The picturesque, but snow-capped volcanoes, composing the Islands of the Four Mountains in Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain look suspiciously like an alien world in this August 2010 image from the ASTER camera aboard NASA’s orbiting Terra satellite.
The islands contain restless Mt. Cleveland, an active volcano currently being watched to see if it emits an ash cloud that could affect air travel over parts of North America. A close look at Mt. Cleveland, seen near the image center, shows red vegetation (false color), a white snow-covered peak, a light plume of gas and ash, and dark lanes where ash and debris fell or flowed. Millions of volcanoes have likely been active over the turbulent history of the Earth’s surface, while about 20 volcanoes are erupting even today, at any given time.
The Islands of Four Mountains is actually a group of islands in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. The “Four Mountains” refer to the four volcanoes that exist amongst the numerous island mountains in the grouping.
Here’s one of my favorite shots of the region:
(click image to biggify)
Before humankind knew about heat and wind and convection and whatever else is related to crazy weathery things, it’s interesting to think about what people thought they were seeing when they saw things like this. It’s no surprise that stories of fire-breathing dragons and similar creatures and anomalies predominately exist prior to our current scientific understanding.
In today’s world, we know that fire can do some pretty strange things — like create funnel clouds in Alaska, which has on average about 0 tornadoes a year.
This funnel cloud was pictured near a fire on the Kenai Peninsula in July 2005.