US Geological Survey photo of Alamagan
|Archipelago||Northern Mariana Islands|
|Area||13 km2 (5.0 sq mi)|
|Length||4.8 km (2.98 mi)|
|Width||4 km (2.5 mi)|
|Highest elevation||965 m (3,166 ft)|
|Highest point||Bandeera Peak|
|Commonwealth||Northern Mariana Islands|
Alamagan is an island in the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The island is currently uninhabited. Alamagan is located 30 nautical miles (56 km) north from Guguan and 250 nautical miles (463 km) north from Saipan, and is 60 nautical miles (111 km) south from Pagan.
Alamagan is roughly elliptical in shape, with a length of 4.8 kilometers (3.0 mi) and a width of 4 km (2.5 mi) and an area of 13 km2 (5.0 sq mi). The entire island is the summit of stratovolcano which rises over 4,000 meters (13,120 ft) from the ocean floor, to an altitude of 744 m (2,441 ft) above sea level at its highest peak, Bandeera Peak, at the northwestern edge. The volcano is topped by a caldera, 700–900 meters in diameter with a depth of about 370 m (1,210 ft) deep. There are three smaller cones at the north, northwest and south of the main crater. The volcano has not erupted in historical times, but by radiocarbon dating, eruptions occurred in 540 AD and 870 AD, with a potential error in dating of around 100 years. These eruptions involved pyroclastic flows, and had a VEI of 4. Any claims of historical eruptions are inaccurate, though uncertain eruptions have occurred as late as 1887. Within the main crater and on the western slopes are a number of active fumaroles.
The island has extremely steep slopes on its eastern side which are prone to landslides. The western slope has deep canyons as the result of erosion. The shoreline is dominated by steep cliffs of up to 100 m (330 ft) in height on the eastern shore.
Vegetation on the west side of the island includes swordgrass (Miscanthus floridulus), whereas the southeast side is a steep slope of bare lava. There are deep valleys with caves. Coconut palms (Cocos nucifera), grow on the gradual slopes. Warm fresh water springs are located on the northern part of the west coast.
Alamagan was once settled by the Chamorros, who left behind archaeological evidence including stone columns (called latte stones) and ceramics. From a European perspective Alamagan was discovered in 1669 by the Spanish missionary Diego Luis de San Vitores who named it Concepción (Immaculate Conception in Spanish). It is likely that it was previously visited in 1522 by the Spanish sailor Gonzalo de Vigo, deserter from the Magellan expedition in 1521, and was the first European castaway in the history of the Pacific. In 1695, the natives were forcibly removed to Saipan, and three years later to Guam.
Following the sale of the Northern Marianas by Spain to the German Empire in 1899, Agrigan was administered as part of German New Guinea. During this time, a private firm, the Pagan Society, owned by a German and a Japanese partner, developed more coconut plantations. However, severe typhoons in September 1905, September 1907 and December 1913 destroyed the plantations and bankrupted the company.
During World War I, Agrihan came under the control of the Empire of Japan and was administered as the South Pacific Mandate. Following World War II, the island came under the control of the United States and was administered as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Since 1978, the island has been part of the Northern Islands Municipality of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The island was inhabited, and continued to be used for the production of copra, with the main settlements of Song Song in the south and Patida camp in the northwest. However, by 1962, the population had sunk so far that the elementary school was closed for lack of students. Due to increased volcanic activity, the islanders were evacuated in December 1998 when an eruption was feared. According to the census results of 2000, only six people were living on Alamagan. In September 2009, Typhoon Choi-wan passed directly over Alamagan, destroying many of the island's trees and forcing the evacuation of the island's remaining residents to Saipan. As of the 2010 United States Census, the island is uninhabited.
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