The 2014 eruptions of Pavlof Volcano, Alaska

Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5129

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Pavlof Volcano is one of the most frequently active volcanoes in the Aleutian Island arc, having erupted more than 40 times since observations were first recorded in the early 1800s . The volcano is located on the Alaska Peninsula (lat 55.4173° N, long 161.8937° W), near Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The towns and villages closest to the volcano are Cold Bay, Nelson Lagoon, Sand Point, and King Cove, which are all within 90 kilometers (km) of the volcano (fig. 1). Pavlof is a symmetrically shaped stratocone that is 2,518 meters (m) high, and has about 2,300 m of relief. The volcano supports a cover of glacial ice and perennial snow roughly 2 to 4 cubic kilometers (km3) in volume, which is mantled by variable amounts of tephra fall, rockfall debris, and pyroclastic-flow deposits produced during historical eruptions. Typical Pavlof eruptions are characterized by moderate amounts of ash emission, lava fountaining, spatter-fed lava flows, explosions, and the accumulation of unstable mounds of spatter on the upper flanks of the volcano. The accumulation and subsequent collapse of spatter piles on the upper flanks of the volcano creates hot granular avalanches, which erode and melt snow and ice, and thereby generate watery debris-flow and hyperconcentrated-flow lahars.

Seismic instruments were first installed on Pavlof Volcano in the early 1970s, and since then eruptive episodes have been better characterized and specific processes have been documented with greater certainty. The application of remote sensing techniques, including the use of infrasound data, has also aided the study of more recent eruptions. Although Pavlof Volcano is located in a remote part of Alaska, it is visible from Cold Bay, Sand Point, and Nelson Lagoon, making distal observations of eruptive activity possible, weather permitting. A busy air-travel corridor that is utilized by a numerous transcontinental and regional air carriers passes near Pavlof Volcano. The frequency of air travel across the region results in a relatively large number of airborne observations of eruptive activity. During the 2014 Pavlof eruptions, the Alaska Volcano Observatory received observations and photographs from pilots and local observers, which aided evaluation of the eruptive activity and the areas affected by eruptive products.

This report outlines the chronology of events associated with the 2014 eruptive activity at Pavlof Volcano, provides documentation of the style and character of the eruptive episodes, and reports briefly on the eruptive products and impacts. The principal observations are described and portrayed on maps and photographs, and the 2014 eruptive activity is compared to historical eruptions.

Suggested Citation

Waythomas, C.F., Haney, M.M., Wallace, K.L., Cameron, C.E., and Schneider, D.J., 2017, The 2014 eruptions of Pavlof Volcano, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5129, 27 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chronology of 2014 Eruptions
  • Eruptive Products
  • Impacts
  • Discussion and Summary
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
The 2014 eruptions of Pavlof Volcano, Alaska
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Alaska Volcano Observatory
vi, 27 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Pavlof Volcano
Online Only (Y/N):