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New Zealand to fund volcano monitoring improvements in Vanuatu 6 March 2012

Posted by admin in natural hazards, Pacific, Vanuatu, volcano monitoring.
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Vanuatu has plenty of volcanic activity: Ambrym, Aoba, Gaua, Yasur are perhaps the best-known of the archipelago’s historically active volcanoes, all of which have produced violent and disruptive eruptions in the past, and have plenty of destructive potential for the future.

The news that Vanautu’s volcano monitoring capacity is to be enhanced in a five-year programme with the help from New Zealand is therefore very welcome. The New Zealand Government’s aid agency is providing NZ$500,000 for real-time seismic and camera monitoring of Ambae (Aoba), Gaua and Tanna (Yasur) volcanoes. A programme of community outreach and education, technical training and volcanic emergency response plan development is also being supported in a partnership between GNS Science in New Zealand and the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department.

Five-year project to see seismic cameras placed on three Vanuatu volcanoes – Radio New Zealand International, 6 March 2012
NZ volcano project to help Vanuatu – MSN NZ, 6 March 2012
NZ scientists introduce volcano life-saving monitoring devices to Vanuatu – Bernama, 6 March 2012

Volcanoes of the world: Vanuatu – information from the Global Volcanism Program on Vanuatu’s volcanoes

The Volcanism Blog

The wonder of volcanoes at Bad Astronomy 5 March 2012

Posted by admin in blogs, volcano images, volcano monitoring.
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Recently-active Tinakula volcano in the Solomon Islands

Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog will, I’m sure, need no introduction to many Volcanism Blog readers (and if you do need an introduction, nothing I could say would beat just going there and seeing for yourself). In a beautiful post today Phil lets rip with his love for volcanoes and gives us some of the most stunning satellite images of volcanoes he’s been able to lay his hands on, including the stunning view of Tinakula above. It’s not just pretty pictures, though: Phil points out that observing volcanoes from space tells us more about them and what they are up to, adding to the knowledge of geologists, volcanologists and seismologists: ‘And given the number of people who live near active volcanoes, this knowledge saves lives. It really is that simple: the better we understand the world — the Universe — around us, the better off we are’.

The Volcanism Blog

Prof warns of volcanic threat to south-east Australia: that word ‘overdue’ again (updated) 5 July 2011

Posted by admin in Australia, natural hazards, volcano monitoring.
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Professor Bernie Joyce of Melbourne University is reported as warning, again, that south-east Australia is ‘overdue’ for a volcanic eruption – ‘well overdue’, in fact, according to a story today headlined ‘Victoria’s overdue for volcano – warning’ in Melbourne’s Herald-Sun newspaper:

Scientists have told a conference it is only a matter of time before volcanoes erupt in Victoria, and warned there is no disaster plan for when it happens.

According to scientists at Melbourne University, a series of volcanoes in Victoria’s west are well overdue to erupt.

Eruptions should occur in the region about every 2000 years, but the south-east of the country hasn’t experienced any volcanic activity since Mt Gambier erupted over 5000 years ago.

The paper concerned was presented at the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics Conference in Melbourne, an event which has a silly subtitle (‘Earth on the Edge’) and a complete mess of a website. In a model of how not to use the web to communicate important information, the full programme for the conference appears only to be available as a 255-page PDF document, so it’s not as easy as it should be to find the descriptions of individual contributions. Two papers by Bernie Joyce are listed in this mammoth publication: E. B. Joyce, R. Hughes, ‘Analysing the spatial distribution of volcanic activity over time: the young monogenetic Newer Volcanic Province of southeastern Australia’, and E. B. Joyce, ‘A new assessment of risk and hazard for the young volcanoes of Australia’. It sounds as if the latter, sole-author, paper is the one at the bottom of this report, but without knowing what it actually says it’s hard to judge how fair the Herald-Sun‘s reporting of it is – whether the term ‘overdue’ actually appears, for example. Then again, the things Professor Joyce does say on this topic are pretty well guaranteed to feed sensationalized headlines, as we have seen before.

In any case, the word ‘overdue’ is never a wise choice when it comes to the behaviour of volcanoes. They are not trains and do not run to a timetable. Such loaded terminology is always going to feed sensationalism in the press and create a misleading and unnecessary public apprehension of danger. There is a balance between appropriate preparedness based on a rational assessment of potential hazards and volcano fear-mongering. Scientists cannot exert much control over the way their words are twisted in the world of the media – which is pretty clueless on volcanic matters as a rule anyway – but reputable scientists (even ones with books to sell) do have a responsibility not to feed the fear-mongers.

