Back in 1973, a volcanic eruption in the western Pacific ocean caused the formation of a new island named Nishino-shima. Four months ago, a nearby eruption caused the formation of a new island named Niijima. The Niijima eruption has continued and the island has been growing and has now consumed Nishino-shima and it is continuing to grow larger.
The Niijima portion of the island is now larger than the original Nishino-shima, and the merged island is slightly more than 1,000 meters across. Two cones have formed around the main vents and stand more than 60 meters above sea level, triple the highest point of the island in December. Volcanic lava flows are reported to be most active now on the south end of the island.
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.
8,530-foot-high Mount Sinabung in western Indonesia has erupted again, prompting the evacuation of approximately 1,300 villagers. The mountain has been active for a few months now: 15,000 were forced to evacuate in September and roughly 3,300 were forced to evacuate in October.
To learn more about this and other volcanoes around the world, you can use the [Volcanoes] layer in Google Earth, found under the [Gallery] section. To find Mount Sinabung, just load this KML file and it’ll fly you over there.
Mount Etna in Sicily is a beautiful mountain, and has seen an increase in volcanic activity in 2013. Captured on April 18 by NASA’s EO-1 satellite, the image below shows the mountain in it’s eleventh paroxysm of 2013. In the image you can clearly see the ash cloud on the left, and fresh lava flows on the right side of the mountain.
Located roughly 25 kilometers (15 miles) north-northwest of Sicily’s second-largest city, Mount Etna is a stratovolcano composed of layers of rocks, lava, and volcanic ash left by earlier eruptions. The summit reaches an altitude of 3,330 meters (10,925 feet) above sea level. People have lived around Etna for millennia, so scientists have one of the longest documented records of activity of any volcano in the world—dating back to 1500 B.C.
With more than 680,000 residents within a few kilometers of it, scientists keep a close eye on Japan’s Sakurajima Volcano. A few weeks ago a new advisory was put out for the volcano and an image was captured by NASA less than an hour later. In the image you can clearly see the plume trail stretching for many miles.
You can view this image in Google Earth by loading this KML file.
Because of the high-resolution base imagery in the area and the 3D terrain of Google Earth, the volcano looks quite amazing even without NASA’s image laid on top of it. The imagery is from 2005, though the historical imagery in Google Earth offers part of the island with slightly newer imagery. In any case, it looks quite awesome.