Amchitka (/æmˈtʃɪtkə/; Aleut: Amchixtax̂[1]) is a volcanic, tectonically unstable island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska. It is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The island, with a land area of roughly 116 square miles (300 km2), is about 42 miles (68 km) long and 1 to 4 miles (1.6 to 6.4 km) wide.[2] The area has a maritime climate, with many storms, and mostly overcast skies.

Amchitka was populated for more than 2,500 years by the Aleut people, but has had no permanent population since 1832. The island has been part of the United States since the Alaska Purchase of 1867. During World War II, it was used as an airfield by US forces in the Aleutian Islands Campaign.

Amchitka was selected by the United States Atomic Energy Commission to be the site for underground detonations of nuclear weapons. Three such tests were carried out: Long Shot, an 80-kiloton (330 TJ) blast in 1965; Milrow, a 1-megaton (4.2 PJ) blast in 1969; and Cannikin in 1971 – at 5 Mt (21 PJ), the largest underground test ever conducted by the United States. The tests were highly controversial, with environmental groups fearing that the Cannikin explosion, in particular, would cause severe earthquakes and tsunamis. Amchitka is no longer used for nuclear testing. It is still monitored for the leakage of radioactive materials.

Amchitka Underground Test Site
Cannikin warhead being lowered into test shaft
Location of the site
Coordinates51°32′32″N 178°59′00″E / 51.54222°N 178.98333°ECoordinates: 51°32′32″N 178°59′00″E / 51.54222°N 178.98333°E
TypeNuclear testing range
Site information
OperatorUnited States Department of Energy
Site history
In use1965–1971
Test information
Thermonuclear tests3
Remediation2001–2025 (DoE estimate)


Amchitka Island, Harlequin Beach
Amchitka Island, Harlequin Beach

Amchitka is the southernmost of the Rat Islands group in the Aleutian Chain,[2] located between 51°21′N 178°37′E / 51.350°N 178.617°E and 51°39′N 179°29′E / 51.650°N 179.483°E.[3] It is bounded by the Bering Sea to the north and east, and the Pacific Ocean to the south and west.[3]

The eastern part of the island is a lowland plateau, with isolated ponds[4] and gently rolling hills.[3] There is low but abundant vegetation,[3] consisting of mosses, lichens, liverworts, ferns, grasses, sedges, and crowberry.[4] The center of the island is mountainous, and the western end is barren and vegetation is sparse.[3]

Amchitka has a maritime climate, often foggy and windswept, with cloud cover 98 percent of the time.[3] While temperatures are moderated by the ocean, storms are frequent.[5] Geologically, the island is volcanic, being a part of a small crustal block on the Aleutian Arc that is being torn apart by oblique subduction. It is "one of the least stable tectonic environments in the United States."[6]

Aleutian Cackling Geese in Flight Over Amchitka Island
Aleutian Cackling Geese in flight over Amchitka Island
Amchitka Island, Beach Fleabane in full bloom - Senecio pseudo-arnica
Amchitka Island, Beach Fleabane in full bloom (Senecio pseudo-arnica)

Early history

The human history of Amchitka dates back at least 2,500 years, with the Aleut people.[5][7] Human remains, thought to be of an Aleut dating from about 1000 AD, were discovered in 1980.[8]

Amchitka is said to have been seen and named St. Makarius by Vitus Bering in 1741, was sighted by Joseph Billings in 1790, and visited by Shishmaref in 1820.[9]

In 1783, Daikokuya Kōdayū and 15 Japanese castaways landed on Amchitka after drifting for seven months. The castaways were taken care of by Russian employees of Zhigarev and hunted with indigenous people. Six of the castaways died in three years.[10]

World War II and after

In June 1942, the Japanese occupied some of the western Aleutian islands, and hoped to occupy Amchitka.[11] Eager to remove the Japanese, the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed to move quickly to regain the territory. American planners decided to build a series of airfields to the west of Umnak, from which bombers could attack the invading forces.[12]

The U.S. Army established bases at Adak and 13 other locations.[12] At the War Department's suggestion, an initial reconnaissance of Amchitka was carried out in September 1942, which found that it would be difficult to build an airstrip on the island.[11] Nevertheless, planners decided on December 13 that the airfield "had to be built" to prevent the Japanese from doing the same.[11] A further reconnaissance mission visited Amchitka from 17 to 19 December, and reported that a fighter strip could be built in two to three weeks, and a main airfield in three to four months.[11] The plan was approved and began in 1942.[11]

American forces made an unopposed landing on Amchitka on January 12, 1943. Despite facing difficult weather conditions and bombing from the Japanese, the airfield was usable by February 16.[11] The Alaska Command was now 80 km (50 mi) away from their target, Kiska.[12] The military eventually built numerous buildings, roads, and a total of three airstrips on the island,[13] one of which would later be rebuilt and used by the Atomic Energy Commission in the late 1960s.[14] At its peak, the occupancy of Amchitka reached 15,000 troops.[13]

