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Ash over South Africa from Puyehue-Cordn Caulle volcano
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Ash over South Africa from Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano (Chile)

June 15, 2011
On June 12, the Moderate Resolution Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite captured this true-color image of a wide ribbon of brown volcanic ash passing over South Africa, which lies over 4,800 miles away from the plume's origins in Chile.

The Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcano erupted on June 4, sending clouds of ash high into the atmosphere. Within 48 hours of eruption, the plume was measured at 15 kilometers (50,000 feet) above the Earth, high enough to pass above the weather that usually breaks up lower lying ash plumes. At this high altitude, the ash entered the jetstream, which carried it rapidly eastward.

By June 13, the plume crossed Australia and New Zealand, causing air traffic to be cancelled or diverted to lower altitudes than normal to avoid the volcanic ash, which can damage a jet engine. The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand warned pilots that the ash cloud was between 20,000 and 35,000 feet (6 to 11 kilometers), which is also the cruising level for many aircraft.

Early on June 15, ash continued to disrupt air traffic in Perth, according to the International Business Times. Perth lies about 7,800 miles from the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcano, and the ash affecting Australia and New Zealand has traveled over two-thirds of the way around the Earth.


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