Kasatochi – a One-Hit Wonder?

Aerial view of Kasatochi Volcano, taken August 28, 2011. Photograph courtesy of Burke Mees.

Aerial view of Kasatochi Volcano, taken August 28, 2011. Photograph courtesy of Burke Mees.

In August 2008, a small volcanic island in the central Aleutians erupted for a day.  The eruption was a VEI 4, resurfaced the island with pyroclastic flows, increased the area of the island by around 40%, and killed almost everything living on it.  Pyroclastic flows entered the surrounding sea and buried kelp beds surrounding most of the island under tens of meters of debris.  Incidentally, the eruption also injected the most sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere of any eruption since Pinatubo and Hudson in 1991.  Not bad for an island with no significant eruptive history measuring only a mile and a half (three kilometers) across and 1,000’ (300 m) high.

Kasatochi lies 1,200 miles (1,900 km) south and east of Anchorage, AK.  It is east of Adak Island.  The closest monitored volcano is Great Sitkin on Great Sitkin Island, some 20 miles (35 km) west of the island.

Location map showing Kasatochi volcano. Picture Date: August 06, 2008 – Image Creator: Snedigar, Seth – Image courtesy of the AVO/ADGGS.

Location map showing Kasatochi volcano. Picture Date: August 06, 2008 – Image Creator: Snedigar, Seth – Image courtesy of the AVO/ADGGS.

Geologically, the island is a single roundish island with a large crater lake in the middle of it.  The crater lake measures around a half a mile (1 km) across and its water level sits about 60’ (20 m) above sea level.  The island is surrounded by cliffs, with few if any beaches.  Total pre-eruption area of the island was 2 square miles (5 square km).  It is also interesting in that it is one of several central Aleutian Islands described as “….the tip of a stratovolcano built of basaltic, andesitic and pyroclastic flows emerging from the ocean.”  The last reported eruption of Kasatochi may have been 1826 and 1827.  But the report identified a long dormant volcano rather than Kasatochi.  There was also a report in 1899 of the crater lake disappearing and steam rising from the crater.

Kasatochi Island volcano crater lake, 14 Aug 2004. Photograph by Drummond, Brie/US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Kasatochi Island volcano crater lake, 14 Aug 2004. Photograph by Drummond, Brie/US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Pre-eruption photos of Kasatochi showed a lush, green, beautiful island.  The island was surrounded by cliffs with relatively small beaches.  Most of the cliffs on the southern half of the island were filled in by debris after the eruption, though the action of ocean waves was busily re-carving them in the soft remains of the pyroclastic flows in the years following the eruption.

It is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and supported among other birds a colony of a quarter million auklets (birds).  There was also Steller sea line rookery that took advantage of abundant sea life growing in the kelp beds surrounding the southern 70% of the island.  It was a bird-watcher’s paradise, and the federal birders became central to post-eruption monitoring.  The island was also one of the locations that the US Geologic Service (USGS) would use to take test counts of various bird and seal populations.  There was a cabin used by US Fish & Wildlife Service employees who lived on the island while they took regular surveys of birds and sea mammals on the island.

Kasatochi before the eruption. Photo by Vernon Byrd, USFWS.

Kasatochi before the eruption. Photo by Vernon Byrd, USFWS.

A pair of naturalists on the island in the run-up to the eruption was evacuated a short time before the eruption began.  Had they not have been evacuated, they would not have survived the eruption or the aftermath.  An author, N. Rozell, wrote an article entitled “Escape from Kasatochi” in the February 2010 issue of Alaska Magazine describing the ordeal.  I have not found an online copy of the article as of this writing.  The following is a description of the festivities from the perspective of the birding community.  http://ofafeather.blogspot.com/2008/08/kasatochi-memories.html

The eruption did not come unannounced, with the first reported earthquakes being felt by resident biologists on the island on August 2.  The earthquake swarm preceding it was relatively short and quickly built in intensity, peaking out at 5.8 Richter.  The Alaska Volcano Observatory issued a warning of impending eruption hours before it finally blew on August 7.

As an aside, the seismic monitoring network for Alaskan volcanoes is funded in part by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as an air traffic safety measure.  If you fly the major air traffic routes on the northern part of the Pacific Rim, you want to stay well clear of volcanic ash plumes.

The initial blast was water-rich as the water and mud from the crater lake mixed with debris in and around the crater rim and was lofted into a plume 9 miles (14 km) tall.  It lasted less than two hours and was followed with a similar, but shorter plume a couple hours later.  Prevailing wind during this time was from the NE, pushing ash down the Aleutians to the west.

The third blast was far more ash-rich and vigorous, lasting 10 hours.  There was another pair of blasts during this period.  This is when the pyroclastic flows deposited tens of meters of debris on the island and out to sea, growing it.  Adak Island got a few inches (cm) of ash on its eastern end.

It was during the main part of the eruption that the SO2 plume was injected into the upper atmosphere.

NASA OMI image courtesy Simon Carn, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

NASA OMI image courtesy Simon Carn, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

Several aircraft reported flying through the SO2 plume.  None were forced to land after the encounter.  Alaska Air Lines cancelled over 40 flights due to the presence of the ash plume in their flight path along the Aleutians.

Local fishing boats reported the expected blackout conditions during daytime under the plume and falls of lapilli and pumice along with finer grained stuff.  They also reported lightning in the plume.

Aircraft were flying past the island within a couple days of the eruption.  Boats were close behind.  Animals did return within weeks to the island, enjoying the warmth of the degassing new dry land.

The first year, the Stellers did manage to breed successfully.  The birds did not due to the destruction of their nesting grounds.

Due to the continuing erosion of small particle ash into the sea by water runoff and wind, the recovery of the kelp beds and underwater ecosystem close to the island has not gone quickly at all.  Note the runoff in the comparison photo below.

Kasatochi Volcano in July 2008 (left) and then in October of 2008 (right). The volcano erupted August 7, 2008. http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/kasatochi/

Kasatochi Volcano in July 2008 (left) and then in October of 2008 (right). The volcano erupted August 7, 2008. http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/kasatochi/

Biologists were able to find some plant life on the island that did survive the eruption, though these were mostly roots, tubers and buried seeds in locations relatively shielded from the main brunt of the eruption.

Eruptions that clear off entire sections of islands are not all that uncommon in the tropics.  Given the location in this part of the world and the fact that it is part of a wildlife refuge, the biologists are having a great time watching life on the island return until the next eruption removes it again.


Sometimes interesting things come in small packages.  And those packages open very quickly and with surprising violence.  A pretty good summary of ongoing research into Kasatochi’s recolonization can be found at:  http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/kasatochi/index.php

Downloadable report can be found at:  http://doc.nprb.org/web/09_prjs/923_FINAL%20REPORT.pdf



112 thoughts on “Kasatochi – a One-Hit Wonder?

  1. Kasatochi and Surtsey are both laboratories on which scientist study the colonization and the development of ecosystems on such islands.

    On 14th of November we will celebrates Surtsey’s 50th birthday, please pay attention to this!

  2. Quite a while back… Piton de la Fournaise was brought up here due to it’s activity. Several papers about studies on Réunion were linked. I can not remember which one, but one of them did an analysis of dike orientation of the various feed systems for the scoria cones and vents on the island. The way that this was done, was to use the orientation of the structure of the vents. A previous paper was cited as validation for using this method. I can’t recall the title of either of those papers.

    If that method is also valid for the main vent of a volcano, then the feeder for the system is likely oriented along the long axis of the vent. For Kasatochi, this would be about 348°. Many other things can come into play to make this an invalid assumption, (failure dynamics of the crust etc.). But one aspect of it tends to make sence, the reverse track of that bearing points directly at the segment of the SZ that apparently feeds that island with magma.

    • I can partially validate that with other sources, first of them being Hekla. The V shaped feeder under follows the longaxis. Same also goes for the ore bodies in the Kirunavaara ore fields, and most other direct intrusive ore bodies. Secondary hydrothermal intrusives can go any way.

    • This isn’t it, but it’s related. It contains a few images of the cross section of some of the older magma feed systems that were exposed due to summit collapses. (Specifically, Figure 7 part 9). You can see the feeder dike to a shallow magma repository.

      Click to access 2012_PeltierEtAl_Fournaise.pdf

      At the beginning of the pdf is a stern warning from Springer about how they are going to seize your firstborn child if you don’t follow their money scam policy for hosting the pdf… that’s why I just tossed a link to it.

      Here is the Google search term that yeilds it:

      Piton de la Fournaise "dike scoria cone" filetype:pdf

      • As I read the paper I was struck by a few things, it is rare to see shields this active, and if we ever see an eruption in Theistarereykjarbunga this is how he might end up. Or for that matter Kistufell that is also showing signs of waking up.
        Very interesting paper, thanks.

  3. The central question asked by this post is → “Kasatochi – a One-Hit Wonder?”

    Kasatochi, like all volcanoes, is a product of “Constructal law”

    The constructal law is proposed as a first principle of physics accounting for all design and evolution in nature. It holds that shape and structure arise to facilitate flow. The designs that happen spontaneously in nature reflect this tendency: they allow entities to flow more easily – to measurably move more current farther and faster for less unit of useful energy consumed.

    The constructal law covers the tendency of nature to generate designs to facilitate flow.

