On the morning of January 26, 2011, Shinmoe-dake, a volcano in the Kirishima complex on Japan’s Kyushu island, erupted spectacularly. Along with large amounts of ash, Shinmoe-dake erupted fountains of incandescent lava rocks (known as a strombolian eruption). The Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported ash up to an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,600 meters), and ashfall prompted the closing of some nearby highways and rail lines. The eruption continued on January 27, but Japan Meteorological Agency authorities did not expect the volcano to threaten lives or propery.
This natural-color satellite image shows ash streaming southeast from Shinmoe-dake. The ash plume and thin clouds are both gray, while thicker clouds are white. Forested areas are dark green; urban and agricultural areas (primarily rice paddies) are brown. The image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite on the morning of January 26, 2011.