ISS Crew Took an Incredible Photo of a Volcanic Eruption From High Above the Earth

(TMU)The Kamchatka Peninsula in Eastern Russia lays atop a smoldering tectonic ridge that stimulates roughly 300 volcanoes (29 of them active), one of which is the Raikoke Volcano.

Raikoke had been quiet for nearly a century when, on June 22, 2019, ash and volcanic gas plumed out from its 700 m wide crater and rose 43,000 feet into the stratosphere.

Only 20,000 people live on the entire peninsula, so there were no volcano selfies when this blast occurred. However, the spectacular geological event did have some observers watching from above. The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) had an unbeatable view just hours after the blast, as the convection currents carried the vertical plume to roughly the same elevation as commercial airliners’ cruising altitude.

And so they snapped this incredible picture.

Though Raikoke has been silent for a century, the tectonic tension of the Pacific plate grinding underneath the western Okhotsk plate, makes the local basaltic island—and the surrounding area, including a southern archipelago, the Kuril Islands, and more southern volcano top islands whose sovereignty is contested by Japan and Russia—a fertile ground for volcanoes. 

In recent history, Raikoke erupted in 1765, 1778, and 1924, with the 1778 event destroying the upper third of the island. Fifteen people were killed by falling chunks of lava.

Because they emit carbon dioxide, as well as sulfur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen chloride (HCl), and hydrogen fluoride gases (HF) into the atmosphere, volcanoes have an effect on the Earth’s climate. However, human activity contributes 100 times more carbon dioxide than volcanoes.

Unless the Earth’s network of super volcanoes all erupt simultaneously and either permanently alter the climate or unleash an apocalyptic “flood lava event,” we should stay safe from their eruptions.

Human activity is another story altogether…

By Jake Anderson | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com