Kliuchevskoi, one of Eurasia´s highest volcanoes

Kliuchevskoi, the perfect volcano. Photo by Tamten (Wikimedia Commons)

Kliuchevskoi, the perfect volcano. Photo by Tamten (Wikimedia Commons).

The 4835-m high Kliuchevskoi (Klyuchevskoy) volcano is not only the highest in Eurasia, located in Central Kamchatka (Russia,  56.057°N, 160.638°E), but also one of the highest active with a large diversity of eruption styles. The beautifully symmetric basaltic to andibasaltic stratovolcano with about 80 lateral vents and cones is only 6000 to 7000 years old. Until 1988 numerous lateral flank eruptions ocurred, but since then eruption activity was constrained to the summit. Since her discovery 300 years ago the volcanic activity has increased frome once every 25 years to almost one incident per year in the last 30 years (typically VEI 1-2). The last of at least 10 large eruption (VEI 3-4) in historical time ocurred in October 1994, when an ash cloud rose 15 to 20 km into the sky. She is generally not much of a direct threat to people, the nearest settlement in the sparsely inhabited area is Klyuchi (30 km to the north from the volcano, Population: 5,726) harbouring the Klyuchi Volcano Observatory, but more to aviation due to the huge amounts of ash she is capable of erupting spreading to hundreds of kilometers distance.

From the KVERT webcam the line of sight to Kliuchevski´s summit unfortunately often is obscured by clouds, but they are beautiful to look at from the ISS.

This photo of the central Kamchatka volcanoes facing NNE was taken from the ISS. In the center 2882 m a.s.l. we see the erupting Bezymianny volcano, above it is Kamen and Kliuchevskoi, the large volcanic massif of Ushkovsky lies to the left. Zimina and Udina just glimpse through the cloud deck and Tolbachik stands out prominently at the bottom. Courtesy of NASA.

This photo (facing NNE) of the central Kamchatka volcanoes was taken from the ISS. In the center we see the erupting Bezymianny volcano, above it is Kamen and Kliuchevskoi, the large volcanic massif of Ushkovsky lies to the left. Zimina and Udina just glimpse through the cloud deck and Tolbachik stands out prominently at the bottom. Courtesy of NASA (http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/station/crew-33/html/iss033e018010.html).

GVP reports that the Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) detected moderate seismic activity at
Kliuchevskloi during 16-23 August. A video camera recorded incandescence from the summit at night and gas-and-steam plumes containing minor amounts of ash rising to an altitude of 5.5 km. It was enough to give the previously pristine white cone a black cap:

Webcam picture from 26 Aug 2013. Courtesy of EMSD http://data.emsd.iks.ru/videokry/kly.jpg

Webcam picture from 26 Aug 2013. Courtesy of EMSD http://data.emsd.iks.ru/videokry/kly.jpg

Tom Pfeiffer compiled this time-lapse of an eruption on the evening of 26 Aug 2013:

Because the volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background level the current aviation color code remains at yellow. As of now there are no recent reports from the Tokyo VAAC, but KVERT reports an increased amplitude of volcanic tremor (6.9 mcm/s). A lava flow continued to effuse on the south-western volcanic flank on August 28 and strombolian activity of the summit crater of the volcano was observed (http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/current_eng.php).


Other sources:
Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klyuchevskaya_Sopka

List of largest eruptions of the 20th century: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_large_volcanic_eruptions_of_the_20th_century

Kliuchevskoi on Volcano World: http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/kliuchevskoi

Chronology of Kliuchevskoi, Rose and Ramsey, 2009: http://www.pitt.edu/~mramsey/papers/RoseandRamsey2009.pdf

Belousov, Behnke and Belousov, 2011, “Generation of pyroclastic flows by explosive interaction of lava flows with ice/water-saturated substrate”, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research

Update: Due to slipshod research I deprived Mt. Elbrus (5633 m, last known eruption 50 AD), Mt. Damavand (5670 m, last known eruption 5350 BC) and Mt. Ararat (5165 m, last known eruption 1840 AD) of their right as the three highest volcanoes of Eurasia (data from GVP). Sorry, no offence meant! I changed the title accordingly from “Eurasia´s highest volcano” to “one of Eurasia´s highest volcanoes”. Thanks to Renato Rio, Granyia and Milord P for fact checking! chryphia

133 thoughts on “Kliuchevskoi, one of Eurasia´s highest volcanoes

  1. Fuego in Guatemala is very active today. Looks like a lahar and flowing magma.

    Shame there’s only one picture a day from this cam.

