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The volcano forecast: something a little different 5 March 2010

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Here in the United Kingdom one of the enduring pillars of our national life is the Shipping Forecast, a report on weather conditions around British and Irish shores put together by the Met Office and H.M. Coastguard and broadcast four times a day on BBC Radio 4. It may seem rather utilitarian, but the forecast has a certain poetic and imaginative quality that gives it an appeal far beyond the maritime community for whom it is a vital service.

Reading the Shipping Forecast is among the jobs of the BBC Radio Four announcers, and one of their number, the mellifluously-voiced Zeb Soanes, is a guest on the latest edition (no. 16) of the Shift Run Stop podcast put together by Leila Johnston and Roo Reynolds. Leila, a big fan of the regular SI/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Reports featured on this blog (and who wouldn’t be?) suggested Zeb should read a ‘volcanic activity forecast’ in the style of the Shipping Forecast, so I lightly adapted the 10-16 February report for him to read. The result, although it most definitely should not be relied upon by anyone seeking information about volcanic activity, is quite superb: you’ve no idea of the comic potential inherent in the term ‘small pyroclastic flow moving northwards’ until you’ve heard Zeb reading it.

You can hear the volcanic activity forecast at Shift Run Stop by clicking here to access the podcast. The volcano bit starts at about 20 minutes in (although you really ought to hear the whole thing, and then subscribe and buy the tape).

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Betting on a big bang 2 January 2010

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Forecasting volcanic eruptions is always something of a gamble. However, if you fancy your chances of predicting where the next big volcanic eruption is likely to be and are willing to back your hunches, Irish bookmakers Paddy Power will happily relieve you of your cash.

Paddy Power have begun taking bets on the next volcano to produced a VEI=3 or greater eruption. At the moment Mount Unzen in Japan, which as far as we know has never produced anything bigger than VEI=2, is leading the field at 3/1. The offering of Mauna Loa at 9/1 suggests even more strongly that form has not been studied with sufficient care. Among the more sensible contenders are Merapi (10/1), Avachinsky (22/1) and Vesuvius (28/1). Yellowstone has just made it into the top twenty at 33/1, a state of affairs for which the supervolcano obsessives at the Discovery Channel are surely responsible. If you bet on Yellowstone and it does erupt, good luck collecting your winnings.

This may or may not all be in rather bad taste, and it’s a lousy way to try to make some money (unless you are Paddy Power, of course). On the other hand, it may increase the number of people around the world watching volcanoes with close, if mercenary, interest.

If you fancy a flutter, or are just interested to see how punters view the current state of the world’s volcanoes (‘Casade Range’ at 16/1, anybody?), the latest odds can be found at oddschecker.com.

More reaction: nice write-up (and comments) at Erik’s Eruptions blog, and a fairly dumb article at Popular Science.

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The Volcanism Blog on Twitter 16 October 2009

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This was not an easy decision, but I’ve finally decided to start a Twitter account for The Volcanism Blog and begin twitting entwitments. Any advice on how to get the best out of the thing gratefully received: I’m feeling my way with it, to be honest.

http://twitter.com/volcanismblog

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It’s a volcano quiz 26 February 2009

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Test your volcano knowledge with this two-part, 20-question Volcano Quiz at LiveScience. Score 20/20, you are a plinian eruption of volcanic genius. 15/20, your magma is rich with the gas of knowledge. 10/10, you are a weak fumarole. 5 and under, you are a Jindal.

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