Krakatoa, or Krakatua, burst into life with a spectacular eruption on April 11, blasting plumes of vapour up to 1,000 feet in the air. As of yet, there have been no reports of casualties, but the blast from the volcano was so big that it was visible to NASA’s Earth monitoring satellites. NASA has been analysing the eruption from above to determine what exactly was erupted from the volcano.
Verity Flower, a USRA volcanologist based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said: “The location of the plume suggests that it is volcanic in origin.
“On April 12, I saw a similar feature in one of the angular MISR images with a plume-like feature above the volcano summit.”
NASA added: “Based on the colour of the plume in the image above, Flower thinks it is likely composed of mostly water vapour and gas.
“These small, reflective particles make a plume appear white. Conversely, larger and darker ash particles tend to look grey or brown in natural-colour images.”
Indonesia volcano eruption: Krakatoa blast seen from above in NASA images
Krakatua from above
The darker part of the plume appears as if it is at a lower altitude.
According to NASA, this suggests that the darker plumes consist of a denser matter such as dust.
Ms Flower continued: “It is possible the heavier ash particles emitted are staying lower in the atmosphere and are being transported to the north by near-surface winds.
“In contrast, any water and gases within the plume, which are lighter, would be transported higher and would condense rapidly in the atmosphere.”
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Krakatoa began erupting on April 11
Indonesia sits along the Ring of Fire region, an area where most of the world’s volcanic eruptions occur.
The Ring of Fire has seen a large amount of activity in recent days, but Indonesia has been hit hard due to its position on a large grid of tectonic plates.
The nation of islands is at the meeting point of three major continental plates – the Pacific, the Eurasian and the Indo-Australian plates – and the much smaller Philippine plate.
As a result, several volcanoes on the Indonesian islands are prone to erupting.
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Most dangerous volcanoes in the world
Indonesia is home to roughly 400 volcanoes, out of which 127 are currently active, accounting for about a third of the world’s active volcanoes.
Modern history’s most destructive eruptions both came from Indonesia, at Tambora in 1815 and the second-biggest, Krakatoa in 1883.
Mount Agung had previously erupted in 1963, the most explosive volcanic event of the 20th century.
Most volcanoes in Indonesia belong to the Sunda Volcanic Arc, a stretch of 3,000km from north-west Sumatra to the Banda sea.