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  • richardmitnick 8:28 pm on August 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New eruption at Fagradalsfjall Volcano follows days of seismic swarms", , , , , , Vulcanology   

    From temblor : “New eruption at Fagradalsfjall Volcano follows days of seismic swarms” 


    From temblor


    Melissa Scruggs, Ph.D.

    Eruption at Fagradasfjall. Credit: Edward Marshall.

    After days of elevated earthquake activity on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall volcano began erupting at 1:18 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, local time. Roughly 5,000 earthquakes have been detected on the peninsula since July 30, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office — including a magnitude-5.4 event felt in Reykjavik on July 31. These earthquakes accompanied ground deformation near the site of last year’s eruption, indicating magma movement toward the surface.

    Currently, small lava fountains are erupting from a 300-meter-long (1,000-foot), northeast-southwest trending crack on the northern edge of the 2021 lava flow, according to researchers from the University of Iceland and Icelandic Meteorological Office who surveyed the new eruption. Lava is steadily erupting between five and ten times faster than the lava that erupted at the start of the 2021 eruption. Already, along the fissure, ridges of solidified lava have started to form.

    Fagradalsfjall volcano

    Why is Iceland so volcanically active?

    Iceland is home to 34 active volcanoes, averaging one eruption every four years. Volcanoes are so common in Iceland because of its unique tectonic setting; it is located above a mantle plume — a hot, buoyant bit of Earth’s mantle that rises upwards, bringing magma to the surface — and on top of the plate boundary where the North American and Eurasian plates incrementally inch apart. As the plates move away from each other, hot, less dense mantle rock rises upwards to fill the space in between the plates. High pressures deep in the Earth keep the mantle solid, but at the shallow depths underneath spreading ridges, lower pressures force hot mantle rocks to melt, generating basaltic magma. This process is called decompression melting. The new, buoyant magma ascends through the thin crust, often erupting at linear vents called fissures and creating new land.

    Eruptions at Icelandic volcanoes are generally not explosive. Typically, flows of hot, runny basaltic lava pour out of fissures or fountain toward the sky in what’s called an effusive eruption. Although effusive eruptions are not as violent as their explosive counterparts, lava flows can still damage infrastructure, and large quantities of volcanic gases can affect air quality for nearby populations.

    The 2021 fissure eruption of Fagradalsfjall produced spectacular lava flows, lava fountains and built-up spatter cones along a linear fissure for the first time in roughly six thousand years. A similar eruption is now underway. Credit: Courtesy A. Shevchenko and E. Zorn (GFZ Germany).

    An unsurprising spectacle

    This week’s eruption was not entirely unexpected by scientists monitoring the volcano, as heightened earthquake activity and uplift in the ground surface can indicate magma moving beneath a volcano. As magma travels toward the surface via underground conduits called dikes, the leading tip of the dike can cause the crust to fracture as it tunnels forward, triggering earthquakes.

    Volcano Monitoring—Earthquake signals (educational)

    Similar earthquakes and significant ground deformation occurred in the months before the 2021 eruption of Fagradalsfjall, as a nine kilometer (about five and a half miles) long, narrow body of magma intruded into the rift zone. The dike responsible for this new eruption is located only one kilometer (about half a mile) below the surface, says Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland.

    What can we expect next from Fagradalsfjall?

    Though predicting exactly what a volcano will do in the future is not possible, scientists often use past eruptions to anticipate future eruptive behavior. With few exceptions, Icelandic volcanoes erupt effusively, producing spectacular basaltic lava fountains and flows, along with large quantities of dangerous volcanic gases. Scientists cannot predict exactly when an eruption will begin or end, but instead forecast what might happen, based on changes in volcanic activity.

    In addition to monitoring earthquakes and volcanic gases, scientists are examining lava chemistry to get a better idea of how the magma is changing as the eruption progresses, says Frances Deegan, a volcanologist at the Swedish Research Council. This new batch of magma could have the same origins as the magma involved in last year’s eruption, says Deegan, but scientists will need to compare newly collected samples to the 2021 lavas [above] to determine if there have been significant changes to the magma plumbing system in the past eight months.

    The Icelandic Meteorologic Office expects no damage to infrastructure at the moment, and the Icelandic Civil Defense lowered its Public Safety Level to reflect the lower threat posed by the volcano. For now, the primary problem appears to be negative air quality, which the Icelandic Meteorological Office is monitoring.

    Fagradalsfjall captured the attention of the world last year with its spectacular cones and lavafalls, lava fountains and flows. It seems that in 2022 it is poised to do the same.


    Flis, A. (2022, August 1). A strong burst of nearly 4000 earthquakes occurs in Iceland, causing an increased risk of a new volcanic eruption as we head into August. Severe Weather Europe. https://www.severe-weather.eu/news/powerful-earthquake-swarm-volcano-iceland-seismic-activity-2022-fa/

    Gudmundsson, A., Bazargan, M., Hobé, A., Selek, B., & Tryggvason, A. (2021) Dike-Segment Propagation, Arrest, and Eruption at Fagradalsfjall, Iceland. Presented at the AGU 2021 Fall Meeting, New Orleans, LA and virtual. https://doi.org/10.1002/essoar.10508827.3

    Heimisson, E., & Segall, P. (2020) Physically consistent modeling of dike-induced deformation and seismicity: application to the 2014 Bardarbunga Dike, Iceland. Journal of Geophysical Research Solid Earth. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JB018141

    Jonsdottir, K., Cubuk Sabuncu, Y., Geirsson, H., Klaasen, S., Caudron, C., Lecocq, T., Barsotti, S., Barnie, T., Sigmundsson, F., Oddsson, B., Gudmundsson, M., Parks, M., Fichtner, A., Thrastarson, S., & Paitz, P. (2021) Seismic Monitoring of the 2021 Fagradalsfjall Eruption, SW Iceland. Presented at the AGU 2021 Fall Meeting, New Orleans, LA and virtual. https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2021AGUFM.V23B..05J/abstract

    Further Reading

    Larsen, G. & Guðmundsson, M.T. (2016 March 7). Katla. In: Oladottir, B., Larsen, G. & Guðmundsson, M. T. Catalogue of Icelandic Volcanoes. IMO, UI and CPD-NCIP. Retrieved from http://icelandicvolcanoes.is/?volcano=KRY

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    Earthquake Alert


    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network projectEarthquake 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



    About Early Warning Labs, LLC

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

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

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

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

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

    Earthquake Early Warning Introduction

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

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

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

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

    Earthquake Early Warning Background

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

    Earthquake early warning can provide enough time to:

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

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

  • richardmitnick 8:36 am on August 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Sizing Up Last Year's Eruption in the Canary Islands", , , , , Vulcanology   

    From “Discover Magazine” : “Sizing Up Last Year’s Eruption in the Canary Islands” 


    From “Discover Magazine”

    Erik Klemetti

    A view of the Cumbre Viejo eruption on La Palma seen on November 11, 2021. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

    One of the most damaging volcanic eruptions from 2021 was the event on La Palma in the Canary Islands. The eruption lasted for months and ended up burying a significant part of the communities that had built up on its slopes. Thankfully, it was an eruption that didn’t end up taking lives, but the damage was estimated to be at least $1 billion. As it turns out, the eruption itself compared to others was relatively small, but the human impact was much larger.

    A new study in Nature Scientific Data [below] by Riccardo Civico and others has given us high resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) of the La Palma eruption. These models were built from over 12,000 images to create a map that has a resolution of 0.2 millimetres per pixel (below). That’s 0.007 inches per pixel, or roughly the size of two sheets of paper stacked together on edge. Now that is high resolution! These data mean we can truly size up what happened. It turns out that the lava flows and volcanic debris from the new cone that formed on the volcano were more than impressive.

    High Resolution DEM of the 2021 La Palma Eruption. Credit: Civico and others (2022) in Nature / INVOLCAN.

    Putting a Scale on the Lava

    Over the course of 85 days, the area on the Cumbre Vieja rift on La Palma saw over 7 billion cubic feet (0.2 cubic kilometres) of lava and debris pour out. Although that sounds like a lot, it is 1/7 the size of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption and 1/5 the size of the 2014-15 Holuhraun eruption in Iceland.

    2018 Kīlauea eruption. Credit: USGS.

    The Holuhraun eruption 2014-15. Credit: Iceland Monitor.

    One historic eruption that was pretty close to the same scale as La Palma was the famed 1943-52 Paricutín eruption in Mexico.

    Paricutin, 1946. Photograph by K. Segerstrom, U.S. Geological Survey.

    All these eruptions are good comparisons because they erupted very similar types of lava in similar styles.

    The volcanic cone that was built during the eruption (see above) totalled 1.3 billion cubic feet. To put that in some perspective, that is roughly equal to 15 Great Pyramids of Giza. Not too shabby for 3 months of volcanic activity. All of this was happening at an eruption rate of between ~700-1700 cubic feet per second (20-50 cubic meters per second). That is something around 66-166 tons (60,000-150,000 kilograms) of lava and debris coming out of the vents per second!

    These kinds of numbers are hard to put into any context that we are familiar in our day-to-day life. However, in terms of volcanic eruptions, they really aren’t that out of the ordinary. Volcanic activity is just that vigorous on our planet! Even what is considered a fairly small-to-moderate sized eruption — ranking as a 3 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index — seems astonishing.

    Lava Flow Map for the 2021 La Palma Eruption, using elevation change as a proxy for new lava flow deposits. Credit: Civico and others (2022) in Nature.

    It turns out that the chemical properties of the magma also helped them flow out so far and quickly. The lava itself was rich in alkali elements like sodium and potassium — a lava called a basanite. This type of lava is similar to basalt (the stuff that erupts in Hawai’i) but it is much less viscous (sticky), so it could flow faster and further than its Hawaiian counterpart.

    Right now, Cumbre Viejo on La Palma is relatively quiet as the eruption was declared over in December 2021. There have been occasional earthquake swarms and the ground underneath parts of the new cone are still glowing with the heat of the cooling lava. Maybe La Palma will go back to sleep for 50 years like it did after the 1971 eruption. Maybe it will start erupting again this year. We don’t know (and anyone who says otherwise is selling something). Volcanologists will just keep on monitoring the volcano for signs of potential unrest on this island volcano in the Atlantic.

    Science paper:
    Nature Scientific Data

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 9:23 pm on August 3, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Volcanic super eruptions are millions of years in the making – followed by swift surge", , , Bristol scientists estimate only one of these types of eruptions occur on earth every 20000 years., , , Super-eruptions occur when huge accumulations of magma deep in the Earth’s crust formed over millions of years move rapidly to the surface disrupting pre-existing rock., , Vulcanology, While the magma supplying super eruptions takes place over a prolonged period of time the magma disrupts the crust and then erupts in just a few decades.   

    From The University of Bristol (UK): “Volcanic super eruptions are millions of years in the making – followed by swift surge” 

    From The University of Bristol (UK)

    3 August 2022

    Researchers at the University of Bristol and Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre have discovered that super-eruptions occur when huge accumulations of magma deep in the Earth’s crust formed over millions of years move rapidly to the surface disrupting pre-existing rock.

    Volcanic activity

    Using a model for crustal flow, an international team of scientists were able to show that pre-existing plutons – a body of intrusive rock made from solidified magma or lava – were formed over a few million years prior to four known gigantic super eruptions and that the disruption of these plutons by newly emplaced magmas took place extraordinarily rapidly. While the magma supplying super eruptions takes place over a prolonged period of time the magma disrupts the crust and then erupts in just a few decades.

    The findings, published today in Nature [below], explain these extreme differences in time ranges for magma generation and eruption by flow of hot but solid crust in response to ascent of the magma, accounting for the infrequency of these eruptions and their huge volumes.

    Professor Steve Sparks of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences explained: “The longevity of plutonic and related volcanic systems contrasts with short timescales to assemble shallow magma chambers prior to large-magnitude eruptions of molten rock. Crystals formed from earlier magma pulses, entrained within erupting magmas are stored at temperatures near or below the solidus for long periods prior to eruption and commonly have very short residence in host magmas for just decades or less.”

    This study casts doubt on the interpretation of prolonged storage of old crystals at temperatures high enough for some molten rocks to be present and indicates the crystals derived from previously emplaced and completely solidified plutons (granites).

    Scientists have known that volcanic super-eruptions eject crystals derived from older rocks. However, before this, they were widely thought to have originated in hot environments above the melting points of rock. Previous studies that show the magma chambers for super-eruptions form very rapidly but there was no convincing explanation for this rapid process. While modelling suggested that super-volcanic eruptions would need to be preceded by very long periods of granite pluton emplacement in the upper crust, evidence for this inference was largely lacking.

    Prof Sparks added: “By studying of the age and character of the tiny crystals erupted with molten rock, we can help understand how such eruptions happen.

    “The research provides an advance in understanding the geological circumstances that enable super eruptions to take place. This will help identify volcanoes that have potential for future super-eruptions.”

    Such eruptions are very rare and Bristol scientists estimate only one of these types of eruptions occur on earth every 20,000 years. However such eruptions are highly destructive locally and can create global scale severe climate change that would have catastrophic consequences.

    This project was supported by the Mining company BHP and by NERC.

    Science paper:

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Bristol (UK) is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and was ranked within the top 50 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018.

    The U Bristol (UK) is at the cutting edge of global research. We have made innovations in areas ranging from cot death prevention to nanotechnology.

    The University has had a reputation for innovation since its founding in 1876. Our research tackles some of the world’s most pressing issues in areas as diverse as infection and immunity, human rights, climate change, and cryptography and information security.

    The University currently has 40 Fellows of the Royal Society and 15 of the British Academy – a remarkable achievement for a relatively small institution.

    We aim to bring together the best minds in individual fields, and encourage researchers from different disciplines and institutions to work together to find lasting solutions to society’s pressing problems.

    We are involved in numerous international research collaborations and integrate practical experience in our curriculum, so that students work on real-life projects in partnership with business, government and community sectors.

  • richardmitnick 2:01 pm on June 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Will a Volcanic Eruption Be a Burp or a Blast?", , Geldingadalur volcano - Iceland, Japan’s Ontake volcano., Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaii (US), La Soufrière- a volcano on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent., Mount Stromboli-one of three active volcanoes in Italy., New Zealand’s Whakaari volcano., Nyiragongo-a mountainous volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo., Reykjanes volcano- Iceland, Scientists have begun to decipher the seismic signals that reveal how explosive a volcanic eruption is going to be., Vulcanology,   

    From WIRED : Women in STEM- Arianna Soldati NC State (US); Diana Roman Carnegie Institution for Science (US); Jackie Caplan-Auerbach Western Washington University (US) “Will a Volcanic Eruption Be a Burp or a Blast?” 

    From WIRED

    Robin George Andrews

    Scientists have begun to decipher the seismic signals that reveal how explosive a volcanic eruption is going to be.

    Volcanoes such as the recent outburst in Iceland, seen here on May 24, can switch from effusive to explosive. Much depends on the consistency on the magma itself. Courtesy of Sigurjón Jónsson.

    Last December, a gloopy ooze of lava began extruding out of the summit of La Soufrière- a volcano on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. The effusion was slow at first; no one was threatened. Then in late March and early April, the volcano began to emit seismic waves associated with swiftly rising magma. Noxious fumes vigorously vented from the peak.

    Fearing a magmatic bomb was imminent, scientists sounded the alarm, and the government ordered a full evacuation of the island’s north on April 8. The next day, the volcano began catastrophically exploding. The evacuation had come just in time: At the time of writing, no lives have been lost.

    Simultaneously, something superficially similar but profoundly different was happening up on the edge of the Arctic.

    Increasingly intense tectonic earthquakes had been rumbling beneath Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula since late 2019, strongly implying that the underworld was opening up, making space for magma to ascend. Early in 2021, as a subterranean serpent of magma migrated around the peninsula, looking for an escape hatch to the surface, the ground itself began to change shape. Then in mid-March, the first fissure of several snaked through the earth roughly where scientists expected it might, spilling lava into an uninhabited valley named Geldingadalur.

    Here, locals immediately flocked to the eruption, picnicking and posing for selfies a literal stone’s throw away from the lava flows. A concert recently took place there, with people treating the ridges like the seats of an amphitheater.

    In both cases, scientists didn’t just accurately suggest a new eruption was on its way. They also forecast the two very different forms these eruptions would take. And while the “when” part of the equation is never easy to forecast, getting the “how” part right is especially challenging, especially in the case of the explosive eruption at La Soufrière. “That’s a tricky one, and they nailed it, they absolutely nailed it,” said Diana Roman, a volcanologist at Carnegie Institution for Science (US).

    Volcanologists have developed an increasingly detailed understanding of the conditions that are likely to produce an explosive eruption. The presence or absence of underground water matters, for instance, as does the gassiness and gloopiness of the magma itself. And in a recent series of studies, researchers have shown how to read hidden signals—from seismic waves to satellite observations—so that they may better forecast exactly how the eruption will develop: with a bang or a whimper.

    Something Wicked This Way Comes

    As with skyscrapers or cathedrals, the architectural designs of Earth’s volcanoes differ wildly. You can get tall and steep volcanoes, ultra-expansive and shallowly sloped volcanoes, and colossal, wide-open calderas. Sometimes there isn’t a volcano at all, but chains of small depressions or swarms of fissures scarring the earth like claw marks.

    Lava flows from the Geldingadalur volcano have been relatively languid and predictable. Photograph: Anton Brink/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

    Eruption forecasting asks a lot of questions. Chief among them is: When? At its core, this question is equivalent to asking when magma from below will travel up through a conduit (the pipe between the magma and the surface opening) and break through, as lava flows and ash, as volcanic glass and bombs.

    When magma ascends from depth, it can alter a volcano’s architecture, literally changing the shape of the land above. Migrating magma flows can also force rock apart, generating volcano-tectonic earthquakes. And when the pressure keeping magma trapped underground declines, it liberates trapped gas, which can escape to the surface.

    Eruption forecasters look for any of those three signs: changes in a volcano’s shape, its seismic soundscape, or its outgassing. If you spy changes in all three—changes that are clearly very different from the volcano’s everyday behavior—then “there is no doubt that something is going to happen,” said Maurizio Ripepe, a geophysicist at the University of Florence [Università degli Studi di Firenze] (IT). That something is often, eventually, an eruption.

    Change doesn’t always mean an uptick in activity. Most volcanoes get noisier and twitchier before erupting, but sometimes the opposite is true. Seismologists in Iceland, for example, recorded a drop in volcanic tremor immediately prior to the opening of Reykjanes’ first five fissures. When the sixth drop happened, said Thorbjörg Ágústsdóttir, a seismologist at Iceland Geosurvey [jarðmælingar á íslandi](IS), scientists forecast that a sixth fissure was about to appear—and they were right.

    The “How” of the Equation

    Increasingly, it’s also possible to forecast not just when or if a volcano will erupt, but how.

    Unspooling the history of each specific volcano is key, as individual volcanoes tend to have their own eruptive style. To find it, scientists will examine the geological strata around a volcano, forensically exhuming and examining the remains of old eruptions. The last eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula had occurred 800 years ago, long before the advent of modern science. But because of this sort of detective work, scientists knew that the eruptions there have always been relatively tranquil affairs. If a recent eruption history is available, one documented in real time by scientists, all the better; that’s why scientists knew La Soufrière was likely to speedily switch from an effusive to an explosive eruption style.

    The latest work on eruption forecasting goes far beyond these historical catalogs. Take Stromboli, a volcano barely sticking above the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. This picturesque isle spends much of its time exploding—usually small blasts that harm no one. After studying how it changes shape for two decades, Ripepe and his colleagues have determined that it inflates just before it explodes [Nature Communications]. Moreover, the exact change in shape reveals whether the blast will be major or minor. Since October 2019, the volcano has had an early warning system. It can detect the type of inflation indicative of the most extreme explosions, the sort that have killed people in the past, up to 10 minutes before the blast arrives.

    Stromboli subtly inflates just before it explodes.Photograph: Bruno Guerreiro/Getty Images.

    Stromboli is a relatively simple volcano, though, one in which the plumbing from the magma to the skylight up top remains more or less open. “The magma movement does not generate any fractures. It just comes up,” Ripepe said.

    Most volcanoes are more complicated: They harbor a diverse array of magma types that need to force their way out of the volcano. That means they produce eruptions that “change a lot as they happen,” said Arianna Soldati, a volcanologist at North Carolina State University (US). Over the course of days, weeks, months, or years, an eruption can go back and forth between oozing and exploding. Is it possible to forecast these changes?

    Soldati, Roman, and their colleagues found a way to test this by looking to the Big Island of Hawaii. Kīlauea, near the island’s southeastern coast, had been continuously erupting in some form or another since 1983.

    But in the spring and summer of 2018, the volcano put on a hell of a show: The lava lake at its summit drained away, as if someone had pulled the plug from a bath; magma made its way underground to the eastern flanks of the volcano and tore open cracks in the earth, gushing out of them for three months straight, sometimes shooting skyward as tall fountains of molten rock.

    As this happened, the researchers took lava samples, concentrating on one feature in particular: viscosity. Gloopier, stickier magma traps more gas. When this viscous magma reaches the surface, its gas violently decompresses, creating an explosion. Runnier magma, by contrast, lets gas escape gradually, like a soda left unattended on a table.

    In 2018, the viscosity of the lava on Kīlauea kept changing. Older, colder magma was more viscous, while newly tapped magma from depth was hotter and more fluid.

    A study of the 2018 eruptions on Kīlauea, Hawai‘i, connected the consistency of the magma coming up to specific seismic signals. Courtesy of Cedric Letsch.

    KILAUEA VOLCANO. U.S. Geological Survey.

    Roman and colleagues discovered that they could track these changes by monitoring the seismic waves emerging from the volcano and comparing them with the varying viscosity of the lava they sampled. For reasons yet to be determined, as runnier magma ascends, it forces the rocky walls on either side of it only a little bit apart. Gloopier magma, by contrast, exerts a strong force, pushing open a wider pathway. In a paper published this April in Nature, the researchers showed that they could use seismic waves, which differed depending on the way the rock was forced open, to forecast the change in the erupted lava’s viscosity hours to days in advance of that magma’s eruption.

    “Having found something that tells us, yes, if you have this kind of seismicity, viscosity is increasing, and if it’s above this threshold, it could be more explosive—that is super cool,” said Soldati. “For monitoring and hazards, this actually has the potential to be impactful now.”

    Nanoscopic Nuisances

    Many factors influence magma viscosity. One in particular has been overlooked, mostly because it’s nearly invisible.

    Danilo Di Genova, a geoscientist at the University of Bayreuth [Universität Bayreuth] (DE), studies nanolites—crystals about one-hundredth of the size of your average bacterium. They are thought to form at the top of the conduit as magma gushes up it. If you get enough of these crystals, they can lock up the magma, imprison trapped gas, and increase the viscosity. But unless you have very powerful microscopes to look at freshly erupted lava, they’ll be imperceptible.

    Di Genova has long been interested in how nanolites form. His experiments using silicon oil—a proxy for basalt, a commonplace runny magma—showed that if just 3 percent of an oil-particle mixture is made of nano-size particles, the viscosity spikes.

    He then turned to the real thing. He and his colleagues attempted to simulate what magma would experience as it rose through a conduit to the surface. They subjected lab-melted basaltic rock from Mount Etna to gradual heating, pulses of sudden cooling, hydration, and dehydration. At times, they placed the magma inside a synchrotron, a type of particle accelerator. Within this contraption, powerful x-rays interact with a crystal’s atoms to reveal their properties and—if the crystals are small enough—their existence.

    As reported last year in Science Advances, the experiments gave the team a working model of how nanolites form. If an eruption begins and magma suddenly accelerates up through the conduit, it rapidly depressurizes. That lets water come out of the molten rock and form bubbles, which dehydrates the magma.

    This action changes the thermal properties of the magma, making it a lot easier for crystals to be present even at extremely high temperatures. If the magma’s ascent is sufficiently rapid and the magma is speedily dehydrated, a cornucopia of nanolites comes into being, which significantly increases the magma’s viscosity.

    This change doesn’t give off a noticeable signal. But merely knowing it exists, said Di Genova, may enable researchers to explain why volcanoes with otherwise runny magma, like Vesuvius or Etna, can sometimes produce epic explosions. Seismic signals can trace how quickly magma is ascending, so perhaps that may be used to forecast a last-minute nanolite population boom, one that leads to a catastrophic blast.

    Sweeping Away the Fog

    These advances aside, scientists are still a long way from replacing eruption probabilities with certainties.

    One reason is that “most of the world’s volcanoes are not that well monitored,” said Seth Moran, a research seismologist at the US Geological Survey’s Cascades Volcano Observatory. This includes many of America’s Cascades volcanoes, several of which have a propensity for giant explosions. “It’s not easy to forecast an eruption if there are sufficient instruments on the ground,” said Roman. “But it’s very, very difficult to forecast an eruption if there are no instruments on the volcano.”

    Another problem is that some eruptions currently have no clear-cut precursors. One notorious type is called a phreatic blast: Magma cooks overlying pockets of water, eventually triggering pressure-cooker-like detonations. One rocked New Zealand’s Whakaari volcano in December 2019, killing 22 people visiting the small island. Another shook Japan’s Ontake volcano in 2014, killing 63 hikers.

    New Zealand’s Whakaari volcano gave no warning before it catastrophically exploded in December 2019, killing 22 people.Photograph: Westend61/Getty Images.

    A recent study led by Társilo Girona, a geophysicist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (US), found that satellites can detect gradual, year-over-year upticks in the thermal radiation coming off all sorts of volcanoes in the run-up to an eruption. A retrospective analysis showed that such a temperature increase was detected before Ontake’s 2014 phreatic explosion, with a peak around the time of the event.

    Perhaps monitoring from space will become the best way to see future phreatic eruptions coming. But so far, no successful long-term forecast of a phreatic eruption has taken place. “Phreatic eruptions are terrifying,” said Jackie Caplan-Auerbach, a volcanologist and seismologist at Western Washington University (US). “You really don’t know they’re coming.”

    It’s not just explosions that can prove tricky to forecast. Nyiragongo-a mountainous volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo, suddenly erupted on May 22 of this year, spilling fast-moving lava toward the city of Goma. Despite being monitored, the volcano gave no clear warning it was about to erupt, and several people perished.

    And no matter what type of eruption you are forecasting, the price of a false positive is crippling. “When you evacuate people and nothing happens, then the next evacuation is going to be orders of magnitude more difficult to get people to take seriously,” said Roman.

    But there are reasons to be optimistic. Scientists are grasping the physics underlying all volcanoes better than ever. Individual volcanoes are also becoming more familiar because of “a mixture of instinct and experience and learned knowledge,” said David Pyle, a volcanologist at the University of Oxford (UK). Soon, he predicts, machine learning programs, capable of identifying patterns in data faster than any human, will become a major player.

    Certainty in eruption forecasting—the if, when or how—will probably never come to pass. But day by day, the potentially deadly fog of uncertainty dissipates a little more, and someone who would have died a few decades ago during an eruption now gets to live.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 9:05 pm on May 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hidden magma pools pose eruption risks that we can’t yet detect", , , , Hidden dangers may have been beneath your feet all along., Hidden magma lurking for several hundred years., , Most magma detection relies on seismic imaging., Too small to detect with seismic imaging., Vulcanology, What happens if magma can’t be spotted?   

    From McGill University (CA): “Hidden magma pools pose eruption risks that we can’t yet detect” 

    From McGill University (CA)

    31 May 2021


    Scientists’ ability to estimate eruption risks is largely reliant on knowing where pools of magma are stored, deep in the Earth’s crust. But what happens if the magma can’t be spotted?

    Shane Rooyakkers, a former PhD student at McGill University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and now a postdoctoral scholar at GNS Science (NZ) in New Zealand, grew up in the shadow of Mount Taranaki on the country’s North Island, hiking on the island’s many volcanoes. Now, his research is revealing hidden dangers that may have been beneath his feet all along.

    A new study, published in Geology, explores a threat scientists discovered only recently: surprisingly shallow magma pools that are too small to be detected with common volcano monitoring equipment. Such a magma body was discovered in Iceland in 2009, when scientists with the Iceland Deep Drilling Project accidentally drilled directly into the molten rock two kilometers shallower than the depths where magma had been detected before. Magma began to creep up the drill hole, reaching several meters before it was stopped with cold drilling fluids.

    Hidden magma lurking for several hundred years

    “The new study discovered that this same magma pool belched out a small explosive eruption in 1724. So the magma pool has been lurking for at least several hundred years,” says John Stix, a McGill professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and study co-author.

    Rooyakkers, who is the lead author on the study and completed the work while at McGill University, compared the composition of the quenched magma, which had formed smooth volcanic glass, with rocks from an eruption from that same volcano, Krafla, in 1724. Before his study, scientists thought the shallow magma they drilled into had been created after a series of eruptions in the 1980s. No one expected the hidden magma to be related to the 1724 eruption, so what Rooyakkers found was a surprise.

    “When we looked at the compositions from 1724, we found an almost perfect match for what was sampled during the drilling,” Rooyakkers says. “That suggests that, this magma body has been there since 1724 and has previously been involved in an eruption at Krafla. So that raises the question of, ‘Why did geophysics not pick it up?’”

    Too small to detect with seismic imaging

    The answer is size. Most magma detection relies on seismic imaging, often used by oil companies to detect reserves deep under the seafloor. When there’s an earthquake, the instruments detect how long it takes for sound waves to travel through the crust. Depending on the density of the rocks, the soundwaves return at different times. If there’s water, oil, or magma stored underground, the soundwaves should reflect it. But these hidden magma chambers are too small for these instruments, as well as other detection tools, to find.

    “In traditional approaches to volcano monitoring, a lot of emphasis is placed on knowing where magma is and which magma bodies are active,” says Rooyakkers. “Krafla is one of the most intensely-monitored and instrumented volcanoes in the world. They’ve thrown everything but the kitchen sink at it in terms of geophysics. And yet we still didn’t know there was this rhyolitic magma body sitting at just two kilometers’ depth that’s capable of producing a hazardous eruption.”

    Studies like Rooyakkers’ suggest that smaller, more widely-distributed magma bodies might be more common than previously thought, challenging the conventional view that most eruptions are fed from larger and deeper magma chambers that can be reliably detected.

    Estimating risk more difficult

    Beyond not being able to monitor magmatic activity, planning for eruptions and estimating risks becomes more difficult if scientists suspect that hidden magma bodies could be present. For example, the Krafla volcano is usually dominated by basalt, a type of magma that tends to erupt passively (like the recent eruption at Fagradallsfjall in Iceland) rather than in an explosion. But the hidden magma body at Krafla is made of rhyolite, a magma type that often creates violent explosions when it erupts.

    “So the concern in this case would be that you have a shallow rhyolitic magma that you don’t know about, so it hasn’t been considered in hazards planning,” Rooyakkers explains. “If it’s hit by new magma moving up, you might have a much more explosive eruption than you were anticipating.”

    As scientists become aware of the hazards associated with these shallow, distributed magma systems, they can work on improving monitoring, trying to capture these hidden magma pools. Covering a volcanic area in more detectors may be costly, but by improving the resolution of magma imaging, scientists may save a community or company far more than the cost of the study. The risks vary from volcano to volcano, but in general, as we learn more about these magma systems, scientists concerned with estimating hazards can be aware of the possibility of hidden magma.

    Despite the risks he’s uncovering, will Rooyakkers still live around volcanoes? “Oh yeah, for sure,” he says with a laugh. “I mean, there’s risk with anything, isn’t there?”

    See the full article here .


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    All about
    McGill Unversity (CA)

    With some 300 buildings, more than 38,500 students and 250,000 living alumni, and a reputation for excellence that reaches around the globe, McGill has carved out a spot among the world’s greatest universities.

    Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill (CA) is a leading Canadian post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 11 professional schools, 300 programs of study and some 39,000 students, including more than 9,300 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 8,200 international students making up 21 per cent of the student body.

    McGill University (CA) is a public research university in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Founded in 1821 by royal charter granted by King George IV, the university bears the name of James McGill, a Scottish merchant whose bequest in 1813 formed the university’s precursor, University of McGill College (or simply, McGill College); the name was officially changed to McGill University in 1885.

    McGill’s (CA) main campus is on the slope of Mount Royal in downtown Montreal, with a second campus situated in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, also on Montreal Island, 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of the main campus. The university is one of two universities outside the United States which are members of the Association of American Universities (US), alongside the University of Toronto (CA), and it is the only Canadian member of the Global University Leaders Forum (GULF) within the World Economic Forum.

    McGill (CA) offers degrees and diplomas in over 300 fields of study, with the highest average entering grades of any Canadian university. Most students are enrolled in the five largest faculties, namely Arts, Science, Medicine, Engineering, and Management. With a 32.2% international student body coming to McGill from over 150 countries, its student body is the most internationally diverse of any medical-doctoral research university in the country. Additionally, over 41% of students are born outside of Canada. In all major rankings, McGill consistently ranks in the top 50 universities in the world and among the top 3 universities in Canada. It has held the top position for the past 16 years in the annual Maclean’s Canadian University Rankings for medical-doctoral universities.

    McGill counts among its alumni and faculty 12 Nobel laureates and 147 Rhodes Scholars, both the most of any university in Canada, as well as 13 billionaires, the current prime minister and two former prime ministers of Canada, a former Governor General of Canada, at least eight foreign leaders, 28 foreign ambassadors and more than 100 members of national legislatures. McGill alumni also include eight Academy Award winners, 10 Grammy Award winners, at least 13 Emmy Award winners, four Pulitzer Prize winners, and 121 Olympians with over 35 Olympic medals. The inventors of the game of basketball, modern organized ice hockey, and the pioneers of gridiron football, as well as the founders of several major universities and colleges are also graduates of the university.

    Notable researchers include Ernest Rutherford, who discovered the atomic nucleus and conducted his Nobel Prize-winning research on the nature of radioactivity while working as Professor of Experimental Physics at the university. Other notable inventions by McGillians include the world’s first artificial cell, web search engine, and charge-couple device, among others.

    McGill has the largest endowment per student in Canada. In 2019, it was the recipient of the largest single philanthropic gift in Canadian history, a $200 million donation to fund the creation of the McCall MacBain Scholarships programme.


    Research plays a critical role at McGill. McGill is affiliated with 12 Nobel Laureates and professors have won major teaching prizes. According to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, “researchers at McGill are affiliated with about 75 major research centres and networks, and are engaged in an extensive array of research partnerships with other universities, government and industry in Quebec and Canada, throughout North America and in dozens of other countries.” In 2016, McGill had over $547 million of sponsored research income, the second highest in Canada, and a research intensity per faculty of $317,600, the third highest among full-service universities in Canada. McGill has one of the largest patent portfolios among Canadian universities. McGill’s researchers are supported by the McGill University Library, which comprises 13 branch libraries and holds over six million items.

    Since 1926, McGill has been a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization of leading research universities in North America. McGill is a founding member of Universitas 21, an international network of leading research-intensive universities that work together to expand their global reach and advance their plans for internationalization. McGill is one of 26 members of the prestigious Global University Leaders Forum (GULF), which acts as an intellectual community within the World Economic Forum to advise its leadership on matters relating to higher education and research. It is the only Canadian university member of GULF. McGill is also a member of the U15, a group of prominent research universities within Canada.

    McGill-Queen’s University Press began as McGill in 1963 and amalgamated with Queen’s in 1969. McGill-Queen’s University Press focuses on Canadian studies and publishes the Canadian Public Administration Series.

    McGill is perhaps best recognized for its research and discoveries in the health sciences. Sir William Osler, Wilder Penfield, Donald Hebb, Brenda Milner, and others made significant discoveries in medicine, neuroscience and psychology while working at McGill, many at the University’s Montreal Neurological Institute. The first hormone governing the Immune System (later christened the Cytokine ‘Interleukin-2’) was discovered at McGill in 1965 by Gordon & McLean.

    The invention of the world’s first artificial cell was made by Thomas Chang while an undergraduate student at the university. While chair of physics at McGill, nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford performed the experiment that led to the discovery of the alpha particle and its function in radioactive decay, which won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908. Alumnus Jack W. Szostak was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering a key mechanism in the genetic operations of cells, an insight that has inspired new lines of research into cancer.

    William Chalmers invented Plexiglas while a graduate student at McGill. In computing, MUSIC/SP, software for mainframes once popular among universities and colleges around the world, was developed at McGill. A team also contributed to the development of Archie, a pre-WWW search engine. A 3270 terminal emulator developed at McGill was commercialized and later sold to Hummingbird Software. A team has developed digital musical instruments in the form of prosthesis, called Musical Prostheses.

    Since 2017, McGill has partnered with the University of Montréal [Université de Montréal] (CA) on Mila (research institute), a community of professors, students, industrial partners and startups working in AI, with over 500 researchers making the institute the world’s largest academic research center in deep learning.

  • richardmitnick 8:33 am on May 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Chasing Magma Around Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula", , , , , , In December 2019 Reykjanes Peninsula which juts into the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavík began experiencing intense seismic swarms., On 19 March lava began to erupt from the edge of the intrusion near Fagradalsfjall and Icelanders flocked to the mountains above the fissure to picnic; play football; and observe nature’s lava light, On 24 February a large earthquake measuring magnitude 5.7 jolted the peninsula between Keilir and Fagradalsfjall marking a turning point., Soon thereafter the Icelandic Meteorological Office’s seismic network recorded more than 50000 earthquakes on the peninsula., Vulcanology   

    From Eos: “Chasing Magma Around Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    25 May 2021
    Alka Tripathy-Lang

    Icelandic Meteorological Office seismologist Kristín Jónsdóttir stands on solidified black basalt that glows red from erupting Fagradalsfjall behind her. Credit: Kristín Jónsdóttir.

    In December 2019 Reykjanes Peninsula which juts into the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavík began experiencing intense seismic swarms. Since then, scientists at the Icelandic Meteorological Office have been tracking and monitoring deformation of Earth’s surface as magma pushed (intruded) itself into the shallow crust. Three initial intrusions occurred near Mount Thorbjörn, just outside the town of Grindavík. A fourth intrusion slightly inflated the peninsula’s westernmost tip, and a fifth intrusion leapfrogged back east, beyond Grindavík, to Krýsuvík, according to Sara Barsotti, an Italian volcanologist and coordinator for volcanic hazards at the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

    Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland experienced thousands of earthquakes associated with subterranean magma intrusions in early 2021. The earliest quakes were identified near Mount Thorbjörn and Krýsuvík. The largest earthquake (M5.7) jolted the peninsula between Keilir and Fagradalsfjall. (Keflavik International Airport and the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík are shown for scale.) Fagradalsfjall soon became Iceland’s newest active volcano. Credit: Google Earth.

    More than a year after this unrest began on 24 February, a large earthquake measuring magnitude 5.7 jolted the peninsula between Keilir and Fagradalsfjall “marking a turning point,” Barsotti said.

    Soon thereafter the Icelandic Meteorological Office’s seismic network recorded more than 50,000 earthquakes on the peninsula. Using the monitoring tools at their disposal, scientists found a corridor of magma between Keilir and Fagradalsfjall, said Barsotti. This magma flowed underground for approximately 3 weeks, with earthquakes defining the edges of the subterranean chamber. Then, both seismicity and deformation plummeted.

    At that point, some scientists hypothesized that the intrusion would freeze within the crust, said Kristín Jónsdóttir, a seismologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office. “Then,” she said, “the eruption started.”

    Against a gray sky, orange lava pours and pops out of Fagradalsfjall on the second day of the eruption. In the foreground, cooling lava glows against the black basalt that’s already solidified. Credit: Toby Elliott/Unsplash.

    Keeping Crowds Safe

    On 19 March lava began to erupt from the edge of the intrusion near Fagradalsfjall and Icelanders flocked to the mountains above the fissure to picnic; play football; or simply observe nature’s lava light show. “Icelanders…feel this is part of their life,” said Barsotti. “They really want to enjoy what their country is capable [of giving] them.”

    Because crowds continue to visit the eruption, the Icelandic Meteorological Office meets daily with Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management to ensure the safety of volcano watchers, Barsotti explained. A rescue team is always present, and they use handheld sensors to detect gases that could be dangerous.

    “The big challenge,” Barsotti said, is “[foreseeing] the opening of new vents.” What began as a single vent now boasts eight craters in a row. “People should be [able] to go, but [we must keep] them far away from what we consider to be hazardous.”

    The Icelandic Meteorological Office keeps vigil over this volcano with a variety of techniques. For example, InSAR (interferometric synthetic aperture radar), a satellite-based method, allows scientists to measure differences in topography at centimeter scale. GPS stations help track how the ground itself moves. Passive satellite imagery helps track the progress of toxic clouds, like sulfur dioxide.

    Seismic Monitoring of the Future

    Geoscientists from across Europe have been exploring distributed acoustic sensing, or DAS, to monitor seismicity near Mount Thorbjörn. In April, Sebastian Heimann, a scientist at Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (DE), in Germany, presented the latest results from the ongoing study at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Seismological Society of America.

    At a molecular level, DAS works because fiber-optic cables contain impurities, explained Hanna Blanck, one of Heimann’s coauthors and a doctoral student at the University of Iceland. By sending a laser pulse through a cable, the light will encounter these impurities, she said. When that happens, the light scatters, and a small portion returns toward the laser source. By continuously measuring the returning signal, scientists can look for changes that indicate the cable has moved. Earthquakes have distinct signatures that help differentiate them from, for example, the rumble of a passing car.

    DAS provides several advantages to traditional seismic networks, including higher spatial resolution, said Blanck. Traditional seismic networks are spaced kilometers apart, whereas the spatial resolution Heimann used along the 21-kilometer-long cable was a scant 4 meters.

    “We caught more small earthquakes compared to the conventional methods [likely because] we have many more records along the fiber,”said Philippe Jousset, a coauthor and geophysicist at Helmholtz Centre, describing previous work using the same cable near Mount Thorbjörn. In that study, Jousset and his colleagues, including Blanck, compared the catalog of earthquakes recorded by both DAS and traditional seismic stations.

    “Propagating magma increases the pressure in the surrounding crust, causing many small earthquakes,” said Blanck. More data mean detecting more small earthquakes, which should yield a better picture of magma movement.

    However, “[DAS] is still in its research phase,” said Jónsdóttir, “so it’s not being routinely used by monitoring agencies.” In the future, she said, it will likely complement more established methods in seismology.

    Nevertheless, seismologists and volcanologists often investigate secrets of Earth that cannot be seen, Jónsdóttir said, so holding a freshly formed piece of basalt as lava spews in the background—after hypothesizing the existence of an intrusion in that very location—provides incredible validation.

    See the full article here .


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

  • richardmitnick 9:43 am on May 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hints of Hidden Volcanoes Deep Inside Europa Boost Its Chances of Hosting Alien Life", , , , Vulcanology   

    From Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ) via Science Alert (AU) : “Hints of Hidden Volcanoes Deep Inside Europa Boost Its Chances of Hosting Alien Life” 

    From Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ)



    Science Alert (AU)

    27 MAY 2021

    Europa. (National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/JPL-Caltech (US)/SETI Institute (US))

    Jupiter’s ice-encrusted moon Europa is increasingly looking like the best place in the Solar System to search for extraterrestrial life.

    New modeling suggests that the rocky mantle, deep below the thick ice and salty ocean, could actually be hot enough for volcanic activity. Moreover, it could have been this hot over most of its 4.5-billion year lifespan.

    The finding has direct implications for the possibility of life lurking on Europa’s seafloor.

    “Our findings provide additional evidence that Europa’s subsurface ocean may be an environment suitable for the emergence of life,” said geophysicist Marie Běhounková of Charles University in Prague [Univerzita Karlova](CZ).

    “Europa is one of the rare planetary bodies that might have maintained volcanic activity over billions of years, and possibly the only one beyond Earth that has large water reservoirs and a long-lived source of energy.”

    You might think an icy world far from the life-sustaining warmth of the Sun – where surface temperatures tend to peak at around -140 degrees Celsius (-225 degrees Fahrenheit) – would be an unlikely place to find living organisms, but there’s actually precedent right here on Earth.

    True, most life here does rely on a food web based on photosynthesis… but in some extreme environments, where the Sun never shines, life has found another way.

    In the dark depths of the ocean, too deep for sunlight to penetrate, volcanic vents seep heat into the waters around them. There, life is built on chemosynthesis, bacteria that harness the energy within geochemistry rather than solar energy to produce food.

    With the bacteria come other organisms that can eat them, thus creating an entire ecosystem down there in the dark.

    We know that Europa, beneath its thick shell of ice, harbors a global ocean – we’ve seen liquid water shooting out of cracks in the ice in the form of geysers. We’ve also detected what is very probably salt. This answers some of the conditions for chemosynthetic hydrothermal life as we know it.

    What we don’t know is whether Europa has volcanic activity below its seafloor, opening into vents like they do here on Earth.

    It’s possible; Jupiter’s moon Io is the most volcanic world in the Solar System, due to the constant stresses placed by Jupiter’s gravitational tugging (and possibly the gravitational tugging of the other Jovian moons) that heat the interior.

    Given that Europa is farther from Jupiter than Io, though, doubt remains – so Běhounková and her colleagues decided to try and figure it out.

    They used detailed modeling to simulate the evolution and heating of Europa’s interior from the time of its formation. They found several mechanisms at play that could be working to keep the planet from freezing completely.

    Firstly, heat released by radioactive decay of elements in the mantle likely contributed a significant fraction of the moon’s internal heat, especially early in Europa’s history.

    Over time, though, the changing stresses generated by tidal forces exerted by the moon’s elliptical orbit around Jupiter should have produced ongoing flexing in Europa’s interior.

    This flexing, in turn, produces heat – and it should be sufficient heat to melt rock into magma, resulting in volcanic activity that could be ongoing today, especially in the higher latitudes close to the polar regions.

    These simulations have given scientists signs of this activity to look for when probes such as NASA’s Europa Clipper and the European Space Agency’s JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) mission (due to launch in 2024 and next year respectively) get up close and personal with Europa.

    Gravitational anomalies could suggest the presence of deep magmatic activity, and the anomalous presence of hydrogen and methane in Europa’s thin atmosphere could be the result of chemical reactions occurring at hydrothermal vents. Deposits of fresh oceanic materials on Europa’s surface could indicate subsurface activity too.

    “The prospect for a hot, rocky interior and volcanoes on Europa’s seafloor increases the chance that Europa’s ocean could be a habitable environment,” said Europa Clipper Project Scientist Robert Pappalardo of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who wasn’t involved in the research.

    “We may be able to test this with Europa Clipper’s planned gravity and compositional measurements, which is an exciting prospect.”

    First, however, we’ll have to wait a few more years for the spacecraft to get there. Curse the tyranny of distance!

    The team’s research has been published in Geophysical Research Letters.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Charles University [Univerzita Karlova (CZ)] is the oldest and largest university in the Czech Republic. It is one of the oldest universities in Europe in continuous operation. Today, the university consists of 17 faculties located in Prague, Hradec Králové, and Pilsen. The Charles University belongs to top three universities in Central and Eastern Europe. It is ranked around 200-300 in the world.


    Among the four original faculties of Charles University were: the faculty of law, medicine, art (philosophy) and theology (now catholic theology). Today, Charles University consists of 17 faculties, based primarily in Prague, two houses in Hradec Králové and one in Plzeň.

    Catholic Theological Faculty
    Protestant Theological Faculty
    Hussite Theological Faculty
    Faculty of Law
    First Faculty of Medicine
    Second Faculty of Medicine
    Third Faculty of Medicine
    Faculty of Medicine in Plzeň
    Faculty of Medicine in Hradec Králové
    Faculty of Pharmacy in Hradec Králové
    Faculty of Arts
    Faculty of Science
    Faculty of Mathematics and Physics
    Faculty of Education
    Faculty of Social Sciences
    Faculty of Physical Education and Sport
    Faculty of Humanities

    Academic Institutes

    Institute of the History of Charles University and Archive of Charles University
    Center for Theoretical Study
    Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education (CERGE-EI) together with Czech Academy of Sciences)
    Environment Center

    Other units

    Computer Science Centre
    Centre for Transfer of Knowledge and Technology
    Institute for Language and Preparatory Studies
    Central Library of Charles University
    Agency of the Council of Higher Education Institutions

    Joint research centres of Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences

    Centre for Biblical Studies
    Centre for Medieval Studies
    Center for Theoretical Study

  • richardmitnick 4:08 pm on May 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New study shines light on hazards of Earth's largest volcano", , , , Vulcanology   

    From The University of Miami (FL) (US) via phys.org : “New study shines light on hazards of Earth’s largest volcano” 

    From The University of Miami (FL) (US)



    May 24, 2021

    Standing 9 kilometers tall from the base on the seafloor to the summit, Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on Earth. Credit: USGS-U.S. Geological Survey.

    Scientists from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science analyzed ground movements measured by Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) satellite data and GPS stations to precisely model where magma intruded and how magma influx changed over time, as well as where faults under the flanks moved without generating significant earthquakes. The GPS network is operated by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory (US).

    “An earthquake of magnitude-6 or greater would relieve the stress imparted by the influx of magma along a sub-horizontal fault under the western flank of the volcano,” said Bhuvan Varugu, a Ph.D. candidate at the UM Rosenstiel School and lead author of the study. “This earthquake could trigger an eruption.”

    The researchers found that during 2014-2020 a total of 0.11 kilometers3 of new magma intruded into a dike-like magma body located under and south of the summit caldera, with the upper edge at 2.5—3 kilometers depth beneath the summit. They were able to determine that in 2015 the magma began expanding southward, where the topographic elevation is lower and the magma had less work to do against the topographic pressure. After the magma flux waned in 2017, the inflation center returned to its previous 2014-2015 horizontal position. Such changes of a magma body have never been observed before.

    “At Mauna Loa, flank motion and eruptions are inherently related,” said Varugu. “The influx of new magma started in 2014 after more than four years of seaward motion of the eastern flank—which opened up space in the rift zone for the magma to intrude.”

    The researchers also found that there was movement not associated with an earthquake along a near-horizontal fault under the eastern flank, however, no movement was detected under the western flank. This led the researchers to conclude that an earthquake under the western flank is due. Motions along near-horizontal faults under the flanks are essential features of long-term volcano growth.

    Will the volcano erupt in the near future? “If magma influx continues it is likely, but not required,” says Varugu. “The topographic load is pretty heavy, the magma could also propagate laterally through the rift zone”.

    “An earthquake could be a game changer,” said Falk Amelung, a professor at the UM Rosenstiel School’s Department of Marine Geosciences and senior author of the study. “It would release gases from the magma comparable to shaking a soda bottle, generating additional pressure and buoyancy, sufficient to break the rock above the magma.”

    According to the researchers there are many uncertainties. Though the stress that was exerted along the fault is known, the magnitude of the earthquake will also depend on the size of the fault patch that will actually rupture. Additionally, there are no satellite data available to determine movements prior to 2002.

    “It is a fascinating problem,” said Amelung, “We can explain how and why the magma body changed during the past six years. We will continue observing and this will eventually lead to better models to forecast the next eruption site.”

    Standing 9 kilometers tall from the base on the seafloor to the summit, Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on Earth. In the 1950 eruption, it took only three hours for the lava to reach the Kona coast. Such rapid flows would leave very little time to evacuate people in the path of its lava. Another large eruption of Mauna Loa occurred in 1984.

    The combination of earthquakes and eruptions is nothing unusual. The 1950 eruption was preceded by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake three days prior, and was followed by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake more than a year later. The 1984 eruption was preceded by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake 5 months prior.

    The satellite data were acquired by the Italian Cosmo-Skymed satellites in the framework of the Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories (GSNL) initiative of the Group on Earth Observation (GEO), an international umbrella organization to enhance the use of Earth Observation for societal benefits. Several space agencies pool their satellite resources to enable new studies of hazardous volcanoes. Other volcano supersites include the Icelandic, Ecuadorian and New Zealand volcanoes as well as Italy’s Mt. Etna.

    Science paper:
    Scientific Reports

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Miami (US) 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, UM 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.


    UM 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 (US) and $14.1 million from the National Science Foundation (US). 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 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 (US).

    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 10:19 am on May 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Volcanoes on Mars Could be Active Raising Possibility that the Planet was Recently Habitable", , , , Vulcanology   

    From University of Arizona (US) : “Volcanoes on Mars Could be Active Raising Possibility that the Planet was Recently Habitable” 

    From University of Arizona (US)

    May 6, 2021

    Media contact
    Daniel Stolte
    Science Writer, University Communications

    Researcher contacts
    Jeff Andrews-Hanna
    Associate Professor, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory

    Pranabendu Moitra
    Research Scientist, Department of Geosciences

    New observations reveal that Mars could still be volcanically active, raising the possibility for habitable conditions below the surface of Mars in recent history.

    Recent explosive volcanic deposit around a fissure of the Cerberus Fossae system. National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/JPL-Caltech (US)/Malin Space Science Systems (US)/The Murray Lab.

    Evidence of recent volcanic activity on Mars shows that eruptions could have taken place in the past 50,000 years, according to new study by researchers at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and the Planetary Science Institute.

    Most volcanism on the Red Planet occurred between 3 and 4 billion years ago, with smaller eruptions in isolated locations continuing perhaps as recently as 3 million years ago. But, until now, there was no evidence to indicate Mars could still be volcanically active.

    Using data from satellites orbiting Mars, researchers discovered a previously unknown volcanic deposit. They detail their findings in the paper published in the journal Icarus.

    “This may be the youngest volcanic deposit yet documented on Mars,” said lead study author David Horvath, who did the research as a postdoctoral researcher at UArizona and is now a research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. “If we were to compress Mars’ geologic history into a single day, this would have occurred in the very last second.”

    The volcanic eruption produced an 8-mile-wide, smooth, dark deposit surrounding a 20-mile-long volcanic fissure.

    “When we first noticed this deposit, we knew it was something special,” said study co-author Jeff Andrews-Hanna, an associate professor at the UArizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and the senior author on the study. “The deposit was unlike anything else found in the region, or indeed on all of Mars, and more closely resembled features created by older volcanic eruptions on the Moon and Mercury.”

    Further investigation showed that the properties, composition and distribution of material match what would be expected for a pyroclastic eruption – an explosive eruption of magma driven by expanding gasses, not unlike the opening of a shaken can of soda.

    The majority of volcanism in the Elysium Planitia region and elsewhere on Mars consists of lava flowing across the surface, similar to recent eruptions in Iceland being studied by co-author Christopher Hamilton, a UArizona associate professor of lunar and planetary sciences. Although there are numerous examples of explosive volcanism on Mars, they occurred long ago. However, this deposit appears to be different.

    “This feature overlies the surrounding lava flows and appears to be a relatively fresh and thin deposit of ash and rock, representing a different style of eruption than previously identified pyroclastic features,” Horvath said. “This eruption could have spewed ash as high as 6 miles into Mars’ atmosphere. It is possible that these sorts of deposits were more common but have been eroded or buried.”

    The site of the recent eruption is about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from NASA’s InSight lander, which has been studying seismic activity on Mars since 2018. Two Marsquakes, the Martian equivalent of earthquakes, were found to originate in the region around the Cerberus Fossae, and recent work has suggested the possibility that these could be due to the movement of magma deep underground.

    “The young age of this deposit absolutely raises the possibility that there could still be volcanic activity on Mars, and it is intriguing that recent Marsquakes detected by the InSight mission are sourced from the Cerberus Fossae,” Horvath said. In fact, the team of researchers predicted this to be a likely location for Marsquakes several months before NASA’s InSight lander touched down on Mars.

    A volcanic deposit such as this one also raises the possibility for habitable conditions below the surface of Mars in recent history, Horvath said.

    “The interaction of ascending magma and the icy substrate of this region could have provided favorable conditions for microbial life fairly recently and raises the possibility of extant life in this region,” he said.

    Similar volcanic fissures in this region were the source of enormous floods, perhaps as recently as 20 million years ago, as groundwater erupted out onto the surface.

    Elysium Planitia, the region of recent explosive volcanism (white box) and NASA’s InSight lander. Overlooking the plain is Elysium Mons, a volcano towering nearly 8 miles above its base. MOLA Science Team.

    Andrews-Hanna’s research group continues to investigate the causes of the eruption. Pranabendu Moitra, a research scientist in the UArizona Department of Geosciences, has been probing the mechanism behind the eruption.

    An expert in similar explosive eruptions on Earth, Moitra developed models to look at the possible cause of the Martian eruption. In a forthcoming paper in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, he suggests that the explosion either could have been a result of gases already present in the Martian magma, or it could have happened when the magma came into contact with Martian permafrost.

    “The ice melts to water, mixes with the magma and vaporizes, forcing a violent explosion of the mixture,” Moitra said. “When water mixes with magma, it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.”

    He also points out that the youngest volcanic eruption on Mars happened only 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the youngest large-impact crater on the planet – a 6-mile-wide crater named Zunil.

    “The ages of the eruption and the impact are indistinguishable, which raises the possibility, however speculative, that the impact actually triggered the volcanic eruption,” Moitra said.

    Several studies have found evidence that large quakes on Earth can cause magma stored beneath the surface to erupt. The impact that formed the Zunil crater on Mars would have shaken the Red Planet just like an earthquake, Moitra explained.

    While the more dramatic giant volcanoes elsewhere on Mars – such as Olympus Mons, the tallest mountain in the solar system – tell a story of the planet’s ancient dynamics, the current hotspot of Martian activity seems to be in the relatively featureless plains of the planet’s Elysium region.

    Andrews-Hanna said it’s remarkable that one region hosts the epicenters of present-day earthquakes, the most recent floods of water, the most recent lava flows, and now an even more recent explosive volcanic eruption.

    “This may be the most recent volcanic eruption on Mars,” he said, “but I think we can rest assured that it won’t be the last.”

    The volcanic deposit described in this study, along with ongoing seismic rumbling in the planet’s interior detected by InSight and possible evidence for releases of methane plumes into the atmosphere detected by NASA’s MAVEN orbiter, suggest that Mars is far from a cold, inactive world, Andrews-Hanna said.

    “All these data seem to be telling the same story,” he said. “Mars isn’t dead.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    As of 2019, the University of Arizona (US) enrolled 45,918 students in 19 separate colleges/schools, including the UArizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and the James E. Rogers College of Law, and is affiliated with two academic medical centers (Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix). UArizona is one of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents. The university is part of the Association of American Universities and is the only member from Arizona, and also part of the Universities Research Association(US). The university is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

    Known as the Arizona Wildcats (often shortened to “Cats”), the UArizona’s intercollegiate athletic teams are members of the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA. UArizona athletes have won national titles in several sports, most notably men’s basketball, baseball, and softball. The official colors of the university and its athletic teams are cardinal red and navy blue.

    After the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the push for a university in Arizona grew. The Arizona Territory’s “Thieving Thirteenth” Legislature approved the UArizona in 1885 and selected the city of Tucson to receive the appropriation to build the university. Tucson hoped to receive the appropriation for the territory’s mental hospital, which carried a $100,000 allocation instead of the $25,000 allotted to the territory’s only university (Arizona State University(US) was also chartered in 1885, but it was created as Arizona’s normal school, and not a university). Flooding on the Salt River delayed Tucson’s legislators, and by they time they reached Prescott, back-room deals allocating the most desirable territorial institutions had been made. Tucson was largely disappointed with receiving what was viewed as an inferior prize.

    With no parties willing to provide land for the new institution, the citizens of Tucson prepared to return the money to the Territorial Legislature until two gamblers and a saloon keeper decided to donate the land to build the school. Construction of Old Main, the first building on campus, began on October 27, 1887, and classes met for the first time in 1891 with 32 students in Old Main, which is still in use today. Because there were no high schools in Arizona Territory, the university maintained separate preparatory classes for the first 23 years of operation.


    UArizona is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. UArizona is the fourth most awarded public university by National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US) for research. UArizona was awarded over $325 million for its Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) to lead NASA’s 2007–08 mission to Mars to explore the Martian Arctic, and $800 million for its OSIRIS-REx mission, the first in U.S. history to sample an asteroid.

    The LPL’s work in the Cassini spacecraft orbit around Saturn is larger than any other university globally. The UArizona laboratory designed and operated the atmospheric radiation investigations and imaging on the probe. UArizona operates the HiRISE camera, a part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. While using the HiRISE camera in 2011, UArizona alumnus Lujendra Ojha and his team discovered proof of liquid water on the surface of Mars—a discovery confirmed by NASA in 2015. UArizona receives more NASA grants annually than the next nine top NASA/JPL-Caltech(US)-funded universities combined. As of March 2016, the UArizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is actively involved in ten spacecraft missions: Cassini VIMS; Grail; the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars; the Juno mission orbiting Jupiter; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO); Maven, which will explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and interactions with the sun; Solar Probe Plus, a historic mission into the Sun’s atmosphere for the first time; Rosetta’s VIRTIS; WISE; and OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. sample-return mission to a near-earth asteroid, which launched on September 8, 2016.

    UArizona students have been selected as Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, and Fulbright Scholars. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, UArizona is among the top 25 producers of Fulbright awards in the U.S.

    UArizona is a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy(US), a consortium of institutions pursuing research in astronomy. The association operates observatories and telescopes, notably Kitt Peak National Observatory(US) just outside Tucson. Led by Roger Angel, researchers in the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at UArizona are working in concert to build the world’s most advanced telescope. Known as the Giant Magellan Telescope(CL), it will produce images 10 times sharper than those from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Telescope.

    Giant Magellan Telescope, 21 meters, to be at the NOIRLab(US) National Optical Astronomy Observatory(US) Carnegie Institution for Science’s(US) Las Campanas Observatory(CL), some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

    The telescope is set to be completed in 2021. GMT will ultimately cost $1 billion. Researchers from at least nine institutions are working to secure the funding for the project. The telescope will include seven 18-ton mirrors capable of providing clear images of volcanoes and riverbeds on Mars and mountains on the moon at a rate 40 times faster than the world’s current large telescopes. The mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope will be built at UArizona and transported to a permanent mountaintop site in the Chilean Andes where the telescope will be constructed.

    Reaching Mars in March 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter contained the HiRISE camera, with Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen as the lead on the project. This National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US) mission to Mars carrying the UArizona-designed camera is capturing the highest-resolution images of the planet ever seen. The journey of the orbiter was 300 million miles. In August 2007, the UArizona, under the charge of Scientist Peter Smith, led the Phoenix Mars Mission, the first mission completely controlled by a university. Reaching the planet’s surface in May 2008, the mission’s purpose was to improve knowledge of the Martian Arctic. The Arizona Radio Observatory(US), a part of UArizona Department of Astronomy Steward Observatory(US), operates the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham.

    The National Science Foundation(US) funded the iPlant Collaborative in 2008 with a $50 million grant. In 2013, iPlant Collaborative received a $50 million renewal grant. Rebranded in late 2015 as “CyVerse”, the collaborative cloud-based data management platform is moving beyond life sciences to provide cloud-computing access across all scientific disciplines.
    In June 2011, the university announced it would assume full ownership of the Biosphere 2 scientific research facility in Oracle, Arizona, north of Tucson, effective July 1. Biosphere 2 was constructed by private developers (funded mainly by Texas businessman and philanthropist Ed Bass) with its first closed system experiment commencing in 1991. The university had been the official management partner of the facility for research purposes since 2007.

    U Arizona mirror lab-Where else in the world can you find an astronomical observatory mirror lab under a football stadium?

    University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, located in the Sonoran desert. An entire ecosystem under a glass dome? Visit our campus, just once, and you’ll quickly understand why the UA is a university unlike any other.

  • richardmitnick 12:10 pm on May 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Life and Death on the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean" Stromboli’s volcano, , , Vulcanology   

    From The New York Times : “Life and Death on the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” Stromboli’s volcano 

    From The New York Times

    May 4, 2021
    Photographs and Video by Gaia Squarci
    Text by Robin George Andrews

    If you stand at the summit at night, and you turn your flashlight off, all you can see are diamantine flecks shimmering in the dark. In that moment, you are floating, untethered, in an endless inky pool. The inevitable rumblings of the blackened earth beneath your feet eventually remind you that you remain on this planet. And when a jet of incandescent molten rock shoots skyward and illuminates the land like a flare, you feel as if you are staring down a dragon.

    For those seeking to experience the raw and almost preternatural power of a volcano, you would be hard-pressed to find a better place than Stromboli, northwest of the toe of Italy’s boot and aptly known as the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.

    Rising a mere 3,000 feet above the waves of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the seemingly diminutive volcanic isle is famed for its near-continuous summit explosions. Most volcanoes spend much of their lifetime in a state of quiescence, but Stromboli bucks that trend. “It’s always active,” said Maurizio Ripepe, a geophysicist at the University of Florence [Università degli Studi di Firenze] (IT). “I always say it’s the most reliable thing in Italy. It’s not like the trains.”

    The seemingly diminutive volcanic isle of Stromboli is famed for its near-continuous summit explosions.

    Visitors and guides climbing at night on the volcano. After two paroxysmal volcanic explosions in 2019, hiking to the summit was forbidden.

    Beatrice Fassi, from Bergamo, picking wild vegetables on a volcanic slope of the island. She has lived on Stromboli since 1997.

    Stromboli is also home to a few hundred full-time residents. Their relationship with the volcano is largely cordial. Its regular explosive activity is confined to the summit, and a slope named the Sciara del Fuoco (“Stream of Fire”) harmlessly funnels superheated debris into the sea. The frequent window-rattling booms have become barely noticeable background noise, while its effervescence has proved highly attractive to paying tourists.

    But the volcano is capable of acts of utter devastation. Rare but especially fierce blasts have killed people both at the summit and on its slopes. That danger makes Stromboli a resplendent place punctuated with moments of terror. Gaia Squarci, a photographer and videographer who first visited the island when she was 17, said that there is always “a calm, with a tension underneath.”

    Stromboli’s main cemetery.

    Stefano Oliva, a Strombolian who oversees several construction sites on the island.

    Maurizio Ripepe, a geophysicist at the University of Florence in Italy, holds a piece of pumice from Stromboli.

    A beacon for measuring tsunami waves installed off the shore of the Sciara del Fuoco (“Stream of Fire”), a slope that funnels superheated debris into the sea.

    Everyone has a unique relationship with this paradoxical landscape. Scientists approach Stromboli as detectives. They hope to understand how it works by investigating its various viscera, a task aided by both its hyperactivity and its easy accessibility. “There are not so many volcanoes that you can go up to the summit, you work all day long, then you are only one hour from beer, pizza, good food,” said Dr. Ripepe.

    Small explosions rock Stromboli’s summit all the time. Although a safe environment to work in for the most part, scientists are acutely aware that the volcano is capable of unleashing more potent explosions. These blasts, referred to as paroxysms, are considered to be a major threat. If they are powerful enough to dislodge part of the volcano, some can even trigger tsunamis.

    Although the volcano has been relatively calm during the past half-century, the last few years have seen a return to violent form. In July 2019, a paroxysm killed a hiker and injured several others. The next month, another shook the island, but fortunately no one died that time. The authorities, fearing further paroxysms, subsequently closed the summit to visitors.

    Jacopo Crimi, originally from Milan, was often brought to the island as a child by his parents. Today, he lives there, helping scientists present and share their work with their peers, clients and the general public. He describes living on Stromboli as a bit like being on one of the miniature planets in the universe of The Little Prince, the story by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry where the eponymous boy visits a number of lonely worlds.

    Mr. Crimi says residents get to know the volcano, and its personality, as if it were a living thing. “It’s strange. It’s like a person,” he said. “You really miss it when you leave here. You feel lost.”

    Travelers will always want to visit the island too, because erupting volcanoes provide a spectacle like no other. “We love danger, in some ways. It lets us feel immortal,” Mr. Crimi said. “It brings fear and joy together.”

    Jacopo Crimi, project manager for science dissemination from Milan, at home on Stromboli.

    Solidified lava at Punta Restuccia, a volcanic cliff.

    Tracks in the red ash on the streets after the Nov. 16 eruption.

    The human presence makes volcanologists nervous. The volcano is nearly two miles tall, but only the uppermost part is above water. “They’re not living at the base of the volcano,” said Dr. Ripepe. “They’re living at the top of the volcano,” right next to its magmatic maw. No one on the island is far from harm’s way.

    The overarching goal of the science of volcanology is to detect warning signs of an eruption, allowing anyone in danger to protect themselves. Volcanoes usually twitch and convulse before an eruption, but some dangerous phenomena give no discernible fanfare. For example, a pressure cooker-like bomb of underground water exploded without warning on New Zealand’s Whakaari/White Island volcano on Dec. 9, 2019, killing 22 visitors.

    Stromboli’s eternal effervescence makes it a fantastic natural laboratory to trial attempts at eruption forecasting. Could the island’s own explosions, which happen rather suddenly, be seen coming?

    An Ape car, used to get around the island. There are no lights on the streets of Stromboli.

    The volcano’s peak under the light of a full moon.

    It’s known that many volcanoes inflate when magma rises into them. This doesn’t always mean an eruption is forthcoming, but sometimes it does. Stromboli is no exception.

    Devices that measure the changing shape of the volcano have been recording its metamorphosis for two decades. And scientists have noticed Stromboli inflates not at random, but every time the volcano is about to explode.

    The inflation in this case appears to happen when the gases dissolved in the ascending magma escape into a lower pressure environment within the volcano’s shallow conduit, the esophagus-like passageway to the surface. Despite the erratic nature of Stromboli, “there is a rule in the chaos,” Dr. Ripepe said.

    The scientists’ discovery was published in the journal Nature Communications in March, but an early warning system based on their data has been up and running since October 2019. If the volcano inflates in a way that indicates a paroxysm is coming, an automated alert is sent to the civil authorities and volcanologists, who then activate a series of sirens.

    From the moment the signal is detected, everyone has up to 10 minutes to react before the paroxysm arrives. That may be sufficient to save the lives of many, either from the paroxysm itself or any subsequent tsunami. But it’s not a panacea. “If you are at the summit, there is no way to survive,” said Dr. Ripepe. Either the explosion’s shock wave will crush your internal organs, or the hot ash and gas will asphyxiate you. He and his colleagues are now hoping to find other precursors that will give people hours to get to safety.

    Deciphering the complex series of grumbles and twitches exhibited by volcanoes in the run up to an eruption is rarely straightforward. But when efforts to identify precursors to volcanic violence are successful, it can provide salvation.

    Take La Soufrière, a volcano on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, as an example. It had been erupting in a calm and harmless manner since last December. But suspicious seismic activity in late March and early April was interpreted by scientists as a sign that something explosive was on its way. They convinced the government to order an evacuation of tens of thousands of people living in the volcano’s shadow on April 8. The very next day, the first in a series of catastrophic blasts rocked La Soufrière. Thanks to that early warning and subsequent exodus, no lives were lost to the volcano’s rage.

    Dr. Ripepe in the field.

    A cloud of ashes rose nearly 3,000 feet over the volcano’s peak on Nov. 16, 2020.

    One of the acoustic warning systems for eruptions and tsunamis near the Strombolian port.

    No matter what advances are made in eruption forecasting, Stromboli, like all volcanoes, remains capable of surprising everyone. “It’s humbling, the fact that we can get better and better at predicting patterns of behavior, but there will always be a high degree of unpredictability,” said Ms. Squarci.

    According to Mr. Crimi, plenty of Stromboli’s longtime residents, including those who rely on tourism for their income, don’t want to engage with volcanologists, as they are seen to challenge the island-wide illusion that the volcano can do no harm.

    But for some, the knowledge that the specter of death always exists is a thing of counterintuitive beauty. Scientists can try to comprehend Stromboli, but nothing they will do will alter the volcano’s actions.

    “The volcano wrote the chapters of the island’s history,” said Ms. Squarci — and it will be the author of the island’s future, too.

    A volcanic explosion is seen at dusk on Stromboli.

    See the full article here .


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