Answers to Name that Lava XX and Alan’s Evil Riddle #13

Photographer, Fredric Alm. Used by explicit permission from LKAB. Remnants of the open pit mine with the mountain of Kiirunavaara cut in half on the right hand side. The city of Kiruna to the left on the brink of tumbling into the mine, and the lake in the top is situated on a second large orebody believed to be the actual old magma chamber, the ore body is named the Lake-ore and requires that the lake itself is moved to another location. Click on the image to view it in detail, it is well worth it.

The lava this time was from a sample taken from Kiirunavaara iron ore mine. It was a Kiruna type magnetite-apatite. Kiirunavaara is a very old volcano (1 900 million years old) of a very unusual type. It is situated within the Svekokarelian orogenic zone. The zone is filled with large ore bodies; the largest conglomerate of ore bodies is the Malmfälten (Ore-fields). It was constructed as very deep magma moved upwards from the core, forget mantle plumes, here we are talking about an actual core plume. That explains the ultra-pure ores in the area. It is normal with ores with an iron grade of up to 60 percent.

Kiirunavaara was in the 1870s a mountain 763 meters high, but in 1960 the mountain was gone and the mine went subsurface. Since then it has gone through 5 main levels, the fifth being at a record breaking 1 365 meters depth.

The magma intrusion formed a hangwall 8o meters thick, 4 000 meters wide, and with a known minimum depth of 2 000 meters, but with no known restriction at depth. As it goes deeper the ore body widens. Since the intrusion is slanted at 55 degrees angle the amount removed reaches more than 2 500 meters making the mine that largest and deepest iron ore mine on the planet. Since the start more than 950 million tons of iron ore has been extracted.

Photograph from Wikimedia Commons. The abandoned open pit mine at Kiirunavaara. Click to view the details.

It is prognosticated that the Malmfälten contains a reserve of iron ore that would guarantee the current production (5 percent of world consumption) for 250 000 years. That number is actually more mind-boggling than the scale of the operations in Kiruna.

Lonely Planet has put the mine in the highest category as a must to visit. The mine is open for visitors year round, one of the few open for visitors. It is a true Mecca for all rock nuts, volcanoholics and general mine fetishists.

The 540 meter level was used in the late eighties for growing ordinary mushrooms, but as prices plummeted the company that borrowed that part of the mine switched to growing Shii-take instead. The mine proved to be perfect for that particular mushroom. Since Shii-take is highly sporous it has pervaded into all parts of the mine through air ducts. So, at any part of the mine where there is light you can find Shii-take growing from the bare rocks, sometimes one can even find them on the machines. Today the mine is one of the top producers of this tasty mushroom.

Shii-take growing on a slab of iron ore.

There are two other large mines in Kiruna, both of them closed in the eighties during the world wide steel crisis. The Luossavaara Mine was of the same type as Kiirunavaara Mine, the ore body is probably connected at depth with the Kiirunavaara ore body. The other, Tuollavaara Mine, is a comparatively slender low-phosphor hematite ore. And with slender we are talking about 6 ore bodies that are on average 30 meters thick and 150 meters wide with unknown depth.

The entire city is now going to be closed down and moved since it is soon going to fall down into the hole created as the slanted hangwall caves in on itself and falls down into the mine. The same fate also awaits the City of Malmberget (Ore Mountain).

Economically it is one of the world’s leading power hubs. The area sprouts 4 operational mines on mammoth scale, among them the largest copper mine on the planet. And several more are being projected or are in startup phase to ensure a production yield of up to 20 percent of the world’s annual iron consumption. During the next 20 years a staggering 130 billion Euros are going to be invested in building new infrastructure, replacing two entire cities falling down into old parts of mines, and generally starting new mines and 2 new smelting plants. Income in the area is the highest in Europe and the city of Kiruna sports a 10 percent negative unemployment. The area has a gross municipal income surpassing many smaller European economies on a population of 35 000 deep frozen souls. The city of Kiruna also has its own spaceport and its own space program together with Virgin Galactic. In theory it would be a nice place to live in from a purely economic standpoint. Only problem is that the city resembles Mordor with a tinge of hell frozen over and then plunged into eternal darkness.

All of this due to the core having a burp 1.9 billion years ago, I am still curious about how that burp happened. It is a mystery that really should be solved; because I do not think we would like to be around if it happened again. The core contains a lot of not so nice stuff compared to the fairly friendly constituents of the mantle.

Russian Apatite, Wikipedia Commons. Click on the image for details.

The riddle was quite simply a rhymed word pun on apatite derived from apathy. Part of the poem was about it doing naught and being lethargic, the other part was about sitting in a chair as apatite sits in a matrix. Lair is of course the mine of Kiruna making the Riddle recursive of the Name the Lava competition with the Apatite-magnetite Iron ore. As someone said, it is easy afterwards. Here is the poem in orignal, and do not blame Alan for lack of poetic excuberance, I am guilty of it since Alan is on a mysterious walkabout.

I do naught,
I make naught.
Joyless in my chair,
deep in my lair,
I think naught.



82 thoughts on “Answers to Name that Lava XX and Alan’s Evil Riddle #13

  1. I think they are drafted… you may need to check them for tags and proof read them for context. Also, some of the images may still go to TinyPic URLs, so that may need to be fixed.

    • If you use the upload tool for the images they are permanently saved and will come up in full size when people click on them. They normally also become clearer.
      I fixed one of the links, I usually use the “make-link” tool since I am a lazy ass… Added author name, and then I scheduled them for today at 1800 BT and tomorrow at 1800 BT.

      Fast work and nice work Lurking! 🙂

    • A large part of it actually. But, one should remember that there are 4 of them giant mines. And 3 more will be started within just a couple of years. With yet another two coming after that.
      There are a couple of nice magnium finds and at least one viable spot for lantanides in Iceland. I suspect there are more of those though…

      • OK! – Seems we two need start new mining company. You bring capital and know how and every thing needed. I fuse up a volcano plume. So we can start in a few million … years…! *OMG what have I gotten me into now* 😉

        • One of the pre requisites of starting a mine in Iceland is that it is an Icelander involved and who holds title to the land… As a foreigner I just get a boot in my butt.

      • Tell that to the Dictator of Belarus. He is of a rather different opinion.

        Back story, a Swedish PR Agency decided to make something that would cause a stir. They hired a small single engine prop airplane and flew over the Belarus capital bombarding it with teddybears in parachutes holding signs with messages propagating democracy.
        The Dictator of Belarus went apeshit and threw out our Ambassador, thought about it, and kicked out the entire Embassy. We did the same to them, and then it kind of started to escalate.
        So, currently we are on the fast track to some odd sort of war (the first in 201 years) with Belarus. Normally we would most likely tell them to piss off, problem with Belarus though is that they are a nuclear power and we scrapped ours in ’98. So, enter EU and a lot of Embassies getting booted. And there we are now… One crazed Dictator and a few teddy bears later.
        The only one who could reign in the beforementioned crazed Dictator of Belarus is Vladimir Putin, and even he is walking carefully around Belarus due to their nukes and the mental health level of the Dictator.

        When I said odd war I meant odd war. All we can do (without going nuclear) is piss on each other. We don’t have an army, just some small rather kick ass special forces units, nice submarines and a few stealth frigates (not usefull against a landlocked country), and a rather good airforce. Not something that will give you a victory in a war… So, we wont attack them. And they would either have to go through Poland (might let them through just for old times sake), Germany and then Denmark (who would give them sandwiches and beer and point them in the right direction (not much love there either). The other way goes through the Baltic states that would try to stop them and loose, and then through Finland and then the problem would be solved. Nobody goes through Finland and stays alive, ask the Russians about their experience. And Germany would also do their utmost to stop them, otherwise they would have nobody to share the bills with for Greece…

        Poland and Denmark have not liked us for at least 500 years… And the Germans have used us Swedes as something to scare their children into shape. Still. As noted, we have a good PR agency, but the box has been empty for a looong time.

        • Now that… is funny!

          It reminded me of the odd way of getting Manuel Noriega to come out of his building. Drive around it blasting hard rock over the loudspeakers. He detested hard rock and was more into classical music.

        • when I was working in Germany, Sweden was the main supplier of all sorts of screws/bolts etc. for industry in Germany, because of the quality of the steel, looks like things have changed and relations aren’t what they are used to be

          • Sweden and Germany have excellent relations, also our relations with Poland are good. Denmark is a bit iffy though, but on the mend since they changed government from their previous ultra-nationalist (rasist) one.

