Volcanoes from space: Russian rumblers and the recovery of St. Helens
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, when it rains it pours in the world of the NASA Earth Observatory - and this week we've been treated to three great images of volcanoes or volcanic landscapes from space. I thought I'd spotlight them and add some of my thoughts of the images.
Two images came from the ever-active Kamchatka Peninsula. The first shows a fairly weak but steady plume from Karymsky on October 8, 2010. The ground is fairly snow-free (being the end of the summer season) so the air that has fallen doesn't stand out as it does on some Kamchatka images, but you can still see some grey on the ground surface around the volcano. If you look at the larger version of the image, you can see a bunch of the volcanoes on the peninsula - starting from the south you can see the snow-covered peaks of Avanchinsky, Koryaksky, then Zhupanovsky, then the crater lake of the Akademia Nauk caldera. After reaching Karymsky with the plume, you can see Semiachik, Bolshoi Semiachik and finally the cone of Kikhpinych at the edge of the image.
Another image from Russia captures the current explosive and effusive activity at Kliuchevskoi. The image, captured on October 11, shows a steady ash plume from the volcano and thermal ASTER images bring out the thin lava flows moving down the western flank of the edifice. Taking a look at the larger version of the image, you can zoom in on Kliuchevskoi and see the ash - almost radially distributed around the volcano, either due to changing winds or fallout from a larger plinian column (not uncommon at Kliuchevskoi). The drainages coming off the volcano to the east look like they might be full of volcanic ash/mud from the volcano as well. This larger image is fascinating for a number of reasons as well - if you zoom out, you'll see Kliuchevskoi to the bottom and Shiveluch to the north (along with Bezymianny to the bottom left of Kliuchevskoi). Both are snow covered, and Shiveluch has a prominent ash deposit on its southern flank - I'm not sure if it from ash fall or flow, but some of it seems to follow valleys, making me think it could be some flows (UPDATE: Apparently these are the 1964 eruption deposits - thanks to R Simmon for that clarification - see comments below). In between, there are lowlands that show a lot of glacial-produced terraines (kames and kettles), along with what looks like a tuff cone. Now, I've tried digging around for a name for this feature near the town of Klyuchi, but haven't had much luck - any guesses or better Kamchatka geography knowledge than I can do?
From the United States:
The NASA EO also posted another in an amazing set of images of the area near Mount St. Helens in Washington. This set covers the evolution of the landscape around the volcano from prior to the 1980 eruption until the present, covering now 31 years. In these images, you can really see how the area has been revegetated - and quite quickly - and how long the trees in Spirit Lake (middle-right of the image) have survived. They cluster in different parts of lake, but there is still a significant portion of the lake filled with the downed tree trunks from the 1980 eruption. You can also see how little the 2004-2008 dome growth added to the edifice at this scale. The new dome shows up between the 2004 and 2005 image as a little new bump inside the crater - these dome episodes are likely how the volcano will heal the explosion crater over thousands to hundreds of thousands of years.
Top left: Mt. Saint Helens in the fall of 2004, one day before the first explosions of the 2004-2008 dome growth.
Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club
- Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
- It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
- This ability may come from a common ancestor
The definition of a kilogram will now be fixed to Planck's constant, a fundamental part of quantum physics.
- The new definition of a kilogram is based on a physical constant in quantum physics.
- Unlike the current definition of a kilogram, this measurement will never change.
- Scientists also voted to update the definitions of several other measurements in physics.
Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.
- Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
- The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
- One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.