Plume from Mount Pagan

Plume from Mount Pagan
  • Credit:

    NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using data from the NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team. Caption by Robert Simmon.

Mount Pagan, a volcano in the Northern Marianas Islands, was been intermittently active during 2009 and 2010. This false-color satellite image shows a minor gas and steam plume rising from the volcano on June 3, 2010. The blue tint of the volcanic plume hints that it may be rich in sulfate aerosols, which could be acting as nuclei for the condensation of water droplets, resulting in cloud formation in the plume.

The image was acquired by the Advanced Spaceborne Emission and Reflection Radiometer aboard NASA’s Terra satellite. The plume is light blue while clouds are white. Vegetation on the island, colored bright red, stands out in contrast to dark lava flows. The central flows were erupted in 1981, while the smaller flows on the northeastern coastline date to Pagan’s 1872–73 eruption. Water is purple-gray.

  1. References

  2. Global Volcanism Program. (2010). Pagan. Accessed June 4, 2010.
  3. Trusdell, F. A., Moore, R. B., & Sako, M. K. (2006). Preliminary Geologic Map of Mount Pagan Volcano, Pagan Island, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Accessed June 4, 2010.
  4. USGS/Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. (2010, June 4). Northern Mariana Islands Weekly Update. Accessed June 4, 2010.

Images & Animations


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  • Data Date:

    June 3, 2010
  • Visualization Date:

    June 4, 2010
  • Sensor(s):

    Terra - ASTER
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration