Browse All : Images of Northern Mariana Islands

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International Space Sta...
2007-01-31 0:0:0
Description ISS014-E-11872 (11 Jan. 2007) --- Pagan Island, Northern Mariana Islands, is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 14 crewmember on the International Space Station. According to scientists, the Mariana Islands are part a volcanic island arc -- surface volcanoes formed from magma generation as one tectonic plate is overridden (or subducted) beneath another. In the case of the Mariana Islands, the Pacific Plate is being subducted beneath the Philippine Plate along the famously deep Mariana Trench (more than 11 kilometers below sea level). Pagan Island (right) is comprised of two stratovolcanoes (tall, typically cone-shaped structures formed by layers of dense crystallized lava and less-dense ash and pumice) connected by a narrow isthmus of land. Mount Pagan, the larger of the two volcanoes, forms the northeastern portion of the island and has been the most active historically. The most recent major eruption took place in 1981, but since then numerous steam- and ash-producing events have been observed at the volcano -- the latest reported one occurring between Dec. 5-8, 2006. This image records volcanic activity on Jan. 11, 2007 that produced a thin plume (most probably steam, say NASA scientists, possibly with minor ash content) that extended westwards away from Mount Pagan. The island is sparsely populated, and monitored for volcanic activity by the United States Geological Survey and the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands.
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