The Aleutian Islands campaign was successfully completed on August 24, 1943.[12] In that month, a strategic intercept station was established on the island, which remained until February 1945.[15] On 31 December 1949 the Air Force Base was closed due to insufficient personnel and staff.[16] The Army closed its communications facility at Amchitka in August 1950.[17] On 31 December 1950 the Air Force 2107th Air Weather Group pulled the last of its personnel out of Amchitka and the facility was abandoned.[18]

The site later hosted an Air Force White Alice telecommunication system in 1959 to 1961, and a temporary relay station in the 1960s and 1970s.[13] A prototype Relocatable Over-the-Horizon Radar system existed on Amchitka between 1991 and 1993 to conduct surveillance on Russia.[19]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[20]

Amchitka was listed as a CDP (Census Designated Place) on the 1990 U.S. Census with a population of 25. This was the only time it appeared on the census.

Nuclear testing

Plans for nuclear testing

The locations of the nuclear tests

With the pullout of military forces from Amchitka in 1950, the Department of Defense initially considered the island for nuclear testing planned for 1951. Requiring information about the cratering potential of nuclear weapons, plans were made to detonate two 20-kiloton (84 TJ) devices.[5] After approximately 34 test holes had been drilled, the site was deemed unsuitable,[17] and the project was moved to the Nevada test site.[5]

In the late 1950s, scientists realized that improved seismological knowledge was necessary for the detection of Soviet underground nuclear explosions.[21] The 1.7-kiloton (7.1 TJ) "Rainier" test (part of Operation Plumbbob, performed in Nevada) produced strong seismic signals, but looked much like an ordinary earthquake. In 1959, Dr. James R. Killian, the Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, formed the Panel on Seismic Improvement (which subsequently recommended the program that came to be known as Vela Uniform), with the twin goals of improving seismic instruments and deploying them globally, and researching in more depth the seismic effects of nuclear explosions.[22] The project was subsequently initiated by the Eisenhower administration.[21]

Together with the Atomic Energy Commission, the DoD began assessing Amchitka for use as part of the Vela Uniform tests.[5]

Long Shot test

Long Shot film still
This film still shows dirt being displaced from the Long Shot underground test.

To conduct the Vela Uniform test Long Shot,51°25′35.84″N 179°11′14.13″E / 51.4266222°N 179.1872583°E the Department of Defense occupied Amchitka from 1964 to 1966, with the AEC providing the device, measuring instruments, and scientific support.[17] The goal was "to determine the behavior and characteristics of seismic signals generated by nuclear detonations and to differentiate them from seismic signals generated by naturally occurring earthquakes."[23]

Although it would not be publicly announced until March 18, 1965, senior Alaskan officials were notified the previous February.[24] After the devastating Great Alaska earthquake of March 27, 1964, the governor expressed concern about the psychological effects of the test on the populace. He was quickly reassured.[24]

Long Shot was detonated on October 29, 1965, and the yield was 80 kilotons (330 TJ). It was the first underground test in a remote area, and the first test managed by the DoD.[5] While there was no surface collapse,[3] tritium and krypton were found at the surface following the test;[3][25] this was not made public until 1969.[25]

Milrow and Cannikin tests

Though performed as part of the Nuclear Weapons Testing Program,[23] "[the] purpose of the Milrow test was to test an island, not a weapon."[26] It was a "calibration shot", intended to produce data from which the impact of larger explosions could be predicted, and specifically, to determine whether the planned Cannikin detonation could be performed safely. Milrow was detonated on October 2, 1969 51°24′52.06″N 179°10′44.84″E / 51.4144611°N 179.1791222°E, with an approximate yield of 1 to 1.2 megatons (4.2–5.0 PJ).[3][27]

The shockwave reached the surface with an acceleration of over 35 g (340 m/s2), causing a dome of the Earth's surface, approximately 3 km (2 mi) in radius, to rise about 5 meters (16 ft).[28] The blast "turned the surrounding sea to froth" and "forced geysers of mud and water from local streams and lakes 50 feet (15 m) into the air".[25] A "surface collapse feature", also known as a subsidence crater, was formed by material collapsing into the cavity formed by the explosion.[3]

Cannikin was intended to test the design of the Spartan anti-ballistic missile (ABM) interceptor – a high-yield warhead that "produced copious amounts of x-rays and minimized fission output and debris to prevent blackout of ABM radar systems."[29] The test would "measure the yield of the device, measure the x-ray flux and spectrum, and assure deployment of a reliable design."[30]


