Category Archives: Europe

Fogo

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As promised, this is a current catastrophe warrants its own post, especially as most of the world does not see it news worthy.

The islands of Cape Verde have become a popular destination for tourists off the coast of Africa. Their origins are volcanic;  as the African Plate moves across a hot spot. Although few of the volcanoes are believed to  extinct the island of Fogo which is thought to sit directly above mantle is rather active.

On November 23rd Pico de Fogo rumbled life again after laying in quiet almost 20 years. In an eruption true to typical hotspot volcanism, there were no huge blasts or billowing ash clouds sent rocketing in to the stratosphere, what there was was lava, volumes and volumes of basaltic lava. Moving at average speeds of just 10 m/ph basaltic lava is easily outrun and the villages like Portela and Bangueira were able to evacuate meaning little threat to human life. Does this therefore follow that there was no threat at all?

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A month on the flow still advances completely devouring the towns of Cha das Caldeiras and Portela. Homes, schoools, businesses completely gone with former residents left helpless on the sidelines. Buildings in Bangueira are also being destroyed and the lava is heading towards other villages.

View image on Twitter

Yet what makes this situation worse is the lack of world support or even knowledge of the unfolding situation in Fogo. Sorry but to me peoples homes being destroyed, livelihoods lost is a big deal. Sadly Kim Kardashian’s naked backside seems to have more media interest than the poor people of Cape Verde.

I have mentioned on several posts that world ignorance to geological events is unbelievable. But what actually makes such news relevant to world media or aid?

Fellow member of the Open University community has a similar view and wrote as such for Science2o. “Does Ebola on mainland Africa and a typhoon in the Philippines mean that there really is no time for an event such as this in our mainstream news agenda? Or do we care about volcanoes only if there’s a chance of them inconveniencing our air-travel plans?”

I wonder how quickly this may change if people understood Fogo’s past and the danger that lays beneath the lava…..

The eastern flank of Fogo is scared from a collapse caused by an eruption around 40,000 years ago. The mass of rock, debris and volcanic material crashed in to the ocean causing a mega tsunami that make 2011’s Sendai disaster look like ripples in a puddle. On the neighboring island of Santiago, evidence of the catastrophic wave can be found over 100 m above sea level. It would of swept far inland on the west coast of Africa and decimated the coasts of Portugal and Spain.

The flanks of Fogo today are still not considered the most stable although it is thought we should not see another collapse in quiet some time, pending on future eruption styles. But the idea that this small volcano, which is currently seen as insignificant to the media, could threaten people on a global scale says so much about peoples ignorance to the planet we live on.

 

Rothery, D. http://www.science20.com/the_conversation/cape_verde_volcano_the_biggest_natural_disaster_you_arent_reading_about-150923

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Eruption Update; Bardabunga, Mayon, Kilaeua and more

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Bárðarbunga

Yes the might fissure is still going strong in the Holuhran lava field. It is now being coined as one of the largest effusive eruptions Iceland has seen in the past 150 years. In terms of lava production it is only second to Hekla’s 1947-48 13month long eruption, however this title could be taken in as little as two weeks if output continues at the rate it is now. Seismicity has decreased since August but we are still seeing low levels along the dyke and stronger quakes under Bárðarbunga particularly around the caldera rim. The Scientific Advisory Board of the Icelandic Civil Protection is still suggesting the following three scenarios are considered most likely: 

  • The eruption on Holuhraun declines gradually and subsidence of the Bardarbunga caldera stops. 

  • Large-scale subsidence of the caldera occurs, prolonging or strengthening the eruption on Holuhraun. In this situation, it is likely that the eruptive fissure would lengthen southwards under Dyngjujokull, resulting in a jokulhlaup and an ash-producing eruption. It is also possible that eruptive fissures could develop in another location under the glacier.

  • Large-scale subsidence of the caldera occurs, causing an eruption at the edge of the caldera. Such an eruption would melt large quantities of ice, leading to a major jokulhlaup, accompanied by ash fall.

SiO2 emissions are still one of the most pressing concerns for the Icelandic people. Pollution warnings are constant, and the met office has consistently tracked the SiO2 cloud which changes course with change in weather.

