Guest Videos: Shiveluch (April 15, 2023, 1858 UTC)

Update, 8:58 a.m., Pacific: In the image atop this post, see that big smoking thing more or less in the center of the massif?

That’s the lava dome.

It The dome blew up on the 11th — almost the whole thing!

Per this more recent image, the dome was smaller at the time, but still…!

And now Shiveluch is just carrying on per usual, steaming away, back at code Orange and saying “What?” to a surprised world.

Culture Volcan again:

And finally, the LIDAR view:

Update, April 14, 2023, 10:29 a.m., Pacific: The GVP report is up:



56.653°N, 161.36°E; summit elev. 3283 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On 28 March the Kamchatka Volcanological Station (KVS) reported that activity had increased at Sheveluch during the previous few days. Incandescence at the summit of the lava dome was constant and the focus of activity shifted from the E side to the NE side. KVERT reported that the ongoing eruption was generally characterized by explosions, hot avalanches, lava-dome extrusion, and strong fumarolic activity. A daily thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images during 30 March-6 April. Satellite images showed an ash plume drifting 250 km E and SE.

Seismic data around 0054 local time on 11 April indicated a significant increase in activity, as reported by the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS). According to the Tokyo VAAC the ash plume had risen to 15.8 km (52,000 ft) a.s.l. by 0110 and was drifting NW. By 0158 the plume extended over a 75 x 100 km area. KVS reported that significant pulses of activity occurred at around 0200, 0320, and then a stronger phase started around 0600. Video of the rising plume was taken at around 0600 from near Békés (3 km away) by Levin Dmitry, who reported that a pyroclastic flow traveled across the road behind him as he left the area. Ashfall began in Klyuchi (45 km SW) at 0630, and the large black ash plume had blocked the daylight by 0700. At 0729 KVERT issued a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) raising the Aviation Color Code to Red (the highest level on a four-color scale). They stated that a large ash plume had risen to 10 km (32,800 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 100 km W. According to IVS FEB RAS the cloud was 200 km long and 76 km wide by 0830, and was spreading W at altitudes of 6-12 km (19,700-39,400 ft) a.s.l.

KVS reported that at about 0930 the plume drifted over Kozyrevsk (112 km SW) and turned the day to night. Almost constant lightning strikes in the plume were visible and sounds like thunderclaps were heard until about 1000. The sky lightened up in Kozyrevsk at about 1030; residents in Klyuchi reported continuing darkness and ashfall at 1100. As the day went on the light had a reddish-brown hue due to the ash in the atmosphere. In some areas ashfall was 6 cm deep and some residents reported dirty water coming from their plumbing. At 1150 an ash cloud 400 km long and 250 km wide was spreading W at altitudes of 5-20 km (16,400-65,600 ft) a.s.l., according to IVS FEB RAS. KVERT issued a VONA at 1155 noting that ash had risen to 10 km and that it had extended 340 km NNW and 240 km WSW. According to Simon Carn about 0.2 Tg of sulfur dioxide in the plume was measured in a satellite image acquired at 1343. A satellite image at 1748 showed ash plumes rising to 8 km (26,200 ft) a.s.l. and drifting 430 km WSW and S, based on a VONA. Residents of Klyuchi measured ashfall as thick as 8.5 cm, according to the Kamchatka Branch of Geophysical Services (KBGS; Russian Academy of Sciences). In a VONA issued at 0748 on 12 April KVERT stated that strong explosions were continuing. Ash plumes from explosions rose to 8 km and drifted ESE. The larger ash cloud continued to drift and had extended 600 km SW and 1,050 km ESE. IVS FEB RAS scientists photographed the terminal part of a pyroclastic flow that had traveled 19 km SSE the day before, which had stopped a few hundred meters from a bridge on the road between Kliuchi and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

Geological Summary. The high, isolated massif of Sheveluch volcano (also spelled Shiveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The 1,300 km3 andesitic volcano is one of Kamchatka’s largest and most active volcanic structures, with at least 60 large eruptions during the Holocene. The summit of roughly 65,000-year-old Stary Shiveluch is truncated by a broad 9-km-wide late-Pleistocene caldera breached to the south. Many lava domes occur on its outer flanks. The Molodoy Shiveluch lava dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within the large open caldera; Holocene lava dome extrusion also took place on the flanks of Stary Shiveluch. Widespread tephra layers from these eruptions have provided valuable time markers for dating volcanic events in Kamchatka. Frequent collapses of dome complexes, most recently in 1964, have produced debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera.

Sources: Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT), Simon Carn, Kamchatka Volcanological Station, Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (IVS) of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (FEB RAS), Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)

The ash is still causing flight cancellations.

That’s a good cue to look at this again:

Update, April 12, 2023, 12:03 p.m., Pacific: Reportedly, the eruption continues today. The nearest village got about 8 inches of ash.

Luckily for those villagers, 50 km away, the pyroclastic flows only went 19 km.

“Only.” 19 km is an incredibly long distance for such flows. The ones that got Pompeii in 79 AD were petering out (though still deadly) at 10 km from the vent (per sources in my Vesuvius post).

Someone is collecting tweets. Here is today’s thread, including nice shot of today’s plume:

AND this, tweeted about ten hours ago now (it’s 1:25 p.m., Pacific, at the time of this edit):

Original post

This enormous massif of a Kamchatkan volcano is just north of the Klyuchevskoy group, which we have visited here (Klyuchevskoy, Kamen, and Bezymianny — pardon the rants, but that “iron curtain” is still in place),

With all these projects going, I hadn’t planned on doing an in-depth post on active, complex Shiveluch any time soon — what the heck, it’s been erupting since 1999 — but it had a spectacular blast recently and currently is still going strong out there in the wilderness, with only a few villages for human neighbors, the nearest about 30 miles away.

You’ve probably seen the videos, but here they are as I found them today:

Those men (and their rather bored-appearing dog) also filmed the two pyroclastic flows traveling nearby:

Apparently the eruption is ongoing; this was tweeted about an hour ago:

As you can see, I’ve only checked on Twitter thus far. It’s worth a closer look, since the GVP has already set this ongoing eruption at VEI 4, and I wonder if they’ll go higher.

Shiveluch does have some VEI 5’s listed in the GVP eruption history, most recently in the 19th century.

Simon Carn suggested that this recent blast might be Shiveluch’s biggest in the satellite era:

Well, tonight I’m all in, and have a full day of work planned tomorrow, but will pin this and see how things go.

More information:

Featured image: Elena Klimenko (distributed via, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

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