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NASA Captures Amazing Image of Iceland’s Holuhraun Lava from Space First Time

holuhraunIceland in turbulent North Atlantic is known for its volcanoes spewing laval intermittently and NASA has captured one of the amazing pictures of the Earth nearby split open between the Bardarbunga and Askja volcanoes and spewed lava and hot gas. The picture of the Holuhraun lava field from from space was captured vivdly for the first time by NASA’s Landsat 8.

The view was captured on September 6, 2014 by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 of the ongoing eruption and the picture shows the false-color images combine shortwave infrared, near infrared, and green light (OLI bands 6-5-3). Ice and the plume of steam and sulfur dioxide appear cyan and bright blue, while liquid water is navy blue.

Bare or rocky ground around the Holuhraun lava field appears in shades of green or brown in this band combination. Fresh lava is bright orange and red.

“Thermal imagery can be used to determine the extent of the lava flows and the heat loss,” noted Ashley Davies, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist and leader of NASA’s Volcano Sensor Web team. Infrared imagery can help scientists estimate the effusion rate—the rate at which lava is pouring out of the Earth—as well as the sulfur dioxide content of the plume. “In this case, individual vents can be seen feeding separate lava flows that combine into a main channel feeding an expanding lava flow field.”

By some accounts, Holuhraun has spewed more lava this month that any Icelandic volcano since the 19th century. As of September 9, 2014, the new lava flow was 16 kilometers (10 miles) long and covered about 20 square kilometers (8 square miles), according to the University of Iceland.

The plume from Holuhraun is rich with sulfur dioxide (SO2), a rotten-smelling gas that can cause respiratory problems in humans and animals. A blue haze of SO2 and aerosols has been observed downwind over several towns and villages in eastern Iceland. Scientists working near the eruption site have been evacuated and cautioned to keep gas masks handy due to noxious gases and shifting winds. Elevated levels of SO2 have been detected as far as Ireland, Greenland, and Scandinavia, said NASA in a statement.

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