Saturday 25 March 2017

Eruption on Mount Kambalny, Kamchatka, for the first time in over 250 years.

The Kamtchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team has issued a warning to aviation following an eruption on Mount Kambalny on the southern Kamchatka Peninsula on Friday 24 March 2017. The stratovolcano (cone-shaped volcano made up of successive layers of ash and lava) erupted suddenly for the first time since 1769, producing an ash column 7-8 km high that drifted around 255 km to the southwest. The eruption is not thought to present any immediate threat to Human life due to the remote location of the volcano. The area is occasionally visited by parties of tourists, but none are thought to have been in the vicinity at the time of the eruption.

MODIS/TERRA satellite image of ash from Mount Kambalny (dark grey) drifting to the southwest of the volcano. Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team.

Mount Kambalny is the southernmost active volcano on the Kamchata Peninsula, and rises 2156 m above sea level (1970 m above the surrounding plain). The volcano probably began erupting in the early Holocene (i.e. slightly less than 10 000 years ago), with much of the current structure formed in a series of large eruptions and collapses about 6300 years ago. The last major eruption on the volcano probably took place about 600 years ago, with all activity halting in the 1760s, though fumerole activity (emissions of volcanic gas) is frequently recorded on the related Pauzhetka volcanic field, a tectonic depression to the north of Mount Kambalny, thought to be a volcanic caldera and containing the 14 by 10 km Kurile Lake.

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 fuelling the volcanoes of southern Kamchatka.

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