Volcanism and History on the Northern Alaska Peninsula

Don E. Dumond


Although research has addressed the distribution of prehistoric ethnic groups along the Alaska Peninsula, little effort has been devoted to understanding the effects attributable to massive volcanic eruptions in this volcano-ridden area. Following a suggestion that three volcanic ash deposits particularly well represented along Brooks River of the upper Naknek River drainage system represent deposition of ejecta from Aniakchak Volcano, 240 km to the southwest, this paper examines radiocarbon measurements relevant to those deposits and to airfall tephras along the Naknek River itself, on the Shelikof Strait slope of the Alaska Peninsula to the east, and in the upper Ugashik River drainage. The study concludes that (a) it is possible, although not demonstrable, that the same three tephras are represented in all areas, and (b) the three could possibly derive from Aniakchak, although their timing matches only imperfectly the reported ages of major eruptions there. Probable subsistence implications of widespread volcanic events are discussed.

  • Don E. Dumond, Department of Anthropology, 1218 University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-1218