Russia’s Plosky Tolbachik Volcano Erupts After Almost 40 Years


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Eruptive History of the Tolbachik Volcano

Kamchatka peninsula has many volcanoes. Image credit: NASA

Plosky Tolbachik is part of a volcanic massif: the Global Volcanism Program notes that it formed around 6.500 years ago as a result of a major eruption of the neighbouring Ostry Tolbachik.

It is a shield volcano, of a type characterised by longer-lasting lava flow eruptions, rather than spectacular explosions (this type of eruption is also known as a Hawaiian eruption).

Information from the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) shows that the volcano erupted frequently during the 18th century and remained dormant for over a hundred years, before a series of 11 eruptions was recorded between 1931 and 1976.

After almost forty years’ quiescence, Plosky Tolbachik began erupting once more on 27 November 2012 and although it’s impossible to be certain, it seems likely to continue.

World Ending Due To Volcano Risk?

No. The eruption of Russia’s volcano around the December 21 (end of the world) timeframe is pure coincidence.

It seems likely that Plosky Tolbachik will pose little risk to humans, partly because of the relatively gentle nature of its eruptive activity, and partly because of its location.

The main area of difficulty the volcano might potentially cause lies in the possible disruption of air traffic caused by its ash cloud: KVERT’s current alert suggests the possibility of some disruption if explosive activity causes ash clouds rising to an altitude of 10-15 km, although such activity can’t be predicted with any certainty.


Daily Telegraph. Russian volcano, Plosky Tolbachik, erupts spewing lava and ash. (2012). Accessed December 20, 2012.

Global Volcanism Program. Tolbachik.  (2012). Accessed December 20, 2012.

Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team. Plosky Tolbachik Volcano.  (2012). Accessed December 20, 2012.

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