10 million years ago the volcanoes west of
Kachemak Bay begin to form along the Aleutian
and Alaska Ranges. There are seven in all -
Fourpeaked, Douglas, Augustine, Iliamna, Redoubt,
Spurr, and Hayes from south to north.
Three regional volcanoes have erupted in historic
times. Some eruptions may be little spurts of
steam plumes, such as those frequently seen
above Iliamna. Others may be vigorous and dangerous
eruptions of steam, gases, mud, ash and lava
flows such as those of Augustine in 1986 and
Redoubt in 1989-1990.
Map of Kachemak Bay
and Augustine Volcano
Courtesy of Janet R. Klein
Iliamna at Sunrise
© Bill Scott
Augustine and Iliamna show signs of volcanic activity.
Douglas has an active fumarole field, which issues
smoke or steam. Augustine shows occasional haze.
Iliamna has three or more fumaroles issuing steam
continuously, sometimes visible to heights of
more than 2,000 feet above the mountain.
1883 Augustine Eruption,
Debris Avalanche, and Tsunami
A smoking snow-covered cone, the volcanic island
of Augustine hovers on the blue horizon west of Kachemak
|In the morning hours of October
6, 1883, a partial collapse of Augustine Volcano
sent debris avalanching into Cook Inlet. This
launched a tsunami 75 miles across the waters.
It is told that a small party of sea otter hunters
in kayaks witnessed this event in boiling waters
just off Augustine. On that day, Port Graham villagers
rejoiced at the unusually low tide allowing them
to gather clams far offshore. As the tsunami rolled
in, the townspeople found refuge on higher ground.
© Juergen Kienle
mom telling him about, I think his name was Anton
rowing around in the bay picking up boards
and stuff that were washed out with the smoke houses.
-Herman Moonin, Port Graham
Scientists look for evidence of tsunami wave deposits.
Like geochemical fingerprints, volcanic ash layers
provide unique records of particular eruptions. Rain,
wind, and tidal storms may carry away hard proof while
stories linger. History has many perspectives.
Ancient Ash Plume
Wooden Box Panel
Illustration Showing Detail
© Koniag, Inc.,
Collection: Alutiiq Museum & Archaeological
A 500-year-old wooden box from Kodiak illustrates an
erupting volcano in faded red paint. The image appears
to show a volcano spewing a cloud above it, particles
of ash floating in the air, and a tsunami wave at
the lower right.
Augustine Volcano erupted about 1540 A.D. which closely
corresponds to the age of the painting. This is the
earliest known record of an eruption in Alaska and
reveals how prehistoric peoples recorded important
events in their lives.