Friday Flotsam: Plume images and a restless (?) North Korean volcano

Lots of great shots of volcanoes from space and North Korea's potentially restless giant.

This week went fast, didn't it?



The Baekdu caldera along the North Korean/Chinese border.

  • The NASA Earth Observatory have been giving us a steady diet of volcanic plumes over the last week, including PNG's Ulawun, Russia's Sarychev Peak (a very faint plume), both an ASTER and Terra image of the summit region at Kliuchevskoi and finally a mix of plume and clouds over PNG's Manam volcano.
  • I wanted to also mention a brief article I ran into on the Changbaishan/Baekdu caldera along the Chinese and North Korean border. Although short on specifics, this article mentions a number of interesting (and potentially odd/wrong) things: (1) Baekdu is showing signs of "becoming active" - this is the first I've heard of that, but the article does mention increased seismicity, inflation of 10 cm since 2002 and an increase in surface temperature; (2) the North Korean government is creating "comprehensive countermeasures" in case of an eruption - I have no idea what this means, it almost suggests they want to come up with ways to stop the eruption, which is ridiculous; (3) that the recent North Korean underground nuclear test might have had an effect on the magmatic system at Baekdu - and this strikes me as 100% pure speculation. The volcano has a caldera lake at the top, known to the Chinese as the "Lake of Heaven" and a Korean-speaking population living around the edifice. If Baekdu were to erupt, it would be a very large problem for North Korea's already teetering economy and government - the eruptions tends to be explosive with the last coming in 1903. However, Baekdu/Changbaishan did likely produce a VEI 7 eruption ~1000 A.D., meaning any activity at the volcano should be closely monitored (which could be difficult with its location on the Chinese-North Korean border).
  • Related Articles

    Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

    It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

    Image: Nissim Benvenisty
    Surprising Science
    • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
    • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
    • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
    Keep reading Show less

    How exercise helps your gut bacteria

    Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

    National Institutes of Health
    Surprising Science
    • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
    • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
    • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
    Keep reading Show less

    Giving octopuses ecstasy reveals surprising link to humans

    A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.

    Image: damn_unique via Flickr
    Surprising Science
    • Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
    • Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
    • Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
    Keep reading Show less