Tagged: Volcanology Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 11:06 am on January 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai in the south Pacific erupts violently", , , , , Volcanology   

    From temblor: “Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai in the south Pacific erupts violently” 

    1

    From temblor

    January 18, 2022
    Marie Edmonds, Ph.D., The University of Cambridge (UK)

    The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano, 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Tongatapu, Tonga, erupted on January 15 at 5:14 p.m. local time, triggering tsunami waves that swept across the Pacific. The energy released in the eruption was equivalent to a magnitude-5.8 earthquake at the surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The powerful eruption was captured on satellite images, which show a shock wave and a rapidly expanding ash cloud that reached 12 miles (20 kilometers) into the atmosphere.

    1
    The expanding ash cloud from the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano on January 15. Credit: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US), Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

    News of the immediate impact of the eruption on the Tongan islands has been slow to emerge because internet communications have been entirely cut off by the eruption. It is likely, however, that the islands have experienced many inches of ash fall as well as damage from the tsunami, which inundated coastal areas and reached a height of 2.7 feet (83 centimetres) in Nuku’alofa, according to The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (US).

    2
    The island of Tongatapu and the nearby smaller islands – all part of the Kingdom of Tonga archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean – are pictured in this Sentinel-2A image from May 23, 2016. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016), processed by ESA,CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO, via Wikimedia Commons

    ESA Copernicus Sentinel-2.

    Tsunami waves reached 3.6 feet (1.1 meters) along the northeastern coastline of Japan at a port in Kuji, Iwate (Source: Japan Meteorological Agency) and up to 3.6 feet (1.1 meters) in Port San Luis, California (Source: NOAA). In northern Peru, two people drowned when waves inundated a beach in the Lambayeque region.

    Explosion detected on the other side of the world

    The eruption was heard in New Zealand. The shock wave was violent enough to shake houses in Fiji, more than 450 miles (720 kilometers) away from Tonga.

    Pressure surges from the atmospheric perturbation caused by the eruption were felt right across the world. Atmospheric pressure fluctuations have been reported in New Zealand, the U.S., Brazil, Japan and Europe. More than 14 hours after the eruption, The Meteorological Office (UK) picked up several pressure waves, more than 10,000 miles away from the volcano. The agency described the waves as “like dropping a pebble in a still pond and seeing the ripples.”

    The eruption was so powerful it destroyed the subaerial part of the volcano that had been built up in successive eruptions since 2015, according to the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program. Radar images of the island acquired by The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)’s Sentinel-2 satellite show that the island has largely disappeared following the eruption; only the far southwestern and northeastern tips of the island remain.

    3
    Before (left) and after (right) radar images of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai Volcano, Tonga, January 2 and 17, 2022. Credit: Copernicus/ESA/Sentinal Hub.

    Long-term climate impacts unlikely

    The ash produced by the eruption has now dispersed from the caldera, but the finest particles are likely still aloft high in the atmosphere and will remain there for months or even years.

    The eruption also produced around 0.4 teragrams of sulfur dioxide (SO2), according to spectrometer data from ESA’s Sentinel 5P satellite.

    ESA Copernicus Sentinel-5P.

    Past large explosive eruptions have typically been associated with global cooling. SO2 injected into the stratosphere — the second layer of the atmosphere — forms sulfate aerosol when it reacts with water, which absorbs and scatters incoming radiation from the sun, thereby cooling the Earth’s surface.

    The 1991 eruption of Pinatubo Volcano in the Philippines emitted around 18-19 teragrams of SO2, which caused cooling of a few tenths of a degree for a few years. It is unlikely that the SO2 emitted from the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai eruption will significantly impact the climate.

    One volcano in a chain

    The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano lies along the Tonga-Kermedec Arc, where two tectonic plates in the southwest Pacific converge. This volcano is one of a chain of largely submarine volcanoes that extend all the way from New Zealand in the southwest to Fiji in the north-northeast. Here, the Pacific plate subducts beneath the Indo-Australian plate. As it sinks, the Pacific Plate heats up, releasing fluids into the overlying rocks, which causes them to melt. The magma rises into the overlying crust and some erupts at the surface. Eruptions from subduction zone volcanoes are notoriously explosive because magmas there are sticky and contain large quantities of dissolved water from the mantle, which is the explosion’s “fuel.”

    4
    Map of the Kermadec and Tonga subduction trench. Credit: Nwbeeson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

    For submarine volcanic eruptions however, there is an added ingredient that causes them to be extra-violent. During large volcanic eruptions a caldera, or large depression on the surface, can form due to the void left in the ground by the erupted magma. Calderas that form on the seafloor can cause tsunamis and large earthquakes when large rock masses sink during the eruption.

    Seawater can flow into the faults and fractures that form around the edges of the caldera. If water comes into contact with hot magma, it flash boils into steam, which expands rapidly, adding to the explosive power of an eruption. Such eruptions are termed “hydrovolcanic.” They generate powerful base surges — or pyroclastic flows — that expand out from the base of the eruption column, and can travel long distances. A famous example is the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa Volcano in Indonesia. The sound of the explosion was heard 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometers) away. Large tsunami waves and pyroclastic surges that travelled 25 miles (40 kilometers) over the surface of the sea killed more than 36,000 people.

    Geologists studying the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano have uncovered its few-thousand-year-long history of eruptions just like the one that occurred on January 15. The volcano erupted explosively in 2009 and in 2014-2015, producing ‘Surtseyan’ eruptions — a smaller magnitude explosive eruption produced by the interaction of magma and seawater. The precise magnitude of this latest eruption will be known once the height of the eruption column as well as the volume of erupted material is estimated, but it is certainly one of the most significant eruptions of the 21st century thus far.

    5
    NASA’s Terra satellite on December 29, 2014, showing a white plume rising over the undersea volcano Hunga Ha’apai, near Hunga Tonga in the South Pacific. Discolored water suggests an underwater release of gases and rock by the eruption. Credit: NASA, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)Terra satellite.

    Answers still to come

    There are many questions to be answered over the coming weeks and months about the mechanisms and impacts of this eruption. Immediate questions concern the fate of the residents of Tonga, who are contending with the enormous challenges of the aftermath of the eruption and tsunami, including missing loved ones, enormous infrastructure damage, thick ash cover, contaminated drinking supplies and a lack of basic medical and communication services.

    There will be detailed studies of the geophysical signals accompanying the eruption and the period leading up to it to better understand how the eruption was triggered and its magnitude. Scientists will be particularly interested in infrasound, satellite-based data and eventually will study the volcanic deposits and landforms produced. In particular, scientists will seek to understand the geological sequence of events that led to the simultaneous explosion and tsunami that had such wide-ranging effects across the Pacific Ocean.

    References

    Guo, S., Bluth, G. J., Rose, W. I., Watson, I. M., & Prata, A. J. (2004). Re‐evaluation of SO2 release of the 15 June 1991 Pinatubo eruption using ultraviolet and infrared satellite sensors. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 5(4).

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network project Earthquake Network is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

    QuakeAlertUSA

    1

    About Early Warning Labs, LLC

    Early Warning Labs, LLC (EWL) is an Earthquake Early Warning technology developer and integrator located in Santa Monica, CA. EWL is partnered with industry leading GIS provider ESRI, Inc. and is collaborating with the US Government and university partners.

    EWL is investing millions of dollars over the next 36 months to complete the final integration and delivery of Earthquake Early Warning to individual consumers, government entities, and commercial users.

    EWL’s mission is to improve, expand, and lower the costs of the existing earthquake early warning systems.

    EWL is developing a robust cloud server environment to handle low-cost mass distribution of these warnings. In addition, Early Warning Labs is researching and developing automated response standards and systems that allow public and private users to take pre-defined automated actions to protect lives and assets.

    EWL has an existing beta R&D test system installed at one of the largest studios in Southern California. The goal of this system is to stress test EWL’s hardware, software, and alert signals while improving latency and reliability.

    Earthquake Early Warning Introduction

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with state agencies, university partners, and private industry, is developing an earthquake early warning system (EEW) for the West Coast of the United States called ShakeAlert. The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program aims to mitigate earthquake losses in the United States. Citizens, first responders, and engineers rely on the USGS for accurate and timely information about where earthquakes occur, the ground shaking intensity in different locations, and the likelihood is of future significant ground shaking.

    The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System recently entered its first phase of operations. The USGS working in partnership with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is now allowing for the testing of public alerting via apps, Wireless Emergency Alerts, and by other means throughout California.

    ShakeAlert partners in Oregon and Washington are working with the USGS to test public alerting in those states sometime in 2020.

    ShakeAlert has demonstrated the feasibility of earthquake early warning, from event detection to producing USGS issued ShakeAlerts ® and will continue to undergo testing and will improve over time. In particular, robust and reliable alert delivery pathways for automated actions are currently being developed and implemented by private industry partners for use in California, Oregon, and Washington.

    Earthquake Early Warning Background

    The objective of an earthquake early warning system is to rapidly detect the initiation of an earthquake, estimate the level of ground shaking intensity to be expected, and issue a warning before significant ground shaking starts. A network of seismic sensors detects the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, and the location and the magnitude of the earthquake is rapidly determined. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated. The system can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, which brings the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage. Warnings will be distributed to local and state public emergency response officials, critical infrastructure, private businesses, and the public. EEW systems have been successfully implemented in Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, and other nations with varying degrees of sophistication and coverage.

    Earthquake early warning can provide enough time to:

    Instruct students and employees to take a protective action such as Drop, Cover, and Hold On
    Initiate mass notification procedures
    Open fire-house doors and notify local first responders
    Slow and stop trains and taxiing planes
    Install measures to prevent/limit additional cars from going on bridges, entering tunnels, and being on freeway overpasses before the shaking starts
    Move people away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments
    Shut down gas lines, water treatment plants, or nuclear reactors
    Automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems

    However, earthquake warning notifications must be transmitted without requiring human review and response action must be automated, as the total warning times are short depending on geographic distance and varying soil densities from the epicenter.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:24 am on January 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Why the volcanic eruption in Tonga was so violent and what to expect next", , , , , Volcanology   

    From The Conversation : “Why the volcanic eruption in Tonga was so violent and what to expect next” 

    From The Conversation

    January 15, 2022
    Shane Cronin
    Professor of Earth Sciences,
    The University of Auckland (NZ)

    The Kingdom of Tonga doesn’t often attract global attention, but a violent eruption of an underwater volcano on January 15 has spread shock waves, quite literally, around half the world.

    2
    This picture taken on December 21, 2021 shows white gaseous clouds rising from the Hunga Ha’apai eruption seen from the Patangata coastline near Tongan capital Nuku’alofa. Photo: Mary Lyn Fonua.

    The volcano is usually not much to look at. It consists of two small uninhabited islands, Hunga-Ha’apai and Hunga-Tonga, poking about 100m above sea level 65km north of Tonga’s capital Nuku‘alofa. But hiding below the waves is a massive volcano, around 1800m high and 20km wide.

    3
    A massive underwater volcano lies next to the Hunga-Ha’apai and Hunga-Tonga islands. Author provided.

    The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano has erupted regularly over the past few decades. During events in 2009 and 2014/15 hot jets of magma and steam exploded through the waves. But these eruptions were small, dwarfed in scale by the January 2022 events.

    Our research into these earlier eruptions suggests this is one of the massive explosions the volcano is capable of producing roughly every thousand years.

    4
    A newly formed volcanic cone between the Tonga islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha‘apai erupts on 15 January 2015, releasing dense, particle-rich jets from the upper regions and surges of water-rich material around the base. The monthlong Hunga eruption created a new island that is now the subject of study and promises to reveal new aspects of the region’s explosive volcanic past. Credit: New Zealand High Commission, Nuku’alofa, Tonga.

    Why are the volcano’s eruptions so highly explosive, given that sea water should cool the magma down?

    If magma rises into sea water slowly, even at temperatures of about 1200℃, a thin film of steam forms between the magma and water. This provides a layer of insulation to allow the outer surface of the magma to cool.

    But this process doesn’t work when magma is blasted out of the ground full of volcanic gas. When magma enters the water rapidly, any steam layers are quickly disrupted, bringing hot magma in direct contact with cold water.

    Volcano researchers call this “fuel-coolant interaction” and it is akin to weapons-grade chemical explosions. Extremely violent blasts tear the magma apart. A chain reaction begins, with new magma fragments exposing fresh hot interior surfaces to water, and the explosions repeat, ultimately jetting out volcanic particles and causing blasts with supersonic speeds.

    Two scales of Hunga eruptions

    The 2014/15 eruption created a volcanic cone, joining the two old Hunga islands to create a combined island about 5km long. We visited in 2016, and discovered these historical eruptions were merely curtain raisers to the main event.

    Mapping the sea floor, we discovered a hidden “caldera” 150m below the waves.

    5
    A map of the seafloor shows the volcanic cones and massive caldera. Author provided.

    The caldera is a crater-like depression around 5km across. Small eruptions (such as in 2009 and 2014/15) occur mainly at the edge of the caldera, but very big ones come from the caldera itself. These big eruptions are so large the top of the erupting magma collapses inward, deepening the caldera.

    Looking at the chemistry of past eruptions, we now think the small eruptions represent the magma system slowly recharging itself to prepare for a big event.

    We found evidence of two huge past eruptions from the Hunga caldera in deposits on the old islands. We matched these chemically to volcanic ash deposits on the largest inhabited island of Tongatapu, 65km away, and then used radiocarbon dates to show that big caldera eruptions occur about ever 1000 years, with the last one at AD1100.

    With this knowledge, the eruption on January 15 seems to be right on schedule for a “big one”.

    What we can expect to happen now

    We’re still in the middle of this major eruptive sequence and many aspects remain unclear, partly because the island is currently obscured by ash clouds.

    The two earlier eruptions on December 20 2021 and January 13 2022 were of moderate size. They produced clouds of up to 17km elevation and added new land to the 2014/15 combined island.

    The latest eruption has stepped up the scale in terms of violence. The ash plume is already about 20km high. Most remarkably, it spread out almost concentrically over a distance of about 130km from the volcano, creating a plume with a 260km diameter, before it was distorted by the wind.

    6
    This demonstrates a huge explosive power – one that cannot be explained by magma-water interaction alone. It shows instead that large amounts of fresh, gas-charged magma have erupted from the caldera.

    The eruption also produced a tsunami throughout Tonga and neighbouring Fiji and Samoa. Shock waves traversed many thousands of kilometres, were seen from space, and recorded in New Zealand some 2000km away. Soon after the eruption started, the sky was blocked out on Tongatapu, with ash beginning to fall.

    All these signs suggest the large Hunga caldera has awoken. Tsunami are generated by coupled atmospheric and ocean shock waves during an explosions, but they are also readily caused by submarine landslides and caldera collapses.

    Our research into these earlier eruptions suggests this is one of the massive explosions the volcano is capable of producing roughly every thousand years.

    Why are the volcano’s eruptions so highly explosive, given that sea water should cool the magma down?

    If magma rises into sea water slowly, even at temperatures of about 1200℃, a thin film of steam forms between the magma and water. This provides a layer of insulation to allow the outer surface of the magma to cool.

    But this process doesn’t work when magma is blasted out of the ground full of volcanic gas. When magma enters the water rapidly, any steam layers are quickly disrupted, bringing hot magma in direct contact with cold water.

    Volcano researchers call this “fuel-coolant interaction” and it is akin to weapons-grade chemical explosions. Extremely violent blasts tear the magma apart. A chain reaction begins, with new magma fragments exposing fresh hot interior surfaces to water, and the explosions repeat, ultimately jetting out volcanic particles and causing blasts with supersonic speeds.

    It remains unclear if this is the climax of the eruption. It represents a major magma pressure release, which may settle the system.

    A warning, however, lies in geological deposits from the volcano’s previous eruptions. These complex sequences show each of the 1000-year major caldera eruption episodes involved many separate explosion events.

    Hence we could be in for several weeks or even years of major volcanic unrest from the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano. For the sake of the people of Tonga I hope not.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Conversation launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
    Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
    Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:20 pm on January 7, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Sensing Iceland’s Most Active Volcano with a 'Buried Hair' ", 1932, and 1922)., , Ash clouds can also cause major shutdowns and economic damage in the air traffic industry as happened during the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull located about 140 kilometers southwest of Grímsvöt, Ash clouds pose threats to humans and livestock when direct interaction between magma and meltwater causes Grímsvötn to erupt explosively., Conducting a large-scale field experiment in the middle of 7900-square-kilometer Vatnajökull was challenging., , , Fiber-optic cable was the core component of the experiment., , Grímsvötn has been the island’s most active volcano—and it may be due for another major eruption., Grímsvötn is a complex volcanic system that is governed by both geothermal heat from below and the ice of the overlying glacier., Grímur’s lakes-Grímsvötn in Icelandic-continue to spit fire even as they are buried under hundreds of meters of the ice of Europe’s largest glacier Vatnajökull., In addition to the flood hazard, Jökulhlaups: major outburst floods of a subglacial lake within the caldera of the volcano., Past jökulhlaups from Grímsvötn have destroyed bridges and cut off transit between western and eastern Iceland., Rapid and substantial pressure decreases-such as that seen beginning in late November-have previously caused Grímsvötn to erupt (in 2004, The scientists laid out 12 kilometers of fiber-optic cable in a hook-shaped pattern along much of the caldera rim and atop the subglacial lake (Figure 1)., The scientists trenched the cable 50 centimeters deep into the snow thereby protecting it from atmospheric influences., Volcanology   

    From Eos: “Sensing Iceland’s Most Active Volcano with a ‘Buried Hair’ “ 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    4 January 2022
    Sara Klaasen
    Sölvi Thrastarson
    Andreas Fichtner
    Yeşim Çubuk-Sabuncu
    Kristín Jónsdóttir

    Distributed acoustic sensing offered researchers a means to measure ground deformation from atop ice-clad Grímsvötn volcano with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions.

    1
    A snowcat plows its way through snow near the caldera rim of Grímsvötn volcano in Iceland in spring 2021 during the deployment of a fiber-optic cable for distributed acoustic sensing (DAS). Credit: Yeşim Çubuk-Sabuncu.

    2
    Fig. 1. This map of Grímsvötn shows the layout of the fiber-optic cable (black line with numbers indicating distance in kilometers) deployed in the DAS-BúmmBúmm experiment in spring 2021. Locations of the research huts (GFUM) near one end of the cable and a GPS station at the other end are also shown, as are the years and approximate locations of previous fissure eruptions (orange and red). The site of Grímsvötn (red triangle) amid the Vatnajökull ice sheet in Iceland is indicated in the inset. Topographic information in this figure is based on ArcticDEM.

    2
    Grímsvötn volcano. Credit: The Smithsonian Institution (US)

    3
    Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano erupts. Credit: NBC News.

    Icelandic legend tells of an outlaw named Grímur who hid in the highlands of the island after avenging the murder of his father. A widow assisted him, directing him to some remote lakes where he could sustain himself by fishing. However, there was already a giant living near the lakes. Grímur fought and killed the giant, so upsetting the giant’s daughter that she laid a curse on the landscape. From then on, fires would burn in the lakes and the surrounding woods would vanish.

    To this day Grímur’s lakes-Grímsvötn in Icelandic-continue to spit fire even as they are buried under hundreds of meters of the ice of Europe’s largest glacier Vatnajökull. In fact, since the settlement of Iceland, Grímsvötn has been the island’s most active volcano—and it may be due for another major eruption.

    In spring 2021, researchers from The Swiss Federal of Technology ETH Zürich [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich)](CH) and The Icelandic Meteorological Office [Veðurstofa Íslands](IS) set out for Grímsvötn to take a closer look at its activity, using an emerging geophysical technology called distributed acoustic sensing (DAS; Figure 1 [above]). DAS can yield unprecedentedly high resolution data in hazardous and difficult-to-access environments. In addition to measuring previously unobserved seismic activity at the volcano, the experiment also indicated the presence of continuous seismic tremor and a variety of other signals at Grímsvötn not observed before in such detail.

    The Hazards of Grímur’s Lakes

    Grímsvötn is a complex volcanic system that is governed by both geothermal heat from below and the ice of the overlying glacier. The heat melts the underside of the glacier, creating runoff and forming a subglacial lake within the caldera of the volcano. This lake occasionally drains during major outburst floods called jökulhlaups, which inundate the coastal plains south of the ice cap. Past jökulhlaups from Grímsvötn have destroyed bridges and cut off transit between western and eastern Iceland.

    Recently, Grímsvötn again showed such increased activity. Around 20 November, GPS measurements recorded the ice shelf above Grímsvötn starting to subside slowly, marking the beginning of a jökulhlaup as water flowed out of the subglacial lake. The jökulhlaup peaked on 5 December in the Gígjukvísl glacier river, and more than 0.8 cubic kilometer of water in total drained from below the volcano.

    In addition to the flood hazard, ash clouds pose threats to humans and livestock when direct interaction between magma and meltwater causes Grímsvötn to erupt explosively. Recent eruptions occurred in 1998, 2004, and 2011, each of which sent plumes of ash and debris into the atmosphere (the 1998 and 2004 events were also associated jökulhlaups). These plumes can spread heavy layers of ash over the local landscape, cause intense lightning, and reduce air quality and visibility, conditions that can impair aircraft and roads. If winds are unfavorable during an eruption, ash clouds can also cause major shutdowns and economic damage in the air traffic industry as happened during the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull located about 140 kilometers southwest of Grímsvötn.

    Rapid and substantial pressure decreases-such as that seen beginning in late November-have previously caused Grímsvötn to erupt (in 2004, 1932, and 1922). The IMO, which is responsible for providing warnings about impending eruptions, was thus on full alert and raised the aviation alert level from yellow to orange as seismicity started to pick up at Grímsfjall, peaking with a magnitude 3.6 earthquake on 6 December. However, the seismicity quickly subsided that same day, and on 8 December, IMO lowered the code back to yellow.

    Instrumenting the Ice

    Conducting a large-scale field experiment in the middle of 7900-square-kilometer Vatnajökull was challenging. After months of planning, the effort began with our team of nine traveling by trucks from Reykjavík to the glacier’s edge. From there, we continued aboard snowmobiles, superjeeps (trucks specially equipped with large tires for traversing ice), and a snowcat, following a carefully selected route to Grímsvötn to avoid the largest crevasses. Over roughly 80 kilometers of ice, we hauled all the equipment we needed for our 5-day expedition, including three large cable drums, each roughly 50 kilograms and holding 4-kilometer-long segments of fiber-optic cable, until we reached three huts near the highest point of the caldera rim at Grímsfjall. Built in 1957, 1987, and 1994 to conduct scientific research, the huts—geothermally heated by the volcano and collectively housing a small kitchen, bunks, and even a steam sauna—served as our base of operations.

    The fiber-optic cable was the core component of our experiment. DAS makes use of a standard fiber-optic cable together with an instrument called an interrogation unit (IU), which sends laser pulses through the fiber and receives them back. Inhomogeneities in the fiber cause backscattering of the light, which is measured by the IU. Small shifts in the return timing of the backscattered signals can be related to localized deformations of the fiber caused by seismicity or other sources of vibration.

    Thus, long lengths of fiber can be used to create a dense seismic network, collecting measurements in the millihertz to kilohertz range every few meters with lower labor and financial costs compared with those from conventional seismic arrays covering areas of similar sizes. The high spatiotemporal sampling is especially beneficial in remote and harsh environments, such as Grímsvötn, where the installation of conventional arrays either would require substantially more personnel and time or is altogether infeasible. (In populated areas exposed to volcanic hazards, unused “dark” fibers in existing fiber-optic communications networks coupled with edge computing—data analysis that happens in real time at an instrument—may have great potential for noninvasive volcano monitoring and other applications of DAS.)

    To build our detection network at Grímsvötn, we set up the IU in one of the huts, where electricity and Internet are available, and from there, we laid out our 12 kilometers of fiber-optic cable in a hook-shaped pattern along much of the caldera rim and atop the subglacial lake (Figure 1). Using the snowcat equipped with a custom-made plow, we trenched the cable 50 centimeters deep into the snow thereby protecting it from atmospheric influences. Because the cable was delivered on three separate drums, the different segments had to be spliced together, which was a surgical task given that each fiber is about as thin as a human hair. This surgery was complicated by the fact that it had to be performed during the trenching, and thus in the back of a cold, cramped superjeep rather than in the relative comfort of the huts.

    Badminton and a Bad Connection

    Deploying the entire length of cable took 2 days, a process that ran smoothly overall despite the difficult conditions of working atop an active, glacier-capped volcano. During the deployment, we were always in direct contact with the volcano monitoring room at the IMO. At the first signs of volcanic unrest, we would have evacuated immediately.

    On the third day, we conducted hammer tests to locate the DAS channels and to provide first glimpses of seismic wave propagation in the ice. This entailed pounding a sledgehammer on the ice in different places so the fiber-optic cable would record the signals at those locations. In the data, we could then see exactly where along the cable the signals were recorded, allowing us to link the data with their geographic location. From these initial tests, the experimental setup—our “buried hair,” as we jokingly called it—appeared to work as expected. This success gave us reason to celebrate, and the team was excited to have a good time amid the challenging days of fieldwork.

