Posts Tagged "volcano"

A Glacier-covered Volcano in Chile: Will It Erupt Soon?

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Science, Uncategorized | 0 comments

A Glacier-covered Volcano in Chile: Will It Erupt Soon?

Spread the News:Share Several recent events suggest that a set of glacier-covered volcanoes in the southern Chilean region of Bío-Bío, which have been showing increasing activity since December, may be likely to erupt.  The three mountains, known as the Nevados de Chillán, reach over 3200 meters in elevation, and have a set of glaciers totaling over 2 square kilometers in area on their summits. They have a long record of eruptions, with historical documentation from the 17th century. Radiocarbon evidence records eruptions that took place about 8000 years ago.   The Nevados de Chillán complex, which averaged about one eruption a decade during the 19th and 20th centuries, had been relatively quiescent since an eruption in 2003. Sticking roughly to that schedule, the complex began to show signs of returning to activity with an earthquake in February 2015 which registered 3.2 on the Richter scale. The Chilean National Geology and Mining Service (SERNAGEOMIN) maintained the volcano warning at the lowest level, green, until 31 December, when it issued a yellow warning, signaling an intermediate level of danger. This shift was prompted by the appearance of a new gas vent on 8 December and by a series of over 2000 small seismic events, all under 2.0 on the Richter scale, throughout the month,  which indicated the fracturing of solid rock and the upward movement of magma beneath the surface. This activity has picked up in January, with the opening of a second new vent on 8 January, accompanied by a 2.9 earthquake and a cloud of ash. SERNAGEOMIN and the National Office of Emergencies (ONEMI) installed two webcams near this vent on 27 January. Providing these cameras with material to record, new clouds of ash appeared on 29 January. On 30 January, a crater, about 25-30 meters in diameter, appeared near the other new vents, with gasses, ashes and occasional blocks of cooled lava emerging from it. Temperatures at the summit were about 125º C, which was consistent with ongoing hydrothermal activity but did not suggest that magma, typically closer to 1000 º C in temperature, was approaching the surface.  Taken as a whole, these new activities led ONEMI to create a 2-km zone around the new craters from which people are excluded.  The local sense of concern was increased by the wide availability of images from the new cameras and from an impressive thunderstorm on 31 January, as shown below: @biobio @RoloHahn tormenta eléctrica en la precordillera de chillan pic.twitter.com/u8DXZiSq7I — orlando bustamante (@treguil) February 1, 2016 Dave McGarvie, a volcanologist with considerable experience in ice-covered volcanoes, has been working around Chillán since 2001. In his blog, he offers this overview of the situation: What makes me think that this unrest is likely to lead to an eruption? Well there are two main reasons.   Firstly, there’s clearly been a new heat source introduced into the plumbing system beneath the volcano, and this had drilled a new pathway to the surface leading to bursts of heat escaping through a new vent. This heat source is almost certainly due to magma rising up in the plumbing system. And at the moment there’s a ‘vent-cleaning’ phase in place, with bursts of heat interacting with water contained within the cone (Hydrothermal). There are probably magmatic gases involved as well. These energetic outbursts are cleaning out material in the developing conduit, and possibly also pulverizing (fragmenting) material being blown out.   Secondly, this new vent has developed on the youngest cone at this volcanic complex, which has developed through a long series of eruptions, punctuated by time gaps of a few years to decades. McGarvie’s assessment is that an eruption in the near...

Read More

Roundup: Gloomy Glaciologist, Icy Blasts, and New Models

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Gloomy Glaciologist, Icy Blasts, and New Models

Spread the News:ShareGlaciologist Causes Chills with Not So Icy Predictions “How does being the one to look at the grim facts of climate change most intimately, day in and day out, affect a person? Is Box representative of all of the scientists most directly involved in this defining issue of the new century? How are they being affected by the burden of their chosen work in the face of changes to the earth that could render it a different planet?” Read more about the man who, for better or for worse, set off climate alarm bells.   Could Climate Change Cause More Icy Blasts? “The degree of activity of the volcano provides a semiquantitative indication concerning the probability of future eruptive activity, but changes in snow and ice as induced by climate change and/or volcanic activity can superimpose fast or slow trends with respect to hazards and risks related to volcanoe-ice interactions…” Read more about the risks of volcano-ice interactions and how those risks might effect society. High Resolution Model Accurately Recreates Glacier Variability “Altogether, the model compares well with observations and offers possibilities for studying glacier climatic mass balance on Svalbard both historically as well as based on climate projections.” Read more about how the researchers were able to get their models so accurate.   Spread the...

