Sinabung closing in on a real eruption

It is easy to confuse columnar heights. This column was 4 km high, it was reported in the papers as 10 kilometers high. EPA Photo/Dedi Sahputra

It is easy to confuse columnar heights. This column was 4 km high, it was reported in the papers as 10 kilometers high. EPA Photo/Dedi Sahputra

Some people have wondered why I have not written about Sinabung yet. The reason is that so far there has not been any real eruption. What has been seen so far was just a 3 year episode of throat clearing phreatic detonations.

Now it seems like the volcano is closing in on starting the real eruptive phase, something that is heralded by an upgrade of the volcano’s status to a alert-level IV, and the return of the legendary volcanologist Surono who has taken charge of the further proceedings at Sinabung.


SinasmallMount (Gunung) Sinabung is situated on the Sunda arc on where the Indo-Australian plate subducts under the Eurasian plate. From a more geographical standpoint Sinabung is located in northern Sumatra in Indonesia, just a mere 25 kilometers from the Toba volcanic system.

Previously the volcano have been erupting magmas ranging from dachite to andesite, mainly depending on how long the period of intermission has been.

The last lava producing eruption occurred 1600, with a later eruption in 1881 that has been discredited. In 1912 a brief phase of activity occurred as a series of fumaroles opened up near today’s active crater.

Phreatic activity 2010 – 2013

On the 25th of August 2010 a period of phreatic detonations started that lasted until the 28th of September in the same year. The detonations lasted between 10 minutes to 20 minutes and produced ash columns not exceeding 4 kilometers in height. Due to the limited knowledge about this volcano the authorities held a very high vigilance and performed evacuations from nearby villages in the 3 km exclusion zone.

For a long period the volcano was at the highest alert level IV even though the activity was fairly benign. In the end the volcano deflated, a sign of magma being withdrawn from the system.

On the 11th September 2013 Sinabung started to suffer yet another bout of phreatic detonations. This time the detonations was more vigorous and at times the ash columns from the detonations reached a maximum altitude of 7 kilometers. Reports of higher columns are from misinterpretations of the VAAC flight warning numbers which are not the same as the actual columnar height.

Current activity

The authorities have issued facemasks to the peope around Sinabung. Photograph by Reuters, fair usage act.

The authorities have issued facemasks to the peope around Sinabung. Photograph by Reuters, fair usage act.

On the 20th November Surono increased the safety zone around the volcano from the previous 3 kilometers to 5 kilometers as signs of increased volcanic activity started to emerge at Sinabung. According to PVMBG Sinabung have ejected stones 3 – 4 centimeters up to 4 kilometers hitting the villages of Sigarang and Gugung Kuta, this prompted the authorities to evacuate more people. Currently 21 villages have been evacuated with more on standby to evacuate.

On the morning of the 24th November an increase in volcanic earthquakes occured and harmonic tremor increased from the previous level 0.5 – 2mm up to the new level of 0.5 – 5mm. This in conjunction with mountain deformation and increases in gas emission led Surono to taking steps to increase the alert level to IV.

In the middle of it all the harvest continues.

In the middle of it all the harvest continues.

It is currently recommended that residents nearby carry facemasks with them at any time, and if needs be that they use them whenever being outside.

Since so little is known about this volcano it is hard for the authorities to predict how it will behave, instead they have to go on what other volcanoes in the area of the same type have done. And judging from that an eruption ranging up to VEI-4 is likely, with the likelihood quickly dropping off for more powerful eruptions. Do not make the mistake to think that Sinabung is anything like nearby Toba, they are completely different types of volcanoes.

Updates will be forthcoming as deemed pertinent.




168 thoughts on “Sinabung closing in on a real eruption

  1. That swarm just east of Reykavik is starting up again.

  2. Thank you Carl for summing up the current condition. I hope the local people will not be away for to long. As I am aware, they will do what they want when they want.

    Why did you type this up?

    “return of the legendary volcanologist Surono”

    I checked out his details, has he done something that you respected allot? Like the the collapse of the Way Ela Dam in Central Maluku regency, Maluku. The team he manged saved allot of people.

