The Sciences

Sarychev Peak eruption update for 6/16/2009

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiJun 16, 2009 6:46 AM

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Matua Islands (also known as Matsuwa Island), home of Sarychev Peak.

The eruption of Sarychev Peak in the Kuril Islands has been wreaking havoc on flights to and from Asia for the past few days (as manyEruptions readers can attest). You can see the latest VAAC (Volcano Ash Advisory Center) statement here that shows ash to at least FL380 (38,000 feet / 11 km). Predicted ash movement (see below) for the next couple of days has ash moving to the southeast of the volcano and the U.S. Air Force has detected ash as far as 1500 miles / 2400 km southeast and 575 miles / 900 km northwest of the eruption.

Predicted ash movement for Sarychev Peak, Russia. Image courtesy of the Washington VAAC

The details on the eruption are still sketchy (ignore the unrelated image in this link), but the NASA Earth Observatory has done an excellent job of at least showing us the ash column from the eruption - especially today with a ~48 hour sequence of images showing the tan/brown ash column (real color) rising up over the white cloud tops. The plume is remarkably brown and it is not uncommon in volcanic eruptions - we've even seen it recently in the ash from Shiveluch in Kamchatka or even at Redoubt in Alaska. However, this view makes the striking color of the ash column stand out. Many flights continue to be diverted or canceled today (you can ignore the last paragraph of the AHN report ... somebody got a little confused).

UPDATE 3:30PM Pacific 6/16/2009: One more striking image of the eruption from the NASA Earth Observatory. You have to love the number and quality of images coming from the EO on this eruption.

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