There be Eruptions, Friday NtV Riddle and the surprise Riddle!

Photograph by Nina Slaschilina of Tolbachik. You can find more of her stunning photographs at

Photograph by Nina Slaschilina of Tolbachik. You can find more of her stunning photographs at

It has been a fairly hectic week in volcano land. No less than 3 volcanoes have been discussed during the week. Most of them are known to the readers of the blog, but I thought I should write a bit about them anyhow.

Global Volcanism Program

Tomorrow Monday the new GVP site premieres to the joy of all interested in volcanoes. The old site functioned fairly well as a “who’s who” among the volcanoes. But it was antiquated from both a technical and a scientific standpoint. The hopes are high, so let us not be too disappointed if our obscure favorite volcanoes are not mentioned this time around.


Photograph thanks to Kirby Morgan over at Tuff Team. Lava showing at the top of Pavlof.

Photograph thanks to Kirby Morgan over at Tuff Team. Lava showing at the top of Pavlof.

Out in the Aleutian arch we find the Emmons Field Caldera. On the flank we is the most active volcano in the chain. So, it is no great surprise that Pavlof is erupting yet again. Ash has been ejected up to 3 kilometers above the crater and magma is now showing at the crater rim.

One thing to remember about Pavlof is that the eruption normally tends to increase towards the end of the eruption. So we will probably have time to get back to this particular volcano. The biggest problem with the Alaskan volcanoes is the cut backs in the funding of the Alaskan Volcano Observatory. Something that greatly endangers flight traffic in the area, short sighted politicians once again hindering both science and endangering civilian lives.


Photograph of Popocatépetl from Global Volcanism Program.

Photograph of Popocatépetl from Global Volcanism Program.

Activity at the second tallest volcano in North America has been ongoing since the latest eruptive cycle started in 2011. Last couple of weeks the activity has increased enough for the authorities to prepare for evacuations, and also to increase the size of the exclusion zone.

Nothing points towards this eruption growing out of control even though Popocatépetl has the potential for something really dangerous, namely Mount St Helens type explosive failures spreading large debris fields. The current risks are lahars and pyroclastic flows travelling down valleys surrounding the volcano.


Photograph by Yuri Demyanchuk. Here one can clearly see the scale of the event. This tongue of the flood basalt looks small untill one sees that the grass are tall trees. Thanks to UKViggen who found the image.

Photograph by Yuri Demyanchuk. Here one can clearly see the scale of the event. This tongue of the flood basalt looks small untill one sees that the grass are tall trees. Thanks to UKViggen who found the image.

Some volcanoes really fly under the radar. Tolbachik is a stunning example of this. It is having the largest effusive eruption since the Krafla Fires, and the largest eruption of any volcano this century. With the latest increase in activity it is estimated to have erupted 2 cubic kilometers of lava in the form of a flood basalt, built a few cones, and suffering from constant strombolian activity at the central vent.

Let us put that into perspective. Total amount of ejecta is about one fifth of the VEI-6 eruption of Pinatubo, one ninth of Lakí and a whopping twenty times more material ejected then during Eyjafjallajökull.

I do not know who took this image. Dr Carmen Morataya sent it to me. It really shows how astounding Tolbachik is.

I do not know who took this image. Dr Carmen Morataya sent it to me. It really shows how astounding Tolbachik is.

One thing that I started thinking is that Tolbachik is about as gassy as its Icelandic counterparts. The likely hood is that the gas has affected the weather inside the temperate zone weather cell across the globe. We have to wait for the temperature tally, but I would not be surprised if that was the fact in the end. Remember, we are talking about 1/9 of Lakí.


Name those Volcanoes Riddle

1 point for each volcano …. enjoy

No 1 – Eponymous geological feature associated with European (French) girls’ hairstyles.

No 2 – It could be raised to 3613, all the info you need is in the clue!

No 3 – Reuters erroneously put the inconvenience down to this one. SOLVED Dubbi

No 4 – Deke’s guys studied its geology. SOLVED Kitts Peak

No 5 – The name of a silent movie and a volcano classed as having ‘cataclysmic potential’? (Not Vesuvius – The Last days of Pompeii – this movie is simply titled the name of the volcano)


Surprise Riddle

“I’m in the shadow of an iconic conical but not volcanic hill that could easily be a dessert. I’m a Basaltic Andesite scar that was visible to a young explorer long before he discovered the land where neighbours live. You ought to know that my nether regions mull over their Tertiary origins. I gave the world this rather beautiful slice of loveliness. See if you can home in on what it is, what I am and where I erupt through the landscape.”




642 thoughts on “There be Eruptions, Friday NtV Riddle and the surprise Riddle!

  1. Kilgharah wanted you all to know that she will Ding tomorrow!
    So keep the brilliant detective work going 🙂
    Manofthemoors will Ding when he feels like Dinging!

  2. Ding dong for Karen Z for Cleveland Dyke and the co-ordinates. There’s a key word for the sample I was looking for and a more colloquial explanation of the location…derived from the clues.

  3. Here are the latest quakes of the Californian quakeswarm plotted in google. I added the 5.7 (iwrote 5.9) quake in green.

    The Dam is in the south-eastern corner of the lake. The big part of are north-East of it. Parallel with the east-coast or in the West-East valley which is 90° of the valley of the dam and it’s outlet (in north-south direction).

  4. That’s a full house of Dings for Karen. Looks like I’m going to have to be more fiendish in future.

    That outcrop of the Cleveland Dyke was the first volcanic feature I met. As a child it fascinated me. I played round there. I fished in quarries that were part of the system. It was ironic that the hill that looked like a volcano was sedimentary rock, whilst at it’s foot was a dyke that stretches for hundreds of miles. Interesting to think that James Cook played around there long before he journeyed to the pacific and the Ring of Fire.

  5. And here is a picture proving that some people just have hotter jobs then the rest of us. Boris Behnckes new vanity picture. Just thought I should repost it for those who are no on his FB friends list. (For those who do not know, Boris is THEE Etna dude!)

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    • I’ve enjoyed it to listen to Max Raabe, though it has no relation to volcanos (but this would apply to quite a lot of posts on here, lol).
      P.S. Maybe some of you will realize that I’ve changed my handle from Barbara Germany to BarbarainGermany because I’ve registered in wordpress. Anyway, I won’t disturb much, because most of you are wayyy more informed in volcanos than I will ever be, lol.

  6. “Submitted for your approval…”

    I lamented about a time series for the quake stack since I had to go drive. After having my arse throughly kicked by a piece of equipment, I came home, got a glass of iced tea (unsweetened), and dove back into the quake data. Here is what I got.

    Before the cluster happened, it was pretty quiet.

    Then it kicked off. nothing really apparent shows up as far as trending. Looking closer at just the cluster, you can see this pretty well.

    What does it mean? Well, it does mean that there is not a single finger of magma headed anywhere with the specific purpose of getting somewhere. But, that also does not mean that there isn’t a collection of partial melt down there trying to coalesce into a chamber of some sort.

    From the link provided earlier, I roughly estimate that the gradient is somewhere on the order of 153°C/km. That’s just a ballpark guess based on 46.6°C water being produced from a geothermal well that is somewhere between 243.84 to 304.8 meters deep. It could be as high as 191°C/km. But.. it is just a guess. At 153°C/km, 800°C is about 5.2 km down. Thats the region where the rock starts to take on a more ductile characteristic. In other words, it takes a bit more stress to get it to fracture and make a quake.

    From that paper linked earlier, they note that there are ancient volcano clastics down in the region of the well bores. Likely from ancient Lassen activity.

    Well, that’s what I have. Ruminate at will…. I’m gonna throw my hat at it being related to Walker Lane activity. (tectonic) based on chryphia’s linked beach ball and the proximity to the Lane.

  7. #5 – Vesuvius. Last Days of Pompeii

    The mere title of this movie promised a disaster of unmatched excitement and terror. Brought to the screen by the makers of King Kong, the film realized all of its cataclysmic potential. Depression-aggravated audiences not only witnessed the ruin of an entire city, but were drawn into the everyday lives of the citys inhabitants for the ultimate in escapism.