    In Kasatochi’s case, the flow is heat carried by the melt forming from the demise of the subducting Pacific plate. At the time of it’s formation Kasatochi was the route that best facilitated this movement.

    In the future, as long as Kasatochi is the best solution, it will remain active. If a better solution to this flow is found, Kasatochi will go dormant.

    My conclusion? Kasatochi is probably not over.

    Time will tell.

    • Another jab at the question. Kasatochi is constructed of multiple previous eruptions. If each eruption has heightened the volcano with let us say 50 meters on average, she consists of over 20 eruptive layers… It is not likely that she is a one hit wonder.
      But… a VEI-4 out of that a small volcano? Hm… I do not think that island will be above surface much longer. If she follows the trend common among most volcanoes of larger eruptions being more common the larger they become… a larger VEI-4 or a small VEI-5 would be the death stroke of the island.
      A larger event would most likely crack the edifice opening the chamber for the ocean… Boom!
      That island is likely to go Krakatau on us in the next 500 to 1000 years. Probably on a smaller scale though.

      • Consider that “that small a volcano” applies only for the part of it that is above the sea level. Below the sea-level it might be much bigger, and if you add the two parts, submarine and subaerial, it might actually be a quite big volcano 😉

        • Still a nope, Kasatochi is well within the 1000 meter isobath, so it is at a maximum of 1300 meters high from the ocean floor. It is less than that, but the maritime chart is a bit sketchy on the depth around that island. Best figure I could get out of the admiralty chart is 800+/-200 meters high.
          I would call that a not to big volcano really.
          One could though say that it is hard to say how big the plumbing is under the Kasatochi. It could be a huge plumbing with a small edifice, but that would on the other hand only aggravate the risk for it going “boom”. I still think a VEI-4 is on the upper scale of what the edifice can sustain without breaching, and there is a bit of water next door when it happens…

          • Okay, being really nitpicky here… I sail, so sue me :mrgreen:
            If there had been an unaltered ocean floor the middle of the crater of Kasatochi would have been exactly on the 100 meter isobath, but, it has built up a circular protrution. If we count the inner side (south) of the Island it is 384 meters high, if we count the side of the island (east/west) she is 404 meters high, and if we use the outer side (north) she would be 804 meters high.

            Anyhoos, this is a young volcano, or it has had few eruptions (but then it would have been swept away by the ocean). How ever you see it she had a massive eruption for such a tiny young volcano. If Kasatochi continues to belt out VEI-4s she will sooner or later crack enough for water to seep down, the margin is rather puny on her.

            Found an online maritime chart so everyone can see what I am talking about.

            • Using the average of the height from base for Kasatochi I get it to have a volume of 1,6 cubic kilometers. I remember Etna as slightly more impossing than that 😉
              To put it into perspective, it is not that much larger than NSEC really. Put into that perspective a VEI-4 in 24 hours is rather impressive. Talk about the little volcano that could.

    • You’re correct on the “One Hit Wonder” call. But the title was too good to pass up, so I didn’t.

      Ran across a piece of info that claimed that Kasatochi was Aleut for “smoking mountain” but couldn’t find it again or I would have used it. Drat! Did allude to its activity being mistaken for that of a neighboring island that was found to be (relatively)extinct).

      Given the action of the sea in that part of the Aleutians, you almost have to be active on a reasonable duty cycle to keep poking out from the water any period of time with that pile of pyroclastic stuff. There is another island to the east called Bogoslof that is functionally equivalent but much more active.


      The final thing that interested me was how life came to the island and was supported there. North of it (the steeper side) falls into the abyss of the Bering Sea, a mile or so deep, so it ends up being pretty barren. Think of it as equivalent to the east side of the Sierra Nevada or the Barber’s Point part of Oahu. The south side is not nearly as deep and is fed by upwelling nutrient rich North Pacific waters washing up on the Aleutian Island ridge. This is where life is abundant and rich.

      Best to you and yours. Cheers –

  4. Thank you, Agimarc, for an interesting post.

    Be surprised if Kasatochi is a one hit wonder, given where she is located.

  5. Great article Agimarc.
    I remember the Kasotochi eruption well. A lot happened that year with Okmok erupting one month before and Sarychev about 11 months later. All of them short sharp and intense. Obviously not everything goes the way of Bob with a nice long build-up. (think I might trademark “the way of Bob” – it’s got a kind taoist ring to it).
    PS Mind you, I am jealous as all hell of those two bird watchers on Kasatochi who got off in time. What an amazing experience that must have been. imagine it, you’re miles from anywhere and the one bit of land you’re on starts quivering to all hell and you don’t have a boat. Yikes.

      • 😆 I was thinking of adding the nautical element but thought they had enough to contend with. Gawd, this would make a great movie.

