Volcano on volcano action

By Phil Plait | February 19, 2010 11:00 am

I know I just posted a volcano image from the Terra Earth-observing satellite, but another just came in and it’s so beautiful I can’t help myself. So here’s a little bit of awesome for your Friday afternoon. Behold!

See? Told you.

What we have here are two volcanoes on February 13 erupting simultaneously in Kamchatka. The northern one, Klyuchevskaya, is the tallest and most active in the region. The other one, Bezymianny, is 10 km (6 miles) to the south, and is much smaller (2900 meters/9500 feet vs. 4800 m/15,900 feet) for Klyuchevskaya). Both are spewing a plume high into the air; from the whitish color it appears to be more steam than ash, though the northern, larger volcano is reported to be sending out lava and rock fountains as well. Between the two you can see some clouds, too.

I don’t suppose too many folks live near these two monsters, which is a good thing. I can’t imagine what it must look like to be, say, 10 kilometers east of the two and see them both blasting out plumes reaching up 6 kilometers (3.5 miles) high. But one day I’d love to witness something like that! Maybe from farther away, though. Wow.

Image credit: by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team


Comments (28)

  1. Gary Ansorge

    Yeah, you definitely don’t want to be close enough to be inhaling the ash. Concrete lungs don’t work too well.

    Ash, steam and lava. Wonder how/if this will have any far reaching weather implications?

    Gary 7

  2. Chip

    Wow. So primeval!
    BTW – If someone wanted to check possibly earlier views on Google Maps-Satellite, it doesn’t recognize “Kamchatka Peninsula” and sends you to a town in Romania near the Ukraine border.

  3. Is it just me? I see three volcanoes… or is the middle “plume” just a conveniently-located cloud?

  4. Jonathan

    Love the title, love the picture more!

  5. Keith Hearn

    It’s interesting that the plumes are going different directions. Klyuchevskaya’s plume is heading north, while Bezymianny’s plume is heading east.

    It must be shopped! ūüėČ

    But seriously, I wonder why they do point different directions?

  6. Moose

    I’m counting three plumes as well. The middle one is whiter than the other two.

  7. The middle one is a cloud. It had me baffled for a minute too. :)

  8. Geo-engineering (re social engineering) debates injecting money SO2 into the stratosphere to reflect insolation as H2SO4 aerosol. Russia has a zero-cost solution in full operation. Only an idiot would pay to inject SO2 (50 wt-% sulfur) as opposed to H2S (94 wt-% sulfur). Only the prince of idiots would inject H2S as opposed to leaving (adding more!) sulfur in commercial and military jet fuel.

  9. Eidolon
  10. NickBob

    Klyuchevskaya is just a little taller than my local mountain, Rainier. It’s been quiet for not quite 200 years, but some of us locals worry about how one of these marvelous overhead shots would look to the world if Rainier decided to join in on the fun overseas.

    Great pic though, I love living in the 21st century.

  11. AbuMaia

    As much as I’d hate to imply that these guys don’t know what they’re talking about, as they’re most likely the experts in the scientific and geographic areas, but I would really really like to see a ground-level image of the same area to show that the 3rd plume is really just a cloud and not a plume.

  12. barneyj

    Dare I say it? Holy Haleakala! Great image, but you really don’t want to be near it. When Kilauea is active and the winds are calm, we’re sitting in vog (volcanic fog) here. And I’m on Oahu, some 350 kilometers away. It can and does cause problems for those with respiratory issues.

  13. NASA’s Earth Observatory site (provided in sn) labels them as clouds. Which just proves that these volcanose are really on a soundstage in California ūüėČ

  14. Bunny DeVille

    You know, what we really need is that picture in stereoscope or whatever you call it. 3d thingy. That.


  15. “Volcano on volcano action”

    I am shocked, shocked that you would post volcano porn where impressionable children might be watching. Have you no shame?

  16. Robert E

    Looking at the European Space Agency page, they have similar shots from 2005. Still very impressive (from a nice, safe distance)

  17. Chip

    Put in “Kamchatka Russia” in Google satellite and you can get in pretty close for a pre-eruption view of both volcanoes. Even at a 100 miles around that whole region it looks like rough country to travel through. Of course images are from high altitude but no obvious roads or towns can be seen in the mountains. A little south of Bezymianny there appear to be crop fields so people there might have a ground view.

  18. Zane

    Bezymianny is cool because it pulled a classic sector collapse style eruption back in the ’50s, but due to the cold war, nobody in the west knew about it. – probably would have clued us in to what St Helens was going to do if we had known.

  19. Art

    Just throw a little person or a rotund woman in the mix and we’re in business!

  20. T_U_T

    @9 al then I am the prince of idiots. Because AFAIK metallic parts of a jet engine and thousand degree hot sulfur oxides don’t like each other. Or, to be more precise, they like each other too much.
    I would also add, that H2S per se is extremely toxic and a potent greenhouse gas till it gets oxidized to water( greenhouse gas too ) and SO2. I guess, I am just stupid.

  21. That’s some hot volcano-on-volcano action.

  22. Messier Tidy Upper

    Awesome volcano photo. Thanks BA for posting that – mega-spectacular! :-)

  23. DrFlimmer

    I don’t know, if this has been said already, but:

    All these volcano activities recently – the plates become instable, the core heats up. Oh no! 2012 was real! WE’RE DOOMED! RUUUUN!!!!


  24. Damn, Phil. That’s just frickin’ obscene. I thought this was a family blog.

    Nice pair, though.

  25. Susan

    Now I want this one for my desk top, stop doing this to me.

  26. DLC

    [pinkiefinger to the chin] Hmmm.. so, you have found my secret base.
    I shall have to Deal with you, Mister Doctor Plait.

  27. Nastia

    Bezymianny means “without a name” in russian – what lazy scientist didn’t even want to name this volcano?


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