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Wednesday Whatzits: Volcanoes of Italy, Eyjafjallajökull update, video of a Guatemalan eruption and Gaua from space

April 28, 2010, 9:11 AM

An undated painting of the island volcano of Ischia near the Bay of Naples, Italy.

Guess what? It is the end of the semester (well, school year) here at Denison, so I might be a little busy for the next couple weeks.

Here are some news bits (with special thanks to all who emailed me some of these links):
  • Boris might have more information or opinion on this, but Italy is back in the news concerning the threat of volcanism to the country. This time the volcano is Ischia, off the coast in the Bay of Naples. Guido Bertolaso of Italy's civil protection agency is quoted as saying that the "magma chamber is loading up" that the volcano. I'm still not entirely sure what that means, but Bertolaso implies that Ischia could be a bigger threat to the area than Vesuvius. Ischia last erupted in 1302 AD and tends to erupt explosively, forming dome complexes. It has also produced the 56,000 year old Green Tuff ignimbrite.
  • Speaking of Vesuvius, another statement from Bertolaso called Vesuvius the "the biggest public safety problem there is in Italy" and warned that over one million people will be in danger when the volcano erupts again. At the same time, it was announced that Italy will begin monitoring undersea volcanoes near their coast.
  • The European airlines affected by the Eyjafjallajökull eruption will be getting monetary relief from the EU for their estimated $3.3 billion dollar loss due to the airspace closure. We'll see how that changes the tenor of the political debate on the ash. The volcano continues to puff away. The current assessment from the Icelandic Met Office suggests the volcano has reached a steady-state in the current eruption:
    Overall assessment: Plume elevations and magma discharge levels remain similar to the preceding four days of activity. Lava continues to flow north from the eruption site toward the head of the Gígjökull glacier. Despite light ash-fall occurring up to 45 km west of the eruption site, today's explosive activity and ash production represents a fraction of conditions during the height of the eruption (14-17 April). There are no measurable indications that the eruption is about to end. Magma flow: No measurements possible today; however, the intensity of the eruption suggests that the discharge level is similar to the preceding four days (i.e. 20-40 tonnes/s). Meltwater: Continuing discharge of water from Gígjökull due to ice-melt at the eruption site. Discharge at the old Markarfljót bridge, 18 km from Gígjökull, is estimated at ~100 m3 s-1, of which ~30 m3 s-1 is baseflow.
  • I mentioned the eruption at Santiaguito in Guatemala yesterday and if you want to see some up-close (probably too up-close) video of an eruption of the volcano, check out this tourist video. Even looking at the conditions on the domes before the explosion, you have to wonder why anyone would think it was a good idea to hike up there. If there are any rich benefactors out there who want to suppose volcano research, the "volcano observatory" at Santiaguito might be an excellent candidate to fund.
  • Finally, activity continues to increase at Gaua in Vanuatu - and you can see a great image of the eruption at the NASA Earth Observatory. The ash-and-steam plume has become thicker and taller, with frequent volcanic bombs as well. Evacuations of the island are underway as the threat increases.

Wednesday Whatzits: Volcano...

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