At 12:17 p.m. local time on February 3, Japan’s Shinmoe-dake volcano sent a towering cloud of ash 2.5 kilometers into the atmosphere. The ash plume stretched more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) east of the peak when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) took this image from the Aqua satellite at 1:30 p.m. local time. The image also shows a faint plume of ash and steam rising from Sakurajima, one of Japan’s most active volcanoes.
Located on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan, Shinmoe-dake is one of a large group of volcanoes in the Kirishima complex. Though the volcano has been bursting forth with small, intermittent ash plumes since March 2010, it began to erupt spectacularly on January 26, 2011. The explosive eruptions on January 26–27 scattered tephra as far as 8 kilometers (5 miles) away, causing disruptions in airplane and train service. On January 29, scientists observed a new lava dome in the volcano’s crater. The dome is visible in a detailed image taken by the Advanced Land Imager on the morning of February 3.
Three days after its surprise eruption on May 2, the Chaitén volcano of southern Chile was still pumping out dense clouds of ash. The plume extended over the Andes Mountains, across Argentina, and hundreds of kilometers over the Atlantic Ocean.