Orbital View As Raikoke Volcano Erupts

©NASA

Raikoke Volcano

Unlike some of its perpetually active neighbors on the Kamchatka Peninsula, Raikoke Volcano on the Kuril Islands rarely erupts. The small, oval-shaped island most recently exploded in 1778 and 1924.

The dormant period ended around 4:00 a.m. local time on June 22, 2019, when a vast plume of ash and volcanic gases shot up from its 700-meter-wide crater. Several satellites -- as well as astronauts on the International Space Station -- observed as a thick plume rose and then streamed east as it was pulled into the circulation of a storm in the North Pacific.

On the morning of June 22, astronauts shot a photograph of the volcanic plume rising in a narrow column and then spreading out in a part of the plume known as the umbrella region. That is the area where the density of the plume and the surrounding air equalize and the plume stops rising. The ring of clouds at the base of the column appears to be water vapor.

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