Dangerously hot ash spewing forth from a volcanic vent and lava traveling at great speed down a mountainside and incinerating everything in its path is not something most people would want to witness from close up. Yet, seen from the calmness of space, volcanic eruptions take on a whole new identity.
Russia’s Shiveluch volcano from the International Space Station, in July 2007: The dull plume is probably a combination of ash and steam while the larger white plumes contain mostly steam.
Almost surreal, volcanic eruptions viewed from the Earth’s orbit often appear like little more than patterns of white and grey smoke that nature creates to change existing landscapes and make them a bit more interesting for us. Only those unfortunate earthlings on the ground and near to the action know that nothing could be further from the truth.
10. Puyehue-Cordón Caulle, Chile, 2011
The volcanic group that is the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcanic Complex (PCCVC) is actually made up of four different volcanoes. Between June 2 and June 3, 2011, increased activity was detected, as close to 1,500 earthquakes shook the Earth, heralding the start of the eruption. In this false-color image, we can see the massive ash and gas plume that billowed into the air. Thousands of people were evacuated, long before lava even began to spill from the volcano 18 days after it first erupted.