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Essential volcanology books (from Magma Cum Laude) 24 February 2010

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Over at the always-great Magma Cum Laude blog today is an excellent post on essential reading for volcanologists, listing over thirty books of value to people who really want to know what volcanoes are all about.

Magma Cum Laude: Essential reading for volcanologists

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Pay a visit to The Reef Tank… 21 December 2009

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… for an interview with me! But there are lots of other reasons to go there as well, The Reef Tank is a great and thriving site. Thanks to Ava of The Reef Tank for setting up the interview.

Other Reef Tank interviews of geological interest: Volcanista, Suvrat Kher (‘Reporting on a Revolution’), Mathias Koester (‘The Lost Geologist’), Erik Klemetti (‘Eruptions’), Brian (‘Clastic Detritus’).

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Dr Boris Behncke Q&A at Eruptions 25 November 2009

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If you want to know about the volcanoes of Italy, Dr Boris Behncke of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia is your man. Dr Behncke features in Erik Klemetti’s second volcanologist Q&A over at the Eruptions blog, and as you might expect the result is a volcanological feast. Highly recommended – part 1 is here, and part 2 is soon to follow.

UPDATE 27 Nov 2009. More very good questions and excellent answers: Part 2 of Boris Behncke’s Eruptions Q&A is now available here.

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Volcano-related topics at GSA Portland (2) 20 October 2009

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A couple more presentations on volcanic themes from the current Geological Society of America 2009 Fall Meeting in Portland, Oregon (18-21 October 2009).

Magmatic plumbing of a ‘supervolcano’ exposed to a depth of 25 km (James E. Quick, Southern Methodist University) – the exposure through uplift of a Permian caldera in the Sesia Valley (PDF) reveals the magmatic plumbing system to 25 km depth. (More about this here at The Volcanism Blog, at Eruptions, and at Outside The Interzone here and here.)

Giant impact near India – not Mexico – may have doomed dinosaurs (Sankar Chatterjee, Texas Tech University) – the Shiva basin off the west coast of India may be a meteorite impact crater: as well as killing off the dinosaurs, the crust-vaporizing bang could have enhanced the Deccan Traps eruptions.

UPDATE. I should mention that Callan Bentley of the always-excellent NOVA Geoblog is posting regular reports on the Portland geo-jamboree: GSA update 1, GSA update 2, GSA update 3, GSA update 4. PLUS Jessica at Magma Cum Laude has a list of geobloggers presenting papers, and ongoing updates from the conference. AND Erik at Eruptions has a GSA pre-update.

The Volcanism Blog

Volcano-related topics at GSA Portland (1) 19 October 2009

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The Geological Society of America is currently holding its 2009 Fall Meeting in Portland, Oregon (18-21 October 2009) and with volcanoes featuring prominently in its title, ‘From volcanoes to vineyards – living with dynamic landscapes’, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of volcanic topics in the programme.

Information on particular presentations is regularly updated on the Portland meeting news release page, but as a service to those chiefly interested in things volcanic (and who don’t feel like working their way through the list opening PDF after PDF) I will be summarizing the volcano-related stuff here.

This first post lists contributions from United States Geological Service scientists: the source is this USGS PDF.

Experimental results of carbon sequestration in basaltic rocks (Robert Rosenbauer, USGS) – exploiting the carbon dioxide sequestration potential of basaltic volcanic rocks.

Entrances to tubular caves on Mars? (Glen Cushing, USGS) – imagery from Mars may show entrances to tunnels, possibly volcanic lava tubes.

Can static decompression of magma trigger volcanic eruptions? (Michael Poland, USGS) – the March 2008 explosion at Kilauea may have been triggered by static decompression caused by lava withdrawal from a reservoir beneath the summit caldera: a mechanism that has implications for volcanic hazards worldwide.

A major explosive eruption and aftermath in the Aleutians (Chris Waythomas, USGS) – the geomorphic and ecological impact of the 2008 Kasatochi eruption, particularly in relation to seabirds.

Communicating health hazards of volcanic ash fall (Kristi Wallace, USGS) – a method for significantly improving public hazard communication in relation to volcanic ash fall and air quality hazards.

