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NASA Earth Observatory images of Cleveland (not the city) and Nyiragongo

New NASA images of two active volcanoes – a reminder of how satellites have improved volcano monitoring worldwide.

The NASA Earth Observatory has been dazzling us with images from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption for months – but they have been dazzling us with volcanoes images for years! Here are two more images for those of you who love seeing volcanoes from above:


Cleveland, Alaska
nAs I mentioned earlier this week, Cleveland volcano likely had a small eruption over the weekend producing a small ash cloud. Cleveland is already known as an extremely picturesque volcano, both from the ground for its highly conical shape – a textbook andesitic stratocone – and from space. This new June 1 image is from almost directly over the volcano, showing the radial symmetry of the volcano formed by lava and debris flows cascading down the slopes of the volcano. A few new debris flows are observed on the east side of the edifice and a weak grey plume is seen drifting off the southwest with ash fall showing that the plume must have been bigger at some point over the weekend.


Nyiragongo, Dem. Republic of the Congo
nOn the other side of the planet, Nyiragongo – an alkalic shield volcano that erupts basalts – was captured on May 28 with a white, wispy plume coming from the crater pit. The crater area is a series of collapse craters that periodically fill with lava, sometimes spilling over and sending lava flows down the flanks of the volcano. You can see some younger lava flows on the northwest flanks of the volcano and just above the Shaheru Crater, a flank vent on the edifice. The rapid vegetation growth and weathering hide lava flows from view quickly, unlike volcanoes in the high Andes of Chile which can preserve lava flows in “showroom” conditions for thousands (to millions?) of years.


Both of these images remind us how satellite images have vastly improved our ability to monitor remote volcanoes all around the world – and how quickly we can share that information worldwide.


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