Midweek Update for 12/7/2010: Bromo, Tungurahua, Merapi eruptions downgraded

So, the start of the week has now officially ranked on the busiest I have had in, well, years, so the posts have been more than a little sparse - and I apologize for that. Luckily, most of the volcano news has been about volcanoes calming down rather than heating up, so I can play a little catch up here with a brief summary of all the simmering systems.


All three of the eruptions that have been in the news over the last few weeks were downgraded to lower alert status by their host country's respective volcano monitoring agencies. Bromo and Merapi in Indonesia have seen the alert status lowered at both volcanoes. Bromo was lowered to the Alert Level 2 (of 4) after observations of the volcano showed declining activity (according to Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center monitoring chief Agus Budianto). At Merapi, the alert status was also lowered to Alert Level 3, but the threat of lahars from remobilized ash or collapse of the "cold" lava dome are still distinct hazards. A 2.5-km exclusion zone around the volcano is still in place. Many of the 250,000 returning evacuees are also finding that their lives have been significantly altered by the eruption. And if you missed it, there was an interesting video about Merapi by Miles O'Brien of PBS about the eruption and the superstition surrounding the volcano. 

Around the globe at Ecuador's Tungurahua, after a busy weekend, the activity at the volcano has also seen a couple days of lower activity, although the volcano is still throwing incandescent bombs over 1 km from the crater. 

However, even with all this downgrading of activity, we can always count on Kamchatka to keep making noise. The NASA Earth Observatory posted an image of the renewed activity at Kliuchevskoi from December 4, showing the steam-and-ash plume the volcano is producing. The latest KVERT update and Smithsonian/USGS GVP Weekly Update has Kliuchevskoi at Orange Alert status, with active explosions that could reach as high as 7 km / 23,000 feet.

Top left: The steaming summit of Merapi. Image from December 5, 2010.

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Too much sleep results in cognitive decline, researchers find

We know the dangers of too little sleep. Now for the other side of the story.

Photo: Vladislav Muslakvo / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Western University researchers found that sleeping over eight hours per night results in cognitive decline.
  • Oversleepers suffer similar difficulties on certain cognitive tests as those who sleep under seven hours.
  • Not all the news is bad: One night of oversleeping results in a cognitive boost.
Keep reading Show less

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less