Sitting aboard the International Space Station (ISS) a NASA astronaut was able to capture some stunning images of the Raikoke Volcano as it erupts.
The 2,300ft crater can be clearly seen sending clouds of ash high into the atmosphere. Located in the Kuril archipelago in the north-west Pacific the volcano had been dormant for almost 100 years before it violently erupted on June 22, sending a huge cloud of ash as far as 8 miles high. In the images you can see the cloud rising as a column, stopping when it reaches the denser air.
Volcanologists at Michigan tech issued a statement for NASA commenting that the eruption was similar to that of another volcano in the Kurils a decade ago. The images show a ring of white cloud at the base of the ash column indicating either that air is being drawn in, or perhaps that there is condensation caused by the magma entering the sea.
Raikoke island is quite small, so it is likely that magma flow reached the sea and the fluffy cloud at the base could be the resulting steam.
The huge ash plume has been seen drifting eastward and there are warnings in place for aircraft near the Bering Sea. Volcanic ash often contains pieces of rock or glass which can be hazardous to aircraft.
Breaching the Stratosphere
Data obtained via satellite shows that the eruption has sent gas into the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. Large amounts of sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere have been detected which NASA says indicates that this is a new injection of the gas.
The stratosphere starts at around 4.3-12 miles above the earth and it is vital to monitor ash plumes that hit this height because they have the ability to remain in the higher levels of the atmosphere for longer.
Other images of the volcano have also been released, alongside those captured by the ISS the NASA’s Terra satellite also captured the incident, as did the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Suomi satellite.