    • We tend to forget that Bob was better monitored than Kasotochi was. The network out in the island chain is tenous at best. Only the major volcanoes have a SIL station, and then we have the power problem at the relay station that have not been fixed for years… In reallity the chain is under monitored and under studied.

      What am I talking about? Well, most volcanic earthquakes are small, an undermonitored volcano like Kasotochi could have been grumbling for years before going boom without anyone noticint. And please remember that a M2 is about what is possible to feel for a human. So, the fish guys would not have felt anything untill the quakes reached at least that strength.
      I am actually a strong believer that volcanoes are noisy before erupting, especially if they have not erupted often and frequently, and even then they can be noisy before doing their thing even if the vents are open allready, look at Etnas recent quake swarm.

      Only exception I know of to this rule is Hekla, and even she makes noises before blowing.

      • ha, and that is where I am not so certain. What about Okmok? It was monitored and gave us less than 12 hours from go to woah.

        • on top of this, the real beasts have shallow chambers. I am not saying they don’t make noise but I am saying we just haven’t seen it yet so it is hard to tell what actually does happen. Chaiten had really fast magma ascent (for rhyolite). No doubt there was lots of precursor activity at depth there too that simply went unnoticed because it was too small. I could envisage, if the conditions were right, a small eruption leading to a cascade of events (think top of waterfall).
          Bob on the contrary, was like sitting at the bottom of the waterfall and one piddly little eruption came out. Moreover, both Bob and Eyjaf were basaltic intrusions from depth. If a shallow chamber suddenly tipped of its own accord, you might not see any of that precursor activity.

          • 3 months before Grimsvötn I called her, and she is one of the more silent ones out there. Grimsvötn is though better monitored. We are spoiled with gizmos… The island chain is not that populated so it is pretty barren on equipment in comparison.

            The most shallow chamber on the planet is Iwo-Jima. It is constantly giving signs… Problem is that we do not know how to interpret those signs since we have never seen anything like IJ go off. Heck, we do not even really know if IJ is monitored at all.

            Ontop of that, one need to know how the volcano in question behaves, or how volcanoes of that type behaves at least. Otherwise you will never know what a sign is, or is not.
            I think I can call the volcanoes on Iceland now, and I used that on Bob. I would not know heads from tails with Okmok…

            If for some reason someone handed me a brand new volcano with a large network to fiddle around with I would still need years of watching it to get a baseline to judge from, preferably I would like to have data from a previous eruption, not untill then would I feel confident with being able to call it. This would especially be true if this hypothetical volcano with network was of a type I had never seen before, like for instance Ol’Donyo Lengai*.
            For all we know Okmok may have given signs for years, but nobody could interpret them. Just a thought. I do not believe in silent volcanoes, I believe in volcanoes in need of more equipment. And then we have Hekla, she just hates us (but still gives clues that I do not understand).

            *Only thing I know is that Ol’Donyo Lengai has the largest volcanic earthquakes on the planet surpassing M6…

            • totally agree with all of the above, particularly in reading the idiosyncracies of any one particular volcano. That said, I still think it conceivable that the “detectable” signal from a volcano might be frighteningly short before eruption in certain situations. This doesn’t mean that the precursor signals are not there. Take Taal, for instance. We’ve seen repeated swarms of activity there. Are they “precursors” or only “normal” activity. Only hindsight will tell, but then it is a bit late. (And yes, I hate quotation marks for emphasis so I will stop using them, I mean “stop” using them).

              Ok, let’s be a bit more specific. Let’s say a crystal mush suddenly tips into an eruptible state. Either this happened from a basaltic intrusion (which we hope takes the form of something like Ejyaf) with lots of seismic noise, or it happens due to a change in the local stress regime (also lots of noise) or due to crystallization suddenly leading to a critical concentation of volatiles (no noise). However, even in this last scenario, the fluid magma needs to get to the surface. This will entail faulting and also a good seismic signal. Granted. However, if the crust you are propagating through is already blasted six ways to Sunday, that might happen a) quickly and b) with comparatively low level seismic activity.

              Note, I am not saying this is the rule. Not by any means. But I do think it is conceivable.

            • Everything is conveivable…
              I have a better scenario for you, and that is Iwo-Jima. We know it is inflating, we know that it is containing chrystalized magma, we know it has an insanely thin layer of crust over it… Perceivably it can erupt at any time without us being able to see it coming even if we liter the island with equipment. Why? Because the crust is down hundreds of meters and stretched beyond belief, and we have never seen a volcano of that size erupt. So, it would be faster than hell, and we would not be able to call the signals since we do not know what the signals are for this type of volcano.
              If we see a signal it can be yet another phreatic blast, or it can be step one of a superkrakatoan eruption coming. Quite literaly, nobody should set fot on that island…

      • Well, I have every one of you beat… hands down.

