Ash Plume from Soufriere Hills Montserrat
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Ash Plume from Soufriere Hills, Montserrat

April 24, 2013
A source of trouble in an otherwise lush Pacific paradise, the Soufriere Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat produced a faint plume of volcanic ash in late November 2005, continuing a pattern of moderate eruptions that took place in previous months. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard the Aqua satellite took this picture on November 19, 2005. Montserrat appears in the center of this image, casting a faint plume of ash toward the southwest over the Pacific. The volcano’s summit is outlined in red, a “hotspot” detected by MODIS. Montserrat’s island neighbors also appear in this image, some of them fringed by pale blue-green. This light color probably results from shallower waters near the shore or from coral reefs. They may look harmless from space, but volcanic ash plumes can cause considerable trouble for local residents, irritating their respiratory tracts, eating paint off their cars, and mixing with oxygen and water to make volcanic smog. This plume, however, really is minor compared to other activity from the volcano. A catastrophic eruption in 1997 forced an evacuation of part of the island and destroyed the capital city of Plymouth. Many Montserrat residents remain despite these dangers because volcanoes produce good soil for farming and even spectacular views for those willing to brave the risks. Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

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