    • Surono has been heading the Indonesian volcano-mitigation work for more than a decade. He led among other things the work during the Merapi eruption. He is known for his continous spot on predictions of eruptions. During Merapi he ordered the evacuation in contradiction with the high-priest of Merapi (Deity). Sadly quite a few followed the High-priest instead.
      For many points and purposes Surono is quite likely the best in the game. Here in the west we tend to look down on faraway countries and their abilities. But in reallity almost every agency in the planet is way behind the Indonesians in how they work with mitigation. No other country has gone so far with active mitigation and meticulous research.
      So, simply just seeing him breaking his retirement is quite a sign of something going downhill…

  3. Thanks for the illuminating post, Carl. Although, given the population density in the Karo district, even a VEI4 would not be welcome at all, and that is basically my concern. They simply don’t have where to go. Can’t forget all those poor people near Merapi back in 2010.

    • Problem with Merapi was that for religious reasons a lot of people chose to not go when Surono ordered the evacuation. The high-priest who opposed Surono died in the eruption. Something that made the locals declare the priest to be a false high priest of Merapi, and instead they elected Surono as the true High-Priest.
      I am though not so sure that Surono was happy with that. But rest assured that people will not stay for religious reasons next time he says go.

      A VEI-4 would be bothersome, but if people just move as they should it should not be an impossible problem. Indonesia has both good plans, the best volcanologists, and far better resources than the Philippines for instance.

      • Considering there are volcanoes almost everywhere you look in Indonesia with a high population density surrounding many of them, it’s not a big surprise their mitigation efforts are very advanced. They almost have no option other than to be the best in their craft with it.

      • The Karo Batak people around Sinabung area are a different ethnic group than those on Java. The Karo (and other local Bataks) are predominantly Christian. Bataks are not “Malay” they are ethnically distantly related to the Hill tribes of Laos, Burma Thailand and Vietnam. (Karen).
        Javanese around Merapi are nominally Muslim however there is still a lot of “undercurrent Hinduism and spiritual mysticism” attached to them. Javanese dancing, costumes, – The Borobudur etc etc. Shamans and “High Priests” often have a high impact on the Javanese lives.
        Bataks have a reputation as straight talkers. (.B.T.L – Batak Tembak Langsung – Bataks shoot straight). They will also commonly act instead of standing around awaiting a airey fairy committee to make some decision.

        For the past near ten years they have been living with much geologic upheaval – 2004 Banda Aceh 9.0, 2005 Nias 8.7 plus ongoing quakes. Scientist Bill McGuire has managed to put a scare into the Sumatrans predicting a calamitous event on the Sumatra fault. If a vulcanologist tells them to relocate because of a threat due to a geologic event they will move. The only persons who will hang on will stay to protect property – not because of a religious or spiritual calling.

        • Thank you for the insight!
          Even though I have been in the area I have mainly spent my time there sailing about. So I am more familiar with the Indonesian Coast Guard than anything else. I learned a lot in just a few sentences!

      • The damages to the cars are impressive. They were lucky in a way. I know this is a transitory event, but are there not some access restriction apart from the summit ?

        • I was wondering the same.. given how active it is at the moment, you think it would at least be wise to avoid being downhill of the vent. The rental car company is going to be happy.

          The actual dynamics in the eruption cloud also intrigue me to get such huge lumps of scoria landing so far away. I realize there is huge ballistic energy involved, particularly when you get jetting up to 1000 meters high, but it seems there must be a large convective component keeping these aerated bricks up in the air long enough to make the distance – I imagine the cloud is kind of like a hailstorm with convective forces keeping the lapilli moving around chaotically before gravity finally gets the upper hand.

          • There was once a farmer in Iceland who was quietly out in his field doing what sheep farmers do when he was struck by a lava-bomb the size of a melon from Hekla. Not such an unusual event one would think. But this was 52 kilometers from the eruption. According to legend it struck with such force that he was instantly decapitated in such a sudden fashion that he stood there for a couple of minutes before falling over.

            There is though a big difference between a lava-bomb and scoriae, but still in the end it all falls down to simple physics, size of aperture, propellant energy and object weight. Etna has a narrow aperture, a lot of volatiles, and scoria is lightweight. So not problem there to loft it a few kilometers. Due to the low weight the wind will affect it much more than a more massive lava-bomb.