UPDATE. Here we go: ‘Volcanoes “due to erupt”‘ (Melbourne Age), ‘Aussie volcanoes due for eruption’ (The Australian), ‘Australian regions should brace for volcanic eruptions soon’ (International Business Times). That last report is particularly ludicrous, with its advice that entire regions should ‘brace for volcanic eruptions’ – grab a table or something, quick – and its claim that research ‘has verified [verified!] that Western Victoria and South Australia are overdue for an eruption that could potentially affect thousands of local residents’. This really is wretched scare-mongering stuff.

FURTHER UPDATE. The idiocy continues. Earth tremors affecting Melbourne? Definitely a sign of approaching volcanic geotectonic mayhem, says the Herald-Sun: ‘The biggest aftershock from yesterday’s 4.6 magnitude earth tremor was a forecast that Victoria’s dormant volcanoes are overdue to erupt. … Seismologists said aftershocks would be felt for days. But the future painted by scientists in Melbourne for today’s Congress of Geodesy and Geophysics was more apocalyptic. Scientists said volcanoes in the Western District were overdue to blow’. And here’s the text all the papers are merrily recycling: a University of Melbourne press release, headed ‘Australian volcano eruptions overdue, new study confirms’.

Victoria’s overdue for volcano – warningHerald-Sun, 5 July 2011

The Volcanism Blog

More on Puyehue-Cordón Caulle 11 June 2011

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chile, eruptions, Puyehue, volcano monitoring, volcano webcams.
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OVDAS webcam 2: Puyehue-Cordon Caulle, 11 June 2011, 19:21 GMT

Chile’s OVDAS (Observatorio Volcanológico de los Andes del Sur) currently has three webcams monitoring Puyehue-Cordón Caulle. It’s great to have the cameras, but there are some reliability problems with them: their images freeze from time to time, and one of them fell into a box earlier today. It’s back out again now and just provided the view above (camera number 2): the east-trending plume looks vigorous and moderately ash-laden.

Volcanologist Jorge Clavero of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, interviewed on Terra.cl, warns that ‘the major danger associated with this type of eruption is not lava, but all the ashes that are falling, floods, or the formation of pyroclastic flows with glowing clouds’. Clavero also dismisses any question of a link between this eruption and the earthquake of February 2010: ‘We are talking about an eruptive event that is beginning nearly 15 months after this earthquake, therefore, the relationship of cause and effect is very difficult to prove. I would say sincerely that there is not direct cause’. El Mercurio has also been talking with volcanologists, and muses on the catastrophic consequences of an eruption column collapse or a major flank failure at Cordón Caulle. Meanwhile, the BBC reports that airports are re-opening in Uruguay and Argentina and some flights are resuming after two days of ash disruption.

Experto alerta: flujo piroclástico “es mayor peligro que una lava” – Terra.cl, 11 June 2011
Sepa qué es lo peor que podría pasar si se agudiza la erupción volcánicaEl Mercurio, 11 June 2011
Chile ash: Argentine and Uruguayan airports opening again – BBC News, 11 June 2011

Global Volcanism Program: Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex – summary information for the PCCVC (1507-15=)

The Volcanism Blog

A webcam for Arenal 11 June 2011

Posted by admin in Arenal, Costa Rica, volcano images, volcano monitoring, volcano webcams.
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Arenal volcano viewed from OVSICORI-UNA webcam, 8 June 2011.

Even in Costa Rica, a land well-provided with active and spectacular volcanoes, Arenal stands out as something special. It’s now possible to keep a close watch on Arenal via a new webcam installed by the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica (OVSICORI-UNA). It is located to the south of Arenal 1.4 km from the summit and, weather permitting, gives a fine view of the volcano’s elegant cone. The image is available via this page (or click on the image above) and refreshes every 10 seconds. Be careful — volcano webcams can be addictive!

Global Volcanism Program: Arenal – summary information for Arenal (1405-033)
Volcán Arenal en vivo – OVSICORI-UNA webcam for Arenal
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica – home page for Ovsicori

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Happy 10th birthday to the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 7 November 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, volcano monitoring, Weekly Volcanic Activity Reports.
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The Global Volcanism Program Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is ten years old! The first report covered 1-7 November 2000, and reported on activity at Bezymianny, Etna, Guagua Pichincha, Karangetang, Kilauea, Popocatépetl, Soufrière Hills and Tungurahua. Ten years on, 220 volcanoes have featured in the report, and the report is viewed on average 35,000 times every week. For everyone who takes an interest in what the world’s volcanoes are up to, the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is both fascinating reading and an essential source of information.

So, happy birthday to the report and congratulations to Weekly Report Editor Sally Kuhn Sennert (who talked about her work in a great interview at Eruptions a little while ago) and all her colleagues for their hard work. And, very importantly, a big thank-you, too, to all the volcano-watchers all over the world who contribute the information about volcanic activity without which there would be no report. As Sally writes on a posting to the VOLCANO list today: ‘We appreciate the continuing support of the volcanological community. Thank you to those who have sent reports, photographs, and comments. Your contributions are appreciated!’

There’s a special page to mark the anniversary, featuring selected highlights of the last ten years, on the Global Volcanism Program website.

The Volcanism Blog

Merapi eruption update 5 November 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, eruptions, Indonesia, Merapi, natural hazards, volcano monitoring, volcanoes.
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To my great regret I’ve only been able to run a minimalist blog recently and haven’t been able to cover the Merapi eruption up to now, but fortunately Erik Klemetti’s coverage of this dramatic and tragic event at the Eruptions blog (click here for ‘Merapi’ tagged posts) couldn’t be bettered.

The news from Indonesia today continues to be grim indeed. News reports say that a further eruption of Merapi, ‘the biggest so far’ according to Indonesian volcanologist Surono (quoted by AFP), took place just after midnight local time on Friday 5 November, although this may have been a dome collapse rather than a new eruptive event. Darwin VAAC reports emissions at FL550 (55,000 feet / 16,700 metres a.s.l.), with the plume extending 190 nautical miles (~350 km) to the west and south-west. Pyroclastic flows reached 13 km, and perhaps as far as 18 km, from the volcano’s summit, pushing at the limits of the exclusion zone as then in force and destroying villages on the slopes. Many more people have been killed: news reports give death tolls of around 50, with at least 70 critically injured. The total number of deaths in this eruption is now around 100. Ash fall occurred in the city of Yogyakarta, 30 km from Merapi, and the sound of the latest eruption was heard up to 20 km away. Flights from Yogyakarta airport have been disrupted again, after resuming briefly yesterday.

The exclusion zone around the volcano has now been extended to 20 km from the summit. Between 70,000 and 100,000 people have fled the area around the volcano, stretching Indonesia’s emergency resources to the limit. But tribute must be paid to Indonesia’s volcanologists and emergency officials, who have been providing all the information and warnings they can about this eruption as rapidly and effectively as possible throughout. Their warnings have not always been heeded, sadly. Information from the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia about the ongoing activity at Merapi (in Indonesian) can currently be found here.

Indonesian volcano claims another 49 lives – AFP, 5 November 2010
Death toll from Indonesian volcano nears 100Times of India, 5 November 2010
Dozens die in new Mount Merapi eruption in Indonesia – BBC News, 5 November 2010
Deaths from Indonesian volcano wrath near 100 – GMANews.TV, 5 November 2010
Death toll from Indonesian volcano tops 100 – ABC News, 5 November 2010

Global Volcanism Program: Merapi – summary information for Merapi (0603-25=)
Volcanological Survey of Indonesia – News and information portal for the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia

The Volcanism Blog

A new Icelandic volcanoes and earthquakes blog 8 October 2010

Posted by admin in blogs, geoblogosphere, Iceland, volcano monitoring.
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Iceland is volcanoes, and anyone who has been following volcanic events in Iceland recently — and there have been plenty, of course — will be familiar with the work of Jón Frímann, who (to quote Erik Klemetti) ‘has information on every noise the volcanoes of Iceland make’. He’s been sharing that information via the comments threads at Eruptions for some time, and has now set up his own blog, the Iceland Volcano and Earthquake blog. It’s dense with detail about what the volcanoes of Iceland are up to: earthquakes, tremor, inflation/deflation, emissions, the lot. Essential reading if you want to know what is happening in the land of fire and ice.

The Volcanism Blog

Twenty Indonesian volcanoes ‘ready to erupt’? (updated) 1 October 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, Indonesia, volcano monitoring.
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[UPDATE. The Jakarta Globe story has moved here, and the number of volcanoes allegedly ‘ready to erupt’ has increased to 21. The article lists three volcanoes at alert level 3 and eighteen at alert level 2. The latter group is as listed below with the exception of Seulawah Agam, which is omitted for some reason. The article has been extended, but remains a complete non-story from start to finish. It also remains utterly dumb.]

