Plume at Shiveluch Volcano
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Plume at Shiveluch Volcano

April 16, 2007

Shiveluch, one of Kamchatka's most active volcanoes, began its latest activity with gas and steam emissions in mid- to late March 2007. This image was taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) around mid-morning on or around March 21, 2007. It shows a steam plume, probably containing minor amounts of ash, blowing westward from the summit of the volcano.

The astronauts were crossing over the southern tip of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, with a clear view of the volcano about 5 degrees north of the ground track of the ISS. Subsequent eruptions on March 29 and 30 have been recorded by the Kamchatka Volcano Observatory and NASA satellites. Earlier views of the region are also available.

The volcano's southern flank, clearly visible in this northeast-looking view, is dominated by a horseshoe-shaped caldera formed during an eruption in the late Pleistocene Epoch (the last ice age, the geologic time period that ended roughly 10,000 years ago). The caldera was subsequently blanketed by additional ash deposits, and in this image is highlighted by the surrounding snow. Shiveluch's peak is snow-free, its brown color due to exposed rock and ash deposits. The relatively smooth landscape of the south contrasts with the large, steep valleys on the northern slope of the volcano. Low clouds wrap around the eastern part of the mountain, obscuring the lower elevations.

Astronaut photograph ISS014-E-17165 was downlinked March 21, 2007, and was captured with a Nikon digital camera. The image is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast.

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