Deconstructing Lakí – From Ashes to Ashes

At this point the mushroom cloud of the Tzar Bomba had reached an altitude of 56 kilometers. The narrow area of the base is where the 10 kilometers of fireball detonated.

At this point the mushroom cloud of the Tzar Bomba had reached an altitude of 56 kilometers. The narrow area of the base is where the 10 kilometers of fireball detonated.

For those who have missed the previous 3 parts and the prequel. Here is the link to the last part. In it is links to the prequel.

The nuclear background

To be able to understand large eruptions you need to understand a bit about nuclear weapons. In this case there are several reasons why we need to do analogies with the darker side of physics and the volcanoes that we love to learn about.

But first we have to become archaeologists. Some of you might have noticed that when using carbon-14 dating you get a result with the time set to BP (Before Present), and if you have studied archaeology you will know that this means the year 1950. One might think this is just an arbitrary date, but it is not. This is the last year where you can do any atomic dating due to nuclear fallout from aerial nuclear weapons testing. It will take about 100 more years before it is possible to test our present time. Imagine, from the year 1950 up to 2100 there will forever be a hole in the chronology.

Now, those with a bit of pangeant for Cold War history will believe that the spike in the picture above comes from the Tzar Bomba test, nothing could be more false. The Russian Sakharov-designed nuclear bombs were much better designs than the American Ulam-Teller bombs. The Tzar Bomba used up 98 percent of the available fissionable material, the largest American bomb (Castle Bravo) only used up 13 percent. For all points and purposes every American hydrogen bomb up until the late sixties was a dud, albeit effective enough to kill people on a horrifying scale.

The highest point of nuclear material fallout is in 1963, and that date is one of the two used to calibrate ice core samples. It is easy enough to find. The other year used to calibrate the measurements is the Lakí event. The main reason for this is that those two show up in every ice core drill-sample in the northern hemisphere. It is a pretty handy tool for scientific comparisons between different glaciers and for calibrating timelines within the respective ice core.

The Lakí fallout trace is in two parts. First you will find an ash layer, the second part will be emplaced on top of the ash, and that is a sulphate layer, residual acidity from the sulphurous gasses released by the eruption that both stayed airborne for a longer period, and also was released up to a year after the eruption had stopped.

Lakí ash

One of the main glaciers at Svalbard in Spitsbergen.

One of the main glaciers at Svalbard in Spitsbergen.

I have for quite some time known that something was wrong with the modeling of the amount of ash and dust ejected by the Lakí eruption. With the current figures of explosively expelled volcanic ash and blast dust (together with larger local fallout debris) we have a figure running around 1.3 cubic kilometers of Dense Rock Equivalent.

This figure is problematic since it cannot account for the fact that we can find traces of it in every ice core and at the same time account that ashes was collected as far south as Venice in Italy.

The current amount of ash is based on calculations with figures derived from the amount of local larger debris. As such the equations pan out, but it cannot explain the amount of ash in other parts of the northern hemisphere. There should in many places be no ash, or significantly less. Remember here that the amount of aerial fallout is just slightly higher than it was from Eyjafjallajökull eruption, and that is not possible to find across the globe. So something else must be at play here.

Calculating Nuclear Fallout

As any good scientists Volcanologists steal what they need from other scientific disciplines. In physics we steal a lot from the mathematical department. So, it is befitting that the Volcanologists raided us for the formulations to calculate nuclear fallout patterns when they needed to calculate volcanic fallout. The difference is normally so small that it should not matter really. But there are differences, some small and some so large that it becomes a problem.

First of all, as a physicist we differentiate nuclear dust (any dust that became radioactive during the detonation) and true radioactive byproducts from the detonation. The first part will behave like your average volcanic ash. It will drift around for a while depending on size and how high it was lofted into the atmosphere. The second part is basically atoms of fusionable or fissionable material that was not used up in the detonation. This will drift for a much longer time.

This is not so important really; it will though give a negative margin of error. Volcanic fallout normally travels shorter than the model gives at hand since you do not have traceable individual atoms.

There is though a real problem when using the model. The basic model was developed for the original small scale fusionbombs used over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When we started to detonate the far larger hydrogen-bombs it was rapidly discovered that the formulations had less and less with reality to do. This was foremost a problem with the dirty American Ulam-Teller bombs.

Let us now for a moment get back to the picture in the beginning. The top of the mushroom cloud is at 56 kilometers height, and that is a full stratospheric injection of fallout material. At those heights any particles will pass several times around the globe before they drift to the surface.

We now have to answer a question. What is it that lifts ash up into the higher parts of the atmosphere? Most people believe it is the explosive force that lifts ashes up into the atmosphere, but that is not true. What lift the ashes are convective currents of air. In simpler terms, ashes ride upwards on the hot air rising.

The fireball of the Tzar Bomba is actually a 10 kilometer wide sun. "I have become Death, destroyer of worlds".

The fireball of the Tzar Bomba is actually a 10 kilometer wide sun. “I have become Death, destroyer of worlds”.

The Tzar Bomba was an almost instantaneous event where a fireball 10 km across was created, and it was at its hottest as hot as the core of the star. In an instant flash of terrible beauty humanity had made a star on planet Earth. It created a cloud of ash that rose higher than anything in human history, but it contained only what it lifted during the first few minutes, and for a couple of months it drifted across the entire northern hemisphere before falling down, almost uniformly spread.

A volcano has a much lower power output than that, but if the volcano is big enough, and heats a large enough area and the eruption last for a sufficient time it will sooner or later rival, or even surpass, the amount of ash ejected into the higher atmosphere.

From Ashes to Ashes

The Skaftár Fires in its initial stage caused an 1800 meter high fire curtain, and it also heated a large area, this 1200 degree air and gasses sucked in air from all sides and created a tremendous upwelling of heated gas and air mixture. This created a bubble of denser than normal air to form above the eruption and into the bubble ash, dust, and shards of tephra was lifted. Anything heavy quickly fell down again as rubble, but the finer particles smaller than 2 millimeter hung there suspended at an altitude ranging from 13 to 18 kilometers. The suspended particles were then moved onwards on the higher air currents at high speed.

The particles then quickly started to fall downwards as the heated air and gas cooled at altitude, and they fell according to size and weight. What is interesting is the time it took. Before this it was considered to have happened rather fast and according to the basic function of the nuclear fallout model due to the assumption that the atmospheric injection stopped at a maximum altitude of 10 km (boundary level between troposphere and stratosphere).

From Ashes to Ashes and from Dust till Dusk.

From Ashes to Ashes and from Dust till Dusk.

How do we then know that the ashes reached a higher altitude? We know this from the fact that we can find ashes in all ice core samples across the northern hemisphere. We also know that the particle density is almost the same in the direction of the pass around the hemisphere as it is after circumnavigating the globe. The difference is that the heavier and larger particles are gone in the Greenland samples, but not entirely in the Svalbard samples. Incidentally, that also gives us the direction it travelled.

We know that the particle count in Svalbard is on average 250 particles per square meter, and that sums up to less than a gram per square meter. That does not sound a lot, until you start a bit of calculation. Now you say that less than 1 gram per square meter is not a lot to hang up in a Christmas tree. Only problem here… there are a lot of square meters if you sum up the polar zone and the temperate zone in the northern hemisphere. This is not a mathematics site, so I did the heavy math for you on Mathematica. The result is that the minimum weight given by the mathematical model is 25 920 000 000 tones. With an average density of 3 that gives an absolute minimum of 8.64 cubic kilometers of expelled rock in various forms recalculated into dense rock equivalent. Please note, this is the lowest value the modeling gives. This gives that the Skaftár Fires was ashier than previously believed. This may in turn have had an added effect on the climate beyond the gas emissions.

