ISSN 10674136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2010, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 115–122. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2010.
Original Russian Text © Yu.S. Litvinenko, L.V. Zakharikhina, 2010, published in Ekologiya, 2010, No. 2, pp. 92–101.
The effect of volcanism on soil formation and plant
development is usually attributed to periodic fallout of
volcanic ash (which overlays the existing soil and plant
cover), with such an episode being followed by a long
period of relative “rest.” However, specific conditions
of soil formation and vegetation development in the
vicinity of permanently active volcanoes are also of
The purpose of this study was to reveal specific fea
tures of these processes in the zone of continuous vol
canic ash fallout in the vicinity of the active Karymsky
Volcano on the eastern coast of the Kamchatka Penin
sula. The particular tasks were as follows: to character
ize specific features of soils and vegetation accounted
for by regional volcanic activity; to reveal geochemical
specialization of soil genetic horizons, volcanic ashes,
and local vegetation; and to estimate possible correla
tions among trace element contents in fresh volcanic
ash, soils, and plants growing on them.
OBJECTS AND METHODS
Studies were performed in the vicinity of Karym
skoe Lake located in the caldera of the Akademii Nauk
volcano, 6 km from the active Karymsky volcano,
which are structurally included in the Karymsky vol
canic center of the East Kamchatka volcanic belt.
Two simultaneous eruptions in this middlemoun
tain area took place in early January 1996, one at the
top of the Karymsky volcano and the other in the
north of Karymskoe Lake, in the Akademii Nauk
caldera (Fedotov, 1996). The underwater eruption
involved an abundant discharge of basaltic pyroclastic
material, which changed the shoreline contour by
forming the Novogodnii Peninsula at the northern
lake shore and added a new mineral horizon of
medium depth (2–5 cm) to the upper part of the soil
profile throughout the area surrounding the lake.
Ash from the continuously erupting Karymsky vol
cano contributes to recent organomineral soil hori
The climate of the study region is moderately con
tinental. Its annual average parameters are as follows:
air temperature –2 to –4
C, precipitation 500–
700 mm, and humidity factor (by Ivanov) over 1.33.
The vegetation is dominated by shrub alder and
subalpine herb–reed grass meadow communities. Vol
canic ashes from the Karymsky volcano (mainly
andesitic) have served as soilforming rock for both
recent and buried organogenic soil horizons.
Soils, volcanic ashes, and plants (reed grass
, which is ubiquitous in the
region) were studied in four soil pits and five geochem
ical transects (Fig. 1). Soil pits SP1 and SP2 on the
Novogodnii Peninsula were used to analyze the upper
horizons of volcanic ash deposits, while pits SP3 and
SP4 were dug through the entire thickness of the
Geochemical Features of Soil and Plant Cover
in the Zone of Recent Explosive Volcanism
Yu. S. Litvinenko
and L. V. Zakharikhina
OOO EcoGeoLit, Mosfil’movskaya ul. 17b, Moscow, 119330 Russia;
Geotechnological Research Center, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences,
SeveroVostochnoe sh. 30, PO Box 56, PetropavlovskKamchatskii, 683002 Russia;
Received March 25, 2010
—Geochemical specialization of the soil and plant cover has been revealed in the vicinity of the
active Karymsky volcano (the eastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula), where the concentrations of most
trace elements in the soil are lower than their clarkes but those in plants exceed their contents commonly
recorded in living matter. Freshly deposited volcanic ash is enriched with movable forms of trace elements.
As a result of hypergenic processes, they are dissolved and transferred to ground and surface waters, which
accounts for a rich mineral composition of vegetation.
: soils, plants, active volcanism, geochemistry.