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Raikoke volcano erupts after almost 100 years; ISS captures photos

The volcano sat dormant for almost a century. Then, at 4 a.m. last Saturday, it awoke.

In striking photos captured by satellites and astronauts on the International Space Station, smoke is seen billowing from the volcano on Raikoke, located northeast of Japan, as the uninhabited island saw its first volcanic eruption since 1924.

The photos released this week by NASA show volcanic plumes that rarely rise from the stratovolcano, which is almost half-a-mile wide and 650 feet deep.

Raikoke is a tiny island not even two square miles large in the Sea of Okhotsk and has been under Russia’s control since World War II.

The eruption consisted of at least nine explosions and lasted into the evening, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program activity report.

The ash plumes containing large amounts of sulfur dioxide rose as high as 42,700 feet, or 8 miles. Lightning was detected in the plumes as they drifted east and northeast, the report stated.

By the next day, barely any ash remained visible to satellites, according to NASA Earth Observatory.

“What a spectacular image. It reminds me of the classic Sarychev Peak astronaut photograph of an eruption in the Kuriles from about ten years ago,” said Simon Carn, a volcanologist at Michigan Tech. 

Before the 1924 eruption, the Raikoke volcano hadn’t erupted since 1778, according to NASA.

Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller

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