In early June the Chilean Volcano called Puyehue-Cordón Caulle erupted, sending a massive plume of ash around the Southern Hemisphere, stalling flights out of many airports and causing havoc for millions of passengers. NASA Satellite imagery captured the plume as it made its way around the world.
Images provided came from, amongst others, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) that flies on both NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites, and the GOES-11 satellite.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center press release attached to the photos describes the plume’s travel:
The gallery begins on June 4, 2011 when a fissure opened in the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcanic Complex. The MODIS instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a natural-color image that showed the ash 45,000 feet (14,000 meters) high. As the plume shot up and blew southeast toward Argentina, heavier particles fell to the ground. According to the Buenos Aires Herald, the border town of Bariloc, Argentina reported as much as a foot (30 centimeters) of ash on the ground.
In addition to large amounts of ash on the ground in Chile and Argentina, rainfall poses another problem. Chile’s National Geology and Mining Service noted that rainfall on loose ash could trigger landslides and lahars, especially in the Andes Mountains where river valleys are clogged with ash.
On June 10, Aqua’s MODIS showed winds pushed the plume east and northeast over Argentina. The next day, winds twisted the ash plume like a pretzel over Argentina. By June 12, Terra’s MODIS instrument saw the volcano’s ash plume blowing over the southwestern tip of South Africa on its way around the world, while Aqua’s MODIS captured an image of the volcano that showed its plume being drawn into a low pressure system in the Atlantic Ocean.
The next day, June 13, NASA’s Aqua satellite provided an image of the light brown ash plume crossing over New Zealand and Tasmania. Tasmania is an Australian island and state located 150 miles south of Australia. Later in the day Aqua’s MODIS instrument showed the ash plume pouring out of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano and traveling east and northeast. The height of the plume varied during the day with the intensity of the eruption. Plumes were measured between 2.5 and 5 miles (4 and 8 kilometers) high at different times of the day.
On June 14, NASA satellite imagery from three different overpasses was pieced together by Jeff Schmaltz of the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA Goddard. NASA’s Aqua satellite overpasses created a mosaic of the volcanic ash plume traversing the South Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, MODIS on the Terra satellite captured another look at what was happening at the volcano. At 15:15 UTC (11:15 a.m. EDT), winds continued pushing the plume east and southeast into the Southern Atlantic Ocean. The ash plume was reaching as high as five miles (8 kilometers) into the atmosphere.
Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center