved down the SSE flank. HB, DM
16 Dec 1986 1140 60-m-high steam plume from the SE vent; no other activity was observed. LG

Seismicity in early November reached more than 150 events/day, all apparently explosion shocks. Individual events had similar durations but variable amplitudes. Only a few hours of tremor were recorded.

Geological Summary. The most active volcano of the Aleutian arc, Pavlof is a Holocene stratovolcano that was constructed along a line of vents extending NE from the Emmons Lake caldera. Pavlof and Pavlof Sister to the NE form a dramatic pair of symmetrical, glacier-covered stratovolcanoes that overlook Pavlof and Volcano bays. Little Pavlof is a smaller cone on the SW flank of Pavlof volcano, near the rim of Emmons Lake caldera. Unlike Pavlof Sister, eruptions have frequently been reported from Pavlof, typically Strombolian to Vulcanian explosive eruptions from the summit vents and occasional lava flows. The active vents lie near the summit on the north and east sides. The largest recorded eruption took place in 1911, at the end of a 5-year-long eruptive episode, when a fissure opened on the N flank, ejecting large blocks and issuing lava flows.

Information Contacts: J. Reeder, ADGGS; J. Taber, LDGO.