    • 22 quakes since the beginning of the month. I’ll think I’ll plot something for september. Especially as there is a 2.1 today after one yesterday

  2. Katla erupted 16.25. Hekla erupted 18.45. Lasted to next spring. No, I am not kiddin…. only put two dots where ther should be nil 😉

  3. Thank you Chryphia!
    From the Klyuchi Observatory’s website:
    “On August 28th a group led by JD Muraveva climbed to the top of Klyuchevskoi.
    In the crater is growing a cinder cone which emits incandescent material to a height of over 100 m. In the south-west side of the crater formed a lava lake, from which lava flows down the slopes of the volcano towards p.Kozyrevsk. (According to Ya.D.Muraveva)” Photo by Ya.D.Muraveva of the cinder dome:

  4. Thank you for the beautiful post and images, Chryphia. What a spectacular “baby”!
    As for the “highest in Eurasia” I kind of wonder if you mean “active” volcano, since Wikipedia puts Elbrus and Damavend in Caucasus above 5 km high.
    Also, I have read somwhere over FB that Urbinas volcano, in Peru, has had a phreato(magmatic) explosion. Maybe this information could be confirmed. 🙂

  5. Enjoyed this post. -sitting here in doing yard work on a relatively cool day. some rain(not enough)
    lighting this am. We have a fire weather waring (red flag ) through thursday .
    Intense lighting is forecast..

    • {shivering dog}

      ‘please let me get in your lap, the thunder is terrifying!’


      Oh, alright.

      {shivering dog}

      ‘I want to get down next to the wall on top of your laptop bag’


      No, get down!

      {shivering dog}

      ‘please let me get in your lap, the thunder is terrifying!’

      • “Baxter” (that I always called “Jake”, just to mess with his owner, my grandkid) is a Pit/Lab mix, with grey eyes. At just under a year old, he would do the “your lap is MINE” thing. Also without asking. Following an expunging of the grandkid back to his mom’s house, the dog has lived there ever since… and has gotten quite large. I gave him a whole Bovine femur, that he finished off in about 4 weeks. He didn’t know what to make of it at first, being the largest bone he had ever seen. He initially tried to retreive it, then he realized that it tasted good. If you are ever in a fight, thats the dog you want on your side.

  6. Chryphia. Many thanks. What a perfect cone. truly beautiful 🙂 I have only once seen this clearly on the web cam.
    tgmccoy I like watching thunderstorms. We don’t get many here but they do not pose much threat , unless you are playing golf in a wide open space. I do hope no fires start and you all remain safe.
    I found this very interesting Documentary film about Misti and Ubinas. Although it is in Spanish I found it easy to pick up the general gist of the commentary. Some superb views of the road following the pass of the Altiplano. I think Lurking will agree with me that that road looks to be a bad place to break down or have a flat. Certainly I would advise taking a couple of spare tyres as the rocks on the road are probably pretty sharp! Also the film shows again the lengths to which Volcanologists will go to collect data in order to try to predict lahars, pyroclastic flows and eruptions. Society does not appreciate their work enough.

      • Erik Klemetti has a short post today on Ubinas’ eruption, citing IGP statements that they have been phreatic caused by snowfall, and more such can be expected in bad weather conditions. However, a group of scientists have been “sent” to investigate the state of the volcano.

  7. Momotombo in Nicaragua on the shores of lake managua is looking like it’s getting ready for an eruption. It hasn’t erupted in over 100 years, although it has had frequent strombolian or larger eruptions prior to 1904.

    • Couple of deep quakes
      02.09.2013 22:06:24 64.508 -17.603 15.5 km 2.1 99.0 10.2 km ENE of Hamarinn
      02.09.2013 22:04:05 64.498 -17.601 14.0 km 2.8 99.0 10.1 km E of Hamarinn

      • Yes, and it appears “wet” (harmonic) but it does not show on Jon´s Helicorders – that appears broken – but I see it clearly on internal IMO screen 😉

          • Much too early to become RUV news item, we are watching it happening LIVE. It could be it or fail (the next hours will tell). Last time this happened it took two days “burn thrugh”! – If (when) IMO throws a stone tablet I will post so!

  8. Monday
    02.09.2013 22:06:24 64.508 -17.603 15.5 km 2.1 99.0 10.2 km ENE of Hamarinn
    02.09.2013 22:04:05 64.498 -17.601 14.0 km 2.8 99.0 10.1 km E of Hamarinn

    • yes, these are small Quakes (or IceQuakes) much near to Jök, not seen on other stations I am seeing. Likely not rock-quakes and not Harmonics. Could be local storm gusts too.

  9. And as Islander noticed it seems like Loki-Fögrufjöll had some kind of magmatic event (east of Hamarinn).
    Remember that this is right down under the western Skaftár Cauldron from where we are waiting a Jökulhlaup. I am not so sure that there was a phreatic even accompanying it, but it is far from impossible. It seemed like quite a wadd of magma went up the system, and something tells me that this is not the last we are going to see from the area.

    • The small swarm in Torfajökull seems to mainly be due to shrinkage in one of the magma chambers under the volcano, the depth also seems to indicate blocking of the roof over the chamber to cover the void created.
      Otherwise the unusually high number of deep earthquakes continue to come in.

  10. Here is a short but interesting article on efforts to drill to the mantle ….to find “lakes of molten sulphur” 🙂 . I would not think that it is not possible, surely the pressure and tempreture will become so high to prevent it..but i know nothing of modern oil well drilling technolgy. It seems that wont stop people trying.


    Can anybody name the volcanoe in the pictures?

    • Should not be a problem really to drill into the mantle, except for the obvious part of drilling always being a pain in the behind.
      I think the images show in order Anak Krakatau and Tolbachik (but that is guesswork on my part).

    • Can anybody name the volcanoe in the pictures?

      Sure! → “Amy.”

      Though, I have a suspicion that someone has already given it another name. If that’s the case, I don’t know what the previously assigned name was/is.

    • Thank you for the kind interpretation 🙂 Now we know that *almost* means not at all correct.

      Edit: And we also know why I never get any points in any form of the friday riddles…

    • It could be a valve-opening to reset the strainmeter. This might be the case since nothing else is showing on the other boreholes. The only other explanation would be that it is something that is straining the bedrock to the Norteast of Hekla. But, I go for valve-opening.

  11. Another small, but deep quake.
    03.09.2013 14:11:03 64.502 -17.517 8.3 km 1.2 99.0 14.1 km E of Hamarinn

  12. Phantom of the Opera….

    Sure, there is not some hideously malformed face under the mask, but the idea is what came to mind when I realized what I was looking at.

    My guess, is that the artist who designed the plaque was trying to be cute, and to convey one of the central ideas that Andrija Mohorovičić came up with. → A layered crust.

    Trivia question… who was born about six months before he was? (Hint, Thomas Edison was not fond of him)

  13. Sorry Chryphia, but you do have to change the headline after all and no, Renato, it’s not Damavand:

    Mount Elbrus in the western Caucasus has an elevation of 5,642 m and a prominence of 4,741 m and is therefore the largest volcano of Eurasia. Before they ruined the site, the Global Volcanism Program listed the last eruption as “between 0 and 100 AD”. The 4,750 m high Klyuchevskaya Sopka (it’s a she, hence -aya and not the male suffix -oi) with a prominence of 4,649 m is not even the second or third highest volcano of Eurasia. Dormant Mt Ararat tips in at 5,137 m elevation albeit its prominence is “only” 3,611 m, so volume-wise, Klyuchevskaya is up there with Elbrus and Damavand (prominence 4,667 m).

    Another snippet: The largest volcano by prominence (according to Wiki, inaccurate of course) is Mount Kilimanjaro at 5,885 m but both Mauna Kea (dormant) and Mauna Loa have prominences well in excess of that with 10,100 m for Mauna Kea and 10,063 m for Mauna Loa which makes the the true giants of all Earthly mountains.

    • It depends, MilordP, it depends… Of course, if two people discus Ключевская сопка, and in the heat of the debate omit the feminine sopka, they will continue talking about Klyuchevskaya. On the other hand, if they started a talk on Ключевской вулкан, vulkan being a masculine noun, they will continue using Klyuchevskoy. They might even find a neutral noun that makes it Ключевскоe… I think in general the masc. form is used, with the fem. form right behind in everyday talk. Compare http://volkstat.ru/KLU-opisanie.html

      • I stand corrected. So “sopka” is feminine while “vulkan” is maskuline (phallic?) and it depends on which you talk about, the mountain or the volcano. It is interesting that Russians think of mountains as she while volcanoes are he in the same manner that to the French, the Sun is a he and the Moon, she. Go back far enough in time, to the pre-historic, and there will be a reason for this that was very logical to our ancestors.

        Btw, my favourite word in Russian is Duma with the connotations associated with that verb and parliament.

        • I think the gender of the majority of Russian nouns is in no way connected with their present meaning. It seems totally arbitrary, same as in many other European languages. If I think of our German cutlery, we have ‘das Messer’ (neut., knife), ‘die Gabel’ (fem., fork) and ‘der Löffel’ (masc., spoon). How on earth would I explain that to a student of our language? That must have evolved through the millenia and cannot be traced back today. Some are understandable though, like the volcano being masculine, not from its phallic shape but from the strength and power of the god Vulcan that might be inherent in the word. Having said that, do we not call a volcano ‘she’ in the English language??? Or a powerful car, a ship? 😀 Very confusing…

          • Want to get really funky?

            According to a Historical Look at language (TTC Audio), some old words in german shift meaning by the change in vowels used between the consonants. A distinctly semitic trait that is evidenced in modern languages.

            This sort of hints at an ancient interaction and/or melding between germans and a semitic people. (1000+ yr ago)

    • Also, on that page I gave the link to, it is stated, that Klyuchevskoy (vulkan 😉 ) is the highest active volcano in Europe and Asia. I suppose Chryphia can just insert the word “active” to make the title correct.

    • Ahh … Elbrus. When I was a kid Mont Blanc was the the highest mountain in Europe, but since the end of the Cold War apparently Elbrus has taken over. That’s geopolitics for you. It still has a bit of fumarolic steaming in places but is hardly active in the way that Klyuchevskoy is.
      I started to write a post about Elbrus long ago. All very OT – the highest point to which a vehicle (Land Rover Defender) has EVER been driven and a staggering story of the highest, heaviest helicopter lift ever. Plus some Nazis thrown in for good measure!!
      Guess it will have to wait … I’m going away now for a while. Have fun!

      • Five years ago Chaiten was considered to be extinct, then it suddenly roared back to life much to the annoyance of authorities whom it suited that it was labelled extinct. As you may have guessed, I am not happy about the definitions extinct, dormant and active. To me, as long as a volcano has a magmatic system (sills, chambers) that contains eruptible magma or magma that would become eruptible with a new infusion of magma from below, it should be considered potentially active. A volcanic system where the magma has cooled, fractionated and solidified to the point that it no longer is eruptible even with a fresh infusion is extinct but until you know that for a fact, the volcano should be considered dormant and potentially active, vide Chaiten.

    • There is evidence of old (Ordovician to Carboniferous & Tertiary) volcanic activity to the NW and NE of London in the London / Thames Valley area, but no Quaternary, as far as I know. If there was anything later than Tertiary the evidence has been lost from glacial activity in the Quaternary ice ages.

      But who knows what the future holds as we are close to the edge of a craton.

      • Humm… Maybe told this before, was in London spring 1990 (or 1992) and found one quake, somewhere in range 1,5 to 2,5 R I think, only interesting for the fact I whitnessed it (and have found many stronger since!). Building swayed slightly one or twice, not even scary, confirmation came on TV in later news bulletin.

        Probably be this “ray” if one has clothing fire whilst strolling in London street 😉

        • Not sure that I would notice a small EQ in London unless on the top of a tall building; I would probably attribute any vibrations to heavy traffic, freight train, aircraft noise or the London Underground, or the after effects of a party the night before 😉

          Could be some interesting insurance claims from the “ray” 🙂

      • At some point in the future (long after we’re all dead), there will be volcanoes in the british isles and american east coast again. This will most likely occur as the atlantic basin reverses and starts to close up, or at the very least when subduction reactivates along the east coast of the USA, or the European west coast.

        There are some pretty spectacular dike formations that pop out of the Appalachian mountains in some areas.

        The huge sill seen in the image linked below is on the banks of the Hudson river for whatever it’s worth.

  14. Aww… isn’t that cute!

    The Gulf Coast is populated by small cities that try and curry favor with potential vacationers. Many of them produce and buy advertisements that highlight the features of their area. The Mississippi Gulf coast is no different.

    I just saw an advert highlighting the family activities there, one of the scenes was a family of four paddling along a rather sedate river in kayaks. On one side, a father and son, on the other, a Mother and daughter. The Dad was saying something to the mother in the other kayak, and his son (or the actor playing his son) was paddling away in the front of the kayak… in reverse. I got a chuckle out of that.

    ‘No dumbass, the other way’ 😀

    • 502 Bad Gateway
      The server was acting as a gateway or proxy and received an invalid response from the upstream server.

      … and now it shows good. Go figure.

      At the 9 minute mark… take a long hard look at the extent of the base. If you’re in there, you ain’t getting out.

      And I thought that Hekla was spooky.

  15. While in-port at Safaga Egypt, we had enough time for a few tours. I chose the one to the Karnak at Luxor. As a side trip, we went to the Valley of the Kings. At the head of the valley, was a village where the artisans who worked on the tombs resided. I always found that interesting. Sites like that can tell you a lot about the society that did the construction. Along those same lines, A little insight for those of you who celebrate midsummer or midwinter.

    Secrets of the Stonehenge Skeletons. (YouTube)

    Before the formation of Nation-States, there existed Neolithic People… Megalithic builders have left structures all over much of Europe. This is about one of the more famous ones… and some analysis of a nearby population center where people got together once or twice a year and partied.

    From the video “It paints a vivid picture of feasting on an epic scale.

    Based on isotopic analysis of the Strontium ratios in the teeth of the animals brought there, the travelers came from as far away as Scotland to partake of the festivities. By some estimates, as many as 4000 people at Midwinter.

    The activity seems to have abruptly stopped around 2500 B.C., right about the time that the Beaker People showed up. As evidenced by the Amesbury Archer, a completely different way of interning the dead. (no inhumation, and the inclusion of grave goods)

    However, evidence seems to point at them still revering the Stone Henge site. Their preference was for barrow mounds. Sine the Amesbury Archer was not cremated, he was able to be studied directly, and is likely from an Alpine environment near the French/Swiss border. Other Beaker People remains indicate that many grew up locally, so it appears that Beaker Culture was adopted by the indigenous people.

    Fair warning, the video sort of bemoans the loss of a communal culture and interprets the adoption of the Bronze age as being individualistic in nature. (not too much, but it does stick out like a sore thumb)

    • I worked for the archaeology company that found the Amesbury Archer and washed a few of his bones. The Neolithic was probably just as hierarchical as the Bronze Age but with power vested in family groups rather than individuals – but this is just assumed from the way people were buried. Take any interrpretation of how things were in prehistoric times with a pinch of salt – ideas tend to reflect our own society rather than accurately show what was happening then.

  16. And, for those of Viking interests… a blacksmith recreates an ULFBERT viking sword blade.

    The biggest difference between it and the ones used by their adversaries, was that it was made of what is today called “crucible steel.” Ultra low to no slag, high carbon steel. Technologically, crucible steel did not re-appear in Europe for hundreds of years.

  17. Something is definitly going on in Loki-Fögrufjöll.

    I can see one large harmonic tremor spike that had a duration of 7.5 minutes starting at 08.12 icelandic time, probably, magma moving up a sill. Also, it is worrysome that the earthquakes are moving upwards. I think we might be heading for an eruption there, but the timeframe is very unclear.

    Loki-Fögrufjöll is attributed to being a part of the Bárdarbunga system, or as a sub-part of Hamarinn. I have a bit of a problem with that since it is located smack bang between those two and Grimsvötn. Also it should be noted that most of the eruptions attributed to Bárdarbunga took place at Loki-Fögrufjöll.
    Loki-Fögrufjöll has two medium sized calderas known as the Skaftár East and West Cauldron, famous for their Jökulhlaups, which we are currently waiting for one to happen.

    I tend towards looking at Loki-Fögrufjöll as a mongrel volcano, it is both an EW trending fissure volcano, but at the same time it is also showing traits normaly associated with a central volcano. Either way I see it as a separate entity and a volcano on its own.

    • Hi guys and girls! I’m back from the Isle of Skye and glad that Hekla behaved herself while I was away. I can thoroughly recommend Skye for anyone wanting to see fantastic geology and long-dead volcanoes. We camped under the black Cuillin – amazing mountains. Also revived my taste for whisky after a visit to Talisker Distillery. Also ate haggis, much smoked salmon, and a bit too much Tablet (Tablet is a local delicacy made of sugar, blended with sugar and then cooked with sugar).
      Now to watch Loki-Fogrufjoll – I don’t suppose he has a webcam trained on him?

      • No webcam that direction.
        Hekla did say hallo this morning (0,1 km, 0,6 R near top location). Probably glad you are back!

      • Oh Talla, now you really shouldn’t have mentioned tablet!!!! My mouth immediately started watering. When I was at school in Scotland we used to make in in Domestic Science (long term for cookery 😉 ) lessons . Not really off topic as boiling that stuff would result in lava effusions if you didn’t watch it well. Apart from Sugar, sugar and more sugar we used condensed milk and butter. Mmmmm, no wonder I am still a sugar addict to this day! That buttery milky sugary taste is unique.

        • Well, now that I’ve looked that up, it seems to be quite similar to divinity. I haven’t made that in years. (learned it from my Mom),

          The biggest difference being the egg whites, pecans, and cooking it to a hard crack before adding the egg whites and pecans.

  18. Silly season for deep earthquakes in volcanoes continues with a truly unexpected one. Icelands most quiescent volcano just had a bang in the pants.
    I hereby welcome Frémrínámar to the fray…

    04.09.2013 04:24:29 65.344 -16.673 19.1 km 1.4 99.0 10.5 km W of Herðubreiðarfjöll

  19. Boy, here’s a rather deep one just north of Kverfjoll.
    04.09.2013 11:42:27 64.746 -16.506 24.5 km 0.1 99.0 13.3 km NNE of Kverkfjöll

  20. There is an interesting increasy in microseismic activity around Öræfajökull. Someting to keep an eye on over the next few months. Last week there was another quake a little bit deeper

    16:31:42 64.256 -16.605 4.6 km 1.8 99.0 27.0 km N of Hvannadalshnjúkur
    16:07:57 64.011 -16.613 5.5 km 1.7 99.0 3.4 km E of Hvannadalshnjúkur
    14:02:35 64.170 -16.338 0.1 km 0.9 99.0 23.9 km NE of Hvannadalshnjúkur
    09:16:46 64.014 -16.623 5.4 km 1.2 99.0 2.9 km E of Hvannadalshnjúkur
    07:17:33 64.100 -16.259 0.1 km 0.8 99.0 22.6 km ENE of Hvannadalshnjúkur

    • This is probably either shrinkage quakes or quakes caused by diminished overburden as the glacier melts. There is a marked non-existance of deeper earthquakes.

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