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Tephra-fall deposits from Cook Inlet volcanoes were detected in sediment cores from Tustumena and Paradox Lakes, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, using magnetic susceptibility and petrography. The ages of tephra layers were estimated using 21 14C ages on macrofossils. Tephras layers are typically fine, gray ash, 1–5 mm thick, and composed of varying proportions of glass shards, pumice, and glass-coated phenocrysts. Of the two lakes, Paradox Lake contained a higher frequency of tephra (0.8 tephra/100 yr; 109 over the 13,200-yr record). The unusually large number of tephra in this lake relative to others previously studied in the area is attributed to the lake's physiography, sedimentology, and limnology. The frequency of ash fall was not constant through the Holocene. In Paradox Lake, tephra layers are absent between ca. 800–2200, 3800–4800, and 9000–10,300 cal yr BP, despite continuously layered lacustrine sediment. In contrast, between 5000 and 9000 cal yr BP, an average of 1.7 tephra layers are present per 100 yr. The peak period of tephra fall (7000–9000 cal yr BP; 2.6 tephra/100 yr) in Paradox Lake is consistent with the increase in volcanism between 7000 and 9000 yr ago recorded in the Greenland ice cores.
Nonglaciated lowlands in central and southwestern Alaska contain extensive deposits of upper-Quaternary eolian sand, derived largely from major outwash rivers. Although surface dunes are common, deep exposures consistently reveal that subhorizontally stratified sand and silt deposits dominate over dune cross strata. We hypothesize that (1) many of the subhorizontally stratified deposits represent full-glacial eolian sand sheets, formed when sand supply was limited by seasonally variable combinations of ice cementation, snow cover, high groundwater tables, and vegetation, and (2) many surface dunes reflect late-glacial and postglacial reworking under conditions of increased short-term availability of loose sand. The morphology of some surface dunes may therefore reflect mainly the intensity of reworking since the last glacial maximum, rather than full-glacial paleowind vectors or the age of the bulk of the underlying deposits.
A thick deposit of Old Crow tephra was discovered in a bluff exposure along the middle Holitna River near the Kulukbuk Hills (61°20′N latitude, 157°10′W longitude) in interior southwest Alaska. This locality is the southwesternmost-known deposit of Old Crow tephra in Alaska. Thickness and grain-size data from this site support a source volcano in the eastern Aleutian arc. Pleistocene stratigraphic sequences in the lowland are dominated by upward-fining eolian sand-sheet deposits and loess separated by organic silt. These deposits record at least two episodes of regional glaciation and an intervening nonglacial period (marine oxygen isotope stage 3, stage 5, or both). Old Crow tephra crops out near the top of the lower upward-fining eolian unit, indicating that the ash erupted near the end of an interval of periglacial eolian sedimentation. The sequence of eolian deposits that contain Old Crow tephra probably accumulated during the latter part of marine oxygen isotope stage 6, whereas the overlying eolian sequence formed during the last glaciation (stage 2). This stratigraphic position is consistent with other stratigraphic contexts for the tephra and with fission-track and thermoluminescence ages of ca. 140,000 ± 10,000 yr B.P.
Volcanic unrest is related to, and in some cases can cause, large volcanic landslides. Edifice failures accompanied by volcanic landslides are recognized at many stratovolcanoes worldwide in a wide variety of geologic settings. Because of their large volumes (sometimes exceeding 1 km3) and potential runout distance of several kilometers, volcanic landslides constitute significant hazards. Most volcanic slope failures are the result of a number of factors, and generally no single process acting independently initiates volcanic landslides. Important eruptive processes that lead to, or are intimately associated with, volcanic flank failures and landslides are reviewed. Several examples are discussed in the context of the role that eruptive processes play in triggering or leading to landslides.
Mt Veniaminof is a large active stratovolcano located on the Alaska Peninsula (56.2° N, 159° W). We present results of the first geophysical survey of the icefield that fills much of the 10 km×8 km caldera that was most recently modified during the last major eruption roughly 3700 BP. The subglacial topography and ice volume are derived from an 8MHz radio-echo sounding survey conducted in July 2005. Prominent internal reflectors are assumed to be isochronal ash/acid deposits related to local eruptions. Accumulation rates and basal melt rates are calculated using a Nye one-dimensional steady-state accumulation model applied at a location that approximates an ice divide and calibrated by matching internal reflectors with published records of recent local volcanic eruptions. The model yields order of magnitude estimates of the accumulation rate of 4ma–1 water equivalent and 2 ma–1 of basal melt. The subsequent geothermal flux of ∽19Wm–2 is similar to active hydrothermal vents in volcanic lakes. We suggest that these values represent an upper limit for the geothermal flux within the ice-covered regions of the main caldera. We also analyze likely subglacial meltwater flow paths to examine the implications of recent eruption activity at an active intra-caldera cinder cone. Two lava-producing eruptions from the cinder cone in 1983–84 and 1993–94 melted roughly 0.17km3 of ice. The lack of significant deformation of the internal stratigraphy to the south and east of the melt hole suggests that any subglacial drainage in those directions was entirely within subglacial deposits. We suggest that the more likely drainage route was northwest into a large outlet glacier.
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