1. Map of current SiO2 cloud coming from the fissure site.

1. Map of current SiO2 cloud coming from the fissure site.

 

Mayon

All evidence still indicates to a potentially major eruption could occur in the next few weeks. Phivolcs has said that there has been at least five rock fall events in the past 24 hours and one volcanic tremor. Ground deformation continues with at least 3 mm of inflation recorded in the past 10 days. At times of good visibility white steam plumes are seen drifting northwest from the summit and monitors are recording SiO2 emissions at an average of  308 tonnes a day. The 6-km radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) around the volcano is still in place as well as the 7-km Extended Danger Zone (EDZ) on the southeastern flank due to the danger of rock falls, landslides and sudden explosions or dome collapse that may generate hazardous volcanic flows.

For day to day bulletins visit Phivolcs; http://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=70&Itemid=500008

 

Kilauea

The June 27th lava flow is still advancing albeit slowly. The HVO has said it has continued approximately 350 yards since Wednesday and is currently is 1.2 miles upslope from Apaa St. and 1.9 mils from Pahoa Village Road. Although there is no immediate threat to power lines or our facilities, Hawaii Electric light are closely following the flow and have even began installing heat resistant and dispersive materials around utility poles in the Puna area.

2. Working to protect utilities but wrapping poles in protective materials.

2. Working to protect utilities but wrapping poles in protective materials.

 

Now these are just eruptions I have so far spoken about on this page, but where else is hearing volcanic rumblings…..

Sheveluch

KVERT has reported in the past few weeks, Sheveluch in the Central Kamchatka region, has had ash explosions, incandescence, hot avalanches, as well as fumarolic activity. An ash plumes that rose 11-11.5 km (36,000-37,700 ft) after an explosion on September 24th still lingers. An ash cloud 250 by 207 km drifted NNE and the aviation code remains at orange.

 

Copahue

Sat on the Chile – Argentine boarder, Copahue experienced an intense seismic swarm on September 26th with over 140 long period events being recorded. Web cams show increased emissions; mostly white plumes, with some ash rising 200-500 m drifting SE. The aviation code remains at yellow.

Aira

JMA reported 12 explosions in the last few days of September in Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano ejecting tephra as far as 1,300 m. An explosion on the 28th sent a dense ash plume 3 km in to the air. The alert level remains at 3.

 

Popocatepetl

Continuing emissions of water vapor, gas, and occasional small amounts of ash have occurred from the summit. Incandescence from the crater was observed at night. The Alert Level remained at to Yellow, Phase Two.

 

Santa Maria

On September heavy rainfall triggered a hot lahar that descended the Cabello de Ángel River, a tributary of the Nimá I river drainage on the S flank of Santa María’s Santiaguito lava-dome complex. The lahar carried tree trunks and branches, had a strong sulfur odor, and was 18 m wide and 2 m deep. During 27-28 and 29-30 September lava flows travelled down the S flank and steam plumes rose 400-500 m and drifted 600-800 m SW.

 

These just a small selection of volcanoes world wide which are showing signs of activity. As well as the 8 listed here the Smithonian Institution Global Volcanism Program lists a further 9 which show increased levels of activity thus showing how active the Earth is.

3. GVP map of volcanic activity.

3. GVP map of volcanic activity.

 

 

1. SiO2 Map; http://www.vedur.is/vedur/spar/gasdreifing Accessed 04/10/14

2. Protecting Puna; http://khon2.com/2014/10/03/hawaii-electric-lights-contingency-plans-as-kilauea-lava-approaches/ Accessed 05/10/14

3. GVP Map; http://www.volcano.si.edu/reports_weekly.cfm#vn_300270 Accessed 05/10/14

Bárðarbunga Update

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It has been a while since I have given an update on the Icelandic giant, but that far from means all has been quiet across the waters, more I have been tied up with other bits.

Holuhraun lava field at night.

Holuhraun lava field at night. 12/09/14

The eruption at  Holuhraun appears to be going strong, with now an estimated 200 million cubic tonnes or more of material being erupted since the start of the fissure on the 31st August. Seismicity is still going strong in the area with most around the fissure swarming at the northern end. There is still a lot of seismicity in and around the Bárðarbunga caldera including around earthquake over magnitude 5 yesterday morning, leading people to believe a major eruption from the main vent is still possible.

