Lava flow shapes in Google Earth

Because of the way Google Earth work, volcanoes are almost always amazing to view inside of it.  3D terrain combined with high-resolution imagery makes for some stunning views, as we explained a while back in our “A to Z” post about Volcanoes.

The NASA Earth Observatory recently posted an image and article about “lava flows”, seen here:


From their article:

Streams of molten rock that ooze from gaps or vents in the Earth’s surface are called lava flows, and they can pose a hazard to everything in their paths. These rivers of rock can take many shapes and move at very different rates depending on the viscosity of the magma, the slope of the land, and the rate of an eruption.

While viscous lava flows are defined by steep flow fronts and pressure ridges, low-viscosity lavas tend to move faster and create longer, narrower shapes. They also tend to have smaller flow fronts and levee-like structure along their edges. Many characteristics of a low-viscosity lava flow are visible in this image of Zhupanovsky and Dzenzursky volcanoes on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. The image was acquired by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite on September 9, 2013.

To see this volcano for yourself, simply download this KML file and load it in Google Earth.  For more, you can read the full story on the NASA Earth Observatory site.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Heatblizzard says:

    The Pacific Ocean has had a VERY unusual high pressure since December 2012 bringing unseasonable dryness. I have had a theory for a long time that there may be lava flows under the area of the semi permanent high pressure.

    I am not sure if this program covers the Pacific Ocean but I am going to give this one a go.

    I am glad you allow guest posting now.

    I got banned from a blog because I posted my theory in which scientists need to examine the Pacific Ocean for warming during a topic about the cause of the drought.

  2. Heatblizzard says:

    Appearing from the description I guess it only shows ONE volcano. Poo!

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