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  • richardmitnick 1:17 pm on December 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Researchers’ study accurately predicted location of Mauna Loa eruption", A year before the largest active volcano in the world erupted research by two University of Miami scientists revealed which of the two rift zones of the Mauna Loa volcano would spew magma., , , , , , Mauna Loa is located on The Big Island, Mauna Loa-the world’s largest active volcano-began erupting on Nov. 27 for the first time in nearly 40 years spewing lava 100 feet to 200 feet into the air., Professor Falk Amelung and Research Assistant Bhuvan Varugu., The Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratory-an international partnership of NASA and five other space agencies that pool their satellite resources to make SAR data of geohazard sites readily avail, , The two researchers proposed last year that the next movement of magma would be upwards into the volcano’s summit and then northward opening fissures in Mauna Loa’s northeast rift zone., The two researchers used data supplied by the The Italian Space Agency A.S.I. - [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana] (IT), , Vulcanology   

    From The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science At The University of Miami: “Researchers’ study accurately predicted location of Mauna Loa eruption” 


    From The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science


    The University of Miami

    Robert C. Jones Jr.

    Mauna Loa on the Big Island. https://www.freeworldmaps.net

    Aerial image of fissure 3 on Mauna Loa’s Northeast Rift Zone erupting the morning of Nov. 30, 2022. Fissure 3 remains the dominant source of the largest lava flow being generated during the eruption. Photo: K. Mulliken/U.S. Geological Survey.

    A year before the largest active volcano in the world erupted, research by two University of Miami scientists revealed which of the two rift zones of the Mauna Loa volcano would spew magma.

    Research conducted by a University of Miami scientist and his graduate assistant accurately predicted which of the two rift zones of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano would erupt. 

    The Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, began erupting on Nov. 27 for the first time in nearly 40 years, spewing lava 100 feet to 200 feet into the air.

    Using a satellite-based technique called interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) to measure surface displacements and to estimate how much magma was accumulating under the volcano during a six-year period (2014-2020), the two researchers proposed last year that the next movement of magma would be upwards into the volcano’s summit and then northward, opening fissures in Mauna Loa’s northeast rift zone. 

    “And that’s exactly what happened. We predicted it,” said Falk Amelung, a professor of marine geosciences at the University’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science, who once lived on Oahu, part of the Hawaiian island chain, and has studied Mauna Loa extensively. “This represents years of hard work and intensive research paying off and shows that the precise evaluation of stress changes can be a powerful tool for informed forecasts of future activity.” 

    Amelung and research assistant Bhuvan Varugu published their research in Scientific Reports [below], a peer-reviewed open-access journal published by Nature Portfolio. The study was funded by NASA’s Earth Science Division.

    Figure 1
    (a) InSAR LOS Velocity from January 2014 to May 2020 over Mauna Loa from ascending Cosmo-SkyMed imagery together with seismicity. (b) Cumulative GPS horizontal velocities for the 2010–2014 and the three 2014–2020 time periods. (c) InSAR LOS and GPS horizontal displacement time series. (d–f) monthly number of earthquakes (> M 1.0) for three sections of Mauna Loa: (d) under the summit (0–6 km depth), (e) near the eastern basal decollement (7–15 km depth), (f) near the western decollement fault (7–15 km depth). East–west horizontal and vertical velocities from ascending and descending InSAR during (g,h) 2002–2005, (i,j) 2014–2015, (k,l) 2015–2018, and (m,n) 2018–2020. Color scale is adjusted to enhance the shift in locus of deformation. In (a): white and purple rectangles: sections for seismicity counts; black dots: seismicity; purple star: reference point; blue triangle: location of InSAR timeseries in (c); vertical lines in (c–e): time periods discussed in paper; horizontal lines in (g–n): to highlight the southward shift of deformation during 2015–2018.

    Figure 2
    InSAR and GPS data together with modelling results for the three time periods. (a–f) Ascending and descending InSAR velocities, (g–l) best-fitting model predictions, (m–r) data and model predictions in a profile perpendicular to the rift zone, (s–u) GPS data (red) and model predictions (blue). (v) GPS data and model prediction for the 2010–2014 period. (w) Potency rates of the dike-like magma body. Bottom values in (w): total potency for the time period. White line: opening dislocation; White circle: mogi source; black rectangles: dislocation along decollement; blue dotted line: profile location for m-r; purple corners: Area shown in (a–l).

    When Amelung learned of the eruption, “I was terribly worried that the dike would spread southward because of the lava flow hazards. But once it became clear that the dike had propagated to the north, I was relieved to know that no one would be in harm’s way and that the many years of our hard work and research had produced accurate results.”

    Late last week, lava flows from the Mauna Loa eruption were moving toward a main highway. And an update issued on Dec. 1 by the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that the lava flows “are traveling to the north toward the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) but have reached relatively flatter ground and have slowed down significantly as expected.” 

    At the time Amelung and Varugu initiated their Mauna Loa study nearly seven years ago, data from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites was not easy to acquire, making it a challenge for the scientists to get a complete picture of the volcano’s ground movements, according to Amelung. 

    To clear that hurdle, Amelung helped create the Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratory, an international partnership of NASA and five other space agencies that pool their satellite resources to make SAR data of geohazard sites more readily available to the scientific community. For their Mauna Loa study, the two researchers used data supplied by the Italian Space Agency. “Now, we can do complex geohazard assessments of volcanic sites within a few hours,” Amelung said. “It’s a splendid example of scientific progress.” 

    When Amelung lived on Oahu, he would visit the big island of Hawaii every few months to study Mauna Loa, hiking up to its summit several times.

    “It is fascinating because it is so big,” he said. “It’s a natural laboratory to understand earthquake-volcano interactions. But it’s important to remember that it is hazardous. This time, we seem to have been lucky as far as the eruption not causing much damage. An eruption in the south would have reached populated areas within hours.” 

    Amelung and Varugu responded to questions to explain their research and the nature of volcanic eruptions in greater detail.

    Detail the exact nature of your Mauna Loa study and how it predicted the location of this latest eruption.

    Varugu: As magma recharges under a volcano, it often exhibits ground deformation at the surface. We derived the ground deformation on Mauna Loa volcano from satellite images over six years (2014-2020) and mathematically inverted it to infer the magma body’s location, shape, and growth. We studied the factors affecting the magma growth as it reaches the shallow level under the volcano and as stress accumulated due to magma pressurization. In 2015 the area of magma accumulation moved southward but there was no eruption, and then it returned to the original location. Overall, from six years of magma pressurization, we identified significant stress accumulation in the upward and northward of the shallow magma body and determined them as future directions of magma growth. The magma recharge continued ever since (2014 to 2022), and the current eruption occurred as the magma first moved upward into the summit and then north, opening fissures into the northeast rift zone of the volcano. So, our study helped identify zones of stress accumulation that can be potential future eruption zones.

    What early signs, such as increased earthquake activity, indicated that the Mauna Loa was going to erupt?

    Amelung: In August and September, the number of shallow earthquakes as well as the rate of inflation increased by a factor of about three.  
    Could we potentially see a large earthquake result from this eruption?

    Amelung: Yes. Hawaiian volcanoes have horizontal décollement faults under the flanks which occasionally rupture in large earthquakes. This eruption started with the intrusion of a blade-like magma body into the volcanic edifice known as a dike. This dike loaded the fault under the eastern flank. However, inflation in the prior 20 years primarily loaded the fault under the western flank. Unfortunately, we don’t know at what threshold stress the fault will rupture. A significant earthquake, magnitude 6 or greater, can occur at any time. But it may also require additional loading after the eruption by new magma intrusion.

    What’s unique about the Mauna Loa?

    Varugu: Mauna Loa is the largest subaerial volcano on Earth and has had a rich eruption history, approximately 33 times in the past 200 years. Its mammoth size is an indication of historic lava flows. And it is fascinating that many eruptions at Mauna Loa have been preceded or succeeded by an earthquake. So, a strong correlation exists between earthquakes and eruptions there. 
    How are volcanic eruptions and earthquakes linked? Can earthquakes trigger volcanic eruptions and can volcanic eruptions trigger earthquakes?

    Amelung: Every eruption is associated with volcano-tectonic seismicity, but these small earthquakes represent the breakage of the rock in response to ascending magma. They are different from tectonic earthquakes that occur on tectonic faults. If there is a tectonic fault near an active volcano, it might be triggered. There are two possible triggering mechanisms. The first is the removal of magma from the magma reservoir that unclamps the fault. The second is magma intrusions into the volcanic edifice that can load the fault. This second mechanism is at work at Mauna Loa.

    Science paper:
    Scientific Reports
    See the science paper for instructive material with more images.

    See the full article here.

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is an academic and research institution for the study of oceanography and the atmospheric sciences within the University of Miami. It is located on a 16-acre (65,000 m^²) campus on Virginia Key in Miami, Florida. It is the only subtropical applied and basic marine and atmospheric research institute in the continental United States.

    Up until 2008, RSMAS was solely a graduate school within the University of Miami, while it jointly administrated an undergraduate program with UM’s College of Arts and Sciences. In 2008, the Rosenstiel School has taken over administrative responsibilities for the undergraduate program, granting Bachelor of Science in Marine and Atmospheric Science (BSMAS) and Bachelor of Arts in Marine Affairs (BAMA) baccalaureate degree. Master’s, including a Master of Professional Science degree, and doctorates are also awarded to RSMAS students by the UM Graduate School.

    The Rosenstiel School’s research includes the study of marine life, particularly Aplysia and coral; climate change; air-sea interactions; coastal ecology; and admiralty law. The school operates a marine research laboratory ship, and has a research site at an inland sinkhole. Research also includes the use of data from weather satellites and the school operates its own satellite downlink facility. The school is home to the world’s largest hurricane simulation tank.

    The University of Miami is a private research university in Coral Gables, Florida. As of 2020, the university enrolled approximately 18,000 students in 12 separate colleges and schools, including the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine in Miami’s Health District, a law school on the main campus, and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science focused on the study of oceanography and atmospheric sciences on Virginia Key, with research facilities at the Richmond Facility in southern Miami-Dade County.

    The university offers 132 undergraduate, 148 master’s, and 67 doctoral degree programs, of which 63 are research/scholarship and 4 are professional areas of study. Over the years, the university’s students have represented all 50 states and close to 150 foreign countries. With more than 16,000 full- and part-time faculty and staff, The University of Miami is a top 10 employer in Miami-Dade County. The University of Miami’s main campus in Coral Gables has 239 acres and over 5.7 million square feet of buildings.

    The University of Miami is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. The University of Miami research expenditure in FY 2019 was $358.9 million. The University of Miami offers a large library system with over 3.9 million volumes and exceptional holdings in Cuban heritage and music.

    The University of Miami also offers a wide range of student activities, including fraternities and sororities, and hundreds of student organizations. The Miami Hurricane, the student newspaper, and WVUM, the student-run radio station, have won multiple collegiate awards. The University of Miami’s intercollegiate athletic teams, collectively known as the Miami Hurricanes, compete in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The University of Miami’s football team has won five national championships since 1983 and its baseball team has won four national championships since 1982.


    The University of Miami is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. In fiscal year 2016, The University of Miami received $195 million in federal research funding, including $131.3 million from the Department of Health and Human Services and $14.1 million from the National Science Foundation. Of the $8.2 billion appropriated by Congress in 2009 as a part of the stimulus bill for research priorities of The National Institutes of Health, the Miller School received $40.5 million. In addition to research conducted in the individual academic schools and departments, Miami has the following university-wide research centers:

    The Center for Computational Science
    The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS)
    Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy
    The Miami European Union Center: This group is a consortium with Florida International University (FIU) established in fall 2001 with a grant from the European Commission through its delegation in Washington, D.C., intended to research economic, social, and political issues of interest to the European Union.
    The Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies
    John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics – studies possible causes of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and macular degeneration.
    Center on Research and Education for Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE)
    Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research

    The Miller School of Medicine receives more than $200 million per year in external grants and contracts to fund 1,500 ongoing projects. The medical campus includes more than 500,000 sq ft (46,000 m^2) of research space and the The University of Miami Life Science Park, which has an additional 2,000,000 sq ft (190,000 m^2) of space adjacent to the medical campus. The University of Miami’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute seeks to understand the biology of stem cells and translate basic research into new regenerative therapies.

