Merapi Update for 10/28/2010: At least 33 people killed by explosive eruption
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.
The news of the aftermath from the Merapi eruption continues to be grim. The pyroclastic flows have killed at least 33 people (including the "Keeper of Merapi", who has caused a stir even in death), and now the job of burying the dead has begun. This is especially important in a tropical country like Indonesia because remember, the #1 killer in most disasters is not the event itself (e.g., earthquake, eruption, tsunami) but the disease that follows. Most refugee camps become centers of the spread of diseases, and with limited access to fresh water and food, the chances that disease can spread rapidly, especially amongst people potentially already weakened by injuries, is very high. More than 50,000 people have been evacuated and international aid has begun to arrive to help the refugees.
Merapi continues to erupt as well - on Thursday the volcano produced more ash and has no signs that this eruptive period is over. This new eruption at Merapi is something that hasn't been noted frequently at the volcano - typically Merapi will generate lava flows, but this eruption was strongly explosive. The glow of the new juvenile magma at the summit crater is visible on the Merapi webcam at night (when conditions permit).
Ash damage in a town near Merapi (in background)
One thing to make clear is that although the earthquake and eruption are broadly related in the sense that they are both part of the subduction zone near Indonesia, there is no direct correlation. Geological events like this are randomly distributed and as with any random distribution, sometimes they line up - so don't fall into the trap of thinking that one event lead to the other in a direct, causal relationship.
As with previous days, I'll try to post updates throughout the day. You can, too, in the comments below.
Top left: Merapi on October 26, 2010.
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
It turns out the human scalp has an olfactory receptor that seems to play a crucial role in regulating hair follicle growth and death.
- Scientists treated scalp tissue with a chemical that mimics the odor of sandalwood.
- This chemical bound to an olfactory receptor in the scalp and stimulated hair growth.
- The treatment could soon be available to the public.
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.