Suwanose-jima in Japan’s Ryukyu Islands released plumes of ash and steam in early July 2009. The MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image on July 5, 2009. A beige plume from the volcano fans out as it heads northeast toward the island of Yaku-shima. According to a bulletin from the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency on July 6, 2009, a faint ash plume from Suwanose-jima had traveled 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) northeast of the island.
Suwanose-jima is an 8-kilometer- (5-mile-) long, spindle-shaped, sparsely populated island. It is a stratovolcano composed of alternating layers of hardened lava, solidified ash, and dark gray volcanic rocks left over from previous eruptions. The volcano experienced strombolian eruptions—low-level explosive bursts of incandescent rocks—from 1949 to 1996. After 1996, the volcano’s periods of quiescence lengthened, but it remains one of Japan’s most active volcanoes.