38. Eruption Plume, Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua
Once listed as “extinct,” Masaya volcano stands about 600 meters (2000 feet) high and lies some 30 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of Managua, capital city of Nicaragua. A lake, 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles) long and 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) wide, occupies the East crater. Masaya volcano is interesting in a number of ways: It has erupted basaltic ash fall deposits of exceptional volume in the past, and the sulphurous fumes exhaled from its crater were at one time responsible for serious damage to crops over a large area downwind.
A large white eruption plume is prominent in this photograph. Its white color suggests that it is largely composed of steam and other gases rather than ash, and that it is not the result of an explosive event but rather the slow and steady release of volatiles from the subvolcanic magma chamber. Shuttle photographs of this sort offer remarkably convenient and economical means of monitoring volcanic eruption plumes and tracking their downwind dissemination.
STS-51A. November 1984 Picture #19-32-065.