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Report on Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — October 2014


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 39, no. 10 (October 2014)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Klyuchevskoy (Russia) Two eruptive pulses: 15 August-20 December 2013 and 1 January-24 March 2015

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2014. Report on Klyuchevskoy (Russia) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 39:10. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN201410-300260



56.056°N, 160.642°E; summit elev. 4754 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During mid-2013 to early 2015, Klyuchevskoy had two strong eruptive pulses with an intervening lull. The first pulse occurred 15 August-20 December 2013 (~3 months of eruption). Ash plumes and related eruptive activity halted during 2014 until about January 2015 (12 months pause). The second pulse occurred very late December 2014 or very early January 2015 through at least 24 March 2015 (~3 months of eruption).

We start by discussing the latter portion of the first pulse, covering the interval 15 November to 20 December 2013. That time period was missing from our earlier reporting, which ended with our last report (BGVN 38:07) summarizing eruptions during October 2012 through 14 November 2013.

In a later subsection labeled "2015," we discuss the second of the two eruptive pulses. The Global Volcanism Program requires an eruptive repose of three or more months before an eruption is considered to be over; thus, at the time of this writing (6 April 2015), it is too early to tell whether 24 March will hold true as the end date for the later pulse.

We base this report on the reporting interval from the Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT). Table 15 in BGVN 38:07 delineates the Aviation Color Code (a four-step code from a low of Green, advancing from Yellow to Orange, and ultimately to a high of Red). Klyuchevskoy is also spelled alternatively Kliuchevskoi, Klyuchevskaya Sopka, and Klyuchevskaya.

Late 2013 activity (and lull during 2014). KVERT documented that eruptions were common during 15 August 2013-20 December 2013 (continuing for about 5 weeks beyond our last Bulletin report). Figure 16 shows a photo taken on 16 November 2013 (UTC) by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. This low angle image highlights some interesting plume dynamics–whereby the dark material at left branches off from a lighter colored plume trending farther to the right (heading ESE)). A NASA Earth Observatory article (posted in 2 December 2013) commented: "The plume—likely a combination of steam, volcanic gases, and ash—stretched to the [ESE] due to prevailing winds. The dark region to the [NNW] is likely a product of shadows and of ash settling out. Several other volcanoes are visible in the image, including Ushkovsky, Tolbachik, Zimina, and Udina. To the [SSW] of Klyuchevskoy lies Bezymianny Volcano, which appears to be emitting a small steam plume (at image center)."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. A NE-looking photo taken from space at an oblique angle accentuating topography and showing the Klyuchevskoy eruption of 16 November 2013 (UTC). The image was taken when the ISS was located over a spot on Earth more than 1,500 km to the SW. The scene also labels additional volcanoes in the region (see text). Note N arrow at bottom left. This image and associated labels and interpretation came from the NASA Earth Observatory website (Photo identifier: ISS038-E-5515). Photo credits: Expedition 38 crew; with additional credit to the ISS National Lab and to original captioning information by William L. Stefanov, Jacobs Technology/ESCG, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

During the reporting interval, KVERT issued multiple reports of a type called a VONA (Volcano Observatory Notices for Aviation), and they provide a record of eruptive activity at Klyuchevskoy. A VONA issued at 0242 on 17 November 2013 indicated that web camera assessments revealed strombolian eruptions with strong gas and steam; an ash plume rose to 7 km altitude and blew 160 km E. The four-step Aviation Color Code (low to high, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red) rose to Orange. The VONA issued the next day at 0246 on the 18th (UTC) indicated significant decrease in eruptive activity, including a lack of ash plume during the last several hours, but with cautions that aerosols with ash were still possible at low altitudes.

Two VONAs were issued on 19 November 2013; the first at 0248 (UTC) raised the Aviation Color Code from Yellow to Red. This VONA noted that based on seismic data strong ash explosions had resumed at 0216 UTC on the 19th. Visual data showed ash plumes up to 10-12 km altitude extending unstated distances SE.

The VONA for 2341 on the 19th reported a lowered Color Code, to Orange, in response to lowered ash plumes (at 5-5.5 km altitude) during the previous several hours. The plumes blew unstated distances N and NE.

