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Kamchatka: Maly Semyachik Volcano
July 26, 2014 16:55

Maly Semyachik Volcano (Srezannaya Mountain) is about 3-kilometers long with volcanic ridge, stretching from north-east to south-west.

Maly Semyachik is a natural monument. The origin of the word "Semyachik” associated with Itelmen word "shemech" which can be translated into Russian as "stone land" or "mountain land."

Troitsky Crater, one of the main craters of the volcano, got its name in honor of V.D.Troitsky, who was the member of a series of expeditions to Kamchatka and explored Malyi Semyachik volcano. A lake within it was first discovered and described by V.I. Vlodavets in 1946.

Troitskoye Lake is very large: its diameter is about 500-600 meters and the area is more than 200, 000 square meters. Depths range from 117 to 140 meters (in the active crater at the east wall). The water level in the lake fluctuates. In 1986 there was observed an increase up to 12-13 meters. Mineralization of water reaches 40-50 grams per liter, which is significantly higher than the salt content in seawater. Therefore, the lake water has a strong sour taste.

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Volcanologists, who examined the lake in a rubber boat, hardly reached the shore, as the acids dissolved in the water, corroded oars' aluminum blades. To reach the center of the lake they had to wear foreseeingly taken masks.

Maly Semyachik is the only active volcano in the Eastern Range of Kamchatka, the eruption dates of which are wll known. Particularly, a powerful eruption of this volcano occurred in 1804. As a result, it killed large forests; a large area was covered with gravel and sand.


Weaker eruptions were reported in 1851-1852, respectively. In 1945-1946 there occurred a strong gas release and a black cloud was spotted at a low altitude above the crater. As a result of strong emissions, the crater lake area increased by 8-10 percent. In 1952, there was an intense soaring over the volcano. This condition is observed up to now.

Fumarolic activity is being recorded in the Troitsky crater since 1946. The area of Maly Semyachik impresses with its contrasts. On one side of the ridge are desert, arid ash fields; shapeless stacks that are remnants of lava flows; "dry" rivers carved into the sand by melting snow and rainwater; rare creeping alder groves. On the other side: the high-water streams; dense thickets of creeping and below are the birch groves and huge herbs. Here occurred a phenomenon called gigantism of herbaceous plants: cereals reach the waist and the hogweed can grow 2-3 meters high. 

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Kamchadals believe volcanoes are dwelling places of dead and say that when the dead heat their yurts, the smoke can be seen over the tops. They eat, according to the natives, blubber and hunt the whales in the underground sea. The same blubber is used for lighting, but the bones are used instead of wood.

Not only Kamchadals, but Cossacks as well consider the volcano "ignition" an omen of bloodshed. The longer and stronger it "burns", the more blood to be shed, they claim. Kamchadals call mountain gods "Kamuli" or "small souls" (soul in Kamchadal language "kamulech"). These gods, according to the natives, are the enemies of man. They live on highest most smoking and fire-breathing volcanoes, causing Kamchadals not just avoid ascending them, but even coming close.

Walking trips are organized to the Maly Semyachik volcano, including environmental journeys. During this tour, if weather permits, it is possible to go down into the crater to Troitskoye Lake. Many travel agencies of Kamchatka Krai also offer the helicopter excursions, including flying around the Maly Semyachik.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Maly Semyachik Kamchatka    

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