        • Belarus is probably the second most crazy country in the world, after North Korea. I wouldn’t mess with them, But generally they like to stick to their own matters, so don’t mess with them, and they don’t mess with anyone outside of their country. That’s a fair game.

          I can’t see a revolution happening there from what my friends in baltic coumtries told me. Its still probably decades away.

          • Nah, the problem is that now that they have started to mess we are going to mess with them. Since they seem to go apeshit from teddy bears I guess that something along those lines will happen fairly frequently, and also a massively funded Freedom campaign via the Internet.

          • Was there not a “War of The Roses”? Teddybears in parachutes then seem very serious buisiness. How come dictators are often so … stubit. *sigh*

  2. “Only problem is that the city resembles Mordor with a tinge of hell frozen over and then plunged into eternal darkness.” This made me laugh so hard I almost fell of my chair! Used to work there for 3 years and the standing impression was the cold and the darkness. Especially if you come from the sunny, flat and warmer parts of Sweden as I do. Thanks for this extremelly well written article VC 🙂

    • I have done a bit of work there when I was younger… It left an impression.
      On the other hand, not far off you Jokkmokk with the Ice Hotell. Very beautifull, both in winter and summer. But cooooold.

      Thank you!

  3. Thanks for the most interesting Post VC. Your description is scary and must be accurate as a fellow Swede thinks it is! What an amazing place and it is not unique…….. but I think I will give it and the others a pass as a place to build my big house when I win the Euro millions!!!

  4. Since it’s still technically the weekend… here.

    avarice Extreme greed for riches; cupidity
    [from Old French, from Latin avaritia, from avārus covetous, from avēre to crave]

    And an unrelated word (really?)

    Avaris: Capital of Egypt under the Hyksos (15th Dynasty), was located near modern Tell el-Dab’a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta. They introduced the compound bow and war chariot to Egypt… by using them.

    A team of archaeologists excavating a palace in the ancient city of Avaris, in Egypt, has made a gruesome discovery.

    The archaeologists have unearthed the skeletons of 16 human hands buried in four pits. Two of the pits, located in front of what is believed to be a throne room, hold one hand each. Two other pits, constructed at a slightly later time in an outer space of the palace, contain the 14 remaining hands.

      • By the way… I have been a subscriber to David Meadows’ “Explorator” list server for about 14 years now… it’s about the only E-Mail that I always look forward to. If you like to follow news info on the ancient world, from Prehistoric through Egypt, Roman, Byzantium, Chinese to English history… it’s the mailing list to be on.

        None of the mailings contain anything but straight text and a link to the articles, no adverts. If you get anything but that, it’s not a valid mailing. (keeps the hi-jacking down)

        From the last mailing:

        EXPLORATOR is a weekly newsletter representing the fruits of the labours of ‘media research division’ of The Atrium. Various on-line news and magazine sources are scoured for news of the ancient world (broadly construed: practically anything relating to archaeology or history up to World War II or so is fair game) and every Sunday they are delivered to your mailbox free of charge!

        To subscribe to Explorator, send a blank email message to:


        And as you know… the [at] gets the appropriate replacement… I did it that way to keep the address scouring bots at bay.

    • BooYA!

      We have yammered about volcanic activity to no end on here, even going as far as to try and do some correlation of ancient eruptions with major climate events… such as the Little Ice Age.

      Here is another one to chew on..

      “Cold spell gripped Europe 3,000 years before ‘Little Ice Age,’ says study”

      ( — Human civilization arose during the relatively balmy climate of the last 10,000 years. Even so, evidence is accumulating that at least two cold spells gripped the northern hemisphere during this time, and that the cooling may have coincided with drought in the tropics…

      Note: This is about the appropriate way to link outside material. An abbreviated version and a source link. In general, you should never directly quote more than about 10% of the source.

      VC: Amen to that!

  5. OMG, this has to be the most amazing post ever.. a “core plume” wtf??? How does that work??!! and then all those strange names and towns falling into a pit… and subterranean worlds and huge economies I never even knew existed. I was convinced you had switched to fiction and are actually related to Tolkein, but had just been hiding the fact from us … then I read about the Dictator of Belarus. too much.. teddy bears on parachutes.. reminiscent of Nena’s 99 Luftballons.. then I knew you were actually telling the truth… egads!