  8. SWAG – #3 → Katla. No reason other than it was the one that had been hyped up as gonna pop, and it was right next door.

    SWAG as in “shittin wild assed guess”

    • Nearly twenty years ago I’ve managed it to install a darkroom in our PR-offices (combined with an historical archive and a museum) for black and white photos on film (no idea back then that digital photographing would emerge). To enhance photographs in the darkroom had been a common practice way back for many, many decades at that time, and I had great fun to accomplish those technical skills for the use or our institution. Some years later the darkroom was abandoned because it was much (!) easier to do the same stuff in a digital way. What I’ve learned in the darkroom: Photos never resemble 1:1 to what you’ve seen when using your camera (I’ve often experienced it when photos of a bright vacation returned to me way too pale and grey from a common developing studio, before I used a polarizing filter); you always have to risk some decisions when converting the impressions of the camera/film/chip to a printout for others, in order to resemble the original impression of your own eyes (as much as you would remember). But there’s always the danger to overdo it, of course …

      • Poor Tri-X Pan… may it rest in peace.

        BTW, my favorite (and still is) is using existing light. I try to stay off the flash unless it is absolutely necessary. What little experience I had involved covering things like sporting events. Massive zoom and fast film was the rule.

        The other day, I was walking back out to the truck and marveled at how deep blue the sky was. Then I remembered I was wearing polarized shades. It makes a monster difference.

        • Depends on the direction of polarization, it can make the difference between 100% and 0% effect. Rotate the filter to see the difference. It’s most effective for ‘removing’ scattered light at a 90 degree angle from the sun, so if you would have the sun straight behind you when it’s 45 degrees above the horizon, your point of optimal scatter removal will be in a band going from the left horizon to the right horizon, cutting through the point 45 degrees above the horizon right in front of you.

          Under certain conditions your sky can become almost black as space, and if you use really short focal lengths (very zoomed out) like 15mm or even less, it can look really odd because you clearly see the dark zone in the sky surrounded by more normal sky colors. Same with reflections in water/glass/paint/plants etc.

          Flash is a different science alltogether 🙂 but using a normal flash is pretty much killing every photo. One dating site once published some internal analyses that flash photo’s added an extra 7 years on average, which is why you probably should never take standard flash photo’s of your wife and girlfriend during parties/dinner/vacation etc 😉

  9. Snow appears to have melted at the summit of Tolbachik. May be normal for this time of year or not.

    • Fully normal!
      I live north of it, and we are currently having +28C here. During the summers the arctic and temperate areas is rather warm. This is due to the Siberian High that can push temperatures up and above +35C.

      • Not in Iceland. Temperature rarely goes above 20ºC. And actually it is just around 5ºC this afternoon. We have a chilly summer.

        The Icelandic Low locates most often either SW or SE of Iceland, this causes either mostly dominant winds from southwest (moist cool weather), east (mild weather but sometimes rainy), and north (dry but cool)

  10. If anyone is really interested in “what lies beneath” with regards to the California Swarm under the south end of the lake…

    Stratigraphy of Paleozoic and Lower Mesozoic Rocks in the Northern Sierra Terrane, California” U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY BULLETIN 1957

    Mentioned in the report are “abandoned hydraulic pits.” I think these are referring to old hydraulic mining operations. Something that was pretty well represented in the Clint Eastwood movie, “Pale Rider.” It matches the period that the movie was set in quite well.

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

      • Err… no. The pits were mentioned in the paper, and I was just elaborating on what “hydraulic pit” likely refers to. Someone was looking for ore (of some type, probably gold) and they used high pressure water streams directed at the hillside to wash the dirt down. It was probably run into a sluice box to catch the gold.

        In the gold rush days, several methods were used to get the gold. Even mixing up the glittery dirt with mercury since gold will go into solution in it. They then took the gold-mercury mix and heated it until the mercury was driven off as a vapor, leaving the gold. Not a particularly safe practice. Heavy metal poisoning from the vapor was common.

  11. Hi again all … without warning our area lost all broadband last night … so I could not Ding or give hints to the NtV riddle as usual … I have rectified this now … and added additional info to the three remaining clues …

  12. Swedes generally go about working and making money to do 4 things with the cash…
    1. Be warm. Which in winter take the form of us going about occupying warmer countries like Spain. I go on business trips instead.
    2. Barbeque in the summer. Normal people need something to BBQ, and something to BBQ with. Swedes make a huge costly project out of it with massive kitchenlike monstrosities, fully decked patios, infrawarmers (for cold evenings) retractable roofs… Well, the works. I have a sawed off barrel, a couple of rickety lawn chairs and a plastic table.
    3. Turning our toiletts into Poop-palaces. For some reason we can spend up to 100 thousand euros on converting a fully functional toilett into a palace of poop. I am simple guy, I only need a toilett seat, and a small book shelf (yes I read in the loo).
    4. Turning the kitchen into a stainless steel/black granit masterpiece that would befitt Gordon Ramsey if he came to visit. The Golden rule is, the more ass-expensive kitchen, the less is cooked in it. Common price tag is the same as for the poop-palace. I have a quite ordinary kitchen.

    After doing the 4 obligatory things with their money the Swedes get depressed. Then they get creative and start renovating anything from a summer house, via an Edsel, to building rockets in their backyard. This is the stage when swedes get dangerous. One guy took it up as a project after his Poop-palace to destroy a particular communications satellite due to bad programming. The satellite is no longer with us.

    I instead went directly to stage five… I sail. If you wish to share the sailing boat experience do like this. Go to the ATM and take out one weeks allotment of cash. Go into the shower wearing your cloathes. Turn on the shower at its coldest possible setting. Stand there untill you are fully miserable, then start tearing up your money, one bill at a time. You are now a sailing person.
    But, when it is warm like now it is the best thing on earth… So what I am trying to say in the slowest way possible. I will now go sailing, see you in a day or two!

    • Great description of Swedish life!

      How about the drinking? That’s a big part of Swedish life, no?

      Here in Iceland my life in winter (and I am not a native Icelander, so not representative of Icelandic people) resumes to mostly daydreaming about the far away summer time and what I will do then (sometimes 9 months away), sleeping a lot, struggling with a coffee addiction, reading and computer stuff (like volcanoes), working after hours just to occupy time, occasionally (and potential dangerous) winter hiking, and of course getting stuck with my jeep in the snow.

      Summer time is 90% of it hiking and gardening, out of working hours, and also a huge lot of social events, and little patience for sleep. Sometimes weather is sunny and good, but cold, sometimes it rains non-stop for days, and that is miserable just like Carl’s description of sailing or tearing notes in the shower. That’s when i come to volcanocafe.

      By the way, next weekend I will be doing the hike of the largest, tallest and most violent volcano in Iceland, at least in historic times. It will take us 15 hours to do it. It’s not Hekla, Katla or Bardarbunga. Its a volcano that really deserves more attention.

    • I had TWO sailboats-pardners in a Catalina 25 years ago and then a West Wight
      Potter 19.. done a bit of bluewater on a couple of larger boats. When the “Lady Washington” visited Coos Bay , I wanted to sign up for a trip and a bit of crewing-if you
      pulled lines and unfurled sails you didn’ have to pay..Wife saw that gleam in my eye and said:”You even think about it I will reverse shanghai you!!!” ” A little something in the
      oatmeal, you know..” Anyway Swedes sound a lot like Anchorage People…
      We are being invited to the end of training party by the Chief Instructor…
      They take their BB-Q seriously here..

      • Throw another bear on the barbie!

        Swedes, Alaskans, Russians, Canadians etc … there’s the same old joke about all of them. Something along the lines of: “There’s only two things to do round here – fishing and f***ing. And in the winter the rivers are frozen over.”

        • Well, I had a very pleasant pm with the head instructor of Red Bull’s North American
          training ops and his lovely wife. Up North the old radial engines are NOT dead yet.
          DC-3’s/4’s/6’s and Super DC3’s-still plying the far north.. Probably will for some time to come. Otters, Beavers and yes Curtiss C-46 commandos are still working here.
          an old radial Hog’s heaven….
          We had Beer and Bratwurst on their deck and it was as nice as it gets.
          Got to know this Native couple that worked at the Hotel she said-“This weather is
          waaaay too nice.” I think there may be something to that..
          Heading south tomorrow-back to the high lonesome….

          • ROFLOL!!!

            Thank you for that.

            You finally made me go look up the specifics of the radial engine. I found out that another design, was the rotary engine. Intrigued, I looked into that one a bit. It was actually implemented in some WW-I aircraft. I also ran across this snippit

            Due to the primitive nature of the carburetion and the absence of a true sump the lubricating oil had to be added to the fuel/air mixture. This meant that the engine fumes were heavy with smoke caused by partially burnt oil. Castor oil was the lubricant of choice, as its lubrication properties were not affected by the presence of the fuel, its gum-forming tendency being irrelevant in a total-loss lubrication system. An unfortunate side-effect was that World War I pilots inhaled and swallowed a considerable amount of the oil during flight, leading to persistent diarrhoea.

            Nothing like having a case of the shits to make you break off a dogfight.

            the Camel’s most famous German foe, the Fokker Dr.I triplane, also used a rotary engine, usually the Oberursel Ur.II clone of the French-built Le Rhone 9J 110 hp powerplant.

            The Fokker Dr.I is commonly associated with Manfred von Richthofen, aka “The Red Baron.” Perhaps the moniker was not just due to his paint scheme, but also due to persistent chafing from the toilet paper…

          • Glad to hear the C-46s are still working up there. I had the very great pleasure of flying from Fairbanks up to the north slope in an Everts Air Fuel C-46 around 20 years ago. One of my more memorable trips.

  13. No 5: “Kilauea: The Hawaiian Volcano”

    1918, a silent-movie documentary on Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii, 35 mm film, released December 29, 1918.

  14. Does anyone know if Hekla is still inflating at a pace ? Are we still expecting an eruption within two or three weeks ?

    • I don’t think there is significant inflation in Hekla. In April, there was what seemed to be rapid inflation, when there were several quakes at Hekla but now all Hekla stations seem to not show any significant trend outside of standard deviations. The quakes have nearly ceased and I think Hekla is back to nothing.

      However, magma likely has entered Hekla chamber/s in March and April, an eruption was near, it only needs a new fresh inflow of magma and it could technically erupt, without much warning. Or it could be back to sleep for years.

  15. Curious, are there many records of pre-glaciation volcanism in Iceland? I would imagine that the tephra record would be nearly impossible to discern as the tephra would have landed on top of super-thick glaciers.

    It would definitely be rather interesting to see a more extended history of volcanism in Iceland. Are all those large calderas really the result of multiple smaller-sized events? Or are some of them perhaps products of larger eruptions, which we know Iceland has the capability of producing.

    • Edit – Didn’t mean to say pre-glaciation, meant to say records of volcanism during the ice age.

      • Both are available. It just depends on how much perseverance you can wield.

        I would also be handy if you can read between the lines and infer meaning across odd-ball data sets. My favorite is TephraBase.

        Much of the data comes from deposits scattered throughout Europe.

        Icelandic tephra layers
        deposited between 10000 and 400 14C years BP

        This search has found 39 14C dates on Icelandic tephra layers between 10000 and 400 14C years BP. [removed the bit about clicking on stuff. That’s only available at the Tephrabase site]

        Glen Garry Tephra
        Hekla 4 Tephra
        Hoy Tephra
        Lairg Tephra A
        Lairg Tephra B
        Loch Portain B Tephra
        Mjauvotn A Tephra
        Mjauvotn B Tephra
        SILK-YN Tephra

        The only Tephra showing up between 20000 and 10000 (C14 years) is the Vedde Tephra, which allegedly correlates to a Katla event.

        Lake Madtjarn is the source and evidently had four separate Vedde deposits (events?)

        10355 ± 125 14C years BP
        10155 ± 85 14C years BP
        10455 ± 115 14C years BP
        10375 ± 70 14C years BP

        • TAS Diagram for the four Vedde Ash samples at Lake Madtjarn

          Data retreived from Tephra Base, original source:
          Wastegard, S., Bjorck, S., Possnert, G. and Wohlfarth, B. (1998) Evidence of the occurance of Vedde Ash in Sweden: radiocarbon age estimates. Journal of Quaternary Science 13(3), 271-274..

          Remember, these are dates before present using Carbon 14 dating. If I am up to it, in a few minutes I’ll go look for the C14 correction factor.

          10455 C14 ≈ 9250 ybp
          10155 C14 ≈ 8910 ybp

          The TAS diagram and C14 corrections were made while listening to iHeart station:

          • YBP = Years Before Present
            And here is a fallacy. Present = 1950. So.. add 63 years to any YBP dates.

    • In response to cbus20122 → May 26, 2013 at 02:00

      Just for fun, much like setting off a firecracker in a pile of fresh cow manure…

      It is thought that Katla is the source of Vedde Ash, more than 6 to 7 cubic kilometers (1.4 to 1.7 cu mi) of tephra dated to 10,600 years BP found at a number of sites including Vedde in Denmark, Norway, Scotland and North Atlantic cores.

      … yet, in my little total volume calculation, which is based off of published DRE estimates from calderas that I can get a size estimate for, Katla’s caldera comes in at about 136 km³ of erupted material… over some period of time.

      The Vedde ash is indicative of a pretty large event, but even so, is a bit small compared to what the formula’s estimate is. My guess is that Katla’s caldera has to be the result of a number of Vedde sized, and perhaps larger episodes.

      • in times gone by we had mega eruptions with a lot of stuff spewed into the atmosphere and around the edifice’s, my question is this ‘what, how, why? would make those ‘super’ eruptions, they only seem to happen as an irregular occurrence at certain intervals’

      • Depends really…
        Katla is a complex caldera. Most of it is probably subsidizing events. So the caldera could equally well have formed under a series of flood basalts.

          • Oh, it is a caldera.
            Calderas normaly form due to subsidation, not through explosive eruption. As the eruption goes on it leaves a void in the magma chamber and the roof caves in.

  16. Greenville in California keeps going on, 5.8 19km NNE of Bulung’ur, Uzbekistan, 19.4 km deep, Indonesia keeps on rattling away and Japan had a few, well Macquarie Island had one near the triple junction a few days ago, that always seems to set off major ones in Indonesia and Japan

    • Wow, true words! I like to think at least some took that judge’s words to heart-and their world, and those around them, is better for it. Who knows how many chose a different path because of that one man’s wisdom. . .

      • Good advise, but speaking to the wind. The culture has promoted “fun” as the end-all, most important thing in the world, and the self centered modern youth have eaten it up.

        No, the modern brat will very rarely, if at all, listen to words like this.

        I’ve taught classes composed of the “apparenly motivated to do something with their lives”, but they are the same. They seek entertainment more than developing a skill set. That and the thrill of procreation, though not the reponsibility of it.

  17. The earthquake that happened south of Hekla is not a Hekla related earthquake. It happened at the end of Vatnafjöll, a different volcanic zone.

  18. Hi all having a great time, visited the Volcano today, have taken hundreds of photos and a multitude of samples for Spica. Will post all piccys when I return, the Internet here is pretty grim, and Carl, your right Santorini is AWSOME!!!

    • When I retire that is the place I want to live at. Sitting quietly looking at the volcano, waiting for it to blow.

  19. Here is some eye-candy for you 🙂

    In this video you see earthquake locations and size by date from 1990 to 2013. This plot now covers the two eruptions 1991 (blue) and 2000 (magenta). I marked the accompanying eq with cylinders, as well as the 2013 eqs (green). The location of todays eq is marked with the long green cylinder.
    It took a while to extract the eq data from the Soosula thesis Seismic activity related to the 1991 Hekla eruption, Iceland with FreeOCR, but I held out grimly ;-).

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