A long ash-laden plume and a large red hot spot marked the explosive eruption of Japan’s Nishino-shima volcano in early October 2022. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a true-color image of the scene on October 4. The red hot spot marks an area where the thermal bands on the instrument detected high temperatures. In this case, this is likely due to a large flow of lava from the volcano.
This eruption of Nishino-shima began on October 1 and has continued through October 5. According to the Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program, an eruption produced an ash plume which rose 1.8-2.6 km (6,000-8,500 feet) above sea level and drifted both to the east and to the west. Dense ash eruptions have caused aviation warnings near the area, but the island is uninhabited so other risks to people remain small.
Nishino-shima volcano appears to occupy a tiny island, but it really is the tip of a large submerged volcano. Measuring only about one-half mile (700 meters) wide, on maps the island appears as a tiny dot about 1,000 km (620 miles) south and slightly east of Tokyo in the Ogasawara Islands. The volcano’s eruptions typically produce large amounts of ash as well as large flows of lava. In fact, the repeated, underwater eruptions with free-flowing lava have created the island—and are expanding its size. Scientists have estimated that in the last large eruptive episode, which occurred in 2020, Nishino-shima produced lava flows of 1,000,000 cubic meters (35,314,667 cubic feet) a day.