A few days after the Milrow test, the Don't Make A Wave Committee was organized at a meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Committee's name referred to predictions made by a Vancouver journalist named Bob Hunter, later to become Greenpeace member 000. He wrote that the test would cause earthquakes and a tsunami.[31] On the agenda was whether to fight another blast at the island, or whether to expand their efforts to fight all perceived threats against the environment. As he was leaving, one man gave the traditional farewell of the peace-activist movement, "Peace." "Make it a green peace," replied another member. The Committee would later become Greenpeace.[32]

The AEC considered the likelihood of the test triggering a severe earthquake "very unlikely", unless one was already imminent on a nearby fault, and considered a tsunami "even more unlikely".[14] Others disagreed. Russell Train, then Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, argued that "experience with Milrow ... does not provide a sure basis for extrapolation. In the highly nonlinear phenomena involved in earthquake generation, there may be a threshold value of the strain that must be exceeded prior to initiation of a large earthquake. ... The underground explosion could serve as the first domino of the row of dominoes leading to a major earthquake. ... as in the case of earthquakes it is not possible at this time to assess quantitatively the probability of a tsunami following the explosion."[33]

Cannikin test stills
Film stills from the Cannikin test show the effects on the surface of the 5-megaton (21 PJ) detonation below, equivalent to a 7.0 earthquake.

In July 1971, a group called the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility filed suit against the AEC, asking the court to stop the test.[34] The suit was unsuccessful, with the Supreme Court denying the injunction by 4 votes to 3,[35] and Richard Nixon personally authorized the $200 million test, in spite of objections from Japan, Peru, and Sweden.[36] "What the Court didn't know, however, was that six federal agencies, including the departments of State and Interior, and the fledgling EPA, had lodged serious objections to the Cannikin test, ranging from environmental and health concerns to legal and diplomatic problems. Nixon issued an executive order to keep the comments from being released."[37] The Don't Make A Wave Committee chartered a boat, in which they had intended to sail to the island in protest, but due to weather conditions they were unable to reach their destination.[32]

Cannikin tested

Cannikin was detonated on November 6, 1971 51°28′13.20″N 179°6′40.75″E / 51.4703333°N 179.1113194°E, as the thirteenth test of the Operation Grommet (1971–1972) underground nuclear test series. The announced yield was 5 megatons (21 PJ) – the largest underground nuclear test in US history.[25] (Estimates for the precise yield range from 4.4[38] to 5.2[39] megatons or 18 to 22 PJ). The ground lifted 20 feet (6 m), caused by an explosive force almost 400 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb.[40] Subsidence and faulting at the site created a new lake, several hundred meters wide.[3] The explosion caused a seismic shock of 7.0 on the Richter scale, causing rockfalls and turf slides of a total of 35,000 square feet (3,300 m2).[25] Though earthquakes and tsunamis predicted by environmentalists did not occur,[35] a number of small tectonic events did occur in the following weeks, (some registering as high as 4.0 on the richter scale) thought to be due to the interaction of the explosion with local tectonic stresses.[41]

1973 and beyond

The AEC withdrew from the island in 1973, though scientists continue to visit the island for monitoring purposes.[17] In 2001, the DoE returned to the site to remove environmental contamination. Drilling mud pits were stabilized by mixing with clean soil, covering with a polyester membrane, topped with soil and re-seeded.[13]

Concerns have been expressed that new fissures may be opening underground, allowing radioactive materials to leak into the ocean.[40] A 1996 Greenpeace study found that Cannikin was leaking both plutonium and americium into the environment,.[25] In 2004, scientific divers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks collected shallow subtidal organisms[42] and reported that "There were no indications of any radioactive leakage, and all that was really wonderful news."[30] Similar findings are reported by a 2006 study, which found that levels of plutonium "were very small and not significant biologically".[43]

The Department of Energy continues to monitor the site as part of their remediation program. This is expected to continue until 2025, after which the site is intended to become a restricted access wildlife preserve.[44]

Nuclear tests at Amchitka
Name Date (GMT)[45] Location[46] Yield[46] Type[46]
Long Shot 21:00, October 29, 1965 51°26′12″N 179°10′47″E / 51.43655°N 179.17976°E 80 kt (330 TJ) 2,343 ft (714 m) shaft
Milrow 22:06, October 2, 1969 51°24′56″N 179°10′48″E / 51.41559°N 179.17992°E ~ 1 Mt (4.2 PJ) 4,002 ft (1,220 m) shaft
Cannikin 22:00, November 6, 1971 51°28′11″N 179°06′12″E / 51.46961°N 179.10335°E < 5 Mt (21 PJ) 6,104 ft (1,860 m) shaft

Notes and references

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  1. ^ Bergsland, K. (1994). Aleut Dictionary. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center. ISBN 1-55500-047-9.
  2. ^ a b Faller, S. H.; D. E. Farmer (1997). "Long Term Hydrological Monitoring Program" (PDF). Department of Energy. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-30. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hassan, Ahmed; Karl Pohlmann; Jenny Chapman. "Modeling Groundwater Flow and Transport of Radionuclides at Amchitka Island's Underground Nuclear Tests: Milrow, Long Shot, and Cannikin" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  4. ^ a b Powers, Charles W.; et al. "Amchitka Independent Assessment Science Plan" (PDF). CRESP Amchitka Oversight Committee. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-04-06.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Giblin, Michael O.; David C. Stahl; Jodi A. Bechtel. Surface remediation in the Aleutian Islands: A case study of Amchitka Island, Alaska (PDF). WM '02 Conference, Tucson AZ, February 24–28, 2002. Retrieved 2006-10-07.
  6. ^ Eichelberger, John; Jeff Freymueller; Graham Hill; Matt Patrick (March 2002). "Nuclear Stewardship: Lessons from a Not-So-Remote Island". GeoTimes. Archived from the original on 2003-09-01. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
  7. ^ Miller states "at least 9,000 years" (see Miller, Pam, "Nuclear Flashback")
  8. ^ "Federal Register: Notice of Inventory Completion: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 7, Anchorage, AK" (PDF). 2003-12-01. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  9. ^ Baker, Marcus (1902). Geographic Dictionary of Alaska (Bulletin of the United States Geological Survey, no 187, Series F, Geography, 27). Washington: Government Printing Office.
  10. ^ Yamashita, Tsuneo Daikokuya Kodayu(Japanese) 2004. Iwanami, Japan ISBN 4-00-430879-8
  11. ^ a b c d e f Conn, Stetson (2000). "Chapter X: Alaska in the War, 1942". Guarding the United States and its outposts. United States Army Center of Military History. ISBN 0-16-001904-4. CMH 4–2, Library of Congress no 62–60067. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  12. ^ a b c d MacGarrigle, George L. (October 2003). Aleutian Islands. The Campaigns of World War II. United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72–6, paper, GPO S/N 008-029-00232-9. Retrieved 2006-10-07.
  13. ^ a b c d "Amchitka, Alaska, Site Fact Sheet" (PDF). Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-30. Retrieved 2006-10-07.
  14. ^ a b "Environmental Statement Cannikin". Atomic Energy Commission. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
  15. ^ "Pre-1952 Historical Timeline". National Security Agency. Archived from the original on 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2006-10-07.
  16. ^ AFHRA document 00076530
  17. ^ a b c d "Amchitka Island, Alaska: Potential U.S. Department of Energy site responsibilities (DOE/NV-526)" (PDF). Department of Energy. December 1998. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  18. ^ AFHRA Document 00496942
  19. ^ "AN/TPS-71 ROTHR (Relocatable Over-the-Horizon Radar)". Federation of American Scientists. June 29, 1999. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  20. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  21. ^ a b Barth, Kai-Henrik (2003). "The politics of seismology: Nuclear testing, arms control, and the transformation of a discipline". Social Studies of Science. 33 (5): 743–781. doi:10.1177/0306312703335005.
  22. ^ Van der Vink, Gregory E.; et al. (February 1994). Nuclear testing and nonproliferation: The role of seismology in deterring the development of nuclear weapons. The Iris Consortium. Archived from the original on 7 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-08.
  23. ^ a b "Project Baseline Report (NVNO0227)". 1998-01-16. Archived from the original on 2006-09-26. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  24. ^ a b Kohlhoff, Dean W. (November 2002). Amchitka and the Bomb. University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-98255-1.
  25. ^ a b c d e f Miller, Pam. "Nuclear Flashback: Report of a Greenpeace Scientific Expedition to Amchitka Island, Alaska – Site of the Largest Underground Nuclear Test in U.S. History" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2006-09-28. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  26. ^ "The Milrow Test (DOE Historical Test Film 800040)". Archived from the original on 28 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  27. ^ See Miller "Nuclear Flashback" or Schneider "Amchitka's nuclear legacy".
  28. ^ Merritt, Melvin (June 1971). "Ground Shock and Water Pressures from Milrow". BioScience. American Institute of Biological Sciences. 21 (12): 696–700. doi:10.2307/1295751. JSTOR 1295751.
  29. ^ "Accomplishments in the 1970s: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory". Archived from the original on 2005-02-17. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  30. ^ a b Schneider, Doug. "Amchitka's nuclear legacy". University of Alaska Fairbanks. Archived from the original on 2006-09-12. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  31. ^ Vidal, John (2005-05-04). "The original Mr Green". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
  32. ^ a b The Greenpeace Story in: Chuck Davis, editor in chief. (1997). The Greater Vancouver Book: An Urban Encyclopedia. Linkman Press. ISBN 1-896846-00-9. Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  33. ^ "COMMITTEE FOR NUCLEAR RESPONSIBILITY, INC. v. SCHLESINGER , 404 U.S. 917 (1971)". US Supreme Court. 1971-11-06. Archived from the original on 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
  34. ^ "Round 2 at Amchitka". U.S. TIME. New York City. 1971-07-17. Archived from the original on 2008-12-21. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  35. ^ a b "The Amchitka Bomb Goes Off". TIME. 1971-11-15. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  36. ^ "Green Light on Cannikin". TIME. 1971-11-08. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  37. ^ Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch, 27 September 2013, The Bomb that Cracked an Island
  38. ^ Sykes, Lynn R.; Graham C. Wiggins (January 1986). "Yields of Soviet Underground Nuclear Explosions at Novaya Zemlya, 1964–1976, from Seismic Body and Surface Waves". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 83 (2): 201–5. Bibcode:1986PNAS...83..201S. doi:10.1073/pnas.83.2.201. PMC 322824. PMID 16593645.
  39. ^ Fritz, Stacey (April 2000). "The Role of National Missile Defense in the Environmental History of Alaska". University of Alaska Fairbanks.
  40. ^ a b Perlman, David (2001-12-17). "Blast from the past: Researchers worry that radiation from nuclear test decades ago may be damaging marine life today". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
  41. ^ Engdahl, E. R. (December 1972). "Seismic effects of the MILROW and CANNIKIN nuclear explosions". Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 62 (6): 1411–1423. doi:10.2172/4687405.
  42. ^ Jewett, Stephen; Hoberg, Max; Chenelot, Heloise; Harper, Shawn; Burger, Joanna; Gochfeld, Michael. (2005). "Scuba Techniques Used In Risk Assessment Of Possible Nuclear Leakage Around Amchitka Island, Alaska". In: Godfrey, JM; Shumway, SE. Diving for Science 2005. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences Symposium on March 10–12, 2005 at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point, Groton, Connecticut. American Academy of Underwater Sciences. Retrieved 2011-01-10.
  43. ^ Burger, J; et al. (October 2006). "Radionuclides in marine macroalgae from Amchitka and Kiska Islands in the Aleutians: establishing a baseline for future biomonitoring". J Environ Radioact. 91 (1–2): 27–40. doi:10.1016/j.jenvrad.2006.08.003. PMID 17029666.
  44. ^ "Amchitka Island". Department of Energy. Archived from the original on 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
  45. ^ "United States nuclear tests: July 1945 through September 1992" (PDF). Department of Energy. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
  46. ^ a b c Johnson, "Mark". "Results from the Amchitka Oceanographic Survey" (PDF). University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-04-06. Retrieved 2006-10-11.

