In early 2009, ash and steam from the Soufriere Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat stretched hundreds of kilometers across the Caribbean Sea. Shifting wind patters had apparently carried volcanic plumes toward both the west and the east-southeast by the time the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite took this picture on January 3, 2009. The volcanic plume can be distinguished from the nearby clouds due to its slightly darker color and less distinct margins.The same day that MODIS acquired this image, the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency reported two large eruptions at Soufriere Hills Volcano, in addition to continuous ash emissions.
Filling the southern half of Montserrat, Soufriere Hills is a stratovolcano composed of alternating layers of hardened lava, solidified ash, and rocks from earlier eruptions. In 1995, a series of major eruptions from this volcano eventually destroyed the island’s capital city, Plymouth. After an explosive eruption in early December 2008, the volcano continually released plumes through early 2009.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.