Articles in Volcanoes
The following news could be anywhere from meaningful to meaningless. The primary problem is that scientists have never witnessed a supervolcanic eruption. They don’t know what indicators they should be looking for, and how much of a warning we get.
Presumably an eruption is preceded by a build-up of magma, and presumably that would cause the ground to rise to some degree:
Italy’s Department of Civil Protection recently raised the alert level for the Phlegraean Fields, where Wiersberg said the ground was rising by about three centimetres a month.
There are concerns that a magma chamber under the fields, presumably connected to the one under Mount Vesuvius, east of Naples, is filling up, the rising pressure possibly heightening the danger of an eruption.
That might be reason for concern, and certainly the Italian government are covering themselves. But if you compare it to some other, relatively recent activity, then there’s no reason for concern:
It is almost ironic, and there’s a tiny part of me wondering if the ancient Maya predicted Dec 21, 2012 as the most un-eventful date to give us.
Yes, there are some winter storms in the USA/Europe. But these aren’t exactly unexpected. What is unusual is the lack of:
earthquakes – according to the USGS this is a list of the significant earthquakes of the last 4 months- have any reached your preferred news service?
Magnitude 6.8 VANUATU December 21, 2012
Magnitude 7.1 BANDA SEA December 10, 2012
Magnitude 6.3 NORTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND December 07, 2012
Magnitude 7.3 OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN December 07, 2012
Magnitude 6.4 KURIL ISLANDS November 16, 2012
Magnitude 6.5 OFFSHORE GUATEMALA November 11, 2012
Magnitude 6.8 MYANMAR November 11, 2012
Magnitude 4.3 EASTERN KENTUCKY November 10, 2012
Magnitude 7.4 OFFSHORE GUATEMALA November 07, 2012
Magnitude 7.7 QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS REGION October 28, 2012
Magnitude 6.5 COSTA RICA October 24, 2012
Magnitude 5.3 CENTRAL CALIFORNIA …
I didn’t know some of these, so thanks to Cracked for their post 6 Important Things That We Built On Top of Supervolcanoes:
Lake Taupo – this supervolcano is located in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island, which is home to 80% of the population. Next time it erupts, population will decrease for sure!
Naples / The Phlegraean Fields – yep, they built a famous city right next to a massive volcano.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area / Long Valley – at least it isn’t a city, but it is a ski resort that sits within a supervolcano.
Guatemala City / Atitlan Caldera – this major central American city is just 70 miles from a supervolcano.
Tanegashima Space Center / Kikai Caldera – I didn’t even know Japan had a space center, but they built it right next door to an undersea supervolcano.
Los Alamos National Laboratory / Valles Caldera – yep, that’s where they developed …
It is well-known by U.S. survivalists that if Yellowstone erupts, the western half of the country will be a terrible place to be. And because ash will ruin motors, the only way to survive would be to stay indoors for long periods, and survive on stored food and water. But what about the rest of the world?
First of all, the economic impact would be extraordinary. California, if it was a country, would be one of the 10 biggest economies in the world. You’d pretty much expect the USA to become bankrupt, and therefore the major global currency would no longer be the dollar. America could be ripe for an invasion… All in all, it would be a much worse situation that the Global Financial Crisis.
What about physical repercussions, worldwide?
The jet stream generally flows from west to east, so the north-eastern states would also get some ash fallout – sufficient to …
There are two reasons why Mount Fuji in Japan should be feared:
1) Obviously a major eruption in Japan could affect the entire planet economically
2) It used to erupt every 30 years, but has been dormant since 1707
Now Japanese scientist Professor Toshitsugu Fujii has warned that Fuji is due for a “big-scale explosive eruption”. The magma chamber beneath the mountain has come under a lot of pressure recently, and last year’s massive earthquake could have made things worse.
He warns that ash accumulations in some areas could be as high as 60 centimetres. And Tokyo, just 100 kilometres to the north-east, could end up being coated in volcanic ash.
Last night I watched yet another cable TV doco on supervolcanoes – this one focused on the Toba eruption 70,000 years ago. I didn’t learn anything new, but a new thought crossed my mind:
Could global catastrophes be the secret ingredient that made us who we are?
According to the documentary, all humans at the time were in Africa, and of the 1 million alive prior to the super-eruption, only 30,000 survived the volcanic winter. According to Wikipedia:
This change in temperature resulted in the world’s human population being reduced to 10,000 or even a mere 1,000 breeding pairs, creating a bottleneck in human evolution.
This theory has a lot of solid scientific support. And it got me thinking… surely prior super-eruptions from other supervolcanoes caused similar bottlenecks? In that case you could argue that these and other cataclysms (local and global) are key ingredients and drivers of human evolution.
Planet Earth is sometimes referred …
Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence (more at Wikipedia).
There is a lot of evidence that epigenetic modifications can last two generations. For example, if your mother was a Holocaust survivor, you could be more prone to post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as your children. Researchers have been trying to discover if such changes can last longer, and become a permanent genetic fixture. Evolution in other words.
This is of great interest to catastrophists – it could mean that global cataclysms were a major ingredient in human evolution. And could again…
DNA extracted from the bones of an extinct bison shows that the environment influenced the way the animal’s genes worked without altering the genetic code. It is the best evidence yet that such epigenetic changes can be fossilized.
…most of the methylations they found were …
Renewed Activity at El Hierro in the Canary Islands (Wired)
300 small earthquakes at Chile’s Lascar (Wired)
500 people living near Mount Lewotolok in Indonesia district abandoned their homes (Jakarta Globe)
A total of 7 Indonesian volcanoes are on alert status (USGS)
And finally this report from Al Jazeera, about how restless Iceland’s Katla is:
Yesterday the Daily Mail has an article about the Laacher See volcano in Germany:
A sleeping super-volcano in Germany is showing worrying signs of waking up.
It’s lurking just 390 miles away underneath the tranquil Laacher See lake near Bonn and is capable of ejecting billions of tons of magma.
This monster erupts every 10 to 12,000 years and last went off 12,900 years ago, so it could blow at any time.
Well, while it could do a lot of harm, that’s normal for a volcano. It’s not a super-volcano, for they are an extinction-level threat. And those bubbles have been happening for centuries. And I’ve not seen any information that suggests this volcano is on a regular cycle. This is a non-story, and no need for people in Europe to be concerned. Wired magazine were quick to point out the same, suggesting that this article is pandering to 2012ers.
But if you do want …
A study has found evidence that the Maya city of Palenque may have been destroyed by superheated volcanic gases and covered with ash. Meanwhile an eruption alert has been issued by the Mexican government for Popocatépetl, the volcano that sits next to Mexico City. Imagine if it erupted during the Pope’s visit!
There have been a few video raps about 2012 in recent years, but this one stands out because it features an intellectual heavyweight: Noam Chomsky.
Apocalyptic warnings that islands such as the Maldives will sink beneath the waves are far-fetched, said Nils Axel-Morner, former head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University.
He says that any rise in sea levels is to do with natural historic fluctuations.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2068516/Doomsday-predictions-sea-level-rises-false-alarm–levels-fluctuate.html
Supervolcano: Eruption is a brand new book that caught my eye:
A supervolcanic eruption in Yellowstone Park sends lava and mud flowing toward populated areas, and clouds of ash drifting across the country. The fallout destroys crops and livestock, clogs machinery, and makes cities uninhabitable. Those who survive find themselves caught in an apocalyptic catastrophe in which humanity has no choice but to rise from the ashes and recreate the world…
It is written by Harry Turtledove, a New York Times bestselling author of numerous alternate history novels. $15 hardcover at Amazon USA
This is weak, weak, weak. The headline is quite definite:
Supervolcanoes: Not a Threat For 2012
But if you read the article, NASA expert Adam Voiland (not an expert really, see his resume) points out:
Volcanologists have many unanswered questions about supervolcanoes, including what triggers their eruptions, and how can we predict when the next supervolcano will erupt?
The most recent supereruption occurred in New Zealand about 26,000 years ago.
Scientists have no way of predicting with perfect accuracy whether a supervolcano will occur in a given century, decade, or year – and that includes 2012.
The odds if a supervolcano erupting in any given year is close to a million-to-one.
There’s no sign of a supereruption looming anytime soon.
On that last point, given that scientists have never witnessed such an eruption, and they don’t know what triggers them, how do they know what to look for?
For those of us that believe there were …
Models that have looked into the effects of a major meteorite impact have, until now, used a featuresless perfect sphere to represent Earth. A new model that incorporates the surface features of our planet has found:
…that the seismic waves resulting from the impact would have been scattered and unfocused, causing less severe ground displacement, tsunamis, and seismic and volcanic activity than previously thought.
So instead of the ripples in a swimming pool being quite uniform, we have ripples in say a small river, with some ducks, a fallen tree, and a pile of mud getting in the way. This means that there will be some areas, even reasonably close to the impact, that will survive intact. If there is ever going to be advanced warning of a large impact, such a model might be able to help humans choose the safest places to hide.
Uturuncu is an ancient volcano in southwest Bolivia. …
In 1815 Mount Tambora erupted, killing 90,000 locals and affecting the weather of the entire planet.
Aside from a few minor bursts in steam in the 1960s, the mountain has been quiet for much of the last 200 years. Gede Suantika of the government’s Center for Volcanology said activity first picked up in April, with the volcanic quakes jumping from less than five a month to more than 200.
“It also started spewing ash and smoke into the air, sometimes as high as 1,400 meters (4,600 feet),” he said. “That’s something I’ve never seen it do before.”
Authorities raised the alert to the second-highest level two weeks ago, but said only villagers within 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the crater needed to evacuate. [Washington Post]
In theory it takes more than 200 years for such a volcano to erupt with the same intensity as last time. So we probably shouldn’t be concerned…
Just like nuclear power plants, it seems that nuclear missile bases are a step or two of redundancy short:
When Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming lost control of 50 nuclear, inter-continental missiles last October, officials said a communication failure between the control centre and the weapons was to blame.
The Daily Mail then tells us that UFO sightings coincided with the incident, and the witnesses were maintenance technicians at the base. I’m guessing the UFO was operated by the US military and being experimental in nature it caused the equipment failure.
…It is not the first time Hastings has reported UFO sightings at nuclear missile sites. He organised a press conference last September, when six former Air Force officers stepped forward to reveal they had seen or had been involved with sightings at missile sites.
The second item is a really odd story, and I’m not sure what to make …