On May 30, 2014 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured a true-color image of Peru’s restless Ubinas volcano. The volcano sits at the center of the image. A gray plume billows up from the caldera then blows to the southeast. Much of the tan ground encircling the caldera has been covered with gray ash.
According to Volcano Discovery, steam and ash emissions have continued at Ubinas throughout May. A weak explosion was reported on May 29, followed by an emission of a dark plume which rose hundreds of meters above the caldera. On June 3, a strong explosion rocked the volcano followed by ash rising to 10 kilometers (6 miles). That plume blew strongly to the east.
Located in the high Andes, Ubinas has been threatening a major eruption since the summer of 2013, when the volcano shot an ash plume into the air – something that had not occurred since 2010. At first experts thought the ash plumes were purely phreatic (i.e. steam-drive eruptions caused by hot magma’s effect on ground water, such as increased snowfall at the crater) rather than related to a new flow of magma rising. By September, 2013 however, it became evident that magma was indeed rising, as activity began to intensify.
By March of 2014 a fresh lava dome had appeared at Ubinas, along with renewed explosive activity. Ash clouds rose to 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) and were followed by smaller explosions and increasing tremors. The increasing activity, as well as the health risks from the irritating ash emissions prompted evacuations of villagers as well as their livestock (mostly alpaca and llamas) in mid-April. Most evacuations have been lifted at the time of this writing.