Desktop Project Part 11: Upside down volcano plume

By Phil Plait | April 5, 2012 7:00 am

[Over the past few weeks, I’ve collected a metric ton of cool pictures to post, but somehow have never gotten around to actually posting them. Sometimes I was too busy, sometimes too lazy, sometimes they just fell by the wayside… but I decided my computer’s desktop was getting cluttered, and I’ll never clean it up without some sort of incentive. I’ve therefore made a pact with myself to post one of the pictures with an abbreviated description every day until they’re gone, thus cleaning up my desktop, showing you neat and/or beautiful pictures, and making me feel better about my work habits. Enjoy.]

I imagine it gets pretty cold in the Russian Kamchatka peninsula in winter. Even an active volcano belching out steam might not be able to help much… but it sure looks pretty cool!

That’s the Kizimen volcano, which has been erupting since late 2010. This picture was taken by the Earth Observing-1 satellite in December of 2011. As you can see, snow is abundant, except where ash has fallen and shaded the ground brown. The plume is steam, but that must freeze pretty quickly once it hits that frigid air.

Even so, thermal imagery of the site shows fresh lava on the ground is still heating the place up. But, I’m guessing given the rest of this picture, not very much!

Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: EO-1, Kamchatka, Kizimen, volcano

Comments (6)

  1. Again Dr. Plait the Astronomer shows his desire to be Dr. Plait the Vulcanologist. ūüėÄ

  2. Wzrd1

    I’m rather surprised how far the plume went and still retained heat (from the thermal imagery), I’d have thought that the plume would be below freezing at half of the distance!
    Kamchatka is one of the coldest places on the planet, so that only illustrates the tremendous heat present deep below our feet.

  3. And here, i thought that a Vulcanologist studied Vulcans. Maybe i thought they pointed telescopes at Epsilon Eridani. This is a good time of year to look.

    I suppose a Vulcanologist could study the planet once thought to exist closer to the Sun than Mercury.

  4. Electro

    In my personal experience, steam plumes turn to ice-fog in frigid weather and remain as visible columns for far longer than they do in warmer climes.

  5. Norw

    Nice shot. I thought this was another pareidolia picture. The Abominable Snowman doesn’t seem to happy having the pimple on his nose blow up, spilling it’s puss in his left eye like that.

  6. Bob Lee

    There’s “steam” – and then there’s high-altitude water vapor – aka clouds.

    The pressure drop from volcano fumerole to atmosphere at over 5,000 ft above sea level is pretty severe – enough to generate lots of water vapor.


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