In October 2013, Zhupanovsky roared to life for the first time since the 1950s. In the 30 months since then, the volcano has sporadically spewed ash and steam plumes over the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean. The complex of four overlapping stratovolcanoes is prone to phreatic eruptions, in which underground water is instantaneously vaporized as it mixes with hot rock beneath the surface.
At 10:55 a.m. local time on February 13, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a natural-color image (top) of an ash plume arising from Zhupanovsky volcano in far eastern Russia. Nearly two hours later (12:40 p.m. local time), the MODIS instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a view of the same area.
Turn on the image comparison tool to view the changes in the plume, which moves southeast over the Pacific Ocean and becomes more diffuse. Note, too, the subtle changes in sea ice and cloud cover offshore from Kamchatka.
According to the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT), the volcano emitted smaller plumes after minor eruptions on February 5, 7, and 9. In the morning on February 13, 2016, an explosion lofted ash, steam, and gas 10 kilometers (33,000 feet) above sea level, prompting a code-red warning for airplane traffic in the region. Hot volcanic ash can damage the exterior of airplanes and clog jet engines, causing them to fail. The threat level from Zhupanovsky has since been lowered to orange.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.