‘Volcano observation experts are warning that twenty volcanoes across the archipelago are ready to erupt’ – that’s what it says [new location for the story here] in the Jakarta Globe, anyway. According to the Globe‘s report, the head of the Indonesian Institute of Volcanology and Mitigation of Natural Disasters has ‘raised the volcanic activities status of 17 volcanoes in Indonesia, from “normal, or level 1” to “beware, or level 2”.’ Three more volcanoes — Sinabung, Ibu and Karangetang — are on higher levels of alert.

However, according to the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI) website, 20 volcanoes are on level 2 (yellow) anyway, with Merapi and Seulawah Agam being the most recent to have had their alert levels raised. Karangetang and Ibu are on level 3 (orange), as is Sinabung, where the alert level has just been lowered from level 4 (red). Many of the volcanoes on level 2 have been there for two or three years.

So it’s far from clear just what that Jakarta Globe article is all about.

Alert levels for Indonesian volcanoes, 1 October 2010 (source: VSI):
LEVEL 3 (ORANGE). Sinabung, Karangetang, Ibu. [=3]
LEVEL 2 (YELLOW). Merapi, Seulewah Agam, Egon, Talang, Batur, Kaba, Anak Krakatau, Semeru, Slamet, Sangeang Api, Rinjani, Rokatenda, Soputan, Dukono, Gamalama, Papandayan, Lokon, Kerinci, Bromo. [=19]

References to volcano alert levels on this blog are not authoritative and are not necessarily up to date. You should always check with official sources for the latest alert levels.

Danger ratings of twenty Indonesian volcanoes raisedJakarta Globe, 1 October 2010
[The above story no longer available – replaced by the version below.]
21 volcanoes across country ready to eruptJakarta Globe, 1 October 2010

Volcanological Survey of Indonesia – News and information portal for the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia
Map of Volcanic Activity in Indonesia – a useful summary and map from indahnesia.com

The Volcanism Blog

San Salvador: living under the volcano 28 September 2010

Posted by admin in El Salvador, natural hazards, San Salvador, volcano monitoring, volcanology.
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Dominating the landscape to the west of El Salvador’s capital of San Salvador is the massive volcano that shares the city’s name. San Salvador volcano last erupted in 1917, the beginning of the eruption being marked by an earthquake estimated to have been magnitude 5.6 which left up to 90% of the capital’s housing stock damaged or destroyed according to contemporary reports (see today’s Daily Volcano Quote). The 1917 eruption, the seat of which was El Boquerón, the main summit of San Salvador, lasted from June to November and produced extensive lava flows and ashfall, damaging crops and causing some fatalities in the surrounding region.

Today the city of San Salvador has a population estimated at 2.2 million and its suburbs encroach upon the lower slopes of San Salvador volcano. A fresh eruption of San Salvador on almost any scale would have serious consequences for the city of San Salvador. Even without any eruptive activity, the volcano’s unstable slopes pose a significant landslide hazard for the surrounding areas.

The authorities in El Salvador are very conscious of the hazard San Salvador poses. Yesterday the Salvadorean newspaper El Diario Co Latino reported that the Salvadorean environment ministry, the Ministerio de Medio Ambiente  y Recursos Naturales (MARN) has been working with geologists and non-governmental organizations from across the world to assess the potential threat of San Salvador and plan hazard mitigation and response strategies. Taking into account San Salvador’s 3000-year history of frequent activity, ‘The likelihood that a phenomenon such as that of 1917 will occur within the next 100 years is high, but it is not possible to give an exact time range’, says volcanologist Dolores Ferrés, author of the study Estratigrafía, geología y evolución del volcán de San Salvador: Aplicación en la evaluación de peligros volcánicos y su posible impacto, which was presented to the media at a congress held by MARN on 21 September.

Ferrés’s study is described in a news release from El Salvador’s Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales (SNET) as ‘a breakthrough in the generation of knowledge about volcanic risk in the country and providing vital information to decision-makers in various sectors’. The intention is to carry out a comprehensive hazard assessment programme for San Salvador volcano and the surrounding area. ‘Although the volcano currently shows only very week activity (fumaroles in Cerro La Hoya and very sporadic volcanic-tectonic seismicity) it is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Central America because of its proximity to large urban areas and its eruptive history’, is the SNET’s current verdict on San Salvador volcano.

Presentación Estudio volcán de San Salvador – SNET news release, 21 September 2010
Volcán de San Salvador: un gigante activoDiario Co Latino, 27 September 2010

Global Volcanism Program: San Salvador – summary information for San Salvador (1403-05=)
Volcano Hazards in the San Salvador Region – USGS report, 2001, available at the CVO website

The Volcanism Blog

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