Tallest Active Volcano in Eurasia

Caitlin Dempsey

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The Kamchatka Peninsula located in the Russian Far East is home to a large group of volcanoes. The area was deemed a World Heritage Site in 1996 due to it being “one of the most outstanding examples of the volcanic regions in the world.”

Featured among the volcanoes on Kamchatka Peninsula is Klyuchevskoy (also known as Klyuchevskoi or Klyuchevskaya Sopka) which reaches an elevation of 15,597 feet (4,754 meters), making the stratovolcano the tallest active volcano in Eurasia.

Klyuchevskoy is also the tallest mountain Siberia, located along the Pacific Ring of Fire in the Kuril–Kamchatka volcanic arc in the far eastern part of Russia, about 224 miles (360 kilometers) from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Klyuchevskoy is part of the larger Klyuchevskaya volcano group found on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The eastern flank of Kamchatka Peninsula is home to over 300 volcanoes, of which 29 are currently active. 114 volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula have erupted in the past 12,000 years

A peninsula with a diversity of volcanoes

This Landsat 8 satellite image illustrates just a few of the active volcanoes on Kamchatka Peninsula in addition to Klyuchevskoy. Kamchatka Peninsula is not only known for the amount of volcanoes but also for the diversity of the types of volcanoes.


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A satelite image of a green section of a peninsula with several volcanoes.
This satellite image shows active erupting volcanoes from north to south include Shiveluch, Bezymianny, Kizimen, Karymsky, and Zhupanovsky, emitting ash and gas that drift southeast. Also visible is smoke from a wildfire north of Shiveluch. Image: NASA, Landsat 8, September 12, 2014, public domain.

Russian explorer Stepan Krasheninnikov wrote about the region in 1755 stating, “Perhaps there is no other region in the world where so many volcanoes and hot springs are to be found in so small a space as here on Kamchatka.”

The northernmost volcano in the satellite image is Shiveluch, a steep-sloped stratovolcano, that has an elevation of 10,771 feet (3,283 meters) above sea level. Shiveluch is the northernmost active volcano on the peninsula. Other volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula include the Kambalny Volcano which erupted March 24, 2017 after 250 years of quiet.

Towards the south of Shiveluch lies Karymsky (elevation: 5,039 feet, 1,536 meters), a stratovolcano with frequent eruptions since 1996 that is considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Both Karymsky and Shiveluch are considered the largest of the most active and most continuously erupting volcanoes in the world. Shiveluch has had at least 60 eruptions over the past 10,000 years.

A satellite image of a snowy landscape with four volcanoes erupting.
A snowy satellite view of several volcanoes erupting on Kamchatka Peninsula on April 2, 2010. Image: Terra satellite, NASA, public domain.

Tallest most active volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula

Over the last 3,000 years, Klyuchevskoy has experienced more than 100 eruptions, including 12 since the year 2000.

A closeup of Klyuchevskoy volcano erupting surrounded by a dusting of snow.
A close up of Klyuchevskoy erupting on January 9, 2018. Image: Landsat 8, NASA< public domain.

Klyuchevskoy erupts in 2020

On October 23, 2020, astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) captured evidence of recent volcanic activity on Klyuchevskoy. Against the snow-covered backdrop, the ash-darkened peaks of Klyuchevskoy and Bezymianny are visible.

Some of the active volcanoes in the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia.  ISS photo ISS064-E-319.
Some of the active volcanoes in the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia. ISS photo ISS064-E-319.

On November 16, 2013, the ISS captured an eruption plume pouring from Klyuchevskoy. Eruption plumes emit steam, volcanic gases, and ash which can be seen streaming from the volcano. Bezymianny Volcano also appears to be emitting a small steam plume. Volcanoes Ushkovsky, Tolbachik, Zimina, and Udina can also be seen in this photo.

An eruption plume coming from Klyuchevskoy.  Astronaut photograph ISS038-E-5515, November 16, 2013.
An eruption plume coming from Klyuchevskaya. Astronaut photograph ISS038-E-5515, November 16, 2013.

In 1994, the ISS captured an enormous plume flowing from Klyuchevskoy.

Eruption plumed from Klyuchevskoya volcano.  STS068-218-007 (30 September-11 October 1994).
Eruption plumed from Klyuchevskoy volcano. STS068-218-007 (30 September-11 October 1994)

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.