Wednesday Whatzits: Auckland's volcanic hazards, how to smell like Iceland, Kasatochi's climate impact and new books
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.
Bright sunny Wednesday here in Ohio made all the better upon hearing that the miners trapped in the Chilean mine have started to make their way – one by one – to the surface. It truly was an amazing feat of engineering to rescue these men.
Some news for today:
Volcanic hazards for Auckland: It seems like the airing of the NZ TV3 drama “Eruption” about a fictional eruption of the Auckland Volcanic Field under New Zealand’s largest city, there has been more news on the potential volcanic hazards that threaten it. A study run by GNS Science and the University of Auckland found 29 new ash layers under the city – all between 400 and 80,000 years old. There are currently 9 seismic instruments around Auckland to help detect the first signs of any new eruptive activity in the volcanic field.
Kasatochi, sea life and carbon dioxide I’ve only scratched the surface of the many articles I’ve seen about a recent study by Roberta Hamme and her colleagues that details the plankton bloom related to the 2008 Kasatochi eruption in Alaska. The long-and-short of the study in Geophysical Research Letters was that the ash from the Kasatochi eruption (iron rich) helped trigged a plankton bloom in the ocean’s of the Pacific. The researchers monitoring how this bloom of photosynthetic life – which takes in carbon dioxide – would change worldwide CO2 levels. This is because one proposed method to sequester CO2 out of the atmosphere is to artificially produce their planktonic blooms and let the plankton absorb the carbon dioxide. However, Hamme found that even with the amount of material released by the volcanic eruption – far more than human’s could seed right now – that the plankton made very little dent in global atmospheric CO2. Well, looks like its back to the “ice cube in the ocean every now and then” plan.
Eau d’ Eyjafjallajökull: Nothing says “romantic evening” than the right perfume and what could be, um, more right than a perfume based on a eruption that closed the skies of Europe. I mean, you could think of yourself as Helen of Troy, but instead you have the odor that grounded a thousand planes. OK, well, that doesn’t sound too flattering, does it? Anyway, a company in Iceland is now marketing a perfume – called EFJ Eyjafjallajökull - made from glacier water from Eyjafjallajökull and it even comes with a piece of the volcano as a memento. Remember folks, Christmas is around the corner!
New Books: Finally, I happened to be browsing around the books on Amazon (mostly the volcano and baseball books) and found two potential gems that come out in early 2011. The first is the third edition of “Volcanoes of the World” by Lee Siebert, Tom Simkin and Paul Kimberly. This is the first new edition of the book in over 15 years and will have over 500 pages of volcanic information for us to devour. The second is for all of you interested at looking at igneous rocks in the field – it is called “The Field Description of Igneous Rocks” (shocking) and it is by Dougal Jerram and Nick Petford (two well known igneous petrologists) – and based on the description, sounds like a great place to start if you want to be able to read and interpret igneous rocks in the field.
Top left: Rangitoto Island in the Auckland Volcanic Field.
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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