Alaskan Muck: Alaskan Ash

Alaska has a lot of volcanoes.

Some say there are more than 130 volcanoes.

On average, we have one or two eruptions a year in Alaska.

We have more than 130 volcanoes, including 90 that have erupted since the end of the last ice age, and 50 that have erupted since written records began in 1760. To a geologist, though, those 250 years of records are nothing. To look further back, they dig.

Digging up Alaska’s volcanic secrets
Erin McKittrick – 28 July 2017
Anchorage Daily News


Others say there are over 100 volcanoes.

In Alaska, there are over 100 volcanoes, 54 of which have been active historically (Cameron and Schaefer, 2016), and numerous tephra fall deposits of various ages are found throughout the state.

Geospatial Distribution of Tephra Fall in Alaska
Katherine M. Mulliken, Janet R. Schaefer, Cheryl E. Cameron
Miscellaneous Publication 164 – March 2018 – State of Alaska

The US Geological Survey has an album of 97 Alaskan volcano images.

PDF version:

The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes is a valley within Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska which is filled with ash flow from the eruption of Novarupta on June 6–8, 1912.

Following the eruption, thousands of fumaroles vented steam from the ash. Robert F. Griggs, who explored the volcano’s aftermath for the National Geographic Society in 1916, gave the valley its name, saying that

“the whole valley as far as the eye could reach was full of hundreds, no thousands—literally, tens of thousands—of smokes curling up from its fissured floor.”

Wikipedia lists 92 Alaskan volcanoes.

Mount Adagdak, Mount Akutan, Alagogshak, Aleutian Islands, Amak Volcano, Mount Amukta, Mount Aniakchak, Anvil Peak, Atna Peaks, Augustine Volcano, Bering Sea Volcanic Province, Black Peak, Mount Blackburn, Bobrof Island, Bogoslof Island, Mount Bona, Buldir Volcano, Capital Mountain, Mount Carlisle, Mount Chiginagak, Mount Churchill, Mount Cleveland, Mount Dana, Davidof Volcano, Mount Denison, Devils Desk, Mount Douglas, Mount Drum, Mount Dutton, Mount Edgecumbe, Mount Emmons, Fisher Caldera, Fourpeaked Mountain, Frosty Peak Volcano, Gareloi Island, Gareloi Volcano, Mount Gilbert, Mount Gordon, Great Sitkin Island, Mount Griggs, Hayes Volcano, Herbert Island, Mount Iliamna, Ingakslugwat Hills, Isanotski Peaks, Mount Jarvis, Mount Kaguyak, Mount Kanaga, Kasatochi Island, Mount Katmai, Mount Kialagvik, Kiska, Koniuji Island, Kookooligit Mountains, Korovin Volcano, Mount Kukak, Mount Kupreanof, Little Sitkin Island, Mount Mageik, Makushin Volcano, Mount Martin, Mount Moffett, Novarupta, Nunivak Island, Mount Okmok, Mount Pavlof, Pavlof Sister, Pogromni Volcano, Prindle Volcano, Mount Recheshnoi, Mount Redoubt, Regal Mountain, Saint Paul Island, Mount Sanford, Mount Seguam, Segula Volcano, Semisopochnoi Island, Mount Shishaldin, Snowy Mountain, Mount Spurr, St. Michael volcanic field, Mount Steller, Suemez Island, Tanaga, Trident Volcano, Ugashik-Peulik, Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Mount Veniaminof, Mount Vsevidof, Mount Westdahl, Mount Wrangell, Yantarni Volcano.

56° 51′ 47″ N 158° 07′ 47″ W

Mount Aniakchak is a 3,700-year-old volcanic caldera approximately 10 kilometers (6 mi) in diameter, located in the Aleutian Range of Alaska, United States. Although a stratovolcano by composition, the pre-existing mountain collapsed in a major eruption forming the caldera.

Around AD 1500, during one of the most violent events in recent history at Aniakchak, an estimated 0.75 to 1.0 km3 of material destroyed a preexisting edifice at Half Cone and flooded most of the caldera floor with pyroclastic flows, surges, and fallout many meters thick. During the final phase of this eruption, a lava flow filled the basin formed during the collapse of Half Cone.

The mountain collapsed, forming the present day caldera, during a major eruption of VEI=6, which left evidence in ice cores dated to 1645 BC. which was later moved to 1641 BC in the Greenland Ice Core Chronology 2005 (GICC05) time scale.

