- 08 February 2003
- 04:43 UTC
Iturup (Остров Итуруп) — known as Etorofu in Japanese — is the largest of the Kuril Islands, being located in the Southern Group of islands between Kunashir (19 km to the southwest across the Ekaterina Strait) and Urup (37 km to the northeast across the Vries Strait). The island is home to Kuril'sk — the main settlement of the Kuril Islands.
With a highly elongated and convoluted shape, measuring around 200 km in length with a width averaging between 20 and 30 km, the island has an area of 3,200 km². Much of this is mountainous and rugged terrain bordered by generally steep coasts. Like all the Kuril Islands, Iturup is a volcanic island. It is composed of a series of volcanoes that run the entire length of the island. These include the 1,220 m high Berutarube in the south, Atsonupuri (1,206 m) in the southwest, the twin volcanoes that gave rise to the Chirip Peninsula, the Grozny volcano group in the centre of the island (1,211 m), Stokap at 1,634 m, the Medvezhia group in the northeast (1,125 m), and the 1,205 m high Demon volcano at the northeast tip of the island. The island's elongate shape has arisen by the joining together of 12 separate volcanoes and mountain massifs, separated in the past and joined today by necks and mountainous cols.
The winter scene captured in the above image (February 2003) shows the northwest coasts of the island. From mid-winter onwards ice floes from the Sea of Okhotsk are often pushed up against the coast, coalescing together to form solid ice-masses of up to 3 m in thickness that can spread several kilometers offshore. In the image large blocks of ice can be seen off the west coast of the Chirip Peninsula; in the large bay of Kuybushev and along the coast south of the Przhevalskogo Peninsula ice floes have fused together, completely choking the coastline. The ice begins to break up during the month of April and has usually disappeared by May. The Pacific southeast coast of the island is ice-free.
Iturup is one of several islands lying at the southern end of the Kuril Chain that are claimed by Japan.
image: earth sciences and image analysis laboratory, nasa johnson space center