    As of 2008, The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science receives $50 million in annual external research funding. Their laboratories include a salt-water wave tank, a five-tank Conditioning and Spawning System, multi-tank Aplysia Culture Laboratory, Controlled Corals Climate Tanks, and DNA analysis equipment. The campus also houses an invertebrate museum with 400,000 specimens and operates the Bimini Biological Field Station, an array of oceanographic high-frequency radar along the US east coast, and the Bermuda aerosol observatory. The University of Miami also owns the Little Salt Spring, a site on the National Register of Historic Places, in North Port, Florida, where RSMAS performs archaeological and paleontological research.

    The University of Miami built a brain imaging annex to the James M. Cox Jr. Science Center within the College of Arts and Sciences. The building includes a human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) laboratory, where scientists, clinicians, and engineers can study fundamental aspects of brain function. Construction of the lab was funded in part by a $14.8 million in stimulus money grant from the National Institutes of Health.

    In 2016 the university received $161 million in science and engineering funding from the U.S. federal government, the largest Hispanic-serving recipient and 56th overall. $117 million of the funding was through the Department of Health and Human Services and was used largely for the medical campus.

    The University of Miami maintains one of the largest centralized academic cyber infrastructures in the country with numerous assets. The Center for Computational Science High Performance Computing group has been in continuous operation since 2007. Over that time the core has grown from a zero HPC cyberinfrastructure to a regional high-performance computing environment that currently supports more than 1,200 users, 220 TFlops of computational power, and more than 3 Petabytes of disk storage.

  • richardmitnick 2:01 pm on December 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What Lies Beneath Yellowstone’s Volcano? Twice As Much Magma As Thought", , , Computational seismology, , , , , Late Michigan State University researcher Min Chen, , , , , , Vulcanology   

    From The College of Natural Sciences At The Michigan State University Via “SciTechDaily” : “What Lies Beneath Yellowstone’s Volcano? Twice As Much Magma As Thought” Min Chen 

    From The College of Natural Sciences


    Michigan State Bloc

    The Michigan State University




    The Yellowstone Caldera, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano, is a volcanic caldera and supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park in the Western United States. The caldera measures 43 by 28 miles (70 by 45 kilometers).

    Researcher’s expertise, energy, and empathy leave a legacy.

    Late Michigan State University researcher Min Chen contributed to new seismic tomography of the magma deposits underneath Yellowstone volcano.

    When Ross Maguire was a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University, he wanted to study the volume and distribution of molten magma underneath the Yellowstone volcano. Maguire used a technique called seismic tomography, which uses ground vibrations known as seismic waves to create a 3D image of what is happening below Earth’s surface. Using this method, Maguire was able to create an image of the magma chamber framework showing where the magma was located. But these are not crystal-clear images.

    “I was looking for people who are experts in a particular type of computational-based seismic tomography called waveform tomography,” said Maguire, now an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). “Min Chen was really a world expert on this.”

    Min Chen. Credit: Michigan State University.

    Min Chen was an assistant professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the College of Natural Science. Using the power of supercomputing, Chen developed the method applied to Maguire’s images to model more accurately how seismic waves propagate through the Earth. Chen’s creativity and skill brought those images into sharper focus, revealing more information about the amount of molten magma under Yellowstone’s volcano.

    “We didn’t see an increase in the amount of magma,” Maguire said. “We just saw a clearer picture of what was already there.”

    Previous images showed that Yellowstone’s volcano had a low concentration of magma — only 10% — surrounded by a solid crystalline framework. As a result of these new images, with key contributions from Chen, Maguire and his team were able to see that, in fact, twice that amount of magma exists within Yellowstone’s magmatic system.

    “To be clear, the new discovery does not indicate a future eruption is likely to occur,” Maguire said. “Any signs of changes to the system would be captured by the network of geophysical instruments that continually monitors Yellowstone.”

    Unfortunately, Chen never got to see the final results. Her unexpected death in 2021 continues to send shockwaves throughout the earth science community, which mourns the loss of her passion and expertise.

    “Computational seismology is still relatively new at Michigan State University,” said Songqiao “Shawn” Wei, an Endowed Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences in Michigan State University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, who was a colleague of Chen’s. “Once the pandemic hit, Chen made her lectures and research discussions available on Zoom where researchers and students from all over the world could participate. That’s how a lot of seismologists worldwide got to know Michigan State University.”

    Her meetings were a place where gifted undergraduate students, postdoctoral candidates, or simply anyone who was interested were welcome to attend. Chen had prospective graduate students as well as seasoned seismologists from around the world join her virtual calls.

    Chen cared deeply about her students’ well-being and careers. She fostered an inclusive and multidisciplinary environment in which she encouraged her students and postdoctoral candidates to become well-rounded scientists and to build long-term collaborations. She even held virtual seminars about life outside of academia to help students nurture their careers and hobbies. Chen led by example: She was an avid soccer player and knew how to dance the tango.

    Diversity in science was another area about which Chen felt strongly. She advocated and championed research opportunities for women and underrepresented groups. To honor Chen, her colleagues created a memorial fellowship in her name to provide graduate student support for increasing diversity in computational and earth sciences. In another tribute to her life and love of gardening, Chen’s colleagues also planted a memorial tree in the square of the Engineering Building on Michigan State University’s campus.

    Chen was truly a leader in her field and was honored as a National Science Foundation Early CAREER Faculty Award recipient in 2020 to conduct detailed seismic imaging of North America to study Earth’s solid outer shell.

    “She had so much energy,” Maguire said. “She focused on ensuring that people could be successful while she was incredibly successful.”

    Maguire’s research, which showcases a portion of Chen’s legacy, is published in the journal Science.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    About The College of Natural Sciences

    The College of Natural Sciences at The Michigan State University is home to 27 departments and programs in the biological, physical and mathematical sciences.

    The college averages $57M in research expenditures annually while providing world-class educational opportunities to more than 5,500 undergraduate majors and 1,200 graduate and postdoc students. There are 800+ faculty and academic staff associated with NatSci and more than 63,000 living alumni worldwide.

    College of Natural Science Vision, Mission, Values

    The Michigan State University College of Natural Sciences is committed to creating a safe, collaborative and supportive environment in which differences are valued and all members of the NatSci community are empowered to grow and succeed.

    The following is the college’s vision, mission and values, as co-created and affirmed by the College of Natural Sciences community:


    A thriving planet and healthy communities through scientific discovery.


    To use discovery, innovation and our collective ingenuity to advance knowledge across the natural sciences. Through equitable, inclusive practices in research, education and service, we empower our students, staff and faculty to solve challenges in a complex and rapidly changing world.

    Core Values:


    Foster a safe, supportive, welcoming community that values diversity, respects difference and promotes belonging. We commit to providing equitable opportunity for all.


    Cultivate creativity and imagination in the quest for new knowledge and insights. Through individual and collaborative endeavors, we seek novel solutions to current and emergent challenges in the natural sciences.


    Commit to honesty and transparency. By listening and being open to other perspectives, we create an environment of trust where ideas are freely shared and discussed.


    Strive for excellence, integrity and high ethical standards. We hold ourselves and each other accountable to these expectations in a respectful and constructive manner.

    Michigan State Campus

    The Michigan State University is a public research university located in East Lansing, Michigan, United States. Michigan State University was founded in 1855 and became the nation’s first land-grant institution under the Morrill Act of 1862, serving as a model for future land-grant universities.

    The university was founded as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, one of the country’s first institutions of higher education to teach scientific agriculture. After the introduction of the Morrill Act, the college became coeducational and expanded its curriculum beyond agriculture. Today, Michigan State University is one of the largest universities in the United States (in terms of enrollment) and has approximately 634,300 living alumni worldwide.

    U.S. News & World Report ranks its graduate programs the best in the U.S. in elementary teacher’s education, secondary teacher’s education, industrial and organizational psychology, rehabilitation counseling, African history (tied), supply chain logistics and nuclear physics in 2019. Michigan State University pioneered the studies of packaging, hospitality business, supply chain management, and communication sciences. Michigan State University is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. The university’s campus houses the The National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, the Abrams Planetarium, the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the the The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, and the country’s largest residence hall system.


    The university has a long history of academic research and innovation. In 1877, botany professor William J. Beal performed the first documented genetic crosses to produce hybrid corn, which led to increased yields. Michigan State University dairy professor G. Malcolm Trout improved the process for the homogenization of milk in the 1930s, making it more commercially viable. In the 1960s, Michigan State University scientists developed cisplatin, a leading cancer fighting drug, and followed that work with the derivative, carboplatin. Albert Fert, an Adjunct professor at Michigan State University, was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Peter Grünberg.

    Today Michigan State University continues its research with facilities such as The Department of Energy -sponsored Plant Research Laboratory and a particle accelerator called the The National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory [below]. The Department of Energy Office of Science named Michigan State University as the site for the The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). The $730 million facility will attract top researchers from around the world to conduct experiments in basic nuclear science, astrophysics, and applications of isotopes to other fields.

    The Michigan State University FRIB [Facility for Rare Isotope Beams] .

    In 2004, scientists at the Cyclotron produced and observed a new isotope of the element germanium, called Ge-60 In that same year, The Michigan State University, in consortium with the The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the government of Brazil, broke ground on the 4.1-meter Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR) in the Andes Mountains of Chile.

    The consortium telescope will allow the Physics & Astronomy department to study galaxy formation and origins. Since 1999, MSU has been part of a consortium called the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor, which aims to develop biotechnology research in the State of Michigan. Finally, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences’ Quello Center researches issues of information and communication management.

    The Michigan State University Spartans compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference. Michigan State Spartans football won the Rose Bowl Game in 1954, 1956, 1988 and 2014, and the university claims a total of six national football championships. Spartans men’s basketball won the NCAA National Championship in 1979 and 2000 and has attained the Final Four eight times since the 1998–1999 season. Spartans ice hockey won NCAA national titles in 1966, 1986 and 2007. The women’s cross country team was named Big Ten champions in 2019. In the fall of 2019, MSU student-athletes posted all-time highs for graduation success rates and federal graduation rates, according to NCAA statistics.

  • richardmitnick 12:23 pm on December 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "With Mauna Loa’s Eruption a Rare Glimpse Into Earth", , , , , , , Vulcanology   

    From “The New York Times” : “With Mauna Loa’s Eruption a Rare Glimpse Into Earth” Photo Essay 

    From “The New York Times”

    Oliver Whang

    Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, began erupting this week for the first time since 1984. Credit: Bruce Omori/EPA, via Shutterstock.

    Notice that Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world, was going to erupt — as it did this week for the first time in nearly four decades — came to people on the Big Island of Hawai’i an hour before the lava began to flow. Public officials scrambled to alert nearby residents. Scientists rushed to predict which areas of the island might be in danger. The curious made plans to observe what could shape up to be an event of a lifetime: the exhalation of a massive mountain.

    The eruption was years in the making, matched not quite in scale by the ongoing effort to monitor the volcano with seismometers, spectrometers, tiltmeters, GPS units and other state-of-the-art tools. “Mauna Loa is one of the most well-instrumented volcanoes in the United States,” said Wendy Stovall, a volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Even still, so much about the inner workings of the mountain is unknown, Dr. Stovall and other scientists said.

    Weston Thelen, a volcanologist with the U.S.G.S. who monitored the mountain from 2011 to 2016, said that sheer size, mineral composition and heat all presented logistical difficulties for scientists and public officials hoping to predict its movements. “Mauna Loa is a beast,” he said.

    With the eruption underway, researchers on the Big Island, including Jim Kauahikaua, a volcanologist with the U.S.G.S. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, have had to strike a careful balance between concern for public safety, given the many unknowns, and the desire to collect data.

    “Our main mission is to mitigate these hazards scientifically,” Dr. Kauahikaua said. “An eruption is always exciting, but we learn to temper our excitement and professionally work toward our main mission.”

    So far the eruption has posed little danger to surrounding communities — and thus has lent a sense of urgency to scientists who are eager to unlock Mauna Loa’s many mysteries. For how many weeks, months or years will the opportunity remain available? “Nobody really knows how long this eruption’s going to last,” said Gabi Laske, a geophysicist at the University of California-San Diego.

