The 2003 eruption of Anatahan volcano, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Chronology, volcanology, and deformation

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research

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DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2004.12.010



The first historical eruption on Anatahan Island occurred on 10 May 2003 from the east crater of the volcano. The eruption was preceded by several hours of seismicity. Two and a half hours before the outbreak, the number of earthquakes surged to more than 100 events per hour. At 0730 UTC, the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center issued an ash advisory. Although the eruption lasted for 3 months, the majority of erupted material was expelled during the first 2 weeks. The opening episode of the eruption resulted in a deposit of juvenile scoria and lithic clasts, the latter derived from geothermally altered colluvial fill from the vent area. The opening episode was followed by crater enlargement and deepening, which produced deposits of coarse, reddish-brown ash containing a mixture of juvenile and lithic clasts. The third episode of the eruption produced coarse ash and lapilli comprised of juvenile scoria and minor amounts of lithics. Plume heights were 4500 to 13,000 m for the initial three phases. The fourth episode, from about May 18 through early August, was characterized by smaller plume heights of 900 to 2400 m, and steam was the dominant component. Minor amounts of coarse ash and accretionary-lapilli ash comprise most of the deposits of the fourth episode, although ballistic blocks and bombs of andesite lava are also locally present. These andesite blocks were emplaced by an explosion on 14 June, which destroyed a small lava dome extruded during the first week of June. Activity waned as the summer progressed, and subsequent ash deposits accumulated in July and early August, by which time the eruption had effectively ended. In September and October, degassing and geothermal activity continued, characterized by small geysers, boiling water, and jetting steam. Noteworthy deviations from this activity were a surge event in late May-early June and the destruction of the lava dome on 14 June. We calculated on-land tephra-fall deposits to have a bulk volume of about 27.5 ?? 106 m3, covering an area of 40.6 km2. We determined the juvenile to lithic content of the deposits and corrected the bulk volume to a juvenile volume of 24.0 ?? 106 m3. We use a volume corrected density of 1.32 g/cm3 to convert the juvenile volume of 24.0 ?? 106 m3 to a magma volume of 13.2 ?? 106 m3. Using the methods of Fierstein and Nathenson (1992) [Fierstein, J., Nathenson, M., 1992. Another look at the calculation of fallout tephra volumes. Bull. Volcanology. 54, 156-167.], we computed the total eruption volume at 45.4 ?? 106 m3. Deformation surveys recorded large changes surrounding the east crater. The modeled volumetric change based on the surveys was 0.82 ?? 106 m3 of magma, which we estimate corresponds to a minimum intrusion of 10 ?? 106 m3 of magma which is in good agreement with our calculated on-land magma volume.

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The 2003 eruption of Anatahan volcano, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Chronology, volcanology, and deformation
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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
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