Tuesday Tidbits: Drilling into the Campi Flegrei caldera (revisited), Middle Eastern volcanoes and Planchon-Peteroa from space and more Eyjafjallajökull
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.
Sorry about the lack of posts today - I've been trying to get over a nasty headcold and my ability to concentrate on much has been less than great. So, I'll post some tidbits of news I've run across as I recover:
Drilling into Campi Flegrei: It seems like the story about the potential hazards of drilling into Italy's Campei Flegrei will never die. Researchers lead by Dr. Giuseppe De Natale plan to drill 13,000 feet into the active magma chamber (they hope) of the caldera system and I've posted twice about how this is not likely to prompt an eruption. However, Nature has now jumped on the bandwagon of the potential hazards of this project - but now the angle is fears of an earthquake being generated. This fear might be more realistic, as drilling in geothermal fields has been known to generate seismicity - but again, there is a lot of fear-mongering going on concerning this project even though the geologic data that could be collected might help better understand this very dangerous caldera.
Syrian Volcanism: The NASA Earth Observatory posted a great image of the Es Safa Volcanic Field in Syria - an area of recent (geologically) volcanism I was not previously aware. There are a number of volcanic fields on the Arabian Peninsula - and we followed the seismicity in Saudi Arabia in 2009 that looked like it might have been heading for a new eruption at Harrat Lunayyir. Es Safa last erupted around 1850 and typically erupts basaltic lava flows - and the dark lava flows are plainly visible in the NASA EO image.
Planchon-Peteroa's Plume: Another brand new NASA Earth Observatory image shows the plume from the revived Planchon-Peteroa in Chile. You can see some of the ash from the recent eruptions on the snow to the southeast of the active crater. The latest SERNAGEOMIN update (spanish) says that the eruptions have been phreatomagmatic in nature so far (see image of the crater below), but this is a common occurrence as magma rises up a volcanic conduit and interacts with meltwater or groundwater.
The crater of Planchon-Peteroa in Chile, taken September 13, 2010.
Eyjafjallajökull's Impact: There has been ongoing discussion on Eruptions about the current activity at Eyjafjallajökull. The volcano has been relatively quiet since the beginning of the summer, but the eruption has yet to be declared "over" by the Icelandic Met Office. Eruptions readers have noticed changes in the steam plume on the Eyjafjallajökull webcams. However, the debate over the airspace closure due to the April 2010 eruptions continues in Europe - and likely won't be resolved before another eruption repeats Eyjafjallajökull's mess. Of course, discussions like this - trying to compare the eruption with the BP oil spill - are a little ridiculous. However, one cool spinoff from the eruption and the airspace closure is the magazine Stranded, filled with stories that happened as the eruption wreaked havoc to European air travel - a great combination of volcanism and human culture well worth checking out.
It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.
- Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
- These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
- The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.
- Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
- Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
- Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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