More on Eyjafjallajökull and the St. Helens Anniversary
Eyjafjallajökull's continues to send ash towards Europe and more on the 30th anniversary of the St. Helens eruptions - including what might come next.
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.
News, news, news!
\nAsh from Eyjafjallajökull piling up on a roof at Seljavellir. Image courtesy of the IMO, by Ari Tryggvason.
- The latest from Eyjafjallajökull has the volcano continuing to puff away - producing intermittent airspace closures over Europe. The Icelandic Met Office reports a ~7 km (21,000 foot) ash plume, but they note that the explosivity of the eruption seems to have waned some since a maximum on May 13. Right now, the IMO estimates the eruption rate at ~200 tonnes/second. Lets put that in a little perspective - a Ford F-150 pickup weighs about 2 tonnes, so the volcano is eruption the equivalent of 100 full size pickups a second. That is a lot of material! Overall, the explosive part of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption has produced ~0.25 km3 of material. You can see some of it piling up on homes near the volcano in Iceland (see above). The ash itself is swirling across the north Atlantic and northern Europe, causing some closures and reopenings of airports across northern Europe and Iceland. The NASA Earth Observatory has also posted a suite of images of the ash plume over the last few days - impressive as always. The same can be said for the new videos posted on Stromboli.net. \n
- There are plenty more articles marking the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens - including a piece by Eruptions' favorite Alan Boyle on the recovery of the area around the volcano. You can also check out a couple articles that speak to the threat the Cascades still pose to the Pacific Northwest. You might also get a kick out of the National Geographic take on the ten most "dangerous" volcanoes in the U.S. - including Crater Lake (a good entry, albeit a long shot), South Sister and Kilauea. \n
- For all you volcano photographers, Beth Weise of the USA Today is writing a story about the small but dedicated band of international, amateur photographers who travel the world on their vacations taking pictures of volcanoes. If you have any insight, send me an email and I can forward it onto her. \n
\nAn impressive shot of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption plume with lightning in an undated picture.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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