Agrigan

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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 18.77°N
  • 145.67°E

  • 965 m
    3165 ft

  • 284160
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: May 2013 (BGVN 38:05)


2007 M~3.3 earthquake followed by clouds of equivocal origin

Our last report on Agrigan volcano covered a May 1992 field visit (BGVN 17:06) by a six-member team of USGS volcanologists that visited the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) at the request of the CNMI Office of Civil Defense. The team detected thermal activity, but no seismicity, deformation or other signs of an eruption.

The following came from a report by both the USGS and CNMI issued mid-July 2007and labeled Current Update. "An earthquake was reported felt on Agrigan island at 3:49 pm July 16 local time. About 3 seconds of shaking was reported by a local resident. Seismometers on Sarigan and Anatahan recorded the earthquake and allowed estimation the magnitude at approximately 3.3. No sulfur smell or any other signs of volcanic activity were reported on July 16 or in a follow up call on July 17."

Some 2012 and 2013 observations were equivocal. On 29 February 2012, NOAA's Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) inferred ash and gas emissions here for the first time on record, but this was later discounted due to lack of forthcoming evidence. The inferred plume was seen in satellite infrared imagery. It extended 74 km NW from the summit.

A possible volcanic plume from Agrigan was spotted again by the VAAC in a satellite image from 22 January 2013.

In a 25 January 2013 USGS update, it was noted that neither the USGS nor NOAA received confirmation of a volcanic source for the satellite anomalies. The authors of the 2013 update interpreted the cloud as weather-related and not volcanic in origin.

Figure 2 shows a photo of Agrigan taken in June 2013. No hotspots were detected during mid-2012 to mid-2013 by the MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

Figure 2. Agrigan as seen on 15 June 2013. Photo credit to Yoshi Tamura; featured here thanks to cooperation of Robert Stern.

Agrigan, the highest-standing stratovolcano and largest (by subaerial volume) in the Northern Mariana Islands, stands 882 m a.s.l (figure 3). The island is ~10 by 6.5 km (N-S by E-W) in size, with a surface area of 52.7 km2. The volcano's subaerial volume is ~15.9 km3. The summit contains a large depression, roughly 1.5 by 1.2 km in diameter, and 380 m deep. A spatter cone and flows from the 1917 eruption cover ~50 percent of the crater floor. This large crater implies a local edifice with shallow magma storage within the volcano. The flanks of the volcano are steep (>30 degrees), with deep furrows extending radially away from the crater. To the north is a large canyon into which a recent, large 'a'&#257 flow advanced to form a delta on the coast. Pyroclastic flow deposits mantle most of the interior of the island. Rocks erupted on the island range from basalt to andesite. The southwest coast has several beaches composed of mineral sands; otherwise, the coast is rocky. (Trusdell, F.A. and others, 2009).

Figure 3. Geologic map of Agrigan with 200 m contour intervals (after Stern, 1978) and location map (after Trusdell and others, 2006).

References. Sako, M. K.; Trusdell, F. A.; Koyanagi, R. Y.; Kojima, George; Moore, R. B., 1995, Volcanic investigations in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, April to May 1994, USGS Open-File Report 94-705.

Stern, R.J., 1978, Agrigan: an introduction to the geology of an active volcano in the Northern Mariana Arc: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 41, p. 43-55.

Trusdell, F.A., Moore, R.B., and Sako, M.K., 2006. Preliminary Geologic Map of Mount Pagan Volcano, Pagan Island, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, USGS Open-File Report 2006-1386 (URL: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2006/1386/).

Trusdell, F.A. 2009, Geology of the Mariana Islands, in Gillespie, R.G., and Clague, D.A., eds., Encyclopedia of Islands: Enclyclopedias of the Natural World, 2, University of California Press, Chap. 18. P. 598-603.

Information Contacts: Emergency Management Office of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (EMO-CNMI) and USGS Volcano Hazards Program, PO Box 100007, Saipan, MP 96950, USA (URL: http://www.cnmiemo.gov.mp/ and http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/nmi/activity/index.php); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL://httphotspot.higp); Robert J. Stern, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W Campbell Rd Richardson, TX 75080; and Yoshi Tamura, Institute for Research on Earth Evolution (IFREE), Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Yokosuka 237-0061, Japan.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Agrigan.

Index of Bulletin Reports


Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

07/1990 (BGVN 15:07) Increased fumarolic activity; nine evacuated

09/1990 (BGVN 15:09) Weak fumaroles; no sign of recent increase in activity

10/1990 (BGVN 15:10) Strong thermal activity but no unusual seismicity

06/1992 (BGVN 17:06) Thermal activity but no seismicity or deformation

05/2013 (BGVN 38:05) 2007 M~3.3 earthquake followed by clouds of equivocal origin




Bulletin Reports

All information contained in these reports is preliminary and subject to change.


07/1990 (BGVN 15:07) Increased fumarolic activity; nine evacuated

An overflight on 1 August revealed increased fumarolic activity at the volcano [(figure 1)]. Nine residents were evacuated from the island. No felt earthquakes were reported.

Figure 1. Geologic map of Agrigan after Stern (1978). Contour interval is 200 m.

Reference. Stern, R.J., 1978, Agrigan: an introduction to the geology of an active volcano in the Northern Mariana Arc: BV, v. 41, p. 43-55.

Information Contacts: R. Koyanagi, HVO; F. Sasamoto, Office of Civil Defense, Saipan.
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09/1990 (BGVN 15:09) Weak fumaroles; no sign of recent increase in activity

Fieldwork was conducted . . . 28 September-3 October, following reports of increased activity 1 August and the subsequent evacuation of the island's residents. Visits to the summit revealed weak fumarolic activity with sulfur deposition and boiling hot springs. A preliminary seismic study indicated very low levels of local activity, with no sign of a recent increase. A regional network of single vertical-component, short-period seismometers was installed, with instruments located on the islands of Pagan, Alamagan, and Anatahan, and a receiving station on Saipan. The residents evacuated in August had not returned to their homes as of early October.

Information Contacts: R. Koyanagi, HVO.
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10/1990 (BGVN 15:10) Strong thermal activity but no unusual seismicity

A seven-member team of USGS volcanologists visited the CNMI 24 September-6 October at the request of the Office of Civil Defense. The following is from a report by Richard Moore.

"On Agrigan, the team established a new EDM network within the summit caldera, and hope to remeasure it in 1991. At that time, geologic investigations terminated by tropical storm Hattie on 2 October 1990 would be continued.

"A revolving drum seismograph operated continuously 28 September-1 October at a village near the coast, and a portable seismograph operated intermittently 28-29 September at several sites on the caldera floor, recorded no sustained microearthquake activity or volcanic tremor on Agrigan.

"The team discovered a boiling hot spring, associated terrace deposits, and solfataras at the 1917 eruption vent (Agrigan's most recent) on the floor of the 1.5-km-diameter caldera. Steam was being emitted from several areas at the base of the caldera wall. Temperatures of the boiling hot spring and 25 solfataras measured by thermocouple were all 98°C. Water from the hot spring had a pH of 2.0. Chemical analysis of the water is in progress. Several measurements (using Kitagawa and Draeger tubes) of the abundances of various gases emitted by the solfataras are summarized in table 1.

Table 1. Range in compositions of gas samples collected at Agrigan, September-October 1990. Courtesy of Richard Moore.

    Gas        Abundance

    HCl       200-320 ppm
    CO          0-3 ppm
    CO2         >3%
    H2S      1900->2000 ppm
    SO2        >400 ppm

"The team found no evidence of new fuming on Agrigan (suggested by reports in August and cause of the island's evacuation; 15:7). Hot spring terraces composed of siliceous sinter covered an area of ~20 x 7 m2 below the boiling hot spring. The terraces are now mostly dry, with current deposition of silica limited to a few square meters adjacent to the hot spring, suggesting that activity was more vigorous sometime in the past. However, fluctuations in the volume of flow from the spring may occur as a result of seasonal variations in rainfall."

