Eruption of Trident Volcano, Katmai National Monument, Alaska, February-June 1953

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Trident Volcano, one of several 'extinct' volcanoes in Katmai National Monument, erupted on February 15, 1953. Observers in a U. S. Navy plane, 50 miles away, and in King Salmon, 75 miles away, reported an initial column of smoke that rose to an estimated 30, 000 feet. Thick smoke and fog on the succeeding 2 days prevented observers from identifying the erupting volcano or assessing the severity of the eruption. It is almost certain, however, that during the latter part of this foggy period, either Mount Martin or Mount Mageik, or both, were also erupting sizable ash clouds nearby. The first close aerial observations were made in clear weather on February 18. At this time a thick, blocky lava flow was seen issuing slowly from a new vent at an altitude of 3,600 feet on the southwest flank of Trident Volcano. Other volcanic orifices in the area were only steaming mildly on this and succeeding days. Observations made in the following weeks from Naval aircraft patrolling the area indicated that both gas and ash evolution and lava extrusion from the Trident vent were continuing without major interruption. By March 11 an estimated 80-160 million cubic yards of rock material had been extruded. Air photographs taken in April and June show that the extrusion of lava had continued intermittently and, by June 17, the volume of the pile was perhaps 300-400 million cubic yards of rock material. Ash eruptions also apparently occurred sporadically during this period, the last significant surge taking place June 30. No civilian or military installations have been endangered by this eruption at the date of writing.

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Eruption of Trident Volcano, Katmai National Monument, Alaska, February-June 1953
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U.S. Geological Survey
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U.S. Geological Survey
7 p.