Tag: EO-1

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

Desktop Project Part 7: A new volcano parts the Red Sea. Kinda

By Phil Plait | April 1, 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.]

It probably won’t surprise you to hear I’m not exactly a Biblical literalist. Still, parts of the Bible are known to be based on actual events, so when something turns up that sounds like one of the stories come true, it’s not always surprising.

Still, I always figured the parting of the Red Sea was wholly fictional. But now something has turned up hat makes me wonder if it could’ve sparked — literally — the legend: a volcano has poked its head up from above the waters of the Red Sea.

Here’s the scene on October 24, 2007, as seen by the Earth Observing-1 satellite:

[Click to enhaphaestenate.]

That all looks pretty normal. Calm seas, a couple of islands (Haycock Island to the north (left), and Rugged Island to the south, both about a kilometer long), no biggie.

Now take a look at the same scene on December 23, 2011:

[Click to Cecilbdemillenate.]

Holy smoke! Look at that: a whole new volcano! This is happening off the coast of Yemen near a group of islands called the Zubair Group. This region is in a rift zone, where two tectonic plates are pulling apart, so volcanic activity isn’t too surprising.

And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if something like this were the genesis* of the story from Exodus. A big eruption could cause big waves, flooding, disasters on a smallish scale… and over time the story grew, had bits added to it, and next thing you know there’s an overwrought movie with Charlton Heston yelling at the water and shaking a stick at it.

To me, the story of science is always better than the ones we humans make up or embellish, though. Look at that: a brand new volcano, born right before our eyes, and all courtesy of space travel, satellites, good detectors, and a burning, unending desire to understand the world better.

There’s a revelation for you.

Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 team.


*HAHAHAHAHAHA! I kill me.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures, Religion

Desktop Project Part 4: Underwater volcano in teal

By Phil Plait | March 29, 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 love pictures of volcanoes taken from Earth-observing satellites. I’ve posted lots of ‘em, but I don’t think I’ve seen one quite like this:

That is an underwater volcano that’s been erupting since October of 2011. This picture, taken by the Earth Observing-1 satellite on February 10, 2012, shows the result. The teal water is sea water mixed with volcanic material swept around by the current. This volcano is located just offshore of El Hierro, the southwestern most of the volcanic Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco.

In case you were thinking those colors aren’t real, then take a look at this footage shot from a helicopter circling the volcano.

Yeah, those colors are real. Wow.

As you might expect, the volcano is growing. The peak is 210 meters (690 feet) above the sea floor, but only about 120 meters (390 feet) below the ocean surface. In one month it rose 10 meters! If it keeps erupting like this, then it won’t be too much longer before maps of the Canary Islands will have to be appended…

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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

UPDATE: more amazing Nabro volcano images

By Phil Plait | June 30, 2011 6:20 pm

A couple of days ago I posted an amazing satellite image of Nabro, an erupting volcano in Eritrea. Today, NASA released follow-up images from the Earth Observing-1 satellite, and they’re also very, very cool.

This first one is false color, and is a combination of far infrared, near infrared, and visible light. The warm, recently deposited lava is fairly obvious. You can also see the ash plume and some clouds. Note the scale bar in the lower left.

The second image is in visible light, and is a more natural color:

Nifty! Since we don’t see in infrared, the lava is not glowing, and appears brownish. Interestingly, the active vent is easier to spot in this shot because the lava is not as distracting.

You can read my earlier post for more info on the volcano. These images are just about the only data scientists are getting on it since it’s located in a difficult-to-reach region. But then, what’s difficult when you have satellites designed to look down at exactly these sorts of things?

[UPDATE: Vulcanologist Erik Klemetti has written an article for The Big Think about this eruption with lots of sciencey goodness.]

Credit: NASA/EO-1/Robert Simmon

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: EO-1, Eritrea, Nabro, volcano

Volclayno

By Phil Plait | February 13, 2011 12:08 pm

I don’t post every volcano image that passes by, but there are a few that catch my eye for some reason or another. Like this one, the Ubinas volcano in Peru:

[Click to hephaestenate.]

Wow. Even though I know the power and fury of these mighty beasts, they are just so simply lovely when seen from space! This one — snapped by NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite — looks like it’s been sculpted out of clay, but in fact is Peru’s most active volcano (in 2006 an eruption causes quite a stir for nearby towns), so the summit and surrounding areas are covered in fresh lava. There are no trees, no plants; just barren, alien rock. The whole region for kilometers around looks like another planet.

The last eruption was just last year, explaining the fresh look to it. You can see a small collapse funnel in it, though "small" is relative, it’s 200 meters deep. I also noticed that there is a summit collapse to the south, which is a feature of many stratovolcanoes. Part of the cone collapses and there can be sideways explosions, or pyroclastic flows (floods of searing hot ash) blasting horizontally. That southern break in the caldera leads to a canyon, which in turn (as can be seen in the high-res version of the image) leads to what looks like a huge rift on the right. As beautiful as it is from space, that’s basically the last place I’d like to be standing if this guy decides to throw a hissy fit.

This area is a subduction zone; the Nazca Pacific tectonic plate is sliding under the South American plate. Where this happens on Earth there are volcanoes (this one is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire) and earthquakes; the monster magnitude 8.8 Chilean earthquake last year was triggered by the subducting plate in fact.

Studying volcanoes means understanding tectonics better, and that means understanding earthquakes better, and that means saving thousands of lives and perhaps billions of dollars. And that’s a fine, fine idea.

Image credit: Robert Simmon, using ALI data from the NASA EO-1 team.


Related posts:

Mt. Etna erupts! (includes gallery of awesome volcanoes from space)
Volcano study in red
Fire and ice
Sunrise eruption

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: EO-1, Peru, Ubinas, volcano

The one-dimensional volcano

By Phil Plait | June 15, 2010 7:30 am

Think this is just another devastatingly gorgeous picture of a volcano from NASA?

eo-1_villarrica

Well, you’re right. Kinda.

First, the image is from NASA’s Earth Observatory-1, which — surprise! — observes the Earth. The volcano in question is Volcán Villarrica, a 2850 meter (9300 foot) snow-capped stratovolcano at the southern tip of Chile. It’s a fairly active mountain, frequently ejecting ash and airborne rocks called pyroclasts, and causing lahars (mud flows). You can see the mess it’s made to the east (right), and to the west there is a vast network of grooves caused by flowing mud and lava.

So, cool picture, right?

The thing is, this isn’t a picture. At least, not really! Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Pretty pictures
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