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St. Vincent Volcano: Satellites capture explosive La Soufrière eruptions

The La Soufrière volcano on St. Vincent, which first erupted on Friday continues to spew ash and smoke high into the atmosphere.

Weather satellites have captured dozens of eruptions since the volcano first blew its top last week, ash now spreading hundreds of miles eastward and extinguishing the sun in Barbados.

The sputtering volcano has spewed thousands of tons of ashen fine particulate matter miles into the atmosphere, captured by the GOES east weather satellite, which peers down from 22,236 miles above the Earth’s surface.




The satellite captured the first eruption at 8:41am Friday, the 8:50am scan revealing a vertically extensive plume of brown volcanic particulates injected high into the atmosphere.

Estimating the plume height at 9:00am using the length of the shadow and the angle of the sun indicates that volcanic material may have reached up to 38,000 feet in height. Satellites estimated that the top of the plume was as cold as minus-75 degrees Fahrenheit, corresponding to altitudes near 40,000 feet.

READ: What the Saint Vincent volcano’s eruption means for the atmosphere



IN PICTURES: La Soufriere volcano erupts in Saint Vincent

READ: ‘La Soufriere volcano destroying everything in its path’: Huge explosion sends out more gas and ash

West-to-north-westerly winds initially fanned ashfall north of Barbados, but Saturday the breeze changed direction. That sent a thick column of ash directly over the island, the day turned into night by the eerie black clouds.

In the past 24 hours, eruptions have been occurring semi-regularly every couple of hours, each producing new plumes that drift off to the east. Satellites indicated that 10 eruptions had occurred since midnight Saturday.

The volcano previously erupted in 1979, had been acting up since December. A new lava dome appeared before the new year and grew into February, prompting increased supervision by volcanologists.

READ: What the Saint Vincent volcano’s eruption means for the atmosphere

IN PICTURES: La Soufriere volcano erupts in Saint Vincent

READ: ‘La Soufriere volcano destroying everything in its path’: Huge explosion sends out more gas and ash