For those who are interested in ice core samples, ashes of Lakí and the gasses trapped in the ice cores of Svalbard I recommend the paper “The Icelandic Laki volcanic tephra layer in the Lomonosovfonna ice core, Svalbard” by Kekonen et al. Also, it holds a nice proof of the temperature shift going down in the year during and after the eruption.


164 thoughts on “Deconstructing Lakí – From Ashes to Ashes

  1. Crap… did it again. Responded to a topic before it was released (in this case, before I was aware of it). I made a Dr. Strangelove related response on the previous thread.

    With regards to the increase in background radiation carrying materials… I wonder how Fukishima is going to affect the record…. that is, if we have a record to look at once society fails…

    • You know…
      You are the closest to a psychic I have ever found.
      I know of you doing this at least twice now, and the particulars have been such that they are way beyond once in a million events each of them.

      • and it happens more often than I am comfortable with. A few months ago, I had a server call that had depleted my in stock spares of tape drives. I hadn’t placed a re-stocking order since If I have it, I have to count it in the innumerable inventories that I get stuck doing. (unload all the tool kits and the truck, count the stuff, hope that I put it all back in the right spot so that I’ll have it when I get on-site.)

        Nagging voice in the back of my head said to mention the need of a spare drive a week ago. It came in, and has been riding around with me in the truck.

        Yesterday, I get diverted to a downed server. Servers have a short tether and I have to be on them really quickly. Oh looky, there is the needed part sitting on the seat next to me…

        My fear is that one day, this fortunate turn of events knack will run out and I’ll eat a tractor trailer rig. I try to not depend on it.

        Years upon years ago, I ran the safety tags for a system I was de-installing. Wiring diagrams were checked, circuits disabled, tags hung, tags and paperwork verified by a second person. Little voice said… “electrical gloves and leather covers… and grab a face shield while you are at it.” I’m down to the last cable that has to be severed and secured. Clip the line, blinding blue flash as the end of my cutting tool is blown off and rockets around the compartment. It was an un-documented power tap that was feeding back into the system. Little voice had saved my ass… yet again.

        Life lesson? Always allow for the stupid who have come before you. Just because the official diagrams indicate that you have found all the power sources…. doesn’t mean that some one hasn’t come along and tied into the circuit with another piece of gear that is not shown in the diagram.

        • I think it was an auxiliary trunk fan that was fed from two sources…. my gear and somewhere else. The “somewhere else” had back fed to my fan controller… and damned near killed me had I not been paranoid.

          I was always spooked by my gear… anything that can draw up to 150 amps of 3 phase 440 VAC can cook you before you know what happened.

  2. I forgot to mention one thing in the post.
    93 percent of the ashes found in the ice cores are not ashes, they are sand. Or more precisely ground rock blasted into dust. 7 percent are basalt shards.
    This gives at hand that most of the rock is either blast debris from onset of the eruption, or phreatic material from one of the rootless cones.

  3. Bloody kindle,
    Afternoon all 🙂
    Anyway some schteaming from Etna this afternoon… I’ve been known to be wrong 🙂
    Even on this infernal machine I do like to follow my local volcanoes…

  4. Great example of lateral thinking there, Carl! I know I am not a physicist (but you are), yet I think I can put you on the right track here:

    What powers a volcanic blast and lifts particles as large as freight trains high into the air? Superheated steam at (roughly) 1000 degrees C and 1000 AT initially. And “water” at those pressures and temperatures behaves rather strangely, expanding thousands of times more than you’d expect if I recall my school physics correctly.

    Let’s go back a couple of years to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption! Every time the eruption column encountered clouds, it gained remarkably in altitude and no more so at the very beginning when the mountain was covered in dense cloud and the plume punched through to some 14 km.

    Take a look at this time lapse from April 17th 2010 and how relatively small burps that had begun to collapse as they started down the mountain slope suddenly gained in vigor as they encountered water in the form of snow on the glacier and shot some 5 – 7 km up into the air. We’ve seen the same phenomenon at Etna, albeit on a much smaller scale.

    If you add a lot of water to Laki and the fall-out calculations, I think you may find your answer there.

    • A lot of water exists in the area where the Laki eruption took place. In many places around the dead zone, there are large lakes. Some get totally blown out, when a fissure erupts there, like it happened in the 873 eruption of Vatnaoldur (Bardarbunga), when a large lake, apparently it was the largest in Iceland, was just in the middle where the fissure appeared. So much ash was produced, at least this was a VEI6, because I have a thick ash layer here.

      In Veidivotn, the remains of that original lake got a further big blow. Again, a lot of ash was produced. And I have a thick ash layer.

      Interestingly, where I live, I cant see any ash layer for Laki… but historical records do speak of a very ashy time. Maybe the soil surface got eroded around that time.

  5. In the name of all things volcanic… Hekla, or Katla, just pop the cork and shutdown “normalcy” for a few weeks. These people are farking idiots!

    One and a half hour drive to replace a possible bad tape unit with a new one… now server ops wants me to wait while they try flashing the firmware to a new load. Est 20 min. They’ve had all night and morning to try this. On the bright side… its their dime.

    • I totally agree with you.
      Something could happily blow up.
      Not that I have suffered servered fools, just regular fools today.
      Ontop of that I have to go with the morning plane unexpectedly. I hate mornings, no… mornings hate me.

      As I came to the boat (which I sleep in due to the heat wave) the Marina got a call from a speed boat owner who was stranded a nautical mile out. So, the couple guarding (we take turns) asked if I could mosey out and haul them to land.
      Just to piss everyone off I sailed from the birth out to the speed boat, threw them a line and sailed them in. Nothing makes motor boat owners feel more horrified than being sailed in to port at around 3 knots. My revenge.

      • Yes! Carl! being a Sailboat fancier and sometime owner, love it. I had two boats: a Catalina
        25 and a West Wight Potter 19. Neither one was a ball of fire but very fun. NE Oregon isn’t
        a good place to sail unless you have something like a Hobie Cat or a small trailerable like a Potter 14. That said, a old firefighting buddy of mine and I used to sail Klamath Lake in Southern Oregon-with his Corsair 27 Trimaran. That thing was wicked fast, loved throwing the sheets out and passing a Jet ski in rough water…. 🙂
        What Boat do you have?

        • A Hallberg Rassy P-28 here in Sweden, and my rather ancient Alden built Sparkman yawl sitting in Borisland.

          • What a beautiful boat, Carl! And the Sparkman even more classic. The kinds of boats I’d love to own, had I the money!

            • The P-28 is about 10 thousand $.
              And the Alden I got at a bargain from a yard sale at US Customs… Someone had used it to run narcotics so it was an impound.

        • And for the edification of the rest…

          People who are out on the water are roughly divided into this descending order…
          1. Navymen (Lurking)
          2. Mariners, professional seamen.
          3. Sailors, subdivided into A) Around the worlders (alone is finest), B) Atlanters (alone is again finest), C) Coast huggers and D) Those who require either a full crew to propel their asses or who never leave the docks.
          4. Owners of motorized bathtubs.

          So, having a 1 enjoying the antics of a 3B saving a 4 is actually a great compliment.

          • I’m a 3C and limited to the Oregon coast south. Had one memorable ride across the
            Columbia river bar in a 72ft. sloop rig owned by a D . Moi was part of that crew…
            Never again….
            Never good when you go below to take a break, lay down on the berth and hear *POP*
            then see fish and green water in the porthole (above the deck line and forward of the
            cockpit) and the owner yelling “ALLL HAAANDS ON DEEECKKK!!!!.”
            line on the Mainstay broke. fun…
            That was my intro to Bluewater sailing….
            Done some since, but checked carefully who I was sailing with/for..

        • We have a sign on the “Three Mile” bridge. (goes to Gulf Breeze).