Read More

New Findings Suggest Cryovolcanoes on Pluto

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Science | 0 comments

New Findings Suggest Cryovolcanoes on Pluto

Spread the News:ShareOn November 9th, New Horizons mission geologists presented evidence that Pluto’s largest and most distinctive mountains might indeed be cryovolcanoes, or ice volcanoes, that are likely to have been active in Pluto’s recent geological past. The findings are just one of over fifty new reports of exciting discoveries about Pluto, revealed just four months after the New Horizons spacecraft first encountered the dwarf planet. Geologists and astronomers presented this new research at the 47th Annual Meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in National Harbor, Maryland, which began on November 9th. New Horizons geologists presented 3-D elevation maps of Pluto’s surface, specifically of two of Pluto’s largest mountains, informally named Wright Mons and Piccard Mons. “These are big mountains with a large hole in their summit, and on Earth that generally means one thing—a volcano,” said Oliver White, New Horizons postdoctoral researcher with NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, in a New Horizons blog post. The elevation maps suggest that these two distinctive mountains, which measure tens of miles across and several miles high, could be ice volcanoes. The research team is still tentative in its conclusions, but their current hypothesis strongly explains the geological formation of the two mountains. White says, “If they are volcanic, then the summit depression would likely have formed via collapse as material is erupted from underneath. The strange hummocky texture of the mountain flanks may represent volcanic flows of some sort that have travelled down from the summit region and onto the plains beyond.” The scientists don’t yet have all the explanations of their hypothesis, though. White muses, “Why they are hummocky, and what they are made of, we don’t yet know.”    However, while Earthly volcanoes spew fiery molten rock, these cryovolcanoes are a little different: NASA scientists suspect that they would emit “a somewhat melted slurry of substances such as water ice, nitrogen, ammonia, or methane.” If Pluto’s distinctive mountains are indeed volcanoes, the findings will provide important insight into geologic and atmospheric evolution in space. The scientific findings regarding Pluto’s geology and atmospheric systems that have emerged over the last four months have consistently continued to surprise NASA’s New Horizons mission team. Jim Green, the director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, commented about the mission, “The New Horizons mission has taken what we thought we knew about Pluto and turned it upside down.” Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, called Pluto the new “star of the solar system,” adding, “It’s hard to imagine how rapidly our view of Pluto and its moons are evolving as new data stream in each week.” Even further, the sheer magnitude of data available for analysis have stunned scientists. Stern stated, “I’d wager that for most planetary scientists, any one or two of our latest major findings on one world would be considered astounding. To have them all is simply incredible.” “It’s why we explore – to satisfy our innate curiosity and answer deeper questions about how we got here and what lies beyond the next horizon,” said Jim Green.         Spread the...

Read More

Roundup: Lava Flows, Pollen Grains and Village Projects

Posted by on Nov 2, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics | 2 comments

Roundup: Lava Flows, Pollen Grains and Village Projects

Spread the News:ShareHazards at Ice-Clad Volcanoes: Phenomena, Processes, and Examples From Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Chile “The interaction of volcanic activity with snow and ice bodies can cause serious hazards and risks[….] Case studies from Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Chile are described. These descriptions depict the way in which the volcanic activity has interacted with ice bodies in recent volcanic crises (Popocatépetl, Mexico; Nevado del Huila, Columbia; Llaima and Villarica, Chile) and how the lahar processes have been generated. Reconstruction of historical events (Cotopaxi, Ecuador) or interpretation of events from the geological remains (Citlatépetl, Mexico) help to document past events that today could be disastrous for people and infrastructure now existing at the corresponding sites. A primary challenge for hazard prevention and risk reduction is the difficulty of making decisions based on imperfect information and a large degree of uncertainty. Successful assessments have resulted in the protection of lives in recent cases such as that at Nevado del Huila (Colombia).” Read more about the study here.   Ancient pollen reveals droughts between Sierra Nevada glacier surges “Hidden below the surface of California’s Central Valley are pollen grains from the Pleistocene that are providing scientists with clues to the severity of droughts that struck the region between glacial periods. The Pleistocene—the age of mammoths and mastodons—occurred between 1.8 million and 11,500 years ago. For this new study, scientists dug up Pleistocene sediment samples containing buried pollen from the Central Valley. They found that pollen samples dated from interglacial periods—years between surges in the mountain glaciers—predominantly came from desert plants. The same sediments lacked pollen from plants of wetter climates.” To learn more about the new findings, click here.   Adapting in the Shadow of Annapurna: A Climate Tipping Point “Rapid climate change in the Himalaya threatens the traditional livelihoods of remote mountain communities, challenges traditional systems of knowledge, and stresses existing socio-ecological systems. Through semi-structured interviews, participatory photography, and repeat photography focused on climate change and its impacts on traditional livelihoods, we aim to shed light on some of the socio-cultural implications of climate related change in Manang, a remote village in the Annapurna Conservation Area of Western Nepal…. Continued development of relevant, place-based adaptations to rapid Himalayan climate change depends on local peoples’ ability to understand the potential impacts of climate change and to adjust within complex, traditional socio-ecological systems.” To learn more about the study and its findings, click here.     Spread the...

Read More

Ecuadorean Eruption Sparks Fears of Glacier Floods

Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

Ecuadorean Eruption Sparks Fears of Glacier Floods

Spread the News:ShareAsh erupted from Ecuador’s glacier-covered Cotopaxi volcano last week after seventy quiet years. The debris shot five kilometres into the air, covering homes, cars, fields and roads as it descended, according to the Independent. Patricio Ramon, of Ecuador’s Instituto Geofísico, said the eruption was phreatic, meaning that molten rock encountered water, creating a forceful release of steam. “[I felt] in shock, not knowing what to do when I saw everything was moving. Then a strong smell of sulfur filled the mountain. Tourists were also concerned and wanted to leave as soon as possible,”  resident Franklin Varela told Ciudadana, an Ecuadorean radio station. eruption today at glacier-covered #volcano #Cotopaxi http://t.co/USjPXSmF9S in #Ecuador pic.twitter.com/rsd1p3ftrC — GlacierHub (@GlacierHub) August 14, 2015 Cotopaxi, Ecuador’s second highest volcano, peaks at 5,897 metres and lies 45 kilometres from the capital, Quito. Its glacier, also named Cotopaxi, is considered to be of significant economic, social and environmental importance, according to reports of the United Nations Environment Programme. Meltwater from the glacier provides Quito with water and hydroelectric power, but in the last 40 years, the ice has thinned by more than 38 percent.  Most of this retreat is attributed to climate change, but eruptions can exacerbate glacial retreat by rapidly melting ice and triggering floods. Researchers from Instituto Geofísico told El Universal they considered Cotopaxi one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world due to its potential for lahars, or mudflows, often triggered by glacial melt. When Cotopaxi erupted in 1877, lahars travelled as far as 100 kilometres from the volcano.   #Cotopaxi volcano crater hot areas in #Landsat 8 thermal band on Aug 10. @JonathanStone10 @IGecuador @eruptionsblog pic.twitter.com/kj3bfZJjzT — Rudiger Escobar Wolf (@rudigerescobar) August 14, 2015 The most recent ash eruptions led to the evacuation of hundreds of residents and livestock from El Pedregal, a community close to the volcano, reported La Hora. Farmers have expressed concerns that the ash that fell on their livestock feed will harm their animals. Residents have been warned to avoid inhaling ash. Quito’s Mayor, Mauricio Rodas, told citizens he would hand out masks and told the city to remain calm. Today’s #Landsat 8 image of Cotopaxi volcano, in between eruptions!!! cc. @IGecuador @JonathanStone10 @eruptionsblog pic.twitter.com/r8WtgNEybD — Rudiger Escobar Wolf (@rudigerescobar) August 14, 2015 Researchers continue to observe Cotopaxi’s activity as the volcano’s activity increases. On Saturday, Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, declared a state of emergency. The president’s announcement comes the same week as a series of strikes against his government’s labor policies and changes to the constitution that would allow him to run for president at the end of his term. The army and police have been dispatched and civil guarantees are temporarily suspended. “We declare a state of emergency due to the unusual activity of Mount Cotopaxi,” Correa said. “God willing, everything will go well and the volcano will not erupt.” Map in spanish showing the possible hazards of the #eruption at #Cotopaxi #volcano #Ecuador pic.twitter.com/ObBbnrXi1v — Roberto C. Lopez (@Bromotengger) August 16, 2015 Spread the...

Read More