            The above Hekla story is most likely the furtherest away anyone has been killed by direct hit of a volcano not counting pyroclastic flows, lahars, debris avalanches and volcanically induced tsunamis. One should also remember that Hekla is in a part of the world that is not that heavily populated… Even if Hekla had thrown out 100 000 bombs that far it was still a one in a million hit at that distance.

            So, basic rule… Try to not be to close to a volcano when it goes boom.

            • That’s a pretty good cannon shot. Kind of hard not to take personally when those sorts of odds are involved, not that you would take it personally after being decapitated, but still.

              I was thnking of the role of the wind vs pure ballistic energy due to the fact that there are not that many scoria bombs landing upwind of the vent (as opposed to the gigantic lava bombs Boris posted on his Flickr account a few weeks ago). So it must be something to do with wind and eruption cloud dynamics. Mind you, I still find it hard to believe that a thunderstorm has the power to keep tennisball sized hailstones aloft so long for them to grow to that size so yeah, wow. Yet more forces of nature to keep me in absolute awe.

            • There is one thing I forgot… Angle of the “volcano barrel”.
              Sakurajima for instance seem to have a slightly angled barrel, and I guess that Boris would know if the same is true for NSEC. If the barrel is slightly tilted it would explain why the scoria seems to prefer One Direction.

            • While we are talking of barrels. Maybe Boris can also explain why we are not seeing any major erosion of the vent during these short bursts. I mean after so many paroxysms you would think the vent would have widened to a point by now that would prevent such powerful jetting. Maybe it re-lines itself after each “shot”.

            • I think that NSEC gets a fresh coat of “paint” at the end of every paroxysm that keeps the barrel nice and tight. But better that Boris comes with the definite answer.

    • Nice find! The older one was out of order frequently, so this one should really improve the monitoring (for us 😉 ).

  4. Click to access HDS06_P_e.pdf

    For a bit more of a detailed explanation of what can be expected from Sinabung, I would read this paper.

    “The geology of this volcano shows dome-forming lava extrusion or lava flowing, being associated with pyroclastic flows (block and ash flows) and a debris avalanche, the latter which were generated from partial failure of the lava domes/flows or the upper portion of the volcanic edifice. On the contrary, ashfall deposits suggesting relatively large explosive eruptions such as plinian to sub-plinian-types were not found, implying no occurrence of large explosive eruptions of this volcano throughout it’s history.”

    So in other words, the biggest risk for Sinabung judging by it’s past history would be a flank collapse due to the steep & brittle nature of the edifice. I don’t think this scenario would be all that improbably in the current situation, and it’s definitely something that could be taken seriously.

    With that said, history is subject to change, and I don’t believe Sinabung is a particularly old volcano, so it could easily still be “evolving” and changing as it becomes older. While it hasn’t had huge eruptions in the past, it has a lot of the elements that you look for in a bigger eruption, those being a decently long repose time, fairly explosive magma, and an edifice that seems to be pretty well plugged up. Other volcanoes nearby have also had pretty large eruptions (sibayak which is very close and fairly similar has a pretty large caldera) and the fact that it sits in the same graben system as Lake Toba shows that it likely has a pretty strong source of magmatic input.

    • Also from the cbus20122 link:

      “On the contrary, ashfall deposits suggesting relatively large explosive eruptions such as plinian- to subplinian-types were not found, implying no occurrence of large explosive explosions in this volcano throughout its history. Therefore, a dome-forming eruption or lava flowing near the summit is highly possible as a future eruption. During dome growth, partial collapse of the lava dome will generate pyroclastic flows (block-and-ash flows and surges). If a large lava dome grows at the summit crater, the most serious scenario will be a failure of the old and weak volcanic edifice due to the load of the dome. Relatively large-scale collapse of the volcanic edifice may generate a lateral blast preceding the pyroclastic avalanche, such as observed in the 1997 event at Soufriere Hills volcano,”

    • Japan Geological.
      They would be the same people that stated that a Hydro electric project built using the waters from the Danau Toba lake would have a dramatic effect on the level of the lake. A hydo electric plant was built at Asahan on the Asahan river – the outflow from lake Toba. The plant had to drastically curtail it’s operations after a only few years because the level of Lake Toba dropped 2 – 3 meters.
      The level of the lake never recovered as the inflow in wasn’t sufficient to restore it.
      Here’s the thing. The Lake recovered it’s old level immediately after the 2004 Mag 9 Aceh quake.

      Similarly Japan geology was involved in another bungled hydro power scheme in West Sumatra. Lake Maninjau. For some unexplained reason the Japanese managed to convince those financial backers that Lake Maninjau – another volcanic crater lake was a bottomless lake. The lake dropped 5 meters in just a few months of operation and the power plant had to be abandoned. It took years and years of natural inflows to restore the lake to it’s original natural level.

      Probably the same guys advised it would be a good idea to build a major nuclear power plant next to the coastline in the Fukashima area.

      There are lots of lava domes around Berastagi. Berastgai the town sits on top of a lava dome. Sibayak and the Denali caldera are very close to Berastagi.

      • Interesting, I did not know anyone had built a powerplant there. I previously was inside a major power company with a lot of hydro-energy and we had an entire wing of people calculating the inflow before even contemplating calculting possible outflow from a dam. Sounds like Japan Geological made a huge amateur mistake, twice.
        From a volcanological standpoint it would most likely be a boon if there was no lake in case Toba ever erupts again. And, the Indonesians are pretty good at emptying crater lakes on their own as a part of their longterm mitigation program. I wrote about one of those examples in a previous post.

        • The Japanese built a hydro electrical plant using the outflow waters to power an aluminum ingot plant.
          It was a billion dollar project and it was started back in the seventies.The plant went on line in the early eighties. After only a couple of months water level drop from lake Toba became a real concern. The plant was throttled back to try and bring the inflow outflow to a sustainable level. Eventually the aluminum smelting plant had to stop production.
          There were water level problems right from the start of the project. Australian experts were bought in to try and sort out the original hydro studies. There was a lot of political problems with the problems found.
          Political problems right up to Presidential level. – This was before the plant produced a kilowatt of power.

          In 2005 another hydro ewlectrical plant was opened on the North west Tuff wall. This was a European project. This uses inflowing water. A Green inspired “Run of the River” carbon reduction project. Some inflow rivers were diverted to produce enough flow for the hydro power station.
          This project has again become another contentious issue. Lake Toba had some pretty pristine water in it. This station has lowered the water quality. Construction of the station was hampered because the Tuff walls are water logged. This plant is a running concern.

          Inflows to Lake Toba have been reduced by human caused climate alteration (and indeed the whole of Sumatra). Wholesale destruction of rainforest since colonization began has altered the rainfall patterns.
          Inflow reduction to Lake Toba had already become a concern back in the nineteen fifties.
          Since the Palm Oil revolution mass destruction of rain forest has taken place. Even old sustainable rubber plantations have been replaced by palm oil. (At least the rubber trees kept a canopy over the ground)
          In 2005 The North Sumatera Governor instituted a massive tree planting program. An initiating tree planting ceremony was held on Tuk Tuk island in Lake Toba – I was there. Unfortunately that governor was killed in a plane crash at the end of 2005 and the tree planting program died with him.

          There is a steam generation electrical plant in the Denali caldera near Sibayak. Powered by the volcano heat.

    • The september report (the most recent online report) mentioned that there was still ongoing inflation, although that inflation was in the greater Aira caldera, and not necessarily specific to SakuraJima. I would guess that inflation is still ongoing.

      While I can’t really make a ton of sense from this article (despite google translate) I do find it interesting that this is the first evacuation practice in over 11 years. It definitely seems like the local authorities are taking more active consideration towards a larger eruption in the coming years (and probably for good reason).

      • Thought it was the first to occur on a weekend for 11 years (others had occurred during the week) – but I was struggling with Bing.

    • Seems like the eruptions come with always shorter intervals. Good to hear there are evacuation trainings! – Tonight it has been interesting to watch the Saku webcam. Thick fog, bad weather with wonderful cloud formations, steaming and at least one eruption, lenticular clouds, graceful birds – all within a few hours.

      Image and video hosting by TinyPic

      Image and video hosting by TinyPic

      Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  5. It looks like there might be yet another paroxysm on the way, it is to early to tell with any certainty though. I guess we will know in the morning.

  6. OT

    A circle is a special case ellipse, where the eccentricity is 0. As the eccentricity grows larger, the more lopsided the circle becomes, forming an ellipse. All orbits are elliptical to some extent. Earth, for example, has an eccentricity of 0.01671123. In other words, nearly circular. This allows us to receive a pretty constant influx of energy throughout the orbit. Mars has an eccentricity of 0.093315, as such, the changes in the amount of energy received from the Sun has a larger deviation that we do here. But.. this isn’t about planetary systems. When the eccentricity is 1, the shape of orbit is parabolic. Anything greater than 1 is Hyperbolic. Periodic Comets and Asteroids have eccentricities less than 1. Single pass comets, greater than 1. Generally, most Oort cloud comets are believed to have hyperbolic orbits, meaning that the dynamics of the orbit will have them leaving the solar system once they make their single pass on the Sun.

    Until now, C2012/S1 ISON showed an eccentricity greater than 1. Now, JPL places the eccentricity at 0.99999771, with a 1 sigma uncertainty of 0.0000000983. Placing this uncertainty around the stated eccentricity, means that the actual eccentricity has about a 68% chance of being between 0.9999976126 and 0.9999978093. This makes ISON into a periodic comet.

    The orbital period, also estimated by JPL, is about 400864.54 years. The last people to have had a chance to see it, were Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.

    Given the timeframe that we will pass through the debris tail of Ison, it may turn out to be the parent of both asteroid 2003 EH1, and comet C/1490 Y1. Both of which are beleived to be connected with the January Quadrantids.

    This is an ephemeral conclusion by myself, actual orbital elements would have to be analyzed, and I don’t have that capability with what I have loaded on this machine. All I can say is that I would not be surprised if that is how it turns out after further analysis and research by the paid professionals.

    The Kreutz sungrazers are believed to have descended from the breakup of a much larger body at sometime in the past. This could turn out to be similar.

    From Wikipedia: Neanderthal’s cranial capacity is known to be notably larger than all races of modern humans on average, indicating that their brain size was at least as large, if not larger. In 2008, a group of scientists produced a study using three-dimensional computer-assisted reconstructions of Neanderthal infants based on fossils found in Russia and Syria. The study indicated that Neanderthal and modern human brains were the same size at birth, but by adulthood, the Neanderthal brain was larger than the modern human brain.

  7. Good morning everybody on this beautiful morning.
    Here is something I really loved. After 3 years the Viola Organista by Lionardo da Vinci is finally finnished. The instrument was never finnished by Lionardo, so… here you can hear what he never did…

  8. And my thoughts go out to everyone of the UKian persuasion who from today on have censored internet. I hope you all do a revolution soon and reclaim your freedom. Paint yourself blue and go pict on their sorry censoring arses!

    • It should be put into the Olympics. The 1500 meter lahar dash.

      Take the contestants, place them in a gully, Five cement trucks dump their load at the top of the gully, the first to make it out at the bottom of the gully wins. (and survives) Slower competitors can scramble directly up the side of the gully and be disqualified, but live to compete again.

      • Nah, you won a music video instead:

        This video is interesting, few people know that Vangelis normaly does movie music by sitting down in his studio, turn on the final-cut movie, and just play the music in one take. This makes him into the fastest composer in the history. When he did the music for 1492, the conquest of paradise composing and recording took the length of the actual movie. Then the Master went out the doors and hit the bar. So, you are actually seeing Vangelis composing and recording the music in the video… One take wonder man.

    • Assuming Sinabung erupts in a magmatic fashion, I think it would be a pretty easy prediction to win the pliny award this year.

      • That or Kliuchevskoi.

        By the way, is there anyone who know about a taller volcanic edifice than Kliuchevskoi? I know that there are higher volcanoes, but I do not know any one higher from bottom of volcano to top. I also think runner up would be Mount Fako with its 4029 meter high edifice (starting 11 meters above ocean level).

        • Mauna Kea (4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level) is the world’s tallest mountain and volcano, rising about 10,203 m (33,474 ft) from the Pacific Ocean floor.

