We have had a lot of volcanic activity in Alaska this year. We currently have six volcanos at an elevated alert level of either Code Yellow or Code Orange.
None are more intriguing to me than the newest member of Code Yellow: Trident Volcano in Katmai National Park. Trident is a member of what is known as The Katmai Cluster. In addition to Trident, the cluster includes Mount Katmai, Mount Mageik, Mount Martin and Novarupta.
Trident has seen an increase in activity the past year, but since May, the earthquake frequency underneath the volcano has gone up considerably. Add that to the ground uptick at Trident, and you have the signs of moving magma. Katmai, Mageik and Martin have all seen an increase in seismic activity recently, as well.
Trident was last active between 1953-1974, when it went quiet. The eruptions of ’53 and ’74 formed new vents, which means it could be difficult to pinpoint exactly where an eruption could come from.
On June 6, 1912, the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th Century exploded out of the Katmai Cluster. For years, it was assumed that Mount Katmai was the culprit. It wasn’t until 1953 that Novarupta was determined to be the source. The majority of the magma was lying beneath Mount Katmai, but when the cluster erupted, the explosion came out of Novarupta, which is 6.5 miles away. Mount Katmai then collapsed into itself. Trident Volcano stands just 3 miles from Novarupta.
The amount of magma expelled from Novarupta was 30 times that of Mount St Helens. The devastation of the eruption formed the valley we now know as The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.