The Bolshaya Udina volcano is a stratovolcano situated in the middle of the Klyuchevskaya volcano group on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. It had been previously classified as an “extinct” volcano, meaning that it hasn’t erupted in a very long time and it more than likely would never erupt again. However, experts are now saying that the 10,000-foot-tall volcano has woken up and could possibly cause an eruption as big and devastating as the one that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum nearly 2,000 years ago.
While the exact date of when the volcano last erupted is unknown, scientists have detected seismic activity, possibly indicating that the volcano has woken up. They wrote about this in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research which can be read here.
Over a two-month period last year (May and June of 2018), researchers from Russia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia conducted an investigation of the volcano by installing four seismic stations. During that time, they recorded 559 events around Udina volcano. The activity formed an “elliptical cluster” with the seismic activity occurring three miles deep. The researchers wrote, “These seismic properties may indicate the presence of magma intrusions with a high content of melts and fluids, which may justify changing the current status of this volcano from ‘extinct’ to ‘active’.”
They also noticed seismic activity that connects the Udina volcano to an area that’s believed to store magma called the Tolud zone. “Based on the results of this study, we conclude that during 2018, the Tolud magma source appeared to have built another pathway to Bolshaya Udina,” they wrote.
Ivan Kulakov, who is the lead author of the paper, told the newspaper Science in Siberia that if the Udina volcano erupted, it would be catastrophic, comparing it to the devastation Mount Vesuvius caused in 79 A.D. He told the newspaper, “When a volcano is silent for a long time, its first explosion can be catastrophic,” adding, “A large amount of ash is thrown into the air, it is carried far away, and not only the surrounding settlements, but also large territories all over the planet can suffer. Recall Pompeii: the awakening of Vesuvius was preceded by a lull for several thousand years. And the eruption in Peru in 1600 led to a cooling in Europe and famine in Russia.”
Researchers are planning to study the environment around the volcano with hopes of discovering where the magma is located. It remains to be seen when or if Udina volcano will erupt, but for the safety of those around that area – and even other parts of the world that could be affected by the devastation – let’s hope it stays asleep.