Monday, 10 December 2012

River of fire

These astonishing aerial images captured by a NASA satellite reveal molten lava spewing from a Russian volcano that suddenly erupted after lying dormant for 36 years.The Plosky Tolbachik volcano on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula burst into activity on November 27, sending clouds of ash almost 10,000 feet into the air, and leading some experts to warn it could go on to unleash an eruption as powerful as that seen from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokel in 2010, which caused more than a week of air traffic disruption.Lava flows pouring from the mouth of the volcano - which appear like a river of fire in one infra-red image released by NASA - are reported to have destroyed two research camps and forced schools in nearby villages to close.

A second visible light image again picks out the lava flows - this time as a river of darkness coursing from the mouth of the volcano, which was continuing to spew clouds of ash into the air a week after the eruption.The images were captured by the satellite last week, in the days following the eruption on November 27. A third, composite image released by NASA combines a picture of the volcano from July 19 with fresh infrared data from December 3, post-eruption.The earlier picture is used as the background, with vegetation highlighted in red, older lava flows in dark grey and snow in white. It has been overlaid with a night time thermal infra-red image, captured on December 3, which picks out the hot lava flows in bright yellow.Russian authorities have now downgraded Tolbachik's alert status from red to orange, according to a report on But experts are said to be continuing to monitor the volcano for signs of further activity.

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