    Dr. Thelen said: “We get very rare looks at what’s happening in the volcano. If we just station people in lawn chairs at the end of the lava flow and say, ‘It’s moved one meter,’ we’re blowing it.”

    An ancient hot spot

    Lava near Saddle Road, a major roadway on the Big Island, on Monday. Credit: Marco Garcia/Associated Press.

    The details of Mauna Loa’s plumbing system are still relatively unclear, said Weston Thelen, a volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Service. “The closer we look, the more questions that we have.” Credit: Go Nakamura/Reuters.

    Most volcanoes form above the boundaries of Earth’s tectonic plates, where collisions and separations can create anomalous areas in the crust and the upper mantle through which rock — made molten and less dense by heat from the planet’s core — can push through to the surface. But the Hawaiian Islands are 2,000 miles from the nearest tectonic boundary, and their existence puzzled geologists for centuries.

    In 1963, a geophysicist named John Tuzo Wilson proposed that the islands, which are covered with layers of volcanic stone, sit above a magma plume, which forms when rock from the deep mantle bubbles up and pools below the crust. This “hot spot” continually pushes toward the surface, sometimes bursting through the tectonic plate, melting and deforming the surrounding rock as it goes. The plate shifts over millions of years while the magma plume stays relatively still, creating new volcanoes atop the plate and leaving inactive ones in their wake. The results are archipelagoes like the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain and parts of the Iceland Plateau.

    The hot spot theory gained broad consensus in the subsequent decades. “There is no other theory that is able to reconcile so many observations,” said Helge Gonnermann, a volcanologist at Rice University.

    Some confirming observations came relatively recently, in the 2000s, after scientists began placing seismometers, which measure terrestrial energy waves, on the ocean floor. John Orcutt, a geophysicist at the University of California-San Diego, who helped lead that research, said that the seismometers had provided an X-ray of the magma plume rising beneath Hawaii. The instruments were able to accurately read the direction and speed of the magma’s flow; the results pointed resoundingly toward the presence of a hot spot.

    This hot spot has probably been fomenting volcanic activity for tens of millions of years, although it arrived in its current position under Mauna Loa only about 600,000 years ago. And as long as it remains there, Dr. Orcutt said, it will reliably produce volcanic activity. “Few things on Earth are so predictable,” he added.

    Closer to the surface, predicting when, where and how intense these eruptions will be becomes more difficult, despite the profusion of seismometers and satellite sensors. “The deeper you go, the more smooth the behavior gets,” Dr. Orcutt said. “By the time you get this interface between rock and molten rock and the ocean, the magma tends to come out sporadically.”

    Under the hood of the volcano

    A satellite view of lava flows on Monday. Mauna Loa is about 10 miles from base to summit and covers 2,000 square miles. Credit: Maxar Technologies, via Associated Press

    Mauna Loa in 1984. Credit: John Swart/Associated Press.

    The magma plume fueling Mauna Loa is made primarily of molten basalt, which is less viscous than the magma beneath steeper stratovolcanoes like Mount St. Helens and Mount Vesuvius. This makes the average Mauna Loa eruption less explosive and contributes to the mountain’s long profile: about 10 miles from base to summit and covering 2,000 square miles.

    The movement of thinner magma is also more difficult for seismometers to detect, which makes it harder for scientists to map the system of magma melts, rock, crystal and gas that feed eruptions.

    Satellites, while ever-improving, are not sensitive enough under normal conditions to see deeper into Mauna Loa than the shallow magma reservoir a couple of miles below the summit. “It is not clear whether there are additional storage reservoirs at greater depths,” Dr. Gonnermann said.

    Things change, though, when the volcano starts breathing. Magma pushes upward more quickly, cracking rock below ground and causing the surface of the volcano to swell. Such deformations can be picked up by seismometers, which detect the depth and intensity of minerals vibrating and splitting under the molten pressure. From this, together with data about the gases and crystals emitted during the eruption and tiny inflections in gravitational force, a picture begins to emerge from the chaos.

    “We’re lucky if the pressure is high enough, or the system is moving fast enough that we can get clues to what’s going on there,” Dr. Thelen said. “For the most part, when these things are not erupting, they’re quiet.”

    Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984, and in the years afterward, it stayed mostly silent, even as the smaller neighboring volcano, Kilauea, which shares the same magma source, erupted continuously. Rumblings in the ground beneath the volcano started increasing in frequency and intensity around 2013, and seismometers detected clusters of low-magnitude earthquakes deep underground.

    “But it waxes and wanes and stops inflating and hangs out,” Dr. Thelen said. “You get lulled into this: ‘Here we go, another swarm up there.’”

    Sean Solomon, a geophysicist at Columbia University, said that some earthquakes were caused by the volcano’s weight pushing down on the seafloor, but most result from rising magma, which presses up incessantly, fracturing rocks, creating new melts and forming paths of less resistance.

    “Rocks retain memories of every fracture that’s happened before,” Dr. Solomon said. “There’s some kind of plumbing system underneath the volcanoes on Hawaii that leads to these preferred paths to rise.”

    The details of this plumbing system are still relatively unclear, Dr. Thelen said: “All we can do is pass waves through the earth and see how they’re impacted, and try to make a model that explains how that wave is impacted underneath the volcano.” He added, “The closer we look, the more questions that we have.”

    “You can’t hold back the magma forever”

    For some volcanologists on the Big Island, this is the first Mauna Loa eruption in their lifetime. “We live on a very interesting place,” said John Orcutt, a geophysicist at the University of California-San Diego. Credit: Go Nakamura/Reuters.

    Late at night on Sunday, the seismometers around the summit of the volcano started showing more activity. “When they tried to locate where inside the seismicity was originating, they saw that it was originating shallower and shallower and shallower, and that is a telltale sign that the magma is moving upward,” Dr. Laske said.

    At the surface of Mauna Loa are two rift zones, one on the northeast side of the mountain and the other on the southeast. These are imprints of previous eruptions, where magma pooled for miles down the slope in veiny, glowing streams. The northeast rift zone leads to an uninhabited area of the island. The southwest rift zone leads toward several communities along the Kona coast.

    The eruption began at the summit of the mountain, when magma spurted through fissures in the rock and filled the bowl-like caldera. Previous eruptions had started in the summit and moved to a rift zone, but scientists did not know which of the two it would choose this time. The northeast flank would mean safety; the southwest could put thousands of people in danger. Even after the eruption started, Dr. Stovall said, “we didn’t know the eruption had moved to the northeast zone until we had eyes in the air,” flying over the rift zone and watching the lava spill out.

    Since then, the lava flow has slowed in its progression down the sides of the mountain, although it does threaten to cross Saddle Road, a major highway on the Big Island. Magma continues to erupt from the northeast rift zone, spurting upward in red fountains, and scientists are unsure what might come next.

    In the meantime, volcanologists and seismologists are trying to decipher the incoming data by placing more monitoring instruments around active zones and collecting more satellite images of the mountain’s surface. “We’re really trying to understand physically what’s happening in the volcano,” Dr. Thelen said.

    There’s no knowing when the next eruption will occur. For some volcanologists on the Big Island, this is the first Mauna Loa eruption of their lifetimes. But, as Dr. Solomon noted, “on geological time scales, 38 years is pretty short.”

    Dr. Orcutt said: “It’s just something that’s happened for thousands to millions of years, and it’s not going to stop doing that. You can’t hold back the magma forever.”

    See the full article here.

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


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  • richardmitnick 5:40 pm on November 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Dozens of earthquakes swarm Hawaii as the world's largest volcano erupts", , , , , , , Mauna Loa erupts after forty years., Vulcanology   

    From “Live Science” : “Dozens of earthquakes swarm Hawaii as the world’s largest volcano erupts” 

    From “Live Science”

    Ben Turner

    Mauna Loa erupts after forty years.

    The eruption is so far not threatening downhill communities or affecting flights.

    The lava-filled Moku’āweoweo caldera as captured by the USGC webcam. (Image credit: US Geological Survey)

    Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, is erupting for the first time in nearly 40 years. 

    Dozens of earthquakes — one of them a magnitude 4.2 quake — have swarmed the region after the volcano’s Moku’āweoweo summit caldera erupted on Sunday (Nov. 27) night. Officials have issued an ashfall advisory for Hawaii’s Big Island and residents have been asked to remain vigilant. 

    So far the eruption’s lava flows pose no risk to people living downhill from the eruption and air travel is currently unaffected, according to Hawaii’s Tourism Agency.

    “At this time, lava flows are contained within the summit area and are not threatening downslope communities,” officials from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) wrote in a hazard notification. They warned, however, that, “based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can be very dynamic and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.” 

    The alert, issued in conjunction with USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), noted that the HVO is set to perform aerial reconnaissance flights as soon as possible “to assess hazards and better describe the eruption,” and that “winds may carry volcanic gas and possibly fine ash and Pele’s Hair downwind.” Pele’s hair are thin strands of volcanic glass formed from cooling lava, which can be carried aloft by strong winds and are sharp enough to lacerate skin and eyes.

    Mauna Loa takes up more than half of Hawaii’s Big Island and rises 13,679 feet (4,169 meters) above the Pacific Ocean, according to USGS. The volcano is fairly active, having erupted 33 times since its first well-documented eruption in 1843. Its last eruption was in 1984 when it sent a lava flow close to the city of Hilo. After that, Mauna Loa entered its longest dormant period in recorded history.

    Warning signs of an eruption have gradually increased since September, as geologists tracked an uptick in earthquake frequency. This began with five to 10 earthquakes a day in June, and grew to up to around 40 a day in October. 

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”


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  • richardmitnick 4:59 pm on November 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Magma floods erupt from deeper sources than earlier believed", , , Flood basalts, , Large magma eruptions have produced great floods of basalt lava on the continents during Earth’s history., The largest flood basalt eruptions were thought to be possible only in regions where the continental tectonic plates are unusually thin., The research project focused on the origin of flood basalts that erupted in southern Africa and Antarctica when these continents were parts of Pangaea some 180 million years ago., The scientists became curious about the occurrence of most flood basalts in regions where the African and Antarctic tectonic plates are thick rather than thin., , Vulcanology   

    From The University of Helsinki [Helsingin yliopisto] (FI) : “Magma floods erupt from deeper sources than earlier believed” 

    From The University of Helsinki [Helsingin yliopisto] (FI)


    An international group of geologists has demonstrated with computer simulation that huge magma eruptions can initiate deeper below the Earth’s surface than previously believed. Such flood basalt eruptions have caused many global climate changes and great mass extinction events in the past.

    The flood basalts in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, originate from exceptionally deep mantle source. (Image: Arto Luttinen)

    Large magma eruptions have produced great floods of basalt lava on the continents during Earth’s history. Conventionally, the largest flood basalt eruptions are thought to be possible only in regions where the continental tectonic plates are unusually thin, so that deep mantle material is able to rise close to the Earth’s surface. In such low-pressure environments, melting of hot mantle can generate very large amounts of magma.

    A new study by researchers from the University of Helsinki and Aarhus University challenges this widely held view.

    “The idea that flood basalt eruptions generally require melting of mantle under low-pressure conditions is largely based on the trace element compositions of the erupted magmas”, explains Dr Jussi Heinonen, University of Helsinki, the lead author of the recent Journal of Petrology [below] article describing this study.

    He specifies further that the relative amounts of rare earth elements in many flood basalts point to magma formation in the presence of low-pressure mantle minerals.

    Support from computer simulation

    The new study was carried out as part of a research project focusing on the origin of flood basalts that erupted in southern Africa and Antarctica when these continents were attached to each other as parts of Pangaea some 180 million years ago.

    “We became curious about the occurrence of most flood basalts in regions where the African and Antarctic tectonic plates are thick rather than thin”, describes Dr Arto Luttinen, leader of the University of Helsinki team. “Moreover, we found that many flood basalts that have rare earth element compositions, suggesting high-pressure formation conditions, are actually located in thin regions of the tectonic plates.”

    The idea of an alternative hypothesis started forming after the team’s discovery of a type of flood basalt in Mozambique that shows compositional evidence for exceptionally high eruption temperatures.

    “These flood basalts made us consider the possibility that melting of exceptionally hot mantle could lead to the formation of high-pressure magmas with trace element features similar to those of low-pressure magmas”, adds PhD student Sanni Turunen from the University of Helsinki.

