Mutnovsky volcano in Kamchatka
Mutnovsky volcano is situated to the south of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky city, approximately 75-80 kilometers far away from the city. The locals and experienced travelers recognize it even if they are in the city, but it is difficult for other people to define it in the mountain range and easily confused with another mountain.
On the map
The coordinates of the volcano is the following: 52°27′6″N, 158°11′37″E
Mutnovsky volcano has a height of 2322 meters above the sea level.
This is one of the most active volcanoes in Kamchatka. If you look at it from the shore of Avacha Bay, to the left from Vilyuchinsky, you will be able to see constantly rising columns of steam in case of good weather. The volcanic manifestations are represented mainly by fumarole activity and escaping columns of steam into the air reaching the height of one kilometer above the mountain range.
The terrain of Mutnovsky is partially situated in the area of South Kamchatka Sanctuary (nature reserve) which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996 in the category "Volcanoes of Kamchatka". There are interesting volcanoes in the neighborhood, such as: Gorely, Vilyuchinsky, as well as Zhirovsky.
This place is most popular for tourists from around the world, because of small remoteness from the city and opportunity to see active volcanic manifestations. The stunning views which are concealed by the volcano will be in your mind for a long time.
Mutnovsky is a volcano with a complex structure and an interesting history. Now this is a mountain range which was created by 4 merged cones. There are two the most visible cones: the southwest and northeast craters. They were formed in several stages during the explosion and now the diameter of the craters reaches about 2 kilometer and they has a depth of about 400 meters. The southwestern crater is filled by glacier at this time. The slopes are covered with numerous cinder cones and solidified lava flows.
The Active Funnel (crater) is situated to the west of the main craters. This is the youngest and the most active crater of Mutnovsky volcano. The last eruption occurred in 1960-1961. There you will be able to see active volcanic manifestations like in the Northeast crater. Nowadays the fumaroles, hot springs, emitting steams, as well as boiling mudpots create clouds of steam that can be seen from many kilometers away.
Fumarole is a vent from which volcanic gases are emitted into the air. Carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur dioxide, as well as water evaporation which are emitted from vents can reach enormous temperature. Thus, it was recorded the temperature of 540 Celsius degrees in 1983. Along the edges of the fumaroles you will be able to see the so-called sulfur domes with specific yellow color, which are formed by sulfur condensing from the gas. They are very fragile and crumble in hands.
The glaciers with blue color ice covering the crater occasionally fall under the influence of hot vapors and create small lakes. If water accumulates above a vent from which the gases are emitted, then a unique boiling mud pots are appeared. They may be with different colors, including red, depending on the minerals composition.
Nowadays "The Black Cauldron" attracts a lot of attention in the crater of Mutnovsky. The gas coming out of the surface to the small lake made the water very acidic. Such water dissolves rocks, and it looks very black because of the high content of sulphides. If you also imagine active bubbling you will get a whole unique picture.
The walls of the Mutnovsky volcano’s crater were painted with bright colors because of constant action of fumaroles for many thousands of years. Now, when travelers reach the crater, the riot of color opens before them: blue glaciers, red and black mudpots, yellow sulfur deposits, the slopes painted with all types of colors.
The eruption of the volcano Mutnovsky
Mutnovsky is still considered active volcano. The Active Funnel (crater) erupts more than other ones recently. About 10 eruptions with different power have been happened over the past hundred years. The last one was recorded in March 2000. As a result of volcanic explosions with emitting hot gases, the crater was formed which has a diameter of 200 meters.
Mass of gases and debris which are squeezed out during the volcanic explosion reached the height of 2.5 kilometers. Hot mudflows strip down the slopes of the volcano with the height of 600 meters in the northeasterly direction. Later the crater was filled with water from melted glacier. Now the lake was frozen and it almost doesn’t melt, it means ending of thermal activities.
One more interesting fact is that the similar eruption was recorded in the 60s of the 20th century. Just in the same way, the crater warm lake was formed, but it had been cooling and completely filled with glacier. It could be said that the process of explosive eruptions is typical for this place and we can expect similar situations in the future. The basins of the Falshivaya and Mutnaya rivers are also located in the dangerous area.
The waterfall on Mutnovsky
The Vulkannaya river is released by the melting of glaciers and snowfields. The river dissolves a large amount of minerals, sulfuric acid, arsenic and other elements and flows into the Mutnaya river which is lifeless till flowing into the ocean. It is possible that the river’s name gave the name for Mutnovsky volcano.
The Vulkannaya river going out the crater flows along the eruption places formed by solidified lava, and falls from the height of 80 meters to the canyon called "Dangerous Canyon". The edges of this canyon is steep and even in some places they are ready to crash down.
Ice Caves of Mutnovsky volcano
The water, which was heated up due volcanic activities, flows down the slopes of Mutnovsky volcano and sometimes creates labyrinths in glaciers and snowfields.
If you enter one of these labyrinths, you will be surprised by beauty of sunlight which was penetrated through the dome of the ice caves.
It is not always possible to see this nature miracle, since it depends a lot on weather and snow level.
Geothermal Power Station
Mutnovsky Power Station is located in the northeastern from the volcano. Using the natural warmth of the Earth the station produces electric energy with power up to 50 Megawatt. There are a few geothermal power plants meeting the 30% of energy needs on the Kamchatka peninsula. Thus, the fuel is saved which is imported to the peninsula.
Dachnye Hot Springs is another place for visiting which is located near Mutnovsky, in the base of Skalistaya. This is the same fumarole field, the gases of which heats the water. Everyone can bath in these springs, and some sites are specifically equipped for bathing. You also can often hear the name of this place as "Small Valley of Geysers," but this is wrong since there are no geysers there. Despite this, the proximity to Mutnovsky volcano makes them popular to visit.
Alpine tundra surrounds the volcano.
Mutnovsky volcano in winter
In winter this place is no less stunning but you will be able to reach it only by snowmobile after receiving a necessary permission from the nature reserve.
Going on a trip on a sunny and snowy day, at first you need to head through the Vilyuchinsky pass from where you will see the wonderful expanses of our Earth.
Don’t forget to visit Dangerous waterfall! In winter the water is not full frozen – the streams heated by the crater flows down icy slopes. It fumes, sparks on the sun and creates a unique contrast with the uncovered walls of the canyon.
Hiking up to the place where glaciers turn into water flows; we will leave our snowmobile near the entrance to the broken crater and go by foot there.
In winter the volcanic manifestations look more unreal in the comparison with the summer period.
Climbing to the volcano Mutnovsky
Ascent to the Mutnovsky is very popular for locals and tourists arriving to Kamchatka. Ascent is not difficult and takes a few hours. The main goal is not to reach the summit but to explore the ruined crater. Taking a trip to the plateau of Mutnovsky tourists usually hike up another volcano located in the neighborhood – Gorely.
The following tours include climbing the volcano and exploring the crater: