Monday Musings: Busy times in Indonesia, stress and volcanoes, Korean volcanic hazards and the Auckland Volcanic Disaster (on TV)
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.
Busy weekend (well, mostly grading, but that does eat time like you wouldn't believe), so here are some quick hits from the news file:
Busy Indonesia: As people begin to return to the area near Sinabung, two more Indonesian volcanoes begin to make more noise. Merapi was closed to climbers over the weekend due to increased threat of an eruption while Karangetang was elevated to orange status due to increasing signs of an impending eruption. Both are very active volcanoes ... and speaking of Indonesia eruption, there was an interesting historical article that talked about the migration of New Englanders to Ohio after the Tambora eruption of 1815 - a nice link between human migration and an eruption on the other side of the planet.
Using stress to find the eruption: There is a new study in Nature Geosciences that talks to the relationship between stress in the Earth's crust and the potential location of volcanic eruptions. You might say "the eruption is at the volcano, silly!" and well, you'd be right, however in events like the fissure-vent stage of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, the location of the first fissure might have been predicted by analysing the stresses in the crust around the area - at least based on the study by Dr. Ian Hamling and others on eruptions in the Afar region of Ethiopia.
Potential flooding if Mt. Baekdu erupts: We've discussed a little bit about the large caldera system sitting between China and North Korea and its potential for a new eruption. A new study out of South Korea suggests that if Mt. Baekdu (aka Changbaishan) were to erupt again, a major problem would be flooding generated by the breach of Lake Cheonji in the caldera. Again, there are no signs the caldera is likely to erupt soon, but the threat is there.
New Zealand Volcano Disaster on TV: If you live in New Zealand, I'd love to hear if you watched Eruption, a TV drama about a potential eruption in the Auckland Volcanic Field that underlies the city of the same name. Sounds like a real gem ...
Top left: An undated image of Merapi in Indonesia.