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Tuesday Tidbits: Amazing Etna video, mystery in Niger and more!

The start of the semester always surprises me. No matter how much I think I might be prepared for it, the first day of class ends up being a maelstrom. This year was no different, especially when I intelligently decided to combine the first day of class with the launch of the new Denison University Geosciences Blog – the official blog of the Geosciences Department here. It is mostly curated by me so far, but we’ll be adding new posts as the semester progresses written by students, faculty and majors abroad. And if you’re of that ilk, we even have a Twitter feed (@denisongeos) for the blog.

Anyway, back to volcanoes! I have a couple brief updates to pass along – probably of information you already know – in this week of changes here on the blog (you’ll see why in about a week). Thanks again to everyone for keeping this place hopping in my absence!

Italy: Etna experienced yet another paroxysm on Monday, making it the 12th of 2011. This event brought a little of everything – lava fountains, lava flows, a plume that dusted the area with ash. The new Southeast crater cone ruptured as well. Remember, these cones are made of loosely consolidated tephra that are prone to these breakouts like we have seen in Hawai`i. As usual, if you want to see great images of the eruption (like the one above), check out Boris Behncke’s Flickr feed – or just watch the stunning collection of videos of the 12th paroxysm!

Niger: I mentioned this on Twitter over the weekend, but have yet to find any other information on a supposed eruption in Niger. Now, this African nation isn’t known for its volcanism – in fact, the GVP database only shows one known active volcanic field in Niger: the Todra volcanic field. I’m not sure what to make of it with such scant information and we’ve seen spurious reports of volcanism in Africa in the past, so until we have more details, file this under “X”.

Indonesia: We have two quick updates in the same article about volcanoes in Indonesia. It appears that Lokon-Empung has seen a decided reduction in activity in the past day or so. The volcano erupted a dozen times on Sunday but only once on Monday and seismicity has declined rapidly as well. Over 200 people still remain in shelters. At Marapi, that Sumatran volcano is still rumbling as well, as it produced a thick, white plume on Monday that reached 100 m over the summit. A 3 km exclusion zone remains around the volcano. I did also run into a new report (thanks to Eruptions reader Martin) of increasing signs of activity at Tambora. The report is in Indonesia, but a Google Translation suggests increased occurrence of small steam plumes and seismic swarms under the famous caldera. The PVMBG has raised the alert status from Level I to II at Tambora to reflect these changes. UPDATE: I’ve added a new post just on this Tambora unrest.

Aviation: Two eruptions on opposite sides of the globe are causing flight disruptions, but in both cases, it is nothing new. Shiveluch in Kamchatka has been erupting vigorously, causing some air traffic over the remote Russian peninsula to be rerouted. Meanwhile, in South America, Buenos Aires continues to feel occasional ash disruptions from Puyehue-Cordón Caulle ash.

Top left: Etna erupting on August 29, 2011. Image courtesy of Dr. Boris Behncke.


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