Plate tectonics is responsible for the many volcanoes on Kamchatka Peninsula. The Pacific Plate is slowly colliding with and sliding beneath the Okhotsk Plate. As rock from the Pacific Plate descends and encounters higher pressures and temperatures, it melts into magma. Over time, magma accumulates and migrates up toward the surface, causing volcanic eruptions.
Long before the discovery of plate tectonics, Kamchatka’s many volcanoes and eruptions were woven into a rich tapestry of myths and creation stories. According to Koryak folklore, the raven-like deity Kutkh created Kamchatka by dropping a giant feather on the Pacific Ocean. Each of the first generation of men became one of Kamchatka’s mountains at death; many of these mountains became volcanic because the men’s hearts burned so passionately for a beautiful woman that Kutkh had also created near the beginning of time.
In 2013, another NASA satellite collected imagery of Shiveluch, Bezymianny, Tolbachik, and Kizimen.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Robert Simmon, using Landsat 8 data from the USGS Earth Explorer. Caption by Robert Simmon and Adam Voiland.