A most frightening scenario – a modern-day Astroni eruption

Eruption at Mount Tarvurvur in the Rabaul Caldera.

Eruption at Mount Tarvurvur in the Rabaul Caldera.

Reading the comments to Spica’s latest topic, it’s obvious that most people seem to think that in order to be truly dangerous, a volcano must have a potential for a very large, caldera-forming eruption with an exceptionally high VEI, preferably at least a VEI 7. I think it’s high time we had a little chat and sorted out what is the most likely type of volcano and eruption to be our “killer volcano”.

To use an analogy, you would be just as dead if a terrorist’s home-made pipe bomb went off next to you as you would be from a megaton thermonuclear device dropped on your home town. Even if we can’t exclude the possibility of the latter ever happening, it hasn’t happened yet and seems rather unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future. To date, however, thousands if not tens of thousands of people have died in terrorist attacks where, relatively speaking; crude explosive devices have been utilised. Thus you are far more likely to be killed by a device made using primitive black powder than by way of fission of Uranium atoms or fusion of Deuterium nuclei. In spite of this, it’s a safe bet that you’re far, far more scared of nuclear weapons than you are of fireworks or the bags of ammonium nitrate fertiliser easily obtainable from your local ironmonger’s. It’s human nature.

The same is true of volcanic eruptions. You are far, far more likely to be in the wrong place when a very small eruption takes place than from a caldera-forming event. Roughly speaking, “mega-colossal eruptions” (VEI 8) seem to occur about once or twice every 100,000 years. “Super-colossal eruptions” (VEI 7) happen once every one to five thousand years. Last century, there were three “colossal” VEI 6 eruptions, albeit at the low end of the scale, but looking back at the records it seems to be unusual. About one VEI 6 every 100 years seems to be the norm.

At the other end of the volcanic spectrum there are hundreds if not thousands of small explosive eruptions (VEI 0 – 1) every year. These can terminate you just as efficiently if you’re unfortunate enough to be too close to one. Or rather, far more likely as the probability of coming too close, both temporally and spatially, to such a volcano is vastly greater. There are several VEI 2 eruptions every year and there seems to be at least one VEI 3 or “severe eruption” as well. VEI 4, “cataclysmic eruptions”, are slightly rarer but still there are some three to five every decade while the “paroxysmal” VEI 5 eruptions seem to happen once every 10 to 20 years.

Just work out the numbers! For every caldera-forming eruption (VEI 6++), there will have been more than 5 million smaller eruptions. With human proliferation being what it is, quite a few of those will have occurred in locations where multiple factors combine to put a great many people at risk. The two greatest volcanic disasters of the 20th century – Saint Pierre, Martinique, 1902 (Mt Pelée, ~30,000 fatalities) and Armero, Colombia, 1985 (Nevado del Ruiz, ~23,000 fatalities) – were not very large eruptions at VEI 4 and VEI 3 respectively.

Fig 1. “Only shows in cinemas”. (http://www.yellowstonegate.com)

Fig 1. “Only shows in cinemas”. (http://www.yellowstonegate.com)

From this, it ought to be clear that we need not worry about the very largest eruptions as they’re not likely to happen during our lifetime, nor during those of our very distant descendants, even if we were to live relatively close to a restless caldera. What we should seriously worry about though are the smaller explosive eruptions, especially if you live in a city built inside an active volcanic complex such as Auckland, Rabaul or Naples. Let me introduce you to my nightmare scenario!

Five hundred years ago, in 1538, the ground north of Naples around Pozzuoli inflated an astonishing six metres in only seven days. On the seventh day, there was a seven-day long eruption that resulted in the formation of the 123 metre high Monte Nuovo.  Even if the onset was dramatic, there had been signs of unrest long before. As early as 1502, residents of Pozzuoli noted the emergence of new land from places formerly occupied by the sea. From the early 1530s, this uplift was accompanied by unusual seismicity that reached a first climax in the spring of 1534. During the next four years, seismic activity continued at a lower level until there was a dramatic increase during September 1538 which culminated with the Monte Nuovo eruption beginning on the 29th. The rapid uplift recorded, six metres in seven days, is not unique to Campi Flegrei. The same remarkably large rapid inflation, six metres, was noted during the night, yes night, before the 1994 eruption of several volcanic vents including the Tarvurvur and Vulcan stratovolcanoes of the Rabaul Caldera, Papua New Guinea.

This illustrates that even if the build-up to the eruption lasted more than three decades, it was only during the last seven days that the signs, primarily the rapid and extreme inflation, became so alarming that modern-day volcanologists would have had a chance to persuade local authorities that an eruption was imminent and that an evacuation was necessary. Even with the Aquila disaster in mind, volcanologists would probably not dare alert authorities on “Day One” of rapid uplift. At what point would you ring the bell? After the total inflation reached 80 cm on Day One? 160 cm on Day Two? 210 cm on Day Three? Somehow, I doubt that the order to evacuate would be given even two days before the onset of an eruption and if it were as rapid as at Rabaul, it is doubtful whether even a public warning would reach the unfortunate inhabitants, much less a full-scale, orderly evacuation be initiated.

Fig X. The Astroni crater located between Naples and Pozzuoli is a WWF oasis, a lush nature reserve and recreational area. (http://whaton.uwaterloo.ca)

Fig X. The Astroni crater located between Naples and Pozzuoli is a WWF oasis, a lush nature reserve and recreational area. (http://whaton.uwaterloo.ca)

“The crater of Astroni is part of the volcanic complex of Agnano and of the bigger caldera of the Phlegrean Fields. A treasure that is just a few steps from the urban centers of Agnano and Pozzuoli. Ferdinando D’Aragona in the ‘400’s made the area a royal hunting preserve. During World War II it was a deposit for weapons and finally, at the end of the 90’s, a WWF oasis for protection and shelter of the resident and migratory fauna. The crater’s bottom is situated 10 meters under sea level and contains three bodies of water: the big Lake, the small Cofaniello and the big Cofaniello. Chestnuts, elms, oaks and other plants, typical of elevated areas, have conquered the crater’s bed and then change into Mediterranean scrubs when going higher up the crater’s sides. It feels like when one is “going down to the mountains”. The Astroni include, infact, a very particular inverse vegetation that benefits from a microclimate and the volcanic nature of the area. The fauna is rich and complex as well. Many birds populate the woods among which the red-headed woodpecker, the oasis’s symbol, blackcaps, robin redbreasts and chaffinches. There is also an enormous variety of butterflies as well as the moretta tabaccata, one of the most rare species of duck in Europe.”

(InCampania Tourism)

Fig Y. Inside the Astroni crater. “Volcano? Surely not this lovely corner of Paradise!” (http://www.scuolaaugusto.it)

Fig Y. Inside the Astroni crater. “Volcano? Surely not this lovely corner of Paradise!”
(http://www.scuolaaugusto.it)

Very idyllic, but as recently as 4.8 to 3.8 thousand years before present, there was a series of seven extremely nasty eruptions a scant ten kilometres (six miles) from modern Naples city centre. The total output is perhaps not very impressive, a scant 0.45 cubic kilometres DRE (dense rock equivalent) or approximately two to two and a half cubic kilometres of ash/pumice. What is truly frightening is the manner of these eruptions.

The activity of the volcano was dominated by explosive, mostly phreatomagmatic eruptions, with only subordinate lava effusion, meaning that most of the material ejected was in the form of ash and pumice with a very high water content. To make it even nastier, the eruptions seem to have been intermittent meaning there was not a sustained blast lifting the water-rich, super-heated mixture high in the air, but the eruption column would regularly collapse sending out vast pyroclastic base surges in all directions, many kilometres from the vent. Were this to happen today and insufficient warning given for an effective evacuation to have taken place, hundreds of thousands would be in the direct path of 600 – 1,000 centigrade hot pyroclastic flows as at Herculaneum in 79 AD. The prospect of survival would be very bleak indeed.

Fig Z. The location of the Astroni Crater. Please note the multitude of similar craters inside the Campi Flegrei caldera. It has happened many times before and all over the caldera. (http://ars.els-cdn.com)

Fig Z. The location of the Astroni Crater. Please note the multitude of similar craters inside the Campi Flegrei caldera. It has happened many times before and all over the caldera. (http://ars.els-cdn.com)

With a restless caldera such as Campi Flegrei that has suffered two episodes of great uplift and also sustained periods of earthquake activity during the last 40 years, this is perhaps the greatest volcanic threat to the largest number of people anywhere on Earth at present. It may never happen, certainly, and even if it did, the chances are that it would be in a different and not so dangerous location of the caldera and that the eruption a repeat of the “gentler” Monte Nuovo type. But given the history, recent and past, of Campi Flegrei, it could happen much sooner than never. Let us fervently hope it does not!

HENRIK

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207 thoughts on “A most frightening scenario – a modern-day Astroni eruption

  1. Thank you Henrik for this post. I loved reading it.

    The first image was edited in by me, so I hope that Henrik will not beat me to hard over the head.

  2. Perhaps the most volcano-stricken place on earth. While other examples of urban volcanism, such as the Auckland volcanic field, are explosive-effusive in nature, Campi Flegrei is a large caldera with a long history of powerful eruptions. Add to the fact that compared to Rabaul, those who inhabit Campi Flegrei or live in the vicinity of it are ill-prepared to do any form of large-scale evacuation. It will be very disorderly when the times come around. But I cannot compare an island with a small population to a metropolitan area in Europe without meeting some issues.

    • But the Aquila disaster and its results may hamper communications to the public. It showed how flawed politics can be. On the part of the authorities, better outreach could have saved lives, but blaming them for not predicting an earthquake is absurd.

      • I know, but the comparison can be broadened to include population. Nonetheless, it is a very dangerous volcano. It has the right composition, it is partially underneath a city, and there is plenty of water.

  3. I am repeating this again…
    If anyone knows how to get in contact with Ursh in Australia try to do so. I have tried to email, but got no answer. I am starting to get rather worried.

  4. Interesting post; thank you, Henrik. & nice to see you around 🙂

    In cooler London, the threat is terrorist then nuclear then earthquakes, with volcanic activity following a long way behind – unless Iceland, Italy, France, Germany or Japan produced a large ashy eruption 😕

      • Thought Storegga slide got the north of the UK, not as far south as London. The Lisbon earthquake tsunami caught the SW of the UK but again not here. So for London, itself, tsunamis would not be high in the ranking. Storm surges are a higher risk.

        Tenerife would have to produce a spectacular eruption to cause direct problems for the UK, except that any produce we import from the Canaries or Spain may be impacted, and a lot of British take their holidays in the Canaries.

  5. Well… it’s been about 24 hours. I don’t think Long Beach has much time left to have that predicted Mag 5.0.

    Count another quake forecast as wrong!

  6. Thank you Henrik for your thought-provoking post and welcome back!

    An analysis of global volcanic fatalities since 1600 was recently published by Auker et al. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/2191-5040-2-2/fulltext.html (sorry for posting the link again, but it is well on topic I think).

    One important conclusion is that “vulnerability to volcanic hazards has fallen during the last two centuries”, mainly due to timely evacuation.
    Another one is that although the probability that fatalities occurr rises with higher VEI (e.g. ca. 55% for VEI 4, 65% for VEI 5 and 100% for VEI 6) the overall number of fatalities peaked at VEI 4 eruptions (if they removed the largest 5 eruptions from the calculation), because they are deadly and frequent. So that confirms the point you make in your post.

    Of course there can always be black swans…

  7. A very interesting post, thank you Henrik. It is true that vulnerability to volcanic hazards decreased, volcanoes are better monitored, better equipped (except budgetary cuts) and better understood. In 1984 20 000 people were evacuated by civil protection following a seismic crisis in the Campi Flegrei. However and as said Chryphia there can always be black swans, Merapi is a perfect illustration.
    http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b550050671/f1.zoom.r=Monte%20Nuovo%201538.langFR

  8. Great to see you back again Henrik. I was really missing your input and I much appreciate your points about the frequency and nature of the eruption. It raises some interesting questions. Recently we have seen a couple of steam-driven eruptions (Tongariro, etc.) which, despite some signs of deeper unrest, occur with virtually no warning. A maar is basically a steam-driven explosion pit and some of them are quite big. Question: would we get the same run-up of a seismic crisis before such an eruption like we did at Eyjafjallajökull or El Hierro? Or would a maar be more like Tongariro? If the latter, we have a problem.

    • If it is a volcano that often have activity, take Iwo Jima for instance, then a phreatic detonation can occur at any time without any warning. Same happened at Mayon in june.

      But if it is an old volcano like Eifel then it would take a new magmatic emplacement, and those are noisy… So, at the european volcanoes it would give off signs except for Campi Flegrei that has new fumarole vents opening all the time and some of those are rather explosive. So, at worst case scenario one of them opens up under tourists visiting the place. Then a couple of hundred could die.

    • CNN says: “No tsunami warning was issued.
      The quake was the latest in a series of tremors that have jolted New Zealand’s Lower North Island in the past few days.
      Residents reported some structural damage after the 6.9 magnitude quake, but it was not immediately clear whether there were any serious injuries.”

        • .. too far away and the TVZ is probably too ductile anyway… (he says with little conviction about anything much these days)

            • Tried this once while slightly drunk on a hot chicken pie at 1 in the morning at the local service station. Ouch.

            • err.. correction, I experimented on hydraulics ON the hot chicken pie. I was not drunk on the hot chicken pie.

