A rupture on a major oil pipeline in southern Iraq spilled a pool of oil over the desert on March 23, 2004. The oil quickly caught fire, and when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flew over on the Terra satellite the next morning, the burning oil was sending great plumes of black smoke northwest over Iraq. According to news reports, its not yet clear what caused the rupture, but it is probably a result of corrosion, not sabotage. The fire was still burning when MODIS onboard the Aqua satellite captured the scene a few hours later. In both MODIS scenes, fires are marked with red dots.
Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC