For almost a century, the Kuril Islands' quiet volcano has rested in its isolated environment - a dormant period that came to a close on June 22 much to the chagrin of satellites and astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The photo shows a large plume of ash and volcanic gases shooting up from the crater on the uninhabited volcanic island of Raikoke, which is located off the coasts of Russian Federation and Japan. The volcano, which sits as its own uninhabited island, isn't known for frequent eruptions, making this a particularly rare event.
Raikoke Volcano on the Kuril Islands has been dormant since 1924. Before that, an eruption was recorded in 1778.
Since its eruption, the plume was pulled into circulation of a storm in the North Pacific and now is drifting over the Bering Sea, reports the European Space Agency. The vast plume of smoke and ash seen in the image bellowed out of the 700-meter wide crater and was picked up by several satellites and astronauts on the ISS. NASA reports that when Raikoke erupted, a concentrated plume of sulfur dioxide separated from the plume and began drifting across the North Pacific. The volcanic plume rose in a narrow column until it spreads out greatly when the density of the plume and the density of the surrounding air equalize, causing the plume to stop rising.
"What a spectacular image".
The MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured this image of Raikoke on June 22nd, 2019. It's surrounded by a ring of white clouds, likely either water vapour condensing out of the air or steam from magma entering the water, Simon Carn, a volcanologist at Michigan Tech, said in a NASA Earth Observatory post. The ring of clouds on the base of the column appears to be water vapor. The ash plume reached heights of 13km and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre has issued a "red" warning for airlines. Satellites have also been monitoring the ash that spewed from the volcano, since rock and volcanic glass fragments can pose a "serious hazard to aircraft", according to the press release.
Raikoke erupts, as seen from the ISS.