Further reading

  • Hunter, Robert. The Greenpeace to Amchitka An Environmental Odyssey. Vancouver, B.C.: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2004. ISBN 1-55152-178-4
  • Sense, Richard G., and Roger J. Desautels. Amchitka Archaeology Progress Reports. Las Vegas, Nev: Holmes & Narver, Inc.?, 1970.

External links

1965 Rat Islands earthquake

The 1965 Rat Islands earthquake occurred at 05:01 UTC, on 4 February (19:01, 3 February local time). It had a magnitude of 8.7 and triggered a tsunami of over 10 m on Shemya Island, but caused very little damage.

407th Air Expeditionary Group

The 407th Air Expeditionary Group (407 AEG) is a provisional United States Air Force unit assigned to the United States Air Forces Central Command 332d Air Expeditionary Wing. It was stationed at Ali Air Base, Iraq until the closure of the base on 16 December 2011. It was activated as part of the 332d Air Expeditionary Wing due to Military intervention against ISIL at Ahmad al-Jaber Air Base.

The 407 AEG provided air operations support for coalition air dominance, battlespace control, and security to advance the stabilization of southern Iraq. It provides coalition tactical airlift support with aerial port operations. The 407 AEG was the first Air Force unit to stand up combat operations within Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The group traces its history back to the World War II 407th Bombardment Group (Dive) which was established 23 March 1943, at Drew Field, Florida. The air echelon was attached to Eleventh Air Force in Amchitka, Alaska, from 19 July to 15 August 1943, where it performed combat operations against the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands.

Amchitka (album)

Amchitka is a 2009 two-CD release of a recording of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Phil Ochs performing an October 16, 1970, benefit concert at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. The event funded Greenpeace's protests of 1971 nuclear weapons tests by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission at Amchitka, Alaska.Irving Stowe, one of Greenpeace's founding members, organized the benefit concert, with the assistance of Joan Baez. She could not appear, but she connected Stowe with Mitchell and Mitchell requested her boyfriend of the time, Taylor, join the concert. The Stowe family held onto tapes of the concert, but were not able to obtain the necessary clearances until John Timmins, brother of Cowboy Junkies members, became involved with Greenpeace. Timmins was instrumental in contacting Mitchell and Taylor's representatives and working out the necessary permissions. The tapes had to be restored by Peter J. Moore, the producer of several Cowboy Junkies albums.

