Summit crater lake observations, and the location, chemistry, and pH of water samples near Mount Chiginagak volcano, Alaska: 2004-2012

Report of Investigations 2011-6

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DOI: 10.14509/25602



Mount Chiginagak is a hydrothermally active volcano on the Alaska Peninsula, approximately 170 km south–southwest of King Salmon, Alaska (fig. 1). This small stratovolcano, approximately 8 km in diameter, has erupted through Tertiary to Permian sedimentary and igneous rocks (Detterman and others, 1987). The highest peak is at an elevation of 2,135 m, and the upper ~1,000 m of the volcano are covered with snow and ice. Holocene activity consists of debris avalanches, lahars, and lava flows. Pleistocene pyroclastic flows and block-and-ash flows, interlayered with andesitic lava flows, dominate the edifice rocks on the northern and western flanks. Historical reports of activity are limited and generally describe “steaming” and “smoking” (Coats, 1950; Powers, 1958). Proximal tephra collected during recent fieldwork suggests there may have been limited Holocene explosive activity that resulted in localized ash fall. A cluster of fumaroles on the north flank, at an elevation of ~1,750 m, commonly referred to as the “north flank fumarole” have been emitting gas throughout historical time (location shown in fig. 2). The only other thermal feature at the volcano is the Mother Goose hot springs located at the base of the edifice on the northwestern flank in upper Volcano Creek, at an elevation of ~160 m (fig. 2, near sites H1, H3, and H4).

Sometime between November 2004 and May 2005, a ~400-m-wide, 100-m-deep lake developed in the snow- and ice-filled summit crater of the volcano (Schaefer and others, 2008). In early May 2005, an estimated 3 million cubic meters (3×106 m3) of sulfurous, clay-rich debris and acidic water exited the crater through tunnels at the base of a glacier that breaches the south crater rim. More than 27 km downstream, these acidic flood waters reached approximately 1.3 m above normal water levels and inundated a fertile, salmon-spawning drainage, acidifying the entire water column of Mother Goose Lake from its surface waters to its maximum depth of 45 m (resulting pH ~2.9), and preventing the annual salmon run in the King Salmon River. A simultaneous release of gas and acidic aerosols from the crater caused widespread vegetation damage along the flow path.

Since 2005, we have been monitoring the crater lake water that continues to flow into Mother Goose Lake by collecting surface water samples for major cation and anion analysis, measuring surface-water pH of affected drainages, and photo-documenting the condition of the summit crater lake. This report describes water sampling locations, provides a table of chemistry and pH measurements, and documents the condition of the summit crater between 2004 and 2011. In September 2013, the report was updated with results of water-chemistry samples collected in 2011 and 2012, which were added as an addendum.

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
State/Local Government Series
Summit crater lake observations, and the location, chemistry, and pH of water samples near Mount Chiginagak volcano, Alaska: 2004-2012
Series title:
Report of Investigations
Series number:
Version 2
Year Published:
Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys
Publisher location:
Fairbanks, AK
Contributing office(s):
Volcano Science Center
25 p.
Time Range Start:
Time Range End:
United States
Other Geospatial:
Chiginagak Volcano