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Chaiten Volcano Erupts

Chaiten Volcano Erupts

Six days after its May 2 eruption, Chile’s Chaitén Volcano continued releasing volcanic plumes, some of which zigzagged across Patagonia. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on May 8, 2008.

Several areas of white appear in this image, but they don’t all result from the same phenomenon. Near the volcanic summit, Chaitén’s plume is opaque and white, its light hue suggesting large concentrations of water vapor. Farther away from the summit, the plume dissipates, appearing pale gray with very diffuse outlines. The volcanic plume forms a large sideways “V” over Patagonia. Over the west coast, north of the volcano, the northern tip of the “V” may mix with smoke from nearby wildfires. In the southeast, clouds hover over the ocean, and in the northwest, snow cover forms dendritic patterns over Andes peaks.

NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.