Our living Earth

volcano plume

Once again, our planet reminds us that it never sits still. Iceland’s Grimsvötn volcano blew an immense plume of ash 11 km (7 miles) straight up to the stratosphere last Saturday, giving rise to some amazing photographs like this one (featured in The Economist). Since the plume easily cleared all cloud layers, orbiting weather satellites recorded it as well. You can see the photo animations from two different satellites on Bad Astronomy; I thought the oblique angle was most impressive.

And because you knew there had to be video, check out this awesome footage from Jon Gustafsson, who shot it from a helicopter just before dark, assembled the video during the ride back to Reykjavik, and posted it online a few hours after landing.

As geeky as I am, I’m still frequently amazed at what technology has put at our fingertips. A volcano erupts somewhere on the planet and within hours we can see it from ground level, mid-air, and orbit, all from our laptops and smartphones. Wow.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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3 Responses to Our living Earth

  1. xenatuba says:

    Growing up in the northwest, my interest in volcanic activity was fed by Mount St. Helens when it started kicking up in March of 1980,and its several eruptions in May through August of that year. Coincidentally, I was in Portland the last time it sent a plume up, and had my eyes fastened on the rear view mirror as I made my way south. We spent a day in Central Oregon this weekend, spending lots of time at the Lava Lands and Newberry Volcanic National Monument. The pictures you’ve posted are an excellent dessert for that main course!

    • oregon expat says:

      I think Mt. St. Helens created a whole bunch of volcano geeks. Actually, I never understood how anyone could live in Oregon and not be interested in volcanoes and geology in general.

      Your trip sounds lovely! (And cold this time of year.)

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