Mount Chiginagak

Fumaroles on the north flank of Mount Chiginagak Photo courtesy Robert Dreeszen, March 28, 2014,  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=58161

Fumaroles on the north flank of Mount Chiginagak
Photo courtesy Robert Dreeszen, March 28, 2014, http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=58161

Mount Chiginagak sits some 600 km southwest of Anchorage, roughly situated on the Alaska Peninsula between Aniakchak and the Katmai Volcanic Complex.  It is a single peak that tops out at just over 2,200 M.  The peak itself is composed primarily of andesitic and pyroclastic layers.  It also has basalt lava flows with some evidence of recent pyroclastic flows.  It has several dacitic domes on its flanks which have collapsed from time to time in the past.  The mountain itself is glacier covered at its peak with a small crater some half a km in diameter.  There are active fumaroles on its flanks.  Due to its relative inactivity and remoteness, the mountain is not monitored by the Alaska Volcano Observatory.  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/volcanoes/volcinfo.php?volcname=Chiginagak

There are only a few recorded eruptions over the last 160 years, 1852, 1929 and 1971.  The 1852 event was reports of smoke from the summit.  The 1929 event is classed as a questionable eruption, primarily due to the inability to differentiate between what was happening on Chiginagak and neighboring volcanoes.  The 1971 event was a small ash eruption observed from Port Heiden that lasted less than a single day.  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/volcanoes/activity.php?volcname=Chiginagak&eruptionid=181&page=basic

In 1998, there were reports of snow melting and increased sulfur smells from the volcano along with more vigorous fumarole activity. There were reports of small clouds of black smoke and greenish yellow gas rising from two sources to 300 M or so above the mountain (likely with a strong sulfur dioxide / sulfuric acid content), and at least one morning a dark dusting of snow at the top of the mountain.  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/volcanoes/activity.php?volcname=Chiginagak&eruptionid=182&page=basic

Chiginagak Volcano as viewed from a tent camp on Nakalilok Bay, 12 miles to the south, late Sept. 2004 Image courtesy Rus Schwausch, Sept. 2004  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=4614

Chiginagak Volcano as viewed from a tent camp on Nakalilok Bay, 12 miles to the south, late Sept. 2004
Image courtesy Rus Schwausch, Sept. 2004 http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=4614

The most recent Chiginagak activity took place in 2004 – 2005.  Increased heat flow into the vicinity of the crater melted snow and ice between November and May, creating a crater lake measuring some 400 M across and an estimated depth of 150 M.  Somewhere in early May 2005, there was a catastrophic release of the fluid in the lake, creating a highly acidic lahar and water discharge traveling some 27 km downstream, flowing into and acidifying Mother Goose Lake along with the headwaters of King Salmon River which flows into Bristol Bay near Ugashik and Pilot Point.  The lahar was accompanied by highly acidic aerosol cloud that killed surrounding foliage as high as 70 M above the water level of the creeks it traveled down.  http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2005AGUFM.V21E0675S

Flow lobes of a dark gray, clay-rich lahar can be seen down the length of the south glacier at Chiginagak Volcano.  The lahar deposits resulted from the draining of the summit caldera lake sometime in early summer 2005. Image courtesy Janet Schaefer, AVO / USGS, August 20, 2005  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=3329

Flow lobes of a dark gray, clay-rich lahar can be seen down the length of the south glacier at Chiginagak Volcano. The lahar deposits resulted from the draining of the summit caldera lake sometime in early summer 2005.
Image courtesy Janet Schaefer, AVO / USGS, August 20, 2005 http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=3329

Photo of Chiginagak crater lake after emptying.  Thermal hot spot is visible in the lake at the 1030 position about one third the distance from the center of the lake. Image – photo courtesy Janet Schaefer, AVO / AK Division of Geologic & Geophysical Surveys, August 20, 2005   http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=3289

Photo of Chiginagak crater lake after emptying. Thermal hot spot is visible in the lake at the 1030 position about one third the distance from the center of the lake. Image – photo courtesy Janet Schaefer, AVO / AK Division of Geologic & Geophysical Surveys, August 20, 2005 http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=3289

Aerial surveys found a breach through the crater wall that allowed crater lake waters to continue to flow downstream for nearly four years afterwards.  At the end of that time, fumarolic activity in the crater had decreased to the point where the lake started freezing over during the winter.  Along with this, the lake level dropped to the point where it no longer was able to flow out of the breach.

Chiginagak crater lake breach at upper left of photo. Image – Courtesy Janet Shaefer, AVO / AK Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, August 20, 2005  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=3286

Chiginagak crater lake breach at upper left of photo. Image – Courtesy Janet Shaefer, AVO / AK Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, August 20, 2005 http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=3286

Water out of the lake had significant sulfuric acid content, with high levels of dissolved metals and clays.  It had sufficient volume to inundate a lake, acidify the entire water column to a depth of 45 M to a pH of 2.9, destroying a salmon run and spawning habitat in the lake (red salmon usually spawn in lakes).  Between 2005 – 2011, the pH of the lake returned to the normal range of 6.9 measured in September 2011.