        For about 5 years after I retired from the USN, I worked at a local computer shop. While not dealing with odd user questions or repairing/building computers…. I would spend time at my desk keeping my head running. It was either that or fall asleep. That was where I first got the interest to stuff every earthquake I could into a spread-sheet, and then take the timestamp and look-up the positions of the planets and the moon. That spreadsheet took a couple of years to tweak, but I finished it and used it to flail on the moon-bats when they came around with the moon-disaster quake theories. One thing I always noticed was that there were quakes in the Andreanof Islands area. What I missed was that Kasotochi went boom. Most of the quakes were probably tectonic… but in an SZ, where the accumulated melt is subject to “tube of toothpaste” forces, I should have expected something. But I didn’t. See, I actually saw what could have been the run-up, but never clued in that something was up.

        • Can’t let that nuance of my life go buy with out adding a horrific tale.

          A co-worker of mine put a customer’s mini-tower up on the bench and popped the cover open. A stampede of cockroaches poured out across the bench and onto the floor like a highly fluid lahar.

          That startled the crap out of us.

          It’s one thing to have copious amounts of dust in a machine… this is usually directly related to how clean they keep their house. The more they keep the house dusted and vacuumed, the more dust accumulates inside their machine. Actively breeding livestock is a different story.

          And I thought Koumpounophobia was bad…

          • I think Koumpounophobia would be better then this Congressman’s fear…

            You have to give accolades to the Admiral… he didn’t’ break out in uncontrolled laughter.

            • Did that senator do drugs???
              The speach pattern, the lack of logic, the in-coherance… Methinks he has smoked way to much jazz-tobacco and his brain has melted.

            • Remember, this is the sort of pristine logic that is running the US right now.

              DC was built on reclaimed swampland… a liquefaction event would be, entertaining. (and deserved)

              Remember, you never see karma coming. It’s just there… then you deal with it.

            • He’s a congressman…. “elected” to “serve” the people. He sit’s on his arse for a living. Think “Wide Load”

              Seven miles may not allow for a large enough seat.

    • 2008-9 was the “year” for the Aleutian chain. Okmok and Kasatochi had significant events. There was redoubt. It was equivalent to the Kiwi volcano week of 2012, except for far more powerful.

  6. “I don’t recommend washing your face, because you might drown.”

    I think that this is an exercise in disaster management…

    Correction… poor disaster management.

    • Hadn’t thought of that one. Only got as far as hiding the credit cards – otherwise the shopping trip might take a few years to pay off 😉

  7. I would like to correct one thing in the article that I just noticed. Agimarc quite correctly points out that Kasatochi was ejecting more Sulfuric gasses than any volcano after Pinatubo. That was correct when the sources he used was written.
    Grimsvötn 2011 was though bigger, and released a whale of gas, more than Kasatochi. Nitpicking be my middle name. Grimsvötn is the worst gasser per cubic meter of magma of all known volcanoes on the planet, Bardarbunga and Kistufell might be worse, but we have no eruptions from them to compare with. Grimsvötn 2011 released 6 million tons of sulfuric gasses, compare this with the 50 times larger Pinatubo at 17 million tons. If we recalculate that for both to a gas per cubic kilometer measurment we get:
    Pinatubo = 1,7 million tons gpck
    Grimsvötn = 12 million tons gpck

    Grimsvötn is a piece of chocolate that just keeps on giving…

      • Same shit happened after Laki… Grimsvötn gives twice, first when she erupts from the vent, and then an equal amount as she degasses from the shallow magma (and in lakis case also from the lava).
        At the vent 2/3rds of the magma volume is gas… frothy be her middle name.

    • Not nitpicking a-tall. A necessary and accurate update. The more we think we know, the more we find out we don’t know. Many thanks for kicking me back into play. Cheers –

  8. Stupid Monkey Tricks….

    While fiddling around with getting a handle on the typical width of meteor streams, I found that the Perseids stated/published period is 17 sigma away from the peak. Well out into black swan territory. Not some dangerous thing, just a Black Swan manifestation where I didn’t expect to find one. The peak period last for two days, and shows a likely 28.32 hour sigma for the normal distribution. (or 28.8 hours depending on how you calculate it). And the shower listing shows a start time 504 hours before the peak.

    Weird stuff. Based on my calculations, that puts the Perseid stream at about 108,075,584 km wide, with 62% (or so) of the fragments in a belt 6,175,748 km wide.

    From wikipedia: “Most of the particles have been part of the cloud for around a thousand years”

    The Quadrantids on the other hand, have 62% (or so) of the fragments in a belt 506,068 km wide. They are thought to be coupled with minor planet/comet fragment 2003 EH. It is also possible that this minor planet could be coupled with the breakup of comet C/1490 Y1, discovered the same year as the reports of stones falling from the sky in China, that records claim killed 10,000 people. The issue is that the Quadrantids peak in January and the stones falling was around 4 April of that year. Some note that the Tsunami of 1500 in New Zealand could be coupled with the Ch’ing-yang event, if an impactor hit the open ocean and caused it…. but the timing of the events is a bit problematic. Tsunamis are not known to wait ten years after being triggered.

  9. So remember the other day how I mentioned that the real issues from the hurricane come more as a ripple effect? Not that it was a huge surprise, but it’s already showing quite extraordinarily.


    It’s really amazing how a simple breakdown in infrastructure can cause such complete chaos. It’s no wonder infrastructure & communication is the first thing targeted in warfare.

    Honestly, in some ways, this is kind of how I see the aftermath of the Tambora eruption taking place (on a smaller scale at least). I would imagine thousands would starve in an event like this if it weren’t for the presence of modern technology to transport food and aid worldwide in a very short period of time. I just hope it doesn’t become too “ugly” in the anarchy that seems to follow events like this.

    • The Philippines have had a double-hit: first the earthquake that struck Bohol, Cebu; and, now the Typhoon. More than enough to stretch resources.

    • Problem with Iwo-Jima is that it was classified first by the Americans who used it is a nuclear warfare bombing base, and later the Japanese. So it is one of the hardest inhabited place to find info on a volcano from.
      The Caldera is 9 km in diameter, and the famous uplift on Iwo-Jima is small in comparison to the record set in the middle of the caldera (about 1 meter per year). Roughly the caldera covers an area of 57 square kilometers.
      If you ever visit the island, never set foot on the NW beach. There you will have literally no warning before a phreatic detonation occurs. It was a horrible stinky place in WWII, and it still is. Only now it is even more dangerous.

      • It’s interesting flying over Ioto in GE (Ioto is the real name apparently, not Iwojima, I just learnt).
        A large beach seems to have formed on the NW coast compared to the aerial photos from WWII. Either that it was a hell of a load tide. Another good measure would be keeping an eye on all those wrecks on the west coast and measuring them against high water. The German Wikipedia site says Ioto had a caldera forming event 3000 years ago which would generally suggest the current uplift is merely resurgent doming and not a harbinger of kaboom.

          • Thanks for the tip! Just saw there are some more gaps. For the time being one can search on site in the box in the upper right corner, e.g. Iwo-Jima.

        • That beach has uplifted with roughly 14 meters since WWII. So, in most ways it did not exist back then. And that would be the beach I would not set fot on.

          • Is it currently an actively visited Island? I know there is still a memorial there, but I’m not too sure how much of a tourist destination it is being out in the middle of nowhere. I would imagine there are some warnings?

            Regardless, for all we know, the island may not be around all that much longer. Of course, in the same light, it’s been bulging for 3000 years it seems, so who knows where it’s limit lies in terms of how much further it can grow before experiencing a proper eruption again.

            • The island is totally off limits and have been so since the invation. First it was a US airfield, then it was re-wamped into a US strategic bomb command facillity, then a robot installation, then the japanese fortified the island even further… It is a “you will be shot on sight” island… So not a lot of tourists.
              Oh, she has had proper eruptions too, but they are normally out in the caldera. However, when she blows it will not be nice… at all.

            • Old captain I flew airtankers with was a
              B29 pilot. Operated out of Tinian, as
              I recall. They got shot up over Tokyo and had to make an emergency landing at Iwo.”The place literally smelled like hell he said..” Now I know
              Btw, in the movie “Always “, he was the pilot of the PBY scooper. The opening scene with the fishermen -he was the pilot…

    • Yes… I am Lurking.

      Edit: Apparantly I have lost the abillity by now to write the word “lurking” without a capital L.

      • Nautilus is assisting a sailing vessel that called a non-emergency distress call. Have no clue what the problem is or exactly what is going on. There is a small boat that went out to the sailboat and is close to the Nautilus, so maybe they are taking the people on board. Seas are rough and things come in and out of the video. Can’t tell if they are in tow mode.


        • Weird…
          Good weather, they are not towing. Non-emergency doesn’t sound like something medical. I guess engine is broken and they panicked on the way into the harbour. But, it is a wild guess.

            • I’m sure they will be talking about it later when they come back on audio. Will let you know if I find out anything. Figured you would know what kind of sailing vessel it is.

            • Mm… likely.
              I am hardcore. My opinion is that you should learn how to sail into port. I almost never motor into port, something I take great pride in. And that have saved me from having to call for aid. I have even towed a motor boat into port while under sail myself.
              Heck, it is not hard to sail into port if you have a bit of practice.

            • Now they are stationary, and they did a 360 on the spot and I could not see the yacht so it is most likely moored to the side of the ship. I guess fuel issue, or a non emergency medical problem. A cut or something. I guess they have a doc onboard the ship.

            • Dang thing. Posted before I was ready.
              Anyway got good at sailing in and out
              of port. Partners never would fix the aux. Got fair at fixing the rigging for the
              same reason..

            • The trick with sailing in and out of ports is being able to control the rigging so that you conveniently can drop the sails whenever you wish from cockpit. Always the first thing I do when buying a boat is rewiring the falls into the cockpit so I do not need to run up to the mast to hoist or lower sails, or in the case of roll-foresails being able to manouvre the rolling mechanism from the cockpit.
              The rest is just planing the entrance to the harbour, and having a good feel for the momentum of the boat when it is under unpowered motion.
              I had a Van der Stadt 30 foter once that I could do magic with, I could literaly do handbreak turns with it, sailing full speed towards the queyside drop the sails ten meters out and with the bow inches away turn the boat in place around the keel so it smothly drifted sideways the last fot or so. Not the beginners manouvre 🙂

        • We pulled up alongside a storm sheeted sailing vessel out in the middle of the Caribian getting the shit beat our of it by the waves. When hailed, the only thing the single occupant asked for was whiskey. In all likelihood, what he asked for was A whiskey. That would mean latitude and longitude. In other words, “Where the hell am I at?”

  10. Evenin’ all,
    @ Agimarc, I haven’t said thanks for your articles yet, they are much appreciated. The research, images and references are really good. I particularly like your responses to comments n’ questions; kinda sums up the Volcanocafe attitude… Cheers 🙂

  11. Sakurajima has been almost too calm recently for my liking. At least when compared to how active she’s been in the last few months.

    • You want inactive? I just spent two and a half hours of my life sitting in a server room waiting on the remote help desk to run a restore from a back-up tape. They wouldn’t let me leave just in the of chance something crapped out while they were doing it. Evidently they didn’t trust the users on site to babysit the server…. plus I had a box full of spare parts in case something did crap out…. and a screwdriver…. and a few years of experience in dealing with crapped out stuff.

      It gets pretty boring looking at yards upon yards of Ethernet cable hanging in the cable ways… and the pretty blinking lights of the switches and routers while being serenaded by high volume toom cooling fans. It brought back memories of the trunk fan in my “office” on the ship. I also carried the name of “ECM” and housed all of my receiving and transmitter gear. I have a partial hearing loss in one ear because of that bastard of a fan.

      For some reason, all I can think of right now are Butter Beans and Corn Bread. Dunno why. Just hungry for it.

      • Well, I never would let the O/Ss turn the temperature up. My system could draw a few kW of power to drive the transmitter, and all of it was switched and controlled by the equipment in that room. Typically, I kept it at about about 45 to 50°F. Never lost a single thing due to heat… and it kept many from sneaking in there to catch a snooze. When that system went full on, you could just feel the heat radiating from the equipment racks in short order.

  12. Mostly for Bobbi…
    Well, this is not how you go about it… Not Nautilus, I mean the sail boat. Converted fishing trawler in steel with probably around 40 openings out in to the water (that are supposed to be there), and assorted plate leaks. As soon as their engine cut they started to sink since their pumps didn’t have electric back-up.
    That is not a sailing boat, that is the “S/Y Humpback of the Seas” lumbering about.

    I have met boats like that. They are normally found in the more run down marinas, crewed by a person rich in tall tales and low in experience. They tell everyone about their fantastic adventures. Sometimes they are called out by someone to prove their themselves. That is when they inevitably get into trouble.
    I have no problem with people converting fishing boats into floating homes that try to look like a sailing boat, but I do take offence when they do things they should not do.

    They missed out on this… 1. Have the pump on the electric system with shielded cables, shield the battery box so it is the last thing that will short out. 2. Bring spare pump. 3. Bring spare pump with internal battery. 4. Bring parts for it. 5 Do not trust a 50 year old engine… EVER!!!


    • I just read through what I had written. It was early in the morning and I hadn’t had coffee… so I sounded a tad grumpy. Thing is just that I spend a lot of time sailing. Before I got it into my head to do that I spent ten years in my childhood and youth taking assorted courses and training camps to learn how to sail, navigate, repair boats & engines, use radios and so on… I hold a masters license.
      Ontop of that I am a class A coward. Being a coward and have a bit of planning skill is very important if you want to survive on the ocean. Why? The ocean will always kick your arse if you try to pick a fight with it. So, the way to avoid being kicked around is being prepaired and being a coward. Sooner or later you in either case get your arse kicked. I have on occation flippantly mentioned I survived a hurricane. Even though I had planned for it, and had the equipment in good shape it was 99 percent luck I survived. I have never met anyone else who have survived a borderline cat 5 alone in a sailing boat.
      Will I ever stop ranting today..? Nah, need more coffee…

      If you want to learn sailing, join a club and do it in safe waters. Read, think, learn, then go out into the ocean and then you will have fun (untill you get kicked in the arse).

