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Guest Thinkers

Wednesday Whatzits: The molten moon and the world’s deadliest volcanoes

The WORLD’S DEADLIEST VOLCANOES! Alright, not really, but we all love the “World’s Blankiest Blanks”, now don’t we (to a fault)? Oh yeah, and the moon’s surface was once totally molten.

The move is complete (finally) … so maybe I can settle down a bit, right? Right?

The world’s deadliest volcano?

Anyway, a few things I stumbled across this week:

  • Forbes has a list boldly titled “World’s Deadliest Volcanoes“, which more or less is a slideshow of nice volcano pictures and some dubious ranking – mostly based on death toll (and cribbing a bit from IAVCEI’s “Decade Volcanoes”). Of course, I find it amusing that they made a list of “deadliest volcanoes” and then proceed to tell people (read “tourists”) what to do near the so-called “deadly” volcanoes. I suppose it is sort of like making a list of the world’s most dangerous warzones … and then told you of that great bed & breakfast to visit when you go to Somalia.
  • The list itself is a bit of a mish-mash of volcanoes – some of which were deadly, but whether they would still be considered the “deadliest” is a bit of reach … and any list like this that doesn’t have Vesuvius at the top is off from the start.

    Anyway, here it is:

    1. Tambora, Indonesia
    2. Krakatau, Indonesia
    3. Pelee, Martinique
    4. Ruiz, Colombia
    5. Laki, Iceland
    6. Vesuvius, Italy
    7. Unzen, Japan
    8. Kelut (Kelud), Indonesia
    9. Santa Maria, Guatemala
    10. Galunggung, Indonesia
    11. The list is spawned from the recent National Geographic that features an article about the Yellowstone Supervol … ahem … Caldera.

    12. In extraterrestrial volcanoes, the mineral mapping of the moon performed by India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar satellite mission (the country’s first lunar mission) seems to have clinched the idea that the moon was once totally molten. Much of the surface of the moon is made of anorthite – a type of feldspar – that would have risen to the top of a “magma ocean” as it cooled (as it is less dense than the magma). I’ve always found the concept of a magma ocean hard to comprehend – the whole surface of a planet hot enough to keep basic (mafic) rocks like basalt molten is hard to imagine, but that was the primordial solar system for you. Not entirely a pleasant place to spend the day (well, if you had a TARSadly, the Chandrayaan mission was cut short when contact was lost with the satellite.

    13. Related

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