Friday Flotsam: Updates on Bulusan, Merapi, Sakurajima and Kamchatka
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.
We've made it through another week! Some news to round it out.
Bulusan: The Philippine volcano continues to produce ash plumes, but PHIVOLCS announced that none of the ash sampled thus far appears to be from fresh, new magma. How do they know this? Well, the morphology (shape) of the ash shards can be a big clue, where shards that are blocky tend to be from old, cold rock at the vent being broken by explosives while cuspate, conchoidal shards tend to be from fresh fragmentation of juvenile magma. The cuspate shape of the juvenile ash comes from the walls of the bubbles in the magma that explode as the dissolved volatiles (like water and CO2) try to come out of solution - the source of (most) fragmentation in magma. Two towns near the volcano received some ash fall, but most reports suggest that the ash is only a few mm thick. The plume itself is still only in the 700-1000 meter / 2,000-3,000 foot range. All in all, the activity suggests that magma is rising underneath the main summit, providing the heat for the phreatic (steam-driven) explosions, but there is no evidence that a magmatic eruption is coming soon. In fact, there were only 4 earthquakes recorded under Bulusan yesterday, down from 20+ earlier in the week. However, PHIVOLCS will maintain the Level 1 alert and the 4-km exclusion zone.
Merapi: The deathtoll for the new eruptive episode at Merapi has now topped 200 people as the eruption itself enters its 3rd week (audio). The effects of the ash fall on the area surrounding Merapi is now being more evident, with a significant amount of local snake fruit trees dying from the ash fall. Snake fruit is one of the more important commercial plants that local residents near Merapi grow. However, the sand business is booming in the same region. Activity at Merapi has been lower this week, so local officials have been struggling with what to do about evacuees who want to return home - and if they do leave shelters, they are being required to sign a waiver saying they are leaving by their own free will. It is these aspects - the social - that will need to be tackled as the eruption lingers. The National Disaster Management Agency is also concerned about the remobilization of the ash in the form of lahars and flooding, so dredging of local rivers has begun as well. Be sure to check out the shot of Merapi's ash plume taken on November 10 from the Terra satellite (the NASA EO folks mention that this was one of the first mostly cloud-free shots they have been able to take). There is also some impressive glow at night on the Deles webcam for Merapi - one of the two Merapi webcams that are currently operational.
Merapi erupting on November 5, 2010. Click here to see the original version.
More NASA Earth Observatory: Sakurajima, the Japanese volcano, seems to be constantly erupting - well, more than "seems to be" but rather "is". The NASA Earth Observatory posted an image of the plume from Sakurajima as it produces more strombolian explosions that you can watch live on one of the Sakurajima webcams. The image also nicely shows how Sakurajima sits within the larger Aira Caldera. In another very active arc, the volcanoes in Kamchatka were captured in an image on November 5. Kliuchevskoi is definitely much quieter than it was a few weeks ago, but you can still see the ash on the white snows of the area. Nearby volcano Bezymianny is still producing a steam ash that can be seen drifting off to the northeast. You can check the status of all the Kamchatka volcanoes thanks to KVERT.
Top left: Ash fall on the town on Muntilan, Indonesia. Click on the image to see a larger version.
The best-selling author tells us his methods.
- James Patterson has sold 300 million copies of his 130 books, making him one of the most successful authors alive today.
- He talks about how some writers can overdo it by adding too much research, or worse, straying from their outline for too long.
- James' latest book, The President is Missing, co-written with former President Bill Clinton, is out now.
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
- Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.
- The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
- The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
- Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.