Blog 3 – Natural hazards

Most dangerous area: Kenai peninsula borough


After some research and reading, I believe the most dangerous place in Alaska is the Kenai Peninsula. This is for a number of reasons.

Many avalanches that have claimed fatalities, 12/82 since 1998 occurred just in the Kenai Peninsula. (

Not too many fires in Kenai Peninsula –

Many floods that are destructive do occur here. A really destructive one occurred in winter of 2006 ( this resulted in many fishing areas being out of use for a while. It was caused by ice floes blocking the passage of water, water levels rose and flooded the surrounding area. There was also another flood in 2002, caused by severe precipitation, that caused major damage to the road system, damaged private property and destroyed habitats. (

The Kenai Peninsula contains five volcanoes. Those are Spurr, Redoubt, Iliamna, Augustine, and Douglas. Cook Inlet sits atop a subduction zone and when activity here increases it can cause earthquakes and heating of material from the Earth’s mantle. This sometimes results in material finding its way out as lava. Spurr, Iliamna and Douglas are relatively inactive. Augustine erupted in 2005/6 — caused air traffic interference and ice avalanches ( Mt. Redoubt has erupted a few times too; 1902, 1966-68, 1989-90 and 2009. The 1989-90 and 2009 eruptions caused landslides which led to flooding in the Drift River area. This too caused air traffic disruption and left a blanket of ash over Anchorage. (

Earthquakes. Just looking at this map ( there are many earthquakes in the Kenai Peninsula. Earthquakes can be the precursor for volcanic activity or even a tsunami. However, the risk of a tsunami is relatively low in Kenai. ( on the entire Kenai Peninsula as a whole, the tsunami risk is a bit higher. Looking at this map,, we see the extent of what a tsunami could do should it hit the coast.

The Kenai Peninsula even has permafrost! I didn’t know it stretched that far south! This may also become an issue with warming. As the Earth warms this will accelerate thaw of permafrost leading to weakened infrastructure grounds. Buildings or roads may become distorted or unstable and therefore unsafe.

Last, but not least, coastal erosion. This is a threat to any community situated near the coast. Certain areas of the West coast of the Kenai peninsula between Homer and Nikiski are eroding at particular rates. Some areas relatively slow and some areas faster than others. This article talks about how Kenai is seeking assistance to help with its erosion problem.

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