2014. The VONAs for December 2013 and into early January 2014 mentioned some still robust plumes, but the eruption ended on 20 December. A 3 December 2013 VONA indicated that an explosive eruption had seemingly stopped on 19 November, but this was ruled out by a 6 December VONA that again raised the Color Code to Red associated with strong ash plumes up to 5.5-6.0 km altitude and extending over 212 km NE of the volcano.

More information about the 3 December 2013 eruption came out in the 12 December WIR (emphasis added and plume length converted to kilometers): "Seismicity of the volcano increased on December 06, and began to decrease on December 10. Video data showed ash plumes rose up to [5-6 km altitude] on December 06-10. Satellite data showed a very weak thermal anomaly over the volcano summit; ash plumes extended about [1020 km in] the different directions [from] the volcano: to the [E] on December 06-08, to the [NW] on December 09-10, and to the [E and SE] on December 10-11 [2013]." This 1020 km long ash plume was among the longest documented during the reporting interval.

On 7 December a VONA announced the Color Code had dropped to Orange although explosive eruption continued. Video and satellite data revealed a 5.5-km-altitude, NE-directed plume of unstated length. Also, volcanic tremor remained at the previous level (0.7-1.0 mcm/s) and shallow volcanic earthquakes registered.

VONAs issued on 26 December 2013 and 2 January 2014 stated the eruption had ended. The later report noted the eruption end date of 20 December 2014.

No further VONAs were issued for Klyuchevskoy during the remainder of 2014.

2015. Late in 2014, KVERT reported that both the abundance and the magnitude of shallow volcanic earthquakes began to increase during 19-20 December 2014 and again on 31 December 2014; tremor became constant. The volcano was cloaked in clouds during 31 December 2014 to 1 January 2015, but KVERT judged that a strombolian eruption probably began on 1 January 2015, which is consistent with a satellite thermal anomaly. On 2 January 2015, the Aviation Color Code rose from Green (normal) to Yellow (which is a sign of elevated unrest). During the course of January 2015 the volcano resumed frequent eruptive activity and that month KVERT issued ~15 VONAs for Klyuchevskoy. The eruption stopped on 24 March 2015 and any later events after 6 April 2015 extend beyond the current reporting period.

Besides the VONAs, KVERT also creates Weekly Information Releases (hereafter WIRs). The WIR issued on 8 January 2015 stated that both strombolian explosive eruptions of the volcano and associated incandescence continued. Lava bombs rose up to 200-300 m above the crater and ash plumes to ~5 km altitude. Seismic activity of the volcano continued to increase. The magnitude of tremor increased from 3 to 13 x10-5 m/sec. (Note that KVERT reported tremor in units reflecting the velocity of the seismic sensor. They state these units as "mcm/s," 'milli-centimeters per second', which are equivalent to 10-5 m/sec, the means of expression used in this report.) Video data on the 4th and 7th revealed strong gas-steam emissions. Clouds obscured the volcano during other days of the week. Satellite infrared data showed a bright thermal anomaly over the volcano all week.

KVERT's 16 January WIR noted clear visibility of the summit area where bombs were ejected 200-300 m above the summit crater. Strombolian and vulcanian eruptions produced a series of ash plumes that rose to 5-8 km altitude (table 16). The Aviation Color Code increased to Orange.

Figure 17 shows a strombolian eruption at the summit on 19 January 2015. The KVERT caption reported that at this time two centers of strombolian activity and lava flows could be observed at the summit crater. About a week before, video images suggested a new lava flow had started to discharge downslope, and by mid-January through March, lava flows were regularly indicated in KVERT reports (two were seen on the NW slope on 15 March).

The lava flows led to phreatic explosions at the lava flow front. These produced gas-and-steam clouds with minor amounts of ash that during 27-28 January rose to an altitude of 7-8 km. Ashfall was reported in nearby (table 16). Consistent with the lava flows and the spatter from strombolian eruptions, satellite images consistently showed thermal anomalies over the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Photo of Klyuchevskoy taken during strombolian emissions on 19 Jan 2015. Strombolian activity with bombs rose to heights of 200-300 m and were common around this time (see table 16). Courtesy of Yu. Demyanchuk, IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

On 15 February, a series of explosions generated ash plumes that rose to an altitude of 8 km, prompting KVERT to raise briefly the Aviation Color Code to Red. Later that day, it was lowered to Orange. During the second half of February, bombs were ejected 150 m above the crater, rather than up to ~300 m, as earlier. Towards the end of February they were no longer reported although that may have been due to lack of visibility or the spatter and bombs may have decreased in size to the point where such emissions became difficult to observe.

