2 volcanoes in Russia can erupt any moment now. An earthquake woke them up

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulNov 22, 2022 | 18:17

2 volcanoes in Russia can erupt any moment now. An earthquake woke them up

The Klyuchevskaya Sopka and Shiveluch volcanoes on Russia’s volcanically active Kamchatka Peninsula are threatening major eruptions, posing a potential risk for nearby populated towns as well as overhead aviation.

Following a six-mile high plume of ash shooting out of Shiveluch over the weekend, volcanologists are reported to have seen explosions and pyroclastic flows descending from Klyuchevskaya Sopka as well. The two volcanoes have subsequently been spewing ash and lava continuously - a telltale sign preempting major eruptions.

The Kamchatka peninsula in eastern Russia is home to 30 active volcanoes, and is a part of a vast belt prone to eruptions and frequent earthquakes circling the Pacific Ocean known as the "Ring of Fire".

Most of the peninsula's volcanoes are surrounded by sparsely populated forest and tundra, so pose little risk to local people, but big eruptions can spew glass, rock and ash into the sky, threatening aircraft. 

Though Kamchatka is sparsely populated, the town of Klyuchi, with a mere 5,000 people, is the nearest populated stretch of land that lies between the two volcanoes, around 30-50 kilometres from each. The nearest major city, Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky, is 450 kilometres away from the volcanoes. 

The Russian Academy of Sciences’ Volcanology Institute monitors volcanic activity in Kamchatka regularly. According to the institute, 

  • Klyuchevskaya Sopka is Eurasia’s tallest active volcano, standing at 4,754 metres tall and,
  • Shiveluch follows close behind with a height of 3,283 metres and has violently erupted 60 times in the past 10,000 years. 
  • The most powerful eruption that took place last on Shiveluch was recorded in 2009.

The Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team has observed, 

“A growth of the lava dome continues, a strong fumaroles activity, an incandescence of the lava dome, explosions, and hot avalanches accompanies this process. Ash explosions up to 10-15 kms (9.32 miles) ... could occur at any time.”

The two Russian volcanoes will soon join a list of 2022 volcanic eruptions, the most notable of which (save for Mount Doom in The Rings of Power) occurred near Tonga Island in the South Pacific on January 15 this year. 

Mount Doom erupts in The Rings of Power (2022)

The Hunga Tonga volcanic eruption is the 21st century's most explosive volcanic eruption. Here are some details from the eruption:

  • The explosive submarine eruption began on December 20, 2021, with the largest explosion occurring on January 15, 2022, sending an eruption column of at least 30,000 metres into the atmosphere. 
  • The explosion was hundreds times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima,  and was heard as far as Alaska, nearly 10,000 km away. 
  • Fluctuations in air pressure were recorded all over the world as the pressure wave has fully circled the world several times. 
  • Multiple tsunami warnings were issued in areas across the Pacific. 

The Hunga Tonga volcanic eruption measured a 5 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI). 

With indices running from 0 to 8, the VEI associated with an eruption is dependent on how much volcanic material is thrown out, to what height, and how long the eruption lasts. An increase of 1 index indicates an eruption that is 10 times as powerful. 

Verdict’s still out on the explosive capacities of the Klyuchevskaya Sopka and Shiveluch volcanoes.

Meanwhile, in the US...

Last updated: November 22, 2022 | 18:17
    Please log in
    I agree with DailyO's privacy policy