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Report on Karymsky (Russia) — January 1996


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 21, no. 1 (January 1996)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Karymsky (Russia) Explosive eruption from Karymsky Lake and new crater at summit

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1996. Report on Karymsky (Russia) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 21:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199601-300130



54.049°N, 159.443°E; summit elev. 1513 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Periods of seismic unrest have occurred several times in the past 12 months, including one episode in April 1995, and the volcano usually emits a continuous steam plume. Based on recorded seismic activity, an eruption apparently began during 1700-1900 on 1 January. Russian aviation sources reported an ash plume to 7 km altitude at approximately 1130 the next day. A satellite image at 1400 on 2 January showed that the plume had extended at least 200 km SE and S of the volcano. Several aviation notices (SIGMETs) were issued concerning the ash plume. GMS satellite imagery revealed multiple ash emissions on 2 January, with the cloud height estimated at ~7 km. Satellite data on 3 January continued to show multiple low-level (below 5,400 m) ash bursts of short duration that drifted S and dissipated within an hour.

When the volcano was visited by Vladimir Kirianov and Yuri Doubik of the Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry between 1330 and 1630 on 3 January, they discovered that the initial eruption had vented from the N end of Karymsky Lake. The lake occupies the 5-km-diameter late-Pleistocene Akademia Nauk caldera, ~5 km S of Karymsky volcano proper. However, by the time of their visit activity had shifted to Karymsky volcano where a new crater had formed on the SSW side of the summit, adjacent to the old crater. The new crater, approximately the same size as the old crater, produced explosions every 1-5 minutes that fed a thick black ash plume to an altitude of ~2.5 km moving E. Fresh ashfall was widespread throughout the 5-km-wide Karymsky caldera and for a considerable area to the E and N. Karymsky Lake was yellow-gray in color and mostly covered by steam and vapor. The Karymsky River, which drains the lake to the N, was completely buried in ash and no longer visible; a new beach with numerous fumaroles marked the former source of the river. Very strong seismic activity associated with the eruption included one M 6.5 earthquake on the first day of the eruption. Seismic stations as far as 110 km from the volcano recorded the activity.

By 5 January the new summit crater was over twice the size of the old crater. A thick black ash plume had been observed the previous two days erupting explosively from the new crater to altitudes ranging of 2,400-5,500 m. Seismicity on 6 January indicated continued explosions every 1-3 minutes. Karymsky Lake remained yellow-gray and covered by steam and vapor. Seismicity through 12 January was interpreted to reflect continued, but less explosive, eruptive activity.

Geological Summary. Karymsky, the most active volcano of Kamchatka's eastern volcanic zone, is a symmetrical stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera that formed during the early Holocene. The caldera cuts the south side of the Pleistocene Dvor volcano and is located outside the north margin of the large mid-Pleistocene Polovinka caldera, which contains the smaller Akademia Nauk and Odnoboky calderas. Most seismicity preceding Karymsky eruptions originated beneath Akademia Nauk caldera, located immediately south. The caldera enclosing Karymsky formed about 7600-7700 radiocarbon years ago; construction of the stratovolcano began about 2000 years later. The latest eruptive period began about 500 years ago, following a 2300-year quiescence. Much of the cone is mantled by lava flows less than 200 years old. Historical eruptions have been vulcanian or vulcanian-strombolian with moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows from the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Tom Miller, Alaska Volcano Observatory; Vladimir Kirianov and Yuri Doubik, Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry; Synoptic Analysis Branch, NOAA/NESDIS, USA.