There was a sudden explosion from the Soufriere Hills Volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat on Tuesday December 2, 2008, which sent large rocks flying nearly a kilometer away and scattered debris over the north-western side of Gages Mountain. Buildings in the capital, abandoned since 1997, were set on fire as a result. On the western side of the island a pyroclastic flow traveled down the Gages Valley, apparently reaching the sea. The explosion also resulted in ash columns rising nearly a kilometer into the air. Today's image, showing the ash plume, was captured two days after the initial eruption, on December 4 by the MODIS on the Terra satellite. No one was hurt or evacuated.
Soufriere Hills is a stratovolcano composed of alternating layers of hardened lava, solidified ash, and rocks ejected by previous eruptions. The volcano’s summit reaches an elevation of 915 meters (3,002 feet). After the seventeenth century, the volcano experienced no recorded eruptions until 1995, when a series of major eruptions eventually destroyed the island’s capital city of Plymouth.