Natural Processes Caused Environmental Disaster in Avacha Bay

Участники экспедиции на Камчатку. Фото: пресс-служба Кроноцкого заповедника

The reasons for the negative processes in the ecosystem of Avacha Bay in September 2020 are of a natural origin. Scientists have not identified geochemical anomalies of anthropogenic origin, which is confirmed by the data of the expedition to Kamchatka carried out as part of the project of the Russian Geographical Society.

At a meeting at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, Sergey Chalov, the head of the RGS grant project, associate professor at the Faculty of Geography of Moscow State University, spoke about the preliminary results of the project "Kamchatka expedition: comprehensive environmental assessment of the rivers of the Avacha volcano group in Kamchatka". In his report, he presented data on the features of the migration of chemical elements and compounds from the catchment area to Avacha Bay, and also assessed the possible impacts of river runoff on the ocean ecosystem.

The specialists from Kronotsky Reserve, the Faculty of Geography of Lomonosov Moscow State University, the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, and other leading Russian research institutes participated in the work of the field teams of the project "Kamchatka expedition: comprehensive environmental assessment of the rivers of the Avacha volcano group in Kamchatka". The scientists paid special attention to the consequences of mudflows (lahars) from the slope of Zhupanovsky Volcano, the pyroclastic material of which could have an impact on the ecosystems of the Nalycheva River and the coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean.

From May to the end of summer 2021, samples were collected to determine the microelement composition of the river waters. The expedition worked on watercourses flowing into Avacha Bay. Studies were also carried out in areas of possible anthropogenic impact located in the catchment area. These include military proving grounds and Kozelsky pesticide landfill. During the expedition, a large-scale sampling of soils from potential sources of toxic elements and compounds was carried out.

According to the expedition, the chemical composition of the river runoff into the ocean is almost entirely (95%) determined by the erosion of sedimentary rocks that make up the slopes of the Avacha volcano group and lahar deposits formed at the foot of Zhupanovsky Volcano. Anomalies of anthropogenic origin have not been identified in the territory of this basin.

In September 2020, a mass death of representatives of local flora and fauna occurred off the coast of Avacha Bay. In October of the same year, scientists noted that the cause of the die-off was most likely natural processes.