Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska, 2006

U.S. Geological Survey
Professional Paper 1739-C

Mid-Holocene Sector Collapse at Mount Spurr Volcano, South-Central Alaska

By Christopher F. Waythomas


Mount Spurr, showing locations of Crater Peak, avalanche caldera, and debris-avalanche deposit in the Chakachatna River valley; view northward (from Figure 2)


Radiocarbon-dated volcanic mass-flow deposits on the southeast flank of Mount Spurr in south-central Alaska provide strong evidence for the timing of large-scale destruction of the south flank of the volcano by sector collapse at 4,769^ndash;4,610 yr B.P. The sector collapse created an avalanche caldera and produced an ~1-km3-volume clay-rich debris avalanche that flowed into the glacially scoured Chakachatna River valley, where it transformed into a lahar that extended an unknown distance beyond the debris avalanche. Hydrothermal alteration, an unbuttressed south flank of the volcano, and local structure have been identified as plausible factors contributing to the instability of the edifice. The sector collapse at Mount Spurr is one of the later known large-volume (>1 km,sup>3) flank failures recognized in the Aleutian Arc and one of the few known Alaskan examples of transformation of a debris avalanche into a lahar.

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