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Thursday Throwdown: More volcano news than I can list here

Piles and piles of volcano news from the past week, including extinctions! cards! holiday snaps! and rumbling volcanoes!

I’m still playing catch-up after my week in the desert, so I’ve seen a lot of articles I’ve wanted to mention … but a certain other volcano has taken up a lot of my time. However, I will attempt to make amends for that now.


By the way, would you believe Ubehebe Crater was closed? How do they close a volcano, anyway? However, I did get a great snap of a welded tuff on the road outside of Shoshone, CA.

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A strongly welded tuff near Shoshone, CA. The dark interior is remelted volcanic ash/tephra surrounded by less welded pink tuff with abundant pumice clasts. Denison student David Sisak is on the left for scale.

  • First off, congratulations to Henrik for getting the Mystery Volcano Photo #19 on the second guess. It is indeed Emi Koussi in Chad, nice job. It also looks like the next Volcano Profile will be on Tristan de Cunha, so look for that at some point in the future.
  • I’ve seen a lot of articles on the connection between the rise of the dinosaurs and volcanism. The research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science by Dr. Jessica Whitehead and others suggest that the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) that erupted 9-11 million km3 of basalt might have created a rampant greenhouse effect (thanks to all the CO2 emitted) on the planet. This caused mass extinctions ~200 million years ago and paved the way for the dinosaurs. Now the details are a little fuzzy, but hey, as us mammals can say, nothing clears the way to dominance like a good mass extinction (unless you’re the one going extinct). Now, the implication that somehow the dinosaurs took advantage of this rather than it being complete chance, well, I’d leave that up to you.
  • I ran across some impressive holiday snaps taken of one of the recent large eruptions at Soufriere Hills on Montserrat. On one hand, all I could think was “I wish I was on that flight” but on the other hand I was wondering how frightening that might be. I think the first hand might win that argument.
  • Need a gift for the volcanophile who has everything? How about the new deck of cards being offered by the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Survey? It features all 52 of Alaska’s potentially active volcanoes. Yes, indeed, I’ll see your Okmok.
  • Potentially lost in the hub-bub surrounding Iceland is the fact that things appear to be ramping up at Turrialba in Costa Rica. Last week, obvious incandescence was noted at the summit, along with strong, persistent fumarolic activity. Definitely something to watch over the coming months.
  • Lest we forget the human aspect of volcanism, the government of Papau New Guinea is still struggling with what to do with refugees from the evacuations of Manam. This is a problem that we will likely see repeated as population continues to encroach on volcanoes.
  • Melimoyu in Chile continues to show signs that it might be rumbling back to life as well. The seismicity in the area has been determined to be coming from Melimoyu according to the SERNAGEOMIN of Chile, all between 3 and 22 km depth (which is quite a range). The earthquakes were coming in at 7-8/hr on March 17 and 18, but since then have returned to only 2/hr. That being said, the volcano will be under 24-hour surveillance starting immediately.
  • A couple of new images from the NASA Earth Observatory: (1) A view of the current activity at Kilauea – now there is a basaltic volcano that Eyjafjallajokull has to look up to; (2) A view of the “quiescent” Etna that I’m sure Boris will appreciate – the craters definitely stand out in the snow cover.
  • We are fast approaching the 30th anniversary of the dramatic eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in Washington. If you want to learn more about the events that lead up to the eruption, you can follow the Mt. Saint Helens Institute’s 30th Anniversary Twitter feed (if Twitter is your thing). More anniversary info can be found on the MSHI website.

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