Few have missed the “Vulcanettos” (Mudcanoes) erupting in Fiumicino lately. The main goal for the Italian authorities seems to have been to find out whom to blame for it and not finding out the root cause.
First two small mudcanoes appeared in a roundabout close to the airport at Fiumicino. Samples were taken and Italgas was judged to be responsible for the mudcanoes in the roundabout. Italgas assumed the responsibility and promised to plug up the mudcanoes.
This week yet another far larger mudcano appeared out at sea, approximately 100 meters out from the beach in an area where the new port of Rome is being built. As new samples were taken it was decided that the contractor for the new port was responsible for that mudcano, and they were quickly ordered to plug up that mudcano.
Let us now ponder the cause for the erupting mudcanoes. All we have to judge from is the gasses driving the eruption, and they tell a lot really. 80 percent of the gas volume is carbon dioxide, which can either come from decay or volcanism, so it is far from conclusive. The next gas in the mix was methane, which is predominantly found around decaying deposits, but is not unheard of from volcanoes. So, we have to look at the sulphuric gasses. SO2 is normally a high temperature gas that points towards volcanism, and H2S is normally a decay gas. According to the samples it seems to be H2S that is emitted causing the telltale egg-stench. Something that has been reported by local nose-witnesses.
So, instead of blaming the Roman citizens that for the last 2 000 years have dumped their garbage into the river Tiber (Fiumicino is located in the river delta of that highly perfumed river) they have decided to blame the closest by company.
Now over to the meme of plugging the holes up with concrete. It is a particularly stupid idea to plug up gas vents. The pressure is coming out for a good reason at the spots they are coming out. And by plugging those vents up the problem will only migrate over to a spot where you absolutely do not want a mudcano, like for instance on a runway under a landing airplane. Also a bit of serious research into the root cause of the gasses would probably be a fabulous idea.
The Zubair Group is placed on top of an old group of between 1 and 3 large shield volcanoes that has formed a submarine plateau over a riftline. During the last few hundred years a consecutively NNW trending line of islands has formed as further eruptions have occurred along the riftline.
In December 2011 an eruption started NNW of Rugged Island that quickly built a new Island. On the 28th of September a new eruption was spotted at a new location, this time it was though not at the NNW end of the Island Group. The original depth for the spot was around 150 meters according to maritime charts, so it is likely that the eruptions initial stage was not spotted, and may have started a few days previous to it being detected.
Currently a pure steam plume is rising 3 000 meters in height, and no ash emission is visible. Such vigorous steaming would imply that the eruption is vigorous since the amount of water heated must be fairly large.
The eruption will probably quickly lead to Surtseyan explosions breaking the surface in the same way they did in 2011 and if we are lucky we will see a new Island being born.
Sadly it is very hard to get up to date information and images from the area due to the rampant piracy in that area of the Red Sea.
Tjörnes Fracture Zone
A persistent tectonic earthquake swarm has been running for the last few days outside of Gjögurtá. The earthquake swarm has been highly localized and the earthquakes have been between 0.1 and 2.8M in size. The depths have varied from down at the MOHO (circa 15km) up to the surface of the bedrock.
The active rift is on the west side of a small micro-plate that is confined in the East by a faultline running up from Theistareykjarbunga. Of course this is a purely tectonic event, but it might down the line add strain on the inflating volcano.