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  • United States
  • Alaska
  • Stratovolcano
  • 1990 CE
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 52.103°N
  • 177.602°E

  • 1220 m
    4002 ft

  • 311020
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Kiska.

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

Index of Monthly 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.

09/1969 (CSLP 116-69) Eruption generates ash and steam plumes; small lava flow

04/1987 (SEAN 12:04) Plume on satellite image

05/1990 (BGVN 15:05) Steam and ash plume

Contents of Monthly Reports

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

All times are local (= UTC - 9 hours)

09/1969 (CSLP 116-69) Eruption generates ash and steam plumes; small lava flow

Card 0751 (12 September 1969) Ash and steam plumes and lava seen; source uncertain

"Last night the people on Amchitka visually sighted a volcano erupting about 50 miles NW of the island. It was on one of the smaller islands which they could not identify. They observed volcanic ash to approximately 1,200 feet and steam to about 12,000 feet. They visually sighted flames and lava last night at approximately 1000 GMT on 12 September. The eruption was observed at periods of about two minutes during the most active period of the volcanic activity." Positive identification of the erupting volcano has not yet been made.

Card 0752 (17 September 1969) Overflights identify Kiska as source of activity

The following was received via cable from D.B. Stone on 15 September. "Kiska volcano seen to be active. Much steam, strong sulfur smell, air temperature as recorded by aircraft 10°C higher over N tip of island than over adjacent sea. Unable to see other islands due to poor weather. Kiska likely source of events seen from Amchitka."

The following report is from a telephone conversation with L. Kerry on 16 September, 7:00 p.m. EDT. "The first report we had was the 12th of September from the people working on Amchitka Island, who called in and reported that there was steam and that it seemed to be throwing something up into the air. This wasn't happening on the afternoon of the 13th when our military plane flew over. These first reports were just visual reports from Amchitka and because of overcast skies, they could only see it occasionally in snatches. There were no explosions heard, or none were reported to us, and they didn't say if there was any eruption cloud. The plane definitely pinpointed the volcano on 'Little Kiska' island. They measured a definite rise in temperature from as close as they could get in the plane of 15°C; there was steam and there seemed to be evidence of a small lava flow. The latest report we have from witnesses on Amchitka seems to indicate that it is beginning to stop; and a pilot reported the volcano is down to just steam a day ago."

Information Contacts:
Card 0751 (12 September 1969) John B. Townshend, College Observatory, Coast and Geodetic Survey, College AK, USA.
Card 0752 (17 September 1969) D.B. Stone, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, College, AK; Leonard Kerry, Adak Observatory, FPO Seattle, WA.

04/1987 (SEAN 12:04) Plume on satellite image

From a 15 April NOAA 9 satellite image (at 1704), Steven Shivers (USGS) noted a narrow plume drifting ~60 km E from the volcano. No reports of an eruption have been received from airplane pilots or ground observers.

Information Contacts: J. Reeder, ADGGS; T. Miller, USGS, Anchorage; W. Gould, NOAA/NESDIS.

05/1990 (BGVN 15:05) Steam and ash plume

A steam cloud emerging from an upper flank vent . . . was seen from neighboring Amchitka Island on 1 June at about 1000. Ash began mixing with the steam after ~30 minutes, and steam and ash emission remained visible until weather conditions obscured the volcano 3 hours later. At about 1500, a Reeve Aleutian Airways pilot reported a steam plume rising to ~3.5 km altitude, associated with a dispersed gray haze at about the same altitude. Authorities issued a NOTAM. When a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) vessel traveled past the N and W sides of Kiska Island on 3 June, no ash was visible on flank snow cover, although some light snow might have fallen since the eruption. Steaming from the W vent appeared typical. A plume from Kiska was clearly evident on radar aboard the Soviet vessel RV Vulkanolog, as it passed ~200 km N of Kiska on 4 June at 0800. However, no ashfall was noted at the ship.

Information Contacts: AVO; Nikolai Seliverstov (chief of expedition, RV Vulkanolog), IV; Eugene Yogodzinski (RV Vulkanolog), Cornell Univ; Anchorage Times, AK.

Conical Kiska volcano is the westernmost historically active volcano of the 2500-km-long Aleutian arc. The volcano lies at the northern tip of the elongated Kiska Island, across a low isthmus containing East Kiska and West Kiska lakes. A 400-m-wide elliptical crater, breached to the north, caps the 1220-m-high stratovolcano. The volcano is surrounded on three sides by sea cliffs up to 450 m high and overlies an older volcanic center exposed to the south. A massive submarine debris-avalanche deposit extends 40 km to the NNW. The southern part of the NE-SW-trending island, the westernmost of the Rat Island group, has been glaciated, but all lava flows on Kiska volcano post-date the last major glaciation. Young, steep-sided blocky lava flows, primarily on the northern and SW flanks, have originated from vents at locations ranging from the summit to near sea level. A flank cinder cone and associated lava flows were erupted in 1962 at Sirius Point on the northern coast. The island contains one of the best harbors in the Aleutian Islands, but is uninhabited.

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

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1990 Jun 1 1990 Jun 1 (?) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Upper NW? flank
[ 1987 Apr 15 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
1969 Sep 11 1969 Sep 16 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1964 Mar 18 Unknown Confirmed 0 Historical Observations
1962 Jan 24 Unknown Confirmed 3 Historical Observations North flank (Sirius Point)
[ 1927 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
[ 1907 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  

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.

A steam plume rises from the summit of conical Kiska volcano, the westernmost historically active volcano of the 2500-km-long Aleutian arc. Three sides of the volcano, including the northern side seen here, are bounded by steep cliffs up to 450 m high. An elliptical crater, breached to the north, caps the 1220-m-high stratovolcano, which occupies the northern tip of the elongated island. A flank cinder cone formed in 1962 at the northern coast.

Photo by E.V. Kleff, 1985 (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory).
The broad snow-free island at the right center is Davidof, part of the rim of a largely submerged caldera. The snow-capped peak behind Davidof to the NW is historically active Segula volcano. The snow-capped island in the far left distance is Buldir volcano; the photo was taken from Little Sitkin Island.

Photo by Steve Ebbert, 2000 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

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.

Coats R R, 1950. Volcanic activity in the Aleutian Arc. U S Geol Surv Bull, 974-B: 35-47.

Coats R R, Nelson W H, Lewis R Q, Powers H A, 1961. Geologic reconnaissance of Kiska Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska. U S Geol Surv Bull, 1028-R: 563-581.

Coombs M L, White S M, Scholl D W, 2007b. Massive edifice failure at Aleutian arc volcanoes. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 256: 403-418.

Henning R A, Rosenthal C H, Olds B, Reading E (eds), 1976. Alaska's volcanoes, northern link in the ring of fire. Alaska Geog, 4: 1-88.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Miller T P, McGimsey R G, Richter D H, Riehle J R, Nye C J, Yount M E, Dumoulin J A, 1998. Catalogue of the historically active volcanoes of Alaska. U S Geol Surv Open-File Rpt, 98-582: 1-104.

Motyka R J, Liss S A, Nye C J, Moorman M A, 1993. Geothermal resources of the Aleutian arc. Alaska Div Geol Geophys Surv, Prof Rpt, no 114, 17 p and 4 map sheets.

Myers J D, 1994. The Geology, Geochemistry and Petrology of the recent Magmatic Phase of the Central and Western Aleutian Arc. Unpublished manuscript, unpaginated.

Smith R L, Shaw H R, Luedke R G, Russell S L, 1978. Comprehensive tables giving physical data and thermal energy estimates for young igneous systems of the United States. U S Geol Surv Open-File Rpt, 78-925: 1-25.

Volcano Types

Pyroclastic cone(s)

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Intermediate crust (15-25 km)

Rock Types

Andesite / Basaltic Andesite
Basalt / Picro-Basalt


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

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Kiska 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.