Southern Paramushir Island in the Kuril island chain in Russia is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 23 crew member on the International Space Station. The Kuril island chain consists of a line of volcanoes, many of which have been historically active, that extends from the Kamchatka Peninsula to northern Japan. This line of island volcanoes is known to geologists as an island arc. Island arcs form along an active geologic boundary, typically marked by a deep undersea trench, between two tectonic plates with one being driven beneath the other (a process called subduction). Magma generated by this process feeds volcanoes — and eventually, volcanic islands — over the subduction boundary. Paramushir Island in the northern Kurils is an example of a large island built by several volcanoes over geologic time. This photograph shows the southern end of Paramushir Island after a snowfall. There are four major volcanic centers that form this part of the island. Fuss Peak (center left) is an isolated stratovolcano connected to the main island via an isthmus. The last recorded historical eruption of Fuss Peak was in 1854. 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 1952. The Lomonosov Group to the northeast (center) includes four cinder cones and a lava dome that produced several lava flows extending from the central ridge to the east, northeast, west, and southeast. There have been no recorded historical eruptions from the Lomonosov Group of volcanoes. The most recent volcanic activity (in 2008) occurred at the Chikurachki cone located along the northern coastline of the island at top center. The summit of this volcano (1816 meters 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 typically form around the islands in the Kuril chain. The clouds are generated by moisture-laden air passing over the cool sea/ocean water and typically wrap around the volcanic islands.
Image/caption credit: NASA
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