      • Done a fair bit of sailing too but nothing like most other kiwis and I have heard some amazing tales about what can happen at sea.
        Myself I had one experience early on that gave me huge respect for the water. As students, six of us pitched in and bought a two-man sailing dinghy. Nothing flash or fast but sturdy and good to learn to sail in. One day I thought I would go out with S., who had little to no experience, and I thought I would let her get a bit familiar with the boat. The conditions were perfect for it. A tiny breeze to no wind at all, no wave action. It looked like nothing could go wrong. Good weather forecast. We set off and after a while I was a bit warm and wanted to take my jersey off. Looked safe enough so I let the main sheet go. S. was on one side of the boat and I was on the other. No apparent wind. But just when I got my jersey over my head a puff of wind did come up and for some unknown reason Stefanie decided to hold the main sheet or she was standing on it or something, and suddenly the main filled with wind. She was on the wrong side (and heavier than me) and we capsized about 600 m from shore (between Mission Bay and Rangitoto).
        In itself no big drama. That’s what sailing dinghys frequently do. I wasn’t expecting to do it on a day with virtually no wind but, hey ho.
        So we were in the water and I immediately swam around to the centerboard to right the boat and I called out to S. No reply. Strange I thought. Is she trapped under the sail? So I swam back (mistake number three). She was ok. Just sitting in the water (we both had life jackets on) but she was in shock as apparently she was afraid of deep water (something I should have known beforehand! – mistake number four). Again not a major problem but it was time to get her back in the boat. So, back to boat. By this time it had fully overturned and the centerboard was up in the air and damn hard to reach. I got it but only just but try all I might I could not right the boat as the mast was now sticking on the ground. This was the oh shit moment. All of a sudden we were facing a potentially lethal situation. I could have swum the 800 m to shore to get help but I know S. wouldn’t have made it against the tide. So we just waited and hoped someone on shore would see us. After about 20 minutes someone did and they came out in a runabout to rescue us. Even with the runabout we had a huge problem righting the boat and actually ended up ripping the deck off and breaking the mast. Much longer in the water and hypothermia would have set in.
        I think this was when I learned the sum of many little errors can be much more than the sum of the parts. So, yeah, water calls for respect.

        • I once forgot a pin worth about 5 cents… That caused me to loose the rudder in the beginning of a storm, I then tried to get back to the rudder by using the outboard… but with the sails up the force became to strong for the outboard console and it snapped and the engine disappeared. Now drifting in increasing winds and waves towards one of the larger reefs along the swedish coast I had an epiphany… Namely to kick start the brain instead of doing stupid things.
          Down with the anchor in the forepeak on a five meter line. That way I knew that I was on the 5 meter Isobath when it caught, and that I could then quickly release another 45 meters of line without hitting the reef. That gave me 1 to 10 ratio on the anchor, which according to any rule book should make one safe with a 15 kg anchor and a very small sailing boat (16 foter). Hanging there I noticed that the water 10 meters behind the boat was white in almost all directions as the waves broak over the reef. But, a little bit to the left there was an opening in the reef… And I knew the normaly the wind turns clockwhise over the day I decided to sit there untill the ass of the boat was directly infront of the small opening.
          After a while that happened and I started to quickly let out more and more line so that the boat was pushed through the opening of the reef into a small bay. By then I decided that while my brain was turned on I should do something more useful, so I took a zip of water and proposed to my then future wife (now ex-wife). As she said yes the anchor released and jumped up over the reef and we dragged all the way back to small little beach where we softly foundered.

          After a few days when I pondered what had happened I recognised that I could have used the oar tied down as emergency steering and just contined… but then I would not have gotten married, and I am happy I did even though we got divorced a few years later.

          Sense moral… If one just bother with turning on the brain during a crisis you are far far more likely to survive.

          • If you ever get a chance to take a tour on a somewhat modern naval ship, definitely go check out After Steering. That is where the hydraulic rams are at to control the rudder. While there, look around at the bulkheads and see if you can spot a monstrous wrench, about 5 to 6 feet long hanging in a bracket there. That wrench is for when everything goes to hell in a hand basket. It can be (with much effort and a few people) placed on the rudder shaft. A block and tackle can be rigged to the wrench and steering commands performed manually.

            This works fine as long as the rudder doesn’t become detached and fall to the seafloor during the midnight steering checks… in the Red Sea. Which has happened before. (I can’t remember if they lost just the rudder or the entire steering post/rudder assembly.)

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