Tuesday Tidbits: Soputan eruption, alert lowered at Taal, Taupo earthquake, Australian fears and Argentine recovery
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.
We are now in the heart of the summer after the long weekend (well, at least here in the US) ... and it means that I'm within a week of leaving to do some field work in California, so busy I am. So, to start the week, let's try to gather up some of the happenings of the weekend:
Indonesia: I did post over the weekend about the eruption at Soputan (top left) in Indonesia. It appears now that the explosive activity is ongoing, with another 5 km ash plume produced on Sunday and PVMBG has set up an 6-km exclusion zone around the volcano. Indonesia authorities along with the Red Cross have also started handing out dust masks to local residents to protect against the ash. However, even with all this activity, no evacuations have been called for the region near Soputan.
Philippines: As the activity at Soputan ramped up, PHIVOLCS officially downgraded the Alert Status at the restless Taal caldera from 2 to 1. The combination of lower seismicity, usually less then 10 earthquakes a day, less hydrothermal activity on Volcano Island in Taal Lake and lower carbon dioxide emissions seem to suggest that things have settled down at Taal. Remember, this doesn't mean an eruption won't happen, just that the probably seems to have diminished with the lessening of these signs of volcanic restlessness.
New Zealand: While not directly related to volcanism, there was an earthquake only 30 km to the west of the Taupo caldera today. There are some conflicting reports of the magnitude of the tremor, with NZ Geonet reporting it as a M6.5 and the USGS listing it as a M5.3, but both agencies put the source of the earthquake deep - over 150 km down. This is well below any of the magmatic system underneath the Taupo caldera. However, as with any large earthquake near a caldera, it does give one pause to wonder if we'll see any changes in the behavior of the caldera. This usually manifests as changes in hydrothermal features like geysers and hot springs, but so far nothing has been report and little to no damage has been seen from the earthquake as well.
Australia: Is it just me, or is Australia overly paranoid about a volcanic eruption on the relatively quiescent continent? Back in 2009, there as a media scare about volcanism in Australia after Dr. Bernie Joyce came out saying that the Atherton Tables in far North Queenslands were "overdue". Well, Dr. Joyce is back, again proclaiming that it has been over 5,000 years since an eruption in the volcanoes near Victoria but they should erupt "every 2,000 years", meaning they are "long overdue" and that the region should brace for an eruption soon. It seems that this new media attention to the claims is thanks to Dr. Joyce presenting the findings at a meeting in Melbourne this week, but it just goes to show, the media really never learn.
Argentina: Finally, the Argentine government announced plans to help those who have been effected financially by the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle eruption. Over $2.4 billion will be allotted to the farmers and businesses in the regions hardest hit by the ash and another $7 million will go towards cleaning up the ash. It is estimated that the farmers alone lost over $24.3 million due to the activity at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle and the airports at Bariloche and Neuquen have been closed since June 4.
Top left: The plume from Soputan as seen from an aircraft on July 3, 2011.
A new AI-produced commercial from Lexus shows how AI might be particularly suited for the advertising industry.
- The commercial was written by IBM's Watson. It was acted and directed by humans.
- Lexus says humans played a minimal part in influencing Watson, in terms of the writing.
- Advertising, with its clearly defined goals and troves of data, seems like one creative field in which AI would prove particularly useful.
A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.
- A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
- This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
- The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
Then again, maybe the study is fake news too.
- Recent research challenged study participants to pick real news headlines from fake ones.
- The results showed that people prone to delusional thinking, religious fundamentalists, and dogmatists tended to believe all news, regardless of plausibility.
- What can you do to protect yourself and others from fake news?
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