VEI 6 = > 10 km3

Aniakchak eruption dates are [to use a technical term] all over the place.

The “1641 BC” and “around AD 1500” eruptions are probably the same event.


The US Geological Survey provides a map of 41 active Alaskan volcanoes.

Whatever the number there’s always room for one more volcano.

In 1975 the 2,788 metre high Hayes volcano came out hiding.

61° 38′ 25″ N 152° 24′ 41″ W

Hayes Volcano is a stratovolcano in southwestern Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, 135 km northwest of Anchorage, that was not discovered until 1975.

It is responsible for a series of six major tephra layers in the Cook Inlet region of Alaska.

Hayes was mostly destroyed by at least six catastrophic eruptions between 3,400 and 3,800 years ago, and the average volume of these eruptions was 2.4 cubic km.

Unlike the other volcanoes in the Cook Inlet area, Hayes Volcano lacks a well-defined cone, and deposits from eruptions older than the 4,400-to-3,600-year-old eruption are not known.

In comparison, the volume of the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens was about 1 cubic km.

Volcanic Ash Layers
There’s also a lot of volcanic ash in Alaska.

But it’s not always easy to identify.

Kristi Wallace and her assistant Katie Mulliken sat in the mud, slicing through chocolate cake layers of peat and ash. Wallace studies tephra — volcanic ash — at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

It only took a glance for Wallace to be sure that most of the ash in the outhouse hole was from Augustine, our closest volcano. In the field, she talks about herself as the lab instrument. “I have to calibrate my eyes,” she says, or “calibrate my fingertips.”

Until she pointed them out, I could only see the brightest layers.

But I could feel them all.

Volcanic ash is like ground glass.

It feels sharp and gritty between your fingertips.

Sometimes,” said Mulliken, Wallace’s assistant, “you have to put it in your mouth, to tell it apart from loess (wind-blown glacial silt).”

Digging up Alaska’s volcanic secrets
Erin McKittrick – 28 July 2017
Anchorage Daily News

And it can be difficult identifying the source volcano.

Kristi Wallace and her assistant Katie Mulliken… spent the morning digging through a cliff of tidal peat on the Seldovia slough

Five hundred years ago, an eruption blanketed this region in a dusty coat of brown. … “And I’ve never seen it before.”

Digging up Alaska’s volcanic secrets
Erin McKittrick – 28 July 2017
Anchorage Daily News

Seldovia is a city in Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska, United States. Its population was 255 at the 2010 census, down from 286 in 2000. It is located along Kachemak Bay southwest of Homer. There is no road system connecting the town to other communities, so all travel to Seldovia is by airplane or boat.,_Alaska

Volcanic Extinction Event
Frank Hibben thought the layers of volcanic ash in the Alaskan muck might be associated with the episodes of “violent erosion” that are interspersed with periods of “comparative quiescence”.

A possible clue to this erratic climatic sequence is to be found in the occurrence of definite layers of volcanic ash in the muck deposits themselves and in the other portions of the same region.

The sources of these ash falls have not as yet been ascertained, but the ash layers are thick enough (at least 15 inches in some cases) so that these eruptions may be described as of major importance.

Periodic volcanic disturbances of this nature could have been of such violence as to disturb the climatic equilibrium sufficiently to produce violent storms which would cause the accompanying phenomena.

Archaeological Aspects of the Alaska Muck Deposits
Frank C Hibben – 1941
New Mexico Anthropologist, Volume 5, Number 4

One of the most interesting of the theories of the Pleistocene end is that which explains this ancient tragedy by world-wide, earth-shaking volcanic eruptions of catastrophic violence.

This bizarre idea, queerly enough, has considerable support, especially in the Alaskan and Siberian regions.

Interspersed in the muck depths and sometimes through the very piles of bones and tusks themselves are layers of volcanic ash.

There is no doubt that coincidental with the end of the Pleistocene animals, at least in Alaska, there were volcanic eruptions of tremendous proportions.

It stands to reason that animals whose flesh is still preserved must have been killed and buried quickly to be preserved at all.

Bodies that die and lie on the surface soon disintegrate and the bones are scattered.

A volcanic eruption would explain the end of the Alaskan animals all at one time, and in a
manner that would satisfy the evidences there as we know them.