    Among our supplies, we had packed a badminton set—not at all standard equipment because the glacier is notoriously windy—hoping for an opportunity to spice up the expedition in the event of low-wind conditions inside the caldera, which is partly shielded by Grímsfjall mountain. We were extremely lucky to experience such a day. We set up a net amid the snow and enjoyed a sunny break for badminton—albeit wearing snowsuits instead of shorts and T-shirts—surrounded by the hills of the caldera rim. With the help of a large speaker we had brought up the glacier, the celebration turned into a small party, and because both the speaker and the party were referred to as “búmmbúmm” in Icelandic, our experiment was subsequently named DAS-BúmmBúmm.

    After our celebrations, however, we learned the experiment would not be without hiccups. Our original plan included collecting 2 months of continuous measurements, but upon arrival back in Reykjavík, we found that the connection to our instruments was lost. A week later, after waiting for a storm to pass, we returned to Grímsvötn and diagnosed that this lack of communication occurred because of a broken drive in the instrument. The issue prevented it from recording, and we could not repair it atop the glacier—unfortunately, the DAS system was more “brokebroke” than “búmmbúmm.” Once we arranged for a replacement instrument, we went to Grímsvötn a third time and corrected the problem, and in the end we still managed to collect 1 month of measurements.

    Experimental Expectations

    Experiments on volcanoes are a relatively new application of DAS, with only a few examples to date, such as an experiment on Mount Meager in 2019, so the science is still exploratory. Our goal is to develop DAS as a real-time volcano monitoring tool. To achieve this, we need to conduct several DAS experiments in different volcanic settings to develop algorithms that can identify, locate, and characterize volcanic signals on the fly.

    We are still analyzing the data from this first-ever DAS deployment at Grímsvötn. So far, they reveal an unexpected level of seismic activity. Prior to the DAS-BúmmBúmm experiment, there had been one seismic station at Grímsvötn to record seismic signals, whereas we effectively recorded ground motions every 8 meters along the fiber-optic cable. With a single station only, it is hard to distinguish smaller signals from background noise, but in our DAS data, we can see the propagation of even the smallest signals. We recorded previously unknown tremor inside the caldera, for example, as well as frequently occurring small, local events that were detected all along the fiber-optic cable. These events may have been caused by a wide range of phenomena, such as volcanic and geothermal activity, icequakes, snow avalanches, and resonance of the subglacial lake and the overlying ice sheet (Figure 2). Because the cable loops closely past fumarole fields, their activity is likely recorded as well.

    4
    Fig. 2. This sample data plot shows ground deformation along the fiber-optic cable deployed at Grímsvötn over about 50 seconds. A large event arrived near the middle of the cable at about 18:44:50 on this day as it propagated through the glacier. The signal observed around kilometers 10–12 of the fiber, which sat on top of the subglacial lake, oscillated with longer periods than the large event and may have been caused by bending of the ice sheet on top of the lake.

    In our initial analyses, we are locating the detected events, carefully accounting for the rough topography and the presence of the ice and the lake, which affect seismic signals differently from the bedrock below. This work will be followed by a process of iteratively inverting the data to help determine the internal structure of Grímsvötn, including its magma chamber and conduits. We hope that our results and experiences from this experiment—and from future experiments planned for a range of volcanological settings in Santorini, Tenerife, and Indonesia—will shed light on hidden processes at hazardous active volcanoes and bring us closer to enhanced volcano monitoring using versatile fiber-optic cables.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:15 pm on December 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Deadly Day on Mount Semeru", , , , , Pyroclastic flows are among the most dangerous hazards posed by volcanoes., The pyroclastic flows at Mount Semeru on December 4 were still hot enough that they likely helped propel a billowing “Phoenix cloud” that rose as high as 15 kilometers (9 miles) into the air., The pyroclastic flows mixed with large amounts of rainwater and morphed into muddy lahars that rushed down the mountain into populated areas., Volcanology   

    From NASA Earth Observatory (US) : “A Deadly Day on Mount Semeru” 

    NASA Earth Observatory

    From NASA Earth Observatory (US)

    1
    Credit: Agus Harianto | AFP | Getty Images

    3
    December 7, 2021

    Mount Semeru, the tallest and most active volcano on the Indonesian island of Java, has routinely spit up small, mostly harmless plumes of ash and gas for years. The circumstances changed on December 4, 2021.

    Following a partial collapse of the summit lava dome early in December, sensors began to detect elevated seismic activity, according to the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (PVMBG). After more of Semeru’s lava dome gave way, billowing fronts of superheated ash, tephra, soil, and other debris raced down several channels on the mountain’s southeastern flank.

    Pyroclastic flows are among the most dangerous hazards posed by volcanoes. Sometimes accelerating to speeds of hundreds of kilometers per hour, these masses of volcanic material and landscape debris can be impossible to outrun. They destroy most living things in their path. Though explosive eruptions at the summit were likely small, the pyroclastic flows at Mount Semeru on December 4 were still hot enough that they likely helped propel a billowing “Phoenix cloud” that rose as high as 15 kilometers (9 miles) into the air.

    Since heavy rains preceded and accompanied the eruption, the pyroclastic flows mixed with large amounts of rainwater and morphed into muddy lahars that rushed down the mountain into populated areas. Lahars are mixtures of water and volcanic debris that behave like rivers of concrete, flattening or burying much of what they encounter.

    The damage proxy map above shows areas on the surface that were likely damaged by pyroclastic flows and lahars in December 2021. Dark red pixels represent the most severe damage, while orange and yellow areas are moderately or partially damaged. Each colored pixel represents an area of 30 meters by 30 meters (about the size of a baseball infield). Researchers from the The Earth Observatory of Singapore – Remote Sensing Lab (EOS-RS) made the maps by comparing a post-eruption image from December 7, 2021, with a set of pre-eruption images from August 9, 2021, through November 21, 2021.

    The slurry of debris that swept down Semeru proved catastrophic to villagers living around the mountain’s base in the Lumajang Regency, particularly Curah Kobokan. According to The Jakarta Post, at least 39 people have died. Large numbers of homes were destroyed or damaged, and many animals are among the eruption’s victims.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The mission of NASA Earth Observatory (US) is to share with the public the images, stories, and discoveries about climate and the environment that emerge from NASA research, including its satellite missions, in-the-field research, and climate models. The NASA Earth Observatory staff is supported by the Climate and Radiation Laboratory, and the Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory located at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:51 am on December 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How the Armero Tragedy Changed Volcanology in Colombia", , , , Lahars, Volcanology   

    From Eos: “How the Armero Tragedy Changed Volcanology in Colombia” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    30 November 2021

    Santiago Flórez
    Camilo Garzón

    The deadly eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in 1985 made Colombian volcanologists realize that studying natural phenomena was irrelevant if they could not share their knowledge to avoid predictable tragedies.

    1
    The Nevado del Ruiz volcano, seen here on a recent cloudless morning from the western hills of Bogotá, was the site of the worst natural disaster in Colombia’s history. Credit: Santiago Flórez.

    On 13 November 1985, the Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted, killing more than 25,000 people in Armero—a town of 30,000 inhabitants—making it the worst natural disaster in the history of Colombia.

    Marta Lucía Calvache Velasco, the technical director of The Columbian Geological SErvice [Servicio Geologico Colubiana](COL), was studying the volcano 1 month before the eruption. She and her colleagues had submitted a report to the Colombian congress describing the geological history of the site and warning of the likelihood of an eruption within the next months or years.

    The warnings were mostly ignored. The documentary El valle sin sombras (The valley without shadows) by Colombian filmmaker Rubén Mendoza compiled the experiences of some survivors. Resident Gabrielina Ferruccio says in the film that when ash started falling on Armero on the eve of the eruption, she went to church to ask for advice; the priest told her to “enjoy this beautiful show, it will never be seen again.” Edilma Loiza remembers how at 6 p.m., “a fire truck went through town telling everybody to stay at home, to not leave home or panic.” The catastrophic lahars (avalanches of volcanically induced landslides and debris flows) occurred 5 hours later.

    The second volume of the book Forecasting and Planning for Volcanic Hazards, Risks, and Disasters (2020) includes a chapter written by a group of Colombian geologists led by Calvache. They describe how geologists in the country have worked to avoid future disasters by improving monitoring, creating a legal framework, and raising awareness in at-risk populations. The text clarifies how Colombian volcanologists realized that studying natural phenomena was irrelevant if they could not share their knowledge in a way that policymakers and the public understood the urgency to avoid predictable tragedies.

    Monitoring and Studying Volcanic Hazards

    Colombian volcanology grew rapidly and exponentially thanks to international aid that arrived after the disaster and helped establish a network of observatories. Today, there are 600 stations that monitor and investigate 23 active volcanoes. Additionally, 14 hazard maps have been produced for local authorities to use. “The fact that there is a volcanic eruption should not be a synonym of disaster,” said Calvache. Policymakers and scientists learned they could protect the nearby communities as long as they understood what was happening geologically.

    In June 1989, the Nevado del Ruiz had an eruption similar to the one that destroyed Armero. As soon as one of the new monitoring stations detected an increase in seismic activity, the SGC started to produce daily updates on the status of the volcano. On 30 August, the SGC told the local community that an eruption was imminent and evacuations were necessary.

    Just 4 years after the Armero tragedy, when the Nevado del Ruiz erupted again, there was no human loss.

    Legal Framework

    “In 1985, Colombia didn’t even have an institution in charge of volcanoes,” remembered volcanologist Diego Mauricio Gómez Martínez of the SGC. Geologists advocated for the passage of decree 919 of 1989, which created the first legal and institutional framework for risk management in the country. The agency it created, Ingeominas, was put in charge of assessing and preventing volcano risk; in 2012 the agency changed its name to the SGC.

    The legal framework has brought new and unforeseen problems, as well as ways to address existing ones.

    Lucio Figuero, an Indigenous leader who has lived more than 60 years near the Galeras volcano (named Urkunima by locals, meaning “mountain of fire” in the Quillasinga language), argues that the risk management strategy has been negative for his community, for example. When the volcano reactivated in 2004, the locality of Mapachico, where Figuero lives, was designated a risk zone. With the new designation, “all possibilities of construction or investment stopped, condemning us to poverty.…The price of land devalued so much that if we sell it, we won’t have enough money to move anywhere else,” said Figuero.

    Several families from the region brought a lawsuit demanding to be relocated outside the risk area of Galeras, which has erupted 25 times in the past 30 years. After their request was denied by several regional courts, the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled in their favor, arguing that resettlement was necessary because of “the fundamental rights to life and dignified housing.”

    According to Figuero, new studies are being conducted to determine a new hazard map for the region—almost 10 years after the Constitutional Court ruling. He hopes that when the new hazard map is completed, his community will be able to stay in their territory and “learn to live with the volcan,” although acknowledging there is a possibility they will have to be relocated. If that happens, he hopes the government will be able to provide some economic support.

    Raising Awareness in At-Risk Populations

    Monitoring and the legal framework are useful tools to prevent disasters. However, Calvache believes that community awareness of volcanic phenomena will ensure that if an eruption occurs, there will be no disaster. The SGC has partnered with local universities and schools to produce videos, posters, radio spots, and an online teaching module. “We have to do science that can be shared,” said Calvache.

    2
    This map was created by the Colombian Geological Service to teach about volcanic phenomena and risk management. Click image for larger version. Credit: Colombian Geological Service.

    Gomez believes that for the awareness to be effective, “communities need to be able to appropriate scientific knowledge.” This belief is the reason Gómez organized the first youth conference in Pasto after a visit to Japan in 2011, where he was inspired by the way risk prevention focused on the experiences of youth living in volcanic regions. He organized an event in which more than 150 children from all over Colombia shared their stories with peers, learned about volcanoes, and studied risk management.

    The goal of such projects is to allow local communities to share their experiences and promote volcanic risk management for new generations in Colombia.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:32 am on November 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Super-hot rock" geothermal power, "What Secrets Can The World's 1st Magma Observatory Discover 1 Mile Inside a Volcano?", , , , , Italian National institute for geophysics and volcanology-INGV, KMT: "Krafla Magma Testbed" project, Knowing where the magma is located is vital in order to be prepared for an eruption., , The KMT is the first magma observatory in the world., The possibility that the operation may trigger a volcanic eruption is something one would naturally worry about., Volcanology   

    From The Italian National institute for geophysics and volcanology-INGV via Science Alert (US) : “What Secrets Can The World’s 1st Magma Observatory Discover 1 Mile Inside a Volcano?” 

    1

    From The Italian National institute for geophysics and volcanology INGV

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert (US)

    27 NOVEMBER 2021
    JEREMIE RICHARD, AFP

    1
    Krafla seen from Leirhnjúkur in Iceland. (Hansueli Krapf/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

    With its large crater lake of turquoise water, plumes of smoke and sulfurous bubbling of mud and gases, the Krafla volcano is one of Iceland’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders.

    Here, in the country’s northeast, a team of international researchers is preparing to drill two kilometers (1.2 miles) into the heart of the volcano, a Jules Verne-like project aimed at creating the world’s first underground magma observatory.

    Launched in 2014 and with the first drilling due to start in 2024, the $100-million project involves scientists and engineers from 38 research institutes and companies in 11 countries, including the US, Britain, and France.

    The “Krafla Magma Testbed” (KMT) team hopes to drill into the volcano’s magma chamber. Unlike the lava spewed above ground, the molten rock beneath the surface remains a mystery.

    The KMT is the first magma observatory in the world, Paolo Papale, volcanologist at the Italian national institute for geophysics and volcanology INGV, tells Agence France Pressé.com(FR).

    “We have never observed underground magma, apart from fortuitous encounters while drilling” in volcanoes in Hawaii and Kenya, and at Krafla in 2009, he says.

    Scientists hope the project will lead to advances in basic science and so-called “super-hot rock” geothermal power.

    They also hope to further knowledge about volcano prediction and risks.

    “Knowing where the magma is located… is vital” in order to be prepared for an eruption. “Without that, we are nearly blind,” says Papale.

    Not so deep down

    Like many scientific breakthroughs, the magma observatory is the result of an unexpected discovery.

    In 2009, when engineers were expanding Krafla’s geothermal power plant, a bore drill hit a pocket of 900-degree-Celsius (1,650 Fahrenheit) magma by chance, at a depth of 2.1 kilometers.

    Smoke shot up from the borehole and lava flowed nine meters up the well, damaging the drilling material.

    But there was no eruption and no one was hurt.

    Volcanologists realized they were within reach of a magma pocket estimated to contain around 500 million cubic meters.

    Scientists were astonished to find magma this shallow – they had expected to be able to drill to a depth of 4.5 kilometers before that would occur.

    Studies have subsequently shown the magma had similar properties to that from a 1724 eruption, meaning that it was at least 300 years old.

    “This discovery has the potential to be a huge breakthrough in our capability to understand many different things,” ranging from the origin of the continents to volcano dynamics and geothermal systems, Papale enthuses.

    Technically challenging

    The chance find was also auspicious for Landsvirkjun, the national electricity agency that runs the site.

    That close to liquid magma, the rock reaches temperatures so extreme that the fluids are “supercritical”, a state in-between liquid and gas.

    The energy produced there is five to 10 times more powerful than in a conventional borehole.

    During the incident, the steam that rose to the surface was 450C, the highest volcano steam temperature ever recorded.

    Two supercritical wells would be enough to generate the plant’s 60-megawatt capacity currently served by 18 boreholes.

    Landsvirkjun hopes the KMT project will lead to “new technology to be able to drill deeper and to be able to harness this energy that we have not been able to do before,” the head of geothermal operations and resource management, Vordis Eiriksdottir, said.

    But drilling in such an extreme environment is technically challenging. The materials need to be able to resist corrosion caused by the super-hot steam.

    And the possibility that the operation may trigger a volcanic eruption is something “one would naturally worry about”, says John Eichelberger, a University of Alaska-Fairbanks (US) geophysicist and one of the founders of the KMT project.

    But, he says, “this is poking an elephant with a needle.”

    “In total, a dozen holes have hit magma at three different places (in the world) and nothing bad happened.”

    See the full article here.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Italian National institute for geophysics and volcanology INGV is a research institute for geophysics and volcanology in Italy.

    INGV is funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research. Its main responsibilities within the Italian civil protection system are the maintenance and monitoring of the national networks for seismic and volcanic phenomena, together with outreach and educational activities for the Italian population. The institute employs around 2000 people distributed between the headquarters in Rome and the other sections in Milan, Bologna, Pisa, Naples, Catania and Palermo.

    INGV is amongst the top 20 research institutions in terms of scientific publications production. It participates and coordinates several EU research projects and organizes international scientific meetings in collaboration with other institutions.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:56 am on November 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "We All Nearly Missed The Largest Underwater Volcano Eruption Ever Detected", A raft of floating rock spewed from an underwater volcano, An underwater volcano called the Havre Seamount, , , , , , Volcanology   

    From Science Alert (US) : “We All Nearly Missed The Largest Underwater Volcano Eruption Ever Detected” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert (US)

    26 NOVEMBER 2021
    PETER DOCKRILL

    1
    Credit: Rebecca Carey, The University of Tasmania (AU)/Adam Soule, The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US))

    She was flying home from a holiday in Samoa when she saw it through the airplane window: a “peculiar large mass” floating on the ocean, hundreds of kilometres off the north coast of New Zealand.

