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Low-level stratus clouds approach Matua Island from the east, wrapping around the lower slopes of the volcano.Only about 1.5 km (1 mi) of the coastline of Matua Island (upper center) can be seen beneath the clouds and ash. Russia's eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, which extends far into the Pacific Ocean, includes more than 150 volcanoes.While most are not actively erupting, many are considered dangerous due to their eruptive history and proximity to population centers and air travel corridors.This astronaut photo highlights the summit crater and snow-covered slopes of Avachinshy stratovolcano (2,741 m; 8,993 ft) as it pokes above a surrounding cloud deck.The vigorously rising plume gives the steam a bubble-like appearance; the surrounding atmosphere has been shoved up by the shock wave of the eruption.
By contrast, a cloud of denser, gray ash - most probably a pyroclastic flow - appears to be hugging the ground, descending from the volcano summit.
Kozelsky is a parasitic cone, formed by the eruption of material from vents along the flank of Avachinsky. The Kuril Island chain is built from a line of volcanoes, an island arc, that extends from Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula to northern Japan.