Janet Schaefer testing the highly acidic (pH 1.2) waters of upper Indecision Creek.   Photo courtesy AVO / USGS, June 19, 2006  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=10595

Janet Schaefer testing the highly acidic (pH 1.2) waters of upper Indecision Creek.
Photo courtesy AVO / USGS, June 19, 2006 http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=10595

Volcano and Indecision Creeks which feed into Mother Goose Lake were supplied with crater lake water for some years after the breach, and have been slow to return to normal pH levels.  Indecision only made it back to a pH in the vicinity of 4 in August 2010.  Researchers believe the crater lake continues to drain under a glacier on the south side of the cone, with that water feeding into Indecision Creek and finally into Mother Goose Lake.  They also believe that similar crater lake breaches have happened in the recent past as there is anecdotal evidence from aerial photography and local lodges that something similar took place in the mid-1970s and early 1950s.  http://www.dggs.alaska.gov/pubs/id/25602

Reddish vegetation is acid-damaged crowberry leaves. Image – Photo courtesy Janet Schaefer, AVO / ADGGS, August 20, 2005,  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=3362

Reddish vegetation is acid-damaged crowberry leaves. Image – Photo courtesy Janet Schaefer, AVO / ADGGS, August 20, 2005, http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=3362

As the water in the lake returns to normal, the salmon have started to return to the King Salmon River and Mother Goose Lake.

Ice and snow begin to re-fill the summit crater at Chiginagak volcano, following the removal of the summit glacial ice during the 2005 heating event and subsequent acid crater lake outflow. Image courtesy Janet Schaefer, AVO / ADGGS, Sept. 27, 2010  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=30682

Ice and snow begin to re-fill the summit crater at Chiginagak volcano, following the removal of the summit glacial ice during the 2005 heating event and subsequent acid crater lake outflow. Image courtesy Janet Schaefer, AVO / ADGGS, Sept. 27, 2010 http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=30682

Carl wrote about this in November, 2013 as part of a column asking Volcano or Environmental Disaster?  https://volcanocafe.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/volcano-or-environmental-disaster/

Volcano Creek inlet to Mother Goose Lake, August 2005 Image courtesy Paul Tickner, August 2005  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=4263

Volcano Creek inlet to Mother Goose Lake, August 2005
Image courtesy Paul Tickner, August 2005 http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=4263

 Conclusions

There are lots of ways for a volcano, even a relatively inactive volcano, to surprise us.  And this one certainly did.  There is a massive mine in the early stages of planning for the upper reaches of Bristol Bay.  The anti-mining groups are fighting it via a variety of arguments, most of which boil down to lurid tales warning against an earthquake caused collapse of a tailings dam, and subsequent dumping of acidic water with dissolved metals into the salmon spawning grounds, destroying them and local fishing for all time.

Indecision Creek coming from the right side of the view has a pH of 1.2.  In early summer 2005 the crater lake at Chiginagak Volcano down this drainage.  An accompanying release of acidic aerosols flowed down the valley and caused the vegetation damage seen here at the valley bottom. Image courtesy Cyrus Read, AVO / USGS, June 21, 2006  http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=10589

Indecision Creek coming from the right side of the view has a pH of 1.2. In early summer 2005 the crater lake at Chiginagak Volcano down this drainage. An accompanying release of acidic aerosols flowed down the valley and caused the vegetation damage seen here at the valley bottom. Image courtesy Cyrus Read, AVO / USGS, June 21, 2006 http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=10589

Interesting that very thing just happened downstream of Chiginagak in 2005, a completely natural event, and the fish outside that particular watershed were not impacted at all.  One lake and stream were damaged for a period of years, but the rest of Bristol Bay seems to be doing well.

Christmas morning fumarole activity at Chiginagak volcano seen from Ugashik Village  Image courtesy Roland Briggs, Dec 25, 2013   http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=57601

Christmas morning fumarole activity at Chiginagak volcano seen from Ugashik Village
Image courtesy Roland Briggs, Dec 25, 2013 http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=57601

Agimarc

 

And here again, the Friday riddles. The bar is open! 

1. Bane of the Rattlesnake; It’s on the wrong track! (Clue: “I’d bring up Trafalgar, but that would be nauti!”) Answer: Trinidade (and Martim Vaz) in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, discovered by Estêvão da Gama aboard HMS Rattlesnake, dinojura44, 1 point. 

2. In a field of one-hit-wonders, I stand alone. (Clue: You could have seen the last eruption at sunset. Final clue: It sounds like it’s in California, but it’s not!) Answer: San Francisco Mountain in the San Francisco volcanic field, Arizona. “San Francisco” was a one-hit wonder by Scott McKenzie in 1967 and the mountain stands out amongst many monogenetic volcanic cones. Sissel, 1 point. 

