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Activity at Gaua Ambrym and Yasur Volcanoes Vanuatu
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Activity at Gaua, Ambrym and Yasur Volcanoes, Vanuatu

August 6, 2010
Plumes of volcanic ash and steam billow towards the northwest from the islands of Gaua and Ambrym while a large hotspot marks Yasur volcano on the island of Tanna. This true-color image was captured by the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite as it passed over the Republic of Vanuatu on August 2, 2010.

Gaua, a round island with a central lake, sits at the top center of this image, just northeast of Big Bay on the mitten-like island of Vanuatu. Ambrym lies slightly to the south and east. In this image, Ambrym is hidden by a cover of white clouds, but can be discerned by the ribbon-like plume of ash and the blue-gray spreading vog (volcanic fog) which emanates from the the island. Tanna, site of one of the world's most active volcanoes, can be seen in the lower right of the image, where a large red hotspot forms a striking contrast to the green vegetation. Although not easily seen at lower resolution, viewing at 250m reveals a thin volcanic plume rising from Yasur.

Vanuatu is an island archipelago of volcanic origin located in the South Pacific Ocean. Approximately 82 small islands lie in a northwest to southeast plane, with about 800 mi (1800 km) between the outermost islands. 65 of the islands are inhabited but only 14 have surface areas greater than 100 sq km (39 sq mi). Two of the islands are in dispute, also being claimed by New Caledonia. The terrestrial ecoregion, known as the Vanuatu Rain Forest, is distinct and unique.

The island nation is home to many active volcanoes, both on land and underwater. Yasur has been called the "Lighthouse of the Pacific" due to the frequent ejections of lava bombs and ash, which are visible at sea. The volcano on Gaua was considered dormant until 1962, when it entered an eruptive phase. A new eruptive phase began in September 2009.


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