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Eruption of Anatahan
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
Two distinct plumes of steam and ash rose from the Anatahan Volcano on March 30, 2005. Located in the Northern Mariana Islands, north of Guam, in the North Pacific Ocean, Anatahan has been erupting intermittently for much of 2005. The volcano had been steaming for several days before this image was taken. Emissions such as those seen here create a volcanic fog, called vog, over the islands around the volcano. Vog can make breathing difficult and cause nose and eye irritation. The plumes also pose a threat to aviation. Ash can clog jet engines, causing them to shut down.
The above image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. In addition to the volcano, the image shows sun glint over the North Pacific Ocean. Sun glint occurs when the sunlight is reflected from the ocean’s surface back to the MODIS sensor. The phenomenon gives the ocean a silvery appearance in contrast to its normal black or dark blue color. Sun glint also reveals the edges of MODIS scan mirror as faint diagonal stripes across the image.
Anatahan continues to steam after its largest eruption in recorded history on April 6, 2005. This major eruption was a continuation of its third historical eruption, which began early in January 2005. Anatahan is located in the Northern Mariana Islands in the North Pacific Ocean and has been responsible for blanketing Guam and other nearby islands with volcanic haze.