3. Special sheep and loony toons? (Clue: The sheep are barbarians!) Answer: Tarso Toon in the Tibesti mountains. The Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) are native to rocky mountains in North Africa, Kelda, 1 point.

Score board
13 Sissel
8 Inannamoon667
7 Kelda
5 KarenZ
6 Shérine France
4 Dinojura44
2 Alison
2 Evan Chugg
1 Diana Barnes
1 Edward
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159 thoughts on “Mount Chiginagak

  1. Over tired and cannot sleep – One of my favourite moments of the Big Weekend -says it all really!!

    • So basically you partied like an 80s clubkid and scared the Bejeezus out of every teen in the place? Isn’t it fun?

      • It is the best fun ever!! But I’m only little so not very scary at all 🙂 Hurting a bit today though, partying doesn’t get any easier with age!

  2. AAAAAAAAAAAARRRGGHHHHHHHHH!… I just spent my early morning coffee#1 time continuing the hunt for a looney Volcano….:( I should learn to read all comments first before I continue riddling.)… As for the music clips….here’s another that sums up my general conceptual mode at present. (It must be an age thing) One bright thing though this morning is a strange, warm light that is radiating through the window…I think it’s called The Sun!
    I got coffee #2 here so feeling happier. Going to re-read the last couple of posts and CHILL!

  3. Apparently, Colorado has a slight mess on their hands…


    KUSA – Three people are missing after a massive mudslide that is estimated to be 250 feet deep in many places.

    The first reports of the mudslide came into the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center about 6:15 p.m. Sunday. Mesa County officials say the mudslide is 2 miles wide and 4 miles long and about 250 feet deep in many places. Deputies describe the area as very unstable, and estimate that an entire ridge has been sliding for most of Sunday.

    http://www.9news.com/story/news/local/2014/05/25/large-mudslide-mesa-county/9584285/

    The area has a lot of mesas, some with ponds and lakes on top. They have had significant rainfall, and well, gravity wins.

    • Mudslides are not a good thing. I have something against mudhills.
      I so wish I could spend my day at the beach, but that won’t happen… *grumble*

      • I wish you well in your efforts to get to the beach, but personally, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I’m not fond of ’em myself.

        (It’s gritty, hot, and people are just as idiotic there as they are on the roads. perhaps more so.)

        Then there are all the people….

        • Well… if you live in a cold place you tend to wish to be warm and sandy… 🙂
          On top of that I have only had one day off in a month now.

        • Eh, yer lucky. I haven’t had an actual vacation since I got out of the service. However, my current occupation leaves me with a lot of down time when I don’t have a job ticket to work on. I don’t really consider sitting around fretting about when the next work order comes in to be that relaxing. Oh well, that’s why God invented Beer… and Barbecue.

          If you make it to Interstate I-75 in Georgia, keep an eye out for an oddly painted water tower. It’s supposed to be a Peach, but when you are headed north, it looks like a giant red arse.

          • I’ll be doing Georgia and Florida another time. I am still missing deep fried gator.
            Oh, and just so you know it. An ounce (25 gram) of beef jerky is 4USD here. What would the cost for a kg be in the US? I am thinking about importing a few kilos so I’ll survive my sad jerkless life.

            • Well, the price can be as low as you get the meat for if you jerk it youself. You also have the benifit of being able to get in the consistancy you want by the way you slice and treat it prior to drying. I did a batch for my grandkid out of deer that he provided a roast from. With your access to Moose, you could probably make up a batch for the price of a rifle bullet.

              All you need is a dehydrator and whatever spices you like, and the skill to make consistant slices. As for your spicing, at a minimum you need to get a layer of brine on the surface in order to cut down on bacteria until the meat starts to dry.

              Doing it yourself you get a lot of control over how it turns out. Some people prefer a moist chewy jerky, but in my opinion that is quite artificial and wouldn’t last for shit in long term storage. That that I have made would last several months. I tend to over dry mine, though I have been toying with the idea of trying to hit the same consistency of the store bought variety. Myself, I hate the sukiyaki flavored jerky, but using soy for your final marinate should provide that initial outer layer of salt protection to prevent bacteria until the meat starts to dry. As for smoke flavor, you could use the liquid smoke in your marinade, but it might be better to actually smoke it a bit before you move it to the dehydrator.

      • I realize they have the roads and access shut down, but pictures would be quite cool. I would mainly like to see of the headland scarp. (A later date is fine, no rush. I wouldn’t want the Colorado state troopers or local police come and shoot your dog or give you an anal probe)

  4. @Agimarc – neglected to say how much I enjoyed your post. I love the Alaskan volcanoes. They are all so different and interesting.

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