          “Check Fuel, Long Bridge” And the beauty of it is that it is located in a place where you are committed to getting on the bridge. No place to turn and go back for fuel. If you run out, not only do people gawk at you if you run out of gas, (provided you didn’t get tail ended), but you can be issued a citation for it as well.

          Got to love that impeccable bureaucratic intellect. “You saw the sight right? You were warned.”

      • good one

        in the mountain where there is uranium and gold found, usually is a volcano, technically speaking it is or should be a mother of a blast, also rain bands tend to be in the same area where two to three years before dust clouds from volcanoes circulated

    • And it gets @#$@#$ better.

      At UPS today, I had a rather abused looking box waiting for me. A bit on the heavy side. Tossed it in the back with the monitor and extra drives that I had ordered in.

      About 15 minutes down the road I get a somewhat frantic call from the purchasing agent. He had inadvertently sent me the rail power supplies for another office. (that would explain the weight)

      I do the afore mentioned twiddling of thumbs waiting for the return phone call. Get finished, head down to the second call (monitor). While changing out the base, I notice that the wind picks up markedly. It’s the gust front for an approaching storm. I look at the clouds, then I look at the boxes in the truck and begin muttering abrasive profanities at myself.

      As I finish up and return to the truck, I start thinking about where my tarp and straps are at. I fight the wind and get the boxes tarped and strapped as the are lights up with thunder and lightning. I then head home.

      Pulling out into the middle turn lane I come to a stop, waiting for traffic to clear… blinker on. A whole opens up, and a truck darts up in front of me and cuts into my lane and hits his breaks. Okay, a typical Fort Walton Beach idiot. In my memory, Fort Walton Beach is renowned for it’s inbred sexual perverts. This is the city with the NINE YEAR decapitated goat problem. They havn’t been able to solve the fact that someone is doing REALLY unpleasant things (I imagine) to goats and then leaving the beheaded carcass on city property. They have found them next to the Library, behind City Hall, etc. It’s a bit spooky when you dig into it.

      But.. it’s normal for Fort Walton Beach. Panama City is known for drunk college kids falling off of balconies, Fort Walton Beach has it’s goat perverts.

      • And yet again I go in search of the more obscure parts of the Internet thanks to you… 🙂

        And while googling I found the band Goatwhore and their concert in Fort Walton Beach… I say no more.

      • Officers Find Another Goat Beheaded

        Latest ritual goat massacre baffles police

        And another story.

        My theory, is that it’s connected to the USAF. Don’t laugh, my logic it sound. Eglin AFB, along with Hurlbert Field, has an extremely large concentration of service members. These are people from all over the United States with diverse and varied backgrounds. I think it’s fully plausible that someone, or a group of someones may be responsible for some of thse goat incidents.

        After all, as a Naval Instructor in Nearby Pensacola, I had a Vampire in one of my classes. (well, he considered himself as such) You get some strange people that show up when you are in the military.

        Not as weird, but back in A school, my room mate was placed in training suspension since he broke his arm when he fell out of a tree somewhere on base. Seems he and his date were making out in the only semi-secure place they could find… then security came over to investigate an oddly moving tree near one of the high security compounds.

        Here be the sparce stand of trees they were hiding in. 30.403618°N 87.295692°W The building closest to that point is a more recent building. It was for the OM/IM school. One sailor was placed on report for using the installed periscope to peer at the females participating in physical training. Yeah, the scopes were that good… they were submarine grade periscopes that they were learning how to service and maintain. While they were building the OM/IM school, we could have sworn that they put the gantry crane in backwards for the periscope bay. The smoking/break area was on the far end of the long building just to the East of it. We through this because after they installed the gantry crane, they came back in and took it apart, then reassembled it. May not have been true… we instructors were a cynical lot and expected the worst from everybody. (you had to, or else you could get burned for no good reason)

          • Probably exactly that… 😀

            Hurlbert is good for tieing up traffic on 98 when they roll a V-22 out and fly it around. It just doesn’t look right.

            Occasionally the C-130’s from Duke Airfield do touch and goes off of it. Nothing like a C-130 under full power passing above your head to mess with traffic. Usually the tourists are the ones who come to a full stop and gawk. Just to the East of it, also along 98, is a mostly non building region where speed usually picks up. The PD at Mary Ester love setting up speed traps there. What catches a lot of people by surprise, is that section of 98 in front of the base is base property… and base security sometimes comes out to play. Hello Federal Magistrate court….

            • Having been on the flying end of departing with a loaded DC-7 like out of Omak Wa, Troudale Or,and here in La Grande Or,(they finally moved the runway and lenghthened it.) Nothing gets your attention like some idiot with a tripod and camera lined up as you (slowly) accelerate 112,000 lbs of metal fuel, oil and retardant, toward him at (eventually) 110kts.
              My cousin had similar problems as an engineer on 844 UP’s big steam locomotive…
              You just can’t stop those things…
              Hurlburt has an interesting history:
              Lurk every now and then the Marines visit Pendelton ANG base with V-22’s and visit here too.
              can’t quite get my head wrapped around the sound and the Tiltrotor concept..

            • I’ve been around heavy lift helos. There is a distinctive whump, whump, whump that they have. H-46. 47. 53s and such. It’s un-nerving hearing, no, feeling that and then seeing this V-22 gizmo darting by. I caught one above the trees over on highway 87 that follows Escambia bays eastern shore. Then I remembered that Egin owns that property also… and that Choctaw Auxilary field is out there. Along with a private Helo school further north. (They are always out getting in their hours. in what appear to be AB-212’s or the closest equivilant) The guards up at the nearby penitentiary are always watching them closely as they fly around. (I’ve spoken with them from time to time) See, the area between the dorms are large and flat with few obstructions. It would be a near perfect scenario if someone tried to pull it off. With the possible exception of the sniper that hangs out in the central control tower… (and controls all the gates). They have, on occasion, jotted down side numbers for Helos that venture too close.

          • As well as being an Internet Spelunker… I also dabble in tidbits of trivia.

            The Local Highway Patrol Station is on “Stumpfield Road.” The only thing around there are Car City Truck Parts, several auto dealers and repair shops. The entire area is known locally as “Car City.”

            Now roll the clock back several years. “New Warrington” is where the town of Warrington was moved too after the Navy bought up all the property and moved the town across Bayou Grande. The only remaining building is here → 30.346384°N 87.274452°W. Other intersting things on the base (Pensacola NAS) are the 9 and ten foot high brick walls. They ring the old hospital because at the time, it was thought that mosquitoes could not fly that high. Pensacola itself has a history of mosquito borne disease. Because of an ongoing epidemic, Andrew Jackson met with the city delegation at the ranch of local landholder near Cantonement FL. Cantonement got it’s name from where he parked his troops.

            Sorry, got sidetracked… anyway, one of the outlying fields that was used during all the air training here… was “Stump Field.” And yes, it was right next to the modern Stumpfield Road. I imagine that landings there were a bit worrisome for pilots.

  6. I love the twist in the end for your calculation. Here is a true use of science. So in fact the impact may have been really bigger than thought.
    I can only compare to what I experienced in Guadeloupe in 2010 when the Montserrat dome collapsed. In fact I was really not anxious in any way albeit there was some ash falling from the sky. The distance was too large (50 km or so) and the only real issue was that I had to get on the plane a few days later. For Laki I am surprised that there were not much more reports of falling ashes. Then with the distance, the fall may have been much diluted (I think I have a picture I took from a plane just when the Eyjaf flying ban was removed). I’ll try to find both pics.

    • Thanks!
      I am rather pleased with this part of the Skaftár articles. It is one of the two new things that have come to light.

      I feel that it was a looong time since I did any computer modelling. I wonder what was more overheated, my brain or the computer. It took better part of a day to run since it is a NS/NP problem that is “solved” pretty much as a Game of Life heuristic algorithm.

      For the rest:
      NS = Non-Solvable. There is not final solution to the problem, you can though get closer and closer by creating a recursive solution tree.
      NP = Non-Probable. There is no way to prove that the answer is correct, bear in mind that there was no definite answer to beginn with.
      NS/NP problems are the worst part of mathematic, but with recursive/heuristic algorithms you can often get a “good enough” answer. “Good enough” is never good enough for a mathematician, but it is quite often good enough for a physicist.

  7. Here is a different way of presenting the available earthquake data for El Hierro.

    This is the cumulated earthquake density, versus, according to depth and latitude in the first part of the video and depth and longitude in the second part.

    The time span is July and up to August 7th 2013. The mesh size is 100 x 300 m

    Note that the density values are different, the second part being easier to read.

    There is the profile of the island topography (view from the East and the South)

    The activity right under the island is clearly dominant. The second swarm is to the west.

    Of course as this is a first try, I’ll try to do some other runs with older data.

    Data from NOAA, IGN

    • Thanks Carl. Again a fascinating piece of Volcanic sleuthing. I still get a little tied up with the physics and maths but I have the gist.
      Milord also added a most interesting solution to the problem of How particles are lifted so high. That Time lapse of Eyaf. eruptions demonstrated it perfectly. Some serious power there.
      dfm. Thanks too for your plots. I find these plots show density really well. 🙂

  8. I will have to disagree with Henriks idea of snow bounced ash from above.

    One could compare it with a rubber bouncing ball. A good one of those will due to one of physics grand jokes bounce to the height of 1.618 of the original fall height at best (but never more than what the terminal velocity makes possible). And ash is even when reflected through secondary heat convection not even that good. So, there is pretty much not possible for ash thusly lofted to break the boundary to the stratosphere.

    On many volcanic eruptions one can see dust covering the volcanic cone, and if one look closely one will see that the dust is moving upwards following the ground. What is happening is that the intense heat radiated from the top creates a suction effect drawing in air that will in turn get heated and lofted.
    The reason for the dust clinging to the sides of the cone as it goes upwards is by the way called the Coanda-effect, but that is a completely different issue, but fun in and of itself to google.

    Back to Laki, neither snow, nor a whole lot of water. Yes, the area was boggy, but that got dried up soon enough. Instead it is air being sucked in to the heat column at tremendous speed, then being heated so that it rises like a hot air balloon (at tremendous speed, and of course without the actual balloon).

    • Just by considering the size of the eruption, a superficial body of water will soon get vaporized, so in the first days, sure, there was an synergy, but after a few days….I mean it’s like Pozzuoli if it starts under the sea, it will get worse, but then you’ll get another new island soon… or it will be too small and then it’s a hierro thingy.

      • In this case the eruption was so powerfull that it drained lakes and rivers in hours. So, yes superheated steam will have had an initial volume increasing effect, but it would not add to the energy released.
        In the end it turns quite simple, it takes energy to lift matter. The energy in this case is heat.

        • Steam is Queen ! But water quantity is limited. This why a phreatic eruption (for grey volcanoes at least) is always smaller. Water is the limiting part. This shows the energy side of the events. Man has domesticated steam and it is still the only efficient way to produce energy. Whatever the source.

    • Ah! So not superheated steam causing what looks like re-energised ash columns? Purely intake of cooler air being heated and rising? If that surrounding air was saturated with water would it not make a difference?
      If volcanoes in arid areas such as Nabro have the ability to send plumes containing largish ash particles equal to the height of Volcanoes in moister areas, then that would perhaps suggest surrounding bodies of water, whether seas, lakes, wet soil conditions or glaciers have little effect on the height of ash transportation.
      The gaseous state of water is lighter than air. The concept of using steam for lifting is not a new idea. As this is so I suggest that the presence of extra water vapour over and above that occurring in the initial eruption of magma (A phreatic eruption) would probably cause some increase in energy.
      It’s late and as usual I have absolutely no confidence in my poor physics education!
      Just so late night ruminations 😀

      • The surrounding water would make two differences. One, change the level of explosivity so that more ash was produced, and lower the thermal energy output down a bit. So, the column would get a bit lower, but contain more ash.

        The gaseous state of water is heavier than regular air, but it is oft more buoyant than regular air due to being a far bit hotter. At the same temperature the lighter pure air would win. Temperature is in the end more important than weight in this case, after all it lifts up what is basically a whale load of sand 14 to 18 kilometers (or more) into the air.

        I hope I was clearer this time around 🙂

        • This is wrong:

          “The surrounding water would make two differences. One, change the level of explosivity so that more ash was produced, and lower the thermal energy output down a bit. So, the column would get a bit lower, but contain more ash.”

          A) Because of the water injection, the amount of volcanic gases propelling the column skywards dramatically increases. It has the same effect as throwing extra reaction mass into the exhausts of a rocket. Basic physics.

          B) The physical properties of H20 in the form/state of high-temperature steam (supercritical region) will power the column much higher

          • I phrased myself terribly clumsy here I fear. I can only blame waiting for a late night/early morning flight.

            As you pointed out it will not lower the thermal output, it will instead lower the thermal gradient due to increased volume, and that in turn will inevitably lower the column even though the volume is greater.

          • @ B) But there is no 220 bar at the surface (where the ash cloud touches the glacier) which is the lower limit to form supercritical water.

        • Actually, steam is lighter than air at the same temperature. 1 mole of any gas takes up the same amount of space at the same temperature and pressure. Water has a molar mass of 18, while nitrogen, (which makes up 78% of the air, and is the lightest relevant component), has a molar mass of 28.

          • And SO2 has a molar mass of 64, CO2 one of 44. If we assign the heaviest of these volcanic gasses a value of 1.00, we get the following comparison:

            SO2 – 1.00
            CO2 – 1.45
            N2 – 2.29
            H2O – 3.56

            Since the eruption column can be treated as a gun barrel where the barrel itself is the boundary between the rising column and “normal” air, we find that the relation in lifting power for the same volume is:

            SO2 – 1.00
            CO2 – 2.11
            N2 – 5.22
            H2O – 12.64

            Now figure in the fact that if in the magma, water remains liquid and as it leaves the volcano proper it expands 1000 times in volume as it changes state to gaseous and you’ll se why you basically can ignore all the other gases when it comes to driving an eruption column into the stratosphere and why ANY extra injection of water, whatever the source or origin, will dramatically affect the height.

            I wish there was a proper physicist who specialised in these kind of things available to straighten this one out for us.

            • Back to what I allready wrote.
              Icelandic magma is very low in water content since it is of deep mantle origin. The magma at Laki was very high in the other gasses. So, you are trying to prove a fish when basking at a fruit basket. Pardon the pun.

            • And to go into physics, either water, nor gasses drive anything to any height. Energy does, and energy in this case is heat.
              The heat convective column will rise to the same height regardless of the content of a gas-mixture as long as the gas pressure is the same. The difference is so small that it is totally negligible.
              Water at the surface takes more energy to warm into steam than it takes to warm up air to the same temperature, thusly warmed water in the form of steam will not, and can not build a column of the same height.
              Correspondigly dust (sand in this case) take a lot of energy to heat compared to air.

              You are missing the point I made. The heat created an upwelling of air that transported sand, ash and gasses (and a tiny miniscule amount of water) up into the air. Not the other way around.