On 9 March, the magnitude of seismic tremor significantly decreased. Only moderate emissions of steam and gas were observed, and a thermal anomaly over the summit disappeared. The Aviation Color Code was lowered to Yellow. On 10 March, seismic tremor significantly increased again, prompting KVERT to raise the Aviation Color Code to Orange. Video images showed moderate gas-and-steam activity, while satellite images detected a gas-and-steam plume with small amounts of ash. During 10-17 March, a weak thermal anomaly was detected occasionally over the summit. The eruption continued through the middle of March, but the energy of the explosions decreased significantly, prompting KVERT to lower the Aviation Color Code to Yellow on 25 March.

As of 2 April 2015, KVERT reported that moderate activity continued, with strong fumarole activity. As previously mentioned, KVERT described the explosive eruption as ended on 24 March (table 16).

Table 16. Plume characteristics at Klyuchevskoy during 10 January to 2 April 2015 (UTC). -- means not reported, Bhgt stands for the height above the crater to which bombs were thrown (in meters). Data do not include low-rising emissions. KVERTs satellite-based assessment of the ash content in plumes was generally determined by methods discussed by Ellrod (2012) and Ackerman and others (undated) and references therein. The table was assembled largely from KVERT VONAs and their Weekly Information Releases (WIRs).

Time period Max. plume altitude (km) Drift length and direction Remarks
01 Jan-11 Jan 2015 -- -- (2nd) VONA this day (the only one until the 11th) reported strong and moderate gas-steam plumes during past weeks. Weak thermal anomaly at both the summit and at a SW-flank. Seismically active.
WIR issued on 2nd noted that explosive eruption probably continued, and a thermal anomaly appeared on the 1st. Weather clouds often masked visibility. WIR issued the 11th noted strong gas-and-steam emissions and strombolian eruptions. Bhgt 200-300 m. Thermal anomaly, but absence of ash plumes during past week. Clouds often blocked views. Aviation Color Code (2nd and 11th): Yellow
12 Jan-15 Jan 2015 5-7 (11-15th) In general, 160 km SW and NE On 11th, ~35 km @ 5 km alt. SSE WIR issued 16 Jan noted the following: Moderate explosive activity. Ashfall in Kozyrevsk village. Bhgt 200-300 m. Thermal anomalies all week. Intervals of increased seismicity and tremor. Aviation Color Code: mainly Orange through 20 March
(10-12th) Strong explosive events; ash clouds rose up to 6-10 km alt., strong ashfall on 12th at Klyuchi village (~50 km W of volcano).
(10-12th; 15-16th) Ash plumes drifted over 200 km W and SW of volcano.
16 Jan-22 Jan 2015 5-7 210 km SW, NW, NE WIR issued 23 Jan noted the following: Moderate explosive activity. Bhgt: 200-300 m. Satellite IR thermal anomaly was consistent with hot lava. E flank lava flow noted.
(21st) Ashfall in Klyuchi village.
23 Jan-29 Jan 2015 5.5-7 & more (at right) 300 km various (W, N, NE, E, and SE) WIR issued 30 Jan noted the following. Moderate explosive activity. Good summit visibility; incandescence and thermal anomaly all week. Bhgt: 200-300 m. E flank lava flow.
(27-28th) Phreatic explosions at the advancing E-flank lava front produced gas-and-steam plumes with minor amounts of ash that rose to 7-8 km. Ashfall on 27th both in Klyuchi village and near the Khapitsa river, and on 28th in Kozyrevsk village.
30 Jan-04 Feb 2015 5-6 Various during week. (4-5th) 1,000 km NW and N WIR issued 5 Feb noted the following. Moderate explosive activity. Ongoing strombolian and vulcanian eruptions all week; Bhgt 200-300 m; advancing E flank lava flows and consistent thermal anomalies.
(5th) Ashfall in Klyuchi village.
