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Report on Semisopochnoi (United States) — April 1987


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 12, no. 4 (April 1987)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Semisopochnoi (United States) Plume; possible ash deposits

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1987. Report on Semisopochnoi (United States) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 12:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198704-311060


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A plume originating at about 52°N, 180° and extending 90 km ENE was noted by Steven Shivers from a NOAA 9 satellite image returned 13 April at 1731. On an image at 2135 the same day, the plume extended only 15 km ENE. On 24 April, pilot Harold Wilson (Peninsula Airways), flying 50 km SE of Semisopochnoi, noted a very dark-colored peak (perhaps Sugarloaf) among other snow-covered mountains on the island. Plumes from Semisopochnoi were reported several times in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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.

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