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Guest Thinkers

Friday Flotsam

A look at “folk volcano monitoring” in the Philippines, Kilauea takes out another piece of the doomed Royal Gardens subdivision and another great images of an active volcano from NASA.

Some of the articles you might have missed this week …

A lava flow from Kilauea breaks local traffic laws in the Royal Gardens subdivision, Hawai’i

  • The Mayon Watch continues in the Philippines. No eruption yet, but some of the local newspapers are printing stories talking about “odd animal behavior” and other local “myths” about predicting the volcano, such as the wells drying up. Now, this is not to say that these things might have some predictive value (especially changes in the water table near the volcano as it inflates/deflates), but so far there are no robust scientific studies that I know of that can directly correlate animal behavior and volcanism (at least before an eruption). One possibility mentioned in the article is that the animals are noticing subtle increases in sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide emissions. However, the best point made by Eduardo Laguerta of PHIVOLCS is more or less this: if animals are evacuating, maybe humans should take the hint (as opposed to doing the opposite). Local authorities are doing “dry runs” for potential evacuations. The volcano currently sits at Alert Level 2.
  • The NASA Earth Observatory had a nice image this week of activity in the Pu’u O’o crater on Kilauea. The extent of the lava flows from this flank vent eruption is evident, with the dark black flows heading all the way down to the Pacific Ocean (~10 km / 4 miles). Plumes from the active Pu’u O’o vent and an small ocean entry are visible as well. Lava flows from Kilauea destroyed another building in the Royal Gardens subdivision this week as well. Most of the damage in the subdivision is being caused by a small breakout from the lava tube system that feeds the Kupapa’u ocean entry.
  • The NASA EO hit us with another great image of an erupting volcano this week, this time at Anak Krakatau (who was popular this week). This image, taken on July 7, 2009, shows the active cone on Anak Krakatau, which some nice detail on the lava / scoria flows that cut through the small bits of vegetation on the east side of the island. The Indonesian volcano currently sits at Alert Level 3

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