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Central Asia :: Russia Print. Page last updated on September 12, Flag Description. Central Asia :: Russia. A fortuitous orbit of the International Space Station allowed the astronauts to take this striking view of Sarychev Peak volcano Russia's Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan in an early stage of eruption on 12 June Sarychev Peak is one of the most active volcanoes in the Kuril Island chain and is located on the northwestern end of Matua Island.

Prior to 12 June, the last explosive eruption had occurred in with eruptions in , , , and also producing lava flows. This detailed photograph is exciting to volcanologists because it captures several phenomena that occur during the earliest stages of an explosive volcanic eruption.

The main column is one of a series of plumes that rose above Matua Island on June The plume appears to be a combination of brown ash and white steam. The vigorously rising plume gives the steam a bubble-like appearance; the surrounding atmosphere has been shoved up by the shock wave of the eruption. The smooth white cloud on top may be water condensation that resulted from rapid rising and cooling of the air mass above the ash column, and is probably a transient feature the eruption plume is starting to punch through. The structure also indicates that little or no shearing winds were present at the time to disrupt the plume.

By contrast, a cloud of denser, gray ash - most probably a pyroclastic flow - appears to be hugging the ground, descending from the volcano summit. The rising eruption plume casts a shadow to the northwest of the island bottom center. Brown ash at a lower altitude of the atmosphere spreads out above the ground at upper right. Low-level stratus clouds approach Matua Island from the east, wrapping around the lower slopes of the volcano. Only about 1.

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Image courtesy of NASA. Factbook photos - obtained from a variety of sources - are in the public domain and are copyright free. Agency Copyright Notice. Russia's eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, which extends far into the Pacific Ocean, includes more than volcanoes. While most are not actively erupting, many are considered dangerous due to their eruptive history and proximity to population centers and air travel corridors.

This astronaut photo highlights the summit crater and snow-covered slopes of Avachinshy stratovolcano 2, m; 8, ft as it pokes above a surrounding cloud deck. The volcano has an extensive historic and geological record of eruptions, the latest activity ocurring in To the southeast image right , the large breached crater of Kozelsky volcano also appears above the clouds. Kozelsky is a parasitic cone, formed by the eruption of material from vents along the flank of Avachinsky. Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Kuril Island chain is built from a line of volcanoes, an island arc, that extends from Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula to northern Japan. Island arcs form along an active boundary between two tectonic plates, with one being driven beneath the other subduction. Magma generated by subduction feeds volcanoes - and eventually volcanic islands - over the subduction boundary.

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Paramushir Island in the northern Kurils is an example of a large island built by several volcanoes over geologic time. This astronaut photograph shows the southern end of Paramushir Island after a snowfall. The western slopes of the mountains are brightly illuminated, while the eastern slopes are in shadow.

Four major volcanic centers create this part of the island. Fuss Peak image center left is an isolated stratovolcano connected to the main island via an isthmus. Fuss Peak last erupted in The southern tip of the island is occupied by the Karpinsky Group of three volcanic centers. A minor eruption of ash following an earthquake occurred on this part of the island in The Lomonosov Group to the northeast image center includes four cinder cones and a lava dome.

The most recent volcanic activity on Paramushir Island occurred in at the Chikurachki cone located along the northern coastline of the island at image top center. The summit of this volcano, 1, m 5, ft above sea level, is the highest on Paramushir Island. Much of the Sea of Okhotsk visible in the image is covered with low clouds that often form around the islands in the Kuril chain.

The eastern side of the Kamchatka Peninsula juts into the Pacific Ocean west of Alaska in this enhanced winter satellite image. Snow-covered peaks and valley glaciers feed blue ice into coastal waters. The Kamchatka Peninsula is home to volcanoes, 29 of which are active. For other active volcanoes in Russia, see the Natural hazards-volcanism subfield in the Geography section.

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Image courtesy of USGS. The prominent crimson streak in the center of this false-color satellite image represents the remains of a 50 km 31 mi lahar volcanic mudflow that cut a strip of barren rock through rich vegetation surrounding the Anyuyskiy Volcano. The currently dormant volcano is the orange circular shape at the right end of the streak. Remote and largely inaccessible, the Kamchatka Peninsula is a rugged collection of towering volcanic peaks, steep valleys, active geysers, and wild, snow-fed rivers and streams.

Red dots mark the locations of fires burning in countries south and east of the Baltic Sea in this early April image. The scattered fires were probably set to clear land for agricultural purposes. The Scandinavian countries, Norway and Sweden, and Finland to the north of the Sea, are still blanketed in snow. Belarus forms the lower right corner of the image.

Measured by surface area, the Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland water body. It covers roughly , sq km , sq mi and borders five countries. To the ancient Greeks and Persians, the lake's immense size suggested it was an ocean, hence its name. A large expanse of clear sky permitted this natural-color satellite image of the entire water body.

The color of the Caspian Sea darkens from north to south, thanks to changes in depth and perhaps sediment and other runoff. The northern part of the lake is just 5 to 6 m 16 to 20 ft deep. The southern end, however, plunges more than 1, m 3, ft. Just as the lake reaches a greater depth in the south, the nearby land reaches a greater height. The mountains of northern Iran line the southern end of the giant lake, and emerald green vegetation clings to those mountain slopes.

In marked contrast to the mountains, sand seas line the southeastern and northern perimeters of the lake, and marshes occur along the lake shores in Azerbaijan to the west. Multiple rivers empty into the Caspian Sea, the Volga being the largest.