Volcano Eruption Kills 8 – Jabal al-Tair, Yemen

Jabal al Tair Volcano eruption in Google EarthLast night there was a volcanic eruption on the island of Jabal al-Tair – an island off the coast of Yemen. A naval base was occupied and there are reports that at least eight people have died. There were reports of seismic activity in the area during the last two weeks. According to reports from naval vessels in the area, the eruption was quite large with lava being thrown many meters into the air.
I was reading this news and trying to determine the location of the island. The coordinates in the Wikipedia story of the island were inaccurate (I’m updating the coordinates). And, searching with Google Earth did not show the location either. So, being a sailor, I turned to a nautical chart from Marineplanner.com. This gave me some coordinates, which I put into Google Earth. Unfortunately, there is no satellite photo for Google Earth for the island. So, I tried FlashEarth.com, and discovered that Ask.com has a low resolution satellite photo of the island. I grabbed a copy of the image and made an image overlay for Google Earth and placemarked the location – see it here . The interesting thing is that while Google Earth doesn’t have a satellite photo, it does have the terrain data. So, you can see an approximation to the 3D terrain with the photo overlay helping to add some detail.
You can turn on the “Geographic Features->Volcanoes” layer in Google Earth, and it will show you the location of the island and provide you with some details about the volcano – at least as it was before the eruption.
Another thing I tried, was to turn on the USGS earthquake monitoring tool for Google Earth. Unfortunately, the layer – which shows seismic activity for the last week, does not show the reported activity for Jabal al-Tair. I’m wondering if there is a gap in the USGS data for this area?

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. The USGS seismic data for Europe / the Middle East is a little lacking. I’ve found the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre tracks activity west of India a little more reliably.
    You can see some minor quakes quite close to the island from yesterday and today on Earthquake! (http://earthquake.googlemashups.com) which uses the EMSC data as one of its sources.

  2. I am just wondering why you didn’t use the geonames.org database or the network link which has the island marked.

  3. azzimd, it was just about as fast for me to search on the marine chart as it was to do the Geonames search. However, Geonames is definitely a great resource. I wish Google would look into using Geonames within GE’s search.

  4. John Sapyta says:

    Hey Frank,
    GE labels the island Jebel at Tair, not Jabel at tair like you have, I think thats the same island.

  5. You might want to try this link. It does show the earthquake activity in Yemen

  6. Never would have expected that!
    I believe a request for aerial imagery needs to made. That kind of coverage would be pretty incredible to have a before and after comparison.

  7. Surely getting imagery of ask.com and displaying it in Google earth (or in fact publishing or distributing it in any way) is a copyright violation?

  8. The image Ask is using actually comes from a NASA Landsat image.

  9. It never hurts to check Current Events first 😉

  10. John Stone says:

    NASA Earth Observatory has released this 15-meter-resolution KMZ file of Jebel at Tair

  11. the volcano/ island is known as many names:
    Jabal al-Tair, Jebel al-Tair, Jabal al-Tayr, Tair Island, Al-Tair Island, Djebel Teyr, and Jibbel Tir.

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