El Hierro and the Physics of magma chambers

Image from Nature GeoScience. From Phillip A. Allens article Geodynamics: Surface impact of mantle processes.

Part 1

Not many people think about what is great with physics. People are normally more occupied with buying Prada hand-bags to carry their rat-sized yapp-dogs than physics. The great thing with physics is that the laws of nature are universal. And with that I mean that they can be transferred easily from the school books into real life, and from one part of science into another.

I am as most of you know not a volcanologist or a geologist, but I am a physicist. So every time I try to understand a volcano I do it from how it is behaving from the point of perspective of the laws of nature.

This time I would like to write about a few things regarding how magma chambers must be formed according to physics. I will mainly not talk about magma chambers because they are fairly hard to visualize since nobody has seen one in real life as it is forming. But most of us have for instance blown up a balloon.

In this case we will be talking about magma chambers that come from hotspot volcanism; the process will be slightly different in a subduction volcano. But first we need some background, this post will be about precisely that background.

Hotspots, weightlessness and Blobs

Let us start with what is required for a magma chamber to even start forming. And as a physicist I am always talking about basic forces. And there is only one basic force, and that is energy. There are of course many types of energy, and in this case we are talking about energy as mechanical pressure and heat.

Thankfully for the poor fledgling magma chamber there is one thing that causes both pressure and heat, and that is your basic magma. So, let us drop up a ball of nice hot juicy magma from the hotspot under El Hierro.

It is not entirely clear how magma travels upwards via a hotspot, but we know there are two types of hotspots. First we have the deep Icelandic type that brings up material from the depth, this magma is hot and arrives at high (relatively) speed and with great force. It brings with it an assortment of rare and heavy metals from deep down at the boundary between the core and the mantle. The other type is a colder and less deep hotspot. The magma here is either brought up from within the mantle, or created as the hotspot heats up material close to the MOHO boundary either through heat or pressure, perhaps even a mixture between them. This type creates magma that is low in precious metals, and gives a low Uranium-Thorium (UrTh) count which in turn is a dead giveaway that it comes from a shallow source. The Canarian hotspot seems to end up somewhere in the middle of these two types, it is definitely not melting crust as a part of the magma creation, the almost pure basic basalt tells us that, on the other hand it is not from the core/mantle boundary since the UrTh count is wrong for that option. Let it suffice to say that the Canarian hotspot is a bastard mongrel of a hotspot.

So, where does now the pressure to drive any hotspot come from? Well, once again the answer is not simple. We have at least two sources. The first is heat; the Earth is producing loads of juicy heat due to at least 3 different processes. The first one is UrTh and other atomic nuclear processes. Yepp, we live on an atomic reactor. The second one a form of pressure called overburden pressure. That is the combined weight of the planet pushing downwards, this creates compression heat. The third is through the dear old gravity slowly massaging the planet, this is by far the smallest of powers creating the heat. Here I have simplified a bit, there are more forces at play than this.

Image of nested magma.

So, how come then that magma travels upwards? The answer might surprise you a lot. If you are getting a headache from this it is normal. Let us imagine that you where hanging at the exact mid-spot of the planet. The pressure would be phenomenal from the overburden pressure; still you would notice something odd. For the first time in your life you would be completely weightless. This would be due to the entire planets gravitational pull would be affecting your entire body in every direction at the same time, effectively cancelling out any gravitational effect.

What does this now have to do with magma? Well, you have magma under tremendous pressure that does not weigh a lot. A cubic decimeter of magma at the mantle/core boundary is considerably more lightweight than the same volume of water. And at the same time it is squeezed by tremendous pressure.  Here we enter a nice little simple physics, when you squeeze a fluid it will try to run away, in this case it can’t go down, it is fairly buoyant and will try to float. Now we just need one small thing, a conduit. Enter the heat.

Energy will always go from a high state to a lower state; this is the nutty little physics law that also gives that order will always go towards disorder, in other words, entropy and enthalpy. So, the core will try to lose heat, and the heat will always be able to escape, and once a convective current of heat has started to run upwards it will jolly well keep on going. When magma finds a stream of heat going upwards it will follow that stream because the fluid will follow the point of least resistance. And that is why a mantle plume and a hotspot is the same thing (simple physics). The mantle plume cannot exist without a hotspot, and the hotspot will sooner or later create the mantle plume.

Now our blob of magma is finally moving upwards towards El Hierro, the trip started a long time ago, it takes a while to go through all that semi-permeable heated pipe that runs up through the mantle. One day, let us say on the 24th of June 2012 our blob of magma arrives at the bottom of the crust under El Hierro.

The speed with which it arrives is very slow even compared to a human walking, but the weight is enormous, the same goes for the amount of heat energy and the buoyancy pressure. Let us just say that it is like a comet sized blow-torch hitting the almost melted MOHO boundary. It will cut through the first layers in a rather short time. As it goes on up through the bottom of the crust it decelerates fairly quickly, and that is the point where all the fun starts, the formation of the magma chamber.

Until the next time!


632 thoughts on “El Hierro and the Physics of magma chambers

  1. A math testimonial.

    I drive. It’s an inherent part of what I do, which is outsourced field technical work. (I’m the resource that covers what the manpower in other organizations lack in their skill sets) So when you hear the term “outsourced job” don’t think that they all go to some other country.

    But, seeing as that I can travel an easy 32K miles per year (51499 km), I put a lot of wear and tear on my vehicle. So… yesterday, while trying to get to a site, I lost a couple of gears in my transmission. I don’t use complicated vehicles, my choice is the Ford Ranger. A light truck that I can throw stuff in the back of as needed. I have another that I had retired from service but kept since it’s model year was close to the one I currently use, the plan being that if I had issues with this one, that one could be pressed back into service or used as parts to get my main vehicle back on the road. Getting to the site is the most important part of my job.

    So… looking up the specs for the transition for the other vehicle, they are in fact compatible. I have a good service center that can do the work for a very decent rate… which is actually worth it since I have grown extremely tired of man-handling transmissions in my driveway. (which I’ve done a couple of times replacing the clutch over the last few years)

    Looking closer… I notice the gear ratios; 3.91, 2.24, 1.49, 1, 0.8 (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th) and see that they are a bit different than the current ones. 3.38, 2.06, 1.3, 1, 0.79. Hmm… Before making the decision to taking the vehicles down to have the swap made, let me do some math.

    At an average difference of gearing 1.088, that means that at my usage rate, I would spend an extra $300 to $450 per year in gas.

    I’m not going to bore you with the details of the calculations… just to let the reader know that if you have a working math background, you can make more sound decisions.

    I opted for getting a rebuilt tranny that at least carries a warranty. My other tranny has about 250K miles on it anyway. (402336 km)

    Math… it’s not just for nerds.

    • Taller or shorter gearing of that amount wont change fuel consumption significantly. ( unless the fact that the mileometer/speedometer wont read correctly is ignored). A taller gear will put a little more load on the engine so slightly more throttle will be needed, but the car covers fewer revs per mile. And vice versa. Swings and roundabouts. As long as rpm are kept away from too low or too high fuelling largely depends upon weight, tyre rolling resistance,aerodyanmics ( above about 40mph) and how heavy the right foot.

      • Yep, and there as much time as I spend at 70 mph, the gas cost would eat me alive.

        I tend to avoid the low speed routes due to tourists and other traffic congestion. It helps with sanity and overall risk. About the only call that I actually missed was due to a multiple fatality on the only connecting bridge to the site. (other than a 60 mile alternate route)

    • Is it just me, or is the word tranny giving slightly different connotations nowadays then a transmission?

        • It must be American slang because I understood this perfectly. Having a transmission (tranny) rebuilt is much cheaper than buying a new one. Same for starters, alternators, etc. I have this knowledge from being around guys who work on cars. I know what they are talking about, but don’t ask me how they do it. 🙂

          • Well, in large parts of the world a tranny would be a transsexual person. Ie, a shemale. And then the concept of a Rebuilt Tranny is rather hilarious.

          • Carl le Strange says:
            July 12, 2012 at 18:09

            …And then the concept of a Rebuilt Tranny is rather hilarious.

            Then you should have heard the awkward pause of my dispatcher yesterday when I told him that I would be a bit longer than usual to get to the next site since I had to run to the other side of town “to pick up a gender bender, I couldn’t find the one I had.”

            It’s more slang. I needed to take a female DB-9 serial cable and connect it to another female DB-9 connector on the network switch. For this you use a male to male adapter… aka a gender bender. Any adapter that does this is a gender bender. Pretty much all standard connectors have something like this (BNC, TNC, N, RJ-45, SMA etc.)

  2. Avcan have commented about this earthquake this afternoon being rare it has not moved but dont know what they mean.

    I have posted both the spanish and translated comments.

    Pues asi es. en la zona del volcán de enmedio, entre Tenerife y Gran Canaria, ya era muy raro que no se hiciese notar, lo raro es que no se moviese…(Enrque)
    1156445 12/07/2012 14:13:37 28.1082 -16.1663 2.2 4 ATLÁNTICO-CANARIAS

    Because this is. in the area of the volcano of enmedio, between Gran Canaria and Tenerife, it was very rare that fails to take notice, it is rare that he moved not…(Enrque)1156445 07/12/2012 14: 13: 37 28.1082 – 16.1663 2.2 4 ATLANTICO-CANARIAS


  3. Another dumb question. What are the chances of a volcano suddenly bursting into life in just one day? Like it starts having earthquakes and it erupts on the same day?

    • Normaly very small indeed.
      And as far as I know it has never happened to a “new” volcano, or even a long dormant one.
      Pretty much the only volcano on the planet that goes “boom” in under 24 hours is Hekla. It is by far the least reliable volcano on the planet.

      • Seems to me that “reliable” and “volcanoes” are two words with low levels of correlation (i.e. don’t really go well together).

    • I think the issue would be whether the earthquakes were felt or not. Chaiten took a lot of people by surprise. No doubt there was precursory seismic activity but nobody really took any notice until we suddenly got that awesome Plinian cloud. And many volcanoes are close to erupting all the time and can suddenly surprise you. We generally know about these ones I guess, but maybe there is one out there that has escaped our attention. Boris over at Eruptions has often stated that he thinks the next “big one” will be from a volcano nobody has paid much attention to.

      And the chance of a sudden phreatic explosion exists in loads of places. A DoC worker was killed while taking water samples from Green Lake on Raoul in the Kermadecs a couple of years back. No warning whatsoever.

      • I seriously doubt that Chaiten was aseismic before erupting, and the same goes for the rest. And the Green Lake was a CO2 relocation like at in Lake Nyos. And yes, Boris is probably correct in that the next big one will be an unknown volcano, but I bet it will be not unknown on the day it does erupt…
        Volcanoes rarely put in a completely unknown appearance. Even Hekla give warnings, they are just unusually short. And the reason is both that the volcano itself is extremely unusual, it is also kind of “used” to erupting so the conduit is almost open at any time.

        • AGreed, Chaiten most certainly had precusory activity. Just no one paid too much attention to it.

    • Joke Volta from ER has posted these comments on Avcan FB Page.


      ,I do not wish to be alarmist, and it may be that stupidity is mine, but do not understand a cosa:a the 15.13 local h., there was an earthquake recorded and published of magnitude 0.2 to 2.2 km. from profundidad(el_IGN_ni_siquiere_da_profundidad), in the place, where usually the Enmedio.Una volcano thing does not explain me and has me intrigued: as it is possible?do, a volcano, which is undergoing an underwater planada, with their feet to 3-4 km. depth, giving an earthquake of a depth of 0.2?Perhaps I am silly, maybe is not the volcano, perhaps is a banllena that exploded…to know…Anyway, I wanted to make this question in this forum.Perhaps someone can explain me, as it is possible that…Thank you. would be helpful, to have an explanation,,


      • Judith,
        Joke addressed this question to AVCAN and she has already got her answer.
        We are amateurs, and we tend to get alarmed to whatever event that looks “unusual” to our lay eyes. That’s why we come to blogs: to address such questions to the experts in charge.
        If you like, take this suggestion from another amateur colleague: before getting alarmed, and before posting our concerns through other people’s mouths, we could reformulate such concerns into our own questions.
        Not everyone here knows who Joke Volta is, and the way it was posted, kind of sounds like she’s an expert and that something very bad is taking place.
        Well, I think that such comments could lead to further unnecessary alarmism , as is the case with this small, really negligible, earthquake.
        Keep doing your good job getting us informed, but be sure to select those with more relevance.
        As for our questions, keep them coming, even when they may sound stupid, there will be someone here ready to illuminate us.

      • So you’re the culprit for making my move miserable…. this evening just as i got all cardboardboxes on My pickups’bed rather heavy thundershower started, had to cover them up pretty fast 😛

    • Same here Minilurker. It’s getting really depressing – I’m due at an outdoor event tomorrow evening and I don’t want to drive 70 miles only to find it’s been cancelled – but I don’t like to be defeated by the weather either. The Salisbury Avon is just about to overlap its banks – in summer! Splish! Splash!

    • I wish I could take it from you for a while. We need rain here sooooo badly. We had .68 inches of rain in June and nothing since. This is the growing season and the crops are just dying in the fields.

      • It’s our growing season too and the crops are also dying in the fields – from wet rot! Price of fresh vegetables is set to soar because it is too wet to harvest. Root crops like potatoes are just turning to mush. We’ve had the wettest April and June ever and round here we’ve already had all of July’s rain and it’s still forecast to rain for weeks. 😦

        • Good evening everyone. I thought this article in a local Tenerife (english publication) newspaper “Tenerife News” might amuse some…”Tenerife´s authorities are assuring that the island has sufficent water resources despite the lack of rain, but awareness campaigns are mounting…..Tenerife is having its driest summer for more than six decades…the advice being given out is to think twice about water use when it comes to washing the car, filling swimming pools or using your hosepipe” …but no bans on any of these are in place yet ………..can´t the UK learn something from this..all the rainfall that is currently causing devastation in certain areas, is not being channelled anywhere….but if it stops raining, I bet that in about two weeks there will be another dought and it will be declared again: no hosepipes. no watering the garden, and I don´t know how many people have swimming pools, but I suppose that would be banned too

    • Signs of improvement in a week or so, high pressure over greenland deminishing so jet should wander further north. Follow on floodwarn web site or floodwarn on facebook

      • Or maybe not … I just watched news …

        Central parts of the Finland have seen unusually large amounts of rain this month. A weather station in Isojoki, South Ostrobothnia, has already broken a 50-year July rain record.

        While central areas have been getting drenched, southern Finland, South Savo and northern Lapland have been relatively dry, getting less than 10mm.


  4. Just saw this article and found out that Brazilian geologists are “developing a method for earthquake prediction” – !!!?????!!!!
    One of the guys is from the seismological institute in Brasilia.
    For the record, the last “larger” recorded earthquake (4+), occurred not far from this capital – a very rare event in our country.
    Coincidentally, this one has not been detected by this institute because “seismographs were turned off” !!! ????
    Well, I reckon we may not have many EQs and 1 volcano, but we do have our own team of 2012ers charlatans!
    I’m so proud… !!! 🙂

    • Didn’t we have one of those here a few months ago? IIRC the person in question considered his opinion as infallibleand inviolate as that of His Holiness when he speaks “Ex Cathedra”. :mrgreen:

      • But they are, indeed, geologists. Think about that.
        I suppose that, living on a land with no exciting recent geological activity, led them to this hysteria, targeting, of course other countries in the Andean side of the continent.
        The negative responses of both Peru and Chile were, of course, well deserved.

        • Probably a good way to get first a grant, then your own Department and eventually your very own Chair.

        • I don’t know if it was that negative around here, just be what I heard constantly, and obviously, their predictions somewhat matched…, but here, that doesn’t mean anything, saying that there will be a 5-6 earthquake on a 2-3 days lapse, don’t know how near to 1 is the chance of that, but it might be close.

          I may be venting about this…, but you get the idea behind the rant.

  5. Re “disappearing” earthquakes:

    Most observatories have an automatic system in place that records the earthquake waves and then calculates a preliminary location X, Y and Z.

    The automatic system is never so sophisticated that it can sort out real earthquakes from reflected ones, so-called ghosts. Nor is it very good when several quakes occur in a short space of time at the same location and tends to show fewer and larger quakes than there really were. Sometimes the opposite is true.

    This requires a human operator to evaluate. While the operator looks at a certain episode, it is not unusual that all quakes during a certain span of time and location be removed while this re-calculation is performed. Thus there are the following reasons for disappearing quakes:

    * They may be under evaluation
    * They may have been ghosts
    * The automated system may have arrived at quite the wrong answer as to the number, location and size of individual quakes.

    No need to invoke a conspiracy every time a quake “disappears”. Much better to apply a bit of patience and wait for the operator to sort out what really happened instead of inventing your own “reality” on the spot.

    • To any Dragon wandering these halls… this post (Delta Scorpii) should go into your archive of “handy stuff to throw at the misinformed.”

    • Or the seismometers may have picked up a local explosion, e.g. blasting in mining operations. These would be excluded after checking the data.

      • Very true Karen, but let’s keep it simple. We do not want to overload the receptive faculties of those only members of the congreagation. The humbling and castigation of their shamen will follow at the expert hands of Sir GeoLurking. 😉

    • Following along….

      We were all quite happy when IGN/Pevloca started putting out 3 axis GPS data. It allowed a clean view of what the surface terrain was doing without having to go through some very convoluted brain twisting to back out the N-S and E-W vectors.

      Many of you devote hour upon hour gazing at the tremor and quake plots and marvel at the spectrograph meanderings of each and every little tick… hoping to be the one to spot the first vestiges of something happening.

      Theres nothing wrong with that. I do it too.

      But before we (as in the Internet community in general) start to question what the technicians, analysts are doing at IGN, maybe we should ask ourselves… “Can I do any better?” If you think so, then you are either well trained, or an idiot.

      Seismograph data, Helicorder outputs, and most of the data that is available for general public, is not really intended for detailed scrutiny. It’s mostly geared towards the way that we use it… to see if something is going on. If you had the nuts and bolts data, the raw waveforms… you might be able to do some second guessing that could stand up to other opinions.

      Here is a sample of what you would work with. This is from Routine Data Processing in Earthquake Seismology… Figure 2.21.

      The top three traces are the Z axis (vertical motion) the N (S) axis, and the E (W) axis. N is most sensitive to motion along the 0° and 180° alignment, and natch, E is most sensitive to motion along the 90° to 270° bearings.

      P waves tend to show up the best on the Z axis… the reason is that they tend to lift or lower the sensor as as this body wave arrives… being a body wave, it took as close to a straight path to the seismo as it could manage. (though in truth, it isn’t very straight at all) S waves show up best on the two horizontal axises, N and E. Why? They are side to side motion… “transverse” unlike the compressional P wave (longitudinal).

      If you notice in that graphic, some of the points have labels. These are pick points.

      Pn, Pg, Sg, and Sn. .. but what happened to the P and S thing? Well, thats them. They get labeled by the vagaries of whatever path they took to get to the seismo.

      Here are a few. (there are a shitload more)

      Crustal phases
      Pg At short distances, either an upgoing P wave from a source in the upper crust or a P
      wave bottoming in the upper crust. At larger distances also arrivals caused by
      multiple P-wave reverberations inside the whole crust with a group velocity
      around 5.8 km/s.
      Pb (alt:P∗) Either an upgoing P wave from a source in the lower crust or a P wave
      bottoming in the lower crust
      Pn Any P wave bottoming in the uppermost mantle or an upgoing P wave from a source
      in the uppermost mantle
      PnPn Pn free surface reflection
      PgPg Pg free surface reflection
      PmP P reflection from the outer side of the Moho
      PmPN PmP multiple free surface reflection; N is a positive integer. For example, PmP2 is
      PmS P to S reflection from the outer side of the Moho
      Sg At short distances, either an upgoing S wave from a source in the upper crust or an S
      wave bottoming in the upper crust. At larger distances also arrivals caused by
      superposition of multiple S-wave reverberations and SV to P and/or P to SV
      conversions inside the whole crust.
      Sb (alt:S∗) Either an upgoing S wave from a source in the lower crust or an S wave
      bottoming in the lower crust
      Sn Any S wave bottoming in the uppermost mantle or an upgoing S wave from a source
      in the uppermost mantle
      SnSn Sn free surface reflection
      SgSg Sg free surface reflection
      SmS S reflection from the outer side of the Moho

      Which particular wiggle on a seismo has to do with where it is in relation the quake and what the sesmologist knows about the makeup of the crust between the monies and the quake. Generally, the refer to a propagation model to determine the delay times. The current one is called AK135 which is in improvement on the IASP91 model.

      All this is pretty heavy for us out here in the general public. Can imagine the freaking nightmare of trying to get an automated system to correctly pick these phases and do the analysis.

      I’ve worked with automated detection and tracking systems… though not in this field. It’s not easy to get your detection thresholds correct without getting under or over reporting…. and that was just for data with only 4 or 5 detection parameters.

      Yeah… I admire the work of the people who diligently work to get the picture and data right. And I’m not gonna second guess what they do.. or that they intentionally drop data. I, for one, am not qualified to question their expertise.

  6. Grrr, first I need to log in, then I see no comment posted, I post again and het a page that says “it looks like you try to post a duplicated comment that you posted already before… But where is it???

    There just was an earthquake off the coast of Ischia in the Thyrrenian Sea, at 392 km depth.
    It makes me wonder: what do these very deep earthquakes mean? In general: what’s happening down there? What is there on terms of crust, magma, fault lines…? And pretty close to Ischias – Vesuvio et all…
    Dragged from the spam dungeons by Spica

    • Slab Graveyard.

      Way down deep, the subducted slabs are still coming apart from the heating and the pressure changes in the environment around the material that make they are made up from. Chemically, this material/crystals are changing, turning into other material/crystals that can exist at that level of heat and pressure. Some of it mixes with the surrounding mantle, the more resilient stays intact as it plunges deeper. Weaknesses form, and in areas where the material can no longer stand the stress, you have quakes.

    • Here you can see the general shape of the descending slab deep under Italy and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

      • That gives a clear picture, and with the description of what happens I can formo an image. Thanks Lurk!

  7. Good evening all Volcano live did indeed show some stunning footage of Katla. The Caldera is huge. fascinating stuff.
    Clive Oppenheimer camping on the slopes of Erebus. The lava lake is brilliant there. Nice gassey explosions. I don’t fancy travelling to see Mount Erebus. Too cold for me and then he mentioned their basic base camp was only tents and bucket that finished any possibility of me wanting to go there if you will excuse the somewhat coarse pun 😀

    • LOL to the pun.Oh Diana, I would so love to go there! I would even put up with the bucket and chuck it if I had that opportunity. Sadly will never happen for me but I was just so pleased to see Erebus featured as it is one of my favourite volcanoes.

    • Yeah 2 were in the spam box, i am sorry, but it happens sometimes. The reason were emsc-scem links our spam guard hates those, we do not know why.

  8. The El Hierro earthquakes are progressing in layers, but since the IGN location summary map is all but a big blob to me I was eager to delaminate it in order to grasp the chain of events.

    I want to share this video showing all earthquakes since last year. Events are accumulated for some calender weeks. When I had the impression that the location changed significantly, I wiped the past events and started to record with a different color. Big white symbols represent earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.9 mblg or larger. The layers obviously have significant differences in occurence and distribution of big events, mostly depending on depth?

    Well, here is the result of tonights enterprise (pun intended):

    The data are from the IGN El Hierro boletin and the background picture is a screenshot from the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS) (http://www.marine-geo.org/portals/gmrt/)

    Unfortunately Excel can´t plot in real 3D so the three views are only a compromise to help visualize the location and tilt of the layers. But at least in some cases I suspect that they would look pretty flat if viewed from the right angle. I would be happy if anybody has an idea how to test that.

    Bed time for me, the kids will be merciless in a few hours…

    • Give me the specs you would like and I can probably pull it off in Dplot. It’s pricey, but I bit the bullet and bought it since it meshes with Excel as a plug in or operates as a stand alone.

      They have a free viewer, so if I can get how you want the data filtered, I can build the Dplot file for you and you can spin it or orient it how you like. I would have to get it to you via Carl.

      You might also look at Dplot Jr, it’s a freebee (gimpware) that is not a standalone and has limitations as to what it can do, but it does support DDE… I don’t know if that means that you can call it from Excel or not, but it’s worth looking at.

      Yeah, it’s a plug for the program, but I have been able to pull off some pretty amazing stuff with it.


    • Or you can use Octave, which plots in 3D and is freeware. That is what I use for the calculations of the density plots. Doing 3D plots is not so difficult I will post something later today.

      • Hi Dfmorvan, will be interested to see, I’ve been looking around for a freeware program like that, does it mesh with excel?

        • Hi schteve
          I do not think so (well I use excel to process the data from ign site and ). It is the free clone of Matlab, so you get a language and can do some programming. However it is easy just to do some 3D plots with a few instruction. personnally I’m using it under linux because it is easier to install than with windows.
          I will show some examples of 3d plots later.

    • Cryphia!

      Sweet, it is exactly what I needed for tomorrows part two…
      Could you please put unto youtube instead? I can put youtube into a post, but not a tinypic movie.

      • Thank you very much for your appreciation! Here is the youtube link:

        @Peter, dfmorfan, Geolurking: Thank you for your suggestions!
        Peter, you are right, the axes are not calibrated and the extra-flatness you pointed out even let me figure out how to do 3D plots 🙂 (using Igor Pro, which I use at work, but since I am on vacation I downloaded a trial version at home for a month). At a closer look the swarms do not look particularly flat when rotating them (km scale widths of the stronger ones).

        Compiling that video took me quite some time so I probably won´t be able to work in Peter´s suggestions today.

        • Thanks for all your work on that, Chryphia, it’s great and gives a good picture of the extent and variations. (btw I looked at it on tinypic – the youtube link doesn’t work – it’s marked ‘this video is private’. Been uploadiing your XXX stuff again??)

      • And I also have a 40 MB pdf of the frames with much higher resolution which I could email if you want.

    • Chryphia, GeoL, dfmorvan, et al
      Many thanks for all the plots. Theres a couple of aspects that could be improved IMHO.
      The depth and horizontal scales do not match, which will give a misleadingly extra-flat shape to the eq distribution.
      The clear, aseismic zone between the upper and lower 2011 swarms is also not obvious when 2012 eqs are ghosted before they have happened.

    • this is OT, but I always wondered how the poison works, but this is for real unreal, they could use it for stopping bleeding diluted of course

  9. Because all seems quiet and i cant sleep, I noticed yesterday some of the El Hierro images have never been published. If you look at the last 3 rows of the sample 2 images… https://volcanocafe.wordpress.com/el-hierro-sample-1/ There we zoomed in on a “thread”. Looks odd, but beautiful i think.
    (There was some stuff sticking out of the samples which looks like threads made of glass. First we thought some stuff had contaminated the probe but those tiny things were all over and originated from within the sample.)

    • Good morning Spica. Just a suggestion. If the some of the lava being extruded was of a similar viscosity as caramelized sugar is it possible the force of ejection or force from the exploding of a gas bubble, cause filaments to be formed rather like making candy floss? (cotton candy to those in the USA). Just a thought. When I am making toffee or fudge I drop a little of the boiled sugar into water at at a certain temperature state this forms very thin threads. Just a thought.

      • The “hairs” look like silica threads. I am guessing that these could have come from melted quartz when the magma passed through the sedimentary layer or it could have come from melted crust.

        • I do want to add comments on what it is that can be seen, because i am just like you KarenZ “Categorically NOT an expert”

          • Look forward to finding out what the threads are and how they were formed. 🙂

  10. Am I seeing things or does there appear to be a bit of tremour there since that series of small earthquakes between 5:00 and 5:40 this morning?

    • There is more noise in the system but nothing dramatic. I just imagine Elvis is like a pan of leek and potato soup on simmer. The steady heat allows the soup to slowly move, now and again a slight increase in heat makes bubbles burst but on the whole it is just gently moving. Give the pan a little more heat and the bubbles rise faster and cause more movement. if the energy (Heat) is turned up then more dramatic acivity can be seen. get to a certain higher level and the soup erupts all over the stove and a general mess is made with much cussing!!!!

      • There again the cooker can be just turned off and the soup gets colder and congeals. If you leave it because you forgot it and went away for a week or so you would end up with the congealed soup hardening in the pan!

  11. As nothing untoward is happening and I am just waiting until it is time to go to Tai Chi Class I have been ruminating.
    Looking at these plots…..
    At the beginning of both Bob’s event and now Elvis’s event both started in the same place with many quakes of a more shallow depth under Tanganasoga. The last couple of more shallow quakes, small, but picked up areunder the same area.
    If you look at the main body of the quakes that is forming a sill like structure there is a pathway of quakes leading up to the more shallow “Sill”. This is most obvious in the plots on the far right Quakes since January 2012
    I am not into scare-mongereing I am just observing. I do suspect that eventually Tanganasoga will have an event. It may take years and many more “wet farts” until the system becomes more “organised”. I think it just depends how tough the material is inside the main vent and how long it will take before it is “Loosened” by the pushes from below.
    I tried to find out if there is still marked inflation for stations HI06 HI07 and HI 11. I can’t find any readings for these sites . Can anyone help here?

  12. X-Class Solar Flare Causes Radio Outages! Thursday’s flare has already caused what NOAA classifies as an R3 radio blackout, meaning GPS satellite signals “degraded for about an hour” and there was a “wide area blackout of high frequency radio communication” on Earth.

    According to Chamberlain, the region from which the flare erupted was on the part of the sun facing Earth, so it could potentially cause temporary power outages and further communication systems disruptions. He said the observatory would know more within a few hours if Earth is likely to be impacted.

    On July 6, a similarly sized flare caused no significant problems on Earth. Thursday’s flare, classified as an X1.4, was much smaller than the X5.4 flare that erupted on March 7 and caused temporary outages of military satellites.

    • Thank you for mentioning this.
      Nature has now proven my point. Not even a large X-Class solar flare can take out the satellites, only degrade reliability as they are temporarily either shut down, or looses contact.
      This is a picture perfect answer to those who think it can take out the planet.
      It can’t.
      What happened with the X5.4 was a shut down, they where never “taken out”.

  13. the moon was about half over iceland and el hierro when this flare passed between the earth and moon vibrating the earth moon grav field at the 6-7 hz harmonic sub harmonic and super harmonic at about 70-90degrees to the earth moon plane.
    much like a cosmic violin bow on a earthmoon violin string.

    people who look for effects at full moon or no moon are just baying at the moon. a longtitudinal addition to the earth moon field will have little effect. however at a latitude of near 70-90degrees the earth to moon string sings in proportion to the mass ratio of the 2 bodies. 1:6-7. the bow being the solar wind.
    try the ketchup bottle upside down with a vibrating mobile phone against it. thixotroph will flow.
    even better try different frequencies until you find the correct hARMONİC.

    still any magma flow will be dependent on magma pressure overcoming the shear force of the liquid on surrounding solid surfaces and internal shear force of the liquid.

    for my money barring an escape of lava laterally or via siphon I think that the magma body is near to finding a vertical path this time.through the old shield structure in el hierro. an on land eruption is more likely this time. but also if there is deflation the eruption will be weak and deep oceanic.
    the problem for bob is that the route is blocked by viscous cooling magma. overcoming this will require more energy than last time.

    there are sign that volatile magma is creeping upward along the tanganasoga ridge but also that a body of sideways moving magma has reached relative moisture along the sw of the island with a body of subducting magma.

    1. initially violent and rapid but soon calmer eruption on or near the ridge.

    2. phreatic eruption on or near sw coast.

    3.A weaker but longer eruption near bob or pinar.

    • Go and read the OT Regulars table section, especially the post The Moon and the Moonie, and the follow ups to that.
      What you described A) never happened, B) is not having anything to do with science, and C) shows a blatant disregard for the laws of Physics.

      Kindest Regards;
      Carl le Strange, Ph.D. Physics (speciality wave harmonics)

      • Hi master, will there be a sheepy dalek lava riddle tonight? Or part 2 of the magma chambers? Are you going to be around? If you want me to prepare something,….a short notice would be nice.
        And Lurking wanted Henriks and his explanation stored, we could but where and how ( page or post)

        • Will be a post up in 30 minutes debunking two myths…
          I will forgo the lava hunt and the riddle for yet another week. But next friday there will be one unless something erupts.
          But recent outbursts made me want to put in the Other side of things a bit. So, 1 post, 2 writers, unless one counts my foreword.

      • Just added the other 2posts by Lurking to OT-regulars table.The categories you can add at the side…is the menu bar where it appears if such a menu exists. 😉
        Gosh we could have a very extensive menu with all the categories we got.

    • You must have confused this with surface gravity where that of the Moon is 0.165843 or 1/6.029 of Earth’s. Luna weighs in at 0.123 Earths and thus has 1/81 the mass of the Earth, not the 1:6-7 you give. Furthermore, there is nothing magical about the number 81 except it being 3 to the 4th power, or in this case more correctly 1/81 is 1/3^4. (A true luunie would have invoked fourth dimensional harmonic oscillation based on this coincidence.)

      The mumbo-jumbo apart, there is nothing wrong with speculating as to if and where. It could very well turn out that what actually transpires matches one of your predictions.

      • One of the predictions will undoubtedly come true as we have been told that the eruption will be on land or in the ocean. It will be violent or rapid or short or weak or long. Or the magma could continue in a lateral direction. All bases covered. 🙂

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