Escaped scrap scrapes steep scarp

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

[Note: At the bottom of this post is a gallery of more jaw-dropping pictures of volcanoes taken from space.]

I’ll admit it: sometimes I write posts just for the titles. But in this case I do have a very cool picture to go along with it: the volcano Batu Tara on the wee island of Pulau Komba in Indonesia, caught in a low-level eruption by NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite on August 15, 2012:

[Click to hephaestenate.]

How awesome is that? The island really is tiny, just about 3 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) across. The volcano has had mild activity going on now for about six years. The ash plume is right smack dab in the middle, rising straight up toward the sky – note the shadow on the lower left.

But what amazed me right away was the tremendous scar in the island left by previous eruptions. The summit of the volcano is about 800 meters above sea level – about half a mile! Since the island is so small, that means the slope of that runoff is really steep, probably around 45°. Technically, such a geologic feature is called a "scarp"… and now my title hopefully makes sense.

I love these images of volcanoes seen from space. We get a perspective on them that’s new, and amazing, and simply beautiful. And we learn so much! In another life, perhaps, I would’ve been a geologist. And hey, since the Earth’s a part of the Universe, it all boils down to astronomy anyway.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (17)

  1. Chris

    The Bezymianni volcano on the Kamchatka peninsula gave off a pretty substantial (12 km high) ash eruption a few days ago. Might be worth a look.

  2. Messier Tidy Upper

    Nice tongue twister BA. But how about :

    From Batu Tara Tara Battler battled the baffled battleship from her best battlements! ;-)

    (No historical incident behind that, btw, just imagination combining with alliteration.)

  3. Ten and Peller

    And then to think those vulcanos used to be dutch… *sigh*

  4. When I was on a hoñiday with my wife at Tenerife. We both didn´t like the feeling of a vulcano that close.
    It wasn´t being on an island. We live on a island (50x20km). But here the lava is, you know, dead.
    It´s quiet.
    I like quiet.
    Observatory was nice though. :)

  5. sheldonc

    I’ve noticed you have an affinity for abominable alliterative attributions.

    Carry on.

    Oh, and the photo of the Kamchataka eruption is exceptionally excellent!

  6. Ciaran

    Does the island look like a pair of buttocks expelling some gas or is it just me?

  7. Dr. Strangelobe

    Geology isn’t a real science!

  8. Messier Tidy Upper

    Batu, btw, was a Mongol Khan*
    A great-grand-son of Genghis Great
    He led his hordes to the steppes one day
    But this island? Well, gee, mate!

    Dunno if this was named for him
    Sure is far from the Golden Horde
    But Batu Tara sounds like a place
    Of which a Mongol Khan could sing.

    (Even if he was a Mongke’s uncle!** )

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batu_Khan

    ** Not a typo. Literally. ~ish. Mongke was his, well, relative anyhow.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%B6ngke_Khan & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_tree_of_Genghis_Khan )

    This late night doggrel brought to y’all by beer and exhaustion and silly mood in midst of insomnia. Apologies / enjoy. ;-)

  9. Jim Johnson

    Nice. Astronomy, geology, and sibilant alliteration all together!

  10. CatMom

    RE Ciaran:
    More like a green butterfly expelling gas.

  11. MadScientist

    The bare area reminds me of the Sciara del Fuoco on Stromboli.

  12. “Escaped scrap scrapes steep scarp”

    Sir! For that, I cannot forgive you.

  13. Matt B.

    I always thought a scarp was more cliff-like, as in the Eastern Escarpment in David Eddings’s Belgariad.

  14. Brian Too

    I read that as:

    “Volcanoes From Spaaaaace!”

    /Obscure Muppet Show Reference

  15. MikeM

    Volcanoes From Space!!! A SYFY original movie starring C. Thomas Howell, this Saturday at 8pm!!! Astounding CGI effects by first year art students!!!

  16. RAF
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