Information Contacts: R. Moore, USGS; R. Koyanagi and M. Sako, HVO.
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06/1992 (BGVN 17:06) Thermal activity but no seismicity or deformation

A six-member team of USGS volcanologists visited the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands 11-27 May 1992 at the request of the CNMI Office of Civil Defense. The team observed all of the islands in the chain N of Saipan, installed a new seismic station at the base of frequently active Pagan, remeasured existing EDM networks, mapped the geology of Alamagan, sampled fumaroles and hot springs, and collected rocks and charcoal for radiocarbon dating. No volcanoes in the chain erupted during the observation period.

Remeasurement of five EDM lines on 15-16 May yielded no significant changes (>1 cm) since the network was established in September 1990. Two seismometers temporarily operated on the caldera floor recorded no local shallow seismicity. The temperature of the boiling spring in the caldera was 98°C, the same as in 1990. The volume of water issuing from the hot spring was less than in 1990, maybe because of seasonal rainfall variations. The highest measured fumarole temperature was 102°C, 4° higher than in 1990, perhaps related to a drop in the water table.

Information Contacts: R. Moore, USGS; R. Koyanagi, M. Sako, and F. Trusdell, HVO.
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05/2013 (BGVN 38:05) 2007 M~3.3 earthquake followed by clouds of equivocal origin

Our last report on Agrigan volcano covered a May 1992 field visit (BGVN 17:06) by a six-member team of USGS volcanologists that visited the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) at the request of the CNMI Office of Civil Defense. The team detected thermal activity, but no seismicity, deformation or other signs of an eruption.

The following came from a report by both the USGS and CNMI issued mid-July 2007and labeled Current Update. "An earthquake was reported felt on Agrigan island at 3:49 pm July 16 local time. About 3 seconds of shaking was reported by a local resident. Seismometers on Sarigan and Anatahan recorded the earthquake and allowed estimation the magnitude at approximately 3.3. No sulfur smell or any other signs of volcanic activity were reported on July 16 or in a follow up call on July 17."

Some 2012 and 2013 observations were equivocal. On 29 February 2012, NOAA's Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) inferred ash and gas emissions here for the first time on record, but this was later discounted due to lack of forthcoming evidence. The inferred plume was seen in satellite infrared imagery. It extended 74 km NW from the summit.

A possible volcanic plume from Agrigan was spotted again by the VAAC in a satellite image from 22 January 2013.

In a 25 January 2013 USGS update, it was noted that neither the USGS nor NOAA received confirmation of a volcanic source for the satellite anomalies. The authors of the 2013 update interpreted the cloud as weather-related and not volcanic in origin.

Figure 2 shows a photo of Agrigan taken in June 2013. No hotspots were detected during mid-2012 to mid-2013 by the MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

Figure 2. Agrigan as seen on 15 June 2013. Photo credit to Yoshi Tamura; featured here thanks to cooperation of Robert Stern.

Agrigan, the highest-standing stratovolcano and largest (by subaerial volume) in the Northern Mariana Islands, stands 882 m a.s.l (figure 3). The island is ~10 by 6.5 km (N-S by E-W) in size, with a surface area of 52.7 km2. The volcano's subaerial volume is ~15.9 km3. The summit contains a large depression, roughly 1.5 by 1.2 km in diameter, and 380 m deep. A spatter cone and flows from the 1917 eruption cover ~50 percent of the crater floor. This large crater implies a local edifice with shallow magma storage within the volcano. The flanks of the volcano are steep (>30 degrees), with deep furrows extending radially away from the crater. To the north is a large canyon into which a recent, large 'a'&#257 flow advanced to form a delta on the coast. Pyroclastic flow deposits mantle most of the interior of the island. Rocks erupted on the island range from basalt to andesite. The southwest coast has several beaches composed of mineral sands; otherwise, the coast is rocky. (Trusdell, F.A. and others, 2009).

Figure 3. Geologic map of Agrigan with 200 m contour intervals (after Stern, 1978) and location map (after Trusdell and others, 2006).

References. Sako, M. K.; Trusdell, F. A.; Koyanagi, R. Y.; Kojima, George; Moore, R. B., 1995, Volcanic investigations in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, April to May 1994, USGS Open-File Report 94-705.

Stern, R.J., 1978, Agrigan: an introduction to the geology of an active volcano in the Northern Mariana Arc: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 41, p. 43-55.

Trusdell, F.A., Moore, R.B., and Sako, M.K., 2006. Preliminary Geologic Map of Mount Pagan Volcano, Pagan Island, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, USGS Open-File Report 2006-1386 (URL: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2006/1386/).

Trusdell, F.A. 2009, Geology of the Mariana Islands, in Gillespie, R.G., and Clague, D.A., eds., Encyclopedia of Islands: Enclyclopedias of the Natural World, 2, University of California Press, Chap. 18. P. 598-603.

Information Contacts: Emergency Management Office of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (EMO-CNMI) and USGS Volcano Hazards Program, PO Box 100007, Saipan, MP 96950, USA (URL: http://www.cnmiemo.gov.mp/ and http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/nmi/activity/index.php); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL://httphotspot.higp); Robert J. Stern, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W Campbell Rd Richardson, TX 75080; and Yoshi Tamura, Institute for Research on Earth Evolution (IFREE), Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Yokosuka 237-0061, Japan.
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The highest of the Marianas arc volcanoes, Agrigan contains a 500-m-deep, flat-floored caldera. The elliptical island is 8 km long; its 965-m-high summit is the top of a massive 4000-m-high submarine volcano, the second largest in the Marianas Islands. Deep radial valley dissect the flanks of the thickly vegetated stratovolcano. The elongated caldera is 1 x 2 km wide and is breached to the NW, from where a prominent lava flow extends to the coast and forms a lava delta. The caldera floor is surfaced by fresh-looking lava flows and also contains two cones that may have formed during the volcano's only historical eruption in 1917. This eruption deposited large blocks and 3 m of ash and lapilli on a village on the SE coast, prompting its evacuation.

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1917 Apr 9 Unknown Confirmed 4 Historical Observations

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Synonyms

Agrihan
Clouds drape the flat-topped summit of Agrigan, the highest of the Marianas arc volcanoes, in this view from the south. The elliptical island is 8 km long; its 965-m-high summit is the top of a massive 4000-m-high submarine volcano, the second largest in the Mariana Islands. An elongated summit caldera is 1 x 2 km wide, 500 m deep, and is breached to the NW. The vegetated flanks of the volcano consist almost entirely of pyroclastic deposits that are more than 100 m thick on the SW flank.

Photo by Dick Moore, 1990 (U.S. Geological Survey).

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Bloomer S H, Stern R J, Smoot N C, 1989. Physical volcanology of the submarine Mariana and Volcano arcs. Bull Volc, 51: 210-224.

Corwin G, 1971. Quaternary volcanics of the Mariana Islands. Unpublished manuscript, 137 p.

Katsui Y (ed), 1971. List of the World Active Volcanoes. Volc Soc Japan draft ms, (limited circulation), 160 p.

Kuno H, 1962. Japan, Taiwan and Marianas. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 11: 1-332.

Meijer A, Reagan M, 1983. Origin of K2O-SiO2 trends in volcanoes of the Mariana arc. Geology, 11: 67-71.

Stern R J, 1978. Agrigan: an introduction to the geology of an active volcano in the Northern Mariana Island Arc. Bull Volc, 41: 43-55.

Volcano Types

Stratovolcano
Caldera
Pyroclastic cone(s)

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Crustal thickness unknown

Rock Types

Major
Basalt / Picro-Basalt
Andesite / Basaltic Andesite

Population

Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km
0
0
0
0

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Agrigan Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.