Fire Island, Cabo Verde

Fire Island, Cabo Verde

This photo captures an astronaut’s view of Fogo, an island 600 kilometers (400 miles) off the coast of West Africa. The name Fogo translates from Portuguese to English as “fire.” The name epitomizes the volatile nature of the Cabo Verde (or Cape Verde) volcanic islands.

Pico de Fogo is the highest peak in Cabo Verde, towering 2829 meters (9,280 feet) above sea level. It is the active cone at the summit of the Fogo stratovolcano that forms the island. As seen from the International Space Station, the semicircle of surrounding cliffs marks the edge of the Cha das Caldeiras summit caldera. Research by geologists shows that the entire east side of Fogo volcano slid into the sea in a process known as lateral collapse. That event, now known as the Monte Amarelo landslide, formed the caldera approximately 80,000 years ago.

Scientists using subsea backscatter sonar techniques have been able to identify the landslide rubble on the seafloor offshore of the east side of the island. So much material slid off the volcano flank that the debris field covers an area larger than the area of Fogo Island itself. Landslides are common on active volcanic islands—such as Fogo and the Hawaiian islands—as the repeated burial of unconsolidated rock debris by subsequent eruptions can create fault zones. Acidic solutions can also form from volcanic gases; these can alter rock-forming minerals to clay minerals, leading to weaker rock masses.

Read more about the 2014 eruption at Fogo.

Astronaut photograph ISS063-E-54142 was acquired on July 23, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 400 millimeters. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 63 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Amber Turner, Jacobs, and Justin Wilkinson, Texas State University, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.