    The researchers decided to test their hypothesis using the geochemical modelling tool REEBOX PRO, which enables realistic simulation of the behaviour of minerals, melts and their trace element contents during mantle melting.

    “We were thrilled to find out that the simulations supported our hypothesis by predicting total consumption of garnet, a diagnostic mineral of high-pressure conditions, when mantle melting occurred at the high temperatures indicated by the flood basalts”, says Dr Eric Brown, Aarhus University, a co-author of the article and one of the developers of the REEBOX PRO tool.

    Magmas formed at high pressure can thus chemically resemble low-pressure magmas when the mantle source is very hot. Furthermore, the results indicated survival of garnet at relatively low pressures when a different kind of mantle source was selected for the modelling.

    “Our results help us to understand the apparent controversy between the occurrences of southern African and Antarctic flood basalts and their trace element characteristics. Most importantly, we show that voluminous flood basalts can form in regions of thick tectonic plates and that the trace element compositions of flood basalts are unreliable messengers of magma generation depths, unless the influences of mantle temperature and composition are accounted for”, the authors conclude.

    Science paper:
    Journal of Petrology
    See the science paper for instructive material with images.

    See the full article here .


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    U Helsinki main building

    University of Helsinki, Viikki campus focusing on biological sciences

    The University of Helsinki (FI) (Helsingin yliopisto abbreviated UH) is a university located in Helsinki, Finland since 1829, but was founded in the city of Turku (in Swedish Åbo) in 1640 as the Royal Academy of Åbo, at that time part of the Swedish Empire. It is the oldest and largest university in Finland with the widest range of disciplines available. Around 36,500 students are currently enrolled in the degree programs of the university spread across 11 faculties and 11 research institutes.

    As of 1 August 2005, the university complies with the harmonized structure of the Europe-wide Bologna Process and offers Bachelor, Master, Licenciate, and Doctoral degrees. Admission to degree programmes is usually determined by entrance examinations, in the case of bachelor’s degrees, and by prior degree results, in the case of master and postgraduate degrees. Entrance is particularly selective (circa 15% of the yearly applicants are admitted). It has been ranked a top 100 university in the world according to the 2016 ARWU, QS and THE rankings.

    The university is bilingual, with teaching by law provided both in Finnish and Swedish. Since Swedish, albeit an official language of Finland, is a minority language, Finnish is by far the dominating language at the university. Teaching in English is extensive throughout the university at Master, Licentiate, and Doctoral levels, making it a de facto third language of instruction.

    Remaining true to its traditionally strong Humboldtian ethos, the University of Helsinki places heavy emphasis on high-quality teaching and research of a top international standard. It is a member of various prominent international university networks, such as EUROPAEUM (EU), UNICA (EU), the Utrecht Network (EU), and is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (EU).

  • richardmitnick 1:19 pm on November 7, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Report outlines plans for major research effort on subduction zone geologic hazards", An interdisciplinary initiative aims to advance understanding of the processes that trigger earthquakes and tsunamis and landslides and volcanic eruptions where tectonic plates converge., , Cascadia is not the best place to concentrate research efforts because it moves so slowly., , , , In the United States the greatest risk is associated with the Cascadia subduction zone off the coast of the Pacific Northwest., , Subduction zones-where one tectonic plate slides beneath another-produce the most devastating seismic volcanic and landslide hazards on the planet., The Chilean subduction zone is geologically active enough to provide useful information and is a good locale for comparative studies with Cascadia and Alaska., The infrastructure required for this includes extensive instrument arrays to monitor different facets of subduction zone behavior as well as volcanoes tsunamis and landslides., The SZ4D Implementation Plan, , This is the right time to put serious resources into the question of whether these events are predictable or not., Tsunamis and landslides, Vulcanology   

    From The University of California-Santa Cruz: “Report outlines plans for major research effort on subduction zone geologic hazards” 

    From The University of California-Santa Cruz

    Tim Stephens

    An ambitious interdisciplinary initiative aims to advance understanding of the processes that trigger earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcanic eruptions where tectonic plates converge.

    Subduction zones, where one tectonic plate slides beneath another, produce the most devastating seismic, volcanic, and landslide hazards on the planet. A new report presents an ambitious plan to make major advances in understanding subduction zone hazards by bringing together a diverse community of scientists in a long-term collaborative effort, deploying new instrumentation in subduction zones, and developing more sophisticated and accurate models.

    A subduction zone is created where two plates converge, with one sinking into the mantle. Dynamics along the plate interface create earthquakes, magma generated above the sinking slab leads to explosive volcanic eruptions, and topography created in the upper plate leads to landslides and sediments that feed back into the subduction zone. (Credit: Katy Cain/Carnegie Institution for Science)

    The report from the Subduction Zones in Four Dimensions (SZ4D) Research Coordination Network has been years in the making.

    The SZ4D Implementation Plan details how the scientific community plans to make major advances in understanding subduction zone hazards.

    After a 2016 workshop produced a “Vision Document” for the initiative, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the Research Coordination Network to develop a detailed plan. Through a series of meetings, workshops, webinars, and town halls to engage the U.S. research community and solicit input, the SZ4D initiative identified community priorities and the key infrastructure requirements and science activities needed to better understand geohazards and reduce their risks to society.

    The implementation plan presented in the new report will inform ongoing discussions with NSF and other agencies regarding funding for the initiative.

    “It’s been a huge community effort,” said Emily Brodsky, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz and chair of the SZ4D steering committee. “This is the right time to put serious resources into the question of whether these events are predictable or not. That’s something we’re poised to address now.”

    Subduction zones are found around the world, mostly in coastal regions where an oceanic plate dives beneath a continental plate. The resulting geohazards include the largest earthquakes and tsunamis, active chains of volcanoes, and large landslides. Many large population centers are situated along subduction zones and are vulnerable to these hazards.

    In the United States, the greatest risk is associated with the Cascadia subduction zone off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

    According to Brodsky, however, Cascadia is not the best place to concentrate research efforts because it moves so slowly. The Chilean subduction zone is geologically active enough to provide useful information and is a good locale for comparative studies with Cascadia and Alaska.

    Chilean subduction zone. https://www.semanticscholar.org

    The SZ4D implementation plan recommends deploying instruments at all three sites, but with most of the observational efforts in Chile (70% of the instrumentation), along with a substantial portfolio of scientific activities in Cascadia and Alaska.

    “We want to be able to translate what we learn in Chile to Cascadia and Alaska,” Brodsky explained. She said the initiative has already begun building partnerships with Chilean scientists and international groups studying the subduction zone there.

    The implementation plan involves a major effort to improve observations of subduction zones in a systematic way, collecting a diverse set of measurements at a range of temporal and spatial scales both on land and under the sea. The infrastructure required for this includes extensive arrays of instruments to monitor different facets of subduction zone behavior as well as volcanoes and surface and environmental conditions related to landslides. In addition, the plan calls for researchers to study the geologic context, conduct laboratory experiments, and build computational models that integrate field observations and laboratory data.

    The plan also emphasizes the need for close coordination among all components and deep integration throughout the program. The initiative brings together a diverse community of scientists and stakeholders with a wide range of geoscience backgrounds and expertise related to earthquakes, volcanoes, and surface processes.

    “It’s a complicated problem, and solving it requires stitching together a lot of different pieces. It’s not enough for individual scientists to focus on their individual pieces,” Brodsky said. “We need the infrastructure and the science, as well as the organizational structure to integrate all the pieces of the puzzle.”

    Major advances in understanding the science behind subduction zone hazards could yield tangible benefits for communities in the affected regions, including the possibility of useful forecasts of large earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides.

    “We’re not promising that we will be able to predict anything, but we need to figure out if our inability to predict these things is related to the fundamental properties of the system, or because we just haven’t had the instruments in the right place at the right time,” Brodsky said.

    George Hilley at Stanford University served as lead editor of the report. The SZ4D initiative is organized into three working groups (Landscapes and Seascapes, Faulting and Earthquake Cycles, and Magmatic Drivers of Eruption) and two integrative groups (Building Equity and Capacity in Geoscience and Modeling Collaboratory for Subduction), with a total of 74 members from 55 universities and institutions. The next SZ4D Community Meeting will be held November 14 to 16 in Houston.

    Additional information is available on the SZ4D website at http://www.sz4d.org.

    See the full article here .


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    UC Santa Cruz campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    UC Santa Cruz Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow
    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch.)
    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    Alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego, discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument, developed at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) and brought to The University of California-San Diego and installed at the UC Santa Cruz Lick Observatory Nickel Telescope (Photo by Laurie Hatch). “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at The University of California-San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    NIROSETI team from left to right Rem Stone UCO Lick Observatory Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley; Jérôme Maire, U Toronto; Shelley Wright, The University of California-San Diego Patrick Dorval, U Toronto; Richard Treffers, Starman Systems. (Image by Laurie Hatch).

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    Drake Equation, Frank Drake, Seti Institute.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

  • richardmitnick 4:17 pm on November 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A new study confirms Tonga volcano had highest plume ever recorded", , , , The devastating Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai eruption in January 2022 created the tallest volcanic plume ever recorded At 57km (35 miles) high., The previous record-holder-the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines-caused a plume that was recorded as 40km high although accurate satellite images were not available at the time., The Tonga eruption took place under the sea causing tsunamis felt as far away as Russia and the United States and Chile and Peru at 10000km away., , This is the first time a volcanic plume was ever recorded reaching the mesosphere., Vulcanology   

    From The University of Oxford (UK): “A new study confirms Tonga volcano had highest plume ever recorded” 

    U Oxford bloc

    From The University of Oxford (UK)


    A new analysis led by Oxford University researchers has shown the devastating Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai eruption in January 2022 created the tallest volcanic plume ever recorded.

    The devastating Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai eruption in January 2022. Credit: Tonga Geological Services.

    The research has been published in the journal Science [below].

    At 57km high (35 miles), the ash cloud generated by the eruption is also the first to have been observed in the mesosphere, a layer of the atmosphere more commonly associated with shooting stars. The previous record-holder, the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, caused a plume was recorded as 40km high, although accurate satellite images, such as those taken over Tonga, were not available at the time.

    The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines Credit: Stocktrek/Getty Images.

    The Tonga eruption took place under the sea, around 65km from the country’s main island, causing tsunamis felt as far away as Russia, the United States, and Chile. The waves claimed six lives, including two people in Peru, 10,000km away.

    The Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai eruption as seen by Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite on 15 January 2022. Top image: Eruption at 4:20 UTC (about 15 minutes into the eruption); Middle image: Eruption at 4:50 UTC (45 minutes into the eruption); Bottom image: Eruption at 5:40 UTC (1 hour 35 minutes into the eruption). Image credit: Simon Proud / STFC RAL Space / NCEO / JMA.

    ‘It is the first time we’ve ever recorded a volcanic plume reaching the mesosphere. Krakatau in the 1800s might have done as well, but we didn’t see that in enough detail to confirm,’ said Dr Simon Proud, a National Centre for Earth Observation senior scientist at the University of Oxford and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space facility.

    Normally, the height of a volcanic plume can be estimated by measuring the temperature at its top and comparing it to the standard air temperatures found at various altitudes. This is because, in the troposphere, the lowest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, temperature decreases with height. But, if the eruption is so large the plume penetrates the higher layers of the atmosphere, this method becomes unreliable, as air temperatures begin to increase again with height.

    To overcome this problem, the researchers developed a technique based on a phenomenon called ‘the parallax effect’.

    This effect can be seen by closing your right eye, and holding out one hand with the thumb raised upwards. If you switch eyes, so your left is closed and your right is open, the thumb will appear to shift slightly against the background. By measuring this apparent change in position, and combining this with the known distance between your eyes, you can calculate the distance between your eyes and your thumb.

    The location of the Tonga volcano is covered by three geostationary weather satellites, 36,000km up in space, so the researchers were able to apply the parallax effect to the aerial images these captured. Crucially, during the eruption itself, the satellites recorded images every 10 minutes, enabling the rapid changes in the plume’s trajectory to be documented.

    ‘Thirty years ago, when Pinatubo erupted, our satellites were nowhere near as good as they are now. They could only scan the earth every 30 minutes. Or maybe even every hour,’ said Dr Proud.

    ‘We think for Pinatubo we actually missed the peak of the activity and the points where it went the highest: it fell between two of the satellite images and we missed it. In reality it probably went quite a bit higher than the estimates that we have for its height.’

    The mesosphere reaches between approximately 48km and 80km high and is the third layer of the atmosphere, above the troposphere and the stratosphere. Meteors falling to earth often burn up in the mesosphere, causing shooting stars in the night sky. It is the coldest part of Earth’s atmosphere, with temperatures near the top reaching as low as -143°C.

    ‘The interesting thing is, this eruption put a lot of water into the mesosphere, which is usually a very dry part of the atmosphere,’ said Dr Proud. ‘This makes the eruption a useful test case for how well our climate and weather models can cope with unexpected and extreme conditions.’

    The researchers now intend to construct an automated system to compute the heights of volcano plumes using the parallax method. Co-author Dr Andrew Prata from Oxford’s department of Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics, said, ‘We’d also like to apply this technique to other eruptions and develop a dataset of plume heights that can be used by volcanologists and atmospheric scientists to model the dispersion of volcanic ash in the atmosphere.’

    ‘Further science questions that we would like to understand are: Why did the Tonga plume go so high? What will be the climate impact of this eruption? And what exactly was the plume composed of?’

    The three satellites used to capture and evaluate the eruption were GOES-17 (USA), Himawari-8 (Japan) and GeoKompSat-2A (Korea).

    NOAA GOES_17 Satellite annotated.

    Himawari-8 satellite Credit: The Japan Meteorological Agency[気象庁](JP)

    GeoKompSat-2A. Credit: eoPortal

    The open-access data was processed by the UK’s Jasmin Supercomputer at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Lab.

    Science paper:

    See the full article here.


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    U Oxford campus

    The University of Oxford

    Universitas Oxoniensis

    The University of Oxford [a.k.a. The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford] is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest university in continuous operation. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris [Université de Paris](FR). After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the The University of Cambridge (UK). The two English ancient universities share many common features and are jointly referred to as Oxbridge.

    The university is made up of thirty-nine semi-autonomous constituent colleges, six permanent private halls, and a range of academic departments which are organised into four divisions. All the colleges are self-governing institutions within the university, each controlling its own membership and with its own internal structure and activities. All students are members of a college. It does not have a main campus, and its buildings and facilities are scattered throughout the city centre. Undergraduate teaching at Oxford consists of lectures, small-group tutorials at the colleges and halls, seminars, laboratory work and occasionally further tutorials provided by the central university faculties and departments. Postgraduate teaching is provided predominantly centrally.

    Oxford operates the world’s oldest university museum, as well as the largest university press in the world and the largest academic library system nationwide. In the fiscal year ending 31 July 2019, the university had a total income of £2.45 billion, of which £624.8 million was from research grants and contracts.

    Oxford has educated a wide range of notable alumni, including 28 prime ministers of the United Kingdom and many heads of state and government around the world. As of October 2020, 72 Nobel Prize laureates, 3 Fields Medalists, and 6 Turing Award winners have studied, worked, or held visiting fellowships at the University of Oxford, while its alumni have won 160 Olympic medals. Oxford is the home of numerous scholarships, including the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the oldest international graduate scholarship programmes.

    The University of Oxford’s foundation date is unknown. It is known that teaching at Oxford existed in some form as early as 1096, but it is unclear when a university came into being.

    It grew quickly from 1167 when English students returned from The University of Paris-Sorbonne [Université de Paris-Sorbonne](FR). The historian Gerald of Wales lectured to such scholars in 1188, and the first known foreign scholar, Emo of Friesland, arrived in 1190. The head of the university had the title of chancellor from at least 1201, and the masters were recognised as a universitas or corporation in 1231. The university was granted a royal charter in 1248 during the reign of King Henry III.

    The students associated together on the basis of geographical origins, into two ‘nations’, representing the North (northerners or Boreales, who included the English people from north of the River Trent and the Scots) and the South (southerners or Australes, who included English people from south of the Trent, the Irish and the Welsh). In later centuries, geographical origins continued to influence many students’ affiliations when membership of a college or hall became customary in Oxford. In addition, members of many religious orders, including Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites and Augustinians, settled in Oxford in the mid-13th century, gained influence and maintained houses or halls for students. At about the same time, private benefactors established colleges as self-contained scholarly communities. Among the earliest such founders were William of Durham, who in 1249 endowed University College, and John Balliol, father of a future King of Scots; Balliol College bears his name. Another founder, Walter de Merton, a Lord Chancellor of England and afterwards Bishop of Rochester, devised a series of regulations for college life. Merton College thereby became the model for such establishments at Oxford, as well as at the University of Cambridge. Thereafter, an increasing number of students lived in colleges rather than in halls and religious houses.

    In 1333–1334, an attempt by some dissatisfied Oxford scholars to found a new university at Stamford, Lincolnshire, was blocked by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge petitioning King Edward III. Thereafter, until the 1820s, no new universities were allowed to be founded in England, even in London; thus, Oxford and Cambridge had a duopoly, which was unusual in large western European countries.

    The new learning of the Renaissance greatly influenced Oxford from the late 15th century onwards. Among university scholars of the period were William Grocyn, who contributed to the revival of Greek language studies, and John Colet, the noted biblical scholar.

    With the English Reformation and the breaking of communion with the Roman Catholic Church, recusant scholars from Oxford fled to continental Europe, settling especially at the University of Douai. The method of teaching at Oxford was transformed from the medieval scholastic method to Renaissance education, although institutions associated with the university suffered losses of land and revenues. As a centre of learning and scholarship, Oxford’s reputation declined in the Age of Enlightenment; enrollments fell and teaching was neglected.

    In 1636, William Laud, the chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbury, codified the university’s statutes. These, to a large extent, remained its governing regulations until the mid-19th century. Laud was also responsible for the granting of a charter securing privileges for The University Press, and he made significant contributions to the Bodleian Library, the main library of the university. From the beginnings of the Church of England as the established church until 1866, membership of the church was a requirement to receive the BA degree from the university and “dissenters” were only permitted to receive the MA in 1871.

    The university was a centre of the Royalist party during the English Civil War (1642–1649), while the town favoured the opposing Parliamentarian cause. From the mid-18th century onwards, however, the university took little part in political conflicts.

    Wadham College, founded in 1610, was the undergraduate college of Sir Christopher Wren. Wren was part of a brilliant group of experimental scientists at Oxford in the 1650s, the Oxford Philosophical Club, which included Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke. This group held regular meetings at Wadham under the guidance of the college’s Warden, John Wilkins, and the group formed the nucleus that went on to found the Royal Society.

    Before reforms in the early 19th century, the curriculum at Oxford was notoriously narrow and impractical. Sir Spencer Walpole, a historian of contemporary Britain and a senior government official, had not attended any university. He said, “Few medical men, few solicitors, few persons intended for commerce or trade, ever dreamed of passing through a university career.” He quoted the Oxford University Commissioners in 1852 stating: “The education imparted at Oxford was not such as to conduce to the advancement in life of many persons, except those intended for the ministry.” Nevertheless, Walpole argued:

    “Among the many deficiencies attending a university education there was, however, one good thing about it, and that was the education which the undergraduates gave themselves. It was impossible to collect some thousand or twelve hundred of the best young men in England, to give them the opportunity of making acquaintance with one another, and full liberty to live their lives in their own way, without evolving in the best among them, some admirable qualities of loyalty, independence, and self-control. If the average undergraduate carried from university little or no learning, which was of any service to him, he carried from it a knowledge of men and respect for his fellows and himself, a reverence for the past, a code of honour for the present, which could not but be serviceable. He had enjoyed opportunities… of intercourse with men, some of whom were certain to rise to the highest places in the Senate, in the Church, or at the Bar. He might have mixed with them in his sports, in his studies, and perhaps in his debating society; and any associations which he had this formed had been useful to him at the time, and might be a source of satisfaction to him in after life.”

    Out of the students who matriculated in 1840, 65% were sons of professionals (34% were Anglican ministers). After graduation, 87% became professionals (59% as Anglican clergy). Out of the students who matriculated in 1870, 59% were sons of professionals (25% were Anglican ministers). After graduation, 87% became professionals (42% as Anglican clergy).

    M. C. Curthoys and H. S. Jones argue that the rise of organised sport was one of the most remarkable and distinctive features of the history of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was carried over from the athleticism prevalent at the public schools such as Eton, Winchester, Shrewsbury, and Harrow.

    All students, regardless of their chosen area of study, were required to spend (at least) their first year preparing for a first-year examination that was heavily focused on classical languages. Science students found this particularly burdensome and supported a separate science degree with Greek language study removed from their required courses. This concept of a Bachelor of Science had been adopted at other European universities (The University of London (UK) had implemented it in 1860) but an 1880 proposal at Oxford to replace the classical requirement with a modern language (like German or French) was unsuccessful. After considerable internal wrangling over the structure of the arts curriculum, in 1886 the “natural science preliminary” was recognized as a qualifying part of the first-year examination.

    At the start of 1914, the university housed about 3,000 undergraduates and about 100 postgraduate students. During the First World War, many undergraduates and fellows joined the armed forces. By 1918 virtually all fellows were in uniform, and the student population in residence was reduced to 12 per cent of the pre-war total. The University Roll of Service records that, in total, 14,792 members of the university served in the war, with 2,716 (18.36%) killed. Not all the members of the university who served in the Great War were on the Allied side; there is a remarkable memorial to members of New College who served in the German armed forces, bearing the inscription, ‘In memory of the men of this college who coming from a foreign land entered into the inheritance of this place and returning fought and died for their country in the war 1914–1918’. During the war years the university buildings became hospitals, cadet schools and military training camps.


    Two parliamentary commissions in 1852 issued recommendations for Oxford and Cambridge. Archibald Campbell Tait, former headmaster of Rugby School, was a key member of the Oxford Commission; he wanted Oxford to follow the German and Scottish model in which the professorship was paramount. The commission’s report envisioned a centralised university run predominantly by professors and faculties, with a much stronger emphasis on research. The professional staff should be strengthened and better paid. For students, restrictions on entry should be dropped, and more opportunities given to poorer families. It called for an enlargement of the curriculum, with honours to be awarded in many new fields. Undergraduate scholarships should be open to all Britons. Graduate fellowships should be opened up to all members of the university. It recommended that fellows be released from an obligation for ordination. Students were to be allowed to save money by boarding in the city, instead of in a college.

    The system of separate honour schools for different subjects began in 1802, with Mathematics and Literae Humaniores. Schools of “Natural Sciences” and “Law, and Modern History” were added in 1853. By 1872, the last of these had split into “Jurisprudence” and “Modern History”. Theology became the sixth honour school. In addition to these B.A. Honours degrees, the postgraduate Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L.) was, and still is, offered.

    The mid-19th century saw the impact of the Oxford Movement (1833–1845), led among others by the future Cardinal John Henry Newman. The influence of the reformed model of German universities reached Oxford via key scholars such as Edward Bouverie Pusey, Benjamin Jowett and Max Müller.

    Administrative reforms during the 19th century included the replacement of oral examinations with written entrance tests, greater tolerance for religious dissent, and the establishment of four women’s colleges. Privy Council decisions in the 20th century (e.g. the abolition of compulsory daily worship, dissociation of the Regius Professorship of Hebrew from clerical status, diversion of colleges’ theological bequests to other purposes) loosened the link with traditional belief and practice. Furthermore, although the university’s emphasis had historically been on classical knowledge, its curriculum expanded during the 19th century to include scientific and medical studies. Knowledge of Ancient Greek was required for admission until 1920, and Latin until 1960.

    The University of Oxford began to award doctorates for research in the first third of the 20th century. The first Oxford D.Phil. in mathematics was awarded in 1921.

    The mid-20th century saw many distinguished continental scholars, displaced by Nazism and communism, relocating to Oxford.

    The list of distinguished scholars at the University of Oxford is long and includes many who have made major contributions to politics, the sciences, medicine, and literature. As of October 2020, 72 Nobel laureates and more than 50 world leaders have been affiliated with the University of Oxford.

    To be a member of the university, all students, and most academic staff, must also be a member of a college or hall. There are thirty-nine colleges of the University of Oxford (including Reuben College, planned to admit students in 2021) and six permanent private halls (PPHs), each controlling its membership and with its own internal structure and activities. Not all colleges offer all courses, but they generally cover a broad range of subjects.

    The colleges are:

    All-Souls College
    Balliol College
    Brasenose College
    Christ Church College
    Corpus-Christi College
    Exeter College
    Green-Templeton College
    Harris-Manchester College
    Hertford College
    Jesus College
    Keble College
    Kellogg College
    Linacre College
    Lincoln College
    Magdalen College
    Mansfield College
    Merton College
    New College
    Nuffield College
    Oriel College
    Pembroke College
    Queens College
    Reuben College
    St-Anne’s College
    St-Antony’s College
    St-Catherines College
    St-Cross College
    St-Edmund-Hall College
    St-Hilda’s College
    St-Hughs College
    St-John’s College
    St-Peters College
    Somerville College
    Trinity College
    University College
    Wadham College
    Wolfson College
    Worcester College

    The permanent private halls were founded by different Christian denominations. One difference between a college and a PPH is that whereas colleges are governed by the fellows of the college, the governance of a PPH resides, at least in part, with the corresponding Christian denomination. The six current PPHs are:

    Campion Hall
    Regent’s Park College
    St Benet’s Hall
    St-Stephen’s Hall
    Wycliffe Hall

    The PPHs and colleges join as the Conference of Colleges, which represents the common concerns of the several colleges of the university, to discuss matters of shared interest and to act collectively when necessary, such as in dealings with the central university. The Conference of Colleges was established as a recommendation of the Franks Commission in 1965.

    Teaching members of the colleges (i.e. fellows and tutors) are collectively and familiarly known as dons, although the term is rarely used by the university itself. In addition to residential and dining facilities, the colleges provide social, cultural, and recreational activities for their members. Colleges have responsibility for admitting undergraduates and organizing their tuition; for graduates, this responsibility falls upon the departments. There is no common title for the heads of colleges: the titles used include Warden, Provost, Principal, President, Rector, Master and Dean.

    Oxford is regularly ranked within the top 5 universities in the world and is currently ranked first in the world in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, as well as the Forbes’s World University Rankings. It held the number one position in The Times Good University Guide for eleven consecutive years, and the medical school has also maintained first place in the “Clinical, Pre-Clinical & Health” table of The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for the past seven consecutive years. In 2021, it ranked sixth among the universities around the world by SCImago Institutions Rankings. The Times Higher Education has also recognised Oxford as one of the world’s “six super brands” on its World Reputation Rankings, along with The University of California-Berkeley, The University of Cambridge (UK), Harvard University, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University. The university is fifth worldwide on the US News ranking. Its Saïd Business School came 13th in the world in The Financial Times Global MBA Ranking.
    Oxford was ranked ninth in the world in 2015 by The Nature Index, which measures the largest contributors to papers published in 82 leading journals. It is ranked fifth best university worldwide and first in Britain for forming CEOs according to The Professional Ranking World Universities, and first in the UK for the quality of its graduates as chosen by the recruiters of the UK’s major companies.

    In the 2018 Complete University Guide, all 38 subjects offered by Oxford rank within the top 10 nationally meaning Oxford was one of only two multi-faculty universities (along with Cambridge) in the UK to have 100% of their subjects in the top 10. Computer Science, Medicine, Philosophy, Politics and Psychology were ranked first in the UK by the guide.

    According to The QS World University Rankings by Subject, the University of Oxford also ranks as number one in the world for four Humanities disciplines: English Language and Literature, Modern Languages, Geography, and History. It also ranks second globally for Anthropology, Archaeology, Law, Medicine, Politics & International Studies, and Psychology.

  • richardmitnick 8:42 am on September 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "'I was there when the volcano erupted.'", , , , Petrology, , Vulcanology   

    From The University of Delaware : “‘I was there when the volcano erupted.'” 

    U Delaware bloc

    From The University of Delaware

    August 1, 2022
    Tracey Bryant

    Abigail Nalesnik, doctoral student in geology at the University of Delaware, looks through a rangefinder at the eruption in Kīlauea‘s Halema‘uma‘u crater the evening of September 30, 2021. She was on the first response team from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory to visit the eruption and helped make measurements of the active fountains and monitor the lava lake level to track how quickly it was rising. Photo taken from a closed area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park by Kendra Lynn, USGS.

    Kilauea on the southeastern shore of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Credit USGS June 12, 2018.

    It is Wednesday, September 29, 2021, 3:21 p.m. Hawai‘i Standard Time (HST). Abigail Nalesnik is finishing up her fieldwork for the day. The University of Delaware doctoral student had been collecting samples of volcanic rock along a gully west of the summit of Kīlauea — one of the most active volcanoes in the world — working alongside Kendra J. Lynn, geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and an affiliated professor at UD.

    Kendra Lynn, geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, collects fragments of rock, called tephra, ejected from the volcano. Photo courtesy of USGS.

    Then the alert came.

    “There was an earthquake swarm under the summit, although we hadn’t felt anything,” Nalesnik said. “As we began driving from my field site, we saw the smoke rising out of Halema‘uma‘u crater. It was an amazing first view of a volcanic plume!”

    Witnessing a volcano erupt is an unforgettable experience. And Kīlauea — one of the world’s youngest volcanoes, known to Hawai’ians as the home of the revered goddess Pelehonuamea (Pele) — has offered up this incredible spectacle with some frequency. At this rupture in Earth’s crust, lava and gas have exploded from a magma chamber below the surface dozens of times since 1952 like a giant pressure cooker blowing its top.

    Within minutes after seeing the plume, the USGS team began deploying to the eruption site in a closed area of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

    “We drove down an old portion of park road around the summit crater and began to study the fresh lava that had been thrown up and out of the crater,” Lynn said. “Now cooled, these freshly made rocks, ranging from a millimeter to 15 centimeters in diameter, were very vesicular – meaning they had a lot of gas bubbles – when they were quenched. These feather-light pumices were already rolling across the road and landscape, being buffeted about by the wind.”
    Where is Kīlauea volcano?

    Kīlauea is the youngest and southeasternmost volcano on the island of Hawaii, which is known as the “Big Island” because it is larger than all of the other Hawaiian islands combined. It is also the largest island in the U.S.

    How hot is erupting lava?

    According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Kīlauea lava’s eruption temperature is about 1170° Celsius (2140° Fahrenheit). Once exposed to the air, the lava cools down quickly — by hundreds of degrees per second.

    A rising lava lake

    Since the 2021 eruption, lava in Halema‘uma‘u crater has risen 70 meters (230 feet) — that’s taller than a 20-story building. This molten rock, estimated at 10.5 billion gallons, would fill 200 million bathtubs — one for about every person in Brazil!

    Read the USGS Report

    U.S. Geological Survey
    Thursday, January 13, 2022, 10:50 AM HST (Thursday, January 13, 2022, 20:50 UTC)

    How many active volcanoes are there on Earth?

    Most of the world’s volcanoes are underwater, on the ocean floor, where Earth’s tectonic plates — giant slabs of the planet’s crust — are being pulled apart. Outside of these, about 1,350 potentially active volcanoes exist around the globe, and about 500 are estimated to have erupted in human history. The Pacific Rim has so many volcanoes it is known as the “Ring of Fire.”


    Q: What does an erupting volcano sound like?

    Lynn was impressed by the sound of the rocks and particles called tephra being ejected from the volcano.

    “The rolling clasts made a light ‘tink, tink, tink’ that made me instantly think of Christmas ornaments. When the wind gusts died down, there was an incredible sloshing sound, like waves on a beach. This was the lava and the active eruption, which was out of sight deep in the crater beyond where we were working.”

    Nalesnik will never forget the sound of the lava fountains.

    “Somewhat like very heavy water splashing down onto the lava lake, but unlike anything I’ve heard before. You could hear the fountains without being very close to the edge of the crater.”

    Q: And what about the smell?

    “Not fantastic,” Nalesnik said, due to the sulfur dioxide, which smells like burnt matches. What’s more, sulfur dioxide irritates the eyes, nose and throat, causing you to cough and have a tight feeling in the chest. Headache, nausea, fatigue are other effects. Thus, gas masks were necessary to be in the area. But the view more than made up for it.

    “Arriving at the edge of the crater to do measurements, the glow of the lava lake was surreal, with each small fountain and bubble of lava a fiery orange-red.”

    Q: What do you wear working near a volcano?

    With the eruption occurring deep inside Halema‘uma‘u crater, the researchers monitored the event from a distance and were not close enough to sample the lava. Still, they could feel the heat due to the vast size of the lava lake — estimated to be 70 floors deep if the Empire State Building were plopped into it.

    “You can feel the heat on your face, but it is surprisingly chilly at the summit with the strong winds,” Nalesnik said.

    Each team member wears a respirator, a critical piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) that must be worn when sulfur dioxide is present, Lynn said. They also wear an electronic gas badge calibrated to vibrate and beep to signal the concentration levels of sulfur dioxide, so they can quickly get out of areas inundated with gas. Other essentials include high-visibility uniforms, hard hats, cotton pants (synthetic materials melt when close to an active lava field), sturdy leather boots, and when windy, goggles to protect the eyes from blowing ash.

    Q: How do you study an erupting volcano, and why is it important?

    Volcanoes are among Nature’s greatest wonders, but they also can be extremely dangerous. Kīlauea’s eruption in 2018 caused evacuations in residential areas southeast of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, as fissures opened up in the Earth’s crust — some 22 of these long, narrow cracks — and the large flows of lava destroyed more than 700 homes, as well as roads, schools and businesses. For months, residents downwind had to wear N95 masks to protect themselves from toxic ash and sulfur dioxide gas.

    The scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) have wide-ranging skills for studying such an explosive phenomenon. As a field geologist, Lynn works with her team to monitor the eruption on site. In addition to a permanent network of time-lapse and networked cameras, they capture the volcanic activity with high-resolution photographs and videos. They also use a rangefinder to measure the height of the lava lake and other features in the crater, which helps them to make important calculations such as lava fountain heights and effusion rates, which might increase if an eruption is gaining intensity or decrease if an eruption is waning.

    Lynn is also a petrologist — a scientist who studies the composition, texture and structure of rocks and minerals to understand how and when they formed — so she collects samples of tephra and olivine, a mineral rich in iron and manganese, for polishing and chemical analysis back in the lab. Olivine can provide clues as to when and where the magma was stored in the volcano prior to the eruption.

    “I look for patterns in the chemistry of erupted lavas that might help us to understand how the volcano behaves over decades to centuries,” Lynn said. “This might give us a better idea of what to expect in the future and be better prepared for the hazards associated with such events. In general, our monitoring observations help assess hazards and risk in real time, and the information allows the National Park Service and other agencies to make decisions.”

    Q: What’s the most surprising thing about working around an active volcano?

    “I was surprised at how much there is to do!” Nalesnik said. “There are various specialties at HVO, such as the gas team that measures the volcano emissions, the seismology team that monitors the earthquakes, and of course the geology team that studies the physical deposits. These and several other teams have so many different avenues for study and analyses that reflect on different aspects of the volcano. It was great to see them all working together to navigate this current eruption and learn all that we can.”

    For Lynn, the sheer scale of Earth’s outburst never gets old.

    “I am shocked every time I see an eruption at how big it is — that we can have fountains of lava over 60 feet tall — that’s taller than a four-story building!”

    Q: Where does this experience rank on your geo-bucket list?

    “Participating in an active eruption response was definitely #1 on my bucket list!” said Nalesnik, who had received funding from the National Science Foundation to do work at the site for her UD doctoral research under the guidance of her adviser, Professor Jessica Warren. “Driving from my field site, seeing the plume rising out of Halema‘uma‘u, feeling so excited and nervous, will be a memory I keep for the rest of my life. As volcanoes are such dynamic landforms, I am thankful I had my gear packed and was prepared in case something happened during my short visit. Five weeks isn’t a very long time.”

    For Lynn, Kīlauea has always been a very special place. “Growing up, I dreamed of studying it, and when I finally got that opportunity in graduate school, visiting the volcano changed my life forever,” she said. “Kīlauea is my favorite place on Earth, and is also a special and sacred place in Hawaii, home to Pelehonuamea, goddess of the volcano. As a guest in Hawaii and at Kīlauea, I am constantly in awe of Pele.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Delaware campus

    The University of Delaware is a public land-grant research university located in Newark, Delaware. University of Delaware (US) is the largest university in Delaware. It offers three associate’s programs, 148 bachelor’s programs, 121 master’s programs (with 13 joint degrees), and 55 doctoral programs across its eight colleges. The main campus is in Newark, with satellite campuses in Dover, the Wilmington area, Lewes, and Georgetown. It is considered a large institution with approximately 18,200 undergraduate and 4,200 graduate students. It is a privately governed university which receives public funding for being a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant state-supported research institution.

    The University of Delaware is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to The National Science Foundation, UD spent $186 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 119th in the nation. It is recognized with the Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

    The University of Delaware is one of only four schools in North America with a major in art conservation. In 1923, it was the first American university to offer a study-abroad program.

    The University of Delaware traces its origins to a “Free School,” founded in New London, Pennsylvania in 1743. The school moved to Newark, Delaware by 1765, becoming the Newark Academy. The academy trustees secured a charter for Newark College in 1833 and the academy became part of the college, which changed its name to Delaware College in 1843. While it is not considered one of the colonial colleges because it was not a chartered institution of higher education during the colonial era, its original class of ten students included George Read, Thomas McKean, and James Smith, all three of whom went on to sign the Declaration of Independence. Read also later signed the United States Constitution.

    Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus

    On October 23, 2009, The University of Delaware signed an agreement with Chrysler to purchase a shuttered vehicle assembly plant adjacent to the university for $24.25 million as part of Chrysler’s bankruptcy restructuring plan. The university has developed the 272-acre (1.10 km^2) site into the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus. The site is the new home of University of Delaware (US)’s College of Health Sciences, which includes teaching and research laboratories and several public health clinics. The STAR Campus also includes research facilities for University of Delaware (US)’s vehicle-to-grid technology, as well as Delaware Technology Park, SevOne, CareNow, Independent Prosthetics and Orthotics, and the East Coast headquarters of Bloom Energy. In 2020 [needs an update], University of Delaware expects to open the Ammon Pinozzotto Biopharmaceutical Innovation Center, which will become the new home of the UD-led National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals. Also, Chemours recently opened its global research and development facility, known as the Discovery Hub, on the STAR Campus in 2020. The new Newark Regional Transportation Center on the STAR Campus will serve passengers of Amtrak and regional rail.


    The university is organized into nine colleges:

    Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics
    College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
    College of Arts and Sciences
    College of Earth, Ocean and Environment
    College of Education and Human Development
    College of Engineering
    College of Health Sciences
    Graduate College
    Honors College

    There are also five schools:

    Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration (part of the College of Arts & Sciences)
    School of Education (part of the College of Education & Human Development)
    School of Marine Science and Policy (part of the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment)
    School of Nursing (part of the College of Health Sciences)
    School of Music (part of the College of Arts & Sciences)

  • richardmitnick 9:30 am on September 14, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Igneous provinces": giant fingerprints of volcanic igneous rock., , "What Killed Dinosaurs and Other Life on Earth?", A series of eruptions in what is now known as Siberia triggered the most destructive of the mass extinctions about 252 million years ago., , , , , , Dartmouth-led study fortifies link between mega volcanoes and mass extinctions., , , , Large igneous provinces releasa gigantic pulses of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and nearly choking off all life., , , , The eruption rate of the Deccan Traps in India suggests that the stage was set for widespread extinction even without the asteroid., The total amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in modern climate change is still very much smaller than the amount emitted by a large igneous province., To count as “large” an igneous province must contain at least 100000 cubic kilometers of magma., Volcanic eruptions rocked the Indian subcontinent around the time of the great dinosaur die-off creating what is known today as the Deccan plateau., Vulcanology   

    From Dartmouth College: “What Killed Dinosaurs and Other Life on Earth?” 

    From Dartmouth College

    Harini Barath

    Dartmouth-led study fortifies link between mega volcanoes and mass extinctions.

    The Mount Fagradalsfjall volcano, near Iceland’s capital of Reykjavík, erupted for six months in 2021, and also again in August. (Photo by Tanya Grypachevskaya/Unsplash Photo Community)

    The biological history of the Earth has been punctuated by mass extinctions that wiped out a vast majority of living species in a geological instant.

    Based on evidence in the fossil record, scientists have identified five such events that reshaped life on Earth, the most familiar of which brought about the demise of the mighty dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period 66 million years ago.

    What caused these catastrophes remains a matter of keen scientific debate. Some scientists argue that comets or asteroids that crashed into Earth were the most likely agents of mass destruction, while others point fingers at large volcanic eruptions.

    Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences Brenhin Keller belongs to the latter camp. In a new study published in PNAS [below], Keller and his co-authors make a strong case for volcanic activity being the key driver of mass extinctions. Their study provides the most compelling quantitative evidence so far that the link between major volcanic eruptions and wholesale species turnover is not simply a matter of chance.

    Four of the five mass extinctions are contemporaneous with a type of volcano called a flood basalt, the researchers say. These are a series of eruptions (or one giant one) that flood vast areas with lava in the blink of a geological eye, a mere million years. They leave behind giant fingerprints as evidence—extensive regions of step-like, igneous rock that geologists call large igneous provinces.

    To count as “large” an igneous province must contain at least 100,000 cubic kilometers of magma. For scale, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens involved less than one cubic kilometer of magma.

    In fact, a series of eruptions in what is now known as Siberia triggered the most destructive of the mass extinctions about 252 million years ago, releasing a gigantic pulse of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and nearly choking off all life. Bearing witness are the Siberian Traps, a large region of volcanic rock roughly the size of Australia.

    Volcanic eruptions also rocked the Indian subcontinent around the time of the great dinosaur die-off creating what is known today as the Deccan plateau. This, much like an asteroid strike, would have had far-reaching global effects, blanketing the atmosphere in dust and toxic fumes, asphyxiating dinosaurs and other life.

    “It seems like these large igneous provinces line up in time with mass extinctions and other significant climactic and environmental events,” says Theodore Green ’21, lead author of the paper.

    On the other hand, the researchers say, the theories in favor of annihilation by asteroid impact hinge upon the Chicxulub impactor, a space rock that crash-landed into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula around the same time that the dinosaurs went extinct.

    “All other theories that attempted to explain what killed the dinosaurs got steamrolled when the crater the asteroid had gouged out was discovered,” says Keller. But there’s very little evidence of similar impact events that coincide with the other mass extinctions despite decades of exploration, he points out.

    For his Senior Fellowship thesis, Green set out to find a way to quantify the apparent link between eruptions and extinctions and test whether the coincidence was just chance or whether there was evidence of a causal relationship between the two. Working with Keller and co-author Paul Renne, professor of Earth and planetary science at the University of California-Berkeley, Green turned to the supercomputers at the Dartmouth Discovery Cluster to crunch the numbers.

    Discovery is a 3000+ core Linux cluster that is available to the Dartmouth research community.

    Discovery contains ‘C’ and FORTRAN compilers as well as third party applications. Requests to install additional application software are welcomed and should be directed to Research Computing.

    Job submissions on Discovery are submitted to a queue. A queuing system allows for more equitable allocation of resources and optimizes cpu usage. For more information see the Scheduling Jobs to Run page.

    Discovery is available for all Dartmouth faculty research including the Geisel School of Medicine, and professional schools.

    The researchers compared the best available estimates of flood basalt eruptions with periods of drastic species kill-off in the geological timescale, including but not limited to the five mass extinctions. To prove that the timing was more than a random chance, they examined whether the eruptions would line up just as well with a randomly generated pattern and repeated the exercise with 100 million such patterns. “Less than 1% of the simulated timelines agreed as well as the actual record of flood basalts and extinctions, suggesting the relationship is not just random chance,” says Green, who is now a graduate student at Princeton.

    But is this proof enough that volcanic flood basalts sparked extinctions? If there were a causal link, scientists expect that larger eruptions would entail more severe extinctions, but such a correlation has not been observed until now.

    By recasting how the severity of the eruptions is defined, the researchers make a convincing case to unequivocally incriminate volcanoes in their paper.

    Rather than considering the absolute magnitude of eruptions, they ordered the events by the rate at which they spewed lava and found that the ones with the highest eruptive rates did indeed cause the most destruction.

    “Our results make it hard to ignore the role of volcanism in extinction,” says Keller.

    Examples of flood basalt volcanism can be seen in what are known as Grande Ronde flows exposed in Joseph Canyon on the Oregon-Washington border. (Photo courtesy of Brenhin Keller)

    The researchers ran the numbers for asteroids too. The coincidence of impacts with periods of species turnover was significantly weaker, and only worsened when the Chicxulub impactor was not considered.

    The eruption rate of the Deccan Traps in India suggests that the stage was set for widespread extinction even without the asteroid, says Green. The impact was the double whammy that loudly sounded the death knell for the dinosaurs, he adds.

    Flood basalt eruptions aren’t common in the geologic record, says Green. The last one of comparable scale happened about 16 million years ago in the Pacific Northwest. But there are other sources of emissions that pose a threat in the present day, the researchers say.

    “While the total amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in modern climate change is still very much smaller than the amount emitted by a large igneous province, thankfully,” says Keller, “we’re emitting it very fast, which is reason to be concerned.”

    Green says that this rate of carbon dioxide emissions places climate change in the framework of historical periods of environmental catastrophe.

    Green describes Dartmouth’s Senior Fellowship program, which allows undergraduates to go beyond the curriculum in their senior year, as a unique opportunity to dive into a field of his choice and develop a taste for research.

    “This work is a great example of what Senior Fellows can achieve,” says Keller.

    Science paper:

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Dartmouth College campus

    Dartmouth College is a private Ivy League research university in Hanover, New Hampshire. Established in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, Dartmouth is one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution and among the most prestigious in the United States. Although founded to educate Native Americans in Christian theology and the English way of life, the university primarily trained Congregationalist ministers during its early history before it gradually secularized, emerging at the turn of the 20th century from relative obscurity into national prominence.

    Following a liberal arts curriculum, Dartmouth provides undergraduate instruction in 40 academic departments and interdisciplinary programs, including 60 majors in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering, and enables students to design specialized concentrations or engage in dual degree programs. In addition to the undergraduate faculty of arts and sciences, Dartmouth has four professional and graduate schools: the Geisel School of Medicine, the Thayer School of Engineering, the Tuck School of Business, and the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies. The university also has affiliations with the Dartmouth–Hitchcock Medical Center. Dartmouth is home to the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, the Hood Museum of Art, the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, and the Hopkins Center for the Arts. With a student enrollment of about 6,700, Dartmouth is the smallest university in the Ivy League. Undergraduate admissions are highly selective with an acceptance rate of 6.24% for the class of 2026, including a 4.7% rate for regular decision applicants.

    Situated on a terrace above the Connecticut River, Dartmouth’s 269-acre (109 ha) main campus is in the rural Upper Valley region of New England. The university functions on a quarter system, operating year-round on four ten-week academic terms. Dartmouth is known for its strong undergraduate focus, Greek culture, and wide array of enduring campus traditions. Its 34 varsity sports teams compete intercollegiately in the Ivy League conference of the NCAA Division I.

    Dartmouth is consistently cited as a leading university for undergraduate teaching by U.S. News & World Report. In 2021, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education listed Dartmouth as the only majority-undergraduate, arts-and-sciences focused, doctoral university in the country that has “some graduate coexistence” and “very high research activity”.

    The university has many prominent alumni, including 170 members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, 24 U.S. governors, 23 billionaires, 8 U.S. Cabinet secretaries, 3 Nobel Prize laureates, 2 U.S. Supreme Court justices, and a U.S. vice president. Other notable alumni include 79 Rhodes Scholars, 26 Marshall Scholarship recipients, and 14 Pulitzer Prize winners. Dartmouth alumni also include many CEOs and founders of Fortune 500 corporations, high-ranking U.S. diplomats, academic scholars, literary and media figures, professional athletes, and Olympic medalists.

    Comprising an undergraduate population of 4,307 and a total student enrollment of 6,350 (as of 2016), Dartmouth is the smallest university in the Ivy League. Its undergraduate program, which reported an acceptance rate around 10 percent for the class of 2020, is characterized by the Carnegie Foundation and U.S. News & World Report as “most selective”. Dartmouth offers a broad range of academic departments, an extensive research enterprise, numerous community outreach and public service programs, and the highest rate of study abroad participation in the Ivy League.

    Dartmouth, a liberal arts institution, offers a four-year Bachelor of Arts and ABET-accredited Bachelor of Engineering degree to undergraduate students. The college has 39 academic departments offering 56 major programs, while students are free to design special majors or engage in dual majors. For the graduating class of 2017, the most popular majors were economics, government, computer science, engineering sciences, and history. The Government Department, whose prominent professors include Stephen Brooks, Richard Ned Lebow, and William Wohlforth, was ranked the top solely undergraduate political science program in the world by researchers at The London School of Economics (UK) in 2003. The Economics Department, whose prominent professors include David Blanchflower and Andrew Samwick, also holds the distinction as the top-ranked bachelor’s-only economics program in the world.

    In order to graduate, a student must complete 35 total courses, eight to ten of which are typically part of a chosen major program. Other requirements for graduation include the completion of ten “distributive requirements” in a variety of academic fields, proficiency in a foreign language, and completion of a writing class and first-year seminar in writing. Many departments offer honors programs requiring students seeking that distinction to engage in “independent, sustained work”, culminating in the production of a thesis. In addition to the courses offered in Hanover, Dartmouth offers 57 different off-campus programs, including Foreign Study Programs, Language Study Abroad programs, and Exchange Programs.

    Through the Graduate Studies program, Dartmouth grants doctorate and master’s degrees in 19 Arts & Sciences graduate programs. Although the first graduate degree, a PhD in classics, was awarded in 1885, many of the current PhD programs have only existed since the 1960s. Furthermore, Dartmouth is home to three professional schools: the Geisel School of Medicine (established 1797), Thayer School of Engineering (1867)—which also serves as the undergraduate department of engineering sciences—and Tuck School of Business (1900). With these professional schools and graduate programs, conventional American usage would accord Dartmouth the label of “Dartmouth University”; however, because of historical and nostalgic reasons (such as Dartmouth College v. Woodward), the school uses the name “Dartmouth College” to refer to the entire institution.

    Dartmouth employs a total of 607 tenured or tenure-track faculty members, including the highest proportion of female tenured professors among the Ivy League universities, and the first black woman tenure-track faculty member in computer science at an Ivy League university. Faculty members have been at the forefront of such major academic developments as the Dartmouth Workshop, the Dartmouth Time Sharing System, Dartmouth BASIC, and Dartmouth ALGOL 30. In 2005, sponsored project awards to Dartmouth faculty research amounted to $169 million.

    Dartmouth serves as the host institution of the University Press of New England, a university press founded in 1970 that is supported by a consortium of schools that also includes Brandeis University, The University of New Hampshire, Northeastern University, Tufts University and The University of Vermont.


    Dartmouth was ranked tied for 13th among undergraduate programs at national universities by U.S. News & World Report in its 2021 rankings. U.S. News also ranked the school 2nd best for veterans, tied for 5th best in undergraduate teaching, and 9th for “best value” at national universities in 2020. Dartmouth’s undergraduate teaching was previously ranked 1st by U.S. News for five years in a row (2009–2013). Dartmouth College is accredited by The New England Commission of Higher Education.

    In Forbes’ 2019 rankings of 650 universities, liberal arts colleges and service academies, Dartmouth ranked 10th overall and 10th in research universities. In the Forbes 2018 “grateful graduate” rankings, Dartmouth came in first for the second year in a row.

    The 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities ranked Dartmouth among the 90–110th best universities in the nation. However, this specific ranking has drawn criticism from scholars for not adequately adjusting for the size of an institution, which leads to larger institutions ranking above smaller ones like Dartmouth. Dartmouth’s small size and its undergraduate focus also disadvantage its ranking in other international rankings because ranking formulas favor institutions with a large number of graduate students.

    The 2006 Carnegie Foundation classification listed Dartmouth as the only “majority-undergraduate”, “arts-and-sciences focus[ed]”, “research university” in the country that also had “some graduate coexistence” and “very high research activity”.

    The Dartmouth Plan

    Dartmouth functions on a quarter system, operating year-round on four ten-week academic terms. The Dartmouth Plan (or simply “D-Plan”) is an academic scheduling system that permits the customization of each student’s academic year. All undergraduates are required to be in residence for the fall, winter, and spring terms of their freshman and senior years, as well as the summer term of their sophomore year. However, students may petition to alter this plan so that they may be off during their freshman, senior, or sophomore summer terms. During all terms, students are permitted to choose between studying on-campus, studying at an off-campus program, or taking a term off for vacation, outside internships, or research projects. The typical course load is three classes per term, and students will generally enroll in classes for 12 total terms over the course of their academic career.

    The D-Plan was instituted in the early 1970s at the same time that Dartmouth began accepting female undergraduates. It was initially devised as a plan to increase the enrollment without enlarging campus accommodations, and has been described as “a way to put 4,000 students into 3,000 beds”. Although new dormitories have been built since, the number of students has also increased and the D-Plan remains in effect. It was modified in the 1980s in an attempt to reduce the problems of lack of social and academic continuity.


  • richardmitnick 11:50 am on September 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , "Slowing of continental plate movement controlled timing of Earth’s largest volcanic events", , , Further assessment shows that a reduction in continental plate movement likely controlled the onset and duration of many of the major volcanic events throughout Earth’s history., , Major volcanic events that occurred millions of years ago and caused such climatic and biological upheaval that they drove some of the most devastating extinction events in Earth’s history., , The team’s plate reconstruction models helped them discover the key fundamental geological process that seemed to control the timing and onset of this volcanic event and others of great magnitude., , Two key events from around 183 million years ago (the Toarcian period), Vulcanology   

    From Trinity College Dublin [Coláiste na Tríonóide](IE): “Slowing of continental plate movement controlled timing of Earth’s largest volcanic events” 

    From Trinity College Dublin [Coláiste na Tríonóide](IE)

    Thomas Deane
    Media Relations
    +353 1 896 4685

    Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain.

    Scientists have shed new light on the timing and likely cause of major volcanic events that occurred millions of years ago and caused such climatic and biological upheaval that they drove some of the most devastating extinction events in Earth’s history.

    Surprisingly the new research, published today in leading international journal Science Advances [below], suggests a slowing of continental plate movement was the critical event that enabled magma to rise to the Earth’s surface and deliver the devastating knock-on impacts.

    Earth’s history has been marked by major volcanic events, called Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs) – the largest of which have caused major increases in atmospheric carbon emissions that warmed Earth’s climate, drove unprecedented changes to ecosystems, and resulted in mass extinctions on land and in the oceans.

    Using chemical data from ancient mudstone deposits obtained from a 1.5 km-deep borehole in Wales, an international team led by scientists from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Natural Sciences was able to link two key events from around 183 million years ago (the Toarcian period).

    The team discovered that this time period, which was characterized by some of the most severe climatic and environmental changes ever, directly coincided with the occurrence of major volcanic activity and associated greenhouse gas release on the southern hemisphere, in what is nowadays known as southern Africa, Antarctica and Australia.

    On further investigation – and more importantly – the team’s plate reconstruction models helped them discover the key fundamental geological process that seemed to control the timing and onset of this volcanic event and others of great magnitude.

    Micha Ruhl, Assistant Professor in Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, led the team. He said:

    “Scientists have long thought that the onset of upwelling of molten volcanic rock, or magma, from deep in Earth’s interior, as mantle plumes, was the instigator of such volcanic activity but the new evidence shows that the normal rate of continental plate movement of several centimetres per year effectively prevents magma from penetrating Earth’s continental crust.

    “It seems it is only when the speed of continental plate movement slows down to near zero that magmas from mantle plumes can effectively make their way to the surface, causing major large igneous province volcanic eruptions and their associated climatic perturbations and mass extinctions.

    “Crucially, further assessment shows that a reduction in continental plate movement likely controlled the onset and duration of many of the major volcanic events throughout Earth’s history, making it a fundamental process in controlling the evolution of climate and life at Earth’s surface throughout the history of this planet.”

    The study of past global change events, such as in the Toarcian, allows scientists to disentangle the different processes that control the causes and consequences of global carbon cycle change and constrain fundamental Earth system processes that control tipping points in Earth’s climate system.

    The research was conducted as part of the International Continental Drilling Programme (ICDP) Early Jurassic Earth System and Timescale (JET) project, and financially supported by the SFI Research Centre in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG), the Natural Environment Research Council UK (NERC), the National Science Foundation China, and the EU Horizon 2020 programme.

    Science paper:
    Science Advances
    See the full science paper for many illustrative graphs.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Trinity College [Coláiste na Tríonóide], officially the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, is the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin, a research university located in Dublin, Ireland. The college was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I as “the mother of a university” that was modeled after The University of Oxford (UK) and The University of Cambridge (UK) but unlike these affiliated institutions, only one college was ever established; as such, the designations “Trinity College” and “University of Dublin” are usually synonymous for practical purposes. The college is legally incorporated by “the Provost, Fellows, Foundation Scholars and other members of the Board,” as outlined by its founding charter. It is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland, as well as Ireland’s oldest surviving university. Trinity College is widely considered the most prestigious university in Ireland, and one of the most elite academic institutions in Europe. The college is particularly acclaimed in the fields of Law, Literature and Humanities. In accordance with the formula of ad eundem gradum, a form of recognition that exists among the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and the University of Dublin, a graduate of Oxford, Cambridge, or Dublin can be conferred with the equivalent degree at either of the other two universities without further examination. Trinity College, Dublin is a sister college to St John’s College, Cambridge and Oriel College, Oxford.

    Originally, Trinity was established outside the city walls of Dublin in the buildings of the outlawed Catholic Augustinian Priory of All Hallows. Trinity College was set up in part to consolidate the rule of the Tudor monarchy in Ireland, and as a result was the university of the Protestant Ascendancy for much of its history. While Catholics were admitted from 1793, certain restrictions on membership of the college remained, as professorships, fellowships and scholarships were reserved for Protestants. These restrictions were lifted by an Act of Parliament in 1873. However, from 1871 to 1970, the Catholic Church in Ireland, in turn, forbade its adherents from attending Trinity College without permission. Women were first admitted to the college as full members in January 1904.

    The university is a member of the League of European Research Universities, a list of 23 institutions that excel in academic research, and is the only Irish university in the group. Trinity College was ranked 43rd in the world by QS World University Rankingsin 2009 and is currently ranked 101st. The university has educated some of Ireland’s most famous poets, playwrights and authors, including Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, William Trevor, Oliver Goldsmith and William Congreve, Nobel Laureates Samuel Beckett, Ernest Walton and William Cecil Campbell, former Presidents of Ireland Mary McAleese, Douglas Hyde and Mary Robinson, philosophers including George Berkeley and Edmund Burke, politician David Norris and mathematician William Rowan Hamilton. Given its long history, the university also finds mention in many novels, fables and urban legends.

    Trinity College is now surrounded by central Dublin and is located on College Green, opposite the historic Irish Houses of Parliament. The college campus is often ranked among the most beautiful university campuses in the world, primarily due to its Georgian architecture buildings. The college proper occupies 190,000 m^2 (47 acres), with many of its buildings ranged around large quadrangles (known as ‘squares’) and two playing fields. Academically, it is divided into three faculties comprising 25 schools, offering degree and diploma courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The university is globally recognized as a leading international centre for research and also as a world leader in Nanotechnology, Information Technology, Immunology, Mathematics, Engineering, Psychology, Politics, English and Humanities. The admission procedure is highly competitive, and based exclusively on academic merit. The Library of Trinity College is a legal deposit library for Ireland and Great Britain, containing around 7 million printed volumes and significant quantities of manuscripts, including the renowned Book of Kells, which arrived at the college in 1661 for safekeeping after the Cromwellian raids on religious institutions. The enormous collection housed in the Long Room includes a rare copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic and a 15th-century wooden harp which is the model for the current emblem of Ireland. The library itself receives over half a million visitors each year, making it the most important one in Ireland.

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