Sheveluch, Kamchatka, Russia


Location: 55.38N, 161.19 E
Elevation: 8028 ft (24447m)

Frequent collapse of lava-dome complexes has produced numerous debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera. The light-colored hummocky deposits in the foreground were produced during the latest collapse in 1964.
Image Credit: Photo by Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (courtesy of Dan Miller, U.S. Geological Survey).

The high, isolated massif of Shiveluch volcano (also spelled Sheveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The 1300 cu km Shiveluch is one of Kamchatka's largest and most active volcanic structures. The summit of roughly 65,000-year-old Strary Shiveluch is truncated by a broad 9-km-wide late-Pleistocene caldera breached to the south. Many lava domes dot its outer flanks. The Molodoy Shiveluch lava dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within the large horseshoe-shaped caldera; Holocene lava dome extrusion also took place on the flanks of Strary Shiveluch. At least 60 large eruptions of Shiveluch have occurred during the Holocene, making it the most vigorous andesitic volcano of the Kuril-Kamchatka arc. 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.

Image of Sheveluch from December 2002, courtesy of the Kamchatka Science Center.

Sheveluch is a great stratovolcano in North-Central Kamchatka. Faults split this volcano into two parts. The northeast side is highest and has the shape of the original volcano. This portion is not active, is covered by ice, and is separated from the southwest part by a large fault scarp (up to 6560 ft/2000 m).

The lower southwest portion of Sheveluch has a small stratovolcano cone where eruption still occur. This cone has a large caldera that opens to the south. Volcanic domes fill this 1.8 mile (3 km) around caldera. Several smaller cones are found on the western and southern slopes of Sheveluch's southwestern cone. Sheveluch erupted violently in 1854 and 1964. Sheveluch has erupted at least 28 times, its most recent eruption occurred in 1997.

Description: On September 17, 2002, Shiveluch Volcano, one of many on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, was restless. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite detected a heat signature from the crater (red dot) and a plume of ash and smoke. Some greenness clings to the lower elevations, while the rugged mountains are fading to brown with the advancing season.
Image Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC from NASA's Visible Earth

A short history of Sheveluch Activity

July 31, 1997

The alert level at Sheveluch was raised to indicate that an eruption is possible this week, after several explosions sent gas plumes high above the volcano. On July 21 and 27, gas at temperatures up to 900 degrees F (500 degrees C) rose 1000-1300 ft (300-400 m) above the dome inside the crater. Plumes from this event were blown to the southwest. These plumes extended about 30 miles (50 km) from the volcano. On July 22-26, gas explosions sent a plume up to 5000 ft (1500 m) over the crater. These plumes were blown a distance of 40 miles (60 km) to the northeast.

This information was summarized from a report by KVERT .

Fumarolic activity was observed in January 1997.

1996:In October, fumarolic plumes reached over a half mile (1 km) in height. On May 26th through July 26th gas and steam plumes were erupted to heights of 160-1000 ft. (50-300 m).

1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993 eruptions occurred but we have not yet found their documentation!

1985: Ash was explosively ejected from the crater on May 26th, August 8th, September 19th and October 25th. During the September 19th eruption an ash cloud 2 1/2 miles (4 km) high was formed.

1984: On May 22nd a single ash cloud was ejected over a half mile (1 km) into the air. This eruption made no visible changes in the lava dome's appearance.

1980: In August a lava dome was observed growing in Sheveluch's summit crater. The dome continued to grow throughout 1981 reaching a height of 590 ft.(180m). During this time a gas and ash vent formed on the dome's southeastern slope and avalanche debris built up and extended 2,300 ft.(700m) down the dome's southern slope.

1964: On November 12, a very short, powerful blast occurred, this Bezymianny type of eruption lasted for only a hour. It had been preceded by a lengthy increase in seismic activity. Then at 7.07 am when the strongest earthquakes occurred, they were followed by a huge explosion that created a large crater with a 1.25 mile (2km) diameter. This eruption destroyed Crater Top's five large domes leaving only remnants of the largest dome "Fourth top" and a huge south opening explosion crater. The northern wall of this new crater reaches a height of 2,300ft.(700m) A 6-10 mile high (10-15 km) ash cloud was ejected above the Kamchatka river valley. Lightning shot through the center of the cloud and thunder was heard in the villages of Kliuchi and Krakhtcha. The cloud moved to the southeast and created conditions of zero visibility and electrical discharging phenomena in the village of Ust-Kamchatsk. About an inch (3 cm) of ash was deposited in three hours. The eruption had deposited a flow of pyroclastic material up to 6 miles (10km) south of Sheveluch. This flow reached a maximum thinkess of 160 ft.(50m) at a distance of 3-6 miles (5-10km) and had a maximum length of 11 miles (18 km). Huge blocks of glacial ice were ejected more than 6 miles (10 km) from their parent glacier.

1944-50: The first explosion of this eruption occurred on December 23rd, over time the explosions became more frequent and energetic. Throughout the later part of 1945 ash was ejected to heights of over 3 miles (5-6km). Early in 1946 an extrusive dome named "Suelich" started to form; by the end of that year it had grown over 1,300 ft.(400m), and continued to grow another 300 to 500 ft.(100-150m) the next year. On April 6th, 1950, Suelich began to erupt explosively from its summit, but shortly thereafter died down in activity. At this time, Suelich was ~2,000 ft. tall (600m) and had a diameter of over a half mile (1 km) at its base.

1928-29: A fairly weak and poorly documented eruption occurred.

1905: Another poorly docummented eruption might have occurred.

1897: It is believed that Sheveluch's central dome was formed during this eruption.

1879-83: A dome was formed within the crater walls but was destroyed in an explosion.

1854: For over 150 years Sheveluch was silent, but on February 18th it erupted violently, nearly destroying "Fourth Top". From this explosion a 1.25 mile (2 km) diameter crater was created as pyroclastic flows extended out to the south and west. Some of these flows are almost unbeliveably long - up to 65 miles (90 km). This eruption is thought to have been more powerful than the 1964 eruption and most likely was larger than Bezymianny's 1956 eruption.

Sources of Information:

McClelland, L.; T. Simkin, M. Summers, E. Nielsen, T. Stein, Eds.; Global Volcanism 1975-1985, Smithsonian Institute (SEAN) 1989 p. 326.

Vlodavetz, V.I., and Piip, B.I., "Catalogue of the Active Volcanoew of the World Including Solfatara Fields: Part VIII, Kamchatka and Continental Areas of Asia," International Volcanological Association, Napoli, Italy, 110 pp, 1959.

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