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October 29, 1993 (Phone: 202/358-1547) Myron Webb Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Phone: 601/688-3341) RELEASE: 93-198 NASA-RUSSIAN MISSION EXPLORES KAMCHATKAN VOLCANOES Preliminary results from an historic U.S.-Russian scientific expedition are shedding new light on the geology of Eastern Russia. The data was obtained in August and September by NASA and Russian scientists using NASA's Learjet Model 23 based at the John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss. The expedition, on which a Russian served as co-pilot and translator, studied a variety of sites on the Kamchatkan peninsula to provide remote-sensing imagery and field data. These data will be used to study the geologic evolution of the volcanoes, the impact of large volcanic eruptions on the atmosphere and its chemistry. The data also will be used to model thermal and dynamical aspects of volcanoes. Carrying NASA's Thermal Infrared Multispectral Scanner (TIMS) and a Zeiss camera, the plane flew the first civilian research mission over Russian territory. "The Kamchatka area is geologically significant because three of the plates of the Earth's crust are converging in that area," said Dr. Miriam Baltuck, Chief of the Solid Earth Branch of NASA's Office of Mission to Planet Earth. "The Pacific plate, which contains most of the Pacific Ocean, is sliding beneath the

Eurasian and North American plates. When one plate descends, or subducts beneath another, it heats up and partially melts. The molten material generated from this process rises to the surface through the overriding plates and erupts through volcanoes." In the Western Pacific, this process has formed the arcs of islands that rim the Pacific and also is responsible for deadly earthquakes. The Kliuchevskoi volcano, one of the larger volcanoes on the peninsula, has been mildly active since April with small summit eruptions and emissions of sulfur dioxide and ash plumes. - more -2Kamchatkan volcanoes also are capable of more energetic eruptions, similar to the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. Such eruptions can inject ash, sulfur dioxide and aerosols_small solid or liquid particles that become suspended in the atmosphere_high into the atmosphere where they can affect global temperatures and ozone levels. The program resulted from 4 years of negotiations between NASA and the Russian Academy of Sciences, under the auspices of the Volcanology Implementation Team of the U.S.-Russian Earth Science Joint Working Group. With the support of numerous U.S. and Russian agencies a new, direct air corridor was approved between Shemya Air Force Base, Alaska, and Elisovo, Russia. This new air corridor, which avoided an exhaustive northern ferry route, should appear on future aeronautical charts. As part of the agreement, Oleg Gusev, a Russian citizen, served as co-pilot and translator aboard the Learjet. He is the first Russian to serve as a crew member on a NASA aircraft and only the second Russian to co-pilot a U.S. government aircraft -the first was in 1943 during World War II. "This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a U.S. civilian research aircraft has flown over the territory of the former Soviet Union," said Dr. Jim Hunning, Manager of the Airborne Science Office in NASA's Office of Mission to Planet Earth. "It has opened up a new avenue of research and air transportation for science and commerce." The expedition data have clarified the structure of the

volcanic areas and found evidence of the processes that created them. An image of Tolbachik Volcano, for example, showed solidified lava flows from eruptions in 1975 and 1976. The younger flow proved richer in silicon and aluminum, with the older flow richer in magnesium and calcium. The texture of the flows appears to belie the chemical analyses which shows that the older flow has the steep margins and ridges associated with a more viscous lava while the younger flow appears to have been more fluid. Another site, Bezymianny Volcano, showed many similarities to Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Bezymianny's eruption on March 30, 1956, like Mount St. Helens' in 1980, was directed largely to the side instead of upward. The Bezymianny eruption reduced the elevation of the volcano by approximately 660 feet (201 meters). The explosion is believed to have raised an ash column to altitude of more than 22 miles (35 kilometers). Inside the Bezymianny crater, a lava dome has grown to a height of 1,650 feet (500 meters). A similar dome exists on Mount St. Helens, and the temperature data on Bezymianny will be compared to that from the Mount St. Helens dome, which has been the subject of TIMS surveys over the past 4 years. The comparison data can be used to develop models describing the thermal and physical evolution of volcanoes. - more -3The floor of the Uzon Caldera, which was formed approximately 100,000 years ago, is the site of vigorous geothermal activity, including geysers and hot springs. A temperature map developed from the TIMS data will allow scientists to estimate the geothermal input to the groundwater system. Spectral data from the Gorely Volcano will allow scientists to study the structure of more than 8,000 years of volcanic flows. With this historical record, geologists can better understand how the continuing subduction of the Earth's crust manifests itself on the surface through volcanoes. Overall, the data will help scientists understand volcanic eruptions, frequency and magnitude and the effects of those eruptions on the atmosphere. The science team also will evaluate the data for development of a Volcano Global Impact Index which

would link geological and weather data and evaluate their combined global impact. - 30 Note to Editors: Photos and infrared images illustrating this story are available to news media representatives by contacting NASA's Broadcast and Imaging Branch on 202/358-1900. Tolbachik Volcano: Bezymianny Volcano: Color: 93-HC-427 Color: 93-HC-428 B&W: 93-H-475 B&W: 93-H-476