Central Kamchatka Volcanoes, Russian Federation

The snow-covered peaks of several volcanoes of the central Kamchatka Peninsula are visible standing above a fairly uniform cloud deck that obscures the surrounding lowlands. In addition to the rippled cloud patterns caused by interactions of air currents and the volcanoes, a steam and ash plume is visible at image center extending north-northeast from the relatively low summit (2882 meters above sea level, or asl) of Bezymianny volcano. Volcanic activity in this part of Russia is relatively frequent, and well monitored by Russia's Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT).

Directly to the north and northeast of Bezymianny, the much larger and taller stratovolcanoes Kamen (4585 m asl) and Kliuchevskoi (4835 m asl) are visible. Kliuchevskoi, Kamchatka's most active volcano, last erupted in 2011 whereas neighboring Kamen has not erupted during the recorded history of the region. An explosive eruption from the summit of the large volcanic massif of Ushkovsky (3943 m asl; image left) northwest of Bezymianny occurred in 1890; this is the most recent activity at this volcano.

To the south of Bezymianny, the peaks of Zimina (3081 m asl) and Udina volcanoes are just visible above the cloud deck; no historical eruptions are known from either volcanic center. While the large Tobalchik volcano to the southwest (image bottom center) is largely formed from a basaltic shield volcano, its highest peak (3682 m asl) is formed from an older stratovolcano. Tobalchik last erupted in 1976.

While this image may look like it was taken from a passenger jet, in fact it was taken from the considerably higher altitude of low earth orbit from the International Space Station (ISS). At the time the image was taken, the ISS was located approximately 417 kilometers above the southeastern Sea of Okhotsk; projected downwards to the Earth's surface, the ISS was located over 700 kilometers to the southwest of the volcanoes in the image. The combination of low viewing angle from the ISS, shadows, and height and distance from the volcanoes contributes to the appearance of topographic relief visible in the image.

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