The glow of a volcanic eruption in the Galápagos Islands was captured by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite. The image, acquired by the VIIRS “day-night band” at 1:20 a.m. local time (7:20 UTC) on January 7, 2022, shows lava spewing from Wolf Volcano, on the northern end of Isabela Island. The largest island in the Galápagos archipelago lies roughly 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) off the west coast of Ecuador.
According to the Geophysical Institute in Quito, the volcano began erupting late on January 6, sending incandescent lava flows down the volcano’s flanks and ejecting ash clouds up to about 3,800 meters (12,500 feet). Later on January 7, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired an image (below) of the plume blowing west over the Pacific Ocean.
Wolf is the largest and tallest volcano in the Galápagos Islands. It last erupted in May and June 2015, with an eruption rated 4 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) (range from 0 to 8). One of the volcano’s earlier eruptions, in 1797, was the first historical eruption documented in the Galápagos Islands.
Isabela Island is home to the critically endangered pink land iguana. The isolation of the islands and their location at the confluence of major ocean currents gave rise to unique species, including the land iguana, the giant tortoise, and many varieties of finch. The Galápagos archipelago is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using VIIRS day-night band data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership and MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE and GIBS/Worldview. Story by Sara E. Pratt.