Serendipity: finding volcanic accounts in unexpected places

The lovely word ‘serendipity’ means finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it.This article pulls together the posts I made in August about an eruption near Medina in 1256 and the unexpected way I came across it.

On 5th August at 01.05 Jack brought our attention to an article in the Guardian which KarenZ posted for us. This stated that Bill McGuire had proposed that the deaths of 15000 people in London in the year 1258 could be traced to the eruption of an unknown volcano. (See below for links to the articles we discussed.)

This event has been discussed before in volcano blogs as the year shows a huge SO2 spike. While we were discussing the event and where the supposed volcano could be, I set about doing what I was told to do in all my history classes and went back to the primary sources.

Lithograph of the Krakatoa eruption. Royal Society

I soon discovered that there may be another reason for the deaths of so many people. In the ‘Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London: 1188-1274’ near the end of the doings of the year (1258) it states:

“In this year, there was a failure of the crops; upon which failure, a famine ensued, to such a degree that the people from the villages resorted to the City for food; and there, upon the famine waxing still greater, many thousand persons perished; many more too would have died of hunger, had not corn just then arrived from Almaine [Germany].

”This shows that the people thought London was a safe place to go. It also shows that Germany was not affected. It should also be remembered that Simon de Montfort and the King were at one another’s throats so there was a lot of social unrest and disruption which, as we know from the famines in Africa, add to the problems of poor harvests. There was no mention of weird weather for this year in this chronicle.

The chronicle that was quoted by Bill McGuire is by Matthew Paris. It’s full title is ‘Matthew Paris’s English History: From the year 1235 to 1273, Volume III’ (link below). Paris was a monk/cleric at St Alban’s Abbey, near London, in the 13th century. His chronicle is used as a source for the period as he wrote about everything that came his way. This includes many references to strange weather events, gossip and travellers’ tales, as well as political commentary on the king, his barons and so on.

I waded through the whole of Matthew Paris for the years 1257 and 1258 and found it hard going. I should mention that his chronicle begins in 1236 where there is mention of such a deluge of rain never seen before followed by constant drought and unendurable heat for 4 months. The following year saw violent storms, seas rising for 2 days [storm surge?] and storms washing away whole cities. By Whitsuntide hail the size of apples was falling – you get the picture of his weather reporting.
Coming to the years 1256 – 1258 he writes that the civil war had continued and the Welsh had laid waste to areas of England. Richard, Earl of Cornwall, had gone off in a vain attempt to become king of Germany and taken vast resources with him. The crops of 1256 failed because of incessant rain. The beginning of 1257 saw more bad weather – from February to May England was so disturbed by wind and rain that it resembled a muddy marsh. The farmers had to re-sow their crops. The famine had begun.

Then we get the report of the north wind blowing at the beginning of the year – April, May and June (Years officially started in April in those days) and the famine really kicks in until help comes from Earl Richard in Germany. No mention of ash or haze for either year.

From reading this account I believe the famine was caused by a combination of ill-governance, civil war and three years of very bad weather.

Self portrait of Matthew Paris from the original manuscript of his Historia Anglorum (London, British Library, MS Royal 14.C.VII, folio 6r). Wikipedia

Matthew Paris would not have let something like ash falling out of the sky get by him without a mention – not a single thunderstorm occurred without it being mentioned for all the other years! My reading of the Chronicle showed that Matthew Paris was a pretty good reporter. Re-reading the Current Archaeology article and the MOLA press release (links below) it looks like they made a pretty big jump from identifying the victims of a recognised famine which took about 3 years to build up (as do modern famines) to saying that these people were dying as a result of an eruption. People started to suffer in 1256, before the eruption, and I think an eruption in 1258 would probably only cause famine in 1259. As we in Britain know from this year there can be unseasonal deluges for months on end without an eruption. England.

The serendipity occurred while I was reading the report of 1257. Here there is an account by a traveller from Acre reporting that the temple in Mecca had been destroyed by 3 blasts of unnatural lightening and the fire then ran underground and consumed the city from below. He also heard of rivers of fire running uphill and people being consumed by it. Was this a report of a garbled story of an eruption in the Arabian Peninsula in 1256? Not necessarily at Mecca but somewhere in that area?

It is worth quoting in full, but first I would remind readers that the person telling the story could not have seen the events he describes as he is a Christian and thus not able to visit the Holy Sites of Mecca and Medina. Matthew Paris himself would never have seen a volcano. As clerics they would have viewed all such natural events as the work of God. Despite all this I think it might be a fairly accurate account.

“Of a dreadful fire, which consumed the temple of Mahomet: At this time [1257] a venerable man, a master of the brethren of St. Thomas’s Church at Acre, who brought news to the abbot and monks [of St Alban’s, England] which he stated to be true. [Paris discusses church business and says the traveller has come via Rome]. He also stated that a sort of infernal lightning, which, however, descended from the skies, had suddenly set fire to and destroyed the temple of Mahomet, together with his statue, that again a second explosion, similar to the first, had reduced the said temple to small bits; and that a third had, as was believed, thrust the ruins into an abyss in the earth. After this, he said, this fire, which burned with a most devouring heat, though it did not give a bright light, crept along under the earth, like the fire of hell, consuming even rocks in its way, and could not even yet be extinguished. And thus the whole city of Mecca, and the country in its vicinity, were consumed with inextinguishable fire.

“Of a burning river: He also gave an account of a large devouring river, which contrary to the nature of water, not being content with its own bounds, followed a strange course, and made its way up lofty mountains, taking by surprise those who had fled to their tops for refuge, and destroying them with its inflamed torrent, as though they were burnt with fire. Thus those who had escaped from the sulphurous fire below were swallowed up by this burning river.”

:Harrat Rahat Wikimedia commons

I believe that this account by Matthew Paris is an attempt to describe a fissure eruption and a lava flow with possibly the fire coming from the skies being the explosive eruption.

After I posted this account KarenZ posted a link to GVP report of an eruption at Rahat, Harrat, Saudi Arabia in 1256. This was a Fissure eruption some 20km SE of Medina. A regional fissure eruption, explosive eruption and lava flow are recorded. The eruption lasted from 5 June – 27 July 1256 (link below). What was interesting about this GVP report is that the exact dates for the Medina eruption were given which implied that there is a written account somewhere else. There would be a huge number of Arab scholars in the area of Medina/Mecca and if any Holy places were damaged they would write about it. It is even possible that our traveller from Acre saw a written account of the eruption. The Crusader wars were at their height and the Christians might have employed spies – or questioned anyone arriving from the east.

I then turned to Sir Richard Francis Burton who travelled to Medina in the middle of the 19th century. First he says that the he travelled over the large bed of lava (which is visible on Google maps) described as “volcanic, abounding in basalts and scoriae, more or less porous.” He made diligent enquiries about active volcanoes in the area and heard of none.

In a two-page footnote he talks about the 1256 eruption. A chronicle called the “Jazb al Kulub” describes what happened in the year A.H. 654 (our 1256). I paraphrase as follows: Firstly terrible earthquakes accompanied by a thundering noise, shook the town: 14 – 18 each night. This was followed by a fire bursting out in the direction of Al-Hijaz (eastward from Medina), “it resembled a vast city with a turreted and battlemented fort”, “it roared, burned and melted like a sea everything that came in its way. Presently red and bluish streams, bursting from it, ran close to Al Madinah; and at the same time, the city was fanned by a cooling zephyr from the same direction.” An eye-witness called Al-Kistlani says that “The brilliant light of the volcano made the face of the country as bright as day”, “The interior of the Harim was as if the sun shone upon is, so that men worked and required nought of the sun and moon (the latter of which was also eclipsed?).” [That question mark is Burton’s]. The light was bright enough to be seen at Mecca. Historians say the stream was from 14 to 16 miles long and 4 miles wide with a depth of 9ft. It flowed like a torrent with the waves of a sea. The rocks it melted “stood up as a wall” and kept the Bedouin out (a good thing from the citizens point of view). Another historian, Jamal Matari, says that the flames destroyed the stones but spared the trees, men sent by the governor to inspect the fire felt no heat, the feathers of an arrow shot into it were burned while the shaft remained whole. This is because of the sanctity of the trees in the area. However, another historian, Al-Kistlani, asserts that the fire was so vehement that no one could approach within 2 arrowflights. The citizens, even women and children, engaged in ceaseless prayer and the lava field turned northward. The current ran for three whole months. In the same year occurred the burning of the Prophet’s Mosque and the inundation of Baghdad by the Tigris. The following year the Tartars appeared from the east.

All this is from Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah by Captain Sir Richard F. Burton, Memorial Edition, Volume II pp60-61. Here is the link provided by Carl:
It seems that the account made by the traveller to St. Albans conflated the two events: the volcanic eruption at Medina and the fire at Mecca.

So, from a search for a report of the possible effects in London of an unknown volcanic eruption in 1258 we found a remarkable description of an eruption in the Arabian Peninsula in 1256. True serendipity! I wonder what else is out there?

Guardian article:

Erik Klemetti’s article:

Archaeology reports:

GVP report of eruption in Herat, 1256:

Volume III of Matthew Paris’ Chronicle:,+3+:+from+the+year+1235+to+1273&ots=suDUHzkjnp&sig=CylPOtSt-_7OGzptHHsWH0aDs1E#v=onepage&q&f=false

Luckily the information on the eruption is in the same year as the information on climate – but bear in mind that I did not find a single year that some climatic catastrophe did not happen! Page 231 is where the eruption is mentioned. I believe there are more modern translations (the original is in Latin) but they are not online. The climate stuff is in between all the letters between clerics, kings, chat about the church, endless rants about the useless King etc. No doubt climatologists have made use of his records – it seems that on the whole the British climate was just as changeable and weird then as it is now!

Sherine France gave us the following links (in French) to the Arab sources:

Sahmudi extracts seen through the prism of religious are also very instructive but they are in French


308 thoughts on “Serendipity: finding volcanic accounts in unexpected places

  1. One of these a ghost quake?

    11.10.2012 01:03:29 64.799 -17.221 1.1 km 2.1 70.24 2.1 km NNW of Kistufell
    11.10.2012 01:03:28 64.743 -17.280 3.9 km 2.1 90.01 5.4 km SW of Kistufell

    • Excellent, I was looking for something like this. Just from the large caldera-forming eruptions in the Southwest Pacific I collated there does not seem to be much correlation at all between the ice record and large explosive eruptions. I have no idea what constitutes tolerable error in this context, but here we go:

      Taupo VEI 7 AD233 no SO2 spike
      Ambrym VEI 7 AD50 no spike but there is a large spike at BC50
      Macauley VEI 7 BC4360 no spike

      And it doesn’t get much better if we include VEI 6 eruptions:
      Long Island AD1660 no spike (30 km³)
      Billy Mitchell AD 1580 no spike (15 km³)
      Kuwae AD1452 possible spike (but the eruption was dated using the ice record…hmm)
      Dakatau AD 800 possible spike (10 km³)
      Pago AD 702 possible spike (20 km³)
      Rabaul AD 540 no spike (11 km³)
      Raoul BC250 no spike (10 km³)
      Pago BC1370 possible spike (30 km³)
      Taupo BC1460 no spike (17 km³)
      Long Island BC 2040 no spike (11 km³)

      Caveat: this list only includes explosive caldera forming eruptions from the SW Pacific and it does not include any large dome building or plinian events followed by dome building. Likewise the resolution on the SO2 chart is not all that great on my little screen so I might be a bit off in my conclusions. Nevertheless I think it is fair to conclude that large explosive eruptions have no major impact on the volcanic SO2 recorded in the ice record, ergo these SO2 deposits must come from other kinds of events.

  2. Hmm. If most of this data is from the ice core record, perhaps this is only picking up high SO2 levels within oceans and/ or falling as acid snow, rather than bening an accurate indicator of atmospheric SO2. Is there any data on how long SO2 may be trapped in the atmosphere before it dissapates as acid rain?

    Natural SO2 production can also occur from forest fires, biological decay and release from oceans… so I am questioning if this chart is a better indicator of underwater eruptions or oceanic S02 build up which may not have to be the same as atmospheric SO2 levels i.e if there is a delay offset period from generation to release? And I wonder if there is a historical record / investigation of largescale wildfires covering this historical period (which could also be an explanation for the higher SO2 levels seen at the moment given the number and volume of major wildfires globally in the last couple of years)

  3. I have been too caught up in this magnificent group effort of sleuthing to comment with my usually somewhat shallow ruminations.. I am not amazed at the amount of information being posted and exchanged. This is the natural reaction to many questioning and knowlegeable brains getting together. However it is truely a shining example of how the World Wide Web can benefit a huge number of people internationally.
    I do wish to congratulate Carl as the instigator (Yup! I’ll put all the blame on him!) and everyone else who contributes to what has become a serious, (Well most of the time), well organised and monitored Blog. I am sure there are many students and other professionals who watch VC to see what gems of information emerge.
    The general lack of volcanic activity has not left the blog devoid of comments. Quite the contrary. It has given time for many people to explore more fully titbits of info and follow ups to ruminations. This is resulting in a formidable “Library” of information and links to be found nowhere else on line .
    My grateful thanks go to everyone who is working so hard for the sheer love of learning and volcanology.

    • Thanks Inge! Some interesting sentences in it:
      “After ruling out anthropogenic, continental biogenic, and mineral dust as being significant sources of sulfate in our samples, this leaves volcanic sulfur emissions as being the only potential significant source of continental sulfate in our samples”
      (mainly because Antarctica is about as clean a place as you can get).

      Unfortunately, they are most concerned with working out why there are discrepanices between the various species of atmosphere sulfate (if I understood it correctly) and there is no information about sulfure spikes in the holocene (apart from Pinatubo and the 1258 eruption, which would imply the 1258 eruption affected both hemispheres).

      So we are left with volcanic origins for peaks in the sulfate record but no correlation between these peaks and large explosive eruptions (apart from Pinatubo and the mysterious 1258 eruption). This implies to me that other types of eruption are the culprit (as we have discussed before) Laki type effusive eruptions, or even strong degassing events or multiple simultaneous degassing events.

      This is corroborated to some extent by another sentence in the paper (yes, I am guilty of cherry-picking here):
      “This suggests that the anomaly of background sulfate in the oxygen isotopes is not originating from the stratosphere. In addition, our 􏰃33S and 􏰃36S measurements from the Vostok ice core (Table 2) reveal that our sulfate samples are purely mass-dependently fractionated in the sulfur iso- topes, unlike the stratospheric-derived sulfate in Antarctic ice as discussed above. This reinforces the conclusion that the stratosphere does not represent a significant source of sulfate in our Vostok and Dome C samples.”

      Somehow I think Pinatubo has led us all astray.

      • Alternatively, for some reason, only a small percentage of large eruptions leave a trace in the record. I guess this could be due to a combination of weather patterns and eruptive products.

        • Going back to Erik’s original article, I like this comment from Mike Cassidy:

          “Really interesting article Eric! Another factor to consider apart form explosivity is sulphurous loading (apologies for the UK spelling) . For instance some eruptions of similar magnitudes,e.g. Mt St Helens 1980 and El Chichon, 1982, (VEI 5), had quite differing affects on the climate. Sure, their relative latitudes/plume heights are big contributing factors, but the El Chichon produced more sulphur loading in the atmosphere. This high sulphur content is thought to derived from assimilation of the rising magma with the basement rock, which is anhydrite (CaSO4) (Luhr et al., 1984). So potentially an eruption of El Chichon/or somewhere else in 1258, may have loaded the atmosphere with a lot of sulphur, due to country rock assimilation, without massive ash production associated with larger magnitude eruptions e.g. Tambora. Anyway just a theory..”

  4. And since the question about the previous plot came up… it’s from Greenland, (GISP) and is the Northern Hemisphere.

    Taylor Dome is in Antarctica. I can’t find a record that has specifically volcanic SO2, but I did find a nice set of data with decent resolution. This one is done with a log y axis so that the data stands out. All values are in ppb, as in the previous plot.

    • Brilliant. I am going to go through and correlate these spkes with eruptions of the same date +/- 10 years in the GVP database (to allow for error and that aerosols usually only last a couple of years in the atmosphere). I think the large eruption thing has been a bit of a red herring. What I want to see is if these spikes correlate with eruptions (VEI 4 or more) that may have had anomously high SO2. you’d better give me some time though as my schedule is kind of busy at the moment. I can already see the problem of there being a huge number of smaller eruptions which will make it more difficult to sort out. Guess I will nevertheless start with the biggies and work downwards.

      • Time is no biggie. I’m supposed to be on the road right now and am playing hookie until my brain absorbs more coffee.

        Remember, this is our hobby and done at our leisure. 😀

      • When lurking first posted the So2 charts here, I thought to do the same, but you’ll definitely notice there are quite a few large eruptions that simply didn’t show up in here, or didn’t have a large so2 impact.

        Here are some likely correlations however taken from both the charts

        -8325 BC: Grimsvotn?
        -6475 BC: Kurile Lake Eruption
        -6721 BC: Karymsky? Okataina?
        -5675 BC: Crater Lake eruption
        -4558: Kikai Caldera
        -4033 BC: Masaya?
        -3500 BC: Taal & Pinatubo (both went VEI 6 during decade)
        -3200 BC: Mystery eruption?
        -1610 BC: Santorini

        And here are anomalies

        -Between year 2 and 861 A.D, there should be a few large spikes on the So2 record, but that’s not the case. There were several very large eruptions around this time, one which was a known VEI 7, and two others that were at the very minimum VEI 6, but could have been VEI 7 events.

        Those eruptions being the Llopango eruption around 450 AD, the Ambrym Eruption around 50 AD, and the Taupo 186 AD eruption.

          • The spike around 850 could be the Settlement eruptions in Iceland (Torfajökull / Bárdarbunga – Vatnaöldur).

        • 1610 BC is probably not Santorini, because Santorini alone cannpt simply explain the highest SO2 peak of the Holocene. 861 is certainly the Vatnaoldur Bardarbunga fissure eruption in Iceland (a very large event, larger than Laki).

          I will look at the other peaks after eating my dinner now!

        • oh cool… saved my half my night. well this looks like this is a strong correlation after all but then I don’t get why Baekdu (Changbaishan), Ambrym and Taupo (Hatepe) left no impact. These were truly massive eruptions. We are not talking about a slight discrepancy here. Even if these eruptions were very low on SO2 their shear scale and plume height should have surely left some kind of trace. Possibly, as that quote I made above suggests, stratospheric sulphate does not lend itself to leavng a trace in the ice record, as opposed to lower-level tropospheric sulphate.

    • Note: The st9810 timescale is generally referenced to 1950. I did not locate any indication that the author deviated from this, so I assumed that 1950 was the reference year.

      If that assumption was wrong that will throw the year data off by however much I screwed up.

      • ha. ok. I’ll allow for an error of 50 years (which is probably fair enough for older eruptions anyway), just look at the trouble they have dating Changbaishan!

  5. And for Carl and the Other Dragons: Later I can move these two plots to VolcanoCafe. Right now they are off of TinyPic.

    For Bruce: There is a Bolivian ice core that gives SO4, but I can’t puzzle out what units they use. (might be in %change, or “delta” SO4). It’s the Sajama core. The resolution isn’t as tight, but it’s available if you want me to keep poking at it to see what it says.

    Meanwhile, time to drive.

  6. The latest GVP report is out today. But (apart from the continually active volcanoes) the report is not its best. There is no mention of the activity at Alaid or Micheal volcanoes. Its not like we don’t inform them either, I’ve sent countless e-mails to them about activity, but have never got a reply.

    Part of this problem (I think) is because the GVP nevers listens to anyone unless they have the letters PH and D after their name.

    • Heh…’The vulnerability allowed “a malicious site to potentially determine which websites users have visited”, Mozilla said.’

      That’s rich. I hope the “malicious site” enjoys mining SO4 data and reading WUWT. I’ve been through more arcane data sets than you can shake a stick at.

      FF 16 is the affected version and the last automated update roll out did not occur (they took it offline) I use auto-update and am at 15.0.1

    • Interesting article. I’ve thought for a while Yellowstone had more to do with the Farralon Plate than it had to do with a hotspot. I found a model for the Farallon plate and how it’s been surveyed below the USA as of right now. I took this from wikipedia, but the graphic was sourced from the USGS I believe.

      In any case, when I first came across the model of where the Farallon remnants sit below the USA, I was curious to see where it sat when I overlaid a map of the united states. The Farallon blob is the blue in the image below.

      Notice near the border of Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota – there is a sliver of the plate that forms a bit of a “tail” and seems to be closer to the surface than the rest of the Farallon blob. The tail sits right to the east of where Yellowstone is, and also seems to track at the same angle as Yellowstone has been (northeast).

      The mechanics of this? For some geological evidence here, you only need to look towards the american southwest, during the Tertiary Ignimbrite flare up. This flare of supereruptions occurred around new mexico, colorado, utah, and nevada, and included the largest known explosive eruption on earth, the La Garita Caldera eruption.

      The prevailing theory of how these eruptions occurred is as follows (in simplified fashion here)

      1. The Farralon plate subducts under the USA at a relatively gradual rate, eventually pushing the entire sea-bed and spreading center beneath the United States. This spreading center contributed to the thinning of the crust across the USA southwest, creating the basin and range province.

      2. Since the subduction of the Farallon plate was shallow, there wasn’t a huge amount of volcanic activity initially. During this time, the lithosphere (crust) was saturated with water from the Farallon plate, and the Rocky Mountains were created.

      3. Eventually, as the Farallon plate went further along, it started to sink and disintigrate, resulting in what is known as slab roll-back.

      4. Slab rollback exposed the then thin and water-saturated lithosphere to highly active mantle material that flowed in to displace the area where the Farralon plate was sinking in to. This resulted in a spattering of supervolcanic eruptions in the american southwest.

      Now – look at the image again, find the tail of the Farallon plate directly east of yellowstone, and think about slab rollback again. Wouldn’t this explain the formation and even tracking of yellowstone? Even the shape of the Yellowstone plume seems to give credence to this theory (it’s curved, with the top facing further east I believe).

      That being said, this is just a theory, and I’m not even a scientist. But I know i’m not the only one who is speculating that Yellowstone has more to do with the Farallon than it has to do with a hotspot similar to Hawaii and Iceland (it behaves entirely different than most hotspots as well, although this could be due to the fact that it’s located over a land mass)

      • Interesting. A nice rendition of how I understand it.

        One thing to note, is that the NMZ sits directly overtop of the current western/traling edge of the Farallon.

        As for the shallow dive angle, the volcanic regions in Mexico are far back from the coast. This is believed to be due to the shallow angle (near horizontal) of the descending Cocos plate.

        Cocos is a plate fragment… just like the Rivera Microplate… the Explorer, Gorda, and Juan de Fuca… and all of them are remnants of the Farallon. (though the latter three don’t have as shallow of an angle)

        • One note – the two maps in that overlay weren’t scaled perfectly. I simply resized two maps and smashed them on top of one another in a graphic editor. It was more just meant to give a general idea of where things lie.

          Interestingly, there seems to have been a smaller Mexican flareup of large rhyolitic caldera eruptions. These were slightly more recent, and not on the same magnitude of the tertiary flare up, but it does seem to form a bit of a pattern here that’s consistent throughout with how supervolcanic systems have formed in the Americas (north americas).

          One other question for Lurking – Is the Valles Caldera is New Mexico related to the NMZ?

          • No.. different structure altogether. If they are related, it’s because they are on the same plate.

            Find Memphis Tennessee. From there up into the Bootheel of Missouri is the New Madrid Seismic Zone. In fact, the Bootheel of Missouri became that due to the 1811 earthquakes. A guy was able to buy up a lot of property on the cheap and petitioned to have his area included with Missouri when they filed for statehood.

          • Ahh, for some reason I thought NMZ was referencing the New Mexico Rift (aka, the Rio Grande Rift).

            I guess my comment should have been re-worded wondering if Valles is part of the Rio Grande Rift, not the new madrid.

          • If that’s the case, it very well could be. It sits in it.

            On a side note, those quakes that have been going off in Colorado, are from what I can tell, also associated with the northern basins. Many of them have occurred along the periphery of the basin structures… despite what the anti-drilling crowd claims.

            Rio Grande Rift, rift basins.

      • Hopefully they can get some tips from the forthcoming (schameless schelf promotion mode on) Plotting for Beginners part two, there’s a brief section on uploading to youtube…(sspm off)
        My computer (clunkputer, XP; to be fair) suggested I go searching t’ interweb for a program to open the other two animations!!! Which didn’t happen 😀
        I don’t mean to be overly hypercritical… maybe they’ve never looked at the wonderful plots available in the Volcanocafe archives 😉

  7. I am trying to get something sorted out in my mind here. Taking the period -10,000 to 2,000 the general levels of SO2 actually fell in the Antarctic samples yet rose in the Greenland samples.
    Now presuming volcanic activity aside and that human activity is supposed to increase SO2 levels because of burning and industrial activity why is there a marked decline in Greenland Ice after -2,000, when in fact early cultures were beginning smelting activities, Wood burning, land clearance by fire ? Then Going to the Antarctic there is a marked and obvious increase?
    Am I misinterpreting the data?

    • The beginning of the that period coincides with the end of the last Ice Age – would the retreat of the ice and warming up (and exposure) of the land have anything to do with it?

    • About 12,800 bp, the last glacial maximum was rapidly drawing to an end. Then something unexplained happened.

      It got really cold, really fast.

      This was the Younger Dryas. (named after a flower) The world, for the most part, quickly returned to glacial conditions for about 1800 years. At about 11,500 bp, the YD event was over and the world climbed up to the rather nice temperatures that we have now. This is the Holocene.

      The Younger Drays pretty much wiped out Clovis culture in North America. My contention and belief is that Clovis was an extension of Solutrean culture from the France area of Europe. Technologically, their artifacts are much more similar to them than the culture that came down from the “Ice Free Zone” via the Bearing Strait. It would also help to account for the distribution of Haplogroup X.

      • Yes I am also pretty much convinced they came from France via the ice pack that formed over the Atlantic, until the coast of Portugal. Probably it was a combination of rafting and standing on the wandering ice. But it seems almost certain that they got there.

        Anyways genetics shows that. Native americans were about 25% European.

        • There was probably more travelling by ship than across land – where forests, swamps, cliffs, rivers etc would have made distances difficult to cover.

          ‘Whilst it was generally believed that Columbus was the first European to discover America in 1492, it is now well known that Viking explorers reached parts of the east coast of Canada around 1100 and that Icelandic Leif Erikson’s Vinland may have been an area that is now part of the United States. What is less well known is that a Welshman may have followed in Erikson’s footsteps, this time bringing settlers with him.

          According to Welsh legend, that man was Prince Madog ab Owain Gwynedd.

          A Welsh poem of the 15th century tells how Prince Madoc sailed away in 10 ships and discovered America. The account of the discovery of America by a Welsh prince, whether truth or myth, was apparently used by Queen Elizabeth I as evidence to the British claim to America during its territorial struggles with Spain. So who was this Welsh Prince and did he really discover America before Columbus?

          Owain Gwynedd, king of Gwynedd in the 12th century, had nineteen children, only six of whom were legitimate. Madog (Madoc), one of the illigitimate sons, was born at Dolwyddelan Castle in the Lledr valley between Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

          On the death of the king in December 1169, the brothers fought amongst themselves for the right to rule Gwynedd. Madog, although brave and adventurous, was also a man of peace. In 1170 he and his brother, Riryd, sailed from Aber-Kerrik-Gwynan on the North Wales Coast (now Rhos-on-Sea) in two ships, the Gorn Gwynant and the Pedr Sant. They sailed west and are said to have landed in what is now Alabama in the USA.

          Prince Madog then returned to Wales with great tales of his adventures and persuaded others to return to America with him. They sailed from Lundy Island in 1171, but were never heard of again.

          They are believed to have landed at Mobile Bay, Alabama and then travelled up the Alabama River along which there are several stone forts, said by the local Cherokee tribes to have been constructed by “White People”. These structures have been dated to several hundred years before the arrival of Columbus and are said to be of a similar design to Dolwyddelan Castle in North Wales.’

          • Being about 1/4 Cherokee, and my wife is 1/8 Algonquin(Powhatan) ,i’ve held that
            Europeans have gotten here long before Columbus.
            Always interested in Genealogy and Anthropology. I was doing a bit of research on
            my own background, I had read an article by a fellow who studied a group of people
            called Melungeons of North Carolina and other areas of the south..Ah ha! I thought.
            I must be a melungeon.!Eureka! Thence to the family tree. on the McCoy side.My mothers side were Highland Scots and Scots/Irish to person except for the Gr+3
            Grandma who was Barbadian. Now the Melungeons were thought to be a mixture of White, Native Ameican, and Escaped and Free Slaves. Ok I can buy that.Well, I wasn’t
            a Melungeon. While I have the prerequisite triple racial junction. It was from different
            genetic railroads. I found that my Granma’s family very carefully hid being Native
            American. Eastern Cherokee and maybe one other tribe. Now my point during my research, i have found out about that HalotypeX deal. One thing that has been talked about and mainstream Anthropologists have not yet embraced it-is that as the current
            crop of Europeans got here there were records of light skinned-even light haired
            Indians. One of the great early Cherokee leaders was said to “Look White”though ‘he had no Euros in his immediate background..Even on the Pacific coast of North America
            there are stories among various tribes about “red/blonde haired ” white men wrecking
            on say, the shores and rescued buy the local tribes. (Vikings IMHO) they stayed married local women. According to the stories .My own physical make up is this I have a
            dark complexion I look tanned though i work in an office,my teeth have a distinctive
            “shovel” shape to the incisors (wife does too.) and I have what is known as an
            “Anatolian ridge” at the base of my skull (so does my wife) This is due to the Origins of
            Easten Woodland Indians-Central Asia… Turk, Mongol, Kazak, Hun….all have similar
            features…West coast tribes tend not to have the ridge. Got a good friend who is Kurok
            he does not. i love this stuff.. Finding out about my genetics has been fascinating
            Particularly the gyrations my Granma’s family went though to hide the “Indian in the Cupboard”(or more likely the one in the Mirror.)

          • There seems to be a lot of differing opinion about the Mandan (alleged Welsh Indians) with some quashing of differing opinion. Reportedly the plaque places alongside of Mobile Bay has been removed and ‘placed in storage.’

            Okay… but the whole thing does offer a bit of opportunity for quizzical humor.

            George Catlin, a 19th century painter, did a few paintings about the Mandan. One of them, is a purported Mandan village. The round structures feature a central hole in the roof, similar to the Mongol tents. The Mongol version is constructed out of wood and overlain with fabric.

            My question? Why are there about 700 to 800 lbs of people chilling out on the roof? (315 to 365 kg)

            To me, that doesn’t look like a safe thing to be doing… on a wood frame tent like structure.

            Don’t mis-interpret this line of thinking. It lends credence to the Mandan idea. Unsafe things like this go on all the time in this region of the country… usually preceded by the phrase “Hey! Watch This!”

            Note: This is a play on the observation that many Redneck deaths are preceded by that same statement.

            If you want to take offense, be my guest. I am one.

  8. Since Volcanic vs Non Volcanic has come up, here is the GISP trace of both.

    And the difference signal. Total SO2 minus Volcanic SO2.

    GL Update: All SO2 related graphics have been added to VC media bank.

    • Two interesting stuff, probably related to Icelandic volcanoes:

      The largest SO2 peak in Holocene (in early Holocene) could have been the very large Saksunarvatn eruption of Grimsvotn (it is the thickest ash in north Europe soils).

      Second, the other extremely large peak around 52.000 BC could have well been the caldera eruption of Tindfjalljokull (the Thorsmork ignimbrite), which shows as probably the thickest ash in the last 100.000 years in Greenland ice cores.

      What about the SO2 peak around 38000 years ago?

      • 38,000 years would fall in line with the Campanian Ignimbrite (campi flegrei went caldera) I believe.

        The spike near 50,000 BC I actually think is more likely to be related to Pantelleria than Tindfjalljokull, although I imagine there is a lot of regional bias towards iceland volcanoes due to proximity.

        Also, can anybody explain why there are so many high spikes from 10,000 BC until about 5000 BC? The only large eruptions occurred around 6000 BC, but that doesn’t explain much about the eruptions that occurred closer to 9000 BC (and it’s more than one too)

    • ughh… this puts me back to square one. I started off suspecting the correlation between big eruptions and the icecore record because the Hatepe eruption from Taupo (233 AD) is missing. Now the Oruanui eruption (BC 24500 and just happens to be the biggest eruption since Toba) is also completely missing… WHAT??? 400 km³ leaves no trace??? I’m throwing in the towel. This is making me crazy.

      • Remember, what is erupted through has a major say in what the records wind up showing.

        The range of TiO2 to FeO in flood basalts is enough to make one flow produce copious amounts of SO2 while an equally sized but different composition produces little.

        I imagine that the same thing applies to the more energetic eruptions.

        Also remember, that the plots I produce are limited by my understanding of how they did the time scale. Not to mention errors in the original data.

        • I’m pretty sure Polar bias comes into account here as well. Considering New Zealand is pretty far south in the southern hemisphere, I’d believe there would be far less SO2 in the north pole than the Antarctica. On the other hand, a place like Iceland due to proximity would show up bright and ready on the so2 records, even if the eruptions weren’t of a similar scale.

          • Right, I was hoping to establish some kind of correlation between high SO2 events and the ice record, maybe it is still there, maybe it is there by definition as we have no other way of measuring the SO2 output of past eruptions other than the ice record, as far as I know, so maybe I am fighting windmills. But something inside me still balks at the facts. Obviously large eruptions do tend to leave a trace but strangely some gigantic eruptions don’t. Now we are not talking about small relative changes in size but orders of magnitude. The Oruanui eruption was at the very least 50 times bigger than the 1991 Pinatubo, probably more like 100 times bigger. Even if the SO2 content of Taupo was much lower (which I still need to research, I don’t know why it should be),

            EDIT: while writing this I went off on a hunt to find an answer to this and found this paper from Self and Blake (which itself includes a lot of great references):

            Apparently Yellowstone (and probably Taupo by analogy) actually do have much lower concentrations of SO2 than other volcanoes:
            “In using this method, it is important to recognise that the partition- ing of S between the gas and the magmatic liquid is highly dependent on the oxidation state of the magma. In reduced magmas the partition coefficient given by (mass of S in gas)/(mass of S in magmatic liquid) is about 1, but it is about 1000 in more oxidized magmas (Scaillet et al. 1998).”
            and later in the same paragraph:
            “Yellowstone’s supereruptions may therefore have each yielded merely 20 times the amount of SO2 produced by Pinatubo in 1991, or about three to four times as much as that produced by the 1783 eruption of basaltic lava at Laki (Iceland) or the 1815 cli- mactic explosive eruption of Tambora.”

    • Meridional flow can also drive cold weather further south…

      Meridional, a fancy word indicating a “North-South” direction. (Not my word, meteorological types throw it around a lot)

      • North to south, or south to wind, is opposite Geolurking. One transports warm humid air towards the pole (as it is happening right now in Iceland). And north wind transports cold polar air towards the mid and southern latitudes (what usually happens during cold spells in the middle of the winter).

        If jet stream becomes strong (large difference between warm tropics and cold poles), then the circulation is mostly west to east, trending northwards, which distributes the excess heat towards the pole. When the tropics cool, and poles warm, as it is now, then the jet stream weakens, and north-south and south-north variations occur more often, which brings greater cold spells and hot spells, towards the mid and polar latitudes. If the pole cools significantly, then a east-west circulation forms over the arctic circle, which brings very cold polar and dry air towards the mid latitudes, while the west-east jet stream shifts southwards (this happen during the very cold European winters of 2011 and 2012).

        So this seems to indicate that we are just past a warm period, as the tropics are not warming more, and most heat transfer towards the pole is now decreasing. We might be entering a colder climate in the years ahead.

  9. Fun with Feces…

    NO3 is Nitrate. Nitrate is a product of the breakdown of various metabolism wastes such as Urea and Dung. Urea is primarily a source of Ammonium, or NH4. The Taylor Dome series has a measurement of both NH4 and NO3, but the NO3 signal swamps the NH4 on a plot… since NO3 is an end product… I plotted it. Our resident biology trained poster can elaborate more on what this plot means. Why the plot? To get an idea of how the living critter population was doing with regards to the prevailing conditions.

    BTW, Fishies tend to deposit NH4 directly into the water, so a later plot with NH4 vs NO3 might give an idea of the relative populations of land vs sea critters… but that may be torturing too much out of the data.

    This one is fer fun.

    • I’m liking this plot, it’s big picture stuff, dya know what jumps out at me?
      From about 15000 BC we see an upswell of temperature and NO3; nicely coincidental with the population “explosion” that came with the establishment of agriculture (we were hunter- gatherers before,) and what does farming utilise?
      Wee and Poo…

      • I see there was Ice Age (4) for quite some time .. then warmer… but likely will cool again in some thousands of years. I simply think “Global Warming”(TM) be a scam. Big industry, feeding and supporting itself, for its self support and more foooood…. (read “crap”). Totally out of control. Nothing fancy about a small heating (still mesured on but 0,0000000::::…….. years or so of Geological Time Scale); some places were once much “hotter” once there was palm-trees (or similar) in Svalbard (Spitzbergen), thick forests in Iceland, tropics in Ireland, so on and so forth. There is more danger of earth-axis-shift, rock and roll (but not this year, 2012ers 🙂 ).

    • Now this one I can understand!! 😀 Have a look at the red Spike that occurs at roughly half way between -25000 and 0. That spike drops and crosses the sharply rising blue temperature line. I suggest that shows a rapid decline of some species that had adapted to very cold conditions. Imagine the woolly rhinos and herds of hairy mammoths just getting too hot for comfort. Not only would they be covered in thick fur but their internal organs would have adapted and in warmer conditions would be under stress.
      Then add huge roaming herds of deer, horses, and the forerunners of our sheepy friends, more insects and small mammals such as hares & lemmings all these grazing on the grasslands that were pretty rough and tough right after the ice retreated. All these competing for limited grass. There would have been a population crash of any species that could not hold their own against the rapidly growing herds moving back northwards and westwards from the lower steppes of Russia up and across to central and western Europe. ( I am not too sure what was happening the other side of the atlantic, but probably similar.) .
      This graph shows this population crash nicely then a fairly rapid increase in NO3 as the more readily adaptable animals, insects & birds prospered due to a wider range of plants from grasses to shrubs and then trees.
      How much effect of human hunting had on the larger animals such as mammoths is still under research and discussion.

  10. VC gang – FYI – An new FUTUREVOLC (“Hyper-Volcano-Center” as called by Icelandic press, “sic”) is coming, centered on Iceland and Europe. Yup, them millions are coming (6M EU) for 3,5 years of “live” volcano studies, 1/3 comes to Icelandic members of this live research and response program. Hope they get more (than now) of it on the web, real time rumblings of Hekla Volcano etc. innards be nice to follow (first link needs online translation).
    Seems Carls lobbying in Brussels some while back, are come true.. (!?)

      • Bottom line in the Icelandic news is, literally, whole gang of these (mad) scientists is meeting at “Hotel Hekla” (near to same mountain), so could (theoretically) be on the scene (if they stay long enough) when Mt. Hekla blows next! But meeting lasts only to next sunday, so likely not long enough…

  11. On climate OT: Well, if you are a into metereology data, you know that global warming is happening and it happened suddently in recent decades. Disproval of that is in my view, a conspiracy. I personally have been doing my own weather records for 20 years and the warming over years is there. And its not only my own data. So I have no big doubts about it. The question is more the “why”.

    I can think of two factors that increase temperature: atmosphere and solar input. Solar input was very low between 1500-1800, then it peak up until 1950, and then it decreased again as if are now reaching a new low (it it continues it will be compared to medieval times).

    Atmosphere: we know that CO2, H20 and NH4 creates a greenhouse effect (retains heating within the low atmosphere); while SO2 creates a aerossol effect (blocks out solar radiation). We humans produce a small amount of all, which of course adds to greenhouse (warming). The question is how much amount compared to natural causes and how much impact does it have? This is the controversy. I simply do not know exactly.

    But if solar radiation is decreasing, then things are going to be interesting within the next decades. If human impact is really big, then we should see more global warming, otherwise, we will see another “little ice age”. So far, overall, warming is persisting (that’s a fact) while solar radiation has been lowering since 1950. That convinces me a little bit more on the manmade global warming hypothesis. And sincerely I dont know why people fight so hard against admiting that. Well, we are releasing every second millions of tons of CO2, NH4 that would never be released naturally. If that is significantly larger impact compared to volcanoes and all other natural phemomena, I don’t know but from the current data it seems so.

    • No, not conspiracy, my view ! We simply do not have had this heating for but a few yeas. And in those few years we have had very few big eruptions, on global scale. Is it because of not enough large eruptions? Only time wil tell. And thats what its about. “Sample time of heating” is mere twenty years, and once it was a lot warmer. “Many of times” were warmer than now. How can you say Global Warming is “true” or proven, in several decades? Ok. In a hundreads years from now, it can be sait “possibly”. Not a minute sooner. 🙂

    • The general feel… even among those skeptical of the much bandied “Catastrophic Global Warming” manta (such as myself), is the Solar variation, by itself, is not enough to cause the large scale swings in over all climate.

      Sure, it’s a nice idea, but the amount just isn’t there… in the raw.

      Enter Henrik Svensmark.

      Svensmark proposed that cosmic radiation can nucleate cloud formation. Increase the Galactic Cosmic Radiation and the cloud formation rate goes up. At least that was the idea. Sounds a bit on the loon side, but it’s founded in solid observable fact.

      A Wilson Cloud Chamber was one of the first tools that we had to detect radioactive particles. It’s a supersaturated sealed chamber that leaves little traces of condensed vapor as the particle goes whizzing through it.

      Svensmark’s idea was that the variation in GCR (Galactic Cosmic Rays) could have a similar effect in the atmosphere of the Earth. How do you get a change in GCR intensity? Changes in Solar activity.

      When the Sun is at a low point in activity, the magnetic fields are not as intense. The Solar magnetic field tends to keep GCR out of the inner solar system. Weaken that field, and the GCR intensity goes up. This can be seen in the Be10 and C14 production, which tracks oppositely to Solar activity.

      GCR cloud nulceation would be greatest in supersaturated, or near supersaturated regions of the atmosphere… and that is generally the tropics and near tropics. The very same region that would exhibit the greatest effect from changes in the Earths albedo. Every one keeps getting on the “lack of polar ice not reflecting as much sunlight” bandwagon, but the angle of incidence there is pretty damned small to begin with and major changes in albedo are going to have little effect with respect to albedo changes the tropics.

      CERN took up the idea and built an experiment to test Svensmark’s theory… it was called “CLOUD.” Once the experiment was over one of the heads of the department warned the scientists about inferring any meaning from the results. What was released, was that yes, GCRs can cause cloud nucleation, but you have to have some level of nitrates present in order to do it. The funny part was that you would be hard pressed to find any part of the atmosphere that did not have far more than enough nitrates to trigger the nucleation response.

      But… thats just my take on it.

      • Yes. Good point and good info. Thanks.
        My take on this, its climate change “now” of sorts, but what sort… We still do not know so much about it. I am certain its not that all that much man made… (it can me used as “weapon” against capitalist heavy industries, but cutting pollution is different thing, its unhealty, heat itself is not unhealty, in small doses, but can dry areas, like the Sahara ..) but maybe there are still much surprises out there. One old lady said one there are lots more of wars going on in the world now, than when she was young… hummm… better or more reporting …, in her youth there were two huge wars No. 1 and No. 2 , not forgetting South East Asia, in early fifties into mid seventies. Maybe No. 3 will still come, the fuse is burnin… perhaps even started (drawing more and more middle east countries into conflict with each other), and worst case scenario gives burning or smoldering cities, that release heck of a lot of black (mostly plastic products) smoke. Nuclear Winter or similar. Far larger than Laki and Vatnöldur combined, and it certainly will cool things down again(?) Else I think total volcanic material released (per century) is still to be calculated and averaged.. or intregrated into formulas.. I think *not expert, my late night rant*

      • Don’t forget the effect of modern aeroplanes. I am used to there being a background haze in the sky here in southern Britain. It’s there all the time and I thought it was normal. Then, when the skies were closed due to the Eyja eruption, the skies cleared, the blue returned, the birds sang and we, of a certain age, remembered what it used to be like in Europe before the jets roamed across the skies. At the moment, looking out of my office window, I can see no jet trails as such but there is a definite haze everywhere. I think there was a similar effect in north America in the few days following 11th September when their skies were closed.

        • I especially remembered the lack of noise. I live 20 km east of brussels airport and in western winds (main wind direction) the planes fly over us to land. It was amazingly quiet when the air traffic was erupted. You don’t notice that there is that much background noise untill it’s absent.

      • So, we are living in a “Wilson Cloud chamber” sort of system… hmmmm… kind of makes sense to me.
        I’ve never bought the albedo explanation for the reason explained above by Lurking, unless when the icecap was really large, like in the ice ages.
        I’ve been wondering why in the last ten years or so, contrary to what you people are reporting for the N. hemisphere, skies have been blue for much longer periods. And “winters” are mainly concentrated in the months of June and October, which was not so in my youth.
        Climate change? Not so sure.
        But definitely, a lot of dirty stuff being trashed up the air, land and oceans. That cannot be good or healthy in no possible ways.

  12. If we’re still interested in finding old calderas this one may just squeeze in:

    ‘On the rocks
    Last updated: 07 June 2006
    North Wales has some of the most amazing geology in the world – from volcanoes to corals, from Ice Age remains to ancient copper mines. Ken Howarth, a professional heritage interpreter from Conwy, reveals some amazing facts about the scenery we often take for granted.

    Volcanic eruption at Conwy
    Imagine for a moment a volcano. It is noisy, blasting hot ash high into the air – the lighter ash is carried on the wind, the heavier parts settling possibly in a shallow sea. The volcano is violent and unpredictable, molten lava is thrown out of the neck forming great piles of rock. Superheated clouds of ash and gas rushed down the side of the volcano hitting the sea and being catapulted forward great distances towards what is now Snowdonia.
    However, no human eyes ever saw this volcano erupt, man had still to evolve. Today, 450 million years later those great piles of lava and ash are still there, forming what we now know as Conwy Mountain (Mynydd y Dref), Penmaenbach, Sychnant and Alltwen.
    The Conwy volcano was one of many across Wales reaching as far as the Lleyn Peninsula. Mount St Helens volcano in the USA and the recent eruption in Indonesia that resulted in the local population being evacuated – are similar to our Conwy eruption.’

    Okay 450 million years ago is pushing it……

    • And in the Snowdonia National Park:

      ‘Volcanoes in Snowdonia
      From early to middle Ordovician times, great volcanoes built up from the sea-floor, at times emerging from the sea as Krakatoa-like islands. Great volumes of lavas and ashes were erupted: one large volcanic system centred around what is now Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) spewed out an estimated sixty cubic kilometres of debris. Eruptions such as this would have made the famous 1980 Mount St Helens explosion look small in comparison .
      When there is volcanic activity, mineralisation tends to occur. This is mainly because volcanic areas are hot – and so act as powerful convective engines, driving hot groundwater in their circulation through the nearby rocks. When these waters reach surface, they may explode into the air on land as geysers, or form the now well-known “black-smokers” on the seabed. Black-smoker activity in what is now NE Anglesey was particularly intense, resulting in the formation of huge quantities of iron, copper, lead and zinc sulphides. This great mass of sulphides was worked for copper from the Bronze Age onwards at Parys Mountain, which by the late 18th Century was Europe’s biggest copper-mine. It still attracts interest, and much work was done in the late 1980s, including the sinking of a major new shaft.
      Further south, near to Dolgellau, the mountain of Rhobell Fawr marks the site of another old volcano. Here, activity spanned the Cambrian-Ordovician boundary, and resulted in the formation of one of the oldest porphyry-copper deposits in the world – a huge (200 million tonne) mass of intrusive diorite impregnated throughout with copper and iron sulphides. Coed Y Brenin was discovered in the early 1970s by Riofinex Ltd, and is only exposed in a few places being largely buried under glacial deposits.’

  13. Hmm… any one see a problem with this statement?

    Jake Matijevic (rock)

    The rock is likely basalt. The rover team has assessed the rock as a suitable target for the first use of Curiosity’s contact instruments, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and the Alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS).[3]

    Analytical studies performed on the rock by the Curiosity rover in October, 2012 suggest the Jake rock is an igneous rock but one with higher concentrations of sodium, aluminum and potassium, and lower concentrations of magnesium, iron and nickel than other such rocks found on Mars.

    Okay… but

    Basalt is usually grey to black in colour, but rapidly weathers to brown or rust-red due to oxidation of its mafic (iron-rich) minerals into rust.

    Mafic … rich in magnesium and iron

    News thing about it.

  14. Good morning!
    If you allow me, I’ll paste here a comment made by Boris over EB, which I think should be of everybody’s knowledge:
    On a more serious note – hundreds of staff (including myself) of the INGV in Italy are risking to find themselves without a new contract from 1 January 2013 on. This is a very grave situation, which threatens to completely paralyze not only the lives of the concerned people, but also the functioning of the whole institute, mainly the surveillance of seismic and volcanic activity in Italy. The round-the-clock service in the control rooms of the Earthquake Center in Rome, at the Vesuvius Observatory in Naples, and at the Etna Observatory in Catania might completely break down, and quick response to emerging crises might be hampered. You would be indirectly affected because real-time seismic data and webcams would be taken offline.
    In this moment there are continuous meetings between different parties in order to seek for solutions, but my personal feeling, in this moment, is rather dark.


    • Alas! This is happening everywhere in Europe – but southern Europe has been hit particularly hard. People with irreplaceable skills are being made redundant in all government and NGO departments – only when their particular skill is needed will we realise what has happened and then it will be too late.

    • bizarre.. there must be so many other ways to save money than this…. how about increasing the age for retirement? stamping out government corruption? (ok that might be a no-brainer in Italy) …streamlining the civil service? I bet there are thousands of ways to cut government spend just by eradicating inefficiencies… but closing down the volcano observatory? We’re talking about one of the G8 nations for God’s sake.. New Zealand has a puny economy by comparison and just look at the good work of GNS!

    • Horrendous! I trust the decision makers will take the burden of guilt for disasters waiting to happen and the loss of priceless knowledge and systems that should be being used to train the next generation of Vulcanologists and Physicists.
      My thoughts and best wishes to Boris and his colleagues.

  15. As i’m sure you know, in June 2012 I set up the Bulletin of World Volcanism to try and better document the worlds volcanic activity. Well as we near the end of this year, a publication that I am very excited to make is about to be prepared.

    The Review of Volcanic Eruptions: 2012

    This compilation will list every single eruption that took place this year from the largest eruption to take place this decade (the Havre Seamount eruption in July) to the (very) minor phreatic eruptions at Iwo – Jima [Ioto].

    The volcanoes that erupted this year will be following the CAWV/GVN region number system. I’m hoping to fill the pages with photos of eruptions. At the back I will put tables showing things like Average VEI’s for the year.

    We need to make a list of the volcanoes that have erupted this year. As I fear I may have missed some 🙂

    P.S. Does anyone have a good photo for the cover?

    • As mattmabus stated on eruptions. There are only 80 days of 2012 left, anyone got any eruption highlights?

      mine are below

      1. Nevado Del Ruiz
      2. Zubair Group
      3. Hierro, el
      4. Tongaririo
      5. Havre Seamount

      • Hi Lucas; I’ve recieved the latest bulletin (not read it yet) lurking forward to it 🙂
        I’d echo El Hierro for the top five (I’m a namateur Canary Island schpecialist as you know) Hierro is a fine insight into atypical intraoceanic- plate hotschpot vulcanism…

  16. This pattern looks like some work going on during the day with a break for lunch near the SIL station!.
    I don’t think it is wind related as suggested before as the wind has now veered to the East and the pattern is far too regular .

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