On December 10, 2008, volcanic ash stained the land surface near the Klyuchevskaya Volcano on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite took this picture the same day. The day before, MODIS captured the airborne ash plume.
In this image, brown ash rests on the land surface, east of Klyuchevskoy’s summit. The clear definition of the land features, including some light-colored slopes facing away from the volcano, indicates that the ash has settled on the ground. Overhead, a wisp of volcanic vapor blows away from the volcano and over the Bering Sea. The red dot at the volcano summit is a hotspot where MODIS has detected unusually warm surface temperatures.
Unlike soft, fluffy ash from burning vegetation, volcanic ash consists of tiny, jagged particles. It is abrasive, slightly corrosive, and able to conduct electricity when wet.
Klyuchevskaya (also Klyuchevskoy or Kliuchevskoi) is the highest volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula. It also ranks among the peninsula’s most active as it is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” Klyuchevskaya is a stratovolcano composed of alternating layers of solidified ash, hardened lava, and rocks produced by previous eruptions.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.