The photo depicts volcanic sediment billowing from Alaska’s Bogolof Volcano on the Aleutian Islands.
The volcano has been active since December 2016. Aviation Warnings were issued after a series of aggressive eruptions in May that spewed a significant amount of ash in the air around 10,700 metres into the air. The volcano erupted so violently it caused the island to almost double in size over the Christmas period (Christmas day to the end of January).
The volcano put on a show with volcanic lightning, lava and huge smoke plumes filling the sky. The lava rose at such a rate that the sea couldn’t erode the land in time making it the most theatrical terrain expansion for Aleutian Island since 1796.
The more land there is on the island, the more wildlife there will be inhabiting the island. The island was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1909 by President Theodore Roosevelt who was astounded by the diversity of wildlife on the island.
Eruptions such as these are not an irregular occurrence. A similar eruption in 1973 created a new island just 1,000 km from Tokyo. Named Nishinoshima the island grew at an alarming rate and is now three km high and 94 km in circumference from its base. The volcano on Nishinoshima erupted again in November 2013 causing the lava rise and cool over a period of three years, in the process forming a whole new island. At present, the new island and Nishinoshima have combined to forge one large island.
The eruption and its subsequent expansion is an intriguing look at the creation of volcanic islands and the biological development that proceeds its formation.
Header: Sediment plume over the Bering Sea, NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens