More signs point towards a Saudi Arabian eruption ... or not? UPDATED
More and more, it seems that there is little question that the earthquakes felt in western Saudi Arabia have a volcanic origin ... UPDATE: or maybe not?
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.
UPDATE 5/21/2009 4:30 PM Pacific
: The latest news suggests that there are little to no evidence of volcanic gases since Wednesday according to the SGS, but they continue to monitor.
Lava flows from a 1256 A.D. eruption near Medinah in Saudi Arabia (to the south of Harrat Lunayyir) taken by the crew of the ISS in 2004. It shows nicely the volcanic heritage (dark lava flow on right of image) in western Saudi Arabia. Image courtesy of JSC Earth Observation Lab.
Well, as the days go by, there are more and more indications that an eruption is about to occur in the Harrat Lunayyir region of Saudi Arabia. There is more confirmation in the press about "hot gasses" being released in the area near the epicenter(s) of the earthquakes and the seismicity is continuing - boths signs of magma moving towards the surface and degassing as it does. There are other confusing reports that mention things like "increased Radon" - which (a) I'm not entirely sure how they are measuring; (b) I'm not sure what it has to do with basaltic magmatism and (c) I think people are confusing with the controversy surrounding the Italian earthquake. Now over 2,000 people have been evacuated from the region near the earthquakes - and many of the quakes are still being felt far afield from the Al-Ais (Harrat Lunayyir) area.
If you find more news on the earthquakes and other signs of an impending eruption, please post them here!
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