  9. Kliuchevskoi isn’t even the most prominent volcano in Russia. That award goes to Elbrus, with a prominence of 4,741 meters.

    Damavand in Iran has a prominence of 4,667 meters just barely edging out Klyuchevskoi.

    The most prominent volcano award goes to the 5,885 Meters of Kilamanjaro, but I almost don’t think Kilamanjaro is worth counting in the discussion since it’s a bit “unique”.

    • I also forgot Pico De Orizaba in Mexico, with a prominence of 4,922 meters, making it the second tallest on-land edifice in the world.

      • Ah, that one counts.
        And, I think that Kliuchevskoy has passed Damavand by now, I have a hard time thinking that the last very lava rich eruption would not have added a measly 18 meters to Kliuchevskoys edifice. I think Henrik had calculated the new edifice to almost 100 meters higher. So, with a little luck she will be the undisputed volcano high-riser of Eurasia during our life times.

    • I kind of meant active volcanoes… The three peaks of Kilimanjaro, Elbrus and Damavand has not erupted for a very long time. I guess I was unclear 🙂

    • Yepp Pico definitely counts 🙂

      I think we could do some sort of competition out of this for the next year.
      Each get to pick 1 volcano that will erupt, and the one with tallest erupting protuberance will win.

      That would really put peoples skill into action, first picking out volcanoes that most likely will erupt, then picking the highest of them.

  10. Hi, ya all, lovely evening. Fog so thick can be cut with knife.
    That goes for Hekla area, and south of Iceland. Likely raining too.
    But all quiet. Few quakes today, and none deep (16 km or more).

    “Sinabung have ejected stones 3 – 4 centimeters up to 4 kilometers hitting the villages of Sigarang and Gugung Kuta, this prompted the authorities to evacuate more people”
    Pirated sentence for post… Having 4 KILOMETER bomb hit a village, no need evacuate.
    Maybe better have it light, say 4 kg (instead of 4 km).. hint .. hint …
    even that is deadly…

  11. Hi just found out l have to have my left femur pinned.
    Been hobbling around on a walker my previous doc
    said”bad sprain” no more than that..l went to my flight
    Doc that lady is one sierra hotel medic. She had all of
    My left leg x-rayed turns out l have a fractured femur.
    So l’m laid up for a few weeks. Oh well. I may just punch
    Out apost or two…

  12. All I can think of when I hear / read “Sinabung” is: Cinnabon. Am I the only one?
    (Imagining lava flows of cinnamon glaze)

  13. Hello All,
    Well, you go away for a few days, ride around on trams, drink the best beer in the world, eat dumplings with every meal and get to hear The Bartered Bride sung in her native language; and what happens? Etna, Sinabung and a subduction driven version of Surtsey… 😀

    • Except that it isn’t subduction driven… Basalt and on the wrong side of the subduction zone makes it more probable that it is something else going on driving that juicy volcanic part of the world.

      I am so not getting where you’ve been from that description… Best beer would place you at home, in Belgium, Germany or maybe Czechia. Dumplings… Hm… New York? And the Bartered Bride? Well Bedrich Smetana was certainly of the Czech persuasion.
      So, my guess is that you are confused on the beer issue and that you found an abundance of kosher-restaurants and that you indeed saw the opera in Czechia. I guess I do not get any points 🙂

      • Ding!
        They are intending to hold a referendum about changing the name of the country to Czechia. Which is what the citizens call it…
        My father isn’t Jewish, but he hates to eat pork in any form….
        Kosher would have been the way forward, but the Jewish Quarter of Prague is now where the “Schwisschest Schops” are…
        I’m not at all fussy myself…
        Lizzie is vege/fishytarian…
        I’ve drunk beer in +/ from all of the countries listed by Carl; and for me Czechia is Number 1…
        We got good seats at the National Theater for £30…
        The population of Czechia is about 10,000,000; about 1.3 million of them in Prague…
        It’s a country which has always punched above it’s (intellectual) weight…
        Praha/Prague/Prag/ translates as Threshold…

        • Czechia is also rather good at Hockey, and as you noticed in the more intellectual capacities. I would say that person for person they are intellectual heavyweights and great on arts and music. I love going there.