    The Kiwi passenger emailed photos of the strange ocean slick to scientists, who realized what it was – a raft of floating rock spewed from an underwater volcano, produced in the largest eruption of its kind ever recorded.

    “We knew it was a large-scale eruption, approximately equivalent to the biggest eruption we’ve seen on land in the 20th Century,” said volcanologist Rebecca Carey from The University of Tasmania (AU), who co-led the first close-up investigation of the historic 2012 eruption, and together with colleagues finally published the results in a paper in 2018.

    The incident, produced by an underwater volcano called the Havre Seamount, initially went unnoticed by scientists, but the floating rock platform it generated was harder to miss.

    2
    High-resolution seafloor topography of the Havre caldera. Credit: Rebecca Carey, University of Tasmania/Adam Soule, WHOI.

    Back in 2012, the raft – composed of pumice, a type of very light, air-filled volcanic rock – covered some 400 square kilometres (154 square miles) of the south-west Pacific Ocean, but months later satellites recorded it dispersing over an area twice the size of New Zealand itself.

    Under the surface, the sheer scale of the rocky aftermath took scientists aback when they inspected the site in 2015, at depths as low as 1,220 metres (4,000 feet).

    “When we looked at the detailed maps from the AUV [autonomous underwater vehicle], we saw all these bumps on the seafloor and I thought the vehicle’s sonar was acting up,” said volcanologist Adam Soule from The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US).

    “It turned out that each bump was a giant block of pumice, some of them the size of a van. I had never seen anything like it on the seafloor.”

    The investigation – conducted with the AUV Sentry and the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason – reveals that Havre Seamount’s eruption was more complex than anyone topside ever knew.

    A close-up Look at a Rare Underwater Eruption.Credit WHOI.

    The caldera, which spans nearly 4.5 kilometres (about 3 miles), discharged lava from some 14 vents in a “massive rupture of the volcanic edifice”, producing not just pumice rock, but ash, lava domes, and seafloor lava flows.

    It may have been (thankfully) buried under an ocean of water, but for a sense of scale, think roughly 1.5 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens – or 10 times the size of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland.

    The researchers say that of the material erupted, three-quarters or more floated to the surface and drifted away – tonnes of it washing up onto shorelines an ocean away.

    The rest of it was scattered around the nearby seafloor, bringing devastation to the biological communities who called it home, and are only now rebounding.

    “The record of this eruption on Havre volcano itself is highly unfaithful,” said Carey.

    “[I]t preserves a small component of what was actually produced, which is important for how we interpret ancient submarine volcanic successions that are now uplifted and are highly prospective for metals and minerals.”

    With samples collected by the submersibles yielding what the scientists say could amount to a decade’s worth of research, it’s a huge, rare opportunity to study what takes place when a volcano erupts under the sea – a phenomenon that actually accounts for more than 70 percent of all volcanism on Earth, even if it’s a bit harder to spot.

    “Underwater eruptions are fundamentally different than those on land,” noted one of the team, geophysicist Michael Manga from The University of California-Berkeley (US).

    “There is no on-land equivalent.”

    The findings were reported in Science Advances.

    A version of this article was originally published in January 2018.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 12:49 pm on November 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Identifying an Eruption “Tipping Point” in Hot Spot Volcanoes", , By analyzing lava samples researchers show how chemical processes that occur during magma’s ascent to the surface may contribute to a volcano’s eruptible state., , , , Volcanology   

    From Eos: “Identifying an Eruption “Tipping Point” in Hot Spot Volcanoes” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    15 November 2021
    Kate Wheeling

    By analyzing lava samples researchers show how chemical processes that occur during magma’s ascent to the surface may contribute to a volcano’s eruptible state.

    1
    In September 2021, Cumbre Vieja, a volcano on La Palma, Canary Islands, erupted. Credit: Eduardo Robaina, CC-BY-NC-3.0.

    Hot spot volcanoes, those in which magma from mantle plumes reaches the surface, have long been viewed as clues to the mysteries of the mantle.

    The hot spot volcanoes on Spain’s Canary Islands, however, are a magmatic mystery unto themselves. Magma from these volcanoes can have very different chemical compositions despite being part of the same volcanic system and in some cases surfacing just a few meters apart. But a new study published in Geology sheds light on the mystery, showing how crystals that form as magma makes its way to the surface can alter the magma’s physical properties, such as density and water content, and its ultimate composition.

    Finding a Magnesium Sweet Spot

    Teresa Ubide, a senior lecturer at The University of Queensland (AU) and her colleagues analyzed samples from lava flows and dikes on El Hierro, one of the eight islands that make up the Canary Islands. The researchers compared the compositions of feeder dikes (which transport magma vertically to the surface) and the lava flows fed by the dikes. They discovered that these flows and dikes could have either the same or very different compositions. The key is crystals. If both the dike and the flow were crystal-rich or crystal-poor, then their compositions were the same; but if the dike was crystal-rich and the lava was crystal-poor, then the compositions were extremely different.

    “That was the point when we realized how important this crystal accumulation process was,” said Ubide, lead author of the new study.

    In El Hierro’s crystal-free samples, researchers noticed that magnesium oxide levels were typically 5% and up to 8%. When the team expanded its focus from El Hierro to include ocean island basalts from hot spot volcanoes around the world, an abundance of samples had a 5% magnesium oxide level. This abundance suggested that these are the dominant melt compositions erupting at these volcanoes.

    Ubide’s work suggested that the higher magnesium oxide lavas represent lavas with accumulated magnesium-rich minerals (like the crystal-rich dikes on El Hierro), rather than direct mantle melts. The team also modeled how deep crystallization to form the 5% magnesium oxide melts would affect the magma’s physical properties, such as density and water content.

    That magnesium oxide level proved a key contributor to a volcanic eruption. “When [the magma] gets to that sweet spot or tipping point of 5%–8% magnesium,” Ubide said, “it may have the ideal properties of reduced density and increased volatile content, so that in carbon dioxide–rich systems like ocean island basalts, it can actually erupt, like opening up a bottle of champagne.”

    That sweet spot Ubide described happens at a depth of 10–15 kilometers below the surface—a fact that could potentially prove useful for assessing the risk of volcanic eruptions. Magma accumulating within this depth (near the crust-mantle boundary in oceanic settings) could be considered a risk factor for an eruption.

    Indeed, seismic data showed that at least a week before the ongoing eruption on La Palma, magma was accumulating at around 12 kilometers below the surface. The same was true before the last major eruption, a decade ago, according to Ubide. In that case, magma accumulated at the sweet spot depth for 3 months before the eruption.

    “It’s interesting to see that the knowledge we build agrees with what’s been observed recently in these volcanoes,” said Ubide. But, she cautioned, although observing accumulation at the sweet spot might signify a risk of eruption, it doesn’t provide information about its timing. “We don’t predict anything in volcanology; we make forecasts about what is likely to happen.”

    Challenging Assumptions

    Some of the data the team examined were from melt inclusions—capsules of melt trapped by crystals when they grow. In melt inclusions on the most primitive crystals, like olivines, Ubide and her colleagues expected the samples to be rich in magnesium. (A greater presence of magnesium usually indicates crystallization deep in the mantle.)

    They were surprised, however, to see that these melt inclusions also had only 5% magnesium oxide levels. “They look pristine, like they’re coming from great depth in the mantle,” Ubide said, “but they’re actually a mixture.”

    “I find that really quite surprising, quite alarming, because we often use these melt inclusions to tell us about what’s going on in the very earliest stages of crystallization, in the deepest magma chambers,” said Margaret Hartley, a senior lecturer at The University of Manchester (UK) who was not involved in the study.

    Crystals and melts erupting from hot spot volcanoes have been thought of as direct indicators of the mantle and the compositions of mantle melts. If that’s not the case, if melts have also been modified on their way to the surface, she said, “it raises all these questions. Can we ever get [pristine mantle melts] to come out of the top of volcanoes? If we can’t, can we back-calculate it? Can we model it?”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:12 am on November 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "This Volcano Erupted For 5 Years Straight and The Photos Are Out of This World", , The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, , Volcanology   

    From The United States Geological Survey (US) via Science Alert (US) : “This Volcano Erupted For 5 Years Straight and The Photos Are Out of This World” 

    From The United States Geological Survey (US)

    2
    The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) is a volcano observatory located at Uwekahuna Bluff on the rim of Kīlauea Caldera on the Island of Hawaiʻi. The observatory monitors four active Hawaiian volcanoes: Kīlauea, Mauna Loa, Hualālai, and Haleakalā. Because Kīlauea and Mauna Loa are significantly more active than Hualālai and Haleakalā, much of the observatory’s research is concentrated on the former two mountains. The observatory has a worldwide reputation as a leader in the study of active volcanism. Due to the relatively non-explosive nature of Hawaiian volcanic eruptions, scientists can study on-going eruptions in proximity without being in extreme danger. Located at the main site is the public Thomas A. Jaggar Museum.

