Ice core records from the Arctic show that Alaska’s Okmok Volcano had a massive eruption in 43 BCE. Following the eruption, there was an abrupt cooling globally, which led to crop failures, famine, disease, and eventually, social unrest. The Mediterranean region was no exception to this.
Such a shift in climate, coming a year after the assassination of Caesar, would have put great pressure on local powers. Strain was also felt in Egypt.
Okmok has a very active history. At one time, it had a 150 meter deep lake in its crater. A notch in the rim eventually drained the lake, although some small remnant lakes remain near cones B & D.
The eruptions of Okmok 8300 and 2050 years ago earn a Volcanic Explosivity Index rating of 6, which puts it on par with Novarupta and Krakatoa.
On 12 July 2008, Okmok erupted without warning, sending ash 50,000 feet into the air. It erupted continuously for almost six full days, causing transportation problems in the air and on the water for the region. That eruption was ranked a 4 VEI, which is considered “cataclysmic”.
Back to 43 BCE. The decade following the eruption was one of the coldest in a millennia, with 43 and 42 BCE being some of the coldest years. It is believed that a temperature drop of 7C from normal was a result of the volcanic eruption on the other side of the globe.
There is a cluster of volcanic islands in the Aleutian Chain that scientists have recently been asking a rather provocative question: Could they all be a part of one giant super volcano, similar to the Yellowstone Caldera?
This tight grouping of islands is home to six stratovolcanoes: Carlisle, Cleveland, Herbert, Kagamil, Tana and Uliaga. Mount Cleveland has been one of the most active volcanoes in North America over the past 20 years.
Most stratovolcanoes tend to have modest sized reservoirs of magma. Although that doesn’t mean they can’t have explosive eruptions, but they are dwarfed by caldera forming eruptions. A caldera is formed by tapping a huge reservoir of magma in the earth’s crust. A caldera forming eruption releases a massive amount of lava and ash, and they are catastrophic, often causing world-wide effects.*
Field work continues, although there is nothing easy about doing research in the Aleutians.
Photo and map credit: USGS, *University of Alaska – Fairbanks
It’s the tail end of Volcano Week with the National Park Service. The above photo, of Mount Wrangell, was taken in 1902 by W.C. Mendenhall, of the U. S. Geological Survey. The namesake of Mendenhall Glacier.
Mount Wrangell is a andesitic shield volcano within Wrangell-St Elias National Park. Its last eruption was in 1930, but it has been actively steaming for over 100 years.
The Federal Government has designated the Chilkoot as a national historic trail. Gaining fame during the Klondike Goldrush, the Chilkoot was a major thoroughfare into the interior of the Yukon and Alaska. Prior to that, the trail was a major route for the Native population for a millennia.
Currently, the Chilkoot is closed due to major trail damage from flooding this past autumn. A series of atmospheric rivers pummeled the area, The Taiya River reached flood stage on five different occasions during a two month period last fall, eroding banks and dislodging bridges along a large section of the trail, that follows the river.
There is hope that the trail will be open at some point this summer. The complete trail to Bennett Lake has not been open due to Canadian restrictions since the start of the Corvid pandemic. There is also hope that those restrictions will also be lifted for the upcoming hiking season.
Aniakchak National Monument is the least visited location with the National Park System, but back in the day, Aniakchak had one rough resident.
A footprint recently found is the first evidence that Tyrannosaurus rex once roamed in the area that is now part of Katmai National Park.
Park Rangers asked, “If you had seen this while exploring Aniakchak, would you have recognized it as a print?” Going by the photo, I would have to say “Not likely”, but I’ll remain optimistic.
The Monument surrounds the Aniakchak Volcano, which had a devastating eruption 3400 years ago. The Aniakchak caldera is 10 miles across and averages 500 meters deep. Within the crater is Surprise Lake, which is the source of the Aniakchak River.
Besides the lake, Vent Mountain is the other prominent feature within the crater. Vent Mountain is the source of the most recent eruption from Aniakchak, which took place in 1931.
A bear cub recently tested positive for Avian Flu. The cub was seen struggling to keep up with its mother and siblings and Alaska Fish & Game officials euthanized the bear cub. Tests came back positive for a highly contagious strain known as “high-path AI.”
The bear cub, found in Bartlett Cove, within Glacier Bay National Park, would have died within hours if it had not been put down, according to wildlife officials. Since the virus does not jump from bear to bear, it is believed the cub scavenged a sick or dead bird.
One female black bear in Quebec had previously been diagnosed with Avian Influenza. In Alaska, two foxes, have tested positive.
Ethel LeCount was a nurse at the Kennecott Hospital at the Kennecott Mill Town in 1937-1938. LeCount shot many rolls of film during her stay out at the old copper mine. The National Park Service has posted some of them online, under the banner: “Ethel LeCount Historical Photo”s on the Wrangell-St-Elias website.
A private train from the Copper River & Northwestern Railway stable, in front of the Chitina Depot, September 1914. It makes me wonder if J.P. Morgan, a lead investor in the Alaska Syndicate, ever visited Kennecott Mines.
Today, Kennecott is still famous for its copper ore, and Chitina is famous for its “Where the Hell is Chitina?” bumper stickers. And salmon: Chitina is the gateway for Interior Alaska dip netting.