Merapi Update for 10/28/2010: At least 33 people killed by explosive eruption

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.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less