Repost: Bezymianny, the “Nameless” Volcano (and a rant)

This post is from 2020. I decided to continue my “stone-torch” focus on Russian volcanoes with the few remaining posts I have done in the past for three reasons:

  1. Doing those posts introduced me a little to the real Russia, which was a surprise after I had grown up in the duck-and-cover days and feared/hated the USSR through its collapse in 1991.

    These posts focus on volcanoes, but there is a village not too far away as well as other settlements. I wonder what those Russians are like (and I hope the volcanoes nearby don’t harm them).

  2. I’m tired of hate. Russia as a nation and its leaders are being properly condemned for their aggression against Ukraine (link to CSPAN’s coverage of Ukrainian President Zelensky’s address to Congress; YouTube makes you sign in, presumably because of that video he shows, the likes of which I haven’t seen since media coverage of Viet Nam in the early 1970s), but Russian people — at least before the new “iron curtain” descended on them — also protested the move as best they could, from the little I saw online and in English. Good for them!

    I don’t hate them, but I see and hear some reactions around me that are just a return to knee-jerk Cold War hatred. No. Occasions of hatred are not settled by hatred, as the Buddha pointed out; they are settled by absence of hatred.

    That absence of hatred on both sides has increased since 1991, freeing us all a little, and I will not support hatred’s return now. There are probably many people of goodwill in all this, everywhere; I think we outnumber all the true haters as well as the profiteers.

    But it’s going to take some time, and in the meantime, it’s good to keep talking; why not contribute to that by checking out some interesting volcanoes, several thousand miles from the current war zone?

  3. Over the last few decades I have occasionally seen comments from people in other countries saying that they like the American people but have concerns about the US government’s actions sometimes. That’s reasonable, and I’m glad not to be held personally responsible for things like Grenada, Panama, arms for hostages deals, and even nastier things (yeah, my age is showing there).

    Russian people would probably like to be seen that way, too. But unfortunately for them, they do not have freedom to speak to the world and lack the institutional tools to change government mistakes.

    The world needs to be shining a light past their “iron curtain” bars to help them see their way, particularly those born after 1991, not abandoning them.

    It’s a wise thing to do.

    One thing history shows is don’t invade Russia in winter Russian problems are best solved Russians.

Sorry for the rant; prefaces on the other Kamchatka volcano posts won’t be this long.

Here is another view of “Nameless,” the volcano we met last week.

Pretty, no?

Yet this is a very complicated part of Kamchatka.

Perhaps the easiest approach here for us laypeople is to think of that picture of Bezymianny as a crime scene photograph — a murder mystery.

Here’s why.

You can’t see them, but two of Eurasia’s highest volcanoes are just off to the right.

Each towers more than half a mile over little Bezymianny.

The closest of these bullying heavyweights is called Kamen. Its snowy flank forms the right-hand background of our picture.

And there sits Bezymianny, steaming innocently in the morning sun, while all around her lies part of Kamen’s cold corpse (those foothills in the foreground).

I told you it’s a murder mystery. That’s not steam — it’s a smoking gun!

Or is it?

Holmes takes the case

Small size, 25-mile-high eruption column in 1956. Is this suspect given to overcompensation and edifice envy? (Image: Source, in Russian)

Now we’re in the Land of Stone Torches here, but Kamen is dead (as far as anyone can tell). (Churikova et al., 2012; KVERT)

About 1,200 years ago, Kamen’s eastern flank collapsed. So did a small part of nearby Zimina Volcano.

Geologic evidence shows that the suspect Bezymianny, located on Kamen’s southeastern flank, was probably erupting at the time.


Probably not. Earthquakes during that eruption could have shaken down Kamen’s weak rock and affected Ziminy, too. (Ponomareva et al.)

Of course, the “murder mystery” approach only goes so far — Kamen didn’t actually “die” 1,200 years ago.

It has had no known eruptions for ten millennia or more, while almost all of Bezymianny only goes back some 4,700 years.

However, there was an older “Pra-Bezymianny” here, starting about 11,000 years ago.

And Sherlock Holmes would certainly raise an eyebrow upon learning that Bezymianny has taken over Kamen’s old magma system! (Churikova et al, 2012, 2013; Thelen et al.)

So let’s carry on with it.

Here’s an appropriately lit picture of the “crime scene.”

That’s the corpse — extinct Kamen — in the middle. (Image: J. Allen/NASA via Wikimedia, public domain)

Did Bezymianny have:

  • Opportunity? Check.
  • Motive? Check (the magma system).
  • Means? That depends on what’s going on underground, where all the inciting action is.

Watson, look! There is at least one more active individual here.

A little investigation shows that it is big — much larger than the suspect, Bezymianny — and also violent.

Beautiful, beautiful violence . . .


That is not a smoking gun, Watson — it is an assault weapon firing in full auto mode.

Although they appear to be separate entities on the surface, I believe that there may be deeply hidden connections between this violent individual and the suspect Bezymianny.

The two, after all, are only six miles apart.

And in between them? The remains of poor Kamen.

Furthermore, the Baker Street Irregulars — in this case, Churikova et al., 2012, 2013; and Thelen et al. — have linked Bezymianny to the deceased. They also have found some extraneous material near the corpse that may be connected to our mystery guest.

I have also studied a map, which clearly shows a cluster of volcanoes here in Central Kamchatka.

