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  • richardmitnick 10:32 am on January 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Volcano erupts near Manila; airport shut and villagers flee", , , , Vulcanology   

    From phys.org: “Volcano erupts near Manila; airport shut, villagers flee” 

    From phys.org

    January 12, 2020
    Aaron Favila
    Jim Gomez

    People watch as the Taal volcano spews ash and smoke during an eruption in Tagaytay, Cavite province south of Manila, Philippines on Sunday. Jan. 12, 2020. A tiny volcano near the Philippine capital that draws many tourists for its picturesque setting in a lake belched steam, ash and rocks in a huge plume Sunday, prompting thousands of residents to flee and officials to temporarily suspend flights. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    A small volcano south of the Philippine capital that draws many tourists for its picturesque setting in a lake erupted with a massive plume of ash and steam Sunday, prompting thousands of people to flee and officials to shut Manila’s international airport.

    The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Taal Volcano in Batangas province south of Manila blasted steam, ash and pebbles up to 10 to 15 kilometers (6 to 9 miles) into the sky in a dramatic escalation of its growing restiveness, which began last year.

    The volcanology institute raised the danger level around Taal three notches on Sunday to level 4, indicating “a hazardous eruption may happen within hours or days,” said Renato Solidum, who heads the volcanology institute. Level 5, the highest, means a hazardous eruption is underway and could affect a larger area.

    There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, but authorities scrambled to evacuate more than 6,000 villagers from an island in the middle of a lake, where the volcano lies, and tens of thousands more from nearby coastal towns, officials said.

    “We have asked people in high-risk areas, including the volcano island, to evacuate now ahead of a possible hazardous eruption,” Solidum said.

    Renelyn Bautista, a 38-year-old housewife who was among thousands of residents who fled from Batangas province’s Laurel town, said she hitched a ride to safety from her home with her two children, including a 4-month-old baby, after Taal erupted and the ground shook mildly.

    “We hurriedly evacuated when the air turned muddy because of the ashfall and it started to smell like gunpowder,” Bautista said by phone.

    International and domestic flights were suspended Sunday night at Manila’s international airport “due to volcanic ash in the vicinity of the airport” and nearby air routes, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said.

    Taal lies more than 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Manila.

    The institute reminded the public that the small island where the volcano lies is a “permanent danger zone,” although fishing villages have existed there for years. It asked nearby coastal communities “to take precautionary measures and be vigilant of possible lake water disturbances related to the ongoing unrest.”

    Heavy to light ashfall was reported in towns and cities several kilometers (miles) from the volcano, and officials advised residents to stay indoors and don masks and goggles for safety. Motorists were hampered by poor visibility, which was worsened by rainy weather.

    Plumes of smoke and ash rise from as Taal Volcano erupts Sunday Jan. 12, 2020, in Tagaytay, Cavite province, outside Manila, Philippines (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

    Hotels, shopping malls and restaurants line an upland road along a ridge overlooking the lake and the volcano in Tagaytay city, a key tourism area that could be affected by a major eruption.

    Authorities recorded a swarm of earthquakes, some of them felt with rumbling sounds, and a slight inflation of portions of the 1,020-foot (311-meter) volcano ahead of Sunday’s steam-driven explosion, officials said.

    Classes in a wide swath of towns and cities were suspended Monday, including in Manila, to avoid health risks posed by the ashfall.

    One of the world’s smallest volcanoes, Taal is among two dozen active volcanoes in the Philippines, which lies along the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a seismically active region that is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

    About 20 typhoons and other major storms each year also lash the Philippines, which lies between the Pacific and the South China Sea, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 1:38 pm on January 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano had a spectacular eruption this week", , , , Vulcanology   

    From EarthSky: “Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano had a spectacular eruption this week” 


    From EarthSky

    January 9, 2020
    Deborah Byrd

    El Popo erupts! Well, it erupts often, but Thursday morning’s eruption – which happened at sunrise – was a beauty. El Popo is the nickname for Mexico’s most active volcano, Popocatépetl, near Mexico City. The eruption Thursday caused officials to issue a yellow alert.

    The active volcano Popocatépetl – just 43 miles (70 km) southeast of Mexico City, and visible from there when atmospheric conditions permit – erupted Thursday morning, January 9, 2020, spewing ash high into the air and oozing lava. Popocatépetl is affectionately called El Popo by Mexicans. It’s one of Mexico’s most active volcanoes. Officials say no one was hurt as a result of Thursday’s eruption. However, because it’s so near Mexico City, many cameras were trained on it. The sunrise light on the erupting volcano was a sight to see.

    Spectacular eruption from one of Mexico’s most active volcanoes, Popocatepetl, Thursday morning. Image via @webcamsdemexico on Twitter.

    Officials said the eruption sent up a column of smoke about 2 miles (3 km) into the air, with a moderate ash content.

    NOAA’s GOES 16 satellite caught the eruption from space.

    NOAA GOES-16

    Popocatépetl has low- or medium-level eruptions often, and at times erupts more or less continuously. It has had more than 15 major eruptions since the arrival of the Spanish in 1519, according to Wikipedia.

    This morning’s eruption was a beauty, though! In part because of its location so near Mexico City, many cameras are trained on the volcano, and thus the January 9, 2020, eruption has been well documented so far, at this writing mostly on Twitter and YouTube.

    A gorgeous shot of Popocatépetl on January 9, 2020, as the sun rose on its eruption. Image via @nuriapiera on Twitter.

    By the way, after Thursday’s eruption, official issued a “yellow phase 2.” The translation for this “AmarilloFase2” – explained in the tweet below – is as follows:

    “Preventive actions for the alert level #AmarilloFase2: Stay tuned for official information. Prepare important documents. Perform drills and know the location of temporary shelters. Develop a family plan for Civil Protection.”

    See the full article here .

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    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.

  • richardmitnick 12:38 pm on January 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Crater From Giant Meteorite Strike Might Be Hidden Under Volcanic Plateau", Although the evidence they present is thorough it’s not quite rock-solid., , , Earth Observatory of Singapore, , New York Times, PNAS, , The first clue to the meteorite’s impact site came from the bits of glassy debris called tektites that it launched into the air about 800000 years ago., Ultimately a lava field in southern Laos turned up promising results., Vulcanology   

    From smithsonian.com: “Crater From Giant Meteorite Strike Might Be Hidden Under Volcanic Plateau” 

    From smithsonian.com

    January 10, 2020
    Theresa Machemer

    A large meteorite can launch bits of molten rock into the atmosphere when it impacts Earth. When that molten rock cools, it forms tektites, shown here. (Photo by Robert Eastman / Alamy Stock Photo)

    Debris from the strike scattered across Earth, but the exact point of impact has been a mystery.

    The impact of a meteorite ranges from an Alabama woman’s giant bruise to the end of the dinosaurs. But one meteorite’s crater has eluded scientists for almost a century, despite the fact that it scattered glass confetti across one-tenth of the Earth’s surface. Now, experts at the Earth Observatory of Singapore have released a study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, providing new evidence for the crater’s location.

    The first clue to the meteorite’s impact site came from the bits of glassy debris, called tektites, that it launched into the air about 800,000 years ago. The tektites landed across Antarctica, Australia and Asia, so geologist Kerry Sieh searched for signs of the crater in satellite imagery. Sieh’s search has taken years and led him down many dead-ends, Katherine Kornei reports for the New York Times-Hints of Phantom Crater Found Under Volcanic Plateau in Laos, but ultimately a lava field in southern Laos turned up promising results. There, volcanic eruptions long ago covered the land in molten rock, building a layer of igneous rock up to 1,000 feet deep, which could have easily obscured the impact crater.

    The research team began by analyzing previously published chemical characteristics of tektites found in Australia and Asia, and found evidence linking them to the Laotian lava field. They then estimated the age of the tektites and lava flows—the lava at the suspect site was younger than the lava around it—and measured the local gravitational field of the lava bed. Craters are often filled with less dense material that was broken apart on impact, and Sieh’s findings of a weaker gravitational pull provide more evidence of the impact crater’s existence.

    “There have been many, many attempts to find the impact site,” Sieh tells CNN’s Michelle Lim [A huge meteorite smashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. We may have finally found the crater]. “But our study is the first to put together so many lines of evidence, ranging from the chemical nature of the tektites to their physical characteristics, and from gravity measurements to measurements of the age of lavas that could bury the crater.”

    By the new study’s calculations, the meteorite was about 1.2 miles wide and created a crater 8 miles wide and 11 miles long. It would have struck our planet at a speed fast enough to melt the Earth beneath it, material that was thrown into the air to create tektites. The impact also would have sent boulders flying at 1,500 feet per second, Leslie Nemo writes for Discover [Found: Crater From Asteroid Impact That Covered 10% of Earth’s Surface in Debris], some of which Sieh spotted in a hill that was cut through by a road a few miles away from the suspected impact site.

    Although the evidence they present is thorough, it’s not quite rock-solid. In a commentary [PNAS] that accompanied the study, impact crater expert Henry Melosh writes that Sieh and his team “present the best candidate yet for the long-sought source crater,” but adds, “one of my impact-savvy colleagues read the paper and was unconvinced. As with all possible impact craters, proof will rest on finding shock-metamorphosed rocks, minerals, and melt.”

    Melosh points out that the crater is smaller than previously expected for this meteorite, and that it would have had to land at an unusually shallow angle to create the oval shape that Sieh’s team proposes. To provide the strongest evidence that this is the crater they’ve been looking for, scientists would have to drill through the lava flows, which are in a tropical jungle, and recover rock samples from below.

    Sieh tells Nemo that he would be supportive of anyone who wants to complete that work.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 9:55 am on January 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists find evidence that Venus has active volcanoes", , , , , , Universities Space Research Association, Vulcanology   

    From Universities Space Research Association via phys.org: “Scientists find evidence that Venus has active volcanoes” 


    From Universities Space Research Association



    January 3, 2020
    Suraiya Farukhi

    This figure shows the volcanic peak Idunn Mons (at 46 degrees south latitude, 214.5 degrees east longitude) in the Imdr Regio area of Venus. The colored overlay shows the heat patterns derived from surface brightness data collected by the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS), aboard the European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft. Credit: NASA

    ESA VIRTIS Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer

    ESA/Venus Express

    New research led by Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and published today in Science Advances shows that lava flows on Venus may be only a few years old, suggesting that Venus could be volcanically active today—making it the only planet in our solar system, other than Earth, with recent eruptions.

    “If Venus is indeed active today, it would make a great place to visit to better understand the interiors of planets,” says Dr. Justin Filiberto, the study’s lead author and a Universities Space Research Association (USRA) staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI). “For example, we could study how planets cool and why the Earth and Venus have active volcanism, but Mars does not. Future missions should be able to see these flows and changes in the surface and provide concrete evidence of its activity.”

    Radar imaging from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft in the early 1990s revealed Venus, our neighboring planet, to be a world of volcanoes and extensive lava flows.

    NASA/Magellan spacecraft mission to Venus, May 4, 1989-Oct. 13, 1994

    In the 2000s, the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Venus Express [above] orbiter shed new light on volcanism on Venus by measuring the amount of infrared light emitted from part of Venus’ surface (during its nighttime).

    These new data allowed scientists to identify fresh versus altered lava flows on the surface of Venus. However, until recently, the ages of lava eruptions and volcanoes on Venus were not well known because the alteratiion rate of fresh lava was not well constrained.

    Dr. Filiberto and his colleagues recreated Venus’ hot caustic atmosphere in the laboratory to investigate how the observed Venusian minerals react and change over time. Their experimental results showed that an abundant mineral in basalt—olivine—reacts rapidly with the atmosphere and within weeks becomes coated with the iron oxide minerals—magnetite and hematite. They further found that the Venus Express observations of this change in minerology would only take a few years to occur. Thus, the new results by Filiberto and coauthors suggest that these lava flows on Venus are very young, which in turn would imply that Venus does indeed have active volcanoes.

    See the full article here .


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    USRA is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology.


    USRA was founded in 1969, near the beginning of the Space Age, driven by the vision of two individuals, James Webb (NASA Administrator 1961-1968) and Frederick Seitz (National Academy of Sciences President 1962-1969). They recognized that the technical challenges of space would require an established research base to develop novel concepts and innovative technologies. Together, they worked to create USRA to satisfy not only the ongoing need for innovation in space, but also the need to involve society more broadly so the benefits of space activities would be realized.

  • richardmitnick 12:41 pm on December 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Survey reveals low awareness of volcanic hazards in Australia", , , , Vulcanology   

    From AGU GeoSpace Blog: “Survey reveals low awareness of volcanic hazards in Australia” 

    From From AGU GeoSpace Blog

    19 December 2019
    Jessie Hendricks, MIT

    Over a quarter of respondents weren’t sure when the last eruption occurred.

    Whakaari/White Island, New Zealand. On December 9, 2019, several Australians were among the dozens of tourists who were killed, injured, or went missing when the volcano erupted. Credit: Rfleming/public domain.

    Heather Handley pointed out two large photos on her poster at AGU Fall Meeting last week: a bouncing kangaroo and a dreamy beach scene, two things commonly associated with Australia, where Handley is an associate professor in volcanology at Macquarie University. But Handley wasn’t advertising Australia’s most loved assets. The photos were a lead up to an introduction of one of her country’s lesser known features: volcanoes.

    On December 9, several Australians were among the dozens of tourists who were killed, injured, or went missing after a deadly eruption on Whakaari/White Island in New Zealand. Whakaari/White Island has seen more volcanic activity in the past 10 years than neighboring Australia has seen for 5,000, but according to volcanologists like Handley, the country is not free from the risks of a potential eruption. And according to a new survey conducted by Handley and her colleagues, Australian citizens are mostly unaware of their country’s potential volcanic hazards.

    Handley and colleagues came up with a series of questions for a survey, sent out just last month through social media and flyers, to find out just how much Australians understand the volcanic hazards and risk in their homeland.

    At Fall Meeting, Handley presented the preliminary results from survey responses of over 100 Australians. She found that over 90 percent of respondents are unaware of any preparedness, emergency management plans, or warning systems in Australia for volcanic hazards.

    Over 25 percent of survey takers said they weren’t sure when the last volcanic eruption in mainland Australia occurred (Mt. Gambier, around 5,000 years ago). Additionally, for the statement “I am well aware of the procedures I need to follow in the event of an emergency related to a volcanic eruption,” over 70 percent disagreed, and 60 percent strongly disagreed.

    The survey participants did, however, seem to know that Australia could be impacted by volcanic activity in other countries, with nearly 80 percent agreeing with the statement.

    A 2011 eruption in Chile may be partially responsible for this awareness, Handley said. Volcanic ash produced by that eruption entered Australian airspace, grounding planes and affecting over 100,000 passengers. Australia is also surrounded by several volcanically active countries: New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga.

    Blue Lake, Mount Gambier, South Australia. Credit: Heather Handley.

    A more surprising result for Handley came from the question regarding various levels of concern for natural hazards in their country. For volcanic hazards, about 65 percent of people answered “not at all concerned” and zero people responded “extremely concerned.”

    In the same way the Chile eruption could have contributed to recent understanding of how volcanoes in other countries could impact Australia, Handley attributes the lack of concern for local volcanoes to timescales: the last eruption on the mainland occurred before Europeans colonized Australia.

    But indigenous populations occupied Australia for around 65,000 years before European colonizers arrived, and they were aware of the volcanic hazards. “They did witness eruptions, and they did pass on that knowledge through oral traditions,” Handley said. She’s also looking at combining scientific data with indigenous knowledge to better improve scientists’ understanding of volcanic activity in Australia.

    Handley is just at the start of her surveying and anticipates a shift in future survey responses after the recent eruption on Whakaari/White Island. “It’s probably triggering a few people to think about Australia — what is the risk to us from an eruption that might not be easy to predict,” she said.

    Handley studies the Newer Volcanics Province, a 400-kilometer swath of land stretching from Melbourne to South Australia, home to more than 400 small, previously active volcanoes. Predicting another eruption across such a wide area is tricky, because an eruption could happen anywhere, she said. Handley suspects the Newer Volcanics Province could see another eruption, based on chemical and geophysical signals pointing to magma in Earth’s mantle beneath the Province.

    Handley is also studying how quickly magma travels, which may help predict warning times if volcanic activity starts to increase. But prediction won’t matter much if the public isn’t aware of the risk, or if there is no plan in place in the case of an event in the Newer Volcanics Province, she said.

    Handley hopes her research will help emergency management officials create tools and literature related to volcanic hazards preparedness.

    See the full article here .


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    GeoSpace is a blog on Earth and space science, managed by AGU’s Public Information staff. The blog features posts by AGU writers and guest contributors on all sorts of relevant science topics, but with a focus on new research and geo and space sciences-related stories that are currently in the news.

    Do you have ideas on topics we should be covering? Would you like to contribute a guest post to the blog? Contact Peter Weiss at pweiss@agu.org.

  • richardmitnick 9:44 am on December 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Mount Etna, Vulcanology   

    From AGU GeoSpace Blog: “Forces from Earth’s spin may spark earthquakes and volcanic eruptions at Mount Etna” 

    From From AGU GeoSpace Blog

    26 December 2019
    Erin I. Garcia de Jesus

    New research suggests forces pulling on Earth’s surface as the planet spins may trigger earthquakes and eruptions at volcanoes.

    Seismic activity and bursts of magma near Italy’s Mount Etna increased when Earth’s rotational axis was furthest from its geographic axis, according to a new study comparing changes in Earth’s rotation to activity at the well-known Italian volcano.

    Earth’s spin doesn’t always line up perfectly with its north and south poles. Instead, the geographic poles often twirl like a top around Earth’s rotational axis when viewed from space. Every 6.4 years, the axes line up and the wobble fades for a short time – until the geographic poles move away from the spin axis and begin to spiral once again.

    Polar motion describes the motion of the Earth’s spin axis (shown in orange) with respect to the geographic north and south poles (shown in blue). Over time, the geographic poles appear to spin away from the spin axis when viewed from space and then back again. Viewed from the perspective of someone on Earth, the spin axis instead appears to spiral away from the geographic poles and then spiral back. The motion of the spin pole with respect to the geographic poles fixed to the Earth’s crust is called polar motion. Note: The size and speed of the spiral are greatly exaggerated for clarity. Video credit: NASA/GSFC Science Visualization Studio.

    This phenomenon, called polar motion, is driven by changes in climate due to things like changing seasons, melting ice sheets or movement from tectonic plates. As polar motion fluctuates, forces pulling the planet away from the sun tug at Earth’s crust, much like tides due to the gravitational pull from the sun and moon. The tide from polar motion causes the crust to deform over the span of seasons or years. This distortion is strongest at 45 degrees latitude, where the crust moves by about 1 centimeter (0.4 inches) per year.

    Now, a new study published in AGU’s journal Geophysical Research Letters suggests that polar motion and subsequent shifts in Earth’s crust may increase volcanic activity.

    “I find it quite exciting to know that while climate drives Earth’s spin, its rotation can also drive volcanoes and seismicity,” said Sébastien Lambert, a geophysicist at Paris Observatory in France and lead author of the study.

    The new findings, however, don’t allow scientists to forecast volcanic activity. Although the study suggests earthquakes might be more common or volcanic eruptions may eject more lava when the distance between Earth’s geographic and rotational axes is at its peak, the timescale is too large for meaningful short-term forecasts, according to the authors.

    But the results point to an interesting concept. “It’s the first time we’ve found this relationship in this direction from Earth’s rotation to volcanoes,” Lambert said. “It’s a small excitation process, but if you accumulate a small excitation over a long time it can lead to measurable consequences.”

    Shaking Earth

    Previous work [not presented here] has shown the length of a day on Earth, which changes based on the speed of Earth’s spin, also deforms the crust and could affect volcanic behavior. In the new study, Lambert and his colleague, Gianluca Sottili, a volcanologist from Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, wanted to study the relationship between polar motion and volcanic activity.

    They focused on Mount Etna because the volcano is well-studied, meaning there’s plenty of data, and it sits just south of 45 degrees latitude. There also weren’t any volcanic crises out of the ordinary at Mount Etna during the study period, which might otherwise mask the signal from polar motion.

    An image of an eruption at Mount Etna on October 30, 2002 from the International Space Station. The eruption, triggered by a series of earthquakes, was one of the most vigorous in years. Ashfall was reported in Libya, more than 350 miles away. Credit: NASA

    Lambert and Sottili used seismic records from 11,263 earthquakes that happened within 43 kilometers (26.7 miles) of Mount Etna’s summit between 1999 and 2019. The team also used records of how much magma erupted from the volcano since 1900. They included 62 eruptions in the analysis, based on the time span between events.

    The pair then compared the distance between the geographic and rotational poles at the time each event occurred to determine whether volcanic activity was connected to Earth’s rotation.

    Lambert and Sottili discovered there were more earthquakes when Earth’s rotational pole was furthest from the geographic axis – at the point in Earth’s top-like spin when it looks like it is about to fall over. Between 1999 and 2019, those peaks were in 2002 and 2009. An expected peak in 2015 never materialized because one of the oscillations contributing to polar motion has been slowing down.

    The team also uncovered a link between the amount of magma ejected during an eruption. Polar motion appears to drive the largest eruptions from Mount Etna, although to a lesser extent than its seismic activity, according to the researchers.

    Examining volcanoes in the Ring of Fire to see if Earth’s spin impacts their activity would surely be interesting, Sottili said, who was senior author of the study. Even expanding to other planets might open scientists’ view of how external forces impact volcanoes on the surface, he added.

    See the full article here .


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    GeoSpace is a blog on Earth and space science, managed by AGU’s Public Information staff. The blog features posts by AGU writers and guest contributors on all sorts of relevant science topics, but with a focus on new research and geo and space sciences-related stories that are currently in the news.

    Do you have ideas on topics we should be covering? Would you like to contribute a guest post to the blog? Contact Peter Weiss at pweiss@agu.org.

  • richardmitnick 8:24 am on December 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Vulcanology   

    From The New York Times: “A 3D Encounter With a Violent Volcano’s Underbelly” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Dec. 18, 2019
    Robin George Andrews

    Lava flows on Réunion Island from Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, during a 2015 eruption.Credit RICHARD BOUHET/AFP via Getty Images

    Réunion, a French island in the western Indian Ocean, is a jigsaw of two massive shield volcanoes. The younger, Piton de la Fournaise or “peak of the furnace,” is a furious factory of lava, erupting every eight months on average over the last four decades.

    The Piton de la Fournaise volcano on Réunion Island. http://www.brianiannone.com/

    That hellish environment makes it an ideal real-world laboratory for studying the internal viscera of volcanoes, about which scientists know surprisingly little. The more they map out, the better they grow to understand why, how and when volcanoes all over the world will next erupt.

    In a study published this month in Scientific Reports, volcanologists reported using a novel technique to map out 58 square miles of Piton de la Fournaise’s shadowy underworld. Their survey revealed a 3D view of its insides, from the plumbing network of superheated hydrothermal fluids to scores of faults that allow magma to sneak up to the surface during eruptions.

    The success of this technique on Réunion means that it could be deployed elsewhere, said Marc Dumont, a geophysicist at the Sorbonne University in Paris and the lead author of the study, from lava effusing mountains like Hawaii’s Kilauea to the more explosive peaks in the volcanic spine running up America’s Pacific Northwest.

    Lava erupts from a fissure in the Leilani Estates neighbourhood near Pahoa on the island of Hawaii, on May 24. (Grace Simoneau/FEMA via Associated Press)

    Piton de la Fournaise is a byzantine volcano, comprehensively monitored by scientists as it is regularly modified by eruptions. Spidery tendrils of magma escape through lines of weakness. When molten material meets the groundwater cycling through the volcano’s uppermost segments, powerful explosions can happen without warning, much like the lethal detonations that recently rocked New Zealand’s White Island. Old faults can suddenly slip and cause parts of the volcano to catastrophically collapse.

    These features control how future eruptions manifest, so finding out where they are is of paramount importance.

    An example of the 3D models produced by the research.Credit via Marc Dumont

    One way to locate these subterranean features is to use instruments to see how well the rocks below conduct electricity. Scorching, circulating water is highly conductive. Old volcanic rock that has been degraded by it has water inside its Swiss cheese-like holes, making it relatively conductive. Newly cooled, structurally sound lava flows are much more electrically resistant.

    Deploying electrical resistivity-detecting instruments on an active volcano can be both dangerous and time consuming. Often, expeditions must choose between a high-resolution underground map of a small area or a low-resolution map of a larger space.

    Scientists had previously traipsed across the Piton de la Fournaise by foot, deploying equipment to reveal parts of its internal structure. To speed things up, they took to a helicopter.

    Hewing disquietingly close to the volcano over four days in 2014, the helicopter’s winch held a sizable hoop that could electrically excite the rocks below. In response, electromagnetic threads snaked back up from the volcano, which were detected by the helicopter. These invisible strings differed, depending on the properties of the rocks, which allowed scientists to identify individual ingredients and layers of Réunion’s youthful volcanic cake down to a depth of 3,300 feet.

    Scientists were previously aware of the existence of some of the volcano’s rift zones, faults and fluid networks. But they now have a 3D schematic providing an unparalleled peek into the volcano’s active subsurface, showing with precision where its magmatic appendages and pathways, rocky scars and hydrothermal pipes are in relation to each other.

    “Our continuing ability to image the internal structure of volcanoes in 3D is revolutionizing how we understand volcanism,” said Sam Mitchell, a submarine volcanologist not involved with the work, and who recently joined an aquatic voyage to peer into the heart of a massive underwater volcano near Oregon. No matter which volcano is being mapped, he said, the goal of these projects is the same: to identify hazards and save lives.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 8:41 am on December 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Four large quakes in two months jolt southern Philippines", , , , , Vulcanology   

    From temblor: “Four large quakes in two months jolt southern Philippines” 


    From temblor

    December 11, 2019
    Alka Tripathy-Lang

    In the past two months, four quakes between magnitude-6.4 to -6.8 ruptured southwest of Mount Apo, a quiet stratovolcano near Davao City, in the Philippines. The third of these large temblors was potentially volcanic in origin, and the most recent earthquake was the largest, striking a region already reeling from the three previous events and their aftershocks.

    Citation: Tripathy-Lang, Alka (2019), Four large quakes in two months jolt southern Philippines, Temblor, http://doi.org/10.32858/temblor.059

    In March 1991, on the northern Philippine island of Luzon, a sleepy, lushly vegetated beast began to shake itself awake from a 500-year slumber. Mount Pinatubo’s warning signals began when earthquakes jostled nuns living on its flanks. Scientists at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) sprang into action soon after. With the help of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the researchers deployed portable seismometers to monitor the burgeoning unrest. As activity increased, PHIVOLCS began to evacuate the local population, with about 58,000 people eventually removed from harm’s way (Wolfe and Hoblitt, 1996).

    On the afternoon of June 15, 1991, Mount Pinatubo unleashed the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. Tens of thousands of lives were saved, and the actions of PHIVOLCS in conjunction with the USGS have been heralded as an example of successful volcanic forecasting (Tayag et al., 1996).

    Clouds of volcanic ash and gas rise above Mount Pinatubo, Philippines, June 12, 1991, three days before the cataclysmic eruption. Credit: USGS

    Today, PHIVOLCS continues to monitor volcanoes and earthquakes—hazards inherent to a nation built on an archipelago of volcanoes sitting atop a subduction zone. Recently, the organization has had to contend with a curious set of earthquakes [PHIVOLCS] near another volcano that has not been obviously active in the recent past. Whether the quakes are merely tectonic—or are being triggered by a volcano that is perhaps awakening—is unknown.

    A trio of temblors

    On Oct. 16, 2019, a magnitude-6.4 earthquake rocked the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, causing landslides and collapsing buildings in the immediate region, according to PHIVOLCS. On Oct. 29, a M 6.6 earthquake struck only 25 kilometers to the northeast. Two days later, a third large earthquake, this one M 6.5, struck about 10 kilometers to the northeast of the second, with both later events wreaking havoc on an already reeling local population. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of the Philippines reported that 23 people were killed, 563 were injured, and 11 are missing, with the dead ranging in age from 6 months to 91 years. Causes of death include landslides, falling debris, cardiac arrest, and other earthquake-related traumas.

    Map generated November 13, 2019, showing earthquakes from the previous month, including the three large magnitude-6.4 to -6.6 quake that progressed toward Mount Apo. The December 15 magnitude-6.8 earthquake has been added. Credit: Ross Stein, Temblor

    A landslide that buried houses in its path near Kidapawan City was triggered by the Cotabato earthquake sequence in October. Credit: PHIVOLCS

    Although the locations of the first three earthquakes follow a northeast trend, PHIVOLCS reports that they occurred on the Cotabato fault system, a series of predominantly northwest-southeast trending faults. The Cotabato fault system shows left-lateral strike-slip motion, according to a USGS Scientific Investigations Report. During strike-slip faulting, the two sides of a fault move past each other along a near-vertical fault plane.

    On Dec. 15, 2019, a M 6.8 earthquake jolted the same region. Just a few tens-of-kilometers southeast of the track of the October temblors, this event was the largest of the set of four quakes, and three people, including a 6-year-old girl, have been killed. Because structures were already weakened by the October earthquakes, damage is likely to be even more significant.

    A different kind of quake

    PHIVOLCS reports that all three October earthquakes were tectonic, which means that one side of the fault plane moved past the other because tectonic stress needed to be released. However, the Oct. 31 M 6.5 earthquake may be more complicated.

    For earthquakes greater than M 5.0, scientists use seismic waves produced by the earthquake, measured at multiple seismic stations, to calculate a “moment tensor,” which is a mathematical representation of how a fault moves during an earthquake. Simple tectonic earthquakes typically involve movement along a planar surface. One side moves past the other, and this is clear in the moment tensor solution. Gavin Hayes, a research geophysicist at USGS who calculates and verifies moment tensors, says that more complicated seismic events instead involve movement of curved faults, or multiple planes that are not perpendicular to one another; such multi-planar behavior is evident from the moment tensor solutions he calculates. These types of seismic events have myriad causes, including volcanic eruptions, landslides, fluid migration, and highly complex tectonic earthquakes, he says.

    The Oct. 31 M 6.5 earthquake has an astoundingly high level of multi-planar behavior, as reported by the USGS. Hayes examines each multi-planar event in more detail than simple tectonic quakes, and for this particular earthquake, the degree to which it could be described as a single plane versus multi-planar varies. However, he notes that another repository of moment tensors calculated using a different method, the Global Centroid Moment Tensor Catalog (gCMT), “also has a large-ish [multi-planar] component for this earthquake.” In other words, both the USGS and gCMT algorithms arrive at a similar moment tensor solution that indicates this event was unlikely to be a typical tectonic temblor.

    The most recent Dec.15 M 6.8 quake also has a higher-than-usual level of multi-planar behavior, as reported by the USGS, although not as high as the Oct. 31 event.

    Rarity of large volcanic quakes

    In an area replete with volcanoes, like the Philippines, a common question is whether earthquakes are linked with volcanic activity. Hayes notes that “While large [multi-planar] components in volcanic earthquakes are possible … very large volcanic earthquakes are rare.”

    Hayes hypothesizes that assuming a simple tectonic earthquake is not a bad assumption, in most cases. “While large [multi-planar] components in volcanic earthquakes are possible … very large volcanic earthquakes are rare.”

    Jackie Caplan-Auerbach, a seismologist at Western Washington University who studies seismic signals associated with volcanoes and landslides, agrees. “It’s not unheard of that volcanoes will have larger events that are off to the side. [But] a bunch of tiny earthquakes is more alarming than a few big ones, and there’s not a clear link between tectonic earthquakes and volcanic eruptions,” she says.

    In other words, large earthquakes are usually tectonic, and when looking for seismic indicators of volcanic activity, small earthquakes below a volcano are more important than nearby big ones.

    Tiny temblors under a quiescent volcano

    According to PHIVOLCS, the nearest active volcanoes to these earthquakes are Matutum Volcano (~46 kilometers away) and Parker Volcano (~76 kilometers away), both of which are to the southwest, in the opposite direction of the propagation of the quakes. However, Ross Stein, geophysicist and CEO of Temblor, notes that these earthquakes “seem to be propagating toward volcanoes Mount Apo and Mount Talomo,” neither of which is active, according to PHIVOLCS.

    Mount Apo, a reticent stratovolcano near Davao City, the third largest city in the Philippines. Credit: Robert Anton Pimentel Aparente, CC BY-SA 4.0

    Mount Talomo is listed as inactive, and Mount Apo as “potentially active,” which PHIVOLCS defines as “morphologically young-looking, but with no historical or analytical records of eruption.” Mount Apo also emits sulfurous gases and supports a geothermal energy production facility, but otherwise, it quietly watches over Davao City, the third-most populous city in the Philippines.

    Stein says that because the volcanoes are about 15 kilometers northwest of the third, “peculiar” earthquake, “I would not expect seismicity there to be tectonic aftershocks, but, instead, events related to the volcano that were stimulated by the quake.” And indeed, Stein and Temblor scientist Geoffrey Ely found just that. “By permission from PHIVOLCS, Temblor pings the PHIVOLCS catalog every minute, and shows the past month of their quakes in the app.”

    In this 30-day time series, the x-axis shows time, starting with the first large earthquake (magnitude-6.4) on Oct. 16. The y-axis shows distance from Mount Apo, with both volcanoes labeled. The light blue band shows the region around Mount Apo and Mount Talomo. The initiation of seismicity below these volcanoes after the magnitude-6.5 earthquake is evident. Credit: Geoffrey Ely, Temblor

    In this time series, the first quake (M 6.4) shows the expected mainshock-aftershock sequence typical of tectonic earthquakes, with aftershocks decreasing over time. The second quake (M 6.6) similarly does not appear to trigger any seismicity in the blue band. However, the third quake (M 6.5) appears to have provoked many small earthquakes underneath the volcanoes, which, Stein says, is to be expected for a waking volcano. The fourth quake is not included in this analysis.

    Peggy Hellweg, a seismologist at the Berkeley Seismology Lab who has experience with volcano-tectonic earthquakes, says, “the nearby magnitude 6.5 triggered some unrest at the volcano, based on seismicity under it starting at that time. Whether it will erupt or not is a completely different question.” She says that based on the time series, any unrest is quieting down, and to ascertain whether this behavior is normal or anomalous, “it would certainly be great to see a much longer seismicity time series.”

    December quake analysis

    The December earthquake may come as no surprise to those who live in the Philippines. However, for earthquake scientist Wendy Bohon, four earthquakes between M 6.4-6.8, though not unprecedented, is unusual. She says “I’d be interested to see if that’s typical behavior of those fault systems, or if we have records far enough back to determine that.” Using the IRIS Earthquake Browser, which catalogs earthquakes recorded by the Global Seismographic Network since 1970, she notes that these four M 6.4-6.8 quakes are the only large events in the region southwest of Davao City in the IRIS/USGS catalog.

    Paleoseismology investigations, where scientists dig trenches along a fault to find evidence of past movement, have not been published, so much of this area’s earthquake history is hidden beneath basin sediments, which, according to Bohon, are particularly hazardous because of liquefaction concerns.

    Nevertheless, the four temblors and their aftershocks are clearly signaling that something is going on that merits close attention.

    Map generated December 15, 2019 showing the locations of the magnitude-6.8 mainshock and most recent aftershocks. Credit: Ross Stein, Temblor

    PHIVOLCS disaster response

    After the first three earthquakes, PHIVOLCS increased its monitoring efforts near Matutum and Parker, the known active volcanoes in the opposite direction. Also, after the October shocks, they sent a quick response team that, in addition to assessing damage, established portable seismic stations near the earthquake epicenters, which included an additional station on Mount Apo.

    Regional seismic stations, both temporary and permanent, on Mindanao Island. Credit: PHIVOLCS

    Further, according to a PHIVOLCS media release, their quick response teams are engaging in both earthquake and volcanic hazard assessment and conducting informational campaigns to calm the local population. Their immediate concerns focus on aftershocks and their potential to remobilize landslides, cause flash floods and precipitate liquefaction, among other seismic hazards. This is expected, considering there is no clear threat from any nearby volcano, and will likely continue in the aftermath of the December earthquake.

    “It’s something”

    Caplan-Auerbach says that the earthquakes progressing toward Mount Apo are intriguing, and the question of whether there is any indication of volcanic unrest is a reasonable one. However, she says, “there’s no [historic] record of [these volcanoes] doing anything. That’s the challenge.”

    On the other hand, Stein says, “the least astonishing conclusion is that all three [October earthquakes] were strike-slip events, but the third nevertheless ‘turned on’ the volcano, perhaps because it was a little closer. The alternative is that the third quake was a volcanic event, which would account for its ability to trigger volcano seismicity. It’s very hard to avoid the interpretation that there is some volcanic interaction going on here.”

    The multi-planar component of the third earthquake “may be real,” Hellweg says, pointing out that “although it looks like the seismicity is dying down, you never know what the volcano will do next.” Volcanic eruption forecasting is difficult for this exact reason.

    Perhaps these volcanoes are simply tossing and turning in their otherwise deep sleep. As yet, scientists do not have any indicators that an eruption is imminent from any of the volcanoes mentioned here. Yet, Stein says, “there’s a lot of strange things here, and it’s something.”


    Tayag, J., Insauriga, S., Ringor, A. and Belo, M. (1996). “People’s Response to Eruption Warning: The Pinatubo Experience, 1991-1992,” in Fire and Mud: Eruptions and Lahars of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines, eds C. G. Newhall and R. S. Punongbayan (Quezon; Seattle, WA: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and University of Washington Press), 87-106.

    Wolfe, E. W., and Hoblitt, R. P. (1996). “Overview of the eruptions,” in Fire and Mud: Eruptions and Lahars of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines, eds C. G. Newhall and R. S. Punongbayan (Quezon; Seattle, WA: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and University of Washington Press), 3–20.

    See the full article here .


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    Stem Education Coalition

    Earthquake Alert


    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network project

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

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

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

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

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The primary project partners include:

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

    The Earthquake Threat

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

    Part of the Solution

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

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

    System Goal

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

    Current Status

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

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

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


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

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

  • richardmitnick 12:21 pm on December 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "We Finally Know Where That Giant Mass of Pumice Drifting Towards Australia Came From", , GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, , Vulcanology   

    From GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel via Science Alert: “We Finally Know Where That Giant Mass of Pumice Drifting Towards Australia Came From” 

    From From GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel



    Science Alert

    10 DEC 2019

    (NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens)

    A vast raft of floating volcanic rock that appeared in the Pacific Ocean a few months ago has now been traced to an origin.

    This ‘raft’ of lightweight pumice was produced by the eruption of an underwater volcano 50 kilometres (31 miles) off the coast of the Tongan island of Vava’u – around where it was spotted in satellite imagery on August 8.

    It was satellite imagery that helped an international team of geologists identify the source of the floating rock. On August 6, ESA’s Sentinel-2 satellite captured two clear circular eruption plumes on the surface of the ocean.

    ESA/Sentinel 2

    These smoke rings were located directly above a submarine volcano on the Tofua volcanic arc, a chain of volcanoes on the edge of a tectonic plate that’s moving underneath the plate next to it. The previously unnamed volcano has now been labelled Volcano F by the researchers.

    The team also collected data from seismic monitoring stations, which measure the grumbling movements in Earth’s crust. Volcanic activity is usually accompanied by seismic activity.

    (Brandl et al., J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 2019)

    “Unfortunately, the density of such stations in the region is very low,” said geologist Philipp Brandl of GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany. “There were only two stations that recorded seismic signals of a volcanic eruption. However, their data is consistent with Volcano F as the origin.”

    Using multibeam sonar, the team had previously surveyed the seafloor around the volcano during December 2018 and January 2019. Those data revealed a large central volcanic caldera measuring roughly 8 by 6 kilometres (nearly 5 by 3.7 miles), with a floor 700 metres (2,290 feet) below the surface.

    The top of the caldera cone was just 35 metres from the surface in 2004.


    The rock is itself is a highly porous, low-density stone called pumice. It’s created during volcanic eruptions, when extremely hot, pressurised molten rock is violently spewed from a volcano, and then rapidly cooled and depressurised. This causes a frothing effect in the lava, which captures bubbles of volcanic gas as it cools.

    Vast amounts of pumice can be created in volcanic eruptions. The pumice raft produced by Volcano F initially spanned 136.7 square kilometres (52.8 square miles, about three-quarters of the size of Washington DC), although it subsequently fluctuated a little. The estimated minimum volume of the pumice is 8.2 million to 41 million cubic metres.

    Sailing through the pumice

    Because it has a lower density than water, it floats. The pumice raft is currently drifting towards the north-eastern coast of Australia, home to the Great Barrier Reef. This is exciting to scientists, because the raft is likely to seed the reef with new life, picked up in its travels.

    “Based on past pumice raft events we have studied over the last 20 years, it’s going to bring new healthy corals and other reef dwellers to the Great Barrier Reef,” said geologist Scott Bryan of the Queensland University of Technology in August.

    The discovery that Volcano F produced the pumice is another piece of the puzzle. Although it was only just named, the volcano was actually discovered in 2001, after it disgorged a vast amount of pumice during a September eruption.

    It took about a year, but that pumice raft did eventually reach the east coast of Australia in October 2002, with rocks covered in algae, barnacles, worms and coral that had made the floating rocks their home (pictured below) as they slowly closed the thousands of kilometres between the volcano and the reef.

    (Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network/Smithsonian Institution)

    The debris from this year’s eruption is expected to arrive much more quickly; based on its speed, the raft should be hitting the Great Barrier Reef in late January and early February.

    Because of this apparent importance to marine ecology, and because Volcano F seems very active, the researchers say that it warrants further scientific attention. They hope that, when it makes landfall, they’ll be able to collect some samples to study the geochemistry of the pumice.

    The research has been published in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

    GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel is a world-wide leading institute of marine research. We investigate chemical, physical, biological and geological processes of the seafloor, oceans and ocean margins and their interactions with the atmosphere. We also bridge the gap between basic and applied science in several areas. With this broad spectrum of research initiatives GEOMAR is globally unique. The GEOMAR is a foundation under public law jointly funded by the German federal (90%) and Schleswig-Holstein state (10%) governments. GEOMAR has a staff of approximately 1,000 (2018) individuals and an annual budget of ~80 Million Euros.

  • richardmitnick 1:13 pm on December 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Kilauea Caldera Collapse Caused by a Tiny Leak in Volcano", All these drastic changes are caused by one tiny leak of magma from a reservoir just below the peak., , , , Vulcanology   

    From Science Times: “Kilauea Caldera Collapse Caused by a Tiny Leak in Volcano” 

    Science Times

    From Science Times

    Dec 07, 2019
    Staff Reporter


    In 2018, the state of Hawaii was shaken (literally and figuratively) by the eruption of Mt. Kilauea resulting in the Kilauea caldera collapse. The explosion created a hole more or less 386.5 meters deep or the same length of the One World Trade Center in New York. What is more surprising is that all these drastic changes are caused by one tiny leak of magma from a reservoir just below the peak.

    Lava erupts from a fissure in the Leilani Estates neighborhood near Pahoa on the island of Hawaii. Grace Simoneau/FEMA via AP


    According to the geologists who monitored the Kilauea caldera collapse, these explosive collapses are a common phenomenon. However, the researchers were also able to observe and hypothesize that events like the Kilauea caldera collapse, which happened relatively slower than the common phenomenon, could be happening to volcanoes all over the planet. In an article written by Scientific American, geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson who studies a similar collapse to Kilauea caldera collapse in Bardarbunga, explains, “what we have learned from the two events is that there may not be much warning.” Gudmundsson was not a part of the three new studies about the Kilauea, but his experience with the Bardarbunga proves the theory of the researchers. He also explains that collapses such as the Kilauea caldera collapse are similar to the usual volcanic eruption. However, when the magma chamber underneath the volcano can split apart, and magma can now flow freely, the caldera may collapse.

    Mt. Kilauea has been actively erupting for as long as 2,800 years ago but was first documented in 1823 when Westerners colonized the island. One of the biggest impacts Kilauea’s long history of volcanic eruption happened during its start in 1983 when it began spewing lava out from its Eastern Rift Zone, an area already fractured by fissures.

    To say that the series of eruptions ended with a bang in 2018 is an understatement. Upon the culmination of the eruptions in 2018, the lava lake inside the caldera began to drain, and the lower part of the Eastern Rift Zone suddenly became active, spewing out lava and producing new fissures which, unfortunately, flowed towards habited lands where it destroyed 700 homes and other buildings.

    Scientists observed the whole Kilauea caldera collapse through drones, GPS sensors, thermal cameras, and satellite-based radar, and they are quite surprised by the findings. It’s definitely something that they had not seen before.


    In a study published by Kyle Anderson [Science], a geophysicist at the United States Geological Survey, and his team described how the eruption caused the Kilauea caldera collapse and not the other way around, ending a chicken-or-egg argument on the origin of caldera collapses. The team found out that the same thing happened with Bardarbunga and that the primary reason for the Kilauea caldera collapse is the rifting of the islands because gravity pulls the slope of the volcano towards the sea. This gravitational pull resulted in the opening up of fissures which made magma to leave the reservoir and the lava lake inside the crater. According to the study, when the magma below the caldera disappeared, the rock on its floor crumbled down, and while the caldera floor buckled, it pressurized the underground pathways of magma — this is the cause of the prolonged eruption in the Eastern Rift Zone.

    Anderson explains that before the first Kilauea caldera collapse, only a tiny fraction of the magma was removed, certainly less than 3.5 – 4 percent. Prior to this study [Science], there was no accurate estimation of how much magma drainage is needed to cause a caldera collapse. Through their observations, the team found out that it does not take a lot of magma drainage to cause such collapse as seen with Kilauea caldera collapse. Anderson also explained that another factor that may have contributed to the Kilauea caldera collapse is that the caldera is already weak.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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