Photo: Russian Volcano Carves Lava River

Tolbachik volcano
Fresh basaltic lava coats the slopes of Tolbachik volcano, in Russia's Kamchatka peninsula, in a NASA satellite image taken March 6. (Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

Fresh lava flows down Tolbachik volcano in Russia's Kamchatka peninsula in a new space snapshot from NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite.

The fiery volcano erupted on Nov. 27, 2012, pouring fast-moving basalt lava through snow and ice on its steep flanks. A near-permanent ash plume rose from Tolbachik, visible in the March 6 satellite image.

The volcanic edifice records a complex geologic history. The western half of Tolbachik is a steep-sided stratovolcano, like Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens in Washington, according to NASA's Earth Observatory. The eastern half is a broad, flat shield volcano, like Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, with nested calderas at the summit. Calderas are bowl-shaped depressions left behind when a volcano violently explodes, emptying its magma chamber.

With more than 300 volcanoes crowded into a California-size peninsula, Russia's Kamchatka is home to the world's highest concentration of active volcanoes. Only 29 are currently active, according to the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program.

Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @OAPlanet, Facebook or Google+. Original article on LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.

Contributing Writer
Becky Oskin covers Earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.