The Kamchatkan Affair – Zhupanovsky

The large Zhupanovsky volcanic complex.

The large Zhupanovsky volcanic complex.

During the last year we have been spoilt by eruptions on the Kamchatkan peninsula. We had a medium sized effusive eruption from Tolbachik, a long explosive eruption with lava effusion at Klyuchevskoy, explosive eruptions at Bezymianny, anyone I missed? UKViggen emediately pointed out that I had missed to mention Sheveluch, Kizimen and Karymsky (I still have the nagging feeling there is one more out there).

Dzenzursky with the flank collapse clearly visible.

Dzenzursky with the flank collapse clearly visible.

Now we have a new and more unexpected volcano entering into the party, namely the Zhupanovsky. Zhupanovsky is the latest of four stratovolcanoes to evolve from a Pleistocene 36 by 22 kilometer caldera. The previous 3 stratovolcanoes have not erupted during the Holocene, of the 3 older volcanoes Dzenzursky is the largest. It is in its own way impressive with a horse-shoe shaped flank caldera, evidence of major flank collapse/eruption.

It is believed that Zhupanovsky is a fairly young volcano that came to life 7 000BC, and that the first 2 to 3 000 years was predominantly filled with frequent mild and effusive eruption that rapidly built up the volcanic edifice. After that a period of larger eruptions followed that seems to be infrequent, but historical records tell us that the volcano tends to have frequent small eruptions with big ones interspersed at long intervals.

The last big eruption was somewhere between 1 000 to 800BC (VEI-6?). Since 1776 up to 1959 it suffered from a minimum of 7 confirmed VEI-2 eruptions, but there is a possibility that there have been more that has not been observed due to the remoteness of the area. The top of the volcano has remained hydrothermally active after the last eruption.

Today’s Eruption

Zhupanovsky with the steaming hydrothermal vents clearly visible.

Zhupanovsky with the steaming hydrothermal vents clearly visible.

KVERT has issued a report today of an ongoing eruption at Zhupanovsky with a 3 kilometer high ash column. The eruption is currently color coded ORANGE. It is still uncertain if the eruption is magmatic or if the volcano is still in a throat clearing stage with predominantly phreatic components.

So far there is nothing pointing towards this becoming a large eruption, but it is not totally impossible that the eruption will grow further, especially if this turns out to be just the throat clearing phase. After all, this would be a VEI-2 throat-clearing.

More information and hopefully camera links will be added as we find them.


149 thoughts on “The Kamchatkan Affair – Zhupanovsky

    • Added to the post 🙂
      I still think there is another one we have missed, but then I am rather befuddled.
      Thankfully I do not have Nebel on my head…

      • For those who wonder about Nebel…
        Long John Nebel was an American radio host who did a lot of shows about UFOs, he is the one who broke the “story” about the Men in Black. So, when the movies The Men in Black where made they commemorated him as a 2 feet long over-sexualized lizzard alien…

        • Nebel is clouds (fog) in German.
          Better have Nebel around ones head, or than within … 😉
          Then it is like “Hangover 1”

  1. “anyone I missed?”

    well, you only missed Kizimen, Sheveluch and Karymsky but I can forgive you for that, particularly for coming up with such spectacular photos at such short notice. 😉

      • 🙂 🙂

        Zhupanovsky was steaming gently earlier this year – and has been on and off for some years (as shown in last photo).
        Now trying to get hold of a photo of current event!

        Re. others in Kamchatka – there’s a few old faves that have also shown some very gentle steaming this year – Avachinsky and Gorely for instance.

        • If we invoke some of our Foulger-inspired theorising (Eyjafjallajökull 2010- and beyond, courtesy of Peter Cobbold), it seems a case could be made for a very large area energy pulse in Kamchatka at the moment as the great number of volcanoes active or seemingly entering an active phase confirms. In the BKK group, Klyuchevskoy is erupting, Bezymyanni is steaming a lot and on the flank or join between the Ks, there’s been a flank eruption with nearby Tolbachik to the south. I would not be incredibly surprised if piggy-in-the-middle Kamen or the other three volcanoes nearby; Gora Ovalnaya Zimina, Gora Bolshaya Udina and the massive and unnamed (?) volcano with the truncated cone immediately west of Klyuchevskoy would show signs of unrest or even erupt too. Right now, three out of seven are showing unrest, degassing or erupting.

            • From GVP:
              Ushkovsky volcano (formerly known as Plosky) is a large compound volcanic massif located at the NW end of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group. It consists of the flat-topped 3943-m-high Ushkovsky volcano (Daljny Plosky), which is capped by an ice-filled 4.5 x 5.5 km caldera, and the adjacent slightly higher peak of 4108 m Krestovsky (Blizhny Plosky) volcano. Two glacier-clad cinder cones with large summit craters form a high point within the Ushkovsky caldera. Linear zones of cinder cones are found on the SW and NE flanks and on lowlands to the west. The younger caldera at the summit of Plosky Daljny (Ushkovsky) was formed in association with the eruption of large lava flows and pyroclastic material from the Lavovy ShIsh cinder cones at the foot of the volcano about 8600 years ago. The only known historical activity at Ushkovsky was an explosive eruption from the summit cone in 1890.

            • It used to be called Plotsky which was admittedly, somewhere at the edge of my rather shabby radar. I only learnt its new name when checking out Google Earth for Klyu recently.

          • I though agree that it seems like we are seeing some kind of general increase or pulse of activity in the general Kamchatkan area.

          • I would say there almost certainly has been a bit of a pulse beneath the central Kamchatka depression (the area where Klyuchevskoi, Tolbachik, and Shiveluch sit in). Although, you could almost argue that there is always a pulse in this area judging by how active it’s been in the last 10,000 years. the fact that one of the largest volcanoes in the world was created in roughly a 6000 year time period is almost unreal.

            Zhupanovsky on the other hand sits in a different area further south, albeit still within Kamchatka. I actually hadn’t realized this volcano sat within a huge caldera. It seems like almost every volcano in Kamchatka is associated with a large caldera complex. It definitely makes you wonder whether (or rather when) Klyuchevskoi & Kronotsky will join the party.

            I also think a lot of the Kamchatka activity can be simply explained by the extremely fast subduction rate. I believe the pacific plate is subducting there at one of the quickest rates in the world, and in the central Kamchatka Depression, the subduction of the Emporor seamount definitely doesn’t help things.

            • I would tick of Klyuchevskoy as one of the likelier on the planet for a caldera eruption. Why? Because it is a multiple volcano system and both Klyuchevskoy in particular and the system in general has grown to such proportions that it will sooner or later fail.

            • If there were a multiple-volcano caldera eruption from the Klyuchevskoy complex, I would not want to be anywhere in Kamchatka as that would be stupidly large.

            • According to the Encyclopedia of Volcanoes chapter on caldera formation multiple volcano systems are the most prone to cataclysmic caldera formations. And the Klyu-group is rather well versed in having large stratos.

            • The pacific plate is subducting there at a fast rate, but if you want really fast subduction, the Tonga arc is where it is at. Something like 240 mm per year convergence there. Sheveluch has to be the most likely for a large explosive eruption. Klyuchevskoy does not erupt very silicic magma, and I don’t think that it will go caldera.

            • Klyuchevskoy will definitely either collapse or form a caldera in a large eruption, likely within the next 10,000 years if it keeps up it’s current rate of eruptions. There are many reasons why I believe this, but the simplest to see explanation is that a volcano that steep simply won’t be able to hold itself up much longer, especially considering how it grew to become one of the largest volcanoes in the world in just 6000 years. Give it another 10,000 years and it’ll surely either topple or collapse. The question to me is whether it would be a large-scale eruption of the Central-Kamchatka graben, or if it would just be a small local caldera similar to Plosky, it’s nextdoor neighboor.

              I wouldn’t look at magma variety for a volcano like this. Magma makeup definitely matters, but what’s most important is pressure & the overall size of the magma chamber. If you have a very high-pressure magma chamber, it doesn’t matter if it’s basalt or rhyolite, it will still form a huge eruption.

            • It is a huge edifice. An end-member possibility for me is it collapsing outward. I don’t think that it is likely to collapse in on itself and go caldera.

            • And pressure is caused by silicic magma. That doesn’t flow or rise easily. It will erupt and form a plug at the summit if it does.

        • Avachinsky has got one of those runny cow-pat lava plugs (can hardly call it a “dome”) sitting in its crater, like Shinmoedake.

  2. Has any thought been given to the rather large EQ swarm earlier in the year in this region? Was that EQ swarm a run up to this activity? Got to admit, all this activity is really cool. Thanks for everyone who adds to the information and learning

    • The EQ swarm that occurred earlier in the year along with the massive super-deep earthquake all took place further south than any of the currently erupting volcanoes. I believe that swarm took place out at sea by the Avachinsky bay.

  3. It did, however as the EQ swarm progressed, it headed in from the Pacific Ocean toward the southern Kamchatkan peninsula. seems they are all connected in some manner

    • There was quite a lot of speculation upon that swarm. The general consensus in the end seemed to be that it either would have no effect, or affect Avachinsky.
      I think that swarm could have affected Zhupanov in the end in some degree.

  4. Good evening all! Thank to ukviggen and Carl for the heads up and quick article on Zhupanovsky, – how cool is that now?! Regarding other erupting volcanoes in Kchtka. I want to point out Gorely, who had an eruption visible on webcam in Jan. or Febr. (might have been phreatic only), and who knows how many more since. Bezymianny has been erupting low fashion most of the time, with KVERT reporting that they can not make out the details for hgh seismicity of first Tolbachik, and later Klyuchevskoy.

  5. Cool post Carl !
    I find your reporting on Tolbachik a trifle too much on the understating side.

    After all it erupted for several months in a row and the pictures we got were really awesome. Too bad these volcanoes are really difficult to reach…..

  6. This documentary about Kamchatka was filmed in 2007 when a huge mud slide destroyed about 2/3 of the beautiful Valley of the Geysers. It is mostly about the wildlife there, but the scenery is beautiful if animals are not your thing.

  7. Another beauty located about half-way between Petropavlovsk and the BKK-group – Krasheninnikov inside a 9 x 11 km caldera.


    • Dunno if I would call it a volcano. New cone, yeah, I could go for that. The parent system is El Golfo, or Tanganasoga. (that being the dominant post slide cone and likely the new volcano.)

      • Glad to see that it has had an emission at last – and that it is another one under the sea – rather than the scary possibility that Taransoga might one day be the chimney again. The magma seems to travel under the island at great depth, but no quakes are recorded at that location or at the depths where the magma finally breaks surface. Carl, do you really think the Canaries are similar to Iceland? It seems quite a different phenomenon when the Canary Islands lose chunks while Iceland keeps layering more on.

        • Both are hotspot volcanoes, but there is a big difference, and that is the lack of spreading. Technically a comparison with Hawai’i would be better. But, it was close enough for me to be able to predict that it would blow, and fairly accurately too. It happened within the five day span I had guesstimated it to happen.

      • Oh yes, that’s the new safety workwear for field research: to diminish the risk of being charred by burning fabric it is devised to wear as little as possible of the dangerous stuff when investigating erupting volcanoes!

        • That reminds me of hiking on Mt. Rainier when I was younger. I was amazed the first time I went there when I was playing in the snow despite it being 75 degrees outside.

  8. I see Hekla had two quakes yesterday almost under her summit. A 0.8 and a 1.6. However, they were very shallow.

    • Which begs the question, why the hork has Hekla not erupted allready? According to everything known about Hekla and how she behaves before an eruption she should have blasted off half a year ago.

      • Ah, Imagine the cartoon version of Hekla going, contracting … expanding, contracting … expanding, cotracting … expanding, contracting .. expanding … bang.
        We have talked two years non stop on Hekla, but we do not know how high it is, or how high it is over the last eruptions level (about 30 cm , or was it more ?)

      • Carl, I think you may have given the answer to that earlier this year when you explained a) the relationship between Hekla and Vatnafjöll, and b) that by the looks of things, Vatnafjöll was coming out of dormancy. Magma that previously topped up Hekla is now re-routed to Vatnafjöll.

        • Let us not forget 2 factors that have changed, First, the first in a hundred years of two large tectonic episodes in south Iceland, in 2000 and 2008. So, that 10 year eruption pattern might well have been changed (to a small level or even dramatically). Second, the hotspot maxima is approaching, and we have been seeing other volcanoes awakening to activity. Katla is more restless since 2000, and Eyjafjallajokull erupted. Both are somewhat near Hekla. Then, Vatnsfjoll has also awaken to earthquakes, so this points to the activity being shifted a little bit southwards.

          I can totally understand why Hekla has not erupted. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Hekla stops erupting for a few decades. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we see an eruption somewhere in the vicinity of Hekla but not Hekla itself. But any Hekla eruption, or nearby, will probably be small. I bet more outside of the mountain than on top of it. Something that has happened in the past, but not the recent past.

          I think we have seen quite a lot of tectonic-volcanic activity through the south of Iceland (between Hengill and Katla) to relief most rifting strain. It is to the west of Hengill (actually both its southwest and north of it) and to the east of Katla (actually northeast), where tectonic strain is probably accumulated and I can expect swarms and even eruptions to occur.

          In Reykjanes that seems to be clear. Krisuvik, Blafjoll, Reykjanes all have been with more swarms recently and probably minor intrusions. There, I expect more future earthquake swarms near Blafjoll, more dike intrusions near Krusivik and one eruption where it is most likely to occur, at Reykjanes system.

          But to the northeast of Katla, we have seen a few ocasional quakes but not much. I bet rifting strain is probably maximum in the dead zone at the moment, especially to the southwest of Bardarbunga and Grimsvotn (the focus of much activity in recent years). If Grimsvotn has been rifting, and Askja in recent decades, what about to the southwest of Vatnajokull: nothing. Strain is maximum there. Aslo because eruptions have been occuring to its southwest, around the Hekla-Eyjafjallajokull area.

          So yes, I expect next eruption in Hamarinn or somewhere to its southwest, or even north or northeast of Katla (which can be part of Katla).

          So contrary to Carl, I expect Katla or dead zone as more likely to be the next big thing, rather than Hekla, in decades ahead.

          • Well reasoned Irpsit! I always look at Skrokkalda SIL to get an idea of what might be going on and what I see most of the time are plentiful events that look like magmatic intrusions like the one just before midnight on the 20th.

            Skrokkalda SIL

        • I must stop giving good explanations that I emediately forget about…
          There is a reason I call myself befuddled… 🙂

  9. Am I the only one who thinks the Central Kamchatka Depression resembles a very youthful Taupo or Kagoshima graben?

      • Yay!… I am throughly confused now.

        Evidently… the Mescalero Plate was a shard that became welded to the NA plate… this probably was after the Nazas trench closed up. Somewhere in there the Sonora Megashear came into being (an ancient San Andreas mechanism of formation?) and the Gulf of Mexico began opening as a back arc basin….

        Dunno the details… they be hard to find.

        Nothing in paragraph one is part of any discertation that I have read, just a random juxtaposition of pieces of what I have read here and there. If the Mescalero plate was oceanic and subducted… How it evidently became part of Texas is beyond me. Ostensibly, the name comes from the Mescalero Escarpment, named for a tribe of Apache that live in the area. But how or if it’s related… I don’t know.

      • Not that I’ll ever find out a definitive answer, but you gotta wonder how much the crust has been melting into a sweet pocket of ryholitic mush with how much heat is flowing into that overall area.

        • Well, yes, that is interesting.

          Here are some problems I am having issues with.

          The Gulf of Mexico came about due to South America taking off to the south… there are about 14 proposed transform faults that cut across it, this is from a basement feature analysis that I read about it. These transforms allowed the expansion of the thing. There is no spreading center than I can locate in any of the literature, and those transforms are still barely active seismically. The Port St Joe fault is probably the more active, and accounts for an occasional low mag quake every now and then. Out in the middle of the GOM, there was an initially reported Mag 6.0 a few years ago. This appears to have been along the Mississippi River fault, and several miles south of where the Deep Water horizon did it’s roll over and die act. Of all of the water down there, the only spreading center that I know if is south and near the Caymens. That one is part of the driving force that pushes Hati up into a 10kft mountain range that shreds hurricanes that venture too close. It’s also part of what pushes Puerto Rico to the East, where the intersection with the subducting North Atlantic plate causes quite a bit of activity. The Big arsed Hati quake of several months ago, was in part, due to these driving forces.

          Where the hell the Mescalero Plate figures into this is beyond me. But it may also be related to the initiation of the Rio Grande rift… which has been said will eventually eat the Rockies. That rift and the activity along the forming rift boundaries is where all the Colorado quakes are coming from… but don’t tell the anti-frack crowd, it is detrimental to their belief system. Can’t have another cult going belly up ya know. One “Heavens Gate” event is enough. (New tennis shoes, a pocket full of quarters, and a purple square of fabric and your saved… now drink your cyanide)

          Supposition: The quarters may have been the boarding fare for the comet.

          • Hm… When did the South America start to move south?
            If I have my bearing straight the South America left Africa and mosied over and somewhere along that I missed that it had hit the North America. As I understood things SA moved over from Africa and a chain of volcanic Islands formed and in the end connected SA and NA with the land bridge we have today. I didn’t know that the two Americas had been in close contact and separated in between.

            And I thought that the Carribean basin and the faults formed from the Chixcoloub impact. But, I have probably gotten things horribly mixed up somewhere. 🙂
            This is after all a part of the world that I am least familiar with from a tectonic standpoint.

            • Well, I have seen reports that the Tampa area used to be just south of New Orleans, and that the Yucatan was snuggled up against Texas. In all of them, they place South America up into the bottom of what is now the US.

              At one time the Ouachita and Appalachian mountains were part of one chain… higher than the Hymalayas. The passage of a hotspot making them a bit more pronouced than would normally occur. I always thought that they were pushed up due to collisional tectonics. The area were the Reelfoot Rift, already an old feature, was probably reactivated by the hotspot passage and contributed to the formation of a cut along that range that was later occupied by the Mississippi River.

              The iron rich material from magmatic intrusions and volcanism is probably the source for the prolific red clay deposits that we have. It’s pretty hard to dig a sand pit without running across it. How we got our squeeky white sand along the coast is a separate problem. It’s silica, well rounded and quite white and translucent. Red clay sand would mess that up quite easily, they even have a ban on what sort of sand you can bring out to the beach areas for construction and roadway work.

              One business even got sued by his local municipality for “illegally” making a berm prior to a tropical storm’s landfall since he didn’t obtain permitting for it. He used local sand and restored the sand and area afterwards… but his city wanted some money so off to court they went. Even though he wound up in litigations, he still kept the storm surge from wiping out his buildings.

            • Interesting, so NA wandered about on its own, then SA separated from Africa wandered north and west hit the NA, and bounced south leaving Florida and Yucatan behind connected to the NA. Then we get the volcanic ridge forming that reconnected them again. Those continents sure get moving about as time passes. 🙂
              One of these days I am going to get a good map of how those continents moved about.

              Or does anyone know of a good computer modeling of the continents moving about?

            • Oh – go on – just a little bit of ‘expanding earth’ theory?? Comet impacts adding water and mass – continental drift and mid-ocean rifting – and now a ring of new volcanoes forming near Antartica – and folding plates recycling the crust in the mantle? Earth is a very odd potato shape seen from space, crystals grow in warm and wet rock, and the whole polarised electro-magnetic field is a slow crystal tumbler recycling and spreading too – perhaps!

              Just an amateur with a vivid imagination speaking here

    • Crikey!
      Had missed all of that. That explains you dissapearing. Was about to take a look on where you had gone soon.

    • Thank you for this link. I am glad that you are safe. I am so saddened that boys as young as 8 are starting these fires. They just have no sense about what horrors they are unleashing. So much destruction to the landscape, loss of property and potential loss of life. I hope the parents of these children take a good switch to them, child protective services be damned. As for the adults starting these fires, I hope they go away for a very long time. Stay safe.

  10. Wanted!

    Is there anyone who has a copy of this book:
    Catalogue of the active volcanoes of the world, including Solfatara fields. P. 16, Arabia and the Indian ocean / by M. Neumann van Padang

    If so, I would be very happy if you could scan it and send me a copy.

    • Carl, this catalogue is in several volumes. It has been updated also. As it is Impossible to buy on line my guess is that maybe you ordered it from your Local library . Our library will get any book , it may take time but certainly cheaper than buying. So check and be very specific on which title and volume you need when ordering.

    • I can get you a copy Carl if you want. Arabia, interesting region overall. I remember looking through several regions of Yemen and finding at least 7 undiscovered pliestocene-holocene cones.

    • Actually it is not me who needs it. It is of all things one of Borises Indian collegues who seems to have a problem with an Indian volcano or something. Apparantly there is not a single copy in entire India of that particular book.
      So, he wrote us and officially asked if anyone here had a copy of the book.

      I am currently on an Interloan que for one of the 5(!) known copies in any library in the world (how that happened). But, it will take me weeks to get it.

      It is the ancient 1963 version he is on the prowl for. And no, it is not even available in a digitial copy anywhere…

  11. Some issues of the Catalogue can be found via (just type “catalogue of active volcanoes” in the title search field) though they don’t currently have the one you’re looking for. In general the Catalogue is hopelessly outdated and you will find much more accurate and up-to-date information on the Global Volcanism Program of the Smithsonian Institution web site.

    In any case I do have a copy of the Catalogue and as soon as I have time I can scan the volume you’re interested in for you.

    • Boris, I still find them very interesting. For well studied regions I agree they are hopeless, but for les well studied regions (e.g. Kuriles, Arabia) they are still very important reference works.

      They ran very recently if I recall, I remember trying to find the elusive Iceland Catalog which was made in 2002.

  12. Some rather deep quakes in Iceland. Considering the depth, I would say they’re magmatic in origin.
    25.10.2013 14:25:10 64.821 -17.277 18.2 km 0.8 99.0 5.5 km NW of Kistufell
    25.10.2013 07:59:12 64.509 -17.750 26.9 km 1.0 99.0 3.8 km NE of Hamarinn
    25.10.2013 07:27:28 64.692 -18.102 24.0 km 0.9 99.0 4.3 km SSW of Nýidalur

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