Eruption updates on Nishinoshima and Etna

The actively erupting Nijima on the Nishinoshima Seamount. Thank you Sherine for finding this image.

The actively erupting Nijima on the Nishinoshima Seamount. Thank you Sherine for finding this image.

Nijima

The little Island of Nijima next to Nishinoshima Island on the Nishinoshima Seamount is steadily growing and is now around 400 by 250 meters. Previously the main growth have been away from the island of Nishinoshima so it looked kind of dubious that the islands would merge during this eruption.

Now there is though a lobe growing towards Nishinoshima, and if lava continues to run in that direction the islands should unify fairly fast. One should remember that the depth is least in the area between the Islands so any growth there would be faster than in any other direction. We will though quite simply have to wait and see if Nijima and Nishinoshima joins.

Image showing Nishinoshima to the upper left and Nijima at the lower right. Distance between the islands are between 250 and 300 meters. Image from the Japanese Coast Guard.

Image showing Nishinoshima to the upper left and Nijima at the lower right. Distance between the islands are between 250 and 300 meters. Image from the Japanese Coast Guard.

One thing is though clear, it does not seem like the eruption will end soon. Judging from the previous island forming eruption on the Nishinoshima Seamount and a few quite likely eruptions, the general length for eruptions here seem to months, if not years. So, we will probably have time to get back to Nishinoshima as time goes by.

Etna

Etnas paroxysm no 20 as dawn breaks.

Etnas paroxysm no 20 as dawn breaks.

The awaited paroxysm number 20 this year started unusually slow and built up into a rather weak paroxysm and as the tremor started its rapid drop off most said that it was a rather unsatisfactory event.

Etna exactly when the side vent opens up and the lava gushes out.

Etna exactly when the side vent opens up and the lava gushes out.

I think that statement was quite unfair since the end phase before the tremor dropped off was a fissure opening up on the side of the New South East Crater cone effectively emptying out the accumulated lava in a pretty spectacular show.

Something was though apparently not normal with this paroxysm compared to the earlier paroxysms. First of all it was not that explosive, and the fire fountaining was not as impressive as we are used to. But what really sets this one apart is that the common rapid decline after the peak halted midway and just stayed there. With time we have had several new peaks where lava has burst forth creating picturesque lava streams covering the side of the mountain.

This lava has mainly been flowing out of two vents that formed as the fissure on the side of NSEC opened up at the peak of the beginning of the paroxysm. At the same time ash and steam continued to be emitted from the NSEC with intermittent strombolian outbursts. The event has also been accompanied with loud bangs that has disturbed the residents close to Etna quite a bit.

As I am writing this the effusive and long-lasting paroxysm is entering its third day if we count from the start of the tremor rise. Trying to guess when the paroxysm will end seems to be a fairly futile exercise since Etna is really into one of her surprise moods.

CARL

Etnameter:

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151 thoughts on “Eruption updates on Nishinoshima and Etna

    • Well, when better minds than mine is sitting quietly scratching their heads I think it is time to say “Surprising moods” 🙂

  1. And there I just found my present for the year… I so understand why it has become a bestseller :mrgreen:
    My dear friend Linn Andreasson found this out during one of her numeriferous travels…

    After a bit of googling and ordering the book I discovered that there is a sweet side to the book (and title). Poo is the Thai word for Crab, no not that version of crab, it is the food version. Poo runs a cooking school in one of Bangkoks slums where she teaches people how to cook so they can work as cooks and get a way out of poverty. The book actually won an award and is published by Helping Hands. So, help out and order the book. I bet the recipees are delicious.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  2. Hello all! I guess all you Europeans are sleeping now having watched Etna through the night. While all you Westerners and Easterners are also sleeping, having watched Etna through the day 😀

    @ Carl,
    thanks a lot for the update on Nishinoshima, good to be able to follow the development. And a good summary on Etna’s newest antics, let’s see what else she is getting up to…
    Did you see my suggestion in the last post to keep one of your “morning glory” screenshots in the Dragons’ Hoard/Remarkable screen shots section? Not the one you have used above, but the previous one: https://volcanocafe.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/plotting-iceland-with-the-gps/comment-page-2/#comment-111747

    @ Chryphia,
    thanks for posting the live feeds! The last one is a finished video now. Where do you find the actually live ones? And… I cannot find any time stamps on them, am I overlooking something? — Also, could you keep your guide to the GPS Visualizer somewhere in the Hoard, perhaps on the plotting page? This sounds very interesting but I have not much time at the mo, would be great to try it out later.

    • I guess you are refering to the spike that happened a few days ago?
      Well, that has been discussed quite a lot without us becoming any brighter.
      It also shows on quite a few neighbouring stations.
      Best guess is something of deeper origin in a fissure swarm. But we did not even get which one to blame, it was most likely either Tungnafellsjökull, Veidivötn, Grimsvötn or Langisjör fissure swarms… Take your pick 🙂

      At the same time there where deep earthquakes at Tungnafellsjökull, Bardarbunga, Grimsvötn and Langisjör. All of them but Tungnafellsjökull was att associated central volcanoes. So… Pick your volcano :mrgreen:

      • The spike yes, and the shaking last night, also I’ve noticed that GPS reads Grimsvötn is at the same height it was when it erupted in 2011.

        • Grimsvötn still has quite a bit to go on the GPS, it should shoot past the previous levels and then quite a bit, it usually does that.
          But, what probably makes Grimsvötn a nogo right now is the cumulative strain release. It has during the 3 last eruptions been a remarkably good tool to predict eruptions, and so far nothing seems to negate that it would be the case now.
          http://hraun.vedur.is/ja/vatnajokulsvoktun/grf_uppsafn.html

          • I disagree (as inflation seem have reached “a plateu”). I think Grimsvötn does not need equal “old height” (meters abowe sea level) and be ready now. If it gets new (sudden) injection it likely will go off with a bang, but not at lage one, Grimsvötn is also famous for many small eruptions.

            • I disagree with your disagree, at least so far that she has previously surpassed the previous high in GPS motion for all measured eruptions. Same with the cumulative strain release.
              But… As Etna is showing right now, volcanoes can do whatever the heck they wish whenever they wish 🙂
              I though have a problem with Grimsvötn doing small ones now. The trend has been continously towards larger and larger eruptions, a sign that she is rebuilding rapidly now after her last caldera formation VEI-6.
              I expect a few years more of rise and quakes, then yet another VEI-4 around the same size as the last time.

            • Yea, ok, we have Hekla first – Then we can do Grimsvötn?
              But it does not have webcam for the dance.

            • I think Diana would be happy just as long as we did it infront of any cam on Iceland. The one in the park in Reykjavik would be perfect. 🙂
              Or the one next to Geysir, that is close to that nice cabin.

            • Yes, likely she likes that. Hope she is ok and well, guess Christmas is as fast approaching there as here 🙂 Shes not been much around.

  3. Now Etna is officialy into her third day of paroxysmal period. Still no sign that it might be over.
    Seems to be fairly volatile free old magma judging from the lack of explosive activity and that something seems to be slowly pushing it out.

  4. Intersection of West 120th Street & South Blackstone Road between Caldwell and Anthony in Kansas jumped up and down a few centimeters as a 5km deep M4.2 hit.
    I guess Dorothy Gale has a case of Indigestion.
    Something tells me that this will be known as the Great Earthquake of ’13 in that neighbourhood. Or they will just go… “Is that Bill being abducted again Thelma?”

    • Probably related to the Nemaha Ridge and/or Humboldt Fault. But I’m sure that some farking dumbass will equate it with fracking. The Humboldt Fault typically shows normal mode quakes. The Nemaha ridge is associated with the Mid Continent Rift system that runs through the middle of the North American Craton.

      The region of the quake is down near the Yavapai-Mazatzal boundary where it is beleived that a few island arcs were plastered onto the then forming craton a billion and a half years ago (or so)

      http://www.ceri.memphis.edu/people/mmagnani/webpage/magnani_gsabull.pdf

      • hard water: horrible for your hair, cooker, dishwasher etc. and taste not really well
        source: The (ground)water in Leuven is 30° F. Recently they have finally decided to make it a bit less hard

        • 30°F is hard but not that hard. I can find easily 60°F. I am around 45. Our american friends will show worse. But it’s true the optimum is around 15°F.
          And hardness is not all, pH is also important.

