"Inland Brown Bear" by NPS Photo /W. Hill , public domain

Lake Clark

Volcanoes

brochure Lake Clark - Volcanoes
Lake Clark National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Lake Clark National Park and Preserve www.nps.gov/lacl Qizhjeh Vena Redoubt steaming courtesy of Game McGimsey/ AVO/ USGS Volcanoes Lake Clark is a land of fre and ice, dominated by two active volcanoes and over 900 square miles of glaciers. The scene of a dynamic, active geology, this is a young landscape that is ever-changing. Why are the Volcanoes Here? Lake Clark’s two volcanoes sit on the AlaskaAleutian subduction zone. Here the denser oceanic crust of the Pacifc Plate is moving beneath the lighter continental crust of the North American Plate at a rate of approximately 2.6 inches per year; about as fast as fngernails grow. Located only 30 miles beneath the surface of the Kenai Mountains, the Pacifc Plate dives abruptly at the western edge of Cook Inlet, reaching a depth of more than 60 miles beneath the Chigmit Mountains. The intense heat and pressure at that depth melt rock, creating the magma which erupts to the surface forming Redoubt and Iliamna volcanoes. Redoubt courtesy of K.L. Wallace /AVO/USGS Iliamna - 10,016 ft. tall Iliamna courtesy of Dennis Anderson/AVO/USGS These volcanoes are geologically young; Redoubt began forming a mere 880,000 years ago. However, igneous rock throughout the park and preserve indicate volcanic activity has been present in the area for 180 million years. Over time the rock layers near today’s volcanoes were uplifted and exposed creating the Chigmit and Neacola Mountains. Redoubt - 10,197 ft. tall Subduction graphic adapted from AVO/USGS At the head of the Alaska Peninsula the Neacola and Chigmit Mountains link the Alaska Range curving to the northeast with the Aleutian Range stretching to the southwest. Towering above them all are two stratovolcanoes composed of layers of andesitic pyroclastic deposits and lava fows. This lava was thick, sticky, and fowed like cold honey. Eruptions here are not likely to fow efusively like those of the Hawaiian volcanoes, where gases can easily bubble out like a pot of boiling spaghetti sauce. Instead the gases trapped in the viscous magma create dramatic eruptions that break the magma into solid pieces of many diferent sizes ranging from boulders to ash, and known as pyroclasts. Like a popcorn popper flled with kernels and confetti, the larger, heavier particles fall closer to the volcano’s vent, while the smaller, lighter ones travel further away, creating the classically tall, conical shape. Sunset by NPS/ E. Wasserman Introducing Lake Clark’s Volcanoes Earthquakes and Volcanoes Hundreds of earthquakes shake the area each year. Scientists documented 10,400 earthquakes at Redoubt alone between 1989 and 2010, most of which were associated with the volcano’s eruptions. Mapping “earthquake focus” is how geologists determine both the location and depth of the subducting plate and the storage and movement of magma through a volcano’s underground chambers. Understanding earthquake character and timing may also lead to more accurate eruption forecasts in the future. Pyroclastic Flows and Lahars In the same way that the gases in a can of soda cause the liquid to explode when shaken and opened, the gases exploding out of the viscous magma can cause pyroclastic fows to blast down the fanks of the volcano at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour when either a plume or overstepped dome collapses. Pyroclastic fows are hot, dry, gaseous avalanches that incorporate lava fragments ranging in size from as large as boulders to as small as ash. With temperatures of up to 1500ºF, pyroclastic fows rapidly melt the glacial ice and snow that cap these volcanoes, creating rivers of mud known as lahars. Some lahars begin fowing long after the volcano erupts when rain is absorbed by the pyroclastic material. Both lahars and pyroclastic fows can travel for miles and can bury or destroy everything in their path. Adapted from wikimedia public domain “One learns that the world, though made, is yet being made.” ~ John Muir Although Iliamna regularly emits plumes of steam, it has not had a confrmed eruption in recorded history. Redoubt, however, has erupted at least 30 times in the last 10,000 years, and four eruptive events have been confrmed in the last century alone. 1902 Multiple between January and June 1966-68: 11 explosions (6 in ‘66 & 5 in ‘68) 1989-90: 23 “major explosive events” 2009 19 “major ash producing explosions” April 1990 eruption courtesy of R.J. Clucas/ USGS A Living Land Image courtesy of Alaska DGGS Redoubt and Iliamna do not stand alone. They are but two of 52 historically active volcanoes that rise above the Alaska-Aleutian subduction zone, including nearby Spurr and Augustine. This, in turn, is part of the “Ring of Fire,” a zone encircling the Pacifc Ocean where various oceanic plates are subducting beneath continental plates. This area is home to the majority of the world’s great earthquakes and active volcanoes. Pyroclastic fow courtesy of AVO/USGS Ring of Fire Volcanic Ash Drift River lahar courtesy of NASA Redoubt’s 2009 cycle of eruptions produced at least fve pyroclastic fows and 20 lahars. The largest lahar occurred on April 4th, 2009. Consisting primarily of sand, andesite, and water, it fowed 20.5 miles down the Drift River to Cook Inlet, and was up to 2 miles wide and 19 feet deep in some places. Volcanic ash can pose a myriad of hazards. For example, imagine this - you are aboard a Boeing 747 jumbo jet on December 15, 1989 when it fies into a difuse ash cloud erupted from Redoubt Volcano. One by one you hear the engines stop running as silica-rich ash is ingested into the engines and melts into a glassy coating that clogs the turbines and prevents them from spinning. For the next eight minutes the jet descends 18,000 feet out of the sky. No doubt the longest eight minutes of your life. With only 6,000 feet and three minutes remaining before the plane crashes into the mountainous terrain below, the coating chills and cracks allowing the pilots to restart the engines. Fortunately, nobody was injured; however, the cost to repair the plane was $80 million. In order to prevent another potentially deadly accident, more than 385 fights afecting more than 20,000 passengers were either canceled, rerouted, diverted or turned back during Redoubt’s 2009 eruption. E X P E R I E N C E Y O U R A M E R I C A™ Updated September 2015

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