Satellite view of a volcanic pressure valve

The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 14 2010 10:35 AM

Satellite view of a volcanic pressure valve

The Earth is a writhing, seething cauldron of molten rock and metal. In some spots under the Earth, the pressure builds and builds, until something has to give, and KABLAM! You get a huge volcanic eruption.

On the other hand, sometimes the pressure just gets relieved nicely and steadily and politely, like in the Klyuchevskaya volcano in Kamchatka, Russia, as seen in this gorgeous Terra satellite image:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Advertisement

terra_klyuchevskaya

It's a bit hard to tell here, but this is one teeny tiny part of a breathtakingly ginormous image that you can get by clicking the picture. Seriously, it's 6000 x 8500 pixels.

And it's stunning. This volcano, located in the far east side of Asia, erupts pretty steadily. That's actually a good thing, given that first scenario above. There are actually four erupting volcanoes in this area; another one, Bezymianny, can be seen just below the big one. In the original huge image, you can barely see either of them, but in this close crop you can see the plumes from both blowing to the northeast. And if you look carefully, you can even see a glowing red line indicating lava flows on Klyuchevskaya right at the peak. In the full size image you can actually see two such flows.

When I was a kid I loved space and volcanoes and dinosaurs. I used to draw giant Apatosauri (though we called 'em brontosauri back then) with big conic volcanoes in the background blowing out giant plumes. My scientific accuracy was probably somewhat dwarfed by my enthusiasm back then, but the cool thing is now, as a grown-up, I get to see pictures like this one! Maybe there are no dinosaurs in them, but there's still something incredibly cool about looking down on a volcano. And you can see the shadow of the plumes on the ground, too!

People joke about living in the future, but c'mon: we get satellite pictures of erupting volcanoes in full color and high-resolution delivered right to computers in our homes.

I love the future. Which is good, because I'll be spending the rest of my life there. You too.



Image credit: Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using data from the NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.

Related posts:

... or seriously, click the volcano tag under the pictures to see all the posts I've made about them!

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

The Ludicrous Claims You’ll Hear at This Company’s “Egg Freezing Parties”

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 1 2014 10:49 AM James Meredith, Determined to Enroll at Ole Miss, Declares His Purpose in a 1961 Letter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 10:27 AM 3,000 French Scientists Are Marching to Demand More Research Funding
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.