          • true, but for my region it is very hard. And actually it is more 40° F than 30° F(I just looked it up, I thought it was 30°). I do know that if you leave a glass with a bit of water and you come back the next day when the water is evaporated, your glass is white instead of transparent. (I don’t want to know what 60° does with your glasses).
            The fun thing is that in the forests a bit south of Leuven, you’ve still some unspoiled water springs with clear rainwater (no sulfates, very little calcium, no algae and bacteria; only the iron is above average). Every time I come there, there is a queue of people with waterbottles. (note the name of this specific spring is de minnebron or the source of love, maybe this explains the popularity too)

            • Farenheit? How on earth come you are using farenheit? Aren’t you living in the blessed lands of Celcius?
              (Ie, every country except US, Liberia and North Korea).

            • @Sa’ké : You could use a softener. In the past I could have supplied one, but not right now.

              @ Carl

              °F is for french degree which is what we call in chemistry an equivalent.
              An equivalent is given by the value of Molar mass divided by the valence of the ion.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivalent_(chemistry)

              for instance, Calcium has a M=40 g/mol and a valence of 2 (Ca2+).
              So the value of the equivalent for calcium is 40/2=20

              It comes from the time when people had no easy mean to do precise calculations.
              It is not MKSA, but allows for very effective calculations.

              The French degrees are just the value of mEq divided by 5.
              You have similar values in German degrees and ppm CaCO3 (for Germany, US and GB).

              So the value of the equivalence in french degrees for Ca is 20/5 = 4. It means that one french degree of Ca is equivalent to 4 mg/l of Ca.

              If you take Na, it is 23/(1 x 5) = 4.6, so one equivalent of sodium = 4.6 mg/l

              It is very widely used in water treatment because of the electroneutrality of water (water has no electrical charge, so it means that the electrical quantity of cations= the same for anions).

              you use it a lot also when calculating ion exchange equipment (like for a softener). In a softener you want to exchange the hardness ions (Ca2+ and Mg2+) against sodium (Na+) to avoid scaling problems due to the water hardness.

              The softening resin has an exchange capacity of (let’s say) 6°F/m3/l. It means that a liter of resin will exchange 6°F of anything (Ca and Mg) against the same equivalent of Sodium.

              For a hardness of 30°F, it will be able to treat 6°/30°F = 0.2 m3 of water with a liter of resin, exchanging (releasing) 6°F x 4.6 (Na)=27.6 mg of sodium and capturing 6 x 4 = 24 mg of calcium (if there is only calcium) .

              then as the resin is exhausted it will have to be regenerated.

      • Water with >= 50ppm Ca2+ ions is better for brewing, however. With lower levels, complex reactions in the malt (relating to the activities of Alpha & Beta Amylase enzymes) do not play out quite right, so you don’t extract as much malty goodness from the grains.

        • Yes, you need aso some sulfates. Usually you decarbonate the water or use a reverse osmosis for partial demineralization.

  5. He probably was the only one in class who answered that first question correctly. Whereas for the second one there would be some more options… 🙂

  6. Do we see the ENSEC here or is it just part of a lava flow?

    If it is the new vent then it is quite low on the foot of the NSEC.

      • And here is a thing, that is an old vent. That kind of leads to the notion that there has been an open conduit there all the time… Hm…

        • we were talking earlier about vent erosion, relining, lines of weakness. I guess it is some combination of that. It was there but sealed by something flimsy enough to give way later.. question is: why do big gas bubbles form at the top (and explode) but not at the bottom?

          • It did explode fairly well as the vents open up, but not after that.
            I think it would be the same general principle as in the upcoming Hekla piece (if I ever get to write it… Gas gas gas-figures).

        • That’s the thing, it’s not been an open conduit, there was a conduit in the area on 8 September 2011, which cooled and the magma in it became hard rock (and thus that conduit would not reopen), and a new conduit found its way to the surface in nearly the same area now. If it had been open, it should have erupted during each paroxysm between 8 September 2011 and 16 December 2013 😀

  7. Hi
    Any news on the type of lavas emitted ?

    Concerning nishinoshima there is also an IR and a thermal density picture. On the TD, one can see the lava flows more clearly

  8. I guess this info should have been available for the extinction protocol post – it is in this week’s New Scientist:

    ‘A decade ago, Svensen and his colleagues began studying the Siberian flood basalts in a bid to work out how volcanic activity there could have led to global devastation. Their attention was drawn to a number of unusual circular features marked on Russian geological maps. “We saw these structures on the map and decided we had to go and study them,” he says.

    They turned out to be “truly amazing” – unique chimney-like structures cutting vertically through the rocks, filled with volcanic materials, sediments and salty deposits called evaporites. When he and his colleagues took samples from these pipes back to the lab and heated them up, they generated large quantities of methyl chloride and methyl bromide – gases that readily destroy ozone in the atmosphere.

    Svensen’s idea is that the Siberian volcanic eruptions did spew some greenhouse gases directly into the atmosphere – but more significantly, they baked organic-rich shales and evaporites lying underneath the area. The effect of this process was to generate up to 100,000 gigatonnes of CO2 and thousands of gigatonnes of halocarbons like methyl chloride all within 100,000 years. Initially, these gases accumulated in pockets at depth, but as the pressure grew the rock above couldn’t take it and eventually fractured to create the chimney-like structures, each of which explosively vented greenhouse gases and ozone-destroying chemicals high into the atmosphere.’

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22029470.900-did-asteroid-fracking-cause-earths-worst-extinction.html?page=2#.Uq9_DCf3HwQ

    • and:

      ‘Svensen’s idea is that the Siberian volcanic eruptions did spew some greenhouse gases directly into the atmosphere – but more significantly, they baked organic-rich shales and evaporites lying underneath the area. The effect of this process was to generate up to 100,000 gigatonnes of CO2 and thousands of gigatonnes of halocarbons like methyl chloride all within 100,000 years. Initially, these gases accumulated in pockets at depth, but as the pressure grew the rock above couldn’t take it and eventually fractured to create the chimney-like structures, each of which explosively vented greenhouse gases and ozone-destroying chemicals high into the atmosphere.

      This could account for the extreme global warming that would have sent some species to their death, but there is also an extra kill factor. As atmospheric ozone declined, more ultraviolet light would have reached Earth’s surface, harming even the species that survived the global warming. One piece of evidence in support of this scenario is the virtual disappearance of forests during the end-Permian extinction. Wignall points out that this should not have occurred if the events were entirely down to global warming. “Warm-loving plants should have headed for the poles, and yet the polar forests were completely wiped out,” he says.’

      • and one more point:

        ‘Henrik Svensen at the University of Oslo, Norway, has long argued that location is crucial to grasping the consequences of events like asteroid impacts (New Scientist, 8 December 2007, p 42). About 214 million years ago a massive space rock hit north-east Canada, forming the 100-kilometre-wide Manicouagan crater. Yet it seems to have had little effect on the global ecosystem. What are we to make of that?

        Svensen’s hunch is that the Manicouagan asteroid hit inert, hard crystalline rock rather than sediments stuffed full of climate-changing gases that were subsequently released, as has been suggested happened before the end-Permian extinction 252 million years ago (see main story). “This may explain why sometimes impacts trigger global disasters and sometimes they just trigger local effects but no mass extinction,” he says.

        In fact, he goes so far as to suggest that a similar “fracking” process could have been the X-factor that turned the Chicxulub asteroid into a dinosaur killer. Most geologists think the size of this asteroid alone explains its lethal effect, but Svensen points out that the rock struck a thick sequence of sediments, rich in salty deposits called evaporites. As a rule, evaporites contain a lot of sulphur that can escape into the atmosphere, causing extensive acid rain. “This might help explain why that extinction was so big,” says Svensen (see diagram).

        If there is any truth to such ideas, that means that there are especially vulnerable spots on Earth today. We might particularly wish an incoming asteroid to avoid a place like the Williston Basin, which straddles Montana, the Dakotas and Saskatchewan in North America, for instance – a major site for present-day human fracking activities. “They could be vulnerable,” says Eric Tohver at the University of Western Australia in Perth.’

        • Interesting that they have to stick the key catchphrases in there in order to justify funding. “Global whatever,” “Fracking” etc. It gets a bit nauseating after a while and cause some people to simply dismiss what could have been a highly informative paper as simple rhetoric.

          I could have added that blowing away the precious ozone layer would allow much deeper penetration of hard UV, and that would have lowered the level at which carbonyl sulfide would dissociate down into the troposphere (increasing the sulfate production… hello acid rain), but since they are playing game cards for funding, I think he may be spewing tripe. But, that’s my opinion. Just a person with an interest who is tired of the societal manipulative bullshit in some of these papers.

          Meh.

          • I would say that it is not in the paper that the bullshit is added, it is in the write up of the paper and how the interviewer phrases things. Remember that this is from a popsci article, not from the scientific paper.

    • I’ll try to get hold of the actual paper and see if there is something to it.
      The general principle sounded interesting, even though I suspect that it is not as groundbreaking as one might think, after all, we knew allready that the Siberian Traps was a gassy momma.