The herds would be killed in their tracks either by the blanket of volcanic ash covering them and causing death by heat or suffocation or, indirectly, by the volcanic gases.

Toxic clouds of gas from volcanic upheavals could well cause death on a gigantic scale.

If every individual, old and young, were killed, extinction would naturally follow.

Throughout the Alaskan mucks, too, there is evidence of atmospheric disturbances of unparalleled violence.

Mammoth and bison alike were tom and twisted as though by a cosmic hand in godly rage.

The Lost Americans – Frank C Hibben – 1946

Otto Geist believed the large fauna were killed off by volcanic action.

Mr. Geist is of the opinion that the large fauna of the region was completely killed off by such a volcanic action and ash fall, and the surface of the valleys and the hills of the region subsequently washed and cut by the violent storms occurring as an aftermath of the eruption itself.

Archaeological Aspects of the Alaska Muck Deposits
Frank C Hibben – 1941
New Mexico Anthropologist, Volume 5, Number 4

Otto William Geist (1888-1963), aka Aghvook, was an archaeologist, explorer, and naturalist who worked in the circumpolar north and for the University of Alaska for much of his adult life.

The radiocarbon dating of mammoth bones and volcanic eruptions suggests the latitude effect has smeared the extinction event over [at least] 9,500 years.



The polar cusps are essentially two holes in our magnetosphere. Here, Earth’s magnetic field lines funnel the solar wind downwards, concentrating its energy before injecting it into Earth’s atmosphere, where it mixes and collides with particles of Earthly origin.

Science on the Cusp: Sounding Rockets Head North – 14 Nov 2018

Big eruptions can reduce global temperatures for short periods of time.

A volcanic winter is a reduction in global temperatures caused by volcanic ash and droplets of sulfuric acid and water obscuring the Sun and raising Earth’s albedo (increasing the reflection of solar radiation) after a large, particularly explosive volcanic eruption.

1600 – The Huaynaputina in Peru erupted.
1452 – A cataclysmic eruption of the submarine volcano Kuwae caused…
1315 – May have been precipitated by a volcanic event…
1257 – Samalas eruption in Indonesia…

Mother Nature may have contributed to an extinction level event when she took a swing with the Aleutian island chain of 69 volcanoes as the Pacific Ocean basin opened.

The Aleutian Islands… are a chain of 14 large volcanic islands and 55 smaller ones

Ancient maps suggests the North Pacific Ocean opened from South-to-North.

The mainstream states: fold mountains “crumple and fold like a tablecloth”.

An equally apt analogy is:

fold mountains crumple and fold like drawn curtains.


The process involved tearing North America away from Asia.

A 1562 map by Paolo Forlani shows Asia and North America joined north of about the latitude of San Diego.

Gastaldi’s world map (1548), showing North America and Asia as one continent.

On this Old World map Asia plus North America is labelled Terra Incognita.

The term Terra Incognita was first seen in Ptolemy’s Geography.

Terra incognita or terra ignota (Latin “unknown land”; incognita is stressed on its second syllable in Latin, but with variation in pronunciation in English) is a term used in cartography for regions that have not been mapped or documented.

The expression is believed to be first seen in Ptolemy’s Geography c. 150.

The term was reintroduced in the 15th century from the rediscovery of Ptolemy’s work during the Age of Discovery.

The equivalent on French maps would be terres inconnues (plural form), and some English maps may show Parts Unknown.

The separation of Asia from North America opened the Strait of Anián.

And the Strait of Anián may [or may not] have evolved into the Bering Strait.

The Strait of Anián was a semi-mythical strait, documented from around 1560, that was believed by early modern cartographers to mark the boundary between North America and Asia and to permit access to a Northwest Passage from the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific.

The true strait was discovered in 1728 and became known as the Bering Strait.

Either way:

Alaskan mega-fauna [dead and alive] moved northward when the landmasses migrated as the Earth inflated.


The landmass migrations created the Ring of Fire and lots of lava and ash.



The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a large 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements.

It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes).

About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and about 81% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.


Frank Hibben realised volcanoes are only part of the “violent erosion” periods.

The intermittent nature of the ash layers in the muck might seem to argue in such a direction.

A wholly volcanic explanation, however, fails to satisfy two of the physical conditions of the mucks, namely, the frozen nature of the deposits and the origin of the muck material itself.

It is obvious that the remains were frozen soon after their deposition as evidenced by the amount of perishable material which they contain.

