Hazards

Karymsky volcano is located on the remote Russian peninsula, Kamchatka.  Kamchatka is home to 29 active volcanoes, yet very few pose a direct threat to local populations (Kirianov et al., 2002).  However, most of them are significant threats to air traffic in the North Pacific, affecting flights between Russia, Japan, and the United States (Kirianov et al., 2002).  Over 10,000 passengers and millions of dollars in cargo fly across the North Pacific every day (Neal et al., 2007).  

Karymsky volcano emits frequent strombolian-vulcanian style ash and gas plumes several km's a.s.l.  This small gas eruption occurred in August, 2008.   A larger eruption could threaten air traffic, which is very heavy above Karymsky and Kamchatka (Photo courtesy of Pavel Izbekov - UAF).  
Karymsky volcano is located over 80 km from the nearest settlement.  As a result, typical volcano hazards such as PDC’s, tephra fall out, lava flows, landslides, lahars, rock fall, and volcanic gases are negligible (See Table 1).  However, volcanic ash and tephra often drift with prevailing winds hundreds or thousands of kilometers from the source (Kirianov et al., 2002).  Volcanic ash can erode jet aircraft compressor blades and melt and solidify onto moving parts within the jet causing engines to fail suddenly (Kirianov et al., 2002).  Consequently, volcanoes are often monitored to avoid the interaction of flying jet aircraft and volcanic ash plumes.   


Vulcanian style eruption at Karysmky 
volcano on October 12, 2009.  The 
frequent PDC's at Karymsky are 
confined to the caldera and do not
threaten any local populations (Photo
from Global Volcanism Program).  
The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallaj√∂kull in Iceland is an example of a volcano that was closely monitored.  The volcano erupted explosively and produced an eruption column that reached heights of 9-10 km a.s.l. (IVATF, 2012).  North-westerly winds carried the ash particles towards western Europe where much of the airspace was closed due to strict aviation safety regulations.  As a consequence, millions of travelers were affected all over the world (IVATF, 2012).  The closure of a large area of airspace for a period of several days to weeks had a detrimental impact on the aviation industry and the regional and global economies (Weber et al., 2011).  












Table 1: Karymsky volcano hazards assessment based on NVEWS (National Volcano Early Warning System)

Hazard Factors Score
Volcano type  1
Maximum Volcanic Explosivity Index 2
Explosive activity in past 500 years?  1
Major explosive activity in past 5000 years? 1
Eruption recurrence 4
Holocene pyroclastic flows?  1
Holocene lahars?  1
Holocene lava flow? 1
Hydrothermal explosion potential? 1
Holocene tsunami? 0
Sector collapse potential?  1
Primary lahar source? 1
Observed seismic activity 1
Observed ground deformation  0
Observed fumarolic or magmatic degassing  1
Total of Hazard Factors 17
Exposure Factors
Log10 of Volcano Population Index (VPI) at 30 km 0 to 5.4 0
Log10 of approximate population downstream or downslope 0 to 5.1 0
Historical fatalities? 0 or 1 0
Historical evacuations? 0 or 1 0
Local aviation exposure 0 to 2 2
Regional aviation exposure 0 to 5.15 4.3
Power infrastructure 0 or 1 0
Transportation infrastructure 0 or 1 0
Major development or sensitive areas 0 or 1 1
Volcano is a significant part of a populated island 0 or 1 0
Total of Exposure Factors 7.3
Relative Threat Level (Hazard Factors X Exposure Factors) 124.1
Required Monitoring Level  4
Actual Monitoring Level  3
Monitoring Gap 1
Aviation Hazard Level                                                                                                      (Max VEI * Explosive activity in past 500 years * Major explosive activity in past 5000 years * Eruption recurrence * Local aviation exposure factor * Regional aviation exposure factor)68.8

Karymsky volcano is monitored by 6 broadband seismometers and satellite imagery regularly (KVERT).  Other monitoring techniques, such as gas, hydrologic, and video are not applied regularly.  Karymsky does not have a geodetic network in place.  


Karymsky volcano produced over 20 major eruptions in the last 200 years (Karymsky Volcano).   The most recent eruptive cycle began in 1996 and continues today (VONA/KVERT).  The initial 1996 eruption produced an ash plume over 7 km a.s.l. and drifted at least 200 km southeast and south of the volcano (Karymsky Volcano).  In the last 17 years since the onset of the eruption, the volcano has produced sporadic Vulcanian and Vulcanian-Strombolian style eruptions, ejecting ash and tephra approximately 5 km a.s.l. (Smithsonian).  Table 2 is a compilation of data from Smithsonian/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Reports of ash plume heights, plume drift distances, and drift direction from Karymsky during the last decade.     
Photo of Karymsky volcano on January 2, 1996 shortly after the initiation of the current eruptive cycle.  Continuous ash and gas emission from the volcano lasted for several days.  Dense tephra fell out of the eruption column and plume, while less dense ash was suspended and carried by the wind (Global Volcanism Program). 

According to the limited data available, which has been compiled here, the average plume height in the past decade was 3.8 km a.s.l.  The average drift distance was 74 km and the approximate average drift direction was east-southeast.  However, ash plumes from Karymsky have the potential to reach heights of 10 km, drift up to 350 km in any direction, and can shift direction within a day (VONA/KVERT).  Ash fall poses a minor hazard to Milkovo, 90 km to the northwest, and to Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky International Airport, 115 km to the south (VONA/KVERT).  

The Hazard Map (Figure 1) shows areas of likely plume drift from eruptions of Karymsky volcano and the flight paths that could be affected.  Eruption plumes drifted east many more times than other directions in the past 10 years.  Figure 1 is based on the data compiled in Table 2, where ash plumes drift mostly eastward over the Pacific Ocean to a maximum of 350 km from the volcano and right through flight paths from Eastern Asia to North America.  

Figure 1: Hazard Map based on compilation of plume height, drift distance, and drift direction data of Karymsky volcano since the onset of the 1996 eruption (Global Volcanism Program).  The yellow area represents the area for which a significant ash plume is likely to drift from an eruption at Karymsky Volcano.  Orange lines represent major commercial flight routes over the North Pacific (modified from Kirianov et al., 2002).
The airspace within 350 km of Karymsky volcano is a high hazard zone where constant and consistent monitoring methods should be continued.  Risk associated with potentially hazardous drifting ash plumes can be minimized by close monitoring of seismic signals and remote sensing.  By installing a geodetic network and adding real-time video monitoring, accurate forecasting of Karymsky eruptions may be possible and risks will be minimized.  


Table 2: Eruptive activity of Karymsky volcano in the last 10 years
Year Date Height    Drift Distance Drift Direction
(km a.s.l.) (km)
2002 10-Oct 4 60 WSW
2002 10-Oct 4 SE
2002 1-Nov 4 50 E
2002 27-Nov 0.5 100 ESE
2002 1-Dec SE
2002 12-Dec SE
2003 9-Jan 2.5 50 ESE
2003 17-Mar 30 SW
2003 18-Mar 15 NW
2003 20-Mar 15 SW
2003 28-Mar 10 ESE
2003 19-22 April 1.5 35
2003 24-Apr 2.5 35 SE, SW, W
2003 14-May 1 10 S
2003 14-May 1 10 SSE
2003 14-May 1 10 SE
2003 19-May 1 45 NE
2003 21-May 1 45 N
2003 25-26 May 1 115 SSE
2003 27-Jun 3.5 NE
2003 19-Jul 3.5 SW
2003  29-Aug 4.7
2003 9-Sep 2 100 E
2003 4-Oct 1.5 30 SE
2003 7-Oct 1.5 60 NE
2003 10-Oct 85 SE
2003 16-Oct 50 NW
2003 31-Oct 65 NNE
2003 20-Dec 60 NNE
2003 21-Dec 60 NNE
2003 24-Dec 60 NNE
2003 26-Dec 60 NNE
2003 29-Dec 97 SE
2004 Jan 7 S-SW
2004 Feb 6.5
2004 11-Feb 10 60
2004  20-Feb 35 S
2004 March 6.5
2004 April 3.5 60 S
2004 30-Dec SW
2005 March 15 S
2005 April 15 S
2005 11-Jul 11 SE
2005 22-Aug 130 E
2005 31-Oct NE
2005 2-Nov NE
2005 Dec 8 SW
2006 12-Jan 9 S
2006 30-Jan 13 SW
2006 31-Jan 29 SE
2006 Feb 140
2006 Aug 200 E
2006 6-Aug 73 E
2006 16-Aug NE
2006 12-Sep 140 SE
2006 Oct 200 NE
2006 Oct 220 SE
2006 2-Oct 137 E
2006 22-Dec E
2006 Dec E
2007 Feb
2007 5-Oct 30 N
2007 7-Oct 30 N
2007 8-Oct 30 N
2008 15-Mar 40 SE
2008 3-Apr 20 E
2008 8-Apr 70 ESE
2008 13-Oct 32 NNE
2008 10-Nov 38 E
2008 10-Nov 28 ENE
2008 15-Nov 28 E
2008 16-Dec 240 SE
2008 23-23 Dec 80 E
2009 8-Jan 25 SE
2009 12-Jan 25 NE
2009 16-Jan 25 SE
2009 21-Feb 150 NE
2009 4-Mar 120 SE
2009 5-Mar 75 ENE
2009 6-Mar 160 E
2009 7-Mar 115 SE
2009 8-Mar 50 SW
2009 9-Mar 50 SW
2009 12-Mar 200 E
2009 13-Mar 130 E
2009 16-Mar 200 E
2009 26-Mar 30 S
2009 4-Jun 30 SE
2009 22-Sep 2
2009 23-Sep 4.5 E
2009 7-Oct 3.5 SSE
2009 9-Oct 3
2009 12-Oct 3.5
2009 20-Oct 3.3
2009 23-Oct 3.9 120 E
2009 24-Oct 3.4
2009 25-Oct 3.7
2009 31-Oct 3.7 180 E
2009 5-Nov 3.7 180 E
2009 8-Nov 3
2009 10-Nov 3.4 190 E
2009 14-Nov 3.7 E
2009 17-Nov 3 130 E
2009 23-Nov 4 120 E
2009 25-Nov 3.8 120 E
2009 25-Dec 6.7 SE
2010 12-Jan 3 113 SE
2010 15-Jan 3
2010 12-Mar 5.8
2010 26-Mar 4.1
2010 29-Mar 4.1 250 E
2010 17-Apr 2 130 SE
2010 20-Apr 3
2010 28-Apr 3
2010 7-May 2
2010 13-May 4.6
2010 17-May 2.5 18 NE
2010 25-May 4.3 NW
2010 28-May 3 63 S
2010 1-Jun 4 30 S
2010 6-Jun 2.5
2010 11-Jun 6.1 195 E
2010 12-Jun 5.2
2010 16-Jun 3.9 22 E
2010 29-Jun 7
2010 7-Jul 2 20 S
2010 13-Jul 2.7 W
2010 14-Jul 3.3
2010 19-Jul 1.5 SW
2010 23-Jul 3 85 SE
2010 28-Jul 2 15 SE
2010 30-Jul 2
2010 13-Aug 2.5
2010 16-Aug 3 100 E
2010 20-Aug 3.8
2010 27-Aug 3.8 23
2010 3-Sep 3.7
2010 10-Sep 3.2
2010 15-Sep 3.2
2010 28-Sep 4.5 83 SE
2010 7-Oct 5.1 33 SE
2010 7-Oct 2.5 35 SE
2010 16-Oct 2.7 SE
2010 23-Oct 40 E
2010 10-Nov 4.9
2010 16-Nov 5.2 82 NE
2010 22-Nov 5.5 15 SE
2010 3-Dec 5.3
2010 10-Dec 4.5
2010 17-Dec 5
2010 19-Dec 3
2010 30-Dec 4.3 E
2011 1-7 Jan 3.8 140 SE
2011 7-13 Jan 4.2
2011 14-21 Jan 4.6 24 SW
2011 21-28 Jan 3.8 65 S
2011 3.8 100 Ne
2011 28 Jan - 11 Feb 4.7 120 E
2011 4-11 Feb 4 160 E
2011 11-18 Feb 4 30
2011 18-25 Feb 4 38 NE
2011 25 Feb - 4 Mar 3
2011 4-11 Mar 7.3 N
2011 10-18 Mar 5.8
2011 18-25 Mar 3.5
2011 25 Mar- 1 April 5 55
2011 1-7 April 4.5 48
2011 8-15 April 11.9 SW
2011 15-22 April 3
2011 22-29 April 3.4 38 S
2011 29 April-6 May 4.9 SE
2011 6-13 May 4.2 340 E
2011 13-20 May 6.7
2011 20-27 May 3.5 38 SW
2011 27 May-3 June 3.1 10 SW
2011 3-10 June 6 254 SE
2011 1-16 June 5.5 90 NE
2011 17-24 June 3.9
2011 1-8 July 4 14 NW
2011 38 N
2011 8-15 July 4 20 SW
2011 15-22 July 4
2011 22-29 July 2.1 SW
2011 29 July - 5 Aug 5.5 E
2011 5-12 Aug 4 10 W
2011 12-19 Aug 4.2
2011 19-26 Aug 5.2 18 E
2011 7.3 65 E
2011 26 Aug - 1 Sept 3 NE
2011 SE
2011 SW
2011 2-9 Sept 3.5
2011 9-15 Sept 4.6 NE
2011 16-23 Sept 6
2011 23-30 Sept 4.5 80 SE
2011 30 Sept - 7 Oct 3.2
2011 7-14 Oct 3.8
2011 14-21 Oct 3.3
2011 21-28 Oct 3.7
2011 1.8 15 NE
2011 28 Oct - 4 Nov 4.5 130 SE
2011 4-11 Nov 3.5
2011 11-18 Nov 3.9 172 e
2011 18-25 Nov 2.8
2011 25 Nov - 2 Dec 3.8
2011 2-9 Dec 3.6 90 E
2011 3 E
2011 9-16 Dec 4.1 40 S
2011 5.2
2011 23-30 Dec 5
2012 1-6 Jan 4.5 56 SSE
2012 6-13 Jan 4.2 40 E 
2012 13-20 Jan 3.3
2012 19-27 Jan 3 70 NW
2012 27 Jan - 3 Feb 2.6 80 E
2012 3-10 Feb 4.1 10 SE
2012 10-17 Feb 4.6
2012 17-24 Feb 3.5 15 E
2012 24 Feb - 2 March 3.9
2012 2-9 March 3.4
2012 9-16 March 3.1
2012 16-23 March 3
2012 23-30 March 2.5
2012 30 March - 6 April 2.5
2012 7-13 April 2.5 15 E
2012 13-20 April
2012 20-27 April 2.5
2012 27 April - 4 May 2.3 65 SE
2012 4-11 May 2
2012 11-18 May 1.8
2012 18-25 May 2.2 NE
2012 31 May - 8 June 2.4
2012 8-15 June 3
2012 15-22 June 3.6
2012 22-29 June 3.6
2012 29 June - 10 July 3.3
2012 6-16 July 2.5
2012 13-23 July
2012 20-27 July
2012 27 July - 3 Aug
2012 3-10 Aug 3.3
2012 10-20 Aug 0
2012 25 Aug 5.8
2012 27 Aug 2.4
2012 31 Aug - 7 Sept 2.5
2012 7-14 Sept 3
2012 14-21 Sept 5.5
2012 21-28 Sept 6
2012 28 Sept - 5 Oct 4
2012 6 Oct 6.7 42 SE
2012 5-12 Oct 6.5
2012 15 Oct 64 N
2012 16 Oct 4 N
2012 19-26 October
2012 26 Oct - 2 Nov 3.5


Average Plume Height:  3.8 km a.s.l.

Average Plume Drift Distance:  74 km

Average Plume Drift Direction:  ESE



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