Virtual volcano tours and geologic concepts (Dina Venezky, USGS) – the use of Google Map technology to provide real-time information about volcanoes around the world.

The Perfect debris flow (Richard Iverson, USGS) – large-scale experiments examining debris-flow dynamics.

Evaluating debris flow hazards by helicopter (Carol Finn, USGS) – dangling experiments over volcanoes from helicopters to evaluate hydrothermal alteration of rocks, which can contribute to destructive debris-flow hazards on volcanic flanks.

The Volcanism Blog

The volcanic hazards of Los Tuxtlas, Mexico 15 July 2009

Posted by admin in Mexico, natural hazards, San Martín, volcanology.
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The Los Tuxtlas region consists of an isolated range of volcanic mountains in southern Mexico, in the central southern area of the coastal state of Veracruz. The isolation of this elevated region has given it a virtual island ecosystem, enabling flora and fauna to flourish there in the most northerly tropical rainforest environment on the American mainland. In 1998 a nature reserve was established there by the Mexican Government, the Reserva de la Biósfera Los Tuxtlas.

So, it’s a very interesting part of the world. Yet while the flora and fauna of Los Tuxtlas have been extensively studied, the geology of the region has been somewhat neglected: which is unfortunate, not only because of the intrinsic geological interest of this anomalous volcanic belt, but because it is region of active volcanism. Volcán de San Martín, the dominant volcanic edifice of the Tuxtla volcanic field, last erupted in 1793 (VEI=4) and 1794 (VEI=2), if more recent uncertain reports of activity are disregarded.

However, a detailed study of volcanic activity and potential hazards in Los Tuxtlas is now under way, reports the Veracruz newspaper El Golfo (drawing upon a report in the Mexican university periodical UniVerso). A team of experts from the Universidad Veracruzana are working to compile a detailed hazard map of Los Tuxtlas which will help local authorities plan for better civil protection:

In addition to studying past eruptions and estimating future ones … [the team] will assess the hazards faced by local communities through mud and debris flows generated by the rains and storms that constantly sweep the region with its abundant vegetation and proximity to the sea.

In communities of Pajapan municipality important effects have already occurred, including the loss of human life because of debris flows caused by the heavy rains, comments Sergio Rodriguez Elizarrarás, an expert in geology and volcanology from the Centro de Ciencias de la Tierra (CCT). ‘What we want is that these tragedies are not repeated’.

The project involves mineralogical and soil studies throughout the Tuxtla volcanic complex, and detailed study of the little-known eruptive history of San Martín volcano. Funding for the project, to the tune of more than 4 million pesos (around $300,000 or €200,000), is being provided by the Mexican Government’s Fondo Nacional de Prevención de Desastres Naturales (Fopreden).

Information
Global Volcanism Program: San Martín – summary information on San Martín (1401-11=)

News
Realizarán mapa de peligros volcánicos en Los TuxtlasUniVerso, 13 July 2009
Especialistas mantendrán vigilancia en volcanesEl Golfo, 14 July 2009

The Volcanism Blog

Watching volcanoes: Natural Environment Research Council podcast 19 May 2009

Posted by admin in Caribbean, current research, geoscience, Soufrière Hills, volcano monitoring, volcanology.
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The Natural Environment Research Council ‘is the UK’s main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences’ (says the NERC ‘what we do’ page). The NERC is responsible for the British Antarctic Survey and the British Geological Survey, among many many other things, and has a strong commitment to natural hazards research, including (of course) volcanoes. To give a notable current example of the NERC’s involvement in this field, it provided emergency funding for the recent important studies of ashfall at Chaitén carried out by a University of Oxford research team.

All this is by way of background, and to point out that if you’re interested in volcanological and natural hazards research, the NERC is an agency to watch. Today there’s a new podcast available on the NERC’s Planet Earth Online environmental news service: ‘Watching volcanoes’. In the podcast (duration 6 min 42 sec) Richard Hollingham talks to Dr Sue Loughlin and Dr Kathryn Goodenough of the British Geological Survey about how studying currently active volcanoes (Montserrat) and the remains of ancient volcanoes (Edinburgh) informs our knowledge of volcanic processes and improves our ability to forecast future volcanic behaviour. It’s a model of clear exposition and an excellent example of scientific outreach.

The Planet Earth podcast – ‘Watching volcanoes’ (18 May 2009)

The Volcanism Blog

Volcano research miscellany 7 May 2009

Posted by admin in Africa, current research, geoscience, Hawaii, Kilauea, Ol Doinyo Lengai, Pacific, submarine volcanism, Tanzania, United States.
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Various interesting bits and pieces of volcano-related research to report. Apologies for the lack of detail, but I’m pressed for time right now.

Ash evidence suggests impact of past eruptions underrated – a research team from the University of Oxford has studied the distribution of ash from the Chaitén eruption and concluded that the impact of past volcanic eruptions is likely to have been significantly underestimated, because so much ashfall is light (a few millimetres thickness) and is quickly lost from the areas affected. More on this at Science Daily, under the snappy headline Chaitén Volcano In Southern Chile: Historic Volcanic Eruptions Significantly Underestimated, Ash Fallout Analysis Shows.

Origins of Ol Doinyo Lengai’s weird lavas probed – the unique carbonatite lavas of Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano in Tanzania are produced by a very low degree of partial melting of the upper mantle minerals, concludes research to be published shortly in Nature by U.S. and French scientists. Science magazine’s ScienceNOW (caps lock stuck down?) news service also has an article on this, bafflingly entitled Volcanic Fish Out of Water.

Thriving ecosystem supported by NW-Rota 1 – scientists who have just returned from filming and studying the deep undersea volcano NW-Rota 1 report that the active volcano nourishes a rich and thriving biological community including shrimps, crabs, limpets and barnacles, some of which are new species. National Geographic News has some pictures.

Gentle, easy-going Kilauea has a dangerous side – between 1000 and 1600 years ago Kilauea, known today for its gentle tourist-friendly lava flows, chucked rocks 16 or 17 kilometres during powerful explosive eruptions.

The Volcanism Blog

BBC documentary probes the volcanoes of Danakil 19 March 2009

Posted by admin in Africa, Erta Ale, Ethiopia, volcanology.
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There’s only one thing that is more important than news on the BBC News website, and that’s self-promotion: hence the thinly-disguised plugs for BBC television and radio programmes that regularly infest the BBC News pages. Just occasionally, however, the BBC self-publicity machine throws up something worthwhile.

A new two-part documentary on the Danakil region of north-eastern Ethiopia, Hottest Place on Earth, will (among other things) look at the fascinating geology of the region. As part of the programme Dr Dougal Jerram of Durham University will be using 3D technology to provide high resolution maps of the interior of the Dabbahu fissure and the crater of Erta Ale volcano. BBC News has an interesting article by Dr Jerram in which he tells us all about it. The video extract showing his descent into Erta Ale is fascinating, and visually stunning.

The Danakil region was the setting for last November’s dramatic fissure eruption at Alu/Dalaffilla. It would be really nice if some enterprising scientific documentary maker went there and had a look around.

(The BBC likes to get its geologist-presenters to abseil into Erta Ale whenever possible. It’s not that long ago that Dr Iain Stewart was doing it for Earth: Power of the Planet. The video of that found its way onto the BBC News website as well.)

The Volcanism Blog

Volcanoes’ jet-like roar 17 March 2009

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Infrasonic recordings of volcanic eruptions, when accelerated to bring the frequencies within the range of human hearing, reveal similarity to the noises made by jet engines, say the authors of a paper in Geophysical Research Letters. Such recordings could offer a new way of understanding what is going on in volcanic eruption columns, it says here.

  • R. S. Matoza, D. Fee, M. A. Garces, J. M. Seiner, P. A. Ramon, & M. A. H. Hedlin (2009), ‘Infrasonic jet noise from volcanic eruptions’, Geophysical Research Letters, in press [doi:10.1029/2008GL036486]. Link to PDF, subscribers only.

News
Volcanic roar may reveal jet physics at workNew Scientist, 16 March 2009

The Volcanism Blog

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