Augustine Volcano

Mount Augustine is a relatively new volcanic vent in lower Cook Inlet, Alaska.  It sits about 70 miles WSW from Homer, Alaska, in the inlet itself, and 85 miles north of the Katmai – Novarupta complex.  It sits in an island measuring some 8 x 11 km with a single cone to 4,100 feet (1260 m).  It is surrounded by four webcams and two webicorders, all output available via the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) at the following link.

The cone is relatively new, with rocks no older than 40,000 years present. It has exhibited most of the expected activity out of a stratovolcano including multiple flank collapses, dome building, dome collapses, debris flow caused local tsunamis, and pyroclastic flows.

The most recent eruption was 2006. The precursory phase with increasing earthquakes started May 2005 through January 2006. It was marked with increasing frequency of earthquakes and visible steaming and some light ash dusting in December. An explosion in December disabled two seismic stations located closest to the summit.

The first explosive activity took place on January 11, 2006, with a pair of afternoon explosions that produced plumes to nine kilometers high. Ejecta was primarily old, weathered fragments indicating no new magma at first – a throat clearing. Subsequent explosions two and three days later dusted the Kenai Peninsula with ash. Analysis of the ash showed new magma. Heights of the plume exceeded 14 km. The explosions also produced pyroclastic flows, lahars and debris avalanches. Dome building was observed between explosive episodes.

By Jan. 28, activity was near continuous and this phase lasted until Feb. 2. Plume heights during this period were measured at 9 km. There were also pyroclastic flows, debris avalanches that destroyed yet another set of seismographs on the flanks of the volcano.

The final phase of the eruption was effusive from Feb. 2 through late March. In addition to dome building, there were blocky, highly viscous lava flows down one of the flanks. This phase is estimated to have produced 30 million cubic meters of material.

Following the main eruption, steam and anomalous seismic activity were observed through 2007. AVO lists this as a VEI 3 eruption.

Earlier eruptions and activity were similar in size with six of them between 1935 – 1986. Additionally, there were several debris flows and avalanches observed down the steep, unstable flank.

The largest observed eruption of Augustine was in 1883 (apparently a good year for volcanoes), with a VEI 4 eruption that included a flank collapse of the north part of the island that put around a half a cubic km of debris into Cook Inlet, creating a localized tsunami. Runup of the tsunami was 6 – 8 feet (2 – 2.5 m) in Homer – Seldovia. Analysis of older tsunami deposits in the Inlet find runups from 20 – 26 feet (6 – 8 m) in areas closer to the island, indicating the 1883 event was not an isolated incident, and this had happened in earlier eruptions.
Runup of tsunamis here in Cook Inlet is highly dependent on high tide or low tide, as there are many parts of the Inlet where the difference in high and low tide exceeds 30 feet (10 m). A well timed collapse and nobody will know the difference. Do the same thing at high tide and a lot of things get wrecked and wet.

Augustine was one of the locations where the Krafts studied pyroclastic flows before their unfortunate demise at Unzen in 1991. They were on the mountain during the eruption of 1986 and photographed and filmed at least one pyroclastic flow. I believe I saw a video taken by them in one of the Discovery Network’s endless All Disaster, All the Time shows but have not been able to find a YouTube of the film they took. Did find a photo attributed to their visit, which is rather closer than I would want to get to one, but they were resident experts and I a mere strap-hanger.

Augustine will continue to be one of the more active volcanoes in Alaska. It does not yet appear to have built to the point where a caldera forming eruption is in its near future. But if our experience with stratovolcanoes here in Alaska is any indication, somewhere along the line, it will do that sort of eruption.
Its location in Cook Inlet is a bit to the east of the volcanoes that populate the Alaska Range / Alaska Peninsula, which may or may not mean anything.
The Photovolcanica web site notes that it is a prolific volcano, with output between 10 – 100 times that of similar subduction volcanoes. They point out that it has two historic flank collapses – 1883 and one 450 years ago, and that its voluminous output is what builds the mountain to the point where it regularly collapses. Photovolcanica believes its summit may be at or near a maximum height before a future collapse, and finish with speculation that a flank collapse is in the not so distant future, something that we do not look forward to seeing.



