The volcano is located on the northwestern end of Matua Island, which is part of the Kuril Islands, a chain of 56 islands northeast of Japan. The eruption sent a plume of brown-colored ash and white steam rising into the atmosphere. The plume was so immense that it cast a large shadow on the island.
Sarychev is one of the most active volcanoes in the Kuril Island chain. Prior to June 12, the last explosive eruption occurred in 1989, with eruptions in 1986, 1976, 1954, and 1946 also producing lava flows.
Watch the video to see how the eruption looked from space.
Highs and lows
The high point
Casting a shadow
More ash and steam
Obscured by clouds
Sarychev in 2007
A striking difference
While vegetation on the rest of the island appears lush, volcanic debris — probably a mixture of pyroclastic flows and settled ash — covered virtually all the vegetation on the northwestern end. A close look at the top image also reveals that the recent volcanic activity appears to have expanded the island’s coastline on the northwestern end.
Another difference after the eruption relates to snow cover. The complete lack of snow in 2009 may result from a combination of a difference in season and volcanic activity having melted or covered any lingering snow.