          But sorry, you are confused on the beer part. You guys of the UKian persuasion will always win the beer game straight out. Ah… Brittish Beer… Sigh… *thirsty*

            • Oh, I was not at all saying that the czech beer is not good, it is VERY good, but if I get to choose I would go with UKian beer. But, Belgian, Czec and German beers are also really scrumptous.

            • I made up a batch of 50/50 Oat and Barley beer. I had finally found something the was absolutely worse than our pisswater varieties. (US). The whole endeavor was to find out what it tasted like, and why it was held in disdain by ancestral beer drinkers.

              Trivia Question. Why did the Pilgrims land at Plymouth? Ans: They ran out of beer. Potable water does not keep so well on long voyages. Beer carries a natural disinfectant… Alcohol. The whole purpose of landing was to either find the means to make more beer, or to just stop with the bobbing around on the water.

              My preferences with regards to beer. #1, Murphys Stout if it’s not overpriced for being an import. #2, Miller Genuine Draft. Yeah, it’s an american pisswater beer, but its got a good flavor considering. #2 is the default “I need a beer”, beer. #1 is for special occasions. (like my retirement ceremony back in 2000.)

              I have a few bottle that I made myself, but I think they are the 50/50 oat that I couldnt bring myself to drink after tasting the first few. Been toying with the idea of getting the carboy out and doing another batch… when I have time. I guess I need to rack down the Apple Cider I did and also figure out what to do with the plum stuff I made. Note really even sure what the hell it is.

            • I’m a pretty big fan of american beer. I may be biased, but my european friends have all been very surprised at the quality of American beer when they aren’t buying junk (bud light). Most europeans equate american beer to bud light, but that’s like saying all european beer is the same as becks or heineken.

              I’ve had a lot of good european beers, but the quality and variety you can get from the American craft brew scene is pretty incredible, especially for good India Pale Ales.

            • One of my top five beers is the Samuel Adams Winter Lager. Their Alpine Spring is though the worst piece of horsepiss I have ever had. I can’t for the life of me understand how the same brewery can produce so different beers.
              Anyhoos… A cold snowy winter night, my local watering hole, and Sam Adams Winter on tap… That is nice. So, I am definitely not of the opinion that all american beer is undrinkable, just the watery ones. And what is it with american micro breweries to put all sorts of crap into the beer? Malt, hops, water is the recipee. I do not want garbonzo-beans in my beer.

              The trend of putting fava-beans and fermented iguanas in beer have sadly come here too. Our microbreweries are competing with using garbage to be hip.

            • American Microbreweries like to do a lot of experimentation, which is why you get lots of random stuff in your beer. It’s part of what makes American beer culture different from European beer culture. It’s because of that that you get a lot of really “out there” beers, but also a lot of new stuff that’s truly incredible.

              Part of the problem with a lot of European breweries is that they’re too stuck in tradition. Don’t get me wrong, that tradition makes their breweries awesome, but it also limits them to the same old beer everyone has drank for the last 400 years (see German beer purity laws for example).

              I will say however, the american microbrew culture varies greatly depending on where you’re from. I know it’s not all that big in the south (from what I’ve heard) but there are about 7 microbreweries within 5 minutes of where I live in the great lakes region.

            • I do not have a problem with experimentation, heck all of the various drinkables comes from experimentation. I just wished they called it something else then beer. 🙂
              And that goes for the more whacked out Belgian beers too.
              I guess I am a boring fart after all 😉

  14. After phreatic eruption of 18 November a crack 230 meters long and 50 meters wide occurred on the dome of Merapi volcano. Nobody do not know what impact would this new crack on the activity of Merapi in any case the BPPTKG closely monitoring the situation and asking residents to remain vigilant.

      • Other than shaping the sandbars and causing sediment to move along the coast, I do not think that the current has anywhere near the “umph” to cause a mountain range to vector off to one side like that. It is likely a feature couple with plate movement… the Lesser Antilles sits astride another plate set undergoing a similar dynamic.

      • And the actual answer is yes…. but I keep it in a goatee.

        After completing 20 years and change of military service, I found that not only was hair turning grey, it was refusing to grow as I had remembered it. When I went in, it was down to my shoulders. What I could grow, was mostly from the sides and back. Though not fully bald, having a thinning top with normal hair around the sides looked a bit ridiculous. A “comb-over” is pathetic, so I did the next best thing. Let the facial hair grow and crop everything else very short. Luckily, the grey is patterned, so it looks interesting and not bland. My wife says she doesn’t like it, but that’s her problem. My facial hair is my reward to myself for not having hair on top… though I do have more than my cousins, who are starting to turn shiny.

        I had long suspected that I would loose my hair and start balding. All of my uncles were bald. That gene comes predominantly from the mother’s side of the gene pool.

        Another reason for keeping it short… as it lengthens, it irritates the crap out of me. I find that when it touches the back of my ears it’s distracting as hell. In it’s current growth pattern, it could easily do a full on mullet, but that’s not my sort of thing. Cut close I don’t have to dick with it. Get up, wash my face put on clothes and go.

        Tonight, I bought a new collar for the monster dog. I nearly got him a 1/4 size working cowbell, but he isn’t the one that is hard to keep track of. (the older rat dog is) The hardware store clerk is a bit perplexed. When he asked what kind it was, I responded half lab, half cow.

        • I have picture of my mom’s family reunion .
          There was’t a male over 25 that wasn’t going or
          gone bald…
          Moi too…

        • Speaking of wives…. mine is half Blackfoot. She thinks that she can handle her alcohol, but that’s not the case. I have a wee bit of Choctaw from generations ago, but the Irish, Scot and German lines have tended to grant me what I consider a normal tolerance. My official excuse for marrying her is that she won the pool match. It’s not true, but it makes for an interesting conversation piece, (and tends to piss her off).

          I never was any good. The fun part is that I know why. I am right handed…. but I shoot pool in a left handed fashion. Either I am latent ambidextrous, or I am just horked in the head.

          Right now, I’m just plain tired.

    • My instructor Adjutant used to say “people who have a beard want to hide something”.
      I particularly like the birmingham trichology center reference…

  15. #@!$@#%$ Google.

    Went looking for Zappa’s “Yellow Snow” song. Google auto completed it as “Yellow Snot.”

    I was reminded of a video about Modegreens. The funniest of which, if head wrong, goes like this:

    Don’t go around tonight,
    Well, it’s bound to take your life,
    There’s a bathroom on the right..”

    In jest, Credence actually used the misheard lyric in one of their concerts

    And a few Mondegreens… some of them are a bit dirty.

  16. I wish the Sinabung webcam were better. You can get occasional screenshots, but you can’t tell if it’s starting a large eruption, or if it’s just another puff, or even some clouds / emissions nearby.

      • Not much eludes Surono.
        He has mastered the Stonetablet model of volcanology. Untill he drops one, nothing is happening. When he drops one, run.
        Good to see you around again! 🙂

    • Thanks Lucas,
      Just goes to show that even a so called “Tame” volcano can be awe inspiring… The webcams there don’t even begin to give the same insight as this video. Recommended.

      • Wow – great video. If only it had been half that active when I was there … sigh.
        And my legs started aching involuntarily with the memory of hauling my knackered old carcass up that hill 🙂

  17. Some new pics of Nishino shima, courtesy of the JCG. There is also a bathymetric profile prior to the eruption.

    I can only think of a parallel to El Hierro and the scarsity if the data available here shows that, in my opinion, Spain has let go a fantastic scientific opportunity.

    The small island has grown and there is still lava extrusion.

    Also note that there seems to be some lava flow on the “main” island, so the eruption could have begun on the main island….

    • Yes, these are. Unfortunately I can not speculate if anything more can happen :=) but it likely will, eventally, but not before some other() volcanoe have done theirs. At current time (and over last several weeks) there is suspect activity in certain volcanoes and/or regions. Its like winning the Lottery be able say which one (will be first). Anyways I promished … nah, only teasing.

  18. Suwanosejima, another of the Japanese marathon runners, has had an explosion that even warranted
    a flight warning from the Tokyo VAAC this morning. Nothing to write home about… but, well, as Mt. St. Helens and Pinatubo are not on at the moment…

    It is still very lively:

    Although no camera shows the volcano directly, the glow can be seen on this cam
    (the last one on the drop down list).

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