Tourist gets dramatic volcano plume snapshot

By Phil Plait | April 2, 2010 7:30 am

soufriere_collapseA little while back I posted a dramatic satellite image of the Soufrière Hills volcano on Montserrat erupting (thumbnail on the right; click to get the embiggened shot).

Well, as from above, so it is from the side as well. Canadian tourist Mary Jo Penkala was on a plane near Montserrat at the time, and after the pilot made an announcement for passengers to look out the port window, she snapped this:


Wow! I’ve seen a lot of amazing things out my airplane window, but never anything close to this. Ms. Penkala is enjoying a bit of well-deserved notoriety for the picture. It’s amazing in and of itself, but I love how we now can get so many views of volcanic plumes: from below, the side, and even from space. These natural disasters cause a huge amount of damage and grief, of course, but the good news is that with enough study we can learn more about them, how to predict them, and when is the best time to get people out of any potentially dangerous regions.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Montserrat, volcano

Comments (22)

  1. Grrr… the linked story resizes my browser window.

    Awfully cool pic, though.

  2. gopher65

    Same here GreyDuck. There’s something wrong with that site:P.

  3. The linked story did not resize my Google Chrome window. Maybe because Google has less evil.

  4. RichW

    Always take the window seat. You never know what you’ll see.

  5. Jason

    Wait, this wasn’t a US flight was it? I didn’t think the pilots were allowed to announce anything about what was outside the windows anymore to prevent underwear bombers from knowing when to blow up the plane.

  6. Melora

    Wow! This is such an incredible photo. I can’t stop looking at it!

  7. CW

    I think seeing that on the plane would have scared me a little. Looking at the picture, on the other hand, is wow-inducing.

  8. Levi in NY

    I like things that go KABLOOIE!

  9. Jason

    Where is the Ka-Boom? There was supposed to be an Earth shattering Ka-boom!
    MARVIN the MARTIAN Pictures, Images and Photos

  10. Cheyenne

    That’s actually the result of stupid British libel laws being thrown into a volcano today. Congrats to Mr. Singh!

    Now please start writing your regular columns again sir.

  11. Bruce

    Gov. Jindal was right. We don’t need to spend government money on volcano monitoring, we can just look up volcano pictures on the internet.

  12. jcm

    Great pic.

    Ms. Penkala is enjoying a bit of well-deserved notoriety for the picture.

    But good publicity is always welcomed.

  13. John Paradox

    Duck & gopher (not to be confused with Duck And Cover):

    I always use the ‘tab’ function (FireFox, but IIRC, IE and Safari also have it) to open a link. I had no problem with resizing. I prefer FF, since it has some great add-ons for security and other uses.


    Oh.. great pic.

  14. KAE

    I clicked on the pic but it ensmalled my window. :(

  15. Zed

    And for those on the other side of the plane. Please look at the backs of the lucky people’s heads.

  16. Trebuchet

    Resized my window as well, on Firefox.

    And we need to remember that although this is a cool picture, this volcano has been a terrible tragedy for the people of Montserrat, who’ve lost their homes, livelihoods, and in some cases their lives.

  17. Gary Ansorge

    AH, mushroom clouds. Brings back fond memories of the ’60s, when we made Pacific islands go poof with our mega ton nukes.

    ,,,so much fun,,,though I expect the total power output far exceeds our puny bombs.

    ,,,and to Bobby Jindal; THIS is why we need volcano monitoring, so people like you won’t have to die.

    Humans are the funniest critters, living near things that historically go boom. Reminds me of Pompeii. Now, THERE was a party,,,for a while,,,

    All kidding aside, to the people of Montserrat, my condolences. Hope Y’All got the warnings early enough to escape the fire and ash.

    Gary 7

  18. Jadehawk

    daaaaayyyuuumm….. cool photo

  19. costas

    Isn’t it dangerous flying close to that thing?

  20. The only thing I ever see out MY airplane window are gremlins trying to crash the plane.

  21. firstmate

    notoriety … I suggest you look up the definition. Hitler was notorious. Roosevelt was famous.

    By the way there is now in place a worldwide NOTAMS scheme to warn pilots of volcanic eruptions.

    Happy landings…

  22. JB of Brisbane

    A mushroom cloud… OMG! It’s NUCULAR!!! 😉

    @costas – you would need to go much closer than that photo indicates, like right through part of it.


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