Astounding Satellite Views of the Puyehue-Cordón Ash Plume

by Nancy Atkinson on June 14, 2011

A gigantic plume of ash from the Puyehue-Cordón Volcano in Chile spreads across South America. This image was taken on June 13, 2011 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite. Credit: NASA and courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

An incredible amount of ash is being spewed from the erupting Puyehue-Cordón Volcano Complex in Chile. This image, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite on June 13, 2011, shows a large plume of volcanic ash blowing about 780 kilometers east and then northeast over Argentina. A plume of volcanic ash from this eruption disrupted air traffic as far away as New Zealand on June 13. See images below of how far the ash has traveled in the atmosphere, a half a world away.


The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite acquired the two images below of the Chilean ash plume on June 13, 2011 showing that a concentrated plume was visible more than half a world away. The first image shows the ash plume over southern Australia and the Tasman Sea, while the second image provides a view farther east over New Zealand and the South Pacific Ocean.

The Chilean ash plume over southern Australia and the Tasman Sea on June 13, 2011. Credit: NASA/MODIS on the Aqua Satellite.

The Chilean volcano ash plume over NewZealand and the South Pacific Ocean. Credit: NASA/MODIS on the Aqua satellite.

NASA’s Earth Observatory website says that although the intensity of the eruption has decreased since the initial eruption, the volcano’s activity is holding steady. The plume reached between 4 and 8 kilometers in altitude on June 13, its height varying with the intensity of the eruptive episode throughout the day.

Here’s how the volcano looked back on June 4, 2011 when it began spewing ash 45,000 feet (14,000 meters) into the air. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image shortly after the eruption began:

Chile’s Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano on June 4, 2011. Credit: NASA/Aqua - MODIS

See more images and data on this volcano at the NASA Earth Observatory Natural Hazards website.

You can follow Universe Today senior editor Nancy Atkinson on Twitter: @Nancy_A. Follow Universe Today for the latest space and astronomy news on Twitter @universetoday and on Facebook.

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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