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Kamchatka

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Klyuchevskoy Nature reserve

Tourism in Russia > Kamchatka > Nature Preserves > Klyuchevskoy Nature reserve

Klyuchevskoy Nature reserve

This nature preserve encompasses a large territory with 4 active and 8 dormant volcanoes. It has been included in the UNESCO Natural World Heritage List in the early years of this century. According to many volcanologists and experienced adventurers, the Klyuchevskoy volcano chain is one of the most magnificent and active in the world. These enormous fire-belching islands of rock reach from 2.5 to almost 5 km (1.5 to 3 miles) in height. Their slopes feature an impressive variety of landscapes and ecosystems, ranging from "lunar" landscapes, created by lava and ash, to woodlands and alpine meadows with a plethora of flowering plants. The volatile beauty of volcanoes is surrounded by lakes of crystal-clear water and is accentuated by the Kamchatka River, the main waterway on the peninsula.

The Klyuchevskoy Nature Preserve includes almost 50 glaciers. All year round they cover the slopes of the Krestovsky and Ushkovsky Volcanoes and give birth to countless streams, rivers, and waterfalls. The flowing water carves out ravines and caves in the thickness of glacier ice.

In 1975 and 1976 this place was the site of the large Tolbachinsky fracture eruption. The valley that used to be a reindeer grazing ground near the Plosky Tolbachnik Volcano was lacerated by a number of deep fractures, each of them hundreds of meters long. A column of fire 2.5 km (1.5 miles) high went up to the sky; the ash from the eruption flew up 1 2 km (7.5 miles) into the atmosphere. Rivers of lava covered an area of 40 sq. km (1000 acres) and destroyed all life in their path. A 10-meter (30-foot) layer of ash and debris settled atop the scorched land. The surrounding forests that survived the initial eruption soon died, lakes and rivers disappeared, and vast territory, once vibrant with life, became a seared desert and is now a pilgrimage destination for many scientists and tourists. Eruptions of this magnitude occur only once in 100 years. The Tolbachinsky eruption was predicted well in advance by the Kamchatka Institute of Volcanology, so no one was hurt. Needless to say, this area of the peninsula is uninhabited.

 
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