What I've learned at GSA 2010: Part 2
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.
I've been trying to keep up with all the volcano news in the outside world while attending the conference ... and boy it is a bit of a challenge. Thank you all who have been keeping the news fresh in the comments to yesterday's posts. In the meantime, I have a couple more bits of interesting information that I have gleaned from GSA 2010. Enjoy!
Up until recently, we didn't have a good grasp on volcanism on other planets and moons in the solar system. However, since the armada of spacecraft that have headed out (and into) the solar system, we have found out that there is a lot of evidence for volcanism across the boards. One of the more interesting discoveries is the abundance of evidence for explosive volcanism on places like the Moon, Mercury and Mars. On the moon, the Orientale Ring appears to be an explosive volcanic feature potentially created by a shallow emplacement of a dike. This intrusion is thought to have produced an Ionian plume that created the glass beads that have been sampled in lunar material brought back by Apollo. On Mercury, there is a feature called the Caloris Basin, observed in one of the flybys by the Messenger mission, that looks like a shield volcano with a pyroclastic apron and at least 12 features on Mercury could be explosive in nature. Over on Mars, we know that during the Hesperian Era (~3.7-2.9 billion years ago), the planet was volcanically active. A number of these volcanoes - both the famous Mons and less famous Patera (calderas) - produced ash deposits that have now been modeled so we can attempt to find the deposits by using present and future Rovers. In fact, some of the deposits observed by the Spirit rover near the Home Plate feature may be distal pyroclastic deposits from Apollinaris Patera.
Out in the outer solar system, the explosive volcanism is a little different. Much of it is dominated by the common cryovolcanism similar to what we have observed at Enceladus and Triton. The other main type of volcanism is the abundant eruptions on Jupiter's Io - some of which have produced >350 km-tall plumes of silicates and sulfur. One interesting observation is that lava flows on Io appear to produce plumes at the end of the flows rather than at the vent and it is thought this is caused by the heat of the lava vaporizing the sulfur dioxide crust of the moon. So, as the flow moves, the plume and resultant pyroclastic deposits move with it - and there is no real terrestrial equivalent that I can recall.
The meeting will be winding down tomorrow, so I'll be able to play a little catchup with the news out of Merapi, Grímsvötn (although if you want to read something ridiculous, check out this post) and more.
Top left: The volcano-scarred surface of Jupiter's moon Io.