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Disruption of Drift glacier and origin of floods during the 1989-1990 eruptions of Redoubt Volcano, Alaska

January 1, 1994

Melting of snow and glacier ice during the 1989–1990 eruption of Redoubt Volcano caused winter flooding of the Drift River. Drift glacier was beheaded when 113 to 121 × 106 m3 of perennial snow and ice were mechanically entrained in hot-rock avalanches and pyroclastic flows initiated by the four largest eruptions between 14 December 1989 and 14 March 1990. The disruption of Drift glacier was dominated by mechanical disaggregation and entrainment of snow and glacier ice. Hot-rock avalanches, debris flows, and pyroclastic flows incised deep canyons in the glacier ice thereby maintaining a large ice-surface area available for scour by subsequent flows. Downvalley flow rheologies were transformed by the melting of snow and ice entrained along the upper and middle reaches of the glacier and by seasonal snowpack incorporated from the surface of the lower glacier and from the river valley. The seasonal snowpack in the Drift River valley contributed to lahars and floods a cumulative volume equivalent to about 35 × 106 m3 of water, which amounts to nearly 30% of the cumulative flow volume 22 km downstream from the volcano. The absence of high-water marks in depressions and of ice-collapse features in the glacier indicated that no large quantities of meltwater that could potentially generate lahars were stored on or under the glacier; the water that generated the lahars that swept Drift River valley was produced from the proximal, eruption-induced volcaniclastic flows by melting of snow and ice.

Publication Year 1994
Title Disruption of Drift glacier and origin of floods during the 1989-1990 eruptions of Redoubt Volcano, Alaska
DOI 10.1016/0377-0273(94)90043-4
Authors D.C. Trabant, R. B. Waitt, J. J. Major
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Index ID 70017585
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Cascades Volcano Observatory