The explosive eruption which began on January 1 near Karymsky volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula continues as of 0430 UTC (Julian day 003). Vladimir Kirianov and Yuri Doubik of the Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, who visited the area between 0130 and 0430 UTC, made the following observations. The eruption apparently began between about 0500-0700 UTC, Julian day 001 in the north end of Karymsky Lake about 5 km south of Karymsky volcano proper. The initial stage of the eruption was apparently phreatic (steam-rich explosions) in character; Russian aviation sources reported an ash plume to 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) above sea level at approximately 2330 UTC, Julian day 001. Based on a satellite image at 0200 UTC, the plume extended at least 200 km (120 miles) southeast and south of the volcano. When the volcano was visited on January 3, activity had shifted to Karymsky volcano where a new crater had formed on the south-southwest side of the cone adjacent to the old summit crater. The new crater was approximately the same size as the old crater. A thick black ash plume reached an altitude of about 2.5 km (7,500 feet) ASL and was being carried to the east; explosions were occurring every 1-5 minutes. Fresh ash fall was widespread throughout Karymsky caldera and for a considerable area to the east and north.
Karymsky Lake, which occupies a late Pleistocene caldera and is about 5 km in diameter, was yellow-gray in color and mostly covered by steam and vapor. Karymsky River which flows out of the lake to the north was completely buried in ash and no longer visible; a new beach with numerous fumaroles marked the former source of the river.
Very strong seismic activity has been associated with the eruption with at least one earthquake on Julian day 001 having a Magnitude of 6.9. Seismic stations as far as 110 km from the volcano were recording the activity.
Karymsky volcano is one of the more active volcanoes in Kamchatka having erupted over 20 times in the past 200 years although it has been relatively quiet since 1982 following a decade of frequent eruptive activity. Periods of seismic unrest have occurred several times in the past 12 months and the volcano emits a continuous steam plume. The volcano is capable of explosive eruptions which can send ash to over 10 km (33,000 feet ASL) and continue sporadically for days or weeks; short lava flows are also a possibility. The volcano is located in a remote part of the Kamchatka Peninsula about 110 km (70 miles) northwest of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and no towns or villages are threatened. The chief hazard at this time would appear to be encounters between airborne volcanic ash and aircraft.
AVO will continue to monitor the situation in cooperation with the National Weather Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
This report was prepared by Kirianov and Doubik of the Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and Tom Miller of the Alaska Volcano Observatory.
NOTE: Due to the partial shutdown of the Federal Government, the Alaska Volcano Observatory is currently operating with reduced staff. However, we continue to seismically monitor Spurr, Redoubt, Iliamna, and Augustine volcanoes. A computerized alarm system is capable of notifying AVO seismologists during non-business hours should unusual seismic activity occur.
Terry Keith is out of the office until January 8, 1996. Tina Neal is the Acting Scientist-in-Charge and can be reached at 786-7456 (office), 277-6575 (home), or firstname.lastname@example.org (Internet).
PLEASE CONTACT AVO IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS: John C. Eichelberger Terry E.C. Keith Geophysical Institute U.S. Geological Survey University of Alaska 4200 University Drive Fairbanks, AK 99775 Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 OFF= (907) 474-5530 OFF= (907) 786-7443 FAX= (907) 474-5618 FAX= (907) 786-7425 EMAIL= EICH@GI.ALASKA.EDU EMAIL= TKEITH@TARDADDY.WR.USGS.GOV