Selected Reports on Historical Eruptions

Publications Summarizing Historical Eruptions

Volcanoes of the World

Simkin, Tom, and Siebert, Lee, 1994, Volcanoes of the World -- A regional directory, gazetteer, and chronology of Volcanism during the last 10,000 years: Tuscon, Geoscience Press, Inc., 349 p.

Well-documented examples of recent volcanic activity are extremely helpful in interpreting current volcano unrest and in improving our understanding of pre-historic eruptions. Since 1971, scientists of the Smithsonian Institution have aggressively sought descriptions of ongoing volcanism around the world. Such descriptions of volcanic activity have become part of an enormous volcano data base maintained by the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Project. This book presents the world's most complete volcano data base in a single condensed volume and includes descriptions of the data elements included in the data tables, guidelines followed in building the data base, interesting examples of volcanism from the historic record, and a brief explanation of age-dating techniques that were used to estimate when eruptions have occurred.

Out of print, see GVP Web page


Catalog of the Historically Active Volcanoes of Alaska

Miller, T.P., McGimsey, R.G., Richter, J.R., Riehle, J.R., Nye, C.J., Yount, M.E., and Dumoulin, J.A., 1998, Catalog of the historically active volcanoes of Alaska: U.S Geological Survey Open-File Report 98-582, 104 p.

Alaska hosts within its borders over 80 major volcanic centers that have erupted during the past 10,000 years. At least 29 of these volcanic centers had historical eruptions and 12 additional volcanic centers may have had historical eruptions. Historical in Alaska generally means the period since 1760 when explorers, travelers, and inhabitants kept written records. These 41 volcanic centers have been the source for more than 256 eruptions reported from Alaska volcanoes. For each of these 41 volcano centers, the report provides a wealth of summary information, including location and elevation, volcano type, descriptions of volcanic structures and historical activity, and compostion of erupted products. Also included are small maps of each volcano center, a reference to the USGS 1:250,000 scale quadrangle map on which a center can be found, and the volcano number listed in the Catalogue of Active Volcanoes of the World.

This USGS Open-File Report 98-582 is available online in PDF.


Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

Newhall, C.G., Punongbayan, R.S. (eds.), 1997, Fire and mud: Eruptions and lahars of Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Quezon City and University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1126 p.

Online version of Fire and Mud

Fire and Mud is a comprehensive document of the awakening of Mount Pinatubo after a 500-year period of quiet. Its 62 technical reports tell of the scientific and human story of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo and the events surrounding it. In this volume, volcanologists from 10 countries explore the precursors, processes, and products of the eruption, as well as record- setting erosion and lahars that followed. Nearly half of what the eruption deposited on the slopes of Pinatubo's slopes has now been eroded and dumped, in repeated rounds of terror, on villages at the foot of the volcano. In the twentieth century, this eruption was second in size only to a eruption at Novarupta, Alaska, in 1912. Ten times larger than the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, Pinatubo's eruption threatened the lives of millions of people Volcanologists and civil defense officials will consult this book for years to come as they seek to understand large eruptions and to protect communities at risk from long-dormant volcanoes. Scholars and students will find here an interdisciplinary view of a fascinating, incredibly dynamic geologic system.

This book can be ordered via email ( and by telephone and regular mail at the listings below. The book is $80.00 plus $5.00 shipping within the U.S. (plus 8.6% state tax for customers within Washington state).

For an additional $20.00 and $5.00 postage (total $105.00), the University of Washington Press and the U.S. Geological Survey are offering USGS Professional Paper 1250, The 1980 Eruptions of Mount St. Helens, Washington (see below).

Mailing address
University of Washington Press
Box 50096
Seattle WA 98145-5096

Telephone in the U.S.
voice (1-800) 441-4115
fax (1-800) 669-7993

Telephone outside the U.S.
voice (206) 543-8870
fax (206) 685-3460


Mount St. Helens, Washington

Lipman, Peter W., and Mullineaux, Donal R. (eds.), 1981, The 1980 eruptions of Mount St. Helens, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1250, 844 p.

This collection of 62 technical reports summarizes the early results of the wide-ranging studies of the volcanic activity and the eruptive products at Mount St. Helens in 1980 and describes the response of the USGS to monitor and assess hazards at the volcano. The reawakening of Mount St. Helens in March 1980 and its catastrophic eruption will surely rank among the most significant geologic events in the United States in the 20th century. The enormous landslide, explosive eruption, pyroclastic flows, ashfall, and lahars that occurred on May 18 were a vivid reminder of the hazardous eruptive activity that can occur from volcanoes in the US. The reports collected here were mostly written in late 1980, with some revisions and updating as late as January 1981. They accordingly constitute initial, in part preliminary, reports and interpretations of the 1980 activity.

(How to order from the USGS)


Foxworthy, Bruce L., and Hill, Mary, 1982, Volcanic eruptions of 1980 at Mount St. Helens -- The first 100 days: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1249, 125 p.

If you're interested in a day by day account of what happened at Mount St. Helens between March 20 and June 27, 1980, from the perspective of scientists, news reporters, officials from Federal, State, and local government agencies, and the public, this book is for you. The authors recount information from scientific publications prepared years before the 1980 eruptions to first- hand observations of volcanic events, news releases, and data obtained after the major eruptions. Full-color photographs and illustrations and nontechnical text provides readers with insight into what is was like to live and work through one of the biggest geologic events in the United States.

(How to order from the USGS)


Mount Spurr, Alaska

Keith, E.C., ed., 1995, The 1992 Eruptions of Crater Peak vent, Mount Spurr volcano, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2139, 220 p.

Three times during the summer of 1992, ash clouds from explosive eruptions at Mount Spurr volcano significantly disrupted air traffic across the United States and Canada and deposited ash on communities surrounding Cook Inlet. In this collection of 19 technical reports, scientists chronicle the volcano's activity and eruptive products, the results of seismic and gas studies before, during, and after the eruptions, the use of satellites to track the ash clouds, effects of the eruptions on airports and aviation operations, and role of the Alaska Volcano Observatory during the eruptions. The collection provides a detailed look into why volcanoes in the North Pacific are dangerous to aircraft and the current strategy and capability of scientists to provide effective warnings of explosive eruptions.

(How to order from the USGS)


Calderas of the World

Newhall, Christopher G., and Dzurisin, Daniel, 1988, Historical unrest at large calderas of the world: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1855, 1108 p.

One of the most important tasks facing volcanologists is the recognition of the precursors to what are potentially the most devastating of all eruptions -- explosive eruption of tens, hundreds, or even thousands of cubic kilometers of magma. This detailed compilation of 1,299 episodes of historic unrest at 138 calderas offers a chance to examine what is known about precursors to historical caldera-forming eruptions and about changes in similar settings that did not culminate in caldera-forming eruptions. This report summarizes the unrest (earthquakes, ground deformation, changes in fumaroloes and geothermal systems) that has been described and measured by observers as well as eruptions that followed such unrest. This is a "must see" reference for anyone interested in Earth's most explosive volcanoes.

How to order from the USGS