Airborne Lidar Measurements of the Soufriere Eruption of 17 April 1979

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Science  04 Jun 1982:
Vol. 216, Issue 4550, pp. 1113-1115
DOI: 10.1126/science.216.4550.1113


At the time of the Soufriere, St. Vincent, volcanic eruption of 17 April 1979, a NASA P-3 aircraft with an uplooking lidar (light detection and ranging) system onboard was airborne 130 kilometers east of the island. Lidar measurements of the fresh volcanic ash were made approximately 2 hours after the eruption, 120 kilometers to the northeast and east. On the evening of 18 April, the airborne lidar, on a southerly flight track, detected significant amounts of stratospheric material in layers at 16, 17, 18, and 19.5 kilometers. These data, and measurements to the north on 19 April, indicate that the volcanic plume penetrated the stratosphere to an altitude of about 20 kilometers and moved south during the first 48 hours after the eruption.