Numerous drainages supporting productive salmon habitat are surrounded by active volcanoes on the west side of Cook Inlet in south-central Alaska. Eruptions have caused massive quantities of flowing water and sediment to enter the river channels emanating from glaciers and snowfields on these volcanoes. Extensive damage to riparian and aquatic habitat has commonly resulted, and benthic macroinvertebrate and salmonid communities can be affected. Because of the economic importance of Alaska's fisheries, detrimental effects on salmonid habitat can have significant economic implications. The Drift River drains glaciers on the northern and eastern flanks of Redoubt Volcano: During and following eruptions in 1989-1990, severe physical disturbances to the habitat features of the river adversely affected the fishery. Frequent eruptions at other Cook Inlet region volcanoes exemplify the potential effects of volcanic activity on Alaska's important commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries. Few studies have documented the recovery of aquatic habitat following volcanic eruptions. The eruptions of Redoubt Volcano in 1989-1990 offered an opportunity to examine the recovery of the macroinvertebrate community. Macroinvertebrate community composition and structure in the Drift River were similar in both undisturbed and recently disturbed sites. Additionally, macroinvertebrate samples from sites in nearby undisturbed streams were highly similar to those from some Drift River sites. This similarity and the agreement between the Drift River macroinvertebrate community composition and that predicted by a qualitative model of typical macroinvertebrate communities in glacier-fed rivers indicate that the Drift River macroinvertebrate community is recovering five years after the disturbances associated with the most recent eruptions of Redoubt Volcano.
Additional publication details
Effects of recent volcanic eruptions on aquatic habitat in the Drift River, Alaska, USA: Implications at other Cook Inlet region volcanoes