            • Carl,

              A rocket is propelled, not by the heat or energy generated as such, but the delta vee imparted to the reaction mass and the amount of reaction mass “ejected”. In this context, think of a volcanoas an inverted and fixed rocket and its eruption column mix of gasses and solids as the reaction mass, then go check up friend Tsiolkovsky and his equations:


    • Carl,

      If you think about it, what is the reason that ash from eruptions of Icelandic volcanoes are so over-represented in European samples? How come an eruption such as that Eyjafjallajökull which, even if the total volume finally broke into the VEI 4 range (wholly inadequate measure), usually chugged along at VEI 0-1 but occasionally managed a weak VEI 3 plume, could reach as far as Russia and Spain in quantities lethal to jet engines? For almost every other volcano on Earth, it would at least take a very large VEI 5 to achieve a similar spread. Even Indonesian volcanoes are only a local, not regional, nuisance for air traffic.

      * It is not that Icelandic volcanoes as such are of a type not found elsewhere on Earth
      * It is not that the magmas erupted has properties not found anywhere else on Earth
      * It is not that the underlying mechanism, the Icelandic Hotspot, is unique

      There are two or main reasons that in conjunction with a third that are responsible for the aberrant behaviour of Icelandic volcanoes:

      * Most Icelandic volcanoes are located beneath glaciers and the extra H2O available gives them an extra punch as well as breaking up the magma erupted into smaller particles quickly – their small-to-medium sized eruptions reach much higher into the atmosphere than they otherwise would.
      * Iceland is the only place on Earth with multiple 10 cubic km effusive eruptions in the Holocene and the sustained-for-a-long-time micro climate above such a large body of cooling magma probably throws the SO2 much higher up into the atmosphere.
      * The Jet Stream and Arctic/Golf Stream atmospheric pump. Anything that gets up at FL200 / 6,000 m has a very good chance to be carried all over Europe as PROVEN by the Eyjafjallajökull eruption.

      I’m feeling what Darwin must have felt after the publication of his Evolution of the Species, albeit on a much less grand scale. Hyperbolically, you’d probably need Spica’s SEM to pick it up. xD

      • Hi Milord (now there is an address I never thought I’d ever use, ah the joys of the internet),

        yep, Eyjaf was a bit of a wake-up call for the modern economy – not so much in terms of the eruption as such, but the combination of very fine ash with stable weather over Europe and a general ignorance of the interplay of ash and turbines. All this was, let’s say, a bit unfortunate. i.e. Eyjafjallajökull was very much a minor eruption and not at all unusual. It just did what volcanoes do: spew ash. Shortly after airports were also closed in Australia and NZ from ash from Puyehue… same thing. Ash goes places. And fine ash goes further.

        To get back to your point: “anything that gets above FL200 has a very good chance to be carried all over Europe” .. well yes, this is quite true. But I think Carl was talking about the AMOUNT of ash in the deposits and comparing this to other large eruptions from Iceland that were supposedly larger in terms of both explosive power and erupted volume but left less of a mark, which made him start thinking that something doesn’t quite tally up.

        Re the power of steam. indeed. What also amazes me is how intricate the water/magma interaction is to get explosive volcanism. Like any explosive reaction you obviously need to get the proportions right. Too much water and you quench the lava (pillow lavas) and no explosion. Too little water and you just get gentle effusion like at Kilauea. But if you feed the right amount of water in the right place into an erupting conduit you can get some real fireworks. Add to that the amount of water and other volatiles already in the magma and the stickiness of the magma and you’ve got enough variables to explain all kinds of eruptions.

        The difference between glaciers and aquifers might be salient here. Glaciers would release their water more slowly in relation to their proximity to the vent. This might be conducive to longer-term explosive eruptions as opposed to a lake which dumps its load all at once. Think Eyjaf compared to say Hatepe.

        The idea of a micro-climate above Iceland is interesting. I would have thought the strength of the prevailing winds and the relatively small size of Iceland would nullify that effect but I know zilch about climatology. That said, Lurk posted some great articles about getting SO2 into the stratosphere. It is not all that straight forward:
        Remember when we talk about SO2 in the stratosphere the discussion is mainly driven by the volcanic winter hypothesis (mostly fueled by Pinatubo) which I have some reservations about, i.e. the primary effect for us is global cooling. SO2 in the lower atmosphere is simply poisonous and this is what affected Europe so much, not the high level stuff.

        But you’re right in that the effusive and mafic nature of Icelandic volcanism favors SO2 release as compared to shallow eruptions of rhyolite chambers which just tend to blast a whole lot of ash and junk into the air which tends to fall out faster. Though, here too, Iceland is hardly unique. The tricky thing, as Lurk pointed out, is getting a basically effusive eruption enough oomph to blast its SO2 load high enough to enter the stratosphere and then enough of it to bring on a volcanic winter.

        Sorry if this reply is a bit tedious and disjointed. I get like that some mornings. 😉

        • Hello Bruce!

          You got me exactly!
          What I found that did not tally up is that here we have an eruption that was mainly not water driven, and still was ashier than supposed and to top it off, have a ratio between larger and smaller ash particles that is off the normal proportion.

  9. Well I just watched the ESA video and I must say Kudos ! True GIS expert work there (with a goodly source of data). Merci Shérine (like the graben structure in the end)

  10. I was just looking at the stars pondering.
    Nothing makes me ponder like stars (and shooting stars) rising over mirror flat water.

    I will most likely live another 40 years or more, baring deadly decease or an accident. During that time many eruptions occur. I started to think which ones I will be blessed to see. I kept my ponderous musings to our European volcanoes not to drown my brain. Here is my list for the volcanoes I am pretty certain that I will see.

    Beerenberg on Jan Mayen is pretty certain to put in an appearance to the joy of Diana.
    In Iceland I will get to see Hekla, Katla, Grimsvötn and Askja. Ontop of that I will probably see a couple more unexpected ones erupt, and most likely I will see Veidivötn erupt.
    In Italy I will see Etna, Stromboli, Vulcanus and Vesuvius erupt.
    In Greece Santorini will erupt. Spain will give us Teide, and at least one Azorian volcano will erupt.
    Out in the Mediterranean we will probably see another eruption, but where that will be I will not even guess.

    • I’ll add St.Helens (again) Possibly Hood, possibly Rainier,maybe Mammoth but no Yellowstone….
      Alaska and Kamchatka -up for grabs…
      Dry lighting forecast for the next 3 days. I could be busy….

      • some I think of at times, Fuij, I have a rock which looks like it and every time I move it things rumble somewhere, so look at it and leave it in place,mostly, long Valley, rainier will go caldera, rift valley, islands on turkey’s south coast been lively for some time now, etna had lava flows previously to the coast, something to bear in mind, there is a tendency to forget those possibilities, like to know the future, look to the past, I don’t think I will be around in 40 years, even 30 would be a stretch

      • You know what? I will take every Antarctic-South Sandwich volcano. Seamounts included. I will have a lifetime supply of ice cubes,snow and phonolitic lava.

      • according to scientists under bass straight between Melbourne and Tasmania a hot spot it is still alive and will be active again in about 100 years, there have been many EQ/swarms there recently. i didn’t know about Berlin, but then there are lakes and swamps around etc.a bid like Naples maybe?

  11. I think I can prove”superheated steam” was not the main carrying medium per se, but expanded (by heat) GASES of all sorts ( including water vapour, eventually frozen, that dried whilst falling down, if so not heavy amounts).
    Think different : The last Grimsvötn did tremendous ashes fallout (and had huge mushroom cloud in begiining, even anvil shaped) but no snow was in that ashes fall, I heard of none and none seen in pictures. No reports of snow or rain in the zone of ashes falling. None that I know of. Always dry? Think about rain and hail coming from Anvil shaped Alto-cumulus, Thunder & Lightning & Rain. Nope. So if there is much water in eruption columns, what becomes of it?
    So a dry eruption, I think!

    On other hand. Laki (Skaftár Fires) are only instance of “wet” fallout. Acid rain. Hummm..

    • Funny think that Grimsvotn blast. I noticed that a humongous SO2 plume showed up all across Iceland about a week after it was over. It wafted off to the Northeast.

      It should be in the OMI archive data somewhere.

      • The bulk of SO2 is released as the lava cools. So, it should come later.
        The Laki SO2 dumped down in a period 6 to 12 months after the ash. Add a glacier and you get faster gas expulsion.

    • Something is wrong here… But heck if I can explain it…
      This one was good, really good. I will get back to you in a week, or ever.

      Hm… Well I got me some thinking to do 🙂

      • Ok. I know its late (no night skies here, the other stuff, pouring rain, so I am inside at my www terminal 🙂 Maybe them ash particles sprouted wings – Ice crystals. There you have more thinking about 🙂

    • Never EVER underestimate the destructive power of steam! This is what steam can do to a 30,000 ton battle-cruiser if one of her 42 2,500Hp boilers blows up as a result of a direct his and takes a few more with it for good measure:

      If you want to get an even better idea of the destructive power of a boiler explosion – and we’re talking a mere 200C 20AT disaster here – read up on the 1912 San Antonio disaster:

      I’ll say it again – never EVER underestimate the destructive power of steam!

    • love these comments that get everyone thinking.
      So, yeah, where does the water go? I reckon most of it would be bound to the ash falling rather than falling as a pure watery medium.. at least that is what most deposits seem to tell us as you get watery globule type lapilli and clayish ash fall when the eruption is wet as opposed to dry and dusty ash. At least, that is my call.

      • One of mankind’s first attempts to launch a space ship, albeit unitentionally, happened in 1902 when a 19-ton shunting engine going by the name of “Hultenheim” was launched through the roof of her shed to land on a knoll some 25 meters away after an impressive vertical take-off. She had been rebuilt and they were testing her boilers but as the pressure guage would not go above 8 AT, it was thought that the release valve was “soft”, so they plugged it with a copper coin. By the time anyone considered the possibility that the manometer was faulty, the engine had already completed its launch sequence.

        • M-P. I am totally familiar with what steam CAN do if its allowed build up pressure.
          I think it be more questions of MET 101, 102 etc. – Tracking what the ash does (or does not do) in the atmosphere and how it spreads about, what falls out when, what particles get embedded in ice-crystals and so forth. I am totally into that all volcanic eruptions be underestimate, cause so much falls out as “dirt” not recognised or separated from other “dirt” (weathering) blown up by winds, as in erosion of worlds mountains etc..

    • that reminds me of the bush fire ash and smoke which rise very high and are humongous at some point we always come home drenched by rain, usually in the late afternoon ?

  12. Oh ye gods how I hate morning flights.
    Or in more famous words:
    “I am too old for this shit!”

    See Ya’ll in a few days, I will be in touch if I can.

    • Yep, especially if they are so early to be almost late at night 🙂
      (ok, and have safe return, I´will watch over my highlands too)

  13. Another swarm near Kistufell.

    08.08.2013 11:25:21 64.814 -17.226 5.1 km 2.0 78.14 3.8 km NNW of Kistufell
    08.08.2013 11:07:08 64.799 -17.218 4.9 km 2.0 90.01 2.1 km NNW of Kistufell
    08.08.2013 11:00:40 64.821 -17.256 7.5 km 1.8 39.42 5.0 km NNW of Kistufell

    • Ok. I am watching, yet nothin´ special yet indicating this be other than tetonics (i.e. not magmatic quakes, I think) There still is winds and rain affecting them normal readouts from SIL´s (and most if not all SIL´s detail graphs are “out” since before midnight last night (them SIL´s are working, likely server or processing issues at IMO.)

      • * Thinking: Ok, however, now Carl is “away on business” there might of course som volcanic spirit decide on making an uschedueld appearance. Hope that it does not ground his flights. Rant off*

  14. I’m not asleep… just cursing what unscheduled events the day may bring. Yesterday saw me fighting a TARP while a thunderstorm was looming… now I’m trying to see what I’m supposed to do with these two ungainly “half pizza” boxes that are full of batteries. (i.e. weight a lot).

    So far I’ve been told to forward them to Tallahassee, Split the shipment and send one back to south Florida, and to send them both to South Florida. I only have one box that they will properly fit into… with packing material. The original box was far too large for them and got trashed in shipment. Right now the original box is in the living room next to the couch. Last night, I heard a calamity in the living room and went to investigate. I found that one of the dogs had fallen into the box and was struggling to get out. After cleaning the Styrofoam peanuts up I went back to sleep… pissed.

    I hate Styrofoam peanuts. The dog wasn’t at fault… he has a habit of jumping up on stuff and sleeping on it. I count this as a life lesson for the dog… not everything is safe to hop up on.

  15. Local Heat Stress is in the 102°F to 104°F range. (38° – 40°C)
    (apparent temp using Temperature and Humidity levels)

    That hot old summer sun, make you beg for your next breath…”

    And yeah, this is normal. It is Florida in August after all. Usually when you go above 100°F, the bases impose “Black Flag” conditions. No mandatory physical training.

    Over in Alabama they had another balcony fall death. Five story drop to the parking lot. I think if this keeps up, they are going to have to put a harness and tether ordinance in effect before you can use the balcony. Knowing the intellect of modern teens though… they would just use it to swing back and forth from room to room…

    Freak on a leash

  16. … and just to catch up on a whole lot of OT stuff over the last few days:

    (I really love the OT stuff here.. it makes the place really interesting. I know there has to be a balance and too much chatter will drown all the good stuff but the OT stuff over the last few days has been pretty stimulating)

    1. Thomas Barnett – really interesting talk. Great you get to see this stuff in the public domain (ok, so it’s old hat but still)… whatever, this is a bright cookie but he fell into precisely the same trap he was criticizing others of: seeing “super empowered persons” as a product of outmoded nation states. His donut map of developed nations surrounding the “gap” where these osama bin laden type individuals are born and bred misses the point. The disaffected are NOT a product of nation states but of global trends. Look at Assange, Snowden, Manning. These guys are us. Not them. The gap is here. We are the disaffected. Our civilization is hollowing itself out. We don’t need any hostile foreigners to do it for us. We are managing very well on our own thank you. / 2c
    2. V22 – serendipity on that one. Finn just bought a Lego model home and I was like, what is that aircraft exactly? Oh. That one at the VolcanoCafe.
    3. Worms! precisely. Great stuff Jamie
    4. Fork and other musical implements. Far out. Great.
    5. Everyone else. Love it. Keep it going.

    • I first encountered Barnett a few years ago while I was still active duty. I thought it was a great presentation, but as I followed him it seemed more and more to me that it was all about Barnett.

      Super empowered individual? Those are a dime a dozen. Anyone with the motivation can dig in and find what they want. As for Manning… there is an unasked question in that case… one that no one seems to want to approach. If Manning is not as guilty as they claim, that means that those classified State Department memoranda still have to had come from someone. Personally, I have always had an issue with the claim that a sexually ambivalent low level “clerk” would have access to as much information that they claim. I’ve been on classified networks. That sort of data is not simply laying around for anyone on the network to rummage through. You still have to have specifically assigned access rights.

      The big thing about classified networks… they are more heavily monitored than normal networks. One of the problems that MS had in getting the military to adopt it’s O/S on its servers, was getting the NSA to buy off on it. What was the biggest issue? Logging. There had to be a way to grab the logs and trace down how exactly stuff was accessed. That’s one reason that the current version of MS’s server suite is such a log happy freak.

      In the Unix environment, if you want a log, all you have to do is write a daemon that sits back and watches the target, collecting and logging all the data you want. In MS you didn’t have that leisure.

      But… Barnett does have some valid views. The problem is that when you start interconnecting all the various points of the Global Economy… who gets to run the show? Who is in control? With the corruption of the political elite and their cohorts in crime… the banking industry, it begins to show that much of it is a Scam that would make Bernie Madoff look like an amateur.

      Side note.. can you think of a better name for a scam artist? “Madoff?” “Hey! Bernie made-off with our money!”

      • ha. yeah I know, sometimes you have to think this can’t be real. I am sitting in some kind of theater. Who made this stuff up? Madoff? Get off. If I were an author I’d never dare be so obvious.
        I just watched some more Barnett ( and yes, Barnett is very much about Barnett. But then again, you probably have to have that kind of self assertion to get to where he is. (Schnauze would be the German word for it)
        Interesting what you say about Manning as that was the first thought that crossed my mind when the story broke. It is kind of hard to just put it down to systemic oversight that one individual amassed so much information.. whatever, in the end it is irrelevant.
        More important is, where do we go from here?
        I must admit I am really really grateful for growing up in a pip-squeak nation like New Zealand because the lack of clout immediately frustrates any kind of illusion of power or influence. We just don’t have it.
        In the US you have (maybe had) the most powerful single national economy in the world (what was that stat? post WWII the USA accounted for 50% of global GDP? wow)… but then the rot set in. Federal structures were built on top of that economy, each with their own vested interest and these have grown almost as though the economic reality on which they are ultimately based plays no role. So you have a country that runs a huge trade deficit simultaneously accounting for more than half of the global military spending. Bizarre. And then you get these institutionalized mind-sets which have their own game plan, are so huge they suffer from enormous inertia, and this is the environment in which Barnett operates. In that regard I appreciate people like him, even if I don’t quite see it like that. At least you get to talk about it.
        .. yeah, so who is running the show? Well, nobody. That is the simple fact of it. Although human nature loves a villian, the actual truth is the people at the top are just like you and me. They do their job, they want to go home at night and spend some quality time with their families and (this is the weird part) want to identify with us, the mainstream. Trouble is they are so caught up in the entrenched power bases, they have very little room for maneuver. They can’t actually change much. They are like bureaucrats. If they buck the trend, they know they will be replaced. Worse still, if you put yourself in their situation, you’d probably make the same decisions as them. And this is across party lines and political inclinations. That is the frightening thing. It as though we are all caught up in some game plan that is really, really hard to change. When I start feeling like this, I find a really really strong affinity for volcanoes.

      • Dittos on the Volcanoes.

        I’m a fan of stories set in a dystopian universe. Dunno why… the reality seems to fit the genre much better. In most of these environs… State Bureaucracy fights with other State Bureaucracies competing for power. The individual is reduced to nothing more than fodder for the State.

        I read a post by a Father on another forum the other day… his son had gotten his first real paycheck, and was aghast at how much of his hard earned money was skimmed off the top for various taxes. He found his sons angst funny, as did I.

        With a Volcano… the beauty is in the chaos. Blue Öyster Cult nailed it on the head with the line “History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man” (Godzilla)

        I have the skills to dig quite a bit of meaning from the Government’s BLS population data… but it just depresses me, so I don’t. I even managed to come up with a method of deskewing biased polling data… but that just angers me.

        Stagecraft rules the news, and Joseph Goebbels would be utterly dumbfounded at how far his techniques have advanced on the world stage.

        • Funny you mentioned Geobbels. My first ever essay was on him. I was still at high school and our teacher gave us an assignment on propoganda, so I thought, why not go straight to the horse’s mouth and went to the library and got out a book by Goebbels. Interesting stuff. If you take it back to ancient Greece it is like the battle between the sophists (Goebbels) and the idealists (me and Plato). I dunno. I guess I just like fixed coordinates.

        • One thing I would also like to bring up is just how divisive our country has become. Every day accomplishes nothing. Much-needed reform and solutions are swept to the side. Every time I look into the comments of an article, there is somebody blaming the republicans or the liberals for their issues. Both sides misconstrue each other. One party may attack the other using race and gender as a weapon. This is relevant as an issue in my mind. Neither side makes compromises. It is a deadlock.

          • Politicians should be shot. We will not get a democratic society as long as there are politicians in office without personal accountability for their actions.

            • According to Plato, the most unstable government is a pure democracy. Inevitably, you will get someone elected ruler who makes the most promises to the most voters… who buy into the charade. Incrementally, this ruler gains more and more power by repeating the scenario. “I can fix (whatever) problem if you give me unfettered control of (whatever)” By this method, that ruler eventually become a Tyrant and can no longer be easily removed from office.

              From Wickerpedia:


              The excessive freedoms granted to the citizens of a democracy ultimately leads to a tyranny, the furthest regressed type of government. These freedoms divide the people into three socioeconomic classes: the dominating class, the elites and the commoners. Tensions between the dominating class and the elites cause the commoners to seek out protection of their democratic liberties. They invest all their power in their democratic demagogue, who, in turn, becomes corrupted by the power and becomes a tyrant with a small entourage of his supporters for protection and absolute control of his people.

      • He kind of made clear in one of his last comments that he likes her to be dull, insipid and uninteresting 😉

        • I can assure everyone that’s Etna am one cool volcano… Does need a little luck to catch her at it though 🙂
          One in five women in Catania have thyroid problems due to the volcanic water sources!
          I just mention that as an interesting fact; in Britain the prevalence is close to 1:50!

        • Chryphia, I am positive he is conversant with the Chinese interpretation of “interesting” as in the malediction “May you live in interesting times”. In this Dr Behncke is as wise as the Red Indians who said “White man builds big fire, stands back. Indian builds little fire, huddles close”.

    • That gets my vote for video of the week 🙂
      Thanks Cryphia.
      I’ve just recently bookmarked 2 good sakurajimacams ont clunkputer…Ggschtill ont kindle…Bigger.
      The good news is; as far as I can see just need a new (second-hand / abandoned ) monitor and I will be back to the non touchscreen/familiar/pcworld world.
      Does anyone else schtruggle with insufficient feedback using touch screens?
      Lurk mentioned Dystopias, my new (this year’s)favourite is The Iron Heel by Jack London; yep; Jack Call of the Wild London. Highly Recommended. 😀

    • Those were especially good. Think I must head back there and get better footage.

      I’m still processing footage from my last trip there; will post in due course.

      • And I will try to find time to get a chord to connect my camera to the computer so I can send you a train picture I found in the phone while mulching away time in the airplane. It is not from the fastest train on the planet, instead it is of the heaviest…

  17. .. and getting back to Laki.. it seems the only way to get that ash footprint all over the northern hemisphere is to add water at the right amount. Right, easy said, easy done. But were the initial eruptions humungous phreatic critters that did the job or was Laki are steady state phreatomagmatic number (Eyaf one order of magnitude bigger)?

    • And here is the conundrum… and a part of solving.

      It was not a Eyja times ten. Very little tephra in the dust from around the world, so almost no water/magma interaction. It is predominantly pure sand.
      But then we have the problem that the phreatic parts was not large enough to account for the sand.
      Personally I blame gas that got loose from the rising magma creating a superheated gas bubble travelling infront of the magma that in turn blasted the rock infront of it.

      • Well, the only way to explain the
        a. weathering and
        b. wide distribution
        that I can see is if the eruption featured high fragmentation (i.e. high inherent water content in the magma) and the associated tephra fell locally around the vent. Then. in stage 2 a series of humoungous Icelandic storms picked up the ash and spread it over the northern hemisphere (i.e. a secondary event).
        The first would explain why the ash is small grained and dry (the inherent steam would have evaporated during the eruption) . The second would explain the wide distribution and weathering.
        Any takers?

        • The magma under Iceland is pretty dry actually since it is deep mantle material and not wet subduction magma. But, it is very gassy and that has the same volatile effect as H2O in magma.
          No storm could ever explain the even distribution. It would cause a type one fallout with a clearly limited fall out pattern. To get evenly distributed you must have a stratospheric injection.

          • Doesn’t the grain size and the weathering of the particles speak against that? This is getting curiouser and curiouser.

            • You found the rub!
              How come Lakí sand is having a disproportionate amount of small grained sand compared to larger grains and boulders?

              One part could be old remobilised ash. But a percentage must be new sand created as rock was blasted apart. Something exploded with tremendous force at high heat and speed.

      • This is a comment already as the discussion is inactive, but here it goes: Laki rocks yes they do show evidence for a lot of gas, and actually historical reports do seem to describe a lot, hell, a huge lot of gas in Laki magma.

        Veidivotn and Vatnaoldur: they seem to have add a lot of water/lava interaction and were more ashy and tephra,.

        The Laki thing could explain why I do not see a Laki ash line in the soil profiles of my region, perhaps sand was blown very high and felt only eastwards along the jet stream. But storms cannot be a reason, as in June (time of Laki) its not a very stormy time. I agree with Carl: it was a lot of pressure and gas. And I like the hypothesis of superheated gas.

  18. The “Community Online Resource for Statistical Seismicity Analysis” offers a large and growing collection of articles about seismicity models from descriptive models like the original Gutenberg-Richter-frequency-magnitude law to “engineering models” for practical needs (insurance) to conceptual models to try to understand the underlying processes:
    From theme I:

    I have found it easier to interest statistics students in seismology than seismology
    students in statistics. But the statistics students do not proceed far with seismology
    because they are lured away into careers in fi nance and the like.
    The seismology students, on the other hand, fail to see in statistics a subject that
    warrants their attention when they could alternatively be going on enjoyable fi eld
    trips in their own subject.

    Well, I think that leaves some space for us armchair volcanologists 😉 (despite the brain-wrenching math involved…)

    • Not really brain wrenching. The biggest thing to do is to comprehend what the math is telling you. You can turn a program loose on the data to do the mundane stuff. It’s knowing what got spit out the other end and what it means that is important. And, how significant it is. (not the mathematical measure of significance, real world “is this important” significance.

      At the Analytical Geometry level I gained a new found appreciation for math. You could actually get an answer to a real world problem (or a pretty damned close answer). The math actually had meaning.

      For the transients. Calculus is mostly involved with finding one aspect about a set of data or curve formula that you don’t have. Stuff like “rate of change” or “area under the curve.”

      For example, supposed you had a collection of data for the speed of your automobile at specific points in time. Taking the 1st derivative of that gives you the acceleration rate that the car is doing. Now… you can fight through the data to get a formula that matches the speed data you have, or you can cram the data into a program and let the program churn out the 1st derivative for you. How you got the results isn’t as important as what the results say… as long as you understand what it means… and have a really good grasp on the integrity of the original data set.

      As for stats… some of the more used portions of stats came about from the goal of making a more consistent and better tasting beer. (anything connected with “Student‘s” work) That is a noble goal unto itself. Fortunately, those methods are just as handy at looking at other stuff… like French Fries (aka Chips). I was able to derive the size of the average potato that Whataburger™ uses by taking measurements of a few orders or Fries. The histogram for the data points gave me a two peaked curve. One peak was the average length, the other peak was the average width. Other than obtaining that data, I had no interest in it. But if I were a competitor, that bit of data could be useful to me in identifying who their supplier was. (looking for matching dimensions) Lots of useful data can be obtained if you know how to look for it. Now.. supposing I were a competitor, and through statistical testing I had a high confidence of locating their supplier, and was able to lock the market and drive up their cost in obtaining Fries?

      This sort of thing happens all the time in business. Intelligence collecting, Analysis, Strategy etc…

      • Continuing. I am a subcontractor. I do the service calls that a company is contracted to perform. Since the amount of business in my area is not high enough to justify a dedicated employee, they sub it out to me. Some of the calls pay well, some pay for shit. Going back over the rate and types of calls I get over time, I can guess what the call rate will be in the future. Knowing this, I gain a better grasp on how frugal I have to be at certain times of the year. Predicting a likely outcome is what it’s all about.

        When the quantity of calls starts to drop to the point where it is no longer a viable way of making a living, I start working on my resume. Only once have I come close to committing to a change. The delaying factor was whether or not I wanted to go back to work for DOD. There is a certain layer of bureaucracy that comes into play in that environment. All companys have some level of it… but in DOD it’s a more refined stench of feces than elsewhere.

      • stats, yah
        when i have things to do in town it gets me there in about 1/2 hour,
        when i have the shits about 15 minutes
        visiting friends etc. 45 minutes divided by three = 30 minutes which i tell customers it takes them to get here

      • I admire statistics for it´s ultimate usefulness to get a meaning out of seemingly chaotic things. For me it is brain-wrenching, used some here and there. From my experience in life science there is a huge lack of statistics proficiency in many professionals (including myself, call me dyscalculic, but at least I´m working on it 😉 ). Ask any academic in the life sciences what “power” is…chances are low to get the right answer. Explains a lot of BS results (“false positives”). /end of rant
        BTW, here is a great source of learning statistics:

    • Busted…
      Was wondering if anyone would ever notice my dragons den comment… 🙂
      OK will give it an try ;D

  19. Question for someone who may know.

    What would warning signs look like that a volcano is transitioning from strombolian activity to something bigger? Take popocatapetl for example, which has been erupting in mostly strombolian style for over a year now. Given that there is pretty frequent quakes and tremor associated with such activity, how would you discern that a larger event were about to onset?

    Naturally, I would assume looking for a much larger quake swarm, but what if the previous swarms were related to a constant influx of magma, and the strombolian activity wasn’t actively releasing enough gas and pressure to stop an inevitable larger event?

    Just curious!

    • I would think continued inflation despited the ongoing venting.

      Secondly… and only because I saw something sort of related (as a possibility, nothing definite) The development of ring faulting…. that extends into the vent source area. In other words, seeing gas and debris along this ring during high pressure events at the main crater.

      But.. item 1, to me, would be most telling.

      Caveat: Not a stock analyst or day trader.

      • So by ring faulting, it wouldn’t be a ring around the base, but rather a ring that intersects the summit crater on the edge? If so, that’s interesting and I didn’t know that, but that does make some sense.

        It’s too bad there aren’t more volcanoes with publicly available inflation records.

        • I’m thinking more along the lines as a slice of pie.

          The ring is a ring, following the area of maximal tensile stress. I’m thinking an older structure from the draining of the chamber in the past. Radial fissures could connect with the pee-existing ring and provide a path for gases and eruptive material to escape.

          So no, not necessarily an offset ring structure that intersects the central vent.

          Remember, most rings form from the surface down. (max tensile stress is at the surface as the chamber empties and the edifice sags, and rock is weaker under tensile stress than compressive stress… which is why concrete structures have rebar to compensate for that.)

          BTW, very nice screen cap!

      • A potential ring fault at Popo would explain why the Tochimilco camera is much of the time directed at a lower part of the mountain, watching if there are any visible signs of it. I have once seen a fairly opaque cloud rising from the ground there, but wasn’t sure if it was perhaps only some common morning fog. It has not repeated since, as far as I was watching.

  20. Blimey!
    After having had the most original possible Singapore Sling (the only one who knew the original recipé is dead) and ordering a Flaming Volcano (the bartender did not need the recipé) I think I will not be vitamin C defficient and feel rather human again.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Now, what on earth time is it really? Hm…
    And Henrik!
    Nice to see you around. (I should probably sleep again… but I think I will wait a couple of hours untill the natives go to bed)…
    Hm, another flaming volcano perhaps? Or should I go for the Singapore Sling…

  21. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    “The graph of earthquake timing and magnitude was not found”

    Okay, confess now! Who of you stole it? 😉

    • Ok, ok. I’ll give it back. BTW solved @Laki Sand *its Grimsvotn sand, basted up at same time as Laki.

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