New perspectives on the eruption of 1912 in the valley of ten thousand smokes, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Bulletin of Volcanology



New data extend our understanding of the 1912 eruption, its backfilled vent complex at Novarupta, and magma-storage systems beneath adjacent stratovolcanoes. Initial Plinian rhyolite fallout is confined to a narrow downwind sector, and its maximum thickness may occur as far as 13 km from source. In contrast, the partly contemporaneous rhyolite-rich ash flows underwent relatively low-energy emplacement, their generation evidently being decoupled from the high column. Flow veneers 1-13 m thick on near-vent ridge crests exhibit a general rhyolite-to-andesite sequence like that of the much thicker valley-confined ignimbrite into which they merge downslope. Lithics in both the initial Plinian and the ignimbrite are predominantly fragments of the Jurassic Naknek Formation, which extends from the surface to a depth of ca. 1500 m. Absence of lithics from the underlying sedimentary section limits to < 1.5 km the fragmentation level and the structural depth of the vent, which is thought to be funnel-shaped, flaring shallowly to a surface diameter of 2 km. Overlying the ignimbrite are layers of Plinian dacite fallout, > 100 m thick near source and 10 m thick 3 km away, which dip back into an inner vent <0.5 km wide, nested inside the earlier vent funnel of the ignimbrite. The dacite fallout is poor in Naknek lithics but contains abundant fragments of vitrophyre, most of which was vent-filling, densely welded tuff reejected during later phases of the 3-day eruption. Adjacent to the inner vent, a 225-m-high asymmetrical accumulation of coarse near-vent ejecta is stratigraphically continuous with the regional dacite fallout. Distensional faulting of its crest may reflect spreading related to compaction and welding. Nearby andesite-dacite stratovolcanoes, i.e., Martin, Mageik, Trident, and Katmai, display at least 12 vents that define a linear volcanic front trending N65??E. The 1912 vent and adjacent dacite domes are disposed parallel to the front and ca. 4 km behind it. Mount Griggs, 10 km behind the front, is more potassic than other centers, taps isotopically more depleted source materials, and reflects a wholly independent magmatic plumbing system. Geochemical differences among the stratovolcanoes, characteristically small eruptive volumes ( < 0.1 to 0.4 km3), and the dominance of andesite and low-SiO2 dacite suggest complex crustal reservoirs, not large integrated magma chambers. Linear fractures just outside the 1912 vent strike nearly normal to the volcanic front and may reflect dike transport of magma previously stored beneath Trident 3-5 km away. Caldera collapse at Mount Katmai may have taken place in response to hydraulic transfer of Katmai magma toward Novarupta via reservoir components beneath Trident. The voluminous 1912 eruption (12-15 km3 DRE) was also unusual in producing high-silica rhyolite (6-9 km3 DRE), a composition rare in this arc and on volcanic fronts in general. Isotopic data indicate that rhyolite genesis involved little assimilation of sedimentary rocks, pre-Tertiary plutonic rocks, or hydrothermally altered rocks of any age. Trace-element data suggest nonetheless that the rhyolite contains a nontrivial crustal contribution, most likely partial melts of Late Cenozoic arc-intrusive rocks. Because the three compositions (77%, 66-64.5%, and 61.5-58.5% SiO2) that intermingled in 1912 vented both concurrently and repeatedly (after eruptive pauses hours in duration), the compositional gaps between them must have been intrinsic to the reservoir, not merely effects of withdrawal dynamics. ?? 1987 Springer-Verlag.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title New perspectives on the eruption of 1912 in the valley of ten thousand smokes, Katmai National Park, Alaska
Series title Bulletin of Volcanology
DOI 10.1007/BF01080359
Volume 49
Issue 5
Year Published 1987
Language English
Publisher location Springer-Verlag
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Bulletin of Volcanology
First page 680
Last page 693