Tolbachik Volcano

On November 27, 2012, Tolbachik Volcano (Tuluach) exploded totally unexpectedly for volcanologists and numerous tourists. It was the beginning of Kamchatka’s most massive volcanic eruption of the 21st century. Scientists working at the earthquake detection station near Kozyrevsk village, located 50 km from the volcano, were the first to register the glow coming from the volcano and ash emissions. 

During the next two days, the volcano was concealed from view by clouds, but the roar of the eruption was heard all the time. In Kozyrevsk and Mayskoye villages, window glasses in houses were vibrating. A Code Orange for aviation was raised to Red on November 29, as the ash emissions reached the  altitude of 4­5 km. On the same day, the volcano was examined from the air. A radial slit 5 km long was found on the southern slope of Plosky or Flat Tolbachik Volcano. 

During further flights, scientists discovered that the lower eruption center was in a 700 ­meter­long slit cleaving the old cinder cone called “Krasny” or “Red.” The main activity was registered on that cone. A 500­meters­long site was ejecting a wall of lava up to 150 meters high. Simultaneously, a wide lava flow, growing in volume with every hour, rushed down. Later, it divided into several fiery streams, wiping out and burning everything on their way. During the first days, these streams destroyed a field station of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and a Volcanoes of Kamchatka Nature Park station, located nearby. 

For 10 months of eruption, the landscape of Tolbachik’s dole changed dramatically: fields of clustered lava up to 20 meters high spread for dozens square kilometers and new cones were formed.
Until recently, few people have seen an eruption closely. The eruption of Tolbachik Volcano became an exception. Kluchevskaya Volcanic Group, which includes both Tolbachik Volcanoes (Ostry or Pointed and Plosky), has always been one of the most popular tourist routes in Kamchatka. Tourists could get there by picking up one of several shabby roads and the distance was appropriate, making it possible to eyewitness the eruption at a close distance. This provoked a huge interest in great many tourists
and adventure lovers and prompted them to hurry to the area of eruption from nearby settlements, Petropavlovsk­Kamchatsky,  and even from various parts of Russia, and of the world.

Tourists made photos in just a few meters from the edge of the cooling down lava flow, many of them
either climbed atop its hot crust or cooked food on red­hot rocks. 

The flow, which completely blocked the road, turned out to be an object of pilgrimage. People came there to have fun as if they were on a picnic site; tons of amateur photos with residents running on the lava crust were uploaded in the Internet and became available for everyone. Rescuers tried to prevent this craziness and fixed warning signs and watched not to let people approach the flow. But then the weather changed the situation – it snowed, and the overflow of Studyonnaya River made the road impassable. The lava on the road intersection cooled down, and its incandescent tongue moved farther.

Do you want to know what is currently happening on Tolbachik?
Join a tour to the volcano this summer to witness the consequences of the great and spectacular eruption, and the out­ofthis­world beauty of the surrounding scenery!