Mount Merapi Still Blowing off Steam

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For about three weeks, Indonesia’s Mount Merapi has been belching out lava, as well as ash and gas, clouding the atmosphere above. This satellite image, taken by NASA’s MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite, shows the volcano now settling down and is the most cloud-free satellite view of the volcano that we’ve been able to see. Thick ash is still rising and the volcano is still considered to be erupting at dangerous levels. Merapi is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, and this eruption has been the most violent since the 1870’s.

The dark brown streak down the southern face of the volcano is ash and other volcanic material deposited by a pyroclastic flow or lahar. The volcano has been blamed for 156 deaths and about 200,000 people had to evacuate. The ash also caused flights to be delayed or canceled.

See below for a thermal image of the lava flow.

The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the thermal signature of hot ash and rock and a glowing lava dome on Mount Merapi on Nov. 1, 2010. Credit: NASA.

As a very active volcano, Merapi poses a constant threat to thousands of people in Indonesia. The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the thermal signature of hot ash and rock and a glowing lava dome. The thermal data is overlaid on a three-dimensional map of the volcano to show the approximate location of the flow. The three-dimensional data is from a global topographic model created using ASTER stereo observations.

For more information see NASA’s Earth Observatory website.