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Guest Thinkers

Monday Musings

The continuing effects of eruptions past at two volcanoes and the best of volcano-inspired literature.

Does anyone else feel like this has been a rather quiet summer, volcano-wise? Maybe I’ve been too preoccupied by my move to Ohio, but I feel like beyond a few relatively minor events (Shiveluch comes to mind), the volcano news has been pretty slow compared to the spring of this year. Go figure.

The sulfur dioxide plume from the 2008 eruption of Kasatochi spreading over the northern Pacific Ocean.

Anyway, a few tidbits to tide us over:

  • Over eighteen years after the eruption, Mt. Pinatubo is still causing fatalities from the copious amounts of tephra deposited during the 1991 event. Five people died last week after mudflows near the vent of the volcano swept their jeeps away. They were part of a tourist group visiting the volcano and recent storms has swelled the rivers near the volcano. Blame is being thrown around by the local mayor and the Philippine Air Force, but the lesson here is that even when a volcano has been quiet for almost two decades, they are still hazardous places to visit.
  • Last summer at this time we were all excited about the unexpected eruption of Mt. Kasatochi in the Aleutians. That eruption was notable for the amount of sulfur dioxide released during the eruption and the devastation it wreaked upon the small island that the volcano calls home. The eruption wiped out most everything on the island (only animals and plants lived their permanently) and now a USGS/US Fish and Wildlife team will visit the island for the first time since the eruption to see how it is recovering. This is one of the few times that the colonization of an island after a major eruption can be directly observed.
  • For those of you looking for the volcanoes-and-society angle, the Guardian has a list of the top 10 volcano-related pieces of literature. I’m not entirely sure how it was compiled it and why but it does have the classics like Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Last Days of Pompeii. Anything you notice as conspicuously missing?

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