Steam Plume, Mount St. Helens
Astronaut photograph ISS009-E-28346 was acquired October 13, 2004 with a Kodak 760C digital camera with a 400 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Group, Johnson Space Center. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.
Early in October 2004 Mt. St. Helens rumbled back to life with earthquakes, minor eruptions of steam and ash, and renewed growth of the summit lava dome. Fortuitous trajectories of the International Space Station provided the ISS crew excellent views of the area, and they proceeded to collect a suite of images of Mount St. Helens over several days from different vantage points. This south-viewing image was acquired on October 13, 2004 following recent steam eruptions; two white steam plumes are visible to the south of the summit dome. While lava dome growth continues the current eruptive activity has not significantly altered the morphology of the volcano. Several mudflows and deposition of minor amounts of ash close to the cone have occurred as a result of current activity.
The main features visible in this image are the result of a cataclysmic 1980 eruption resulting from landslide failure of the northern flank of the volcano. The resulting directed blast of suddenly exposed gas-rich magma devastated a region of 20 km to the north and raised the bed level of Spirit Lake by 60 meters. The grayish Pumice Plain is mainly comprised of pyroclastic and mudflow deposits from the 1980 eruption. Today, the volcano is being intensively monitored by United States Geological Survey scientists for indications of further increases in activity and hazard potential.
This image originally appeared on the Earth Observatory. Click here to view the full, original record.