Satellite view of a volcanic pressure valve

Bad Astronomy
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

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 20 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Red Planet and the Comet
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.