Amchitka Air Force Base

Amchitka Air Force Base is an abandoned Air Force Base located on Amchitka, in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska.

Amchitka Pass

Amchitka Pass is a strait in Alaska, United States. It is located in the Aleutian Islands on the 180th meridian, between the Rat Islands group to the west and the Delarof Islands to the east. Amchitka Pass has a least width of 50 miles (80.5 km) and depths of 249 feet (76 meters) to over 6,000 feet (1,829 meters). The islands on both sides of the pass should be cleared by at least 5 miles (8 km). Heavy tide rips have been observed off the east end of Amchitka Island. The pass is dangerous in heavy weather, particularly for small and medium craft; currents appear erratic in direction and velocities may be strong. This may account for reports of very large seas and strong tide rips.

Ben Metcalfe

Bennett Metcalfe (October 31, 1919 – October 14, 2003) was a Canadian journalist and first chairman of Greenpeace, founded 1971.

Ben Metcalfe was born in Winnipeg. Later he moved to the United Kingdom and at the age of 16 joined the Royal Air Force. He was posted in India and North Africa. After World War II he worked as journalist in France. He moved back to Canada in 1951, living in Winnipeg, West Vancouver, and Shawnigan Lake. He worked as a journalist, editor, and freelance correspondent for Winnipeg Free Press, the Province in Vancouver and other publications. He also started a public relations company with his second wife Dorothy.

In 1971 he joined the crew member of the Greenpeace boat sailing to protest against U.S. army nuclear bomb test near Amchitka island. When the Greenpeace Foundation was established, Metcalfe became its first chairman. He recognized the importance of a media campaign as a tool to gain support for environmental issues. He left his post when Greenpeace changed focus from nuclear weapons to fighting against whaling and seal hunting.

He is the author of a biography of Roderick Langmere Haig-Brown:

Metcalfe, E. Bennett (1985). A man of some importance : the life of Roderick Langmere Haig-Brown Published by James W. Wood, Vancouver. ISBN 0-921063-01-6, ISBN 0-921063-00-8.

Metcalfe died of a heart attack at age 83. He had three daughters Michelle, Charlotte, and Sophie; and sons Christopher (1958-1980), and Michael (1956-2002)


Cannikin was an underground nuclear weapons test performed on November 6, 1971, on Amchitka island, Alaska, by the United States Atomic Energy Commission. The experiment, part of the Operation Grommet nuclear test series, tested the unique W71 warhead design for the LIM-49 Spartan anti-ballistic missile. With an explosive yield of almost 5 megatons of TNT (21 PJ), the test was the largest underground explosion ever detonated by the United States.Prior to the main five megaton test in 1971, a 1 Mt (4.2 PJ) test took place on the island on October 2, 1969, for calibration purposes, and to ensure the subsequent Cannikin test could be contained. This test, Milrow, was included in the Operation Mandrel nuclear test series.

The Cannikin test faced considerable opposition on environmental grounds. The campaigning environmental organization Greenpeace grew out of efforts to oppose the test.

Daikokuya Kōdayū

Daikokuya Kōdayū (大黒屋 光太夫) (1751 – May 28, 1828) was a Japanese castaway who spent eleven years in Russia. His ship landed at Amchitka, in the Aleutian Islands. The crew managed to travel to the Russian mainland and Catherine the Great allowed them to go back to Japan. This was made possible through the efforts of Kirill Laxman, Alexander Bezborodko, and Alexander Vorontsov. Two of the crew made it back to Japan alive, though one died while they were detained in Yezo (Hokkaidō). Of the original crew, two converted to Christianity and stayed in Irkutsk, and 11 others died.

Delarof Islands

The Delarof Islands (Aleut: Naahmiĝun tanangis) (ca. 51°23′13″N 178°57′47″W) are a group of small islands at the extreme western end of the Andreanof Islands group in the central Aleutian Islands, Alaska. The Delarofs consist of 11 named islands: Amatignak, Gareloi, Ilak, Kavalga (Qavalĝa), Ogliuga (Aglaga), Skagul (Sxaĝulax̂), the Tags (Tagachaluĝis), Tanadak (Tanaadax̂), Ugidak (Qagan-tanax̂), Ulak, and Unalga (Unalĝa).

These islands are separated from the remainder of the Andreanofs by Tanaga Pass to the east and from Amchitka and Semisopochnoi (the easternmost of the Rat Islands) by Amchitka Pass to the west. All of these islands are managed as part of the Aleutian Islands Unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The Delarof Islands together have a land area of 63.842 sq mi (165.349 km²). None of the islands are populated.

