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Report on Karymsky (Russia) — April 2000


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 25, no. 4 (April 2000)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Karymsky (Russia) Low-level eruptive activity; intense ash-and-gas explosions in April

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2000. Report on Karymsky (Russia) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 25:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200004-300130



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

This report covers the period from January-April 2000. As of 28 April 2000, KVERT (Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team) temporarily suspended operations because of a lack of funding. Throughout January and early February, seismicity was at background levels with about 1-5 small local earthquakes each day. However, after two months of quiescence, seismic activity beneath the volcano renewed at 0635 on 12 February; seismic data indicated the occurrence of a probable, short-lived gas-and-ash (or gas) explosion as a 5-minute-long seismic signal was recorded by the nearest seismic station (KRY). As a result of this activity, the hazard level was raised to Yellow.

Following this event, an average of 5-10 seismic events/hour occurred, mainly corresponding to explosions along with a few blowouts and pyroclastic flow (?) signals. After 1200 on 15 February, seismicity increased to 40 events/hour. A continuous series of seismic events (pyroclastic flows?) were registered from 1620 to 1810 on 15 February, but satellite images at 1715 and 1855 that day did not show a plume rising above the weather clouds at ~4 km altitude. From 1800 on 15 February to 1340 on 16 February, activity varied from 40-60 events/hour at the end of which a new 80-minute-long series of seismic events was registered. Subsequently, during 1500-1750, 200 events occurred and, at 1750, strong low-frequency, 4-minute-long events were registered. Activity decreased from 40 to 20 events/hour from 1800 on 16 February until 1200 on 17 February. A satellite image from 0630 on 17 February, the first clear image that the Alaska Volcano Observatory had received since the increase of activity on 12 February, showed no plume, but a thermal anomaly covered at least four pixels with a maximum temperature of 40°C.

The low-level Strombolian eruptive activity that has characterized the volcanism for much of the past four years continued for the remainder of February and throughout March. The number of gas-and-ash explosions decreased from 600/day to 25/day during late February. From 1230 to 1620 on 18 February weak volcanic tremor was registered. According to pilot reports on 20 and 21 February, these explosions sent material up to 1,500 m above the volcano. The number of gas-and-ash explosions varied from 5 to 300/day (although 5-50/day was most typical) through March; suspected small pyroclastic flows were occasionally detected.

At 0625 and 2336 on 3 April and 0743 on 4 April, seismic data indicated short-lived ash-and-gas explosions more intense than those previously recorded. These explosions probably occurred during 3-6-minute-long seismic events recorded by the nearest seismic station (KRY). However, during the following week, no more than three small events/day were recorded and the hazard level was returned to Green. This level of activity continued through April with occasional 2-15-minute-long seismic events, related rock avalanches, and possible short-lived explosions.

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: Olga Chubarova, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia; Tom Miller, Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA.