A long, thin, volcanic plume from space

By Phil Plait | July 15, 2011 7:00 am

In Chile, the volcano Puyehue-Cordón explosively erupted in June, sending thick layers of ash to the east over the country and into Argentina. While the activity has died down, an ash plume still flows from the stratovolcano, and was spotted by NASA’s Terra satellite on July 8:

Chile is on the left, Argentina on the right. The image shows a region over 400 km (240 miles) across, giving you an idea of just how long that plume is… and see all that beige covering Argentina? That’s ash. As the wind has shifted the plume has changed direction, covering vast swaths of land with volcanic ash.

NASA’s Earth Observatory has several spectacular images of the eruption seen from space, and The Big Picture has them from the ground.

Credit: NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center

I’ve collected quite a few images of volcanoes from space into a gallery slideshow. Click the thumbnail picture to get a bigger picture and more information, and scroll through the gallery using the left and right arrows.]


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Pretty pictures

Comments (12)

  1. hhEb09'1

    This image from June 13, zoomed out a little more, shows more of where that ash came from: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=50996

  2. Morning dyslexia. Read that headline as “volcanic prune.”

    Sort of makes sense, if you consider all prunes tend to be somewhat volcanic. Or rather, they tend to produce volcanic effects.

    Going back to bed now…

  3. I has been both sad and beautiful. See my town, Bariloche, partially covered by fog at the shores of the lake? I covered the first weeks of the eruption in my blog (in Spanish, linked in my name). You are welcome to visit (both the blog and the city). I was surprised to find that part of the volcanic ash was magnetic.

  4. Joseph G

    Wait a minute… The book and TV show about cataclysmic disasters… The debunking of “crazy” conspiracy theories… the fascination with pictures of volcanos…
    It all makes sense, now! Phil is an aspiring supervillain mad scientist, and he’s scouting locations to build his lair!
    I can’t believe I didn’t put all the pieces together before now. It jus

    hold on a sec – someone’s at the door. WTF is that a chimp in a robot sui heplt

  5. lqd

    Very off-topic, but can someone please tell me where the “scattered disk” of trans-Neptunian objects is located in relation to the Kuiper belt and Oort cloud? Thanks.

  6. @ ^ lqd :

    Sure. The Scattered Disk is, I gather, outside the Kuiper belt – or more accurately the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt / Trans-Neptunean / cometary belt region and contains ice dwarfs like tenth planet Eris (formerly “Xena” & catalogued as 2003 UB313.) and possibly Sedna although the latter ice dwarf planet may instead belong to the inner region of the Oort cloud.

    As I understand it, the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt objects are in long-term stable orbits resonant with Neptune whereas the Scattered Disk Objects (SDOs) are not – and many of these eventually transition to the inner solar system becoming “Centaurs” and perhaps becoming either short-period comets, or getting captured to become moons of the gas giants or even getting ejected from the solar system by the gas giant planet’s gravity.

    (Centaurs are objects orbiting between Saturn and Pluto named for the fact that the first one discovered – Chiron – and many others were named after mythical centaurs and are seen as half-cometary, half asteroidal in nature.)

    Short answer : The Scattered Disk region lies outside the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt but inside the Oort Cloud. But these regions may overlap to some extent.

    Click on my name for wiki-basics on the Scattered Disk.

    Hope that helps. :-)

  7. Dramatic volcanic photo there. :-)

    Wonder if it will cause more flight disruptions?

    Am sure that it won’t stop and isn’t causing climate change.

  8. @Messier Tidy Upper: Bariloche Airport is closed since June 4. The current tentative date of reopening is August 31 (and we are in the middle of ski season). Airports in northern Patagonia have been on and off since the eruption. Even in Buenos Aires, as of last week, there have been airports closed because of volcanic ash there (Buenos Aires is 1500 km away).

  9. @ ^ Guillermo Abramson : Thanks. :-)

  10. Neil NZ

    The Puyehue-Cordón volcano eruptions caused a great deal of grief here in New Zealand. The main ash cloud traveled around the Southern Ocean about 3 times and Qantas and Jetstar airlines suspended flights from New Zealand’s South Island to Australia for some time. Air New Zealand, however, decided to burn more fuel and fly below the cloud base.


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