The Delarof Islands were named in 1836 by Captain Fyodor Petrovich Litke of the Imperial Russian Navy. He named them after Greek-born administrator Eustrate Ivanovich Delarof (also spelled Evstratii Ivanovich Delarov), who was the chief manager of the Shelikhov-Golikov Company (precursor of the Russian-American Company) from 1787 to 1791.

Don't Make a Wave Committee

The Don't Make a Wave Committee was the name of the anti-nuclear organization which later evolved into Greenpeace, a global environmental organization. The Don't Make a Wave Committee was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to protest and attempt to halt further underground nuclear testing by the United States in the National Wildlife refuge at Amchitka in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. The Don't Make a Wave Committee was first formed in October 1969 and officially established in early 1970.

Eleventh Air Force

The Eleventh Air Force (11 AF) is a Numbered Air Force of the United States Air Force Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). It is headquartered at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, Alaska.11 AF plans, conducts, controls and coordinates air operations in accordance with the tasks assigned by the commander, Pacific Air Forces, and is the force provider for Alaskan Command, the Alaska North American Aerospace Defense Command Region and other unified commanders.

Established on 28 December 1941 as the Alaskan Air Force at Elmendorf Field, Alaska Territory. 11 AF was a United States Army Air Forces combat air force in the American Theater of World War II, providing air defense of Alaska and engaging in combat operations primarily in the Aleutian Islands and Northern Pacific during the Aleutian Islands Campaign.

Re-designated as Alaskan Air Command in late 1945, the organization became responsible for the air defense of Alaska during the Cold War. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the organization was realigned under PACAF in 1990 and returned to its previous Numbered Air Force command echelon.

Gareloi Island

Gareloi or Anangusook (Aleut: Anangusix̂) is a volcanic island in the Delarof Islands of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. It is located between the Tanaga Pass and the Amchitka Pass.

The island is 6 miles (9.7 km) in length and 5 miles (8.0 km) wide. Its land area is 25.95 square miles (67.2 km2), making Gareloi the largest island in the Delarof group. Gareloi Volcano, a stratovolcano, is situated in the center of the island which reaches a height of 5,161 feet (1,573 m). On the other side of a small saddle lies another peak of the island however it does not equal the height of Mount Gareloi. The island is uninhabited.

Coastal cliffs provide nesting habitat for more than 600,000 seabirds, mostly for crevice nesting auklets. Least Auklets account for 62% of the colony, Crested Auklets for 30%, and Parakeet Auklets for 6%. Each of these species is present on the island in numbers exceeding 1% of their global populations.The island consists of lava rock, black lava, eroded lava, and ashes; the lower slopes and valleys are covered with grass and tundra in many places. The shores have steep cliffs with rocks and boulders at the base; boulders, pinnacles, and rocks awash extend around the shoreline. Heavy kelp surrounds most of the island, and extends offshore to 10 fathoms (18 m). Depths of 10 fathoms or more are within 0.5 miles (800 m) of the island. A trapper’s hut is on the beach above the N shore of Gareloi Island.Gareloi's northern, slightly higher peak is on the southern rim of a crater about 330 yards (300 m) across, which contains several active fumaroles. Thirteen younger craters, from 87 yards (80 m) to 1 mile (1,600 m) in diameter, are aligned along a south-southeast trending fissure that extends from strandline to the southern summit. These craters formed during a major explosive eruption in 1929 that also produced four blocky lava flows, and a blanket of grassy andesitic tuff that covers an area roughly 1.5 by 3 miles (2.4 by 4.8 km) on the volcano's southeast flank.

Gareloi Volcano had four confirmed eruptions in the 1980s and one unconfirmed eruption in 1996. All but one of them were considered explosive eruptions. In Spring and Summer 2007 there was a period of increased seismic activity on Gareloi Island, sometimes reaching 40 earthquakes per day.


Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over 39 countries and an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Greenpeace was founded in 1971 by Irving Stowe, and Dorothy Stowe, Canadian and US ex-pat environmental activists. Greenpeace states its goal is to "ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity" and focuses its campaigning on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues. It uses direct action, lobbying, research, and ecotage to achieve its goals. The global organization does not accept funding from governments, corporations, or political parties, relying on three million individual supporters and foundation grants. Greenpeace has a general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is a founding member of the INGO Accountability Charter, an international non-governmental organization that intends to foster accountability and transparency of non-governmental organizations.

Greenpeace is known for its direct actions and has been described as the most visible environmental organization in the world. Greenpeace has raised environmental issues to public knowledge, and influenced both the private and the public sector. Greenpeace has also been a source of controversy; its motives and methods (some of the latter being illegal) have received criticism, including an open letter from more than 100 Nobel laureates urging Greenpeace to end its campaign against genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The organization's direct actions have sparked legal actions against Greenpeace activists, such as fines and suspended sentences for destroying a test plot of genetically modified wheat and damaging the Nazca Lines, a UN World Heritage site in Peru.

