Sunset Over Shem Creek
January 31, 2004
The above photo of this majestic purple and crimson sunset was captured in 1980 over Shem Creek, South Carolina, a few weeks after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington (May 18, 1980). The reddish colors were caused by volcanic dust and ash in the upper atmosphere, which are very effective in scattering sunlight. Even though Mt. St. Helens is nearly 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from this seaside location in South Carolina, the huge quantities of dust and other particulates released during the eruption, and injected into the stratosphere, soon traversed North America and, eventually circled the entire globe. With cloud free skies, in order for sunsets to be as provacative as this one, the atmosphere must be relatively dirty. This photo was taken without any enhancements or filters.