I’m off soon to Vanuatu for a holiday. Above (click to zoom) is a map of this island nation (produced using the raster package of R, with my own colour palette). The map outlines are from (which is missing an island, unfortunately). Elevation data is from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (with additional void fill using a lower-resolution dataset).

The overlay in red shows light visible at night (from NASA’s Earth at Night). Apart from the two main towns of Luganville and Port Vila, the active volcanoes on Ambrym and Tanna are clearly visible (take a closer look at Ambrym’s lava lake here).

Not highlighted is the active volcano on Ambae, an island which held 4% of the nation’s population until it was recently evacuated – consider helping the evacuees via Anglican Aid.

Hunga Haʻapai continues to erupt

The Hunga Haʻapai volcano in Tonga continues to erupt, affecting flights to and from Nukuʻalofa. I haven’t seen any of the spectacular pictures of this undersea volcano that we saw in 2009, but here is a NASA MODIS satellite image showing the volcanic plume, north of the island of Tongatapu:

2014 in review

Well, 2014 is over. This past year saw, among other things:

Here are some images from the past 365 days:

Clockwise from top left: The Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland (photo: Peter Hartree); Specimens of Dendrogramma discoides and Dendrogramma enigmatica (photo: J. Just, R.M. Kristensen, and J. Olesen); Radhia Cousot (photo: P. Cousot); Putnisite (photo: P. Elliott, G. Giester, R. Rowe, and A. Pring); Curiosity looks back after crossing a Martian dune (photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS); Comet 67P (photo: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM).


The Tavurvur volcano has been erupting again in Papua New Guinea (photo of 2008 eruption above by Taro Taylor). Residents of nearby Rabaul have been advised to remain indoors because of volcanic ash. The relevant Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, in Darwin, has been advising aircraft to avoid the ash cloud. More news here.