          • I don’t know, there are quiet a few quakes around the pacific at the moment, they seem to ‘bounce’ of each other, in the middle of that a couple of (4) bombs where dropped in a deep part of the north cost of Australia, nothing to worry about according to our American allies, as everyone gets on with war games, NZ rocks, no wonder the Kiwis like their a-refreshments

        • Local news say it is going to be the coldest spell in the last 15 years,,,
          Today it is unbelievably hot and windy, so, I guess, it might be coming towards us too (not he snow, of course).
          Thx Lurk.

  9. Firstly another pathetic attempt at the riddles…….#7 Yell Ow Stone (Groan)

    Secondly. Good to see you back and on top form Henrick. I also agree with your thoughts about Campi Flegrei. and interestingly your comments about perceptions of danger.
    Aged 12 I was terrified of Nuclear war. At 16 years the Cuba Crisis occurred, a very real and to me , scary,threat but at no time do I remember worrying about mega eruptions or other natural disasters. Maybe I was just lucky to be born where nature is pretty gentle. Now at nearly 70 years I look towards the Middle East for possible escalation of danger caused by human conflict of opinion and across the Mediterranean Sea I worry and feel sad for the inhabitants of the great conurbations Around the Bay of Naples. Maybe misplaced anxiety but I think not. Vesuvius erupted in 1944 the year of my Birth. It was a small eruption and caused little effect (A bit like my birth!!!) Now nearly 70 years on, the population of that area has multiplied, Air traffic has increased and so a similar eruption would have more far reaching consequences.
    Thirdly. I too have been worried about Ursh. This is the problem with the world wide web and on line communities such as VC. Slowly a tenuous bond is formed between the regulars and it’s surprising how close I feel to you lot at the bar, even though I have never actually met any one here. I do hope Ursh is well and it is merely her PC or internet conections that are ailing.

    • Agreed…. the quietness is stark.

      If I turn up missing, odds are I smacked into something or that I have gotten so utterly pissed off that I refuse to post. Usually, it’s the latter. I’ve done that before. Typically it includes a vociferous rant denigrating the object of my anger… such as creamed peas.

      (They really aren’t that bad if you can get enough black pepper on em)

      As for the Cuban Missile Crisis… every person I knew in school, had some sort of shelter in their backyard. Usually locked during parties so that we couldn’t sneak off there with the birthday girl or any of her friends.

      From my parents activities, I gained a passing interest in canning. Last year I put up two bushels of corn. My growing talents have either gotten worst, or I have some of the shittiest soil around. (thank you Florida) My little patch is undergoing remediation as I try to mulch in as I can in order to get something other than plain, sterile, sand. I’m a bit paranoid of using manure…. I spent an entire summer pulling nutgrass when my parents did their garden. (Jubus could my mom grow snap beans, tomatoes and okra!) The basis of that soil was yazoo clay and creek mud. Very alkali. My soil is acidic here. So… at the North end of the county, there is a farm where you can buy in bulks, almost off the tractor. The problem is that now I have case after case of canned corn in my shop, next to the stack of hard drives and routers and my hard cider.

      One thing that post Apocalypse thinkers need to realize. A marketable skill will be needed. I don’t do it regularly, but I do have the skill to produce some pretty hard alcohol. If we are all gonna die, best to do it drunk… that is, unless not being drunk can possibly allow you to survive. Then you can use it to disinfect your wounds. (but it will hurt like hell, guaranteed)

    • Well Diana …. you got it … DING … No 7 Yellowstone 2 more points … as I wrote the clue I thought nah! its too obvious but maybe it will raise a laugh!

      • OMG!!!!!……..THUD…….
        <<<<<<<Picks herself up off the floor and still in shock, staggers towards the medicinal wine bottle in the Kitchen.

        Makes Note to tell Lurking about her ability to make extremely strong wines from vegetable and fruit pickings that normal folk toss out onto the compost heap…… Oak leaf wine tastes like a Chardonnay but for sheer drinkability, apple and blackberry (free Windfall apples and free blackberries gathered from the derelict land at the top of our lane) cannot be surpassed. Unfortunately friends have merrily drunk this light fruity and refreshing beverage only to find it leaves a hangover from hell 😀 :D.
        Maybe Lurking and I should get together to produce and market Doomsday survival packs . 😀 😀

        • Doomsday Liquors ltd…
          It would be the first survival thing I have ever bought. I would though finnish it off emediatly. Count me as a customer. Repeat one… 🙂

    • Re Ursh, remember, she does live in Western Australia. Maybe she just went out to get some milk.

      • I don’t even go there for my holidays, I am half way between Canberra and the coast, cold it was 7 deg today and will be freezing tonight, better then last night with the cold wind, brrr

        • Good to hear you’re ok.

          Halfway from Canberra to the coast? Somewhere around Braidwood then? Bloody cold area you live in!

          • Fantastic, someone from Australia who doesn’t live in Cooper Peady.
            I know it is a fantastically small town, but for some reason I only meet people from there. I have an old friend from there, he had two opal mines caving in on him. So he got tired of mining and became an airfreight pilot and crashed. Now he is back into mining again.

            • I’ve lived in Australia my whole life and I’ve never met anyone from Cooper Pedy! Living in South East Queensland it seems like very 2nd person you meet has emigrated here from New Zealand.

            • I know 4 from Cooper Peady, and that is every Aussie I have gotten to know in real life. Ontop of that I know a Swedish woman who moved there and married a guy there.
              If that isn’t a statistical Black Swan, I do not know what would constitute one. And, here is the thing, I have gotten to know them independently of each other.

            • Hmmm … according to Wikipedia Cooper Pedy has a population of 1.695. Taking an approximate Australian population of 22,000,000, and assuming you are correct and they were all met independently – the chances of 4 random Aussies you meet being from there would be (1695 / 22000000) * (1694 / 22000000) * (1693 / 22000000) * (1692 / 22000000) = 3.5 x 10 ^ -17, or 1 in 28480676308636043.599742185621352

              Yep, that’s a black swan all right.

              Cooper Pedy is in South Australia, however the neighbouring state of Western Australia uses the Black Swan on its coat of arms 🙂

            • I think that the statistics get improved by the fact that many from Cooper Peady are working in mining, and here mining is big, so a lot of them drift here either to study mining, or to teach mining. The miner/pilot I though met in a totally different setting. The other 3 are actively into mining, and I met them in mining environment.

        • oh, sorry, got that one wrong. For some reason I had you on a beautiful beach north of Perth. Then you must live not far away from where my mother grew up: Moriyua.

    • you are spot on, line problems, in one of the properties the cows have calves having fun playing with cables, wombats dig them out and they take them for a walk, that particular owner is an a…… without a drink and with it a pain in the…..proverbial, I am lucky my landlord knows about it and laughs it off, I am keeping the letters as there is always something he ‘doesn’t like, I do things, just in case, he thinks he is somebody, yahhhhh

    • Volcanic activity wise: I worry about Vesuvius, for me still the most likely volcano to erupt around Naples. Not for the city itself but for the many illegal houses built just in the edges of the volcano, which were not there in 1944.

      I also think next volcanic disaster we might see, could be one of those Latin or South America volcanoes, with a city just next to it. Carl has spoken of several of these. Even such a capital like Quito is build in the slopes and surroundings of not only one but a few volcanoes.

      Human disaster wise: I think the next big things will be 1) a war in the Middle East (affecting us due to a oil shock), 2) a worsening of the economic crises, reaching same level as in the thirties, and 3) people fighting in the streets because of that; add to that racial and ethnic tension in Europe and US, and you have another historical disaster in the making.

      • I think a genetically altered flu…
        Either altered by man, or by nature. We all saw what happened when the rather benign H1N1 took a detour through a pig farm in the US during the first world war… Mutated H1N1 took on properties only before seen in the black plague.

  10. There are two more clues left to solve this lovely sunny Sunday Diana!

    No 4 – Romantically speaking … a South American harlot!
    Hint: Romance Languages.
    No 6 – Legendary Goddess who wore a pair of Nike Air trainers when out horse riding?
    Hint: Link a Goddess to horses.

      • The Romance languages .. ie Latin languages or Neo-Latin, are all the related languages derived from Vulgar Latin. Nowadays the five most widely spoken Romance languages are Spanish , Portuguese , French, Italian and Romanian.

    • Putana in chile – been told to slow down by wordpress ‘you are posting comments too quickly slow down’ – shocking 🙂

        • well it was easy once you gave the clue – putain/putana basically the same in every romance language and then just needed to check this list to see if it existed http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~ecalais/teaching/gmt/world_volcanoeshat's probably

          oops posting too fast again – wordpress must have changed the timer on that I’ve not really posted much in the last couple of minutes.

          anyway I’m off now for the day – have fun – I did wonder about one of the lunar mares for the horse goddess but I think too complex (is it safe to assume all NTV volcanoes are terrestrial?)

      • and for horses how about “Mare”? as I can’t find an Epona volcano

        0608-062 MARE HALMAHERA-INDONESIA 0.570 127.400 308 UNKNOWN HOLOCENE U

  11. Ok let’s solve the final clue ..
    No 6 – Legendary Goddess who wore a pair of Nike Air trainers when out horse riding?
    Hint: Link a Goddess to horses … and in particular Nike!

    • Hierro ?? Bacchylides, Fragment 3 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
      “Hiero’s swift horses, Olympic runners: they sped in the company of pre-eminent Nikai (Victories) and Aglaiai (Glories) by the wide-eddying Alpheus [during the Olympic Games].”

      • Great thinking but the answer is actually quite straight forward …
        The volcano in question is synonymous with the name of a Legendary (fabled/fictional) Goddess who is closely connected to horses … and one in particular called Nike who in turn is connected to the air! The word ‘pair’ is also relevant to the answer ….

      • Artemisia, wife of Mausolus and named in recognition of Artemis. (equiv to Romes “Diana”) Goddess of the critters in the woods.

        She finished his Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. She eventually kicked off before it was actually completed, the four horse chariot was added afterwards.

        Not the same Artemisia who acted as a Naval commander for Xerxes. (also known for attacking allied ships to throw off a perusing Greek ship)

    • During the Aquila seismic sequence Civil Protection evacuated the prefecture, and at the same time said the civilians to return to their homes and sentenced them to death. Why they have evacuated the administrations while they sent people home before the strong quake? Send people inside the house during a seismic sequence is murder. Maybe you should read the acts of the judgment before joking and defend murderers. It seems you don’t have a correct information about these facts.
      ps.
      A curiosity, nowadays the chef of civil protection is franco gabrielli, he was director of secret services, strange career. I hope my english is understandable. Bye.

      • As usual you are ill informed.
        The scientists gave the recommendations that was possible to give at the time.
        They recommended that the populations should be evacuated, but the could not give an exact time for when it would happen, so the civil authority sent the people home again against the scientists opinion.
        To protect their own asses the civil authority charged the scientists. Ie, the scientists where innocent, and once again Italy looked like a clown nation.

        I think it is you who should read up. The scientists that where convicted worked for INGV, not the Civil Protection. Get your facts streight.

        • ok carl, as usual we italians are clowns, judgement acts are ill informed, courts are ill informed….. We do not condemn all geologists, but who were responsable of these facts in aquila. You are joking on real judgement sentence of manslaughter. We are not talking about geologists category, but about a few persons, among which some gelogists.
          Your comment “another round of geologists put into prison again in Italy” is offensive.

          • The truth might sting a bit. But it still needs to be told.
            Your politicians demanded something impossible, namely accurate predictions of earthquakes. Something that none can perform. But what is possiible is to give risk assesments on how large the probabillity is that a large earthquake will happen in an area. And that the scientists delivered.
            After that the politicians did what the do best, they ignored the scientific data, and people got killed. The politicians was to blame, and not the scientists. But, as usuall the politicians did what they normally do, they blamed someone else, in this case the innocent scientists.
            Trust me, I am intimately familiar with the case.
            You are misrepresenting facts in your urge to prove that science is false.

            And just for your information, I have never said that Italians are clowns, I said that some of your politicians are. One of them is even a professional clown as you well know, he is though far less a clown than the unprofessional clowns.

            If you had been serious about judgement for the guilty party you would have been crying for revenge on the politician who was penultimately responsible for ignoring what the scientists said.

  12. Great post Henrik. Just looking at that map showing the craters around Pozzuoli bay, my first thought was “why the hell would anyone put a city there”?. But I guess volcanic hazards weren’t much on people’s minds in a lot of places like this with a long history of settlement.

    Even for somewhere newish like Auckland, the volcanic nature of the area was probably the last thing considered when the area was colonized.

  13. I live in the northeastern part of the Netherlands. But we have an active volcanic field in the backyard of our neighbour. The Vulkaneifel volcanic field in Germany, just southeast of the county of Limburg in the Netherlands. The Eifel volcanic field is on top of the Variscan Rhenish Massif which is pushed upward by a mantle plme below the Eifel volcanic field. Most volcanoes in the Eifel volcanic field are cinder cones and maar volcanoes like the Astroni volcano mentioned above, caused by phreatomagmatic eruptions. In the southeastern part of the Eifel volcanic field there lies the Laacher See volcano. It is a caldera which was formed during a VEI6-eruption 12.000 years ago. This volcano still show some signs of activity. On the northeastern shore of the lake there are several C02-emiting mofettas.

    A new volcanic eruption in the Eifel volcanic fiels is still possible. It could be a small to medium sized eruption which would form maars and cinder cones, or a new VEI6-eruption of the Laacher See volcano. If that would happen, the consequences would be catastrophically for Germany and the Netherlands.

    More information about the Eifel volcanic field:

    Apokalypse im Rheintal, Spektrum der Wissenschaft, Februar 2009:
    http://www.wissenschaft-online.de/artikel/979373

    Eifelvulkane immer noch aktiv:
    http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wissen/erde/laacher-see-eifelvulkane-immer-noch-aktiv-11056738.html

    • The difference though is that the Eifel system has not had any magmatic emplacements during the time after the eruption at Laacher See. Most likely the magmatic plumbing under the volcano was destroyed in that unusually large eruption, and has never started to rebuild.
      In reallity Eifel would take a long time to rebuild requiring numerous magmatic emplacements and small eruptions before being able to erupt, and since that has not happened for 12 000 years I would say that it is rather unlikely to happen for quite some time.

    • Welcome mast!
      Having studied the Eifel volcanic field quite a bit before I took my family on vacation there, I felt quite safe :-). Here and there are some miniscule earthquakes, as you can follow here:
      http://www.seismo.uni-koeln.de/emap/index.htm
      As for the maars, I tend to agree with Carl (above) that there should be at least some unrest in advance. Although, I have yet to find a strainmeter or seismometer anywhere within the Eifel. So question is, whether one would notice the early warning signs.
      You might want to check out a post I wrote a while ago:
      https://volcanocafe.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/eifel-volcanic-field-ii/
      Of course, as always, not-an-expert TM 😉

      • I read a paper a couple of years back where they had traced if there had been any changes in the leveling in Eifel. They found no evidence that the leveling had changed since the eruption. So, no inflations in 12 000 years. Which is actually rather odd in and of itself.

          • Yepp, that is isostatic rebound. It happens in all areas that was covered by the glacial. Here where I live it is 8,5mm per year.

          • In the southern part of the Netherlands are many faults which are a part of the Lower Rhine Graben which runs from the city of Bonn to the North Sea. This system is tectonically active, think about the earthquake near Roermond in 1992. Future earthquakes are probable.
            At http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Roerdal_graben_map_NL.svg you can see a map of the Lower rhine Graben.

            Are these faults of the Lower Rhine Graben capable of causing volcanism along the graben? Magma which could rise along these faults could trigger eruptions in the Netherlands. Because of the thick sedimentary layer with aquifers in the Netherlands, rising magma would cause phreato-magmatic eruptions. Or is the sedimentary layer so thick that it blocks the way for rising magma and that rising magma would stall at the base of the sedimentary layer?

            • A Graben is normally a volcanic feature. It forms as a rifting fissure eruption empties out a volcanic fissure swarm and the land subsides. The Lower Rhine Graben is very large, but also very old. It is most likely no longer part of an active volcanic fissure swarm.

              I would say that nothing will happen there, more than a bit of tectonic earthquakes.
              What is interesting is the assumed hotspot that created the Eifel to beginn with (and the lower Rhine Graben). It is remarkably quiet.
              I think that it has been loosing its power for a long time and that it might create one or two more eruptions down the line, but not more.

              To put it clearly, there are no signs at all of any volcanic activity going to take place in or around the Eifel volcanic area for the foreseeable future. And, if it ever would be going back into an active phase it would be quite noticeable far in advance, and any eruptions would most likely be very small.

    • Is Laacher See the most recent dated eruption from the Eifel field.

      I have to wonder how can a volcanic system repeated modest Maar forming eruptions and then suddenly throw a VEI 6 and clam up completely.

      • Yes, it is the latest eruption from Eifel.
        Actually, it follows the “standard pattern” for large volcanoes. Repeated smaller eruptions, then one big that destroys the plumbing.
        There is also another thing with Laacher See eruption. It occured as 3km of ice rapidly melted away from the top of the volcano. So lithstatic pressure relief made the volcano go into hyperdrive. Most northern european volcanoes had their largest known eruptions as the ice age ended. Almost all of the Icelandic record eruptions happened around then too.

        • I don’t think that there was a huge volcano before Laacher See erupted so violently, only some cinder cones. Basaltic magma rose and accumulated into a magma chamber. It became stagnant and differentiated into a more evolved magma, phonolite. The pressure in the magma chamber became too high, and magma found a pathway to the earth’s surface. With a big VEI6-eruption as a result.

          Could the Eifel volcanic field develop into a Yellowstone-like supervolcano with a big magma chamber in the upper crust? Yellowstone is also a result of a mantle plume.

        • And once again I learned something new.
          It seems to have happened at the same eruptive circle. Probably the last magmatic emplacement to happen in the Eifel area created a small tuff detonation. Not a real eruption though.
          Thank you for pointing it out, even though I read German I rarely get around to look for information in German. Which is silly of me since there are quite a few good papers written in German.

    • I really doubt that the Laacher See will erupt anytime soon.

      Such a large eruption was caused by sudden release of pressure as the thick ice cap of the ice age melted.

      However, I do think that as glaciers are melting fast in a few spots in the world (like Iceland), that we can expect unexpected large eruption in these spots.

      Which spots, could these be?

      In Iceland, we have Kverfjoll right at the edge of the thick ice cap. The ice is also melting there, so it could trigger an eruption as the pressure releases, however this is not the area in Iceland that the ice is melting significantly.

      More worrying could be Snafellsjokull or Prestahnukur. These two glaciers have been melting quite quickly, as they could trigger an eruption. However, if climate continues at same pace, it will might take a couple of decades for those regions to melt, and then an eruption start triggered by the release in pressure, assuming that an eruption follows within years of that.

      • I think we are missing something important about Laachersee. (At the risk of spouting my mouth off again about something I don’t know enough about, well, here goes:)
        The Eifel is a volcanic field (well, two actually, East and West) made up of monogenetic cinder cones and the odd maar, all of which have erupted primitve lava from a mantle source. Then, at Laachersee you get this sudden transitiion to ponding of magma in the crust and associated fractionation and this (relatively speaking) humungous pumice eruption. I don’t know how this could be explained by isostatic rebound. I fear there is another mechanism at work.

        Maybe I should put it backwards. What I find more strange than magma chambers forming at shallow levels in the crust (Laachersee) from numerous mantle intrusions is how these relatively small intrusions (all the other vents) have the oomph to cut all the way through the crust and erupt a piddly little cinder cone and then die. It’s an amazing balancing act to get just enough heat and highly liquid primitive magma to find its way through several kilometers of crust and repeatedly “only just make it”. It’s bizarre. And as far as I know there is no interconnected plumbing feeding these vents as they all come from deep sources. So Laacher, for me, would represent a natural evolution in this kind of volcanic field as repeated intrusions finally did lead to ponding in the crust and associated fractionation and the evolution of more felsic magmas.

  14. Oh my poor brain, trying to solve the No 6 riddle! The only thing coming near the clues is Epona Corona on Venus, but the other half of the “pair” is missing…

    Failing everthing else, the solution must lie in the commercial field: the definite answer is… HERE 😀

    • Grinning … it does not lie in a clothes shop … but she was described as legendary for a very good reason … try looking for her in the realms of fantasy!

