Ash plume and ash on snow from Kizimen Kamchatka Peninsula
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Ash plume and ash on snow from Kizimen, Kamchatka Peninsula, eastern Russia

March 28, 2011
In winter, eastern Russia becomes blanketed with a thick layer of snow, which normally appears bright white from space. Snowfall around active volcanoes, however, can quickly become discolored by a mantle of gray ash.

On March 20, 2011, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite captured this natural color image of the ash-colored winter landscape created by active volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia.

In the lower half of this image, a broad gray plume of ash and steam pours from Kizimen, then disperses into an even broader gray veil as it blows over the Bering Sea between Kamchatsky Point (to the north) and Kronotsky Point, the peninsula to the south. Beneath the plume, the snow is colored a dark gray. A similar dark gray ash-cover streaks the snow to the southwest of the volcano.

A lighter gray coloration also appears in other areas of the landscape, such as on the eastern slope of the Central or Kamchatka Range (the mountain chain forming the backbone of the Peninsula), and on the land of the Central Valley, including the Valley of Geysers which lies west of Kronotsky Point. This lighter gray coloration probably represents not volcanic ash, but snow lying on irregular surfaces, such as vegetation.

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