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First Close-Up Images Taken of Remote Eruption
This false-color image take by NASA's EO-1 satellite shows the eruption of Nabro volcano on June 24, 2011. It began erupting 11 days prior.
Credit: NASA

Eritrea's Nabro volcano has been erupting for a week, but few details of the event are known because of the volcano's remoteness. This pair of images are the first detailed ones taken of erupting vent and lava flows

Nabro began erupting on June 12, and has sent ash drifting over much of East Africa and the Middle East. It is located in an isolated region along the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Because of the volcano's remoteness, satellite remote sensing is currently the only reliable way to monitor the ongoing eruption. These images of the eruption were taken by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite on June 24.

The bright red portions of the false-color image above indicate hot surfaces. Hot volcanic ash glows above the vent, located in the center of Nabro's caldera .

To the west of the vent, portions of an active lava flow (particularly the front of the flow) are also hot. The speckled pattern on upstream portions of the flow are likely due to the cool, hardened crust splitting and exposing fluid lava as the flow advances.

The bulbous blue-white cloud near the vent is likely composed largely of escaping water vapor that condensed as the plume rose and cooled. The whispy, cyan clouds above the lava flow are evidence of degassing from the lava.

The natural-color image below shows a close-up view of the volcanic plume and eruption site. A dark ash plume rises directly above the vent, and a short, inactive (cool) lava flow partially fills the crater to the north.

A natural color, close-up image of the eruption taken by NASA's EO-1 satellite.
A natural color, close-up image of the eruption taken by NASA's EO-1 satellite.
Credit: NASA

A gas plume, rich in water and sulfur dioxide (which contributes a blue tint to the edges of the plume) obscures the upper reaches of the active lava flow. Black ash covers the landscape south and west of Nabro.