      • There is actually another way to look at Professor Hyakutake mathematical excercise. If you instead put up the notion that a Black hole is a new Universe moving at the Kelvin-speed of the Black hole you also get it to fit, it would even fit slightly better with the data. And that opens up a hole load of possibilities of ininite-verses. It would also explain where did big bang come from. Namely, we are in the butt end of a black hole in another Universe, and in our Universe we are creating almost infinite new universes, and so on and so forth up and down the ladder.
        It is basically a notion I came up with when I was 15, but by the physics of then was not allowed, but later advances have made possible to try out mathematically. I still believe in this model of Infiniverse since it is 100 percent congruant with Feynmans path integral many worlds interpretation of electron motion in quantum electro dynamics.
        (The last one together with the theory of relativity is the two things physicist think is true in a literal sense).

        I am very happy that the field I spent almost 20 years within finally has started to move after 40 years of navel-looking into ever more complex mathematical models If I was not too old I would almost like to go back again, but the youngsters are too fast for me now :mrgreen:

        • The thing about the black hole sourcing multiverse big bangs, is that whoever is on the receiving end is getting a pretty anemic big bang from a mass point of view. Yeah, black holes feed, but they don’t feed THAT much.

          • In an 11-dimension universe it does not matter that much, scale is irrelevant since one would be looking at it from the inside out.
            A black hole is a mass-mirroring of our verse, albeit minor in scale from our perspective, but grand in scale in their perspective. The same as if we could poke out of our verse into our parent verse that one would look immense.

    • Actually, he has not, but it is a very nice theory that actually have brough physics back on the track that he started, so it is an extension of his work. String theory was just a detour that will fade into history, but that gave quite a lot of new questions to answer.

  9. I am watching “How the Earth Works – Will Iceland Poison the Skies?” I think even in here actually liked it. And I can’t find a free link. 43 minutes. How long is that in metric?

    • 29 minutes 86 seconds.

      During the french revolution there was actually metric minutes. 100 seconds per minute 100 minutes per hour and 10 hours per day. Also, there was 28 days and 13 months.
      The last part really makes sense. That is the lunar orbital time and you do not need to keep track of the idiotic irregular number of days. On top of that it would make it simpler for guys…
      “Duh, it is the fourth, time to bring home chocolate and wear a helmet”

      Being a tongue in cheek “Messerschmidter” here. 🙂

        • knifesmith -> cutler ?
          or possibly a pilot of a german aircraft ?
          but yes the 13 months are nice, though I liked the hobbit calendar with ‘leap days’ and so forth being ‘not a day of the week’ so monday tuesday wednesday thursday friday saturday sunday leapday monday etc

    • Don’t tell me you have only just discovered them? They are my daily breakfast reading. Many a swarm to be seen (mostly around the honey pot) therefore to be read with caution.

        • Which is why I had to talk myself into linking the farm one. There is nothing that I was trying to point out on the drum other than it existed and where.

          And yes Bruce. That be the first that I knew of them. I was hoping for the white island drums, but these seemed quite well placed for the North Island wrecking crew. :D.

            • Assumptions occur because lacking any further data, we proceed with ruminating upon what we have availible. Additional data would be nice, but in order to get on with the show, we can’t sit around waiting on data that may or may not appear. It’s related to the stereotype functions of our brain. (stereotypes are a survival mechanism that allow up to take an action likely to be correct and secure our survival in potential/pending danger)

              Several months ago, the US Army “corpse” of engineering (using the presidential pronunciation of the word, as in Marine “corpse”) detonated a section of levee upstream from New Madrid and allowed the river to flow over what was reclaimed floodplain. This was to lessen pressure on a section of levee next to a town that was in danger of failing. Millions of tonnes of water flowed out into the land and I thought that it would surely shift the crust load over the ReelFoot Rift and increase the seismicity. It did, though far less than I expected. While they were doing that, I intently watched the drums and seismos for that area. Several of them on farms. The neat part was trying to weasle out what were tremors, what were quakes, and what were normal farm operations. With anything that says “farm” in it’s name, you have to pay extra close attention.

    • If you mean the map from last post: when you zoom in, the markers of FEDG (GPS) and FED (seismo) are slightly offset. 🙂

  10. It took me a full 3 days of experimentation, but the perfect homemade chilli-mayo is born.
    Finely chop scottish bonnet chillis (or Habanero), remove the seeds if you want it weaker, and choped fresh tarragon and squeze a bit of lime on it. mulch it around a bit untill all is married.
    Make regular mayo.
    Let both stand for a while. Then poor off any liquid from the chillis mix. Blend the mix into the mayo. Let stand for a day in the fridge. Put on anything and just feel the Holliday spirit detonate in your mouth.

  11. http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/sinabung/news/40350/Sinabung-volcano-Sumatra-increasing-seismic-activity-red-alert.html

    Increase in LP events & tremor – I think it’s pretty interesting how Sinabung seems like it’s the perfect example of how a volcano wakes up after a long period of dormancy. This actually seems somewhat similar to how Pinatubo woke up. Based off the documentaries and articles I’ve read on it, there was a long period of phreatic eruptions and restlessness without any real magmatic eruptions, until the magma was finally able to break through and erupt.

    Note: I’m not saying Sinabung is the next Pinatubo (although guessing what will happen during a magmatic eruption here would be a shot in the dark at best), but the way that they’ve woken up is definitely similar.

    • I think the resemblance is mainly caused by it happening in the same type of bedrock, and that magma formation is coming from the same type of source. I would though not draw any conclusions between them. I would more think Merapi.
      The figures does not point towards a Pinatubo sized event. But, the possibility for an eruption is much greater now than compared with just a few days ago. Especially the Long Period events is worrying since that means that pressure is mountain within the mountain.

      • You sure Merapi is a good comparison? Merapi has been extremely active over the last 400 years, and has had a relatively open system. It’s also a much older system, and likely has a larger magmatic system (although that’s conjecture). On top of that, Merapi I believe is largely basaltic-andesitic, whereas Sinabung is andesitic-dacitic.

        I’m not saying Sinabung will be another Pinatubo. But I don’t think this process is all that unsimilar to most volcanoes that aren’t open systems, and are waking up out of a long slumber.

        I do think if Sinabung were to erupt, it could be a wildcard in the sense that nobody really knows what will occur. It’s a fairly un-studied volcano, and much isn’t known about it. My guess would be a VEI-4 eruption, but that’s nothing more than random conjecture.

        • Time to do a bit of fast digging. How big are the PF deposits from Sinabung past eruptions? How thick? How far do they extend? How do they date?

          They got that critical data pretty fast for Pinatubo, and they knew right away that it would be a shitstorm if it went… and it was. If you want more than speculation about what it will do, you have to know what it has done 🙂

          • I’ve dug a bit. Nothing huge has occurred here before, but it’s a somewhat young system from what I know, and they haven’t done tons of digging. Other volcanoes fairly close also HAVE done big stuff, and are very similar in terms of the overall geological environment.

            It’s also a plugged up volcano with over 400 years of dormancy with dacitic magma and a steep edifice. That alone is a sign that something larger *can* occur here. I don’t anticipate anything huge from Sinabung, but with younger volcanoes, there is a first for everything, and the fact that it’s been corked up for over 400 years without anything happening means that it’s just a guessing game. With that said, I would imagine the actual magma chamber hasn’t grown significantly large enough to create a very big eruption since it is still somewhat young, so even if it is very over-pressurized, that doesn’t mean that pressure is encompassing a large magma chamber.

            • It all boils down to one thing.
              Size of the magma system and the amount of eruptible magma that has arrived. Youngish volcanoes tend to have smaller magmatic systems than older non-caldera volcanoes. Exceptions do exist, but they are not that common.
              From what I have seen Sinabung will do anything from a VEI-2 to a small VEI-4 at maximum. And let me correct one thing, they did not know that Pinatubo would be a “shitstorm”, they knew that it had gone a couple of VEI-5s but mostly smaller… So they expected something a bit more minute than they got. But then, once again, Pinatubo was an older system.

            • Carl, the stuff I read (‘Volcano Cowboys’ for one) made it pretty clear that a cursory examination of Pinatubo’s record showed that it erupted infrequently, and when it did erupt it was almost always very big, with huge thick extensive PF deposits; they compared it to Katmai. Hence the drama over getting the AF to start making plans to evacuate Clark AFB before it put the first magma on the ground.

              I recall specifically that they gave a 70% chance of it being ‘big’ (certainly bigger than VEI-5) IF it erupted, and in fact what came out of the ground was towards the *lower* end of their worst case estimates; they were aware there was a real chance Clark would be entirely covered in PFs.

            • It would probably have been that if the storm had not been raging at the time of the eruption.
              Thing is that there is quite different interpretation of events between the write of Volcano Cowboys and the local volcanologists of the events. The evacuation size was as far as I know done on a combination of the possibility for a large eruption from historical records, but mainly from the readings of the data that came in.

              And as for many volcanoes, small eruptions disappear between larger eruption layers. I would also not compare Katmai and Pinatubo. Pinatubos eruption was at the larger end of what the system can do, but Katmai is an order of magnitude larger in what it could potentially do in the end. If there is one “megaerupter” in the making in the US, my bet would be on the Katmai area due to its extraordinary large magma feed system. Katmais feeder volcanoes have had numerous eruptions that was far smaller. I ususlly think about Katmai as a pre-Tondano system. Many magma feeder tubes, large deep magma source, interconnected magma reservoirs… But Katmai is a bimodal system. She normally erupts VEI-2 to VEI-3, but at the same time has the capacity for large caldera formations from totally unexpected places within the system. I would go so far as to say that Katmais famous eruption was not the end of how big it could potentially become down into the future.

            • I wasn’t aware that there was any significant difference between PVO & USGS views on the potential of the volcano?

              I agree with you on Katmai. It’s fascinating and yes I think it is one that could go very big one day. Perhaps – perhaps – the Katmai/Novarupta oddity (in terms of distance etc.) is one of the things we need to learn to look for in the largest & most dangerous volcanic systems; we (modern humans) just haven’t seen enough action from enough of them to have a proper picture.

              I wonder if we might ever see a Novarupta-type even at Sakurajima, say? Well… in some ways Sakurajima IS a well-established (but still young) long-term ‘Novarupta’, being so far from the centre of the caldera..

            • Pinatubo had some pretty confused driving geology. It’s on one of those volcanic lineaments heading off north from the macolod corridor. That corridor is where a couple of subduction zones are competing for dominance. It’s sort of the middle ground as the forces for them fight it out. Pinatubo is the pedestrian on the sidewalk watching the wreck occur in slow motion… sometimes puking, sometime sitting there in silence.

              From “Sleeperfish” which mainly looked at the Taal area.


              And for GeoLoco, a retro gift from across the pond. Enjoy!

            • “Pinatubos eruption was at the larger end of what the system can do, but Katmai is an order of magnitude larger in what it could potentially do in the end.”

              Carl, I think you’re the best source here overall on volcanoes, but this just isn’t true. The 1991 Eruption of Pinatubo was actually one of the smallest pinatubo eruptions in the geological record. The eruption in 1991 came after a uncharacteristically short repose time, which wasn’t short by normal times, but was shorter than the “standard” repose time between large Pinatubo eruptions. The 1991 eruption was one of the smallest VEI-6 eruptions at Pinatubo in the Geological record, and the volcanologists in the documentaries may have never survived if the system would have erupted in it’s normal capacity.

              “Well… in some ways Sakurajima IS a well-established (but still young) long-term ‘Novarupta’, being so far from the centre of the caldera..”

              This is silly. SakuraJima IS a somma volcano of a massive caldera. It’s a resurgent dome of what many would refer to as a supervolcano. Nothing personal, but if anything, Novarupta is a young Aira caldera, as opposed to the other way around. More specifically, I would say Novarupta is more similar to a pre-fisher caldera system. It makes more sense geologically, and the Aleutian arc has shown that it produces large caldera events in it’s magmatic system regularly (as do most arc volcanic systems).

              Aira can be a nasty mofo. It’s one of the volcanic areas of the world that I 100% expect something nasty to occur before I die. The writing is more or less on the wall for Sakurajima, but it still has a little bit of time left until it reaches it’s tipping point of a legitimately large magmatic eruption. For what it’s worth, I’m not implying a large eruption of Aira caldera itself, but a decent sized VEI-event from Sakurajima, similar to what occurred in the early 1900’s. The biggest risk that comes from an event like this is the possibility of magma entering the magmatic system of Sakurajima, leading to a Krakatoa style event. This is unlikely, but as with any volcano surrounded by lots of water, it’s a legitimate possibility that shouldn’t be ignored.

            • cbus, not quite sure what we’re disagreeing about. My comparison was to the *distance* – Novarupta from Katmai, Sakurajima from the centre of Aira. With a speculation thrown in as to what Sakurajima might have looked like before the start of edifice-building, 13,000 years ago; did it start looking a bit like Novarupta? And could the next big change in the Aira system involve a new line of weakness and a Novarupta-type event somewhere else along the caldera, remote from the magma reservoir? I know the Japanese have considered this a real possibility; I’d have to dig for the references.

              And you’re right about risk. If Sakurajima does ever ‘go big’ I will be filming from a *very* respectful distance!

            • Ah, sorry Mike didn’t mean to come off as disrespectful or confrontational!

              I had misinterpreted what you said about katmai/aira/sakurajima. As for pre-aira caldera, from what I’ve researched, it was a somewhat standard stratovolcano area prior to going full-blown caldera. It DID start having larger eruptions prior to it’s penultimate eruption, but nothing ludicrous like what was seen in the Aira caldera eruption.

              As for another Aira eruption, I would hope you would be on a helicopter and well on your way to secure your bank deposits & financial security. If that island were ever to blow up in a caldera-style fashion in modern times, you can kiss goodbye to most of what is currently there. The eruption of Kikai 6000 years wiped out all the southern area of Kyushu by itself, and that was a comparatively weak eruption that occurred miles offshore as opposed to the cenral area of Kyushu.

            • cbus, in the context of a very large eruption at Aira caldera, with the possibility of the sea gaining access to the magma chamber, ‘respectful distance’ would probably mean ‘Honshu, on high ground away from the sea’!

  12. I know you know what Pele’s Hair is. But do you know what it actually looks like out there, does it come as a handfull or in clouds, does it fall or waft? At least now I know what it looks like on the ground – that is, I guess, before anybody has walked on it.
    HVO, 09/12/2013: “Pele’s hair is abundant around Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, and originates from the active, spattering lava lake. In certain areas there is a nearly continuous carpet of Pele’s hair, which is highlighted in the afternoon sun.” They have two pictures of it, here is one of them (click on it for natural size):

    HVO page:
    http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/multimedia/?display=default

  13. There is a big diamond glistening in the sun on this photo. If you find it you may keep it, but if you sell it, you are required to donate 50% of the achieved price to VC! 😉

    • An even greater amount of stale magma that will not erupt. Seems that yellowstone is turning into the largest ever pluton.

    • HOLY CRAP!!!

      “Farrell dismissed that notion, saying there isn’t enough data to estimate the timing of the next eruption.

      “We do believe there will be another eruption, we just don’t know when,” he said.”


      Accolades to Jamie Farrell of the University of Utah. and for the writer of the article (Matt Volz) who had the cajones to actually publish sane information.

      • “The last Yellowstone eruption happened 640,000 years ago”
        No, it was later, and it was a rather normal sized eruption. If memory serves the last eruption was 37KA ago.

        Now, let us play with number. The given size would mean that the chamber if it was a large continous chamber would contain 11 947 cubic kilometers of magma. It is of course not a continous chambes, instead it is an intricate network of dykes and sills. So, let us say that between a third and a quarter is actually magma. On a worst case scenario we are down to 3 982. Now let us ponder how much of that is eruptible even with the aid of new arriving magma. Let us say half of that at worst. 1 991. Enter 90 percent rule and we have 200 cubic kilometers of eruption potential magma. That would then be about 2 Tamboras in DRE.

        As I have mentioned before… I would not be that worried about Yellowstone erupting at Yellowstone, I would be worried about what happens when the Hotspot punches through in the next location. But that is about 1 to 2 million years away, so I guess we will not be around by then.

        Pretty decent article really.

    • Right, now time for all the questions:
      1. If the hot spot is migrating eastwards relative to the NA plate why is the hot area stretched to the east and not to the west? This is like the tail of a wind vane pointing the wrong way.
      2. Why is the hot area stretched so laterally?
      3. Why is the maximum extension E/W when the main faults in the region run N/S?
      4. Does the heat in the hot area come from constant mafic intrusions into the crust or some other media? If mafic, why don’t these intrusions just shoot up through the numerous faults in the region instead of pooling at a shallow level?
      5. How much of the hot area represents rejuvenated plutonic / volcanic debris from the last caldera eruptions and how much of it is new material?

      No doubt I’ll think of a few more when I’ve had my coffee.

  14. Good morning VC! It is a beautyful morning in Sicily and Etna shows very clear with her new lavaflows on all working webcams. Alas, I have no time to take snaps. Have a good day/night!

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