Monday Musings: Etna's ash, mapping Kilauea deformation, Auckland's new volcano and more
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.
I'm as surprised as you are, but it is already Monday. Busy week for me - students getting ready to register for Fall Semester courses and a talk to give at the end of the week ... but at least we get to watch "In the Path of a Killer Volcano" (about the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo) in my freshman volcanoes class. That documentary is probably my favorite all-time, definitely worth checking out if you want to see front line volcanologists at work.
(UPDATE: Commenting seems to work again. Thanks to the tech folks here for figuring it out!)
Etna: Dr. Boris Behncke has been keeping us appraised on the fits and spurts at Sicily's volcano. We haven't seen a return to the spectacular eruptions of January 2011, but there have been small ash emissions over the past few days from the southeast crater, which could suggest that more activity is in the works. Looks like we need to keep an eye on the volcano. However, March was a quiet month for both Etna and Stromboli.
Kilauea: The Hawaiian volcano will get the InSAR treatment over the next week from a NASA aircraft. InSAR is a method of using radar to look at changes in the surface of the Earth by comparing two images taken during different periods and then comparing the two images. By seeing where they are different, you can determine how much potential uplift/deflation might have occurred (if you're examining a volcano). Kilauea was last imaged in January of this year, so these new flights will hopefully be able to see minute changes in the volcano since the March Kamoamoa Fissure. The latest Kilauea update reports that the volcano is inflating near the summit crater while activity at Pu`u O`o appears to be sporadic with weak deflation.
Ambrym: NASA also released an image of ash and volcanic gases from Ambrym volcano in Vanuatu spreading out over the Pacific. Ambrym is one of the more active volcanoes in the Southern Pacific island chain with an active lava lake (top left) - and made famous last year by this video.
DEVORA (DEterming VOlcanic Risk in Auckland) logo. Kind of reminds me of this.
Auckland: It always amazes me how little people know about their surroundings - which is why, whenever I see news from New Zealand about Auckland's volcanic past (and present), it seems to be treated with such shock in the media. Yes, the city of Auckland is built upon the Auckland Volcanic Field, which has been quiet as of late, but doesn't mean it will always stay that way. The latest article mentions the identification of another volcano under the city - the Grafton volcano - which appears to have last been active 50,000 years ago (although that number could change). All of this research is part of the DEVORA project (which might have the best logo ever - see top left) to fully characterize the volcanism present in the geologic record around New Zealand's largest city.
Iceland: Volcanic activity has been pretty quiet in Iceland lately. That hasn't stopped Jón Frímann from being busy - he recently posted what could only be called the "Cliff Notes" for Icelandic eruption. Check it out to see how active the island has been over the ~1,200 years.
Top left: Undated image of the crater at Ambrym, Vanuatu.
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.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- 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
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
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