05 Feb-12 Feb 2015 5.5-6.5 400 km, mainly NW and N WIR issued 13 Feb noted the following. Moderate explosive activity. Ongoing strombolian and vulcanian eruptions all week. On 7th, ashfall in Kozyrevsk village and on 11th in Klyuchi village. Bhgt 200-300 m.
13 Feb-20 Feb 2015 5-8 Up to 600 km, mainly E, SE, and S during week WIR issued 21 Feb noted strombolian and vulcanian eruptions: Bhgt: 150 m. (13-16th) Ashfall in Klyuchi village (temporary elevation of Avaiation Color Code to Red).
21 Feb-27 Feb 2015 5-6 90 km NE WIR issued 28 Feb noted continuing strombolian and vulcanian eruptions and ash explosions. Bhgt not reported in this or later WIRs.
28 Feb-05 Mar 2015 5-6 400 km, mainly E, SE, and NE during week WIR issued 6 Mar noted moderate eruption continued and still included strombolian and vulcanian eruptions, ash explosions, and summit glow. Thermal anomalies all week.
06 Mar-11 Mar 2015 5-6 (8th and 10th) ~338 km broadly E WIR issued 12 Mar noted moderate explosive eruptions continued this week. Thermal anomalies on 7th and 10-11th. (9th) Moderate emissions of steam and gas; (10th) similar to 9th but with minor ash.
12 Mar-20 Mar 2015 5-5.5 90 km, broadly E WIR issued 20 Mar noted moderate ongoing eruption but significantly weaker than in previous weeks. Thermal anomaly weak. Better visibility during 16-17th, poor on other days.
(16-17th) (includes observations to left); poor visibility on other days;.) Aviation Color Code Orange
21 Mar-26 Mar 2015 -- -- WIR issued 27 Mar: End of explosive eruption on 24th. Strong fumaroles persisted. Gas-steam plumes containing small amounts of ash on 22nd-23rd. Weak thermal anomaly all week. Aviation Color Code, Yellow.
27 Mar-06 Apr 2015 -- -- WIR issued on 3 Apr stated that strong fumarolic activity and weak thermal anomalies both continued, but that clouds blocked view except for 30th. VONA was issued on 6th: Both high seismicity and moderate gas-steam emissions continued. Aviation Color Code on 3rd Yellow, changing on 10th to Green.

References: Gary Ellrod, 2012, Remote Sensing of Volcanic Ash, National Weather Association (URL: http://www.nwas.org/committees/rs/volcano/ash.htm).

Ackerman, S., Lettvin, E, Mooney, M, Emerson, N, Lindstrom, S, Whittaker, T., Avila, L, Kohrs, R, and Bellon, B., undated, Satellite applications for geoscience education [online course; Facilitating the use of satellite observations in G6-12 Earth Science Education] University of Wisconsin and University of Washington (URL: https://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/sage/geology/lesson3/concepts.html).

Geological Summary. Klyuchevskoy is the highest and most active volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Since its origin about 6,000 years ago, this symmetrical, basaltic stratovolcano has produced frequent moderate-volume explosive and effusive eruptions without major periods of inactivity. It rises above a saddle NE of Kamen volcano and lies SE of the broad Ushkovsky massif. More than 100 flank eruptions have occurred during approximately the past 3,000 years, with most lateral craters and cones occurring along radial fissures between the unconfined NE-to-SE flanks of the conical volcano between 500 and 3,600 m elevation. Eruptions recorded since the late 17th century have resulted in frequent changes to the morphology of the 700-m-wide summit crater. These eruptions over the past 400 years have originated primarily from the summit crater, but have also included numerous major explosive and effusive eruptions from flank craters.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT), Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/); Kamchatka Branch, Geophysical Service, Russian Academy of Sciences (KB GS RAS) (URL: http://www.krsc.ru/english/network.htm); NASA Earth Observatory (URL: http://earthobservatory.NASA.gov/); and William L. Stefanov, Jacobs Technology/ESCG, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.