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A volcano blows its top, seen from space

7 Oct 2019, 13:00 UTC
A volcano blows its top, seen from space
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If you like volcanoes, eastern Russia is the place to be. The Kamchatka peninsula and environs are loaded with active volcanoes that erupt quite often.

South of the peninsula is a long archipelago called the Kuril Islands, dropping as far south as Japan (in fact Russia and Japan dispute the sovereignty of some of the volcanoes in the southern part). All of these islands are the tops of volcanoes, created as the Pacific tectonic plate slips beneath the Okhotsk plate to the west. There are over 100 volcanoes there, and nearly half of them are active.

One, which you'd easily miss on a map, is called Raikoke. It's only a couple of kilometers across, and has a crater in the middle 700 meters across and 200 deep. As volcanoes go it's a fair-to-middlin' one. It erupted a couple of times in the 18th century (one of which destroyed the upper third of the island!) and again in 1924. After that, it lay quiet for nearly a century.

Then, on June 22, 2019, it blew its lid off again. Now mind you, this is not a heavily inhabited region of the world (fewer than 20,000 people live in the whole archipelago), ...

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