A volcanologist from the Institute of Volcanology in Petropavlovsk, shielded from the intense heat in a reflective suit, extracts a glowing sample of lava from a flank vent of Kliuchevskoi volcano in 1983. Geochemical analysis of lava samples is used to characterize the eruption and understand the magmatic history of the volcano. Eruptions of flank and summit lava flows are common at this basaltic stratovolcano.
Kamchatka's two highest volcanoes rise above a sea of clouds. Their greatly differing morphologies reflect contrasting geologic histories. Construction of extensively eroded Kamen volcano (left) took place during the Pleistocene. It has been relatively inactive since. Its eastern (right) side was removed by a massive landslide about 1200-1300 years ago, leaving the steep escarpment. Symmetrical Kliuchevskoi, in contrast, is one of Kamchatka's youngest and most active volcanoes, growing to 4835 m in the past 6000 years.