Although detailed microscopic studies of the muck are yet to be made, the material appears to consist of fine subangular to rounded grains of quartz and other rock-forming minerals.

Archaeological Aspects of the Alaska Muck Deposits
Frank C Hibben – 1941
New Mexico Anthropologist, Volume 5, Number 4

This entry was posted in Alaskan Muck, Atmospheric Science, Books, Catastrophism, Earth, Geology, Hecker Horizon, Heinsohn Horizon, History, Old Japanese Cedar Tree, Radiocarbon Dating, Science, Solar System, Uniformitarianism. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Alaskan Muck: Alaskan Ash

  1. This caught my eye, quote “One of the most interesting of the theories of the Pleistocene end is that which explains this ancient tragedy by world-wide, earth-shaking volcanic eruptions of catastrophic violence.

    This bizarre idea, queerly enough, has considerable support, especially in the Alaskan and Siberian regions.”
    The Med is equally littered with volcanic traces
    But, as is said of Etna, it is a Med safety valve. Meaning that volcanic eruptions are the ‘minor’ visible part of major events. Vesuvius did not preserve the mammals of Pompeii, not event for just two thousand years. The preservation of mammoths and other wild-life and plant in ice are likely due to something bigger. Volcanic eruptions are then just the stage smoke to a main event (dire straits: a very bad situation that is difficult to fix).

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  3. malagabay says:

    Umnak is now mostly unpopulated, with roughly 40 people living in the village of Nikolski near the southwest tip of the island.

    There are thousands of cows, however, a remnant of ranches that have been long abandoned. Located within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, the island is rich with natural wonders, with abundant wildflowers, berries, mosses, and grasses in the warmer seasons; black sand beaches for a dip in the Bering Sea; and plenty of wild reindeer.

    Being a volcanic island, Umnak has numerous mud pots, hot springs, and the only geysers in Alaska.

    The landscape is dominated by volcanoes.

    On the northern half of the island, Okmok —site of the 2008 eruption— rises 1073 meters (3,520 feet) above sea level as a broad shield volcano with a caldera nestled near the top. A crater lake sits amidst the volcanic ash and debris in the caldera.

    Mount Vsevidof, a symmetrical stratovolcano, rises 2149 meters (7,050 feet) and dominates the skyline of the southern portion of Umnak Island.

    The volcanic Islands of the Four Mountains are also visible in the lower left of the wide image.

    Mike Carlowicz

    Mount Okmok is the highest point on the rim of Okmok Caldera on the northeastern part of Umnak Island in the eastern Aleutian Islands of Alaska.

    This 5.8 mile (9.3 km) wide circular caldera truncates the top of a large shield volcano.

    Major eruptions of Okmok—with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) strength of 6—occurred approximately 8,300 and 2,050 years ago (i.e., BP).

    In 2020, volcanic ash deposits found in ice cores from the Greenland ice cap were found to have come from the eruption of Okmok Caldera previously dated between 150-50 BCE. Analysis of the ice cores resulted in a new, more precise date of 43-41 BCE. Based on the eruption date and global climate models, investigators hypothesize that the 43 BCE eruption led to <crop failures and famine around the Mediterranean Sea, potentially influencing events surrounding the fall of the Roman Republic.

    On Saturday, July 12, 2008, Okmok Caldera exploded without warning, sending a plume of ash to 50,000 feet (15,000 m) into the air.

    The 2008 eruption was by far the largest eruption at Okmok since at least the early 13th century.

    In the years after the assassination of Julius Caesar in ancient Rome, historical accounts paint a picture of unusual cold, food shortages, disease and famine that accompanied a pivotal moment in Western history.

    Historians had long suspected that this unexplained extreme weather could be linked to a volcanic eruption, but they had been unable to pinpoint where or when such an eruption had occurred or how severe it was. Candidates had included volcanoes in Nicaragua, Sicily and Kamchatka in Russia’s Far East.

    After analyzing ash trapped in ice and other records, an international group of scientists and historians now think that an eruption of Alaska’s Okmok volcano more than 2,000 years ago was responsible. The massive explosion created a 10-kilometer-wide crater that is still visible today.

    Scientists identify Alaskan volcano that may have helped the rise of the Roman Empire
    CNN – Katie Hunt 22 June 2020

    Hat Tip: johnm33 and CW

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