  15. Godiva mine, Tintic volcanic emplacement, Wasatch Line, American craton. The Godiva Mine is adjacent to the Gemini Mine.
    There is also Godiva Mountain, Utah. Also of volcanic origin.

  16. OK, Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory. Her statue at the Louvre, the “Winged Victory of Samothrace” was found in the Aegean island of Samothrace, near Milos a volcano which gave the name to another legendary goddess. So, Milos is my answer. (?)

  17. Sorry Islander… I wish we had another opponent today.

    OT general rant… I did seven years as a special operations operative. This gives me a slightly different attitude towards guns. I never recommend that guys get guns, guess why…
    But, I often end up recommending women to get one. A friend of mine have a problem with a stalker, so I recommended her to get a gun. Now I am embroiled in a rather long discussion to convince her of not getting a small little pistol that fit in a purse.
    If you have a guy who twice have disabled your car to try to get to you, and who has tried to break through your roof while your inside the house, then you do not need a small little gun. Then you need a large caliber semi automatic shotgun. Nothing says get the hell away like that… How hard can it be to understand that saving your life takes tools that are not small and pink.

    /Rant mode off

    • How about the next best thing? A .410 revolver?

      “The Judge” would allow you to vary what load you had available, from rat-shot to a few buck-pellets (it is a .410, not a lot of room in the shell) to a slug.

      The slug will have about the same take down power of a .45.

      Be forewarned… it’s probably gonna kick like a mofo. Better have strong wrists.

      • I am not a delicate person, and I have something against perves going after women.
        This is what I recommended.

        Image and video hosting by TinyPic

        If she just aims it in the region of the “junk”, she will have one fast running perv, or a junkfree perv. Junkfree pervs are rarely a problem to anyone.

        I think your solution would have to much of a kick for her, she is not the biggest one around. So the one I suggested with medium sized pellets would do the trick without to much kick and with 20 cartridges to play with…

      • Semi-auto is the way to go in my book. Greater control over what you are shooting at.

        Full auto is best for SAW type weapons. The sort of thing that keeps their heads down so you can maneuver. But… I’m pretty sure that she is not operating with a squad, so that might be a bit much…

        Dunno if they make it in an injectible form… but if she had an auto-injector, like the sort used in personal chem-bio kits for atropine, and if it were filled with a really strong dose of oxytocin, she might actually be able to get him to lactate if he attacks her and gets close enough for her to slam the autoinjector into him.

        Oxytocin is probably the most often “stolen by mistake” drug in veterinarian offices.

        Heh… just noticed this in the link:
        There is some evidence that oxytocin promotes ethnocentric behavior, incorporating the trust and empathy of in-groups with their suspicion and rejection of outsiders

        So, if you run across a bunch of “skinheads” with weeping nipples… they probably stole the wrong stuff.

        • I think that something more permanent than a lactating perverted stalker would be preferable. I am a simple man, so I would go for the Existance Failure of the perv.

  18. In all the chat about the worst possible disasters no one has mentioned the biggest killer of all – infectious disease. I think more people died of the ‘Spanish ‘flu’ in 1918 than were killed in the 1914-18 war, and the Black Death possibly killed between half and two-thirds of the population of Europe in 1258. The continuing misuse of antibiotics makes another pandemic more likely every year. No one knows what it will be – which is why it will kill so many when it comes.

    • For some reason people had the idea that bacteria would not adapt to resist the antibiotics in time. Now, viruses with increasing resistance to any form of antibiotics are just beginning to spread. What do we have to fight these? Nothing. It was created to kill viruses and now it is creating our killers.

      • Uhm, viruses have never been affected by antibiotics. Antibiotics only work on bacteria, not virus. And the few antivirals we have are not that effective really.

          • Thats what they are designed to do. Even strains of unrelated bacterial can transfer “plasmids” containing bits of genetic material. Sort of like loaning out tools.

            So, if one bacteria has section of DNA that nullifies an antibiotic, and it shares this with neighboring bacteria, the only ones who get to survive in the hostile environment are the ones who where in on this tool swapping scheme.

            Personally, I have questioned the intelect of the people who decided to go exhume the remains of an inuit woman who died due to the virulent version of the 1918 flu. Just so they could recover it’s DNA. Now, somewhere in a laboratory, that virus sits in a container… for whatever purpose.


            Now… something to ponder. What would be the more dangerous virus?

            One that kills the host in 24 hours? Or one that incubates for a week or so, allowing the carrier to shed the virus among people they come into contact with, and that then become letal?

            See, the speed of the lethality of a virus will determine how far it can spread before the host kicks the bucket.

            A successful virus, would be one that allows itself to be spread far and wide before becoming lethal. HIV is like this, and also directly attacks the bodies mechanism that fights it. This is one reason that HIV is so nasty, other infections can take hold when the immune system is compromised.

            • My ex,,,
              She also had samples of Marburg virus in the freezer.
              I am normally not that queezy about weapons tech and development of weapons.
              But… about there I had my limit when I understood that the point was to weaponize H1N1 1917 phase two with genetic mateial of Marburg.
              Officialy to develop vaccin, but hell no it was the reallity of what they where doing.

            • I have found it a good policy to not comment on ex-wives or ex-spouses, so I shall refrain from comment regarding the circumstances.

              However, biolabs are much easier to set up than many people imagine. All it takes is the correct background knowledge and some gear. Gear that is usually not tightly controlled by import/export restrictions.

              Who is to say that some nefarious group is not already exploring this line of study?

            • @ mdat.

              Yes. Quite quickly. No need to reproduce, just grab a handy plasmid that was offered that contained the resistance factor.

            • True. A virus must spread before it kills. Then, those who were spread to others will kill, but not before they spread even more. It is self sustaining.

            • Continuing the spooky stuff.

              In the loon circle, that realm of theory that makes us snicker and point fingers….

              There is a story about a researcher who was involved in nuclear biological research in New Orleans, somehow, she died. The circumstances of her death are into the realm of conspiracy threory, but the gist of what the research was about, was to cause viruses and other micro organisms to mutate… evidently seeking a pathogen that could cause cancer or something less likely to draw attention to it being a hit.

              I can’t recall the basis of the story or find the original reference. It’s something you hear late at night on the radio and dismiss as the ranting of whoever.

              However… from a pragmatic view. This sort of research is not out of the capability of a “rogue lab.” In Scientific American, in the Amateur Scientist series, there were directions on how to build your own functioning particle accelerator. Along a separate line of thinking, you can make your own X-Ray generating tube using some fairly common items and a high voltage triode tube.

              What this means, is that I believe it is entirely possible for some non-state actor to pull off a set-up like this and do research along those lines…. below the radar with nobody watching.

              That is the sort of thing that gives me the shivers.

              BTW, my interest in the Amateur Scientist series, was how to construct a cosmic ray detector. I never got anywhere with it. But I figured that once I had it operating, I could place varying types of masses as a shield for the detector and gain some insight to the energy of the impinging particle.

              Other things they covered were a method of measuring fluctuations in the earths magnetic field, the manufacture of model rockets (including the mixing of fuel and the best nozzle design)

              Dunno if they scrapped the series due to a lack of interest or from the fact that they were essentially giving a “how-to” on weapons research.

            • That is a big issue. While we pay all attention to those such as terrorists, a rogue group, one that has never been seen, heard or felt, may carry something no terrorist has ever had.

            • But the question is: Who are the biggest threat? Many Terrorist groups which have to stay hidden and are most likely made of of poorly-educated followers who have a basic education and none more. Are they likely to get a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon? No. Who we are forgetting about is those who can make them.

            • @ mdat.

              Many years ago, my ship was deployed for counter narcotic operations in the Caribbean. Our main reason for being there, is that our Air Tracking ability was far superior than native DEA assets. Hell, we were expected to be able to kill anything flying for hundreds of miles with one shot. It was not uncommon for us to achieve skin to skin on a target even though we were supposed to miss it my a set amount so that other ships could shoot at it. The ship was bad ass at it’s job. DEA would use our track data to build a case against captured shipments that essentially laid out the flight itinerary from lift off to delivery. In addition to that, we did visit and search. Prior to each assignment to the task group, DEA guys would come on board and give us a briefing. At each briefing, one common thing that was stated. “If you can think up with some novel way to conceal the illicit cargo, odds are it has been tried many many times.”

              In my opinion, that statement applies here. And it’s the sort of thing that nightmares are made of.

              Here is a nightmare scenario for you.

              Following the fall of the Soviet Union, thousands of nuclear scientists found themselves without a means of working in the field in which they were trained. This caused some consternation among the power elite of many countries, and several sought ways to keep them gainfully employed, lest they go out and start freelancing.

              Scroll forward to the present. With the evisceration of the US’s health care system, some doctors and researchers will become less gainfully employed. Who is to say that some gifted grad student might see an opportunity to do a bit of research outside the normal bounds of acceptable? What if this person does not have the moral character to shy away from weaponing or developing some new strain of virus that is easily spread and highly lethal after a specified incubation time? What if some country had a tidy sum of money to hire such a person?

              Yeah, it’s all conjecture… but spooky conjecture since it is not outside the realm of possibility.

            • After having worked with weapons tech, and knowing quite a few others who have…
              I am not worried about rogue terrorist groups gaining high tech weapons. They normally consist of moroons.
              What worries me are those like me making a mistake. Or, even worse going rogue.
              To date the only known terrorist using a bio-agent was a south african that used to work for the CDC. He weaponized anthrax and sent it around via mail.

              Here is a thought. I can make a nuke if I have access to a good machine shop. Problem is getting the weapons grade uranium, tritium and enriched lithium. A half assed biologist can do as much damage by digging down a pig in her backyard. That is the scary difference. Making nukes take a whole crap load of infrastructure, that is why we wont see nukes being used by terrorists (heck, not even North Korea could make one) but making a bio agent that is equaly deadly… That would cost you a few hundred dollars.

            • There may be some people, who have know-how, expertise and information, that fall into the hands of those who have the resources and motive needed. All there needs to be is some reward.

              Let us assume that there are many teams of researchers who specialize in nuclear or biological weapons. They are X. Their government, or G, funds them and their project. Then, one day, G cancels their project for another one. Those researchers were all fired. After their projects’ cancellation, they come to form a group whose motive is to continue research. Eventually, they run out of money and material. They then find a source to rely on. This is B. This group is bent on destroying G’s country, or H. In return for a consistent source of money, they promise to give them their products of research.

            • True. It is more likely that a rogue biologist will create a virus that kills in 12 hours than a nuclear scientist creating Tsar bomba the 2nd.

            • MDATC, you underestimate the problem.
              Most countries on the planet allready have those experts. There are more than 10 000 physicists out there who could construct a nuclear weapon, and about 100 who allready have done that.
              Most of the countries who have the infrastructure (it takes two different reactors and a specialized plant for refining) allready have all the nukes they wish, or in several cases no nukes because they do not wish to have them. But, we are always talking about countries with a technical knowhow and access to some rather specialized equipment. It is getting the material that is hard, not constructing the weapon per se.

              When we enter bio agents you only need 1 person and equipment for a few hundred dollars and you can kill an equal amount as a nuke.

              So nobody would want to employ those physicists from another country. If you already have the equipment to rarify the uranium isotope you allready have them in your own country.

              But all it took was one man with a strain of anthrax, a couple of bio-reactors the size of your fist, and access to Johnson & Johnson baby powder and a molecylar sieve to start the first bio weapons attack. That same man had saved literaly hundreds of thousands of lives while working for CDC, nobody knows why he sent out those letters. He was later released when they found out that the strain he used was the standard US weapons Anthrax. A version he had developed for usage by the US.

              I am for one not that afraid of countries having those weapons with perhaps the exception of North Korea. Countries play games, they play chess, but they rarely risk the destruction of its population from the retaliation of stronger countries that posses end scale destruction weapons.

              No, I am afraid of that lonely scientist who is for some reason disgruntled enough to get unhinged. The anthrax was deployed in a way he knew would kill very few people and incur a high cost materially. If he instead had installed it in a pressurized vessel with a slow release valve and put it in Grand Central Station he would have killed hundreds of thousands. He knew exactly what he was doing, so why did he kill so few? We will never know, but to be honest, on that one we got away cheaply. Probably because he just did not want to kill more people than he did. It was a warning of sorts.

  19. By the way, has anyone followed how Tolbachik is doing lately?
    Is she still going as strongly? If so we are now up to about 2.5 cubic km of lava.

    • HI

      thanks to Henrik fo this nice informative post (I’m back from a short trip to the Eifel VF, and yes Mast, it is quiet….).
      The Naples area I think should be looked in more detail, seems a pretty complex place.

      As for Tolbachik the eruption still goes on but seems to be slackening (after what, 8 months ?). Too bad it is really hard to get there…..

  20. I want to ask 2 questions on geology.

    Since I do gardening, I am mostly interested in knowing which minerals and which rocks, are rich in potassium, phosphorus and calcium? What about basalt and granite, which elements are they rich on?

    Second question is similar, but considering Icelandic volcanism, is there a different in these elements, in the different volcanic regions, for instance I know the magma chemical composition is different between the group Hekla, Katla, Eyja, and the group Grimsvotn, Bardarbunga..

    My hopes are the source local ash and rock to provide the elements for the plants in my garden experiments.

    • Holy moly what a question.
      Scratch calcium from the equation. That you will have to buy.

      In general, the best fertilizing lava on the planet would be Ol’Donyio Lengai. Over to our residing Diana, Godess of Stuff Gardenous

      • or you can find it in the groundwater/tapwater. Our water comes from a very calcium-rich aquifer (the brusselia(a)n sand-layer). In dry weight, it even has more calcium than milk (although in not the same condition). Hosing our plants with that water (we use rainwater also) works very well.
        I don’t know the situation in Iceland but if you have water that is pumped up/comes from depth it is possible that it contains certain minerals(but watch out that it are the right ones). Rainwater does not contain minerals.

        Also loess/silt from floodplains has very good structure for drainage. It holds enough water to survive easily dry spells but it drains also so that the plants (roots) doesn’t drown when it is very wet. In Iceland you should find it at the edge of glacier floodplains

      • Urea…. In fact, ammonium nitrate production facilities originally consisted of refuse heaps that were constantly fed a supply of urine and allowed to do their thing while covered/tarped. Over time, the crystals that formed on the heap were the sought after nitrates. This was for countries with no natural deposits of saltpeter.

        I read about this in a 1800’s era paper on ammunition production technology. Don’t have the doc anymore, and I can’t remember the title.

    • You also need humus (organic matter that has reached a point of stability) to increase your soil´s cation exchange capacity (to bind minerals) and bind moisture (well, that might not be the problem in Iceland 😉 ). “Normal” mulch decomposes in a short while so you need stuff that doesn´t rot well, like leafs, needles.

  21. riddle answer – Nike is one of the four legendary horses of Bella Sara. She is known for her quest for excellence. Her mate is Flame, and she has two daughters and a son: Addis, Helia, and Emberic.Nike was born on Mount Olympus ????

  22. Technology demonstrators can freak you out.

    A few years ago, Boston Dynamics presented a quadruped robot called “Big Dog.” In some segments of the video, the operation of the robot looked too real.

    DARPA had a “Grand Challage” around the same time, where the contestants built a fully autonomous navigation and guidance system that allowed their vehicles to navigate a 130+ mile section of desert roads and natural hazards from point A to point B. The vehicles ranged from large trucks to a motorcycle. A chase vehicle was allowed in the event the autonomous system decided on an action that was hazardous…. they could then disable the vehicle.

    Now… Boston Dynamics has presented a bipedal robot.

    The creep factor just ramped up…

      • Speaking of U-Joints…. you just reminded me of something.

        As a kid growing up in the Deep South, I became intimately familiar with the heat that this area of the world can dish out. I have lost U-Joints before, and know that tell tale “ting-ting-ting” sound that the roller bearings in the U-Joint make as it starts to fail. A prudent driver will immediately locate a parts store, grab a replacement, and spend a while changing it out. The last thing you want to do is to ignore it.

        For all. U-Joints typically are on the drive-shaft running from the transition to the differential back on the rear axle. (aka the pumpkin)

        A few weeks ago, while headed to one of the more remote towns, I spotted a guy wearing dirty jeans and no tee-shirt… lugging a drive shaft down the side of the interstate. About a quarter mile later, I spotted an older truck with it’s four way flashers on.

        2+2 = “crap”

        What had happened, is this guy had ignored the tell-tale signs and the U-Joint had completely failed. Evidently, the catch bracket was not there and the tail of the driveshaft had fallen to the ground. The front, containing a spline section that interfaces to the tranny, has slipped out and he had dropped the whole shebang along the road and coasted to a stop.

        He’s a bit lucky that it didnt’ bounce around and plow into the ground on the front. That has the potential to loft the rear end of the vehicle up into the air, pole vault style, causing a bit of control problem as you try to wrestle the vehicle back under control.

        I had fond (but unpleasant) memories of being stuck on the side of the road. (but due to mechanical issues that were outside of my maintenance ability… such as a dead transmission)

    • Hi Lurking

      The thing I find funny while looking at this big dog video, is that Darpa and BR have reinvented basically …. the Donkey.
      However one must admit that there is really a lot of knowledge and programmation behind it. seems they really made a jump with this robot. Would love it to see it used in place like Fukushima..

    • No earthquakes since the 15th, and the there were only 2 relatively small quakes on the 15th. Sorry, those aren’t steam clouds. You would hear a lot more in the news if that was a vesuvius plume from degassing.

          • You have nothing to be sorry for. You just reported on a tidbit of info that someone had put out there. We looked at the available data for corroboration and it came up short.

            All you did was relay what you heard and in effect, asked for opinion and confirmation. You also created a learning moment for someone perusing that idea… how to sift through the chaff for real data. Not everyone knows to look at the VAAC sites for plume cloud reports.. It’s not 100%, but it’s a quick way to see if it’s real, given the visual size of the claimed event.

  23. Small swarm on Katla:

    Monday
    22.07.2013 08:44:11 63.629 -19.127 1.9 km 0.3 38.37 5.6 km NNW of Hábunga
    Monday
    22.07.2013 08:41:05 63.634 -19.138 1.1 km 0.3 79.24 5.6 km E of Goðabunga
    Monday
    22.07.2013 08:39:50 63.633 -19.137 1.1 km 0.5 36.52 5.6 km E of Goðabunga
    Monday
    22.07.2013 08:38:51 63.632 -19.126 1.7 km 1.5 42.43 5.9 km NNW of Hábunga
    Monday
    22.07.2013 08:38:01 63.632 -19.138 1.1 km 0.5 88.72 5.6 km E of Goðabunga
    Monday
    22.07.2013 08:36:47 63.630 -19.139 1.1 km 1.2 90.01 5.6 km ESE of Goðabunga

    http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/earthquakes/myrdalsjokull/#view=map

  24. At 6 o’clock there will be a fantastic post by CBUS05 published that Spica has edited. I just put it on auto publish.

    Whatever you do, do not miss it.

  25. I am having a ludicrous day in my otherwise rather absurd life.

    I normally spend my time going to places that nobody wishes to go, and end up saying “Hm!” about things I do not know squat about.

    Today I am in Barentzburg in Spitsbergen saying “Hm!” in Russian about an almost abandoned coal mine.
    I am currently inside the house where I will spend the night, and I want to cross the street to the house where the vodka is. Right about now I want to fervently say “Hmovitch!” to a bottle of russian vodka.
    The problem is that there is a polar bear parked in the middle of the street between the houses. The polar bear seems to say “Hm!” to me in fluent Polarbearish. Now and then there is russian head poking out from the other house throwing things at the ass of the polar bear to get it to move on. The polar bear is not that impressed by that, it much prefers to say “Hm!” in my general direction. I have come to realize that I am the other white meat around here.

    • And if you had packed properly, you would have been able to assist by throwing squirrels at it. Nothing gets your attention as much as a floppy rock that suddenly gets up and scampers away after it has been thrown at you.

  26. Back from holiday. And Belgium is awful hot (nearly 35°C in shadow in our garden) and too humid for this kind of weather.
    Also in Royal news, yesterday our king abdicated in favor for his son Filip (or Philippe). So now we have a new king. The surrealistic part of it is that in Belgium a former king and/or queen keep their title. So now as Belgians, we have three queens (Fabiola, the wife of Baudouin; Paola and Mathilde) and two kings (Albert and Filip). Try to beat that.

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