The Volcanology Section, established in 2007, focuses on processes and hazards associated with the more than 50 active volcanoes in Alaska. The section is home for the DGGS participants in the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), an interagency collaboration between the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, and DGGS. Volcanology Section staff conduct geologic studies of active volcanoes to estimate their future eruptive potential and behavior, thus aiding in mitigating volcano-hazard risks. Results of these studies are released as maps and reports. The section also creates and maintains a very large, public, web-accessible database of information on volcano history and current activity (www.avo.alaska.edu), as well as an internal website providing communication, record keeping, and data sharing within AVO.

Volcanology FY14 project descriptions

  • Alaska Volcano Observatory Quaternary volcano geochemical database - As part of DGGS's ongoing efforts with the Geological Database of Information on Volcanoes in Alaska (GeoDIVA), DGGS and AVO staff have created and populated a database structure to hold geochemical data on Quaternary volcanic rocks in Alaska.
  • Alaska Volcano Observatory database of Quaternary volcanic vents in Alaska - A database of all known Quaternary vents was developed to better describe the nature and character of Quaternary volcanism in Alaska, and specifically to aid in the discussion of spatial and temporal patterns of Alaska volcanism.
  • Alaska Volcano Observatory remote sensing observation database - AVO geologists examine satellite images for signs of volcanic unrest or eruption, such as ash plumes or elevated surface temperatures. To ensure that these observations and selected images are distributed, archived, and searchable, AVO/DGGS is creating a database and associated software to store the information internally.
  • Alaska Volcano Observatory social media - To provide timely and accurate information on volcanic hazards and warnings of impending dangerous activity to local, state, and federal officials and the public AVO is working toward using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to reach a larger and more diverse audience than our current website, fax, and email protocols provide.
  • Alaska Volcano Observatory tephra database - A comprehensive database of Alaska volcanic ash, or tephra. This database will house all pertinent Alaska tephra information necessary for sample processing, archiving, and scientific research.
  • Alaska Volcano Observatory website and database - Geologic database and website dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date source of information on volcanoes in Alaska.
  • Kasatochi - Geologic studies and ecosystem response to the 2008 eruption of Kasatochi Volcano.
  • Makushin - Eruptions from Makushin volcano pose a hazard to facilities and residents of Dutch Harbor/Unalaska, the most productive fishing port in the nation. Given the potential impacts to Dutch Harbor, especially from volcanic ash fall, the Alaska Volcano Observatory has prioritized scientific investigations at Makushin to better understand the three voluminous early Holocene eruptions and numerous small ash fall events that have impacted the Dutch Harbor/Unalaska region.
  • Volcanic eruption response - DGGS volcanology section staff spend a significant amount of time responding to volcanic eruptions. Three volcanic eruptions occurred in Alaska during 2013: Cleveland volcano in the central Aleutians, and Pavlof and Veniaminof volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula.