Volcano, dormant for almost 100 years, erupts in 'spectacular' fashion

Raikoke Volcano
Raikoke Volcano

The volcano sat dormant for almost a century. Then at 4 a.m. last Saturday, it awoke.

In striking photos captured by satellites and astronauts on the International Space Station, smoke billows from the volcano on Raikoke, northeast of Japan. The uninhabited island saw its first volcanic eruption since 1924.

The photos released this week by NASA show volcanic plumes that rarely rise from the stratovolcano, which is almost a half-mile wide and 650 feet deep.

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Raikoke is a tiny island of not even 2 square miles in the Sea of Okhotsk and has been under Russia's control since World War II.

The eruption consisted of at least nine explosions and lasted into the evening, according to the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program.