    • Yepp, all above is actually true.
      How the core plume worked is though a million dollar question.
      Regarding our cities falling down into mines. Well, all of a sudden since the prices in metalls have sky-rocketed we find ourselves sitting on something that is working out to be the Saudi-Arabian oil fields, and this time the finds are really limitless. Kiruna area stands for half of Swedens gross national product (net) and is the blatant reason that we have the cash to bail out all those southern economies.

  6. Ha I was in Kiruna 2 weeks ago! Okay I passed by by train, but it still counts. Even from the train it looks immense. Next time I’ll take a look!

    • Dude, you should have taken the next train and gone into the mine. As a budding geologist that count as a huge fail.
      Two, you should have given a holler and jumped of the train where I live so I could have bought you a beer or five. I have noticed that students love beer, especially free beer 🙂

      • Darn! Now I really have to go back! Do you live in Kiruna?
        Geologically speaking my trip was still interesting however, the massive granite formations sculpted by ice in the Narviksfjell are a spectacular sight.

  7. OT and off earth.
    High res pic from Curiosity here ( big file)

    The lander is about 1km from a putative alluvial fan, so its interesting to see a smooth stone sitting on top of another rock of different hue. To find it centre on the black rectangle in middle of photo. The grey stone is then to your right just below the bottom edge of the rectangle and about one quarter of its length to your right. It has the shape of a shallow ‘apex roof’, with pronounced shadow thrown onto the redder tinged rock its sitting on. It should be in bottom right of screen when bottom corner on rectangle is in top left.

    • Ahem… We had that news 3 days ago published in the comment field. It was not Erik that solved it, it was French Polynesian scientists (in reality a french submarine).

    • Actually, Erik didn’t claim to have solved the puzzle, he only did a search for himself and risked a well supported speculation leaning towards Havre. But no one can assure it was there… yet.

        • Depth. I am not sure, but there is supposition that in the north of Hierro there was a submarine eruption that went unnoticed.
          We must take into consideration undersea eruptions while looking for great ash layer deposits from ancient events, I suppose…

          • My question comes after seeing the photo taken from space: there is a visible, sturdy plume from Havre volcano. I wonder if there couldn’t have been really big underwater eruptions in the past that could have released significant ash amounts in the atmosphere, even higher than 20 km?

          • Renato, the answer to that is a very big YES. Many times. Remember that for every eruption on land there is 2 sub-aquatics. So, there has been twice the number of VEI-7s underwater the last 10 000 years compared to onland VEI-7s… And so on and so forth.

          • Last year a guy on the Nautilus said that 3/4of all volcanoes are under the sea. And many are much ore active then those on land. We just dont notice because it is hidden.
            And if there is no pumice or restignolitas… who should become aware?

  8. Carl, great post but I add a suggestion to you. I notice that sometimes when you post about a volcano or a place, you don’t mention the country that is located. Of course, sometimes that might be obvious, but still some people might not know it. I say this because there were some of the recent posts I read that I had to google it to know where it was 🙂 Just a suggestion 🙂

    • Carl, probably you missed my former comment on the pumice I found near Hengill:

      Yes, I found a layer that contained pumice, which I don’t think it is from Hekla but could have been from Hengill or most likely from Snaefellsjokull. The funny part is that it seems to correspond to the “mysterious gray ash” of the part II of the ash layer post.

      Here is a photo:
      The pumice is the deepest white/grayish band, below the orange band. And yes, that orange band seems to occur between Hengill and Borgarnes, I have no idea from where it came, but my bets go to either Ljósfjall, Langjokull or Hengill itself. I really would like to know whether Hengill produced some type of ash, and how was it. I start thinking it did. The pumice itself might have been from Snaefellsjokull, because I found it everywhere between Hengill and Snaefellsjokull; otherwise it is from Hengill or Hekla (but less likely Hekla because I don’t find that pumice in other locations near Hekla.

      As I move near Snaefellsnes I start seeing a lot of thick white bands (pic here,
      Overall, as I move west or east, it’s difficult to identify from which volcano they came, if I am quite far away from any of the large obvious volcano: whether Hekla or Snaefellsjokull.

      I hope to have some extra insight on this before I go for part III….

  9. Just a quick note, GNS Science/Geonet are now saying that they are expecting no futher eruptions in the next week at Tongariro. They have reduced its status (and White Island’s) to YELLOW.

  10. Where is Judith? Looks like earthquakes are tending North and shallower at El Hierro, aren’t they?
    13/08/2012 08:30:54 27.7663 -18.0802 10 1.6 mbLg W FRONTERA.IHI
    13/08/2012 08:30:15 27.7619 -18.0773 10 1.7 mbLg W FRONTERA.IHI

  11. Well, since Judith is out of reach, I think I could quote M. Matabosh from FB “Vulkanfreunde International” group (
    “Eruption of El Hierro, 13 August 2012: “Residents (at El Hierro) can feel the vibrations, very short, dry jolts, and are experiencing dizziness, as well as, in Tigaday center, gassy odors, – in fact toxic odors – of rotten eggs, – H2S -, and of scratched matches, – SO 2 -, which are felt by the population … there is no doubt that there is also the presence of carbon dioxide emission – CO2 -. We are not willing to be alarmist but the volcano risk level should be raised to at least yellow, if not to red … no time to wait … “

      • But Sissell the people posting on the Avcan Facebook page are actually islanders living on the island and over the past few months their postings have been invaluable.They give first hand information as to what is actually happening.

    • Not a reliable info source from my point of vue. Too much “they are hiding things from us” ranting (actually I do not think IGN would take some time to fiddle with the data as claimed by Matabosch, it would be much more easier just not to provide information…). I still look at his blog from time to time out of habit, but that’s about it.

      • I was just looking for more information on the fires in La Gomera, and came accross this article (translated from Spanish by Google)
        “The Technological Institute of Renewable Energies (ITER), which is part of the Institute of Volcanic Islands (Involcan) has informed the management of the Civil Protection Special Plan for Volcanic Risk in the Canary Islands (Pevolca) and the council of El Hierro that the diffuse emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere by the volcano island of El Hierro continues to record values ​​”absolutely normal”.

        The current emission rate is 286 tons per day, a figure that corresponds to the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere across the surface, about 278 square kilometers of the island of Meridian.

        The current rate of diffuse emission of carbon dioxide is very similar to the normal value for the system estimated average volcanic island of El Hierro (345 tonnes per day), as the work of ITER volcanological group since 1998, and the range of recorded values ​​(280-345 tonnes per day) during the last 45 days.

        These values ​​are normal and very low compared with other active volcanic systems, so they pose no danger to the public. The interest and importance of this work on diffuse emission of CO2 are because the information generated through these scientific surveys can not be obtained through permanent instrumental networks”

        • Hi Debbie

          Thanks for that have just read the article and think that report only covers June-July dont think they have tested the levels for August yet (may be they will near the end of the month).

          • Hi Judith, I should have read the article more carefully – you are right it was from June-July….I don´t think it will be much help for the residents who are actually breathing the air now, to wait until the end of August for the next report…

          • Hi Sissel, turns out it was not such good news after all…as the report was from June to beginning of July – see Judith´s comment! The fire in La Gomera is not looking good, 25% of the population have had to be evacuated (5000 people) – and the fire is still not under control, they have seven helicopters and four hidroaviones (water planes) trying to extinguish it…but the climatic conditions in the Canaries at the moment are terrible (calima again) very hot indeed… the fires in Tenerife are under control thank goodness.

          • just watching the news now, and the people of La Gomera are being evacuated by Ferry from where they live to the capital, San Sebastian.

  12. Well a big thank you Carl for this very informative post. Mordor, Minerals, volcanoes, mushrooms : just my kindda place (I’m a mineral collector And a volcano nut, And I do like to gather mushrooms. And I’m a LOTR fan…). It’s just the climate I’m afraid…..I do not know how you manage to withstand the long long nordic night.

    • A fire place, and a very fantastic Mrs le Strange helps a lot. I know, technically we are not married yet, but still 🙂

      But, I do not live in Kiruna, I live 500 kilometers to the south beside the ocean. So I am south of the arctic circle and in a warmer climatic zone…

  13. Please could someone have a look at this blog report from Raymond Matabosch there are some interesting graphs and charts from today he has circled and marked but I have no idea what he is pointing out on the IGN charts from today that he finds so interesting but I am sure some of you will pick up on this (if anything at all ).

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