Bezymianny, the late Kamen, and this stranger are at the group’s center.

These are just the tallest ones. Their peaks rise above a cloud deck, not snow fields. Note the plume coming from Bezymianny.
(Image: NASA)

So close together, yet each one — there are many more under the clouds — so different from the others.

Watson, something rather complicated is going on here below Earth’s surface, but what could it be? (A clew, particularly that red part at the end, which is also seen at the start of another clew. )

Data! We must have more data!

Until additional information becomes available next Sunday, let us possess our souls in patience and content ourselves with adding Bezymianny to the scrapbook.


55.972° N, 160.595° E, in Kamchatka, Russian Federation. The GVP Volcano Number is 300250.

Nearby Population:

Per the Global Volcanism Program:

  • Within 5 km (3 miles): 0
  • Within 10 km (6 miles): 0
  • Within 30 km (19 miles): 47
  • Within 100 km (62 miles): 11,728
  • Overhead: Local air traffic and many international flights between Asia and North America.

Current Status:

Aviation Code Yellow. (Note: Last update seems to be September 2021.)

Update, March 18, 2022: Volcano Discovery reports code Orange and shares a satellite image from the 16th showing ash drifting from the volcano.

A little more investigation online revealed this thread:


  • Eruption styles: Lava extrusion and domes (sticky “gray” lava, not the runny “red” Hawaiian style), explosions, pyroclastic flows. Bezymianny erupts once or twice a year these days. It had been sleeping for roughly a thousand years before it stirred in 1955-56 with an eruption sequence that was eerily similar to what happened at Mount St. Helens in 1980, down to and including an enormous landslide, lateral blast, and Plinian eruption column. Since then, Bezymianny has worked hard at rebuilding its cone, and the volcano is expected to return to its pre-blast appearance in about 15 years, barring surprises. (Bogoyavlenskaya et al.; Ponomareva et al.; Shevchenko et al.; Thelen et al.)
  • Biggest recorded event: The 1956 eruption, VEI 5.
  • Most recent eruption: Ongoing. Volcanologists report that Bezymianny has started a new dome.
  • Past history: See the GVP for details.


    Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT), Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. (Again, the last update seems to be September 2021.)

    Tokyo VAAC

    Webcams (if your browser doesn’t translate, scroll down to Безымянный ).

    Featured image: G. E. Bogoyavlenskaya/KVERT


    Some of these sites are in Russian and were translated by the browser.

    Belousov, A.; Voight, B.; Belousova, M.; and Petukhin, A. 2002. Pyroclastic surges and flows from the 8–10 May 1997 explosive eruption of Bezymianny volcano, Kamchatka, Russia. Bulletin of Volcanology, 64(7): 455-471.

    Bogoyavlenskaya, G. E.; Braitseva, O. A.; Melekestsev, I. V.; Kiriyanov, V. Y.; and Miller, C. D. 1985. Catastrophic eruptions of the directed-blast type at Mount St. Helens, Bezymianny and Shiveluch volcanoes. Journal of Geodynamics, 3(3-4): 189-218.

    Churikova, T. G.; Gordeichik, B. N.; and Ivanov, B. V. 2012. Petrochemistry of Kamen volcano: A comparison with neighboring volcanoes of the Klyuchevskoy group. Journal of Volcanology and Seismology, 6(3): 150-171.

    Churikova, T. G.; Gordeychik, B. N.; Ivanov, B. V.; and Wörner, G. 2013. Relationship between Kamen Volcano and the Klyuchevskaya group of volcanoes (Kamchatka). Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 263: 3-21.

    Global Volcanism Program, 2020. Report on Bezymianny (Russia). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 April-21 April 2020. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

    ___. 2020. Kamen
    Last accessed September 15, 2020.

    Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT).
    2020. Bezymianny Volcano. Last accessed September 15, 2030.

    Koulakov, I.; Abkadyrov, I.; Al Arifi, N.; Deev, E.; and others. 2017. Three different types of plumbing system beneath the neighboring active volcanoes of Tolbachik, Bezymianny, and Klyuchevskoy in Kamchatka. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 122(5): 3852-3874.

    Oregon State University: Volcano World. 2020. Bezymianny. Last accessed September 15, 2020.

    Ponomareva, V. V.; Melekestsev, I. V.; and Dirksen, O. V. 2006. Sector collapses and large landslides on Late Pleistocene–Holocene volcanoes in Kamchatka, Russia. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 158(1-2): 117-138.

    Shapiro, N. M.; Sens-Schonfelder, C.; Luhr, B. G.; Weber, M.; and others. Understanding Kamchatka’s extraordinary volcano cluster. Last accessed September 15, 2020.

    Shevchenko, A. V.; Dvigalo, V. N.; Walter, T. R.; Mania, R.; and others. 2020. The rebirth and evolution of Bezymianny volcano, Kamchatka after the 1956 sector collapse. Communications Earth & Environment, 1(1): 1-15.

    Sorenko, V. A.; Droznina, V.; Ivanova, P. I.; and others. 2004. Bezymianny, in Active Volcanoes of Kamchatka. Last accessed September 15, 2020.

    Thelen, W.; West, M.; and Senyukov, S. 2010. Seismic characterization of the fall 2007 eruptive sequence at Bezymianny Volcano, Russia. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 194(4): 201-213.

    Volcano Disovery. 2020. Bezymianny Volcano. Last accessed September 15, 2020.

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