Report on Bezymianny (Russia) — 13 March-19 March 2019
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 13 March-19 March 2019
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2019. Report on Bezymianny (Russia). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 13 March-19 March 2019. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
55.972°N, 160.595°E; summit elev. 2882 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Bezymianny was identified in satellite images during 12-15 March, and intense gas-end-steam emissions continued to rise from the crater. Hot avalanches originating from the top of the lava dome were visible in webcam images at night.
Late on 15 March KVERT reported that activity continued to intensify noting that the number of hot avalanches increased and ash plumes from the avalanches drifted about 100 km SE. The temperature of the thermal anomaly also increased. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Red (the highest level on a four-color scale). Seismic data suggested that a powerful explosive eruption began at 0511 on 16 March. At 0530 webcam images recorded explosions generating ash plumes that rose as high as 15 km (49,200 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 10 km E. Thirty minutes later satellite images indicated continuing ash emissions rising to 15 km a.s.l. Ashfall was reported in Ust-Kamchatsk Village (120 km ENE) during 0650-0730. An ash plume, 79 x 65 km in dimension, was also identified drifting ENE.
Strong explosions continued to produce ash plumes on 16 March, although they were lower-altitude (5-6 km (16,400-19,700 ft) a.s.l.) and had a higher concentration of ash. The plumes drifted E. By 0930 ash plumes were rising to altitudes of 4-4.5 (13,100-14,800 ft) a.s.l.; ash plumes drifted 100 km E. A large ash plume, 120 x 130 km in dimension, continued to drift E at an altitude of 15 km. The Aviation Color Code was lowered to Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale). By 1307 on 16 March satellite images showed ash plumes drifting 650 km E. The report noted that ashfall was likely occurring in Nikolskoye (370 km ESE) on Bering Island.
Geologic Background. Prior to its noted 1955-56 eruption, Bezymianny had been considered extinct. The modern volcano, much smaller in size than its massive neighbors Kamen and Kliuchevskoi, was formed about 4700 years ago over a late-Pleistocene lava-dome complex and an ancestral edifice built about 11,000-7000 years ago. Three periods of intensified activity have occurred during the past 3000 years. The latest period, which was preceded by a 1000-year quiescence, began with the dramatic 1955-56 eruption. This eruption, similar to that of St. Helens in 1980, produced a large horseshoe-shaped crater that was formed by collapse of the summit and an associated lateral blast. Subsequent episodic but ongoing lava-dome growth, accompanied by intermittent explosive activity and pyroclastic flows, has largely filled the 1956 crater.