Friday 27 December 2013

Eruption on Mount Kizimen.

The Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center reported an ash column rising 5 km above Mount Kizimen on the Kamchatka Peninsula and drifting to the north on 27 December 2013. Despite being indicative of a fairly large eruption this event is unlikely to present any hazard to anyone, due to the remote location of the volcano.

An eruption on Kizimen in January 2011. Artem Bezotechestvo/Photo Kamchatka.

Kizimen is a stratovolcano (cone-shaped volcano) with a summit made up of lava-domes and blocky flows, which has been compared to Mount St Helens in Washington State, USA, before its catastrophic 1980 eruption. It is located on the southeast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, and rises 2376 m above sea level. Prior to 1910 only one eruption had ever been recorded on Mount Kizimen, in 1927, and the volcano had been assumed to be inert. However since then the level of activity on Kizimen has grown steadily, leading to concerns that it may be heading for a St Helens style catastrophic eruption. The volcano appears to have done this several times in the past, with geology suggesting that previous periods of dome-building have been followed by major explosions around 10 000, 8400 and 1100 years ago.

The approximate location of Mount Kizimen. Google Maps.

The Kamchatka Peninsula lies on the eastern edge of the Okhotsk Plate, close to its margin with the Pacific and North American Plates. The Pacific Plate is being subducted along the margin, and as it does so it passes under the southern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula, and as it does so is partially melted by the friction and the heat of the Earth's interior. Some of the melted material then rises through the overlying Okhotsk Plate as magma and fueling the volcanoes of southern Kamchatka.

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