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert (US)

    15 NOVEMBER 2021
    SIGNE DEAN

    1
    Kilauea lava dome. Credit: USGS.

    On 24 May 1969, a deep rumbling started within Kīlauea, the largest of the volcanoes comprising the island of Hawai’i.

    Those were the first moments of the historical Maunaulu eruption – a spectacular outpouring of lava that lasted for a total of 1,774 days, at the time becoming the longest Kīlauea eruption in at least two millennia.

    Staff at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory had noted that the magma reservoir underneath the tip of the volcano had started to swell, but they still didn’t expect the magnificent activity that lasted well into the summer of 1974.

    So huge was this eruption that the cooling lava created a whole new landscape on the side of Kīlauea, earning the name of “growing mountain”, or Maunaulu.

    In 1969 alone, twelve huge lava fountains erupted at the site, and much of this activity has been captured for posterity in glorious photographs.

    In 2018, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reminded the world of the Maunaulu eruption with a throwback photo to one of the rarest types of a lava fountain you can possibly get [above].

    Usually, lava just explodes all over the place without any rhyme or reason, making this beautiful, perfectly rounded dome fountain all the more special. (By the way, the foreground is not the ocean, as it might seem at first glance – it’s a landscape of cooled lava.)

    Lava fountains, in all their blazing glory of raw exploding geology, can reach the dizzying heights of 500 meters, according to USGS.

    They typically happen when lava shoots out of an isolated vent or a fissure in the volcano, or when water in a confined space gets inside a lava tube.

    And, if you like this photo, Maunaulu certainly produced more incredible scenery.

    On June 25 of the same year, a massive 220-meter (722-foot) fountain of lava shot up from the volcano:

    3

    On August 15 of 1969, there was this little splatter of boiling hot rock, just 8 meters (26 feet) high but shaped rather like a searing mushroom cloud. At that point in the eruption, activity like this was almost constantly happening at Maunaulu:

    4

    One of the most spectacular events during the eruption were these 100-meter high ‘lava falls’ overflowing the ‘Alae Crater on Kīlauea, on 5 August 1969.

    “For the two seasoned observers who witnessed this awe-inspiring event, nothing else matched it during the entire Maunaulu eruption,” USGS writes on their website.

    5

    Even after that stunning event, Kīlauea was far from done inspiring awe in its observers. Another massive lava fountain shot up in the air on October 20, and in this photo you can even see a geologist standing on a viewing platform about 800 meters (2,625 feet) away.

    Despite the considerable distance, observers still had to hide behind a stone wall as the heat was so intense – sometimes dry grass right next to the platform would even catch fire.

    Of course, Kīlauea hardly rests. Just nine years after Maunaulu ceased, in 1983 the Pu’u’ō’ō eruption began, producing regular spectacles of lava explosions. Far surpassing its predecessor, it lasted until 30 April 2018, when the crater floor and lava lake catastrophically collapsed.

    What’s particularly wild is that’s not even the longest continually active volcano on our planet. According to Guinness World Records, this honor belongs to Mt Stromboli in Italy, that’s been going since at least the 7th century BCE.

    You can see the full gallery of the picturesque Maunaulu eruption on the USGS website.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Created by an act of Congress in 1879, the The United States Geological Survey (US) has evolved over the ensuing 125 years, matching its talent and knowledge to the progress of science and technology. The USGS is the sole science agency for the Department of the Interior. It is sought out by thousands of partners and customers for its natural science expertise and its vast earth and biological data holdings.

    On March 3, 1879, we were established by the passing of the Organic Act through Congress. Our main responsibilities were to map public lands, examine geological structure, and evaluate mineral resources. Over the next century, our mission expanded to include the research of groundwater, ecosystems, environmental health, natural hazards, and climate and land use change.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:22 pm on November 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "When Kilauea Erupted a New Volcanic Playbook Was Written", , , , Halema‘uma‘u, Mauna Loa Kilauea’s colossal neighbor, , The powers that be recognized that drones “really add a fundamental piece to the story” for volcano monitoring., Volcanology   

    From The New York Times : “When Kilauea Erupted a New Volcanic Playbook Was Written” 

    From The New York Times

    Nov. 9, 2021
    Robin George Andrews


    An ash plume rising from the Halema‘uma‘u crater on May 21, 2018, captured by a drone.CreditCredit…Angie Diefenbach/The Geological Survey (US)

    Back in the summer of 2018, Wendy Stovall stood and stared into the heart of an inferno.

    Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano had been continuously erupting in one form or another since 1983.

    1
    Hawaii Volcano Eruption 2018: Credit: Live Science.

    But from May to August, the volcano produced its magnum opus, unleashing 320,000 Olympic-size swimming pools’ worth of molten rock from its eastern flank.

    Dr. Stovall, the deputy scientist-in-charge at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, recalls moments of being awe-struck by the eruption’s incandescence: lava fountains roaring like jet engines, painting the inky blue sky in crimson hues. But these briefly exhilarating moments were overwhelmed by sadness. The people of Hawaii would suffer hundreds of millions of dollars in economic damage. The lava bulldozed around 700 homes. Thousands of lives were upended. Even the headquarters of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory itself, sitting atop the volcano, was torn apart by earthquakes early in the crisis.

    Like many volcanologists who were there during the eruption, Dr. Stovall is still processing the trauma she witnessed. Sadness is not quite the right word to describe what she feels, she said: “Maybe it’s an emotion that I don’t even have a word for.”

    But not only trauma has resulted from the crisis: It has also produced something of a sea change in the way scientists and their emergency services partners are able to respond to volcanic emergencies.

    During Kilauea’s devastating outburst, responders found novel ways to deploy drones and used social media to help those in the lava’s path. They also achieved more ineffable insights into how to keep cool in the face of hot lava. And this pandemonium of pedagogical experiences will prove valuable in times to come. The United States is home to 161 active or potentially active volcanoes — approximately 10 percent of the world’s total. When — not if — a Kilauean-esque outburst or something more explosive takes place near an American city, scientists and emergency responders will be better prepared than ever to confront and counter that volcanic conflagration.

    A Patchwork of Fire

    2
    Mount Rainier seen from Seattle.The volcano is known for making concrete-like slurries called lahars, in which freshly erupted ash mixes with snow or rainwater and gushes downslope.Credit: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times.

    In volcano preparedness, knowing where the next socially disruptive eruption may take place is half the battle.

    Not all of America’s active volcanoes are equally hazardous. Many in Alaska are situated on extremely remote islands. The Yellowstone supervolcano may sound frightening, but this cauldron does not deserve to be a boogeyman. “The odds of a supereruption happening are infinitesimally small,” said Emilie Hooft, a geophysicist at The University of Oregon (US).

    California is home to at least seven potentially active volcanoes. Although they are “mostly where the people aren’t, a lot of California’s infrastructure crosses these volcanic zones,” said Andy Calvert, the scientist-in-charge at the Geological Survey’s California Volcano Observatory. An eruption at any of them could destroy power lines, highways, waterways and natural gas pipelines.

    The volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest are not dissimilar to bombs lingering in the background of populous American ports, towns and cities. Some, like Mount St. Helens, are infamous for giant explosions and superheated, superfast exhalations of noxious gas and volcanic debris.

    Others, like Washington State’s Mount Rainier, are more insidious. The volcano is known for making concrete-like slurries called lahars, in which freshly erupted ash mixes with snow or rainwater and gushes downslope, consuming everything in its path. These lahars “are a huge and real hazard,” Dr. Hooft said. Populous settlements within or at the terminus of the volcano’s many valleys, including parts of the Seattle-Tacoma metropolis, are built on ancient lahar deposits — and as the geologist’s refrain goes, the past is the key to the present.

    Another major concern is America’s poorly understood volcanic fields: sprawling collections of cones, craters and fissures nestled between countless towns stretching from California to Washington State. Except for Mount St. Helens, said Dr. Stovall, “it is statistically more likely that an eruption will occur from any one of these volcanic fields than from one of the charismatic stratocones of the Cascades.”

    While constantly watching Kilauea, the eyes of The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (US) also remain fixed on Mauna Loa, Kilauea’s colossal neighbor.

    3
    1984 Eruption of Mauna Loa – Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (National Park Service (US))

    It has not erupted since 1984 — a disquietingly long pause. But in recent years, Mauna Loa has been grumbling. Several of this titan’s lava flows have come agonizingly close to obliterating the city of Hilo in the past century, and although they have serendipitously stopped short, they may one day succeed.

    When Ken Hon, the scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, was asked if a future Mauna Loa eruption concerned him, he replied with a question of his own.

    “Are you wary of a tiger when it’s sleeping?” he said. “It’s a sleeping tiger in your yard, and there’s no cage, and you’re just kind of watching it.”

    A Kilauean Education

    Fortunately, the lessons learned from the 2018 eruption have strengthened the armor of America’s volcanic vanguard.

    Kilauea took not just the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory but the entire U.S. Geological Survey to school. During the 2018 crisis, staff from the Alaska, California, Cascades and Yellowstone observatories headed to Hawaii to assist, like white blood cells from throughout the body rushing to the site of a pathogen’s incursion. Despite some parts of America not seeing an eruption for over a century, this across-the-spectrum response allowed scientists from the Geological Survey to “keep the tools sharp,” Dr. Calvert said.

    Hawaii’s lava factories are now better understood. They may sometimes be the deliverers of destructive horrors, but “volcanic eruptions are this amazing opportunity for scientists to do basic research,” said Ken Rubin, a volcanologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The eruption in 2018, revealed that “there’s a lot of ways this volcano can operate,” he said.

    Some key observations made during the 2018 crisis are likely to apply to countless other volcanoes, including those enigmatic volcanic fields on the West Coast. For instance, Kilauea stopped erupting despite retaining most of its magma. A change in the rhythm of its seismic soundtrack also revealed changes in the magma’s gloopiness, a key factor in an eruption’s explosive capacity. Monitoring such changes may help forecast how future eruptions will evolve, and how long they will continue once they start.

    Kilauea’s outburst also changed the way scientists communicate with the public.

    “It was the first big eruption we’ve had in the social media age,” said Tina Neal, director of the Geological Survey’s Volcano Science Center. During the eruption, her colleagues provided a constant stream of updates on Facebook and Twitter, debunking misconceptions and rumors. This proved to be one of the most effective ways of providing lifesaving advice to those fleeing the eruption.

    “I’ll admit that I was skeptical of spending too much time delivering information via social media,” said Ms. Neal, who was the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s scientist-in-charge during the 2018 eruption. She was concerned that in doing so she would mainly be catering to curious but unaffected parties further afield.

    But she said she was happy to be proved wrong — and added that she thinks the Geological Survey’s volcanologists now have an effective social media operation that can spring into action whenever a volcano starts twitching.


    Lava flowing from one of the Kilauea fissures in June 2018, observed via drone.Credit: Angie Diefenbach/U.S. Geological Survey.

    The 2018 crisis also kick-started a nationwide technological revolution. It had long seemed strange to Angie Diefenbach, a geologist at The Cascades Volcano Observatory (US), that management did not appear to see the value of using drones to study erupting volcanoes in the United States, particularly as academics both inside and outside the country had been doing just that for several years.

    Kilauea’s dramatic eruption was a paradigm-shifting moment. Ms. Diefenbach, who was already equipped with a pilot’s license, was sent to the effervescing volcano with a handful of keen colleagues and a small fleet of flying robots.

    The pilots had a steep learning curve. The drones frequently flitted over the incandescent fury emerging from fissure eight, one of the two dozen cracks in the volcano’s flank, to film the seemingly endless flow of lava and sniff the chasm’s noxious gases.

    “That fissure eight plume was intense, and the river of lava was extremely hot,” Ms. Diefenbach said. Every now and then, an upswell of heat would knock the levitating robots skyward by a couple hundred feet, threatening a loss of control that might plunge them into molten rock. Fortunately, they all survived to fly another day.

    Immediately, she said, the powers that be recognized that drones “really add a fundamental piece to the story” for volcano monitoring. Bird’s-eye views of lava flows allowed scientists to study the evolution of the eruption in real time. And communities in the path of the lava could be given advance warning; at one point, a man trapped in his home at night and surrounded by lava was led by a drone through the maze of molten rock to safety.

    Ms. Diefenbach, who works with uncrewed aircraft systems like drones for the Volcano Science Center, is now training more drone pilots across all five volcano observatories. While awaiting the next socially disruptive eruption, some of her drones are being used to study volcanoes that could one day reawaken, including inaccessible snowcapped peaks in Alaska.

    Meandering Paths Forward

    4
    Sunrise over the lower East Rift Zone of the 2018 Kilauea eruption.Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, via Associated Press.

    This is not to say that the scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey have been “twiddling their thumbs waiting” for a ruinous eruption like Kilauea, Ms. Neal said.

    The agency’s staff are working constantly with their academic partners to improve their understanding of America’s fiery mountains. They are also continually learning from the way other countries respond to their own volcanic crises. The scientists regularly team up with emergency managers to conduct drills, including the annual evacuation exercises near Mount Rainier.

    But the path to volcanic enlightenment is not a straight line. Although all of America’s active volcanoes are monitored, some considered to be high risk are not adorned with sufficient sensors. This can be a result of budgetary constraints, the difficulty of instrumenting treacherous volcanoes and, in some cases, red tape preventing the placement of sensors in wilderness areas.

    “There are some volcanoes where we’re more at the starting line,” said Seth Moran, a seismologist at the Cascades Volcano Observatory, citing Washington’s Glacier Peak and Mount Baker.

    Climate change and California’s increasingly intense wildfires are also aggravating the situation. A newly installed ground deformation sensor on Mount Shasta, for example, was taken out by this summer’s furious Lava fire, Dr. Calvert said.

    Despite these setbacks, the Geological Survey continues to strengthen its monitoring efforts, with its network of instruments on several particularly hazardous volcanoes being upgraded and expanded. It also participates in tabletop exercises to test everyone’s mettle. One that took place over several days last November pitted scientists against a hypothetical eruption of Oregon’s Mount Hood.

    Like the Kilauean eruption, this virtual volcanic gauntlet served up an underappreciated reminder: The people responding to volcanic crises may have extraordinary skill sets, but they are not superhuman.

    “The general feeling afterwards was just of overwhelming exhaustion,” said Diana Roman, a geophysicist at The Carnegie Institution for Science (US) and one of those who ran the exercise. “And that was part of the point.”

    When it comes to America’s readiness for the next eruption, preparing scientists psychologically for the reality of a prolonged volcanic crisis is a necessity.

    In 2004, when Mount St. Helens began to cough and splutter in a concerning manner, Dr. Moran became wrapped up in a surfeit of tasks. “It was about week three when my wife brought our kids to say good night to me,” he said. “That was my indication that I was probably doing too much. I should at least be able to get home and say good night to my kids.”

    These experiences have taught Dr. Moran and his colleagues an invaluable lesson: “You can’t have people getting burned out right off the bat,” he said. Giving individuals clear roles ahead of time, and making their teams small and manageable, will hopefully prevent this sort of exhaustion in the future.

    Though it’s not only scientists who can get drained during lengthy volcanic eruptions. As the weariness over the pandemic is grimly demonstrating, “it’s hard to keep people’s attention on something for a long time,” said Brian Terbush, the program coordinator for earthquakes and volcanoes at Washington State’s Emergency Management Division. “They get really tired of it. I’m tired of it.”

    And protecting the public is considerably more difficult if people are not paying attention.

    Fires of the Future


    Halema‘uma‘u crater activity recorded Oct. 12, 2021.Credit: U.S. Geological Survey.

    The location, timing and effects of America’s next volcanic disaster remain unknown. Even after a significant eruption begins, forecasting its evolution will be difficult.

    “Even on the world’s best instrumented volcano,” said Dr. Hon, referring to Kilauea, “we still don’t really understand it that well.”

    And yet, despite having so many dangers and complications to contend with, no one died and thousands of lives were saved during the 2018 crisis.

    Those who were involved in the Kilauea response hope that the public will remember the role geoscientists played during the next volcanic emergency and see them as trustworthy protectors.

    Not everyone will. “We often get told that we’re lying, and we’re hiding things, because we’re the government,” said Dr. Stovall — an uncomfortable echo of the similarly unfounded charges of conspiracy that many have directed toward public health professionals during the pandemic.

    But the volcanologists and their peers say they will remain unwavering in their mission to decipher the country’s beguiling but occasionally menacing volcanoes.

    “We are doing our best,” Dr. Stovall said. “And we’re in it for the greater good.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: