• Mapping methods and observations of surficial snow/ice cover at Redoubt and Pavlof volcanoes, Alaska using optical satellite imagery

      Rahilly, Kristen E.; Dehn, Jonathan; Pettit, Erin; Webley, Peter (2014-08)
      Alaska is a natural laboratory for the study of how active volcanism interacts with underlying seasonal snow, perennial snow, and glacial ice cover. While over half of the historically active volcanoes in Alaska have some degree of perennial snow or glacial ice, all Alaskan volcanoes have a covering of seasonal snow for a period of time throughout the year. Previous research has centered on how volcanic deposits erode away the underlying snow/ice cover during an eruption, producing volcanic mudflows called lahars. Less emphasis has been placed on how variations in the snow/ice cover substrate effect the efficiency of meltwater generation during a volcanic eruption. Glacial ice, perennial snow, and seasonal snow can all contribute significantly to meltwater, and therefore the variations in the types of snow/ice cover present at Alaskan volcanoes must be analyzed. By examining the changing spatial extent of seasonal snow present at a volcano during multiple Alaskan summers, the approximate boundaries of perennial snow and ice can be mapped as the snow/ice cover consistently present at the end of each ablation season. In this study, two methods of snow/ice cover mapping for Redoubt and Pavlof volcanoes are analyzed for efficiency and accuracy. Identification of the best method allows for mapping of the snow/ice cover consistently present during each Alaskan summer month over at least two different years. These maps can serve as approximations for the snow/ice cover likely to be present at both volcanoes during each summer month. Volcanic deposits produced during the 2009 Redoubt and 2013 Pavlof eruptions are spatially linked to these snow/ice cover maps so that future research can focus on the interaction between deposits and type of snow/ice substrate. Additional observations and conclusions are made regarding how the visible snow/ice cover varies during and after each eruption.