Tag Archives: Update

Finally back, and the Earth has not been as quiet as this blog!

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Work, uni, a 7 year old, Christmas and life in general has made posting near in possible the past month or so. The volcanoes around the world have been just as busy as I, so here’s a quick summery;

Barðarbunga

Yes this blogs most talked about lava field is still growing. A press release from the Icelandic MetOffice states the lava flow now covers in excess of 80 cubic kilometres.

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Seismicity continues throughout the length of the dyke and within the Bardarbunga caldera albeit at a reduced rate then earlier in the eruption. Subsidence in the caldera has reached 56 meters in depth, and roughly 1.7 cubic kilometre. Gas emissions continue with elevated pollution warnings still in place through much of Iceland.

On the 29th December the fissure eruption will have been consistent for 4 months, although activity is not as great as in the earlier stages, the eruption shows no indication that the end is in sight.

Kilauea

The June 27th lava flow is still on the move at roughly 300 yards a day. The flow front currently sits less than half a mile away from Pahoa Marketplace where many of the businesses have had to close due to the on coming threat.

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Sections of the flow have been made available, first for students and journalists, and now public to see the lava up close. Eruptions also continue at Kilauea’s summit and East Rift Zone.

Pico Do Fogo

Follow recent events on the Cape Verde island of Fogo has really triggered an anger inside of me in recent weeks and this eruption will have its own post soon after this one is published. However for a brief over view, Pico do Fogo begain eruption back on November 23rd. Since lava flows have devoured local villages forcing over 1500 to flee their homes. Gas and ash emissions have nearly ceased and lava output is now low, although remaining buildings in the village of Bangaeira are still being engulfed by the flow.

Nevado del Ruiz

This Colombian volcano caused one of the greatest natural disasters of the 1980’s. Seismicity has picked up since December 3rd inducing an increased aviation code to yellow. Ash emissions have been sporadic, with a white plume drifting almost 20 km south on December 15th.

Mayon

During 9-16 December white plumes were occasionally observed rising from Mayon’s crater and drifted WNW and WSW, sometimes downslope. Three volcanic earthquakes were recorded on 9 December and one was recorded on 11 December. Alert Level remained at 3 causing PHIVOLCS to remind residents of the 6-km-radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) around the volcano and the 7-km Extended Danger Zone (EDZ) on the SE flank due to recent rockfalls and threat of eruption.

Suwanosejima 

The Tokyo VAAC reported that on 14 December an explosion at Suwanosejima produced a plume that rose to an altitude of 1.8 km (6,000 ft) and drifted SE.

Sinabung

Eruptions at Sinabung have continued and pyroclastic flows and emissions seem to have increased in intensity mid December. Ash plumes have risen in excess of 20,000 ft up to December 16th.

Shishaldin

Poor weather conditions have meant little visual conformation of the Aleutian Island volcano, however due to increased seismicity it is believed that low level lava flows continue from previous weeks. The aviation code remains at orange.

This is just a small sample of the list of volcanic activity in recent weeks, for further updates visit the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program;

http://www.volcano.si.edu/reports_weekly.cfm

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

The Science Behind the Unexpected Blast at Mount Ontake

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Saturdays eruption was completly unexpected which is what made it so fatal. So far 47 bodies have been accounted for and at least 16 hikers are still missing. Autopsies on those brought down from the summit have concluded most died from crushed skulls or ribs from the super heated rocks that were catapulted by the blast, other suffered internal burns from inhaling the ash. This has been coined as Japans worst volcanic disaster in living memory but why so in a country so prepared for such disasters.

1. This is the last photo  Izumi Noguchi ever took. His camera was found near his body, his wife released the last pictures he took in his memory.

1. This is the last photo Izumi Noguchi ever took. His camera was found near his body, his wife released the last pictures he took in his memory.

Mount Ontake is one of 47 Japanese volcanoes under constant monitoring. Seismicity, ground deformation and gas emissions are just some of the ways volcanologists can see if magma is migrating towards the surface so why was the 27th such a surprise? The answer is actually quiet simple; it was not a magmatic eruption.

Last weeks eruption was not caused by magma breaking through to the surface as most peoples ideas of volcanoes would expect. Instead it is what is know as a phreatic eruption/explosion. When water, whether it be on the surface or ground water, meets the super heated rock of a geothermal system it instantly turns to steam. It operates on a similar principle as geysers such as those in Iceland or the famed Old Faithful in the Yellowstone system.  Steam does not react well to be confined in the high pressure environments underground and will find any way out it can including smashing rock to smithereens.

1. Basic diagram showing a phreatic eruption/explosion

2. Basic diagram showing a phreatic eruption/explosion

Warning signs for such an eruption are minimal. There was some increased seismicity at Mount Ontake in the week leading up to the 27th but not enough to be classed more than “normal background levels”. In some instances the run up to a phreatic eruption may see slight temperature rises in bodies of water near to the system such as crater lakes, but other than this there are no real indicators for when a phreatic eruption will take place which can make them one of the more fatal styles of eruption.

A week on chances of finding any more survivors is slim, but rescue workers are still scaling the flanks in the area of the eruption as thoroughly as they can before Typhoon Phanfone takes hold of the region.

Figure 1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2779616/The-thing-saw-Hiker-s-photograph-captures-Japanese-volcano-s-ash-cloud-sweeping-moments-claimed-life.html Accessed

Kilauea Update

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The June 27th lava flow is still advancing putting homes in lower Puna at risk. As of Saturday morning the front of the flow was 1.4 miles up slope from Apa’s road and has advance roughly 100 meters since. The lighter vegetation above the road ignited quickly as the lava advanced causing the first bush fire since the flow began in June. Smoke conditions have been moderate to heavy, with most of the smoke is being dispersed to Puna and Hilo. Work is being carried out on Railroad Avenue and Government Beach Road so they are able to accommodate traffic if the lava crossed highway 130.

1. Map of flow as of 20/09/14

The USGS HVO and the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense have been working closely to monitor the flow and advise local resident accordingly.An estimated 300,000 to 500,000 cubic meters (55,000–92,000 gallons per minute) of lava are being erupted each day how ever the flow rate has been fluctuating over the past week or so, slowing since Sunday.

Further information can be gathered at the Kilauea page of the HVO web site;

http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php

1. http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/tag/june-27-lava-flow/

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

 

Updates; Yellowstone and Chinese earthquake

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The death toll from the Mg 6.1 quake in Yunnan province has since hit 615 with a revised injury total of 3,143. The earthquake on August 3rd still has over 10,000 troops and volunteers leading the search which has been complicated by heavy rain and landslides.

Since my article ‘As Yellowstone melts…’ on July 21st, the USGS has released the following short statement further trying to ease speculation of a pending eruption;

A Short Statement Regarding Recent Rumors
August 08, 2014

Though we love doing research at YVO, we prefer it when the research is on topics geological rather than the origin of false rumors. Nevertheless, we have received enough concerned emails and phone calls that we’ve spent some time tracking down a few of the statements made on various “alternative Internet news sources.”

1) First, everyone should know that geological activity, including earthquakes and ground uplift/subsidence is well within historical norms and seismicity is actually a bit low at present.

2) Concern over road closures is much overblown. There’s been one road closure of a small side road – just over three miles long – that was closed for two days. As one can imagine, it is not easy to maintain roads that pass over thermal areas where ground temperatures can approach those of boiling water. Roads at Yellowstone often need repair because of damage by thermal features as well as extreme cold winter conditions.

3) The park has not been evacuated. This one is pretty easy to verify by everyone. If the Old Faithful webcam shows people, or if news articles are coming out about a hobbyist’s remote control helicopter crashing into a hot spring, Yellowstone is certainly open for business.

4) No volcanologists have stated that Yellowstone is likely to erupt this week, this month or this year. In one recent article, a name was attributed to a “senior volcanologist”, but that person does not appear to exist, and a geologist with that name assures us that he did not supply any quotes regarding Yellowstone.

5) Finally, we note that those who’ve kept track of Yellowstone over the past decade or so, have seen a constant stream of “predictions” regarding imminent eruptions at Yellowstone. Many have had specific dates in mind, none had a scientific basis, and none have come true.

We will continue to provide updates on geological activity at Yellowstone, and educational materials to help understand the science around Yellowstone monitoring.Virtually everything known about Yellowstone’s spectacular volcanic past comes from the scientists who work at this observatory, at all our eight member agencies. We’re the ones who mapped the deposits, figured out the ages of the eruptions, measured the gases, located the earthquakes, and tracked the ground movement. A few of us have been doing it for over forty years. We will continue to help you understand what’s happening at Yellowstone now, and what’s likely to happen in the future.