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