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Resuspended volcanic ash from Katmai, Alaska | by NASA Goddard Photo and Video
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Resuspended volcanic ash from Katmai, Alaska

The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, located in Katmai National Park, forms a unique and ashen landscape. Encircled by volcanoes – both active and inactive – it has served as a perfect collection area for huge amounts of volcanic ash.


According to the Alaska Historical Society (AHS), 2012 marked the centennial anniversary of the volcanic eruption that formed the valley, and led to the establishment, in 1918, of Katmai National Park. A massive eruption rocked the region on June 6, 1912 as the then-unknown volcano, Novarupta, became suddenly and violently active. According to the AHS, it erupted with “such force that mountains collapsed, ash darkened summer skies, earthquakes rocked population centers and were recorded as far away as Washington, D.C.” Glowing hot ash was reported to have smothered an area covering 40 square miles, and up to 700 feet deep.


While the active volcanoes surrounding the valley - Novarupta, Mt. Mageik, Trident Volcano, Mt. Griggs, Mt. Martin and Mt. Katmai - have remained relatively quiescent, their ashen legacy continues to affect the landscape – and air traffic - even a century after it was laid down.


The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image on September 29, 2014. Volcanic ash from the Katmai region has been lifted aloft by strong winds, and is blowing to the southeast, over Shelikof Strait, Kodiak Island, and the Gulf of Alaska. Although such clouds are not from active volcanoes, the remobilized volcanic ash still provides a potential hazard to aircraft flying through the region.


Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team


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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

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Uploaded on October 7, 2014