Ambae Island, Vanuatu, c 2000.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
The recently active volcano Mt Manaro is the dominant feature in this shaded relief image of Ambae Island, part of the Vanuatu archipelago located 1,400 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia. About 5,000 inhabitants, half the island's population, were evacuated in early December 2005 from the path of a possible lahar, or mud flow, when the volcano started spewing clouds of steam and toxic gases 10,000 feet into the atmosphere. Last active in 1996, the 1,496 meter (4,908 ft) high basaltic shield volcano features two lakes within its summit caldera, or crater. The ash and gas plume is actually emerging from a vent at the centre of Lake Voui (at left), which was formed approximately 425 years ago after an explosive eruption.