2. People are still coming from all over to see observe, often from unsafe distances.

2. People are still coming from all over to see observe, often from unsafe distances.

A volcanic haze has enveloped eastern Iceland, on the 9th a Norwegian radio station even reported that the smell of sulfur could be detected along their coast line roughly 1300 km away from the eruption site. The dangerous levels of SiO2 in the air has lead to warnings being issued and locals urged to stay in doors with windows shut. Saturday night RUV reported ” unprecedented pollution levels” with atmospheric sulfur dioxide reaching a spike at 4000 micrograms/m³ (1526 ppm) around 11.00pm.

Iceland’s Met Office are suggesting one of the following are most likely to occur;

    • Subsidence of the Bárðarbunga caldera stops and the eruption on Holuhraun declines gradually.

    • Large-scale subsidence of the caldera occurs, prolonging or strengthening the eruption on Holuhraun. In this situation, it is likely that the eruptive fissure would lengthen southwards under Dyngjujökull, resulting in a jökulhlaup and an ash-producing eruption. It is also possible that eruptive fissures could develop in another location under the glacier.

    • Large-scale subsidence of the caldera occurs, causing an eruption at the edge of the caldera. Such an eruption would melt large quantities of ice, leading to a major jökulhlaup, accompanied by ashfall.

The last of these is a major cause for concern. Jökulhlaups (translates as glacial run)  is a glacial outburst flood often caused by geothermal activity and are extremely dangerous and damaging to any thing in there path.

Elsewhere in Iceland volcanic activity is also caused a stir as Gunnuhver mud pool of the Reykjanes peninsula has been cornered off as activity stepped up well beyond normal levels with boiling hot clay being thrown meters in to the air.

Figure 1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/earth/11090113/Icelands-Bardarbunga-volcano-spews-molten-rock-over-the-Holuhraun-lava-field.html?frame=3035222 Accessed 15.09.14

Figure 2. http://imgur.com/gallery/4oqueAj Accessed 15.09.14

Update; Iceland Eruption #OrangeAlert

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The eruption appears to have ceased for now at the fissure which opened up in the Holuhraun lava field at 00.02 last night. By 02.40 am all activity seemed to have calmed down along the 1 km (0.6 mile) fissure. Below are two images of the new lava, taken by the Icelandic coast guard shortly before 11 am this morning.

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Seismicity seems to have decreased slightly due to the release of pressure however there have still bee quite a few earthquakes between the site of the fissure and the approximately 5km in to the Dyngjujökul glacier.

All activity so far suggests an effusive basaltic eruption which mean the risk to aviation from ash clouds are remote.

 

http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/articles/nr/2947 Accessed 29/08/14

 

Update; Iceland – Askja #YellowAlert

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** Askja Volcano aviation code raised to yellow **

In response to increased seismicity in the Askja system the Icelandic Met office has raised the  aviation colour code  to yellow meaning  the volcano is ‘exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background level.’

Since yesterday, the length of the dyke under Dyngjujökull has increased by 1-1.5 km to the north, which is considerably less than in the last days. The dyke has now reached the fissure system of the Askja volcano and this is believed to be the cause in earthquakes within the Askja system.

Earthquakes during last 48 hours.  at 28 Aug 12:55 GMT

Preliminary results

 

Earthquake mapLegend for the earthquake map

 

Update; Bardabunga, Iceland

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The aviation code for Bárðarbunga remains at orange. The dyke intrusion beneath Dyngjujökull is now thought to be about 40 km in length and is getting ever nearer to the Askja volcano which is now to having earthquakes.

The Bárðarbunga system as of midday has so far experience over 700 quakes including, at 00:16, a magnitude 5.3 earthquake in the caldera. At 02:50 UTC, another similar-sized earthquake (magnitude 5.2) took place in the same region. Yesterday we saw the strongest quake in this swarm so far, a magnitude 5.7; this is the strongest earthquake to hit the region in nearly 20 years.