Eruption of Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat •

Last update: June 26th, 2019 at 8:00 pm

A source of trouble in an otherwise lush Caribbean paradise, the Soufriere Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat produced a faint plume of volcanic ash in late November 2005, continuing a pattern of moderate eruptions that took place in previous months. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard the Aqua satellite took this picture on November 19, 2005.

Montserrat appears in the bottom center of this image, casting a faint plume of ash toward the southwest over the ocean. The volcano’s summit is outlined in red, a “hotspot” detected by MODIS. Montserrat’s island neighbors also appear in this image, some of them fringed by pale blue-green. This light color probably results from shallower waters near the shore, or from coral reefs. The lighter colors might also be caused by phytoplankton.

They may look harmless from space, but volcanic ash plumes can cause considerable trouble for local residents, irritating their respiratory tracts, eating paint off their cars, and mixing with oxygen and water to make volcanic smog. This plume, however, really is minor compared to other activity from the volcano. A catastrophic eruption in 1997 forced an evacuation of part of the island and destroyed the capital city of Plymouth. Many Montserrat residents remain despite these dangers because volcanoes produce good soil for farming and even spectacular views for those willing to brave the risks.

Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

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