Raikoke Volcano’s eruption was historic in itself, but the images captured from space made it an even more unique event. Astronauts at the International Space Station witnessed the eruption, and managed to snap photos as ash and volcanic gases shot up from the crater.
Raikoke Volcano Eruption
On June 22, Raikoke Volcano on the Kuril Islands erupted, spreading ash and gases over the North Pacific Ocean. The eruption was actually quite unexpected because compared to its considerably more active neighbors, Raikoke is actually mostly a dormant volcano, and its most recent eruptions were in 1924 and 1778.
The eruption where volcanic ash and gasses shot up from its 700-meter wide crater happened at about 4 a.m. local time, and several satellites observed the event as the plume went east and was pulled into a storm in the North Pacific.
Photos Of The Eruption From Space
Incidentally, astronauts at the ISS also witnessed the volcanic eruption, and were able to take photos of the volcanic plume as it was spreading out in the umbrella region, or the region where the plume stops rising and starts equalizing with the surrounding air.
Furthermore, NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer also managed to capture a photo when most of the ash was concentrated on the western edge of the plume, while the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite also captured a third one hours later when the ash had already spread and the activity had subsided.
Volcanic ash actually poses serious hazards to aircraft because it contains sharp fragments of volcanic glass and rocks. As such, various advisory centers have notified aviators, informing them that the volcanic ash reached an altitude of 8 miles (13 kilometers). However, data from CALIPSO satellite shows that some parts of the plume reached an altitude of 10 miles (17 kilometers).
What’s more, authorities are also tracking the movement of volcanic gases, as the plume of sulfur dioxide interacted with the storm in the North Pacific and appears to be persisting in the stratosphere. This may pose a problem because sulfur dioxide that stays in the stratosphere tend to stay longer than those that remain in the troposphere, and have greater effects of climate and aviation.