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Report on Spurr (United States) — 21 July-27 July 2004


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
21 July-27 July 2004
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2004. Report on Spurr (United States). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 July-27 July 2004. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (21 July-27 July 2004)


United States

61.299°N, 152.251°W; summit elev. 3374 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

AVO raised the Concern Color Code at Spurr from Green to Yellow on 26 July after an increase in seismicity was recorded beneath the volcano's summit. Some earthquakes were interpreted to reflect the beginning stages of volcanic unrest. AVO noted that there were no indications that an eruption was imminent and that this type of seismicity can decline without leading to an eruption.

Retrospective analysis suggested that the seismic increase began slowly, perhaps as early as February 2004. As of 26 July, the seismic network recorded 15-20 earthquakes daily. This rate was greater than any observed since the last eruptive period in 1992. All earthquakes were less than magnitude 1.5 and ranged in depth between 1 and 6 km below sea level. Relatively few earthquakes were located beneath the Crater Peak vent, the site of the 1953 and 1992 eruptions. On 11 July a pilot reported a strong sulfur smell from Spurr and a new area of steaming, but AVO scientists observed neither during an overflight on 15 July.

Geological Summary. The summit of Mount Spurr is a large lava dome constructed at the center of a roughly 5-km-wide horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the south. The volcano lies 130 km W of Anchorage and NE of Chakachamna Lake. The caldera was formed by a late-Pleistocene or early Holocene debris avalanche and associated pyroclastic flows that destroyed an ancestral edifice. The debris avalanche traveled more than 25 km SE, and the resulting deposit contains blocks as large as 100 m in diameter. Several ice-carved post-caldera cones or lava domes lie in the center of the caldera. The youngest vent, Crater Peak, formed at the breached southern end of the caldera and has been the source of about 40 identified Holocene tephra layers. Eruptions from Crater Peak in 1953 and 1992 deposited ash on the city of Anchorage.

Source: US Geological Survey Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO)