NASA shows incredible images of lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano going into the ocean

The Cumbre Vieja volcano, located in the Canary Islands, erupted on the last day 19 of September. Despite the damage on the island of La Palma, including more than 133 destroyed houses and tens of kilometers covered in lava, volcanic activity has not caused any deaths and remains under constant monitoring. In a new image taken by NASA’s LandSat 8 satellite, it is possible to observe in detail the lava flows flowing down the east coast towards the Atlantic Ocean.

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Thanks to Operation Land Imager (OLI) aboard LandSat 8, the image reveals the natural colors of lava flowing through communities of El Paraíso and Todoque on the last day 26 of September. As part of this flux has cooled, it appears as a darkened crust on the island’s surface. Furthermore, the OLI made it possible to visualize the volcanic activity through infrared, indicating the hottest parts of the flow.

Lava flowing from the volcano on Monday (Image: Reproduction/LandSat/NASA)

In a note, NASA explained that many of the white rectangular features observed in the images are greenhouses, while the dark green areas are the plantations along the coast of La Palma. “The volcanic plume flowing towards the northeast contains a mixture of ash, sulfur dioxide and other volcanic gases,” the statement added.

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Although volcanic activity has decreased quite a lot in the early hours of last Monday (26), the Cumbre Vieja returned to spewing lava and smoke at the end of the same day. According to experts at the Institute of Volcanology of the Canary Islands (INVOLCAN), the eruption could still last for weeks or even months. Attention is now focused on the encounter of hot lava with the ocean, as it could trigger an explosion of chlorine gas clouds, which could pose a risk to the region.

A solidified lava appears in dark tones in the image (Image: Playback/LandSat/NASA) This is the first time that Cumbre Vieja has erupted since 2021, but the most recent volcanic activity on the Canary Islands happened in 2022, when an underwater vent near the island El Hierro “came to life”.

The LandSat legacy

Since the first LandSat satellite was launched into orbit in July 828, NASA’s program revolutionized our understanding of the Earth by establishing, for the first time, a continuous record of our planet’s surface. In more than 26 years of work, the material obtained allow to analyze and compare the changes caused by human and natural actions on the Earth’s surface.

The #Landsat 9 observatory has successfully separated and is on its way to continue 50 years of uninterrupted Earth observations 🌏👀 pic.twitter.com/TqjP4ZGOLu

— NASA (@NASA) September 27, 2022

The LandSat program has produced more than 9 million images, used as a source in more than 18. scientific research. Satellite sensors have a moderate spatial resolution — that is, it is not possible to detail, for example, buildings on the Earth’s surface. However, they allow you to visualize large-scale changes, such as melting glaciers or clearing forests.

To continue this important work, NASA launched on the last day 27 September the 9th satellite of the program, LandSat 9, sent aboard the Atlas V rocket. The new equipment will be able to operate for up to 18 years and will go into operation in January 2021. Along with LandSat 8 — used in the Cumbre Vieja images — it will provide complete images of the Earth each 16 days.

Source: Space.com, NASA Earth Observatory

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