How to Change the World (film)

How to Change the World is a documentary film, from writer-director Jerry Rothwell (Deep Water), which chronicles the adventures of an eclectic group of young pioneers who set out to stop Richard Nixon's nuclear bomb tests in Amchitka, Alaska, and end up creating the worldwide green movement with the birth of Greenpeace.

Irving Stowe

Irving Harold Stowe (July 25, 1915 – October 28, 1974) was a Yale lawyer, activist, and a founder of Greenpeace. He was named one of the "BAM 100" (Brown University's 100 most influential graduates of the 20th century).

Landing at Amchitka

The Landing at Amchitka was the amphibious landing operation and occupation of Amchitka island by American forces during the Aleutian Islands Campaign.

Military history of the Aleutian Islands

The military history of the Aleutian Islands began almost immediately following the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire by the United States in 1867. Prior to the early 20th century, the Aleutian Islands were essentially ignored by the United States Armed Forces, although the islands played a small role in the Bering Sea Arbitration when a number of British and American vessels were stationed at Unalaska to enforce the arbitrators' decision. By the early 20th century, a number of war strategies examined the possibility of conflict breaking out between the Empire of Japan and the United States. While the Aleutian Islands were seen as a potential staging point for invasions by either side, this possibility was dismissed owing to the islands' dismal climate. In 1922, the Washington Naval Treaty was signed, after which the United States Navy began to take an interest in the islands. However, nothing of significance was to materialize until World War II.

In June 1942, the Imperial Japanese Navy invaded and captured Attu Island and Kiska. This marked the first time in 130 years that United States soil was under occupation by a hostile country. The Americans wanted to recapture the two islands, and in January the following year began their advance by capturing Amchitka without opposition. On March 26, the Battle of the Komandorski Islands ensued after the United States Navy imposed a naval blockade on the two islands to reduce the opportunities for the Japanese to keep their Attu and Kiska bases supplied. In May, Attu Island was recaptured, with a total of almost 3,000 deaths from both sides combined. The Americans then prepared to attack Kiska in August, only to find that the entire island had been evacuated by the Japanese in late July. During the recapture of Kiska by the United States, 92 men died as a result of friendly fire and a mine, despite no Japanese soldiers being present on the island.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) executed a number of nuclear tests on the island of Amchitka in the face of vehement opposition from environmental and local indigenous groups. The first test, conducted in 1965, caused significant damage to the surrounding area, although the details of this damage were not released to the public until 1969. In 1969, the AEC executed a 'calibration shot' to determine whether Amchitka would be suitable for future tests. In 1970, the AEC announced plans to detonate a bomb named 'Cannikin', set to release a blast 385 times that released by the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. After a United States Supreme Court challenge to the testing failed by one vote, the testing proceeded as scheduled in November 1971.

Pelagic cormorant

The pelagic cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus), also known as Baird's cormorant, is a small member of the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. Analogous to other smallish cormorants, it is also called the pelagic shag occasionally. This seabird lives along the coasts of the northern Pacific; during winter it can also be found in the open ocean. Pelagic cormorants have relatively short wings due to their need for economical movement underwater, and consequently have the highest flight costs of any bird.Many authors favor splitting up the "wastebin genus" Phalacrocorax. In this case, the pelagic cormorant would probably be placed in Compsohalieus.

Rat Islands

The Rat Islands (Aleut: Qax̂um tanangis) are a volcanic group of islands in the Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska, between Buldir Island and the Near Islands group to its west, and Amchitka Pass and the Andreanof Islands group to its east, at about 51°47′17″N 178°18′10″E.

The largest islands in the group are, from west to east, Kiska, Little Kiska, Segula, Hawadax or Kryssei, Khvostof, Davidof, Little Sitkin, Amchitka, and Semisopochnoi. The total land area of the Rat Islands is 360.849 sq mi (934.594 km2). None of the islands are inhabited.

The name Rat Islands is the English translation of the name given to the islands by Captain Fyodor Petrovich Litke in 1827 when he visited the Aleutian Islands on a voyage around the world. The islands are named so because rats were accidentally introduced to Rat Island in about 1780. As of 2009, after a government-funded eradication program, Rat Island is believed to be rat-free; it was renamed Hawadax Island in 2012. However, a post-operation assessment found that many of the local bird populations that the operation was designed to aid were negatively impacted—there was a far higher-than-expected nontarget mortality. An internal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement investigation revealed that several laws may have been violated.The Rat Islands are very earthquake-prone as they are located on the boundary of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. In 1965, there was a major earthquake with a magnitude of 8.7 in the Rat Islands.

Testing areas
Related topics
Islands in the Bering Sea

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.