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Wednesday Whatzits: Kirishima Update, Taal’s restlessness, New Zealand’s Pink Terraces found and “Atlantis”

The ice remains here in Ohio – and the weather is truly crazed. The temperature when I woke up this morning: 36F. Temperature an hour and a half later: 25F … and continuing to fall on its way to somewhere in the teens.

Got some quick hits to make before trying to figure out what to do with my classes after having two days worth of classes/labs cancelled due to this storm:

Kirishima: The Japanese volcano is still going strong – be sure to keep an eye on the webcams to see the action (6th and 7th from bottom on right hand menu) – including a new webcam on the volcano. So far there has only been one reported injury from the eruption (caused by glass from broken windows), but the eruption has been impressive nevertheless (video). Kirishima has two more larger explosions that reverberated through the communities near the volcano, creating plumes that reached 500-1000 meters / 1500-3000 feet (see image below). The Telegraph has some video of lightning from the eruptive plume … and if you ever need a reminder of how potentially hazardous watching an erupting volcano can be, check out this tweet from Eruptions reader James Reynolds who was on the scene (video). UPDATE: If Kirishima isn’t enough for you, try out this video of Sakurajima from Eruptions reader Matt B.

Taal: Last year we were all watching to see if Taal, the caldera in the middle of the Philippines, was going to start erupting again after PHIVOLCS raised the alert status at the volcano. This concern was based on increasing seismicity and hydrothermal activity at the vents in the caldera lake. Well, as 2011 begins, it appears that some seismicity is back on the upswing after calming down at the end of 2010. PHIVOLCS has not changed the alert status from “1” (lowest) but they did note 10 earthquakes under the caldera over the last 24 hours – something to keep an eye on to see if that trend increases. All is quiet at the Philippines two other volcanoes of interest (right now): Mayon and Bulusan.

Tarawera: I mentioned last year that research was being done to find any remains of the Pink and White Terraces at Mt. Tarawera in New Zealand. These former natural wonders were buried in the 1886 basaltic fissure event from Tarawera and were assumed to have been destroyed in the process. Well, apparently sonar mapping and remote underwater cameras imaging of the Lake Rotomahana has found at least the Pink Terraces – albeit under some rock and sediment. The terraces are now under 60 meters of water, making them a little harder for the tourists to visit, although the underwater camera system being used by the research team lead by Cornel de Ronde did get some pictures of the Pink Terraces, along with finding active hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the lake (not surprising considering the activity at the nearby Waimangu Valley).

Santorini: Oddly, this week was (and is still going to try to be) Santorini week in my Volcanoes class. Why is that odd? Well, because I stumbled across this trailer (video) for a new BBC One TV movie supposedly based on the eruption of Thera in the 17th century B.C. I say “supposedly” because it is called “Atlantis” and, well, just watch the trailer. I mean, looks like the movie might be great eye candy, but I’m not holding my breath about a faithful retelling.

Top left: Bathing in the now-buried Pink Terraces near Tarawera in New Zealand. The terraces, thought to have been destroyed in 1886, have been located 60 meter under the surface of Lake Rotomahana.


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