Posts Tagged "volcano"

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...

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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...

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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...

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Volcanoes and Glaciers Shape Alaskan Landscape

Posted by on Aug 6, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

Volcanoes and Glaciers Shape Alaskan Landscape

Spread the News:ShareVolcanic eruptions mark the beginnings of new landscapes. Ash and lava cover existing vegetation and map out a fresh terrain. Though researchers understand how volcanic landscapes evolve over centuries, there is little understanding of how volcanic eruptions have influenced the geomorphology, or the relationship between the Earth’s surface and geological structures, according to Christopher F. Waythomas, from the United States Geological Survey. In a new review of historic volcanic eruptions, Waythomas laid the groundwork for interpreting the effects of volcanic eruptions on shaping the Alaskan landscape. He examined four volcanoes, Redoubt, Katmai, Pavlof and Kasatochi, and found that the volcanoes played a major – if not dominant – role in shaping the ecosystems and landscapes of southern and southwestern Alaska. Alaska, especially the state’s Aleutian arc, experiences volcanic eruptions every one or two years. Most of the time, these eruptions affect the region’s extensive glaciers. Following an eruption, melting glacier water can pick up debris and result in dangerous mudslides, or lahars. Lahars can be so powerful that they change the shape of the landscape they travel through, Waythomas found. They can also change sediment flux in the sea and create lahar blocked lakes. “Given the significant magnitude of many Alaska eruptions and the high frequency of occurrence of eruptive activity, it is worthwhile to examine how eruptive activity and the products of this activity have affected the geomorphic evolution of landscapes throughout the Aleutian arc,” wrote Waythomas.”This task is practical and academic because of the obvious implications for hazards to people, infrastructure, and the environment and for understanding how volcanic systems evolve in an area that is as geologically dynamic as Alaska.”  Because Alaska’s volcanoes erupt fairly frequently, they tend to be covered by a mantle of loose debris, which is easily dislodged by water flows following an eruption. However, the varying nature of eruptions makes understanding the consequences of eruptions and lahars difficult. The state experiences both mild eruptions that spread ash across the surrounding areas and extreme events with heavy lava flow. “The size, characteristics, and unpredictable occurrence of such flows present significant challenges for incorporating large lahars into conventional flood-hazard analyses,” wrote Waythomas. By further studying the secondary effects of volcanic eruptions in Alaska, researchers will have a better understanding of how the events influence the hydrology, biology and form of the landscape, Waythomas added. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Mount Adams

Posted by on Jun 5, 2015 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images, Tourism, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Mount Adams

Spread the News:ShareMount Adams, the second highest mountain in the U.S. state of Washington, is a potentially active volcano in the Cascade Range. Mount Adams was active from about 520,000 to about 1,000 years ago. During the past million years, it has generated considerable eruptive materials. Mount Adams is also home to 12 officially named glaciers. Most of the glaciers originate from the mountain’s summit ice cap. Roger Reeves and Terrie Heslop began their photography journey with film cameras back in the 1970s and continued until the digital revolution. As a happily married couple, they explore the world around them and share the beauty of natural landscape. The pictures they took in Mount Adams are absolutely breathtaking. See more about the pictures taken by Roger Reeves and Terrie Heslop here. Sleeping Beauty Volcano Hidden Majesty Sheets of Ice Mount Adams Forest Road (photo credit: Roger Reeves and Terrie Heslop)   Spread the...

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