Jul 22, 2019 | Updated: 09:15 AM EDT

ISS Astronauts Witnessed Raikoke's Recent Explosion

Jul 06, 2019 10:30 AM EDT

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Raikoke Volcano Erupts
(Photo : NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA)
Raikoke Volcano Erupts

Photos taken from our outer space are more often regarded as majestic and picturesque. It gives an overview of the changes happening to the planet. However, there is one recent natural phenomenon observed from outer space that is both majestic and terrifying.

On June 22, astronauts from outer space started their day by taking a series of photos of the volcanic plume rising from an eruption in one of the volcanoes in the Pacific ocean.

The said dramatic plume of smoke and ash shot into the sky at about 13 km or 8 miles in height.

Japan's Raikoke volcano in the Kuril Islands last erupted in 1924 and has been silent since then, until a few days ago when nearly a century's silence was broken by a massive eruption with such high velocity. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have recorded the instance through a series of stunning photos showing the volcanic plume spreading out into the "umbrella region", which is a part of the volcanic plume where the density of the ash and smoke equalizes with the air that surrounds it. The plume of ash and smoke then stops from rising as a seemingly flat top of the plume expands.

There were no casualties or injuries as Raikoke is its own uninhabited island. However, these natural events can sometimes host a threat to passing aircraft. Thankfully, the said eruption was being carefully monitored. Volcanologists have expressed their excitement about the said natural event.

Simon Carn, a volcanologist at Michigan Tech University in the US, explained that the ring of white puffy clouds seen at the base of the column might be a sign of ambient air being drawn into the column and the condensation of water vapor. It could also be rising from the interaction between magma and seawater. Raikoke is a small island and it is likely that magma has flowed and entered the body of water surrounding it.

According to the experts, the eruption has produced a concentrated plume of sulfur dioxide (S0²). When the plume interacted with the stormy region, the sulfur dioxide then separated from the ash and moved towards the North Pacific.

More studies and research will continue and revolve around the eruption as the plume has reached the stratosphere. According to experts, Raikoke's plume will tend to stick around longer as compared to plumes from other eruptions that have only reached the troposphere. This is a perfect opportunity for volcanologists to study the eruption a little longer.

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