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Report on Bezymianny (Russia) — November 2006


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 31, no. 11 (November 2006)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Bezymianny (Russia) Ongoing dome growth; 23-25 December pyroclastic flows

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2006. Report on Bezymianny (Russia) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 31:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200611-300250



55.972°N, 160.595°E; summit elev. 2882 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Except for brief heightened activity at the end of December 2006, moderate volcanic activity and seismicity has prevailed at Bezymianny since the extensive eruption in May 2006, last reported on in BGVN 31:04. This report covers activity following the 9 May 2006 explosion to the start of January 2007.

The Kamchatkan Volcano Eruption Response Team (KVERT) raised the Concern Color Code to red, the highest level, in response to the 9 May 2006 eruption (BGVN 31:04). They lowered it on 10 May to orange, and again, on 11 May to yellow, where it remained until the end of December. By 11 May, seismicity remained at or below background levels. Two shallow earthquakes were recorded on 15 and 19-20 May; five shallow earthquakes were recorded during 27-30 May. Similar low levels of seismicity were recorded during June to November 2006, with seismic activity exceeding background levels only on 14 August and 25, 27, and 30 November.

Growth of the lava dome continued during June to December 2006. Video data on 28-29 May showed weak gas-and-steam plumes. A thermal anomaly was noted during the latter part of the month (specifically, on 16-18, 23-25, 27, and 29 May). Video data showed gas-and-steam plumes rising to ~ 7.5 km altitude on 5 June and to ~ 4.0 km altitude the week of 16 June. Weak gas-and-steam plumes were observed 16 and 19-20 June. Thermal anomalies were often noted, with particularly large ones on 24 and 29 June. On days of good visibility, video data consistently showed fumarolic activity at the lava dome. An increase in size of two explosive craters at the dome's summit and a new lava flow on the dome's SW flank, thought to have resulted from the 9 May 2006 eruption, were observed on 31 July.

Seismic activity was above background levels during much of December and dramatically increased the week of 24 December. Several shallow earthquakes were registered during the weeks of 8, 15, and 22 December.

On 6 and 10 December, respectively, gas-and-steam plumes rose to ~ 4.5 and 3.5 km altitude. Satellite data recorded a thermal anomaly over the dome during the weeks of 8, 15, 22 December and on 29-31 December. The number of hot avalanches per day grew from 4-6 in previous days to 15 on 23 December.

On 23 December, starting at 2352, an explosive eruption occurred, producing ash and pyroclastic flows; a resulting ash plume rose ~ 4.5-6 km altitude and extended NE. In response to the eruption, on 24 December KVERT raised the level of Concern Color Code from yellow to orange.

Another explosive eruption started between 0917-1020 on 24 December and ended on 25 December 2006. A large eruptive column rose to ~ 13 km altitude and developed into a big umbrella cloud. According to satellite data, ash clouds extended ~ 850 km NE on the 24 and 25 December. Late on 24 December, the Concern Color Code was raised to red. According to the Russian News Agency NOVOSTI, Russian government officials instructed residents of a village 40 km E of the volcano where ash fallout occurred to avoid leaving their houses.

About 30 local seismic events occurred at the volcano during 1020-2000 on 24 December. Volcanic seismicity returned to background levels at 2000 on 24 December. According to seismic data on 25 December, two hot avalanches took place. In addition, a large thermal anomaly occurred at the lava dome. Visual and video data on 26-27 December showed moderate fumarolic activity. Photographs, taken by volcanologists who flew around the volcano in a helicopter, revealed that a portion of the lava dome was destroyed during the 24 December eruption. The Concern Color Code was lowered to orange on 25 December, and subsequently to yellow on 29 December, where it remained in early January 2007. According to satellite data collected on 31 December and 3 January, fresh deposits of pyroclastic flows extended 7-8 km SE from the volcano.

Seismic activity stood slightly above background levels on 2 January, and at background levels on the other days. According to visual and video data, moderate fumarolic activity occurred on 29-31 December, although the volcano was often obscured by clouds. A thermal anomaly was noted on 3 January.

Geological Summary. The modern Bezymianny, much smaller than its massive neighbors Kamen and Kliuchevskoi on the Kamchatka Peninsula, was formed about 4,700 years ago over a late-Pleistocene lava-dome complex and an edifice built about 11,000-7,000 years ago. Three periods of intensified activity have occurred during the past 3,000 years. The latest period, which was preceded by a 1,000-year quiescence, began with the dramatic 1955-56 eruption. This eruption, similar to that of St. Helens in 1980, produced a large open 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.

Information Contacts: Olga A. Girina, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), a cooperative program of the Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia, GS RAS (Russia), and the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of the U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/), the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA; Russian News & Information Agency NOVOSTI, 4, Zubovsky Bulvar, 119021, Moscow, Russia (URL: http://en.rian.ru/).