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Shiveluch Volcano Erupts in Russia

Shiveluch Volcano Erupts in Russia
An image of Shiveluch Volcano Erupting in Russia, Kamchatka Peninsula. Credit: NASA / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

A volcano in Russia has erupted on the far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula. Shiveluch is one of the largest in Kamchatka and is 60,000 to 70,000 years old.

It is also among the most active volcanoes in Russia. It has been erupting consistently since 1999, but the eruption this week is more powerful than usual. This has caused a large amount of ash to be spread into the sky and covered nearby villages with grey volcanic dust.

The eruption began after midnight on Tuesday (April 11) and reached a peak six hours later, spreading an ash cloud over an area of 108,000sq km (41,700sq miles), according to the Kamchatka branch of the Geophysical Survey of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The director of the branch, Danila Chebrov, stated that the ash reached 20km (12.5 miles) high and moved towards the west, resulting in a strong fall of ash in nearby villages.

An earthquake followed the volcanic eruption

Several hours after the volcano erupted, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit off the coast of Kamchatka, and scientists said it was an aftershock from an earthquake on April 3.

The snow melted as a result of the lava flowing from the volcano, resulting in a mud flow warning along a nearby highway.

Villages were buried in drifts of grey ash as deep as 8.5cm (3.3 inches), which was the deepest in 60 years. Officials released footage showing a huge wall of ash rising above snowy forests and rivers.

Risk to flight operations

The eruption put flights at risk and volcanologists issued a code red warning for flights.  Rosaviatsia, Russia’s aviation authority, urged crews to “constantly monitor changes in meteorological information.”

Although scientists reported that the volcano was still erupting 15 hours after it initially erupted, there were no immediate reports of casualties.

The governor of Kamchatka, Vladimir Solodov, stated that Kliuchy, Kozyrevsk, and Mayskoye were the worst affected villages, and he urged people to stay at home. Schools were closed, and he said that health officials had gone into every house and apartment to check on residents.

Eruption being monitored by satellite

As the volcano erupted, satellites kept an eye on the situation. These satellites can provide important information about how the ash cloud from the volcano is spreading throughout the far eastern part of Russia.

One satellite in particular, called HIMAWARI-9 and run by the Japan Meteorological Agency, captured a timelapse video that shows the ash rising up to 11 miles (18 km) high and moving south across the peninsula, according to Space.

Formation History of Shiveluch Volcano

The Shiveluch volcano started taking shape a long time ago, around 60,000 to 70,000 years back. It has erupted at least 60 times in the last few thousand years. The most active period of volcanic activity was during the Holocene era, according to Wikipedia.

This time period saw frequent and sizable eruptions, with the most intense ones occurring between 6500-6400 BC, 2250-2000 BC, and AD 50-650. These eruptions happened when other volcanoes in Kamchatka were also highly active.

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