149 thoughts on “Augustine Volcano

  1. Replying to Schteves comment on last post, about new positioning of eqs on El Hierro:

    Hello all, and thanks Schteve!
    Do I see this right – it looks to me as if it was only by chance that the magma did not erupt through the Tanganosoga edifice or so? Up to the end of August it went straight and upward to the middle of El Hierro where it presumably found its path blocked. If it had not been blocked, would it have erupted there? From there it changed direction to slightly more south and downward, towards its final destination, Bob. The upwards trend and subsequent change is good to see on the depth view from east – blue to green go up, greenish yellow starts a new path down with red leading out to sea.

    Now on to read the new post, I have already seen the great photos and look forward to the article!

    • Hi Granyia and thanks Agimarc for a great post,
      Granyia, the thinking here was that the magma did try to emerge via Tanganasoga, but that a pluton of old hardened magma barred it’s way, so it found it’s way out via the flank vent known as BoB. These revised localisations would seem to support that…
      Agimarc, the Cook Inlet looks like it may tend to conserve the energy of the tsunamis especially when the collapse occurs on the “right” side of the Island. This might explain the relatively large, high tsunamis being caused by what are fairly small amounts of material…

      • Schteve42 –

        We are thinking the same thing, that the direction of the collapse means everything. Referencing the satellite photo, if you collapse to the west, its a short run to the shoreline. if you collapse to the east, you dissipate the energy in the North Pacific. I am to the north on top of a 60′ (20 m) bluff, so something really large will have to happen to get significantly exciting up here; not outside the realm of possibility, though. Cheers –

    • Yeah, that pluton is pretty large. It showed up as a dead region of quakes that was pretty much circular, with the dominant Tanganasoga cone situated on the southern part of the almost perfect circle of no quakes.

      It had quakes all around it, but almost none inside of it, The first few weeks of quakes showed that.

      My guess is that it is hardened material from when Tanganasoga was last active, forming a sort of plug. If enough pressure builds to push that up as a dome… then someone really ought to start worrying.

      Evidently I used Tinypic and can no longer locate the URL. I was able to poke around on my hard drive and located the rewqorked image that I had done when I was originally yammering about it.

      Remember, this is an early plot of the quake set from several months ago. That area that lacks quakes, in my interpretation, could be the bottom end of a plug/dome feature that is pretty resilient to fracture. Probably the old vent that fed Tanganasoga.

      • Thanks schteve and GL for your replies! That were the times when I began reading comments but did not understand much on seismological matters. I remember clearly GL posting plots with quakefree holes on them and thought, so what? What’s strange about a place without quakes? 🙂 Now it looks to me nearly like a picture. Even if it was not a new thought, I am still proud that I could read something sensible out of a quake pattern. Thanks for digging out your plot again, GL!

    • Thank you Chryphia, da lacht das Herz! 🙂 I have always regretted that we could not see more of Fuego. Even with the latest seismogram beside it, and daily Timelapses available on Youtube! – And if you open the image only in a new tab and go one directory up, you find the storage.

  2. Thanks Agimarc – nice post about a fine-looking volcano

    Volcano trivia: there is a road in Lyon named after Katia Krafft. I know this because a very good friend and long-standing colleague of mine lives there

    • Harry Glicken blamed himself for David Johnson‘s death (“Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!”) at Mt St Helens. Johnson had switched places with Glicken so that he could attend an interview.

      Harry Glicken died with the Kraffts.

      Pele is a cruel dance partner.

  3. Thank you Agimac for a nice article. Augustine is a beautiful volcano, especially when covered with snow. I check it’s webcam frequently.

    • Dangerous in that it is small, sits well away from inhabited areas, and hasn’t done anything particularly catastrophic yet. You get lulled into a false sense of security as stratovolcanoes seem to always progress to a caldera forming eruption sometime during their life cycle. This one hasn’t gone there yet, and hopefully won’t for a long time to come. But the possibility exists and in my mind approaches near certainty the longer we go without one. (not saying this real well) Cheers –

  4. There is something badly shaking the Carlsberg Ridge in the Arabien Sea between India and Afrika. 6 Earthquakes between M 4.7 and M 5.6 in one and a half hours, of which 5 are greater than M 5. I hope there will be no tsunami causing event, the Maledives would be affected badly by even a small one.

    • IMO, it would take a phenomenally large event in a fracture zone to get an appreciably dangerous tsunami. A lot of the motion is strike-slip from the transform faults. One side would have to push quite a ways in order to lift a column of water with the undersea topology. Even with a quake generated landslide, it would still initially be a point source event and loose energy with range pretty quickly… until the wave becomes planar in nature. Both the Tōhoku and Sunda trench quakes generated tsunamis that were planar from the outset due to the near simultaneous lifting of a large section of ocean floor. (Megathrust faults)

  5. Thanks, Agimarc, for another good article on a great volcano. Great, because there are no people living on the island for a change, and one can enjoy an eruption with good conscience 🙂 (I know, the ash will still be a nuisance). Also I find it great that you include all the links to further reading – I just enjoyed the article from 2006 on how they installed the submarine seismometers on the sea ground around the island (the link is below my favorite photo with the rose-quartz colored steam plume on top of Augustine – in case someone is interested).

    • Ice, 2 ounces of whiskey, 3 ounces of lemon juice, a dash of eggwhite, sugar to taste.

      Drink four of these then find a table to dance on. Do not consume if you have anger management issues.

      I think my dog has anger management issues. Last night he did a no no and I stepped in it. I took my plastic baseball bat and whacked him on the ass then held it up to his nose and sternly told him “No!” I then went and disposed of it. When I turned around, there he was, ready to tangle with me. I called his bluff and he retreated to his “safe zone.” I think I pissed him off when I whacked him on the ass since he was snoring. Dogs don’t like to be taken by surprise. One thing that I always use is a “safe zone” for any dogs I have. If they are in that zone, they don’t get punished. It affords them a place where they can go and get away from any sort of physical chastisement. It also sooths “Omega” behavior. Once a dog goes “Omega,” you should stop any disciplinary action. Also, don’t let them stay in “Omega” mode for too long. Invite them back in to let them know they are still accepted to your pack. It has been shown that the Omegas of the pack don’t usually live very long. I think it has to do with the stress load and being low man on the totem pole when it comes to eating. After I had things cleaned up I called him over, gave him a pat and a treat. He curled up next to my side of the bed and dozed off.

      As for the dog’s behavior last night, I think it was because he had an upset stomach. This morning he was doing the precursor to yacking and I quickly let him outside. He was quite happy at that and made a bee line for the door.

  6. Augustine won’t likely hit a caldera phase soon, but it’s probably on a bit more of an accelerated schedule than a lot of the other aleutian volcanoes due to the fact that it’s in the middle of the water. I would guess an eruption in the VEI-6 range would be big enough to allow water into the chamber, thus pushing the eruption into VEI-7 range.

  7. After faling asleep early with a slight fever I awoke and found that the shortest winter ever has ended. It is 9C plus outside in the shade and on the balcony it is a balmy 22C. Enjoying coffee outside sitting in just my t-shirt while the sun is baking me.

    For those who do not know, I am about 130 kilometers south of the arctic circle.

      • I actually got a bit reddish. Sat outside drinking coffee reading a book. And now I have had lunch outside, sadly the sun has left the balcony by now.
        It is though amazing that it was even possible.

        And yepp, I agree, it is an awesome post!

  8. In the aerial/ISS photo, is that a second volcano erupting in the bottom left corner? There seems to be a smaller plume blowing in the same direction as Augustines.

    • Don’t think so. The larger island is Afognak and sits just north of Kodiak. Fourpeaked Volcano is on the point between Augustine and Afognak and has active fumaroles, but does not look like the source. Odd cloud formation going into Afognak, though. Good eyes. Cheers –

  9. Interesting. THESE lava flows are called flows eventhough they are roughly the same shape and size as the Sinabung one. Oh Well.

    • Could have to do with the speed. Sinabung’s lobe sort of sneaked down the side of the mountain. The stealth ninja of volcanic effusion.

      “… if I go slow enough, maybe the hominids won’t notice…”

    • Hello Jory!
      I guess you have noticed that there are several writers at Volcanocafé and also several different editors. We might on occation use a slightly different vocabulary, but it should hopefully not be too confusing in the end.

      /The Editors

    • It is a variant on the usual start of the run-up to an eruption. But it is most likely a couple of years minimum before we see an eruption at Grimsvötn. What is a bit baffling though is the amount of earthquakes happening outside of the central volcanoes in the area.
      In lack of better words it is like entire Vatnajökull is hit by a large soft pillow from below…

            • I think the entire Wizzards of Volcanodom is Pondering that particular question as they convene in their secret Covenant (nearest scientific conference).
              I just guess that it will be the one of those things we will have to wait and see about.

            • Grimsvotn can still erupt not in 2 years but next week or more conservatively next month. We just need a big magmatic pulse from the hotspot and an eruption will happen. Magma has quite a clear way upwards.

            • Theoretically possible, but extremely unlikely.
              All monitored eruptions from Grimsvötn has had fairly the same amount of Cumulative Seismic Moment before an eruption has occured. You can see two of the previous run-ups on this plot, and the one before this also looked the same. Roughly the same time, roughly the same CSM.
              Activity is just now starting to pick up, but we are still years into the making of the next eruption. Unless of course something out of the ordinary occurs. But still we are not seeing anything pointing to that happening.


            • I just Bookmarked that page for watching as Grimsvotn inflates. Just to the naked eye it looks like the beast shall be inflating a little more slowly this time.

            • Actually Grimsvötn is inflating at the same speed, but there is just fewer earthquakes in the beginning of the inflation phase this time around. We will most likely see earthquake activity start to pick up soon. I think that the end will be fairly noisy.

        • Not impossible I think.

          It would be something like Lake Taupo. In Iceland, I think there are two areas which could do this: one is the area between Hekla, Katla and Torfajokull. The second is the area between Hamarinn, Grimsvotn and Bardarbunga.

          There is one lake which could be a caldera (my speculation) between Hengill and Langjokull (Thingvallavatn). Many vents from previous eruptions of very large lava volumes.

          • Either scenario would be a nasty eruption, your suggestion of a Hekla-Katla-Torfajökull caldera would effect my family in Ölfus and the Capital Metro more profoundly.
            /edited by request. chryphia

            • There is no magma-reservoir spanning that area, neither is there any interconnecting fissure swarms so that can’t happen. Totally different volcanic systems without any connection whatsoever.

            • Both scenarios would be a disaster for Iceland and especially for the region we live in, because its closer to those volcanoes.

              Just remember that a normal Katla or Hekla eruption, if wind is coming from the east or northeast, should deposit a few mm of ash in both the Ölfus and Grimsnes area, even some ash in Reykjavik. Grimsvotn in 2011 deposited 1mm of ash where I live, and it was 200km away (this was just a large VEI4). The past eruptions of Hekla after 1947 have deposited a bit of ash up to hundred kms away (just a VEI3).

              The VEI5 or VEI6 eruption of Hekla 3 (or even the 1104 historical eruption) deposited a couple to a few cms of ash in locations quite far away in Iceland. Hekla 3 has deposited an estimated 5-10cm of ash where I live, in Grimsnes. You probably got the same. If these eruptions sent rocks flying to 50 km away, imagine what a larger eruption would do!

              The large Grimsvotn early Holocene eruption, and the Vedde ash Katla eruption deposited several dozen cms of ash in our regions of south Iceland (and many of those flying rocks). That’s at least a VEI6 eruption.

              I reckon that a more powerful eruption (VEI7) of such a large caldera event, would deposit easily a meter or so of ash where we live, and probably all around Iceland. Lake Taupo deposited up to 200 meters of ash in the north island of New Zealand (but that was VEI8). Such a caldera event would probably bury our houses in ash and rocks.

            • I doubt that I would get any ash as I moved to Kentucky in 2005 😉 but I don’t doubt that my parents would get a lot. During last Grímsvötn episode they had some ash fall, so I can imagine what an equally big one or larger in Hekla would do.

              As for ash layers from previous eruptions, I was born in the Djúp (Ice Fjord Deep) and raised in Grafarvogur Grave’s Cove) and as far as I remember the latter had more glaciatic soil with old basalt rocks and cliffs.

            • Carl, so why is there subsidence in Thingvallavatn. A large lake surrounded by dozen shield volcanoes. And no apparent central volcano. I often wonder whether the place is a subsidence caldera, it looks like one.

              There is also connection between Hamarinn, Grimsvotn and Bardarbunga. Eruptions happen there. Earthquakes occur there. Why would you say would not be possible?

              However I think such a magma chamber would form only after many eruptions in between these volcanoes, and then one day, the whole thing would collapse.

            • Irpsit, you missed the part where I agreed, I just wrote that it is a probable subsidence caldera and not an explosive caldera formation. 🙂

          • Not gonna happen, sorry. There is just not enough bedrock anywhere in Iceland to house a closed magma reservoir capable of a VEI-7 eruption. Technically Grimsvötn holds somewhere in the region of 400 cubic kilometers of magma. But that is in an open bottom system, and as anyone with knowledge about fluid dynamics knows those can’t build sufficient pressure for a catastrophic explosive event on that scale. I would though not rule out a 40 cubic kilometer caldera forming VEI-6 in the future.

            Thingvallavatn is possible caldera, but not an explosive one, more likely to be a subsience caldera.

            • How about Hekla and Katla?
              Hekla could be more than Hekla3. Our caldera event.

              Katla something like Vedde ash. Both should be in range of 10-50 cu km of material (VEI6)

              Even Torfajokull did a VEI6 back in 1477 and that seem to be quite a small eruption compared to pre-historical ones.

            • Definitely no connection whatsoever between Hekla and Katla.
              Question is if Hekla is ready for a VEI-6 eruption yet or not. I do not think so, I think the volcano is to young still. Large VEI-5 after an intermission is though likely.
              Katla could in theory do a VEI-6.
              Torfajökull definitely did not do a VEI-6 in 1477, that was done by Bárdarbunga, and as such is one of only two VEI-6 eruptions in Iceland in post-glacial times. Torfajökull 1477 was a VEI-2.

              The only other possible VEI-6 would be Hágöngur, but that is un-confirmed to say the least.

  10. Totally oftopic. I made a movie in heliviewer of todays 4.9 X flare. It shows one hour in 15 seconds.
    In the fist 10 seconds you see a magnetic loop intensifing with an inner size comparing to the size of the earth. The next 5 second, or in 20 min is the actual flare

    • I accidentally prest post to early. This is not earth directed. It’s just amazing to see how fast these blowes accelerate.

    • Thanks Arjanemm! Why does the actual flare take so long, 20 minutes? It looks to me like an explosion of gases, shouldn’t that happen in seconds? Total ignoramus here! 😉

        • Cool to see what happens with this sunspot in 2 weeks time, when it will be facing directly Earth.

          If such a X5 similar flare happens, then we can expect northern lights almost all the way to France, and if its really direct perhaps all the way down to the north of Spain, at least for a short while. Garanteed for those in Germany, UK and most of US. This is still at least 10 times smaller than a Carrington event, probably many more times smaller. Such X-flares are quite common in solar max.

      • You have to remember the enormous masse of the explotion, and also the large distance it has to cover. It is moving faster than a dynamite blast moves, but it is travelling a distance that is the same as the size of earth, moving the mass of UK. And at the same time a Gravity far far more powerful than on earth is retarding the motion of the flare untill it stops.

        • A way to think about is if you drop a drop of water from one meters height (normal explosion we are used to see in the movies), now think of Arjanemms explosion as dropping a lake from 10 kilometers height. The distance to cover is just so much larger that it will take more time.

      • See Carl’s relative distance note. Also, these explosions are not “explosions,” they are magnetic reconnection events. The lines of flux when pushed to tightly together, can break and reconnect into a different orientation. The lines of flux that get broken away from reconnect and the entire flux field rapidly moves to a lower (smoother) energy state. Any charged gas in the area (plasma) travels with it. Often, this plasma is what is flung off into space as a coronal mass ejection. What you are seeing, are the movements of magnetic lines of force, illuminated by the plasma trapped within it.

        Meanwhile, here is what is left of a snake. Who can be the first to identify the species?

        Image source: My Damned Phone. For usage, credit Volcano Cafe and I won’t have a problem with it.

        No, I didn’t kill it, though if I had a shovel and ran across this thing, I would have flailed like mad at it as I fled.
        It was hanging over a desk that I had to work at recently.

        • Diamondback the looks of it. But I have never seen one splayed and hung like that before so I can be mistaken on the pattern. Rattlesnakes are actually far nicer than their reputation. Most viperidae have some kind of warning system so that they do not need to spend their precious and hard to produce venom on large stupid animals (like humans).
          The puffadder for instance sounds like it’s name. Puffing though is a rather silly warning sign compared to the eerie rattle of rattler. So, people laugh at the puffadder and get bitten. The Puffadder is far from the worlds most dangerous Viper, but it kills more humans than any other snake due to it sounding so silly.
          My absolute favourite the Gabbon Viper, it has a pattern and colouring that would make a ’68 LSD-punter happy. It is of course warning colours. Large stupid animals like humans find the bright colours interesting and stick their finger infront of the the Gabbon Viper and that is not a good idea since it is very very poisonous.
          It exists in two versions, Bitis Gabonicus that is not so insanely colourful:
          Image and video hosting by TinyPic

          And Bitis Nasicornicus:
          Image and video hosting by TinyPic

          Bitis is by the way of wordpun by Linné himself. It litteraly means “That which bites”.

        • Ding!

          Give that man a Sea Gar!

          Moccasins don’t have a rattle, are dark charcoal grey, and love water.

          There is an old story that is likely based on fact, about a guy who had one drop out of a tree into his boat. The snake got shot as the guy opened up on it. They both then sank with the boat. How the tale ends really depends on the motivation of the one relating the tale. The overall elements appear from time to time in stories about the happenings around the Ross Barnett Reservoir. It came about from the building of a dam across the Pearl River. Ostensibly, it was to make a water source for Jackson MS, but I’m pretty sure a lot of shady land deals and land seizures came about from it. Now it’s the “well to do” area around the Jackson. Somebody made a killing off of those properties. But, it’s Jackson, what do you expect?

          That’s one volcano that deserves to wake up quite violently.

          • Misspent youth as a snake wrangler at a Reptile House.
            Amongst other things I had the joy of cleaning the terrarium of the worlds longest measured snake, a reticulated python 9.1 meters long. She was equally long as she was grumpy, it was the first time I saw a lexan shield. I quickly learned how to use it.
            One of us (me most often) got infront of the snake with the shield in between, then the snake struck (felt like being hit by a monstrously large pole-driver slamming you backwards up against a wall. As that happened two burly guys jumped onto the snake to control it. Now, imagine this going on for 15 minutes while a fourth guy changes water and cleans up the poop. In the end it beat the hell out of working at MCDonalds… 🙂

            • For those who have heard about longer snakes than that. So have I, but I have never heard of a longer one that has really been measured in the correct manner. And if any has ever been longer it would have been a reticulated python. The Anaconda can be heavier, but it is far shorter than the reticulated python.

              For those who think about getting snakes as pets. Snakes are not cuddly pets that are good for petting. They are beautiful marvelous creatures that are at the pinnacle of evolution, but at best they fill the function of hard to keep aquarium fishes. Beautiful but should be kept behind glass.

              How fantastic is a snake? Well, their DNA is so stable that they do not develop cancer, they can be cloned without degradation, and there is even one species that impregnates itself and has bread out the male part of the species.
              The flower pot snake is quite common and harmless, and all of them are exactly the same snake. Perfectly cloned for tens of thousands of generations.

            • I like that. Four man team, three to wrestle the snake and the forth to do the cleaning tasks while the snake is busy getting it’s exercise.

            • I was also unaware of the genetic thing about snakes…. all I knew of was that each member in the litters of the Seven-banded armadillo were genetic copies of one other.

            • Oh, yes. I have just seen a footage of a Brazilian biologist who captured and measured in front of our eyes a 12 m giant sucuri Anaconda) in the Amazon basin. And I believe him because, as a biologist, I saw more than one in the state of Mato Grosso measuring ten meters!!!! 🙂

            • Well, I am still going to argue that the longest measured proven Anaconda is 7.5 meters. To soothe the Brazilian ego I should though state that the Anaconda is both the most massive and heaviest snake on the planet without any competition.


              The currently longest snake in captivity is a reticulated. It is though odd that they name this as the longest ever, our little tube was for a few years the world record holder according to the same beer-company.

              The measurment of our snake was confirmed by the New York Zoological Society, and they even went so far as to offer a cash price to prove that snakes could not become longer in reallity. Nobody ever even tried to claim the price.
              “Numerous reports have been made of larger snakes, but since none of these were measured by a scientist nor any of the specimens deposited at a museum, they must be regarded as unproven and possibly erroneous. In spite of what was for many years a standing offer of $50,000 for a live, healthy snake over 9.1 m (30 ft) long by the New York Zoological Society (NYZS), known since 1993 as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), no attempt to claim this reward was ever made.”

              All in all I even doubt our own record measurment. I would set a more credible length just shy of 8 meters.
              If one looks at the image of the currently longest snake one farly quickly get why people think the are 10 meters or more. Notice that if you hold a long snake in your hands for to long you turn into a zombie.
              Image and video hosting by TinyPic

            • And what else did said beer company give us?

              Student. Pen Name of William Sealy Gosset.

              Though it is generally frowned upon to try and predict the future using stats, Gosset, writing as “Student” gave us some really fine ways to use stats to estimate and better the yield of various things. Such as estimating the quality of Barley and Hops and other items of interest to those who make fine beer, by using sample sets to estimate the characteristics of the whole population.

              Since Guinness had been burned by an employee that had published some of their trade secrets, they had forbid any of their employees from publishing. After some wrangling, they allowed him to publish under the “Student” name.

              Though I am not a statistician, I have used some formulas based on his work in my ruminations on volcanoes.

  11. And in other news, the virtual volcano Mt. Gox ‘went caldera’ today, leaving a smoking pit slowly backfilling with the hopes and dreams of investors who should have known better…

    • “Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox Goes Offline Amid Allegations of $350 Million Hack”

      Yeah, I would say that it was a caldera forming event. Sort of epitomizes the term to “crater.”

      “According to the document, the exchange is insolvent after losing 744,408 bitcoins”

      Trying to rid myself of that horrid hot dog taste… I broke out the sausage and grilled up a set. The world is much better now. (The dogs are pissed… I won’t share.)

      But who would have thought that the Sith Lord Emperor Palpatine was into Electronic German Club music….

      BTW, per the doctators, the operations on my step son’s ankle went well. They dressing and cast they put on him has a nail placed into it specifically to keep him from putting any weight on it. (My wife described it as a nail, but it may be a “nail like object” knowing how she describes things.)

    • I am amazed that even a single person on the planet has been gullible enough to buy into the crap.

      I have a much better idea, I call it goldcoin mining. You take your shovel and thingies and go and sift through sand. For every coin (nugget) you find I come and steal half of it. Does it sound like a good idea?

      • Dunno, but I have accumulated a wee bit of silver. Even used some of it to pay off the work on my wife’s transmission. The mechanic and I are of a similar attitude. I was short a $20 and had a sleeve of Silver Eagles with me. At the time, they were worth about $32 US and I got 14 dollars change back.

        The wild part about Bitcoin, is that ostensibly, it was a way to counter the fiat currency of most countries, who can devalue it at will to solve their debt problems. Bitcoin is encryption based, and each coin is unique. However, the valuation of that bitcoin is based on how it trades at an exchange. Therefore, it’s still sort of a fiat currency, but based on what the buyers think it’s worth. Like all exchanged items, (bonds, stocks etc…) it is subject to manipulation and market swings.

        I’m in full agreement with Carl on this.

        How did PT Barnum allegedly put it? “There’s a sucker born every minute”

        • And then we have bit coin mining….
          If anyone really wants to mine for real coins (well nuggets), I have a nice gravel bed that I am to lazy to go dig in but that does contain gold. Drawback is that I will really nick half the gold in lease and that I won’t allow any motorized equipment.

            • Nah.. not on that gravel bed. A pump for the sluicer might though be allowed.
              I prefer my little game preserve pristine 🙂

            • While finding that video, I ran across one where a couple of dudes were do “continuous” mining. Essentially, they had what amounted to an eductor and were sucking up gravel from the stream bed and running it off to a sluicer. Pretty low scale operation that involved dive gear a fire hose, and an eductor. Pretty much what they were doing was vacuuming up all the loose gravel and processing that.

      • OT: Carl, I didn’t know about your passion for snakes. Yet another reason to come to Brazil. I am not talking about the giant sucuruju – (yes, they do reach above 10 m and this is no “Brazilian ego!” 🙂 ) – but the endless amounts of vipers we have down the Southeast, There is this forest in Rio where you can find “jararaca” vipers of 1,80 m! Once there was a flood and I woke up to the screams of passing by people in the street trying to kill one of those. The poor animal was too weak as to do any harm to anyone – but scared mobs can get cruel! 😉

        • Unlike the pythons, giant anacondas are extremely shy and rare animals, very susceptible to any environmental changes. In normal conditions they grow up to 7 to 8 m at most. This TV show I mentioned was all about a scientist in search for the really big ones, which can only be found in yet untouched regions – as the central Tocantