(Reuters) – The Shiveluch volcano in the far east of Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula may be preparing for its first powerful eruption in 15 years, scientists say.
Kamchatka is home to 29 active volcanoes, part of a vast terrestrial belt known as the “Ring of Fire” that circles the Pacific Ocean and is subject to frequent eruptions and earthquakes.
Most of the peninsula’s volcanoes are surrounded by sparsely populated forest and tundra, posing little risk to locals, but large eruptions can hurl glass, rocks and ash into the sky, threatening aircraft.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), these types of eruptions typically occur three or four times a year in Kamchatka, requiring the diversion of air traffic.
Shiveluch, with a summit reaching 3,283 meters (10,771 ft), is one of the most active volcanoes on the peninsula, with around 60 major eruptions over the past 10,000 years.
It has become extremely active, threatening a powerful eruption, the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team said on Sunday.
“A lava dome growth continues, strong fumarole activity, lava dome incandescence, explosions and hot avalanches accompany this process,” the observatory said.
Domes are mounds that form from the accumulation of lava and fumaroles are openings through which hot sulphurous gases emerge.
An eruption may pose a risk to international flights and has been marked with an “Orange” threat level, KVERT said, meaning it is likely to erupt.
The volcano’s last most powerful eruption was in 2007, according to NASA.
Alexei Ozerov, director of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology at the Far East branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said on Sunday that the volcano’s dome was very hot.
“At night, the dome glows almost over its entire surface. Hot avalanches with a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 ° F) roll down the slopes, pyroclastic flows descend. This state of the dome is observed, as a rule, before a powerful paroxysmal eruption,” he said.
(Reporting by Caleb Davis, editing by William Maclean)