Tolbachik – active and inactive

Here are two views of the active cone of Tolbachik volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia. The first photograph I took on during the 2012 eruption, on 1 July 2013, a few months after the main eruption took place. As you can see the lava lake was visible and there was a lot of activity. Lower down the slope rivers of lava ran down towards the plains and two more vents continued to erupt with lava and spew gas.

Looking into the crater

The devil’s cauldron: Tolbachik volcano 1 July 2013

The second photograph I took on 20 July 2014 during my 150km trek around the central group of volcanos. As you can see the lava lake was no longer visible and the activity had ceased. Lower down the slope, while the rivers of lava had stopped running, the lava was still hot – too hot to touch in some places. There were a few vents still spewing very hot gas into the air. We had to approach these vents with great care as if the wind direction changed you had to jump to get out of the way as the blast of hot air was extremely hot. We saw no evidence of red hot lava though.

We came across a number of volcanologists clamouring over the rubble with their gadgets and instruments conducting research.

Tolbachik volcano Kamchatka

The devil’s lair: Tolbachik volcano 20 July 2014

We walked around the edge of the caldera and collected lava rocks as souvenirs. Wisps of gas continued to flow from cracks in the ground and much of the rock was still hot to touch. Tolbachik erupted last year after a gap of nearly 40 years. I wonder when the next eruption will be.


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