The islands of Reunion and Mauritius sparkle like two green jewels in the deep blue Indian Ocean on a cloud-speckled late spring day. The Moderate Resolution Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite captured this image on December 10, 2010 as it passed over the region.
The islands are located off the southeastern coast of Madagascar. Reunion Island, one of the 26 regions of France, is the western island. The northwest section of the island is formed on the remains of an extinct volcano and the southeastern half is built on the basaltic shield of the 8,630 foot Piton de la Fournaise. Like all basaltic shield volcanoes, it has broad, gentle slope built by eruption of the fluid basalt lava. It is currently one of the five most active volcanoes in the world, along with Kilauea, Stromboli, Etna, and Mount Erebus. The most recent eruption was January 2, 2010, and lasted for 10 days.
About 200 km (120 mi) northeast of Reunion lies the Republic of Mauritius, an island nation which includes not only Mauritius, which can be seen in this image, but also Cargados Carajos, Rodrigues and Agalega Island. Mauritius is also of volcanic origin, but has no active volcano. It has 177 km of coastline, and is surrounded by coral reefs. This island is the historical home of the dodo, a large flightless bird which was driven to extinction by human activity by the end of the 17th century – specifically from hunting and by the introduction of non-native predatory species.