Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Amazing NASA images part 1 of 2: volcanic plume seen from space

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The International Space Station took this amazing snapshot of an eruption in progress in the Kuril Islands near Japan on June 12th.

The Sarychev volcano plume seen here above Matua Island shows some fascinating features detailed by NASA in the photo slideshow below.

The 'hole' punched in the cloud deck is theorized to be caused in part either by the shockwave of the volcanic blast and/or sinking air aloft down the outer side of the eruption plume. Sinking air warms up and dries as it descends that would explain why the clouds seem to disappear in a near circular pattern around the sides of the plume.

The smooth white cloud that looks like mound of sugar atop the rising plume is likely caused by condensation atop the rising, warm airmass - the air directly above it cools and condenses.

The high resolution photo reveals even more interesting features that NASA details at the weblink below:

For more info: NASA's Earth Observatory: Volcanic Plume


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