Waiting for disaster
The best successes in volcanic mitigation have been in places where the combination of monitoring, communications and practice fit together like so many legos in a set, allowing for a calm and orderly evacuation when the eruption, or signs of eruption, began
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.
Oldonyo L'engai, Tanzania
As with most disasters, the best way to prevent a Katrina-like catastrophe is preparedness. The best successes in volcanic mitigation have been in places where the combination of monitoring, communications and practice fit together like so many legos in a set, allowing for a calm and orderly evacuation when the eruption, or signs of eruption, began (e.g., Rabaul in 1994). This is why it is always heartening to me to see articles about places trying to implement hazard mitigation plans for their volcanoes. Two examples are in the news today:
(1) Officials in Indonesia have 1,000 volunteers ready to assist evacuees if Semeru continues erupting. Indonesia is one of the worst combinations for natural disasters: heavily populated and highly geologically active. However, Bagiyo Setyono of the Communications Division in the Malang Regency sums things up perfectly: "Just follow the instructions." (Try to not get too caught up with the descriptions of the volcanism at Semeru in the article - I think something got lost in translation).
(2) USGS scientists from the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) will be assisting people in Tanzania get prepared for the eventual eruption of Oldonyo L'engai. The problem is a combination of volcanic risk assessment (a must), evacuation plans, disaster preparedness and monitoring. Previous eruptions of Oldonyo L'engai (the world's only known carbonitite volcano - yes, it more-or-less erupts baking soda, so cool that it is black, not red when molten) have caused significant damage to the local water sources and livestock grass.
I'm sure there are many more examples of volcanic mitigation and monitoring going on worldwide, but the more attention that is paid to these endeavors, the more the general public will appreciate their value.
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
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.