Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire

Island-building Forces Continue to Shape Alaska’s Aleutian Islands

The entire chain of Aleutian Islands in the Alaska Maritime Refuge rides the northern arc of the "Ring of Fire" – a line of inner friction where Pacific plate of the earth’s crust grinds slowly under the continental plates surrounding it.

This movement breeds quakes, tidal waves and the volcanic eruptions that formed the islands themselves.

It was a hot time on the ring of fire in the summer of 2008 when three refuge volcanoes, Mt. Cleveland, Okmok Caldera and Kasatochi, all in the Aleutians, erupted within several weeks of each other. The Kasatochi eruption sent biologists fleeing for their lives and buried the refuge cabin, seabird cliffs and sea lion rookery. The refuge had studied seabirds on Kasatochi for 13 years. It had no history of erupting. 

 Dynamic Bogoslof Island experienced a series of eruptions over the years, the most recent in 2017. Bogoslof's undersea volcano first appeared above the waves in 1796. Over the years, the volcanic activity has constantly changed the island. The most recent eruption doubled the island's size and created a mile high stream of ash and smoke into the atmosphere, disrupting air travel for several weeks.

Learn more about volcanic islands in the Alaska Maritime Refuge on the Alaska Volcano Observatory website.

What happens to marine mammals after volcanic eruptions?

Read the NOAA post on their 2019 trip to Bogoslof after a series of recent eruptions: Bogoslof Fur Seals