Apr
08
2006

Augustine erupts!


Augustine: Unusual glassy water around Augustine on 3/27/06, as viewed from the M/V Maritime Maid to the north east of the island. Photo by Cyrus Read, courtesy of AVO/USGS.

The stratovolcano Augustine is located in south central coastal Alaska, forming a circular island about 1,260 meters in height. Augustine has been erupting since January 2006, and is now color-coded “orange,” meaning further eruptions can occur at any time. Lava flow and rock falls are likely to continue for several weeks or months. The geologic record at Augustine indicates the volcano has been active for about 40,000 years. It experienced a very large eruption in 1883 that blew most of the volcano away, and has been rebuilding itself ever since. In 1986, it erupted and created an ash cloud over Anchorage, some 290 km away. Satellites actively monitor Augustine for changes in temperature and ash plumes. Check out this live web cam of the volcano.

Active volcanoes in the United States?

In addition to volcanoes on the west coast of the continental U.S., there are over forty-one historically active volcanoes in Alaska, including thirty that are monitored in real time. Most of Alaska’s volcanic features fall along the Aleutian arc. These volcanoes form a neat line between Alaska and Russia because they fall along a plate boundary. The subduction of the Pacific Plate beneath the overlying North American plate is what creates these volcanoes—and multiple earthquakes as well!


Air travel: Image courtesy Alaska Volcano Observatory

“No fly”zone

No humans live close enough to Augustine to be threatened by eruptions. Ash clouds from the volcano, however, do pose a threat to air travel in the region. Volcanic ash not only makes it difficult to navigate; it can also damage moving parts of jet planes, cause clogs, and even trigger engine failure. Although no human life has been lost, many planes in the last two decades have suffered damage from volcanic ash while flying through the region.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Great job of distributing information!Simply woderful!\r\n -anonymous

posted on Sat, 04/08/2006 - 7:46pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

I really love the photo too; the way the smoke forms the clouds.

posted on Sun, 04/09/2006 - 8:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

OMG, THAT IS BEAUTIFUL! HOORAY! :)

It's real pretty. :)

posted on Mon, 04/10/2006 - 10:35am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I was living in Anchorage in 1986 when Augustine last erupted. I remember a fine layer of ash was deposited all over cars, the snow, etc. I was 12 and I mostly I remember that we couldn't go downhill skiing! The chairlifts were all closed because of the risk caused by ash that was deposited in the gears.

posted on Thu, 04/13/2006 - 10:58am
Gabby's picture
Gabby says:

I think this exhibit was the best onen yet! ihave leared a lot about it but not stuff like this!

posted on Sun, 07/08/2007 - 3:34pm
Crazychildren's picture
Crazychildren says:

wow, that picture is amazing

posted on Fri, 07/13/2007 - 9:14pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Does volcano Augustine help produce geothermal energy

posted on Tue, 11/27/2007 - 7:45pm
Kerynn's picture
Kerynn says:

I wish I could give an authoritative figure of how many flights to/from Anchorage were diverted/canceled every time Mt. Augustine burped, for example. It just happened a few weeks ago.

People might scoff at *passenger* traffic coming through Anchorage compared to other airports, but for cargo, it's one of the largest in the world -- perfectly situated for flights doing the over-the-pole routes.

posted on Wed, 02/25/2009 - 7:03pm

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