Name that Volcano Riddle!

Resident of Siglufjördur looking rather wooden eyed after yet another sleepless night with earthquakes.

The week has been calm eruptionwise, but fairly frisky earthquakewise in Iceland. The transform faultline north of Siglufjördur kicked into high gear with continous medium sized earthquake swarms.

The active faultline is one of two major faults making out two of the boundaries for a microplate that is seismically locked at its southeastern corner under Theistareykjarbunga volcano. Theistarykjarbunga is as most readers of this blog know one of the two volcanoes in Iceland and the world competing for the title of having had the largest flood basalt eruption during the last 10 000 years, the other one being Bárdarbungas Thjórsahraun eruption.

Image by IMO. The earthquake band of the fifth most powerfull earthquake swarm during the last 12 years.

The earthquake swarm has so far had a couple of hundred earthquakes in them, 13 between 3 to 4, and 5 earthquakes from 4 and upwards to 4.3M. This is a fairly vigorous, but not unheard of amount of energy released from an Icelandic earthquake swarm. It is though the 5th largest during the last 12 years. There is currently no other signs that this will lead into anything too exciting in the near future.


This week we will try a new version of the friday volcanic riddle game. It is a “Name that Volcano Riddle!” by commenter Suzie. One point to be had.

The French footie fans looked on in horror as their European opposites ran riot round the capital! They asked themselves “What does this unruly orange mob mean to us?”


During the week I tried to come up with some extremely extreme sports that you can do if you have a volcano handy. My favourite was a surfing down a Hawaiian lava stream on a ceramic surfboard. The idea though was not as novel as I thought. Apparantly it is big too skate down scoria cones.


212 thoughts on “Name that Volcano Riddle!

    • Never ceases to amaze me what people do in their spare time ! Not sure who to sympathise with – the photographer or the guy with the flamethrower – trying to imagine the conversation that might lead to this …. 🙂

    • Does ehrensvärd mean something similar like “ehrenswert” in german? Would perfectly fit for the activity of flame throwing in old mines… 🙂
      That’s one of the moments where I think that there still is a bit of hope for mankind in the future…

          • No risk, no fun…
            You’re completely right, of course. Big flames also eat oxygen. Some spots in mines tend to be poor concerning that… At least when his flame thrower doesn’t work he can be suspicious of CO2 and stuff, and leave…
            Mines are interesting, but I like to leave them as much as I like to go in. Very special places. How with time the air or water movement develop very own behaviors making every mine a beast of its own. Hm. I go in, do what I have to, and leave. Working inside there for hours every day would be hard. Respect for those who stand this for years.

  1. Latest arrival of magma at El Hierro can now clearly be seen in the deformation charts at HI08 – HI10 :

    It’s interesting to note that there has been little sign of deflation after the EQ swarms end. How many more episodes of inflation must we see before something pops?

  2. I comment here on the risk issue talked about in the last post. Think it would get lost over there now that that new piece of prose is online.
    The thing with risk analysis is that you case by case have to think why you to the analysis and what you want to get out of it or manage with. Most governments have standards, depending on the issue they want to deal with. One of the first big questions always has to be which probabilities and probability steps are of interest for the questions we ask. For rockfall, landslides and flooding, where I work we use probabilities of 1/30, 1/100, 1/300 and > 1/300, couple that to intensity levels to get the “danger” (hazard), and then link that to potential damages to calculate the risk. A very important distinction is to make between the risk to have financial consequences to an event, and the risk of human life loss. We chose not to quantify human life with a monetary value as others do, and integrate that issue at the end of the different calculations with another weight for that kind of risks. And that gives you a final risk-value, that I of course always have to bring in relation with possible measures to know how much investment makes sense to have a efficiency/cost ration that allows me to justify getting rid of some money from the tax payer. At least that’s for cases where I have to deal with localizable hazards (limited extend, you know from where the phenomenon might start and to where it might have effects). I practice it in a bit of a different way for linear objects like roads and rail, and then we think different when it’s about very sensitive objects, like power plants of hospitals or police / firestations…
    These 1/30 to 1/300 steps where chosen in relation to an admitted lifetime of buildings. From 30 to 100 years or so. There all the values seem to give a bit of sense when matched together. But it’s highly discussable. We set a security standard that is incredibly high compared to the individual risks we chose to take when we drive a car or a fat Benelli.
    So if I had to set a standard for “my” volcano watching interest, it would be very frequent stuff up to 1/10 of a chance per year (once every 10 years like many say, but that is an intellectual aberration in my opinion), then 1/100 for the stuff where I want to know if we have a good chance to see it once in a human lifetime, 1/1000 for math’s sake and as these are events that start to have effect on a supralocal scale, and 1/10000 and less probable for the biiig stuff. That would be interesting to bring into one single table. Then, of course, I’d make another table detailing the 1/10000 and less probable as I like dreaming of biggest shit and find it more relevant to earth’s history.
    And yes, I like fit tools. A match is nice, a fire thrower is better. A hammer is good, dynamite is much more fun. A Smart moves you from A to B, but in a Ford F150 Raptor the smile might be larger and more “persistent”.
    Autch, I guess now I have put down a lot of things quite wildly. Hope anyone can get what I wanted to say…

      • I preach that every time I can. Even well known hazard specialists regularly fall into that trap. I had someone letting that our in front of a lot of people during a public presentation of hazard maps. Immediately you had the smartasses coming with “yeah but we just had such an event so we’re good for the next 100 years”. Then you had me starting to be very serious and bringing wildest comparisons to nail them down to their seats. Why the hell did I somehow like it although it had turned quite hot for some minutes… 😉
        Spread it as much as you can. 🙂

          • In response to Carl mentioning how large caldera events can’t happen twice in a row-

            This is mostly true, but even then, I don’t think it’s necessarily a fact. Mount Mazama (crater lake) had a pretty large VEI 6 eruption just 200 years before it went full VEI 7 going caldera.

            I don’t think you would see back to back VEI 7 events in a row, but if a magma reservoir is large enough, and the inflation / expansion is large enough, I wouldn’t entirely cross it off the realm of possibility.

          • CBUS20122, Mazama though did not go caldera at the VEI-6 eruption.
            It is actually pretty normal for caldera event ready volcanoes to have large eruptions before the final “Putz”.

            After the caldera you typically see small events, then as the edifice builds up it grows larger and largers as time goes by. And that is why I am a bit worried about Vesuvius. It is to me together with Ischia the volcano that has done the most work at rebuilding the edifice to a point where a new caldera event is possible in europe.
            Another one I would not be surprised if it went caldera is Toba with that massive resurgent dome.
            Thing with caldera event is that the magma chamber is trash afterwards and can not sustain the pressure needed for a large eruption.

            To have two VEI-7s back to back you would need a volcano so large that it does not go caldera by a VEI-7 eruption. Not impossible, but highly unlikely.

        • If you look at one precise spot you’re absolutely right, but if you look at it on global scale, you can perfectly have 2 caldera forming events with a 1/xxx probability at different places in the same year.
          Reason why it is so essential to clearly set the frame of a risk reflexion.
          Lurking, I’m pretty sure you’re right and there is a special term for that, but I can’t remember it in any language. If I have a sudden illumination I’ll share it…

          • Nope, I still say that it is impossible with two caldera events in the same volcano two times in a row. Physics come into play here.
            With the roof of the chamber turned into rubble that has fallen into the chamber two things happen that both are show stoppers.
            1. The magma chamber does not exist any longer, or is divided up into several very small ones.
            2. The rubble has not the structural stability to endure the pressure necessary for a large eruption. Any magma that comes up will leak out emediatly through the weakened roof. Or go up into the rough solidifying it piece by piece untill the volcano can start to have small eruptions. Santorini did not have eruptions for almost 1500 years, all magma that came up went into working as caulking for the leaky roof. Now it is in the minute eruptions phase.

            Physics does that, it explains why things can’t happen. It is though not as good at explaining what can possibly happen.

            In this case, it is impossible with two caldera events back to back. But as CBUS wrote above, you can have two mighty eruptions in a row, as long as there is no caldera event.

        • What is a problem with Mazama is , according a couple of Geologists that a knew,
          they are convinced that it will be a long time before it has enough material built
          up before it goes VE-7 again. I thin this is true for Yellowstone, Novarupta etc..
          too. Not to say it can’t erupt, just not as explosively…

    • I’m messy because I try to make it simple. But a real risk analysis is not that simple at all. As a little precision that’s the probability steps I’d set in order to reflect on what I’ll probably have the “chance” to see during my lifetime. A real risk analysis would result in something where for a given spot I know the chance to have effects of this or that volcanic event, and we could think of a “value” mixing the probability to have effects of volcanic activity and the heaviness of the consequences. Results may interestingly show that the final volcanic risk when sitting right on Yellowstone can be smaller that when you live on the slopes of Tanganasoga, although one is really fat and the other one a fart in comparison, only because of the big difference in probability of occurrence.
      I better stop. Writing what I think, right away, in english and between job things that utterly have to be done today might be a medium smart thing to do. I “risk” to look a bit loco… On the other hand that has never held me back from doing anything… 😉

      • We could call this this the “where do I anchor my yacht” principle. Then we could factor in property values (the yacht), the human scale (my bottom), subjective values (hey awesome jacuzzi! Man, these dead fish taste good). and maybe come up with an index for more or less irrational behavior, a code for volcanoholics.

          • A friday, this one will just serve falling asleep after this very bottle I’m talking of. It’s a kind of “tradition” we have with my wife. Friday, when the kids are in bed, I rush downstairs to chose a nice bottle and we drink it with potato chips in front of TV. 30% chance that I fall into deep sleep on the sofa before 22.00. 70% that like a zombie I look some idiotic pseudo documentary. Some percent that I glance at volcanocafé and the intellectual level overpasses my capacities in that moment… 🙂

          • Do you survive that long?
            I come home, crack a bottle, pour a glass of wine, lay down in the sofa. Next morning I wake up with my full glass of wine, and a bottle that I hopefully put a cork into so it hasn’t turned into vinegar. Normally I make meatstew with the vinegary wine on saturday.
            I have grown old and boring.
            Also, being alone at home does not raise the spirit really…

          • I said before 22.00. Usually open the bottle around 8:45. Sleep at average happens around 9.15 to 9.30. Or then at 2.30 saturday morning after a set of bad movies to kill my brain and reach peace of mind…

          • 😆 my son is thankfully young enough to still fall asleep with me snoring at 80 db into his ear. I wake at four. Feel miserable and make a few grumpy comments on the blog and wonder when-oh-when his mother is going to come home.

    • I found this really interesting and well explained, it should be in the “Dragon’s hoard”. Thank you, GeoLoco. 🙂

    • The Ambre-Bobaomby volcanic field, Madagascar. Ambre = orange. Mob is in the word Bobaomby…… other than that I can’t fit in European opposition unless it was any of the countries that colonised the area.. Madagascar was a French Colony until 1960.
      I agree that the Amsterdam Volcano is probably the correct answer here but worth twisting my brain cells a little…. Really it is too early for these things… maybe after a glass or two in the Sheepy Dalek Bar I will gain a flash of inspiration… but please do not hold on to that thought!!

  3. In a dark and hazy room, peering into a crystal ball, the mystic
    delivered grave news:
    “There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just be blunt – prepare
    yourself to be a widow. Your husband will die a violent and horrible
    death this year.”
    Visibly shaken, Phyllis stared at the woman’s lined face, then at the
    single flickering candle, then down at her hands. She took a few deep
    breaths to compose herself.
    She simply had to know. She met the fortune teller’s gaze, steadied
    her voice, and asked: “Will I be acquitted?”

  4. Quill volcano, a dormant stratovolcano on the island of Sint Eustatius in the Caribbean Netherlands. The capital of Sint Eustatius is Oranjestad (orange town). The name of the volcano refers to the shape of the crater; the Dutch word “kuil” means pit or hole.
    Weapon of St. Eustatius:

    • Could equally well be todays cruise ship sitting with the engines running ontop of the hot upwelling of water in the caldera. It is common since it is a cheap and ecofriendly way of washing crap off the hull. If it is at Santorini during the day it is almost always a cruise ship doing that.

      • Not much activity for being at Santorini. When Kolombo had a swarm earlier this year it was down right nasty. Not to speak about when that infamous magma globe came into the system, then you could not even see anything on that plot.

        Problem with all of the SILs at Santorini is that they are basically to close to the target to give really good info.

        • Some days it’s pretty quiet and others it seems to be twitching more. The number of quakes all around the edges of the Aegean have been consistently pretty high in recent weeks, though it is never quiet as such in that region. Most of the quakes registered here, I suspect, are picked up from further away.

    • Luis, it started a bit of more activity back 2011. It actually got north korea and china back into talking since they share the problem. Baekdu is though still quite a bit from erupting, and when it does it will most likely be pretty unassuming as the last 3 eruptions was. Why will it be fairly small? Because Baekdu has recently had an event that ripped out the top of the magma chamber, and it still has a long way to grow before it has a magma chamber large enough for something spectacular.
      Old adage here: A recently calderad volcano will not go caldera soon…

      • To be honest, I really thought short and stupid was going to fake activity there with a tunnel full of Ammonium Nitrate and Fuel Oil. He went cold and dark before doing it though, now the Pablum Kid is in charge.

      • Carl, that’s not a caldera, it’s a crater. Same as with Tambora, it blew its top off without a full-scale collapse of the edifice into the chamber even if there must have been damage to the roof. The magma chamber is relatively intact, the only question is how long before it’s been replenished.

          • I know. It’s because they do not have a proper set of terms. It seems that to them, anything km-sized is a caldera, no matter the cause. Smaller, and it’s a crater. Same as with my own branch, linguistics, where people speak about “language universals” and apply it very loosely to anything with a 50-70%+ preponderance. Universal means omnipresent and if it isn’t present in every language, it’s not universal. That’s what comes from fools and dabblers being allowed to study post-graduate. Third rate minds with no real idea of what they are studying intent on making a nome for themselves rather than advancing knowledge.

            Same with the caldera / crater nonsense. If you want to be scientific, you should have terms that are connected to processes – maar is a good, positive example; a crater caused by a hydrothermal or even hydromagmatic explosion. Cinder cone another. Caldera can be associated, it seems, with at least five different processes: a) Very large explosive eruptions (eg. Taupo, Toba, Campi Flegrei), large explosive eruptions where the edifice collapses into the emptied magma chamber (eg. Katmai, Mount Masama/Crater Lake), c) as b but with the difference that the largest explosion is caused by water entering the still not emptied magma chamber because of a breach (eg. Thera, Krakatau), d) the sub-glacial gouging out of a very large but relatively speaking shallow feature (Katla, Askja), e) a mountain blowing off its top which results in a kilometers-sized crater with or without a partial collapse of the roof of the magma chamber but not of the magma chamber itself (eg Tambora, Changbaishan, St Helens).

            a), b) and c) involve the (complete) collapse of the magma chamber and are thus calderas.

            d) is a special case that does not necessarily involve any collapse but could be termed subglacial or subglacially formed calderae.

            e) is is not a caldera. It is a very large crater which has left the edifice mostly intact except for the complete removal of the summit and gouging out of a deep crater – even should that crater be as large in diameter as some smaller, proper, calderas.

        • This where it gets problematic.

          Laacher See, according to Wikipedia (actually according one of the nine references), ejected about 16km³ of material. At an area of 3km², that yields a theoretical floor drop of 5.3 km… yet the lake is only 275m deep.

          Now, a lot of that would have been what was blown off of a likely swollen top, and the resurgent activity and ensuing 12,900 years of sediment would have filled a lot of that in, but 5.3 km is a pretty big offset.

          But then I guess that makes me a third rate mind

          I was unaware that we fools and dabblers were not allowed admission to data and knowledge. Interesting take on it.

          All the more reason that I fully support withdrawal of all government support for any and all universities. They can sit in their little enclave and charge their premium prices (which they already do) and I’ll be perfectly happy to not have my taxes support their graft and over tenured staff.

          • That was tephra which should first be corrected to DRE giving a true volume ejected of about 20% or 3.2 cu km – but the article gives a total of 6 cu km of magma ejected. Second, the area given is for the lake, the caldera itself is wider as is readily visible in this photograph.

            I’ve found no definite figure but recall a diameter of 5.5 km given which agrees well with a comparison between photograph and maps. This gives an area of about 23.8 km^2. Taking those values yields an average drop of, roughly, 250 meters – as meaured from rim to rim which means the depth at the center ought to have been in excess of 500 m after the collapse. Once you allow for initial backfill and 12,900 years of sedimentation, this agrees nicely with the current maximum depth of the lake.

          • PS. Iget a similar feeling reading some of your input, the things you do with numbers. Then again, neither you nor I pretend to be anything but second or third-raters. The shocking thing is that the people on this blog – as a group – probably are brighter than your average faculty…

        • I will not argue with you about Baekdu, I do not know that volcano well enough. But I can vouch for Tambora being a proper caldera. I have been inside of the caldera for almost a week. It has all the tell tale sign of a caved in magma chamber. Complete with the infilling eruptions of a post caldera volcano.
          Somewhere I have a few shots of nice lava that has oozed up to start the infilling between the rubble. By the way, it is even hard to treck across the floor since you actually have to jump and climb over individual large cliffs that make out the rubble.
          As far I know I am one of the very few people who have been inside the caldera, you need to chopper in unless you are Norgay or his son Topgay Tensing.
          Tambora is the place where I really understood the principle that a post-caldera volcano need a heck of a lot of time to rebuild.

  5. El Hierro is behaving a bit differently today. There was a 2.8 at 60km depth in Atlantico, and several quakes in W Frontera including a 9km depth and a 3km depth.

    • As I had a bit of spare time left, here comes the translation: – 21.9.2012

      Four earthquakes with magn. over 4

      Rather important earthquake activity has now been continuing including some breaks from 14th of September at the south end of Eyjafjarðarál in the sea north of the north Iceland coast. Til today, there were measured 4 quakes over magn 4. Two of them took place 19th of September at 07:57 and 08:28 and two of them yesterday, 20th of September, 09:27 and 19:42. All of them have been clearly felt by people in [the nearby towns – add. by translator] Siglufjörður and Ólafsfjörður. The first one was also felt in Sauðárkrókur and the last one in Dalvík, Akureyri and Húsavík. There were also measured some quakes over magn. 3 and all together there have been identified over 400 quakes. This is an information from IMO website.

      Eyjafjarðaráll is placed between the Húsavík-Flatey-Fault and the graben south of Kolbeinsey Ridge. The Húsavík-Flatey-Fault (HFF) is part of the Tjörnes Transfer Zone which is connecting the NVZ (Northern Volcanic Zone) to the Kolbeinsey Ridge. Earthquakes are not unusual there.

      Earthquake swarms like the one which is now ongoing were also found in the years 1996 and 2004. They were continuing during many days and quakes of magn. over 4 were measured. Hypocenters of the actual earthquake activity are not on HFF and nothing at the moment indicates a later movement to this location. It is neither possible to predict the time for which this swarm will be still going on nor exclude more quakes of a magn. of 4 or higher.

      (translator: Inge B. – no guarantees)

  6. Back to Tjörnes: swarm still going on.

    BTW @Carl: Found some paper about the yesterday mentioned Kópasker quake from 1976:

    There even was a lake forming in the aftermath of this quake which received the – very suitable – name of Skjálftavatn (=Earthquake lake), and it’s not really a small one: (didn’t find a better picture) 🙂

  7. There are some interesting informations about the region in a paper by S. Metzger from 2011 I read (but don’t find anymore): That IMO was expecting quakes at the HFF for some time now, and even up to magn. 6,8, because there was so much strain accumulated in the area since more than 100 years from the last big quake at this region. There was also talk about the uplift in Theystareykir.

    What I also find interesting is a bigger perspective:
    This action at MAR began – as far as I remember – with quakes at Reykjanes Ridge Aug.15, next came a swarm on Reykjanes Peninsula (Reykjanesskagi): Bláfjöll and Krýsuvík (around Aug. 30) followed by quakes (bigger than four) to the north around Jan Mayen, followed by a swarm at Kolbeinsey Ridge (the same day), then another on Reykjanes peninsula (from Sept. 1 on), then around Jan Mayen and Kolbeinsey Ridge again (Sept. 6), then a swarm on Reykjanes Ridge (from Sept. 6 on), and now to the north. The next swarm should be south again, and the center f (or all this activity is at the center of the hot spot, at Bárdarbunga. (my theory – no geologist!)
    Which could mean that not only the Húsavík plate is turning around (a bit, by mm) Theistareykir, but that the whole of Iceland would be turning – very slowly of course. This is now a wild guess from my side – an attitude which seems to be utterly contageous here in this blog!

    This reminds me – strange association – about the Rainer Maria Rilke poem “The Panther”
    Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
    der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
    ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
    in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

    And in English:
    As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
    the movement of his powerful soft strides
    is like a ritual dance around a center
    in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

  8. I’m stumped with the riddle. I don’t know anything about football teams – but the Netherlands are always in Orange (though the Ukraine had an Onange Revolution). There are Orangemen in Ulster, but they don’t play football. The French wear blue – the rugby team are called Les Bleus so I guess the football team is as well. That’s as far as I’ve got. 😀

    • Thank you dfm, very interesting. 🙂
      And – I could actually see this one. Now some months since I could last see a video.

      • The first time in my life, I saw an aurora, it was on Snaefellsnes. It was in the evening, the sun still a bit over the horizon, very beautiful weather, but cold. And I was on driving on Vatnaleid.

        Later on, I saw them often, but still, when I was driving at the same time, I had to watch out so as not only to concentrate on them and lend beside the road somewhere in the snow, because they always facinated me so much! I like best the green ones and especially when they are moving like a curtain!

    • No worries…it’s not easy scrolling through the posts to see who has said what. Did you go for the anagram thing like I did…geat minds thing alike eh!

  9. It’s because the old name of Madagaskar was called France occidentale on old Portuguese maps. And traders from the Netherlands used the island for the slave trade. From 1896 til 1960 it was a French colony.

  10. Totally OT but I have a question for the Randy Geologist boys. We have a place in Turkey that we use for holidays. It is in a valley north of Dalaman, sometimes called Whiterock depending on what bit you are in. The valley has nothing remarkable about it really, but locally is called White Rock. On one side the cliffs are brown coloured and the opposite side are more grey (white?) rocks. Our place is in the bottom of the valley and there is this great big lump of rock sticking up, it seems sort of white in appearance, and quite smooth looking like it was melted somehow. It reminds me of a volcanic plug somehow, but I dont think that is correct. Can any of you guys shed some light on this for me? I’ve uploaded the picture to tinypic so hope it works ok.

    • Looking at my post i guess it is probably not that easy for anyone to figure out exactly where I am speaking about. I am not sure how to explain it more clearly, I must be having a really ‘dumb’ moment but cant figure out on Google Earth what the co-ordinates are (Friday night.. and you know Kelda always has teatime drinkies with the girls) The place is called Akkaya Valley, but with such sparse information I dont really expect anyone to spend time looking for it…sorry guys. If I can figure out how to get the right location then I will come back to you.

        • It is in the Mugla region but not on the coast. I put the co-ordinates below (I think) basically you land at Dalaman and drive inland (north) for about 40 minutes up into the hills and there it is. I know there was a 4.something earthquake just off Fethiye in June/july and it was noticed in Dalaman, because my friend there said he was a bit ‘shaken’ by it, but his wife was not afraid at all.

      • OK. I think if I put the cursor over the area in Google Earth the co-ordinates are 36° 50’ 58”.42” N – 28° 49’ 56.92” E. I think that’s where it is. Anyway, it’s not an important thing, just something I’ve wondered about since we bought the place and I would like to know more about the geology of the area. Mostly because I believe the area is prone to small earthquakes and on one occasion my friend and I were waiting for a taxi to airport and both felt something weird. It was just a jolt, as if the balcony had been bumped for a second, nothing more than that. At the time I thought it must have been an earthquake, as nothing else seemed possible, but it was just a bump like someone had jabbed a stick up under our chairs, but no noise or anything else. So anyway, if any of the Randy boys can offer an insight I would really appreciate it.

          • Thanks Renato, but I’ve never seen any ‘volcanic’ looking mountains in this area. I think that the region of Turkey around Marmaris/Dalyan etc has some connection to tectonic plates. I just wanted to know if the big rock in our valley was formed by a volcano or by some other means. The photo I provided is probably not good enough for anyone to give an answer to my question, which was what is the rock made of and how was it formed.

      • Kelda, I did some search for your ‘white rock’, but found very little help from either Google Earth or Wikipedia:
        GVP shows only one Holocene volcano (Kula), but much farther north to Akkaya valley, which is very close to Dalaman city.
        Wiki says: ” The landscape consists of pot-shaped small plains surrounded by mountains, formed by depressions in the Neogene. ” And also that the region is known for its “marble quarries” – which could explain the whitish hue of the rock.

        • Thank you Renato. I too have looked online for the White Rock thing but with no real answers. The valley is called White Rock to the locals, and it is quite apparent if you are looking for it that one side of the valley is brownish rock whilst the other side is white(ish). When I say white, it is not really white but more of a light grey. The big lump of rock that is in front of our apartment looks smooth, almost melted in appearance. It is not massive by any means, but certainly big enough to make me wonder why or how it got there. Maybe it is a limestone karst or something like that, I really dont know.

          • Actually the stone from the region was, or is, used for making pipes. The famous Dunhill Meerschaum pipes used the stone from the region.
            When waxed and polished the stone is rediculously white and shiny, but with age and heat it turn into a marvelous yellow/amber colour.

          • Kelda, maybe you could steal a little piece of it the next time you visit? A close up picture and a piece of rock for Alan and Birgit might bring up the right answer.

  11. I have a question – a bit OT but as it’s Friday –

    At times when these earthquake swarms are occuring in El Hierro, it seems that people report “strange smells”.

    I have been wondering if this could be due to vibrations disturbing the earth around drains or cesspits.

    I live in London and I know that here, every time a road is dug up, for whatever reason, there is a strong, rather harsh smell that isn’t “quite” sewage. I don’t think every drain is leaking, maybe they are just not quite air-tight. London is on heavy clay, I suppose El Hierro has looser, dryer soil, so maybe only a little jiggling would move gases out?

    I have never been anywhere near an earthquake, but I know some of you have experienced them. Have you noticed any smells? (not the obvious burst gas main, broken sewer, burning etc)

    • Volcanoes do emit a lot of different gases which means also different smells.

      Some even smell very good, or anyway I like them. – N o t the sulfur compounds. 🙂

        • The smell of a new car is divine. I’m sure they make it that way to give the ‘feel good’ factor that makes you want to buy. However, if I walk into a Motorbike Store with my OH, the smell is so repulsive I feel sick and have to go outside. Yet Bikers love it??
          Having said that, since being a kid I have always loved the smell of fresh tar on the road or Kerosene (paraffin) yet Diesel or Petrol turns my stomach. Strange how smells can affect our perception of things.

          • I love the smell of tar as well – I also loved the smell of the paint they used to put on ships. I think it might have been lead paint and is banned now, it doesn’t smell the same nowadays. New cars used to smell of leather, but now I think it’s a kind of plastic smell.

    • Clays always stink, they contain a lot of sulphurides due to containing rotting organic materials that have been arrested in their decay.
      The worst gag-stench on the planet is black sulphite clay from the bottom of the northern Baltic Sea. The lack of salt and oxygen really makes sulphide bacteriae thrive. When you haul anchor you have to clench down often not to barf as it comes up.
      Trick is to leave the anchor half a meter below water level, set sail, let the water clean it off. You do not want that black tar-like stinky gunk up in the boat at any cost.

  12. Weekend, finally!
    So here is a video clip of the Gorbatikov microseismic study images in combination with all earthquakes (time in color) under El Hierro 2011 and 2012 so far. A bit hard to find your way around with all the colors. The modelled structures could offer some explanation for the shape of the quake swarms. Too bad we don´t have the other slices….

    A thought on Peter´s creative post: What if El Hierros deep roots are not reducing propulsive force on the island compared with the bulk plate but rather acts as a kind of sail or wing, dipping into NE directed mantle flow? Couldn´t that lead to increased magma velocity, and by Bernoulli’s principle to changes in magma pressure, e.g. decompression melting? That could be positive feed back on island growth.

    • That was an interesting concept.
      I think we have a lot of rumination to do on that.
      I do not think the propulsion force visavi that plate is changed at all, but the concept of it working as Bernoulli flow capacitor is divine and so simple. That structure must work as a massive positive negative flow capacitor. It gives a very neat answer to why to “Restingofritas” had a large remelt part in them mixed with the fresh magma.
      Best explanation I have seen so far how that came about.

      • And if we have a Bernoulli moment we also should have a Venturi foamer down there since it is impure media we are talking about. Also would explain the floating capacity of the Restingofritas. They would then be foamed off material of impure melt.

  13. Well… talking of orange blobs – I have been a bit over-excited this evening, watching what I am reliably informed was a large meteor shower passing my window at perhaps 60mph, (or more, depending on distance). I hope it wasn’t large enough to hit landfall somewhere. It is currently out over the Irish Sea, as I can still see an orange glow.

    Randolph might even be able to see this on his NASA heat detectors.

    • Wow. That sounds exciting, I didn’t think meteor showers left a ‘lingering’ glow. I’ve seen quite a few over the years and the best one I ever saw was a ‘fireball’ that left a definate smoke trail in the sky for a few minutes afterwards but nothing like an orange glow. I am very envious of you this evening Alyson.

    • That “glow” is also usually accompanied by ionization of the F1, F2 and other layers of the ionosphere.

      Ham radio is probably having a field day. (extended propagation)

      • It wasn’t so much a lingering glow as being still able to see them as they went on their way out over the sea, about a dozen or so, strung out in a straight line, as they were passing the window. I did wonder UFO… and rang the police, who said they’d had a few calls. I suggested they ring the coastguard, as they were still visible, and the police then rang me back to say the coastguard were confident it was a meteor shower.

        I’ve seen the ?perseid? shower over Sicily before, and they were raining down, like a shower of stars, into the upper atmosphere and disappearing. These ones were a bit heftier and moving along parallel to the ground, not very high either. They should be over Ireland by now. I just hope they don’t make landfall as they are glowing pretty brightly.

        • I just read your comment and nipped outside to see if anything was visible, to my surprise there was a bright light moving rapidly across the sky…2 seconds later I realise that it was a Helicopter coming in from the North Sea going to the Hospital, late night Medivac from a rig or ship probably. The east coast of Scotland is not exactly the Irish sea, but you never know.

        • Reports have come in from all over the UK & Ireland about it…
          Here is a Photo of it:

          There is loads of videos on Youtube as well, just after it had broken up into several pieces. I would post one here but haven’t got a clue how to embed…Just search Youtube, putting in ‘Meteor’ in search, then filter results to show recent vids…

          • Sorry, read the link just after writing the last comment – there are more people than me thinking about a satellite …

          • Inge, that article is from 2011. Still makes more sense than a meteor though, I have seen lots of meteor showers and they are usually just streaks across the sky that disappear very quickly.

          • That was a truly great OT tonight. 🙂 Went thrugh all images on that chatroom, and my opinon is old Sattelite (or similar space trash) buring in upper atmosphere. On a cold and clear winter night in late-ish last century, myself (and dosens other people) saw one similar burn as it passed over Iceland (but now I forget which direction, east-west or oppsite) and it looked very similar. Looking at videos the speed seemed similar, slower that Meteor but much faster than ordinary Jet, and quite high up (say 80 – 100,000 feet). Searching on Icelandic online news for more news of this, and, nothing! doh
            Wonder if it could have been seen over the USA too? These go quite a distance before burning or crashing, oh, yeah, parts can come down from such trash. Rubbish to say all burns up. These things are often made of very heat-resistant alloys that do not burn that easyly. Anyone seen the TV show on a gang in east Kazakstan or Siberia, cutting up old Russian boosters after thay had fallen to earth? Here in Iceland there was coudy, I think, missed it all. Probably not visible from here.

          • And here is the BBC report for last night’s event – bolide would be my guess, too,TG, with some pretty big chunks burning up. It looked lower than 100,000 feet, though, and would have gone across Ireland just south of Dublin, and may be the same one as seen above Canada if that was also in 10 – 15 pieces?


        • I hazard to say it is a Bolide basic, but defines meteoric
          types.. Saw a few in Night Flying Over the years. Air Freight and Air taxi/Commuter
          Airline days.. Once, over the Cascades enroute from Seattle to Pasco, Washington
          I was alone, and on a very clear early spring night , I was at FL 200,and all of a sudden,
          this huge, bright light trailing a bright tail soared over me, and headed east into Idaho.
          The whole of the North Cascades and south to the Three Sisters was lit like daylight.
          never forgot that..

          • I’ve just been watching reports on the Breakfast news about this – loads of pictures and films and a policeman witness. Then scientist to explain it all. It was either a small meteorite or space junk. About the size of a large human fist. Coming in at 80 miles above the east coast of England and gradually breaking up until disappearing over the west coast of Ireland before the bits would crash into the sea. Travelling at 18000 mph. Perfect viewing conditions of a clear sky across Britain. If it had happened in the day time or on a cloudy night it wouldn’t be registered. Wish I’d seen it – but I have seen a couple in the past so I mustn’t be greedy! 😀

          • Hi Talla – just wanted to say it was bigger than a human fist…

            My lounge window is 3 meters across and this was about 0.75 meters across the window, looking more like a train, holding a steady height above the ground, and travelling in a straight line. From the ‘Latest Worldwide Meteor / Fireball Reports’ site it does seem to have followed the projected reentry lines shown for the satellite in the NASA article, but it also seems to have mostly landed in North America or Canada after crossing Holland and UK / Ireland first.

  14. Did the riddle get solved yet or did I just miss it? Or maybe Carl has fallen asleep at 20:00 after his glass of wine and just forgot to tell us? 🙂

  15. About the Dings!

    Grimmster started the thread with hitting Amsterdam Island.
    Then it took a little while before Kelda hit Boomerang Seamount.
    So, one point each.

    Here is Suzies explanation for the riddle.
    “Dutch football team play in orange, Amsterdam Island is French and ‘orange mob mean to us’ is an anagram of Boomerang Seamount”

  16. Well done Suzie and Grimmster. Is there no end to these convoluted and brain wracking riddlles ? Oh the joys of the Sheepy Dalek! 😀

  17. …..All this chat about Dingalings and Randy geologists is enough to send ladies of a certain age into the depths of morbid decline as they contemplate their mortality and find the memories of a passionate nature seem now rather fuzzy.
    This clip is especially for those ladies who may be searching for last fling………..
    My advice……Do not join an old tyme dancing club hoping to meet Mr Right…..But at least you will get some exercise for your arthritic knees…………

    PS I really love Joyce Grenell’s humour….. very English!!

  18. What do you guys & gals think about this one?

    22.09.2012 06:53:52 63.573 -19.587 5.2 km 1.3 30.19 6.6 km NW of Skógar

    Have a great day 🙂

    • I think a couple of things about that quake.
      1. The percentage of probabillity. At 30.19 it is a very dubious quake to beginn with.
      2. It is very weak, at 1.3 it is the famous Big Mac equivalent of power released. As such it is pretty much nothing.
      3. If it had been a probable quake at that depth and that strength I would have said it most likely was a settling quake after the eruption.

      As it is now it is an example of a quake that one should just disregard and move on to waiting for something more interesting.

      • Then I’ll do just that 🙂

        Thanks for replying Carl. Do you still live in Sweden, or have you moved on to greener and greater pastures?


          • Well, doesn’t become any easier as one gets older and starts reaping the awesome health-care benefits one gets here in Scandinavia either 🙂

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