Monday Musings: Tambora's rumblings in the news, Cleveland's new dome and flights resume in Argentina
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.
Well, I feel like a broken record, but I apologize for the dearth of posts. Amongst other things, I am mired in my third year review here, so I've been using up a lot of my non-teaching/research time in writing a professional statement. It can definitely be a time sink, but considering it will decide whether I get to stick around here for another 3 years, well, it might be worth the time, eh?
Anyway, I'm going to try to catch up on some of the news out there:
Indonesia: Tambora is still rumbling, which shouldn't be news to anyone who frequents the blog. However, it looks like some of the mainstream english-speaking media is catching on. However, they have made it nicely sensational as usual, with headlines like "Farmers flee as world's deadliest volcano rumbles"! The AP articles goes onto make the claim that:
"Bold farmers in Indonesia routinely ignore orders to evacuate the slopes of live volcanoes. But those living on Tambora have taken no chances since history's deadliest mountain rumbled ominously to life this month"
Now, they offer no evidence of where this claim comes from, but I might suggest that some of the evacuations are not because of some latent fear of Tambora but rather the only recent eruptions in Indonesia - such as at Merapi (whose eruption was officially declared "over" recently) - that saw hundreds of fatalities. However, I suppose saying that the farmers just know Tambora is more dangerous makes for better copy.
Alaska: It looks like Cleveland in the Aleutians is running off a new playbook right now. It continues to see dome growth without much explosive activity, a marked change in behavior for the picturesque (see top left) Alaskan volcano. In fact, there hasn't been any sign of new ash emissions from Cleveland since mid-July, but the dome has been steadily growing in the summit crater since September 3. AVO has the volcano on orange alert because even with this "passive" dome growth right now, we should still expect explosive activity to resume if the dome creates enough pressure at the summit vent.
UPDATE 10:30 AM: I just found this article on Red Orbit about the Cleveland activity. The title is "Large Eruption Pending at Cleveland" and goes onto to say this:
"The Daily Mail warned that Cleveland Volcano “could be poised for its first big eruption in ten years,” and that experts believed that it could “erupt at any moment, spewing ash clouds up to 20,000 feet above sea level with little further warning."
What I find most frustrating in this is the idea that 20,000 feet is a "large eruption". Sure, it is nothing to sneeze at, but for most volcanologists, a 20,000 foot plume is relatively small to moderate - heck, it wouldn't even be considered Plinian - so for the media to say this would be "large" is misleading at best.
Chile/Argentina: It appears that activity at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle might finally be subsiding. Flights in/out of Bariloche, near the volcano, have resumed after most commercial traffic, the first such flight since mid-July. Remember, the eruption itself started in early June, so this should hopefully be the resumption of regular flights that haven't occurred in over 3 months, welcome news for the local economy.
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