Evacuations extended around Mayon
If the activity at Mayon continues to increase, over 75,000 people could be evacuated from the region near the volcano. As usual, there are also those who don't want to believe the volcano is a threat.
I write the Eruptions blog on Big Think. I've been mesmerized with volcanoes (and geology) all my life. It helps that part of my family comes from the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, where I could see first hand the deadly effects of volcanic eruptions. Since then, I've taken a bit of a winding path to become a volcanologist. I started as a history major at Williams College, almost went into radio, but ended up migrating to geology, including an undergraduate thesis on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. I followed this up by changing coast to get my Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Then I ran a MC-ICP-MS lab at University of Washington for a spell (and wrote for an indie rock website). I spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California - Davis studying the inner workings of magmatic systems. I am now an assistant professor at Denison University and have projects in New Zealand, Chile and Oregon.
I am fascinated by volcanoes, their eruptions and how those eruptions interact with the people who live around the volcanoes. I started this blog after getting frustrated with the news reports of volcanic eruptions. Most of them get the information wrong and/or are just sensationalistic. I will try to summarize eruptions as they occur, translate some of the volcanic processes that are happening and comment on the reports themselves.
And no matter what people tell you, I definitely do not have a cat named Tephra. (OK, I do).
You can find out more about my research by visiting my website. If you have any comments, questions or information, feel free to contact me at eruptionsblog at gmail dot com.
Mayon erupting in August 2004.
The increasing unrest at Mayon in the Philippines has prompted National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) to recommend the evacuation of over 75,000 people from around the volcano. This, however, will only happen if the activity at the volcano continues to increase. The volcano currently sits at Alert Level 2 (increasing unrest) and if it were to increase to Level 3 (increased tendency towards eruption), then the evacuations of the first ~1,800 families closest to the volcano would begin. Only if the volcano reached Alert Level 4 (hazardous eruption imminent) would the full evacuation of the 75,000 people in the "High Risk Zone" that extends 8 kilometer / 5 miles around the main crater area. Centers are currently being set up to accommodate some of the evacuees.
Of course, there are always people who don't want to heed the warnings of the authorities and Mayon is no exception. Upwards of 6,000 people living within 6 kilometers / 3.7 miles of the volcano have so far refused to evacuated the government-designated "no man's land" close to Mayon. Many of the residents are farmers who were relocated from the area but continue to return. The area around Mayon are quite fertile thanks, in part, to the volcano material deposited on its slopes - and people don't want to leave their home if its not necessary. This has been an ongoing struggle between local residents and officials about evacuating/relocating but the importance of maintaining a buffer around the volcano was highlighted in
2004 1993 when 80 people near Lepazgi City were killed by an unforeseen eruption of the volcano. However, there are no indications that local officials will forcibly remove people (at this point at least).
PHIVOLC plans to measure the sulfur dioxide emissions from Mayon in the next few days. Seimicity has increased to the levels of the August 2008 phreatic eruption of the volcano and the levels of inflation of the edifice (0.4-1 cm) have been sustained over the weekend. The last major eruption of Mayon was in 2006.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
Great again? Why America stopped looking forward to the future
- Income inequality is dividing Americans.
- Wages haven't risen in 30 years, while prices for housing, schools, and basic goods has.
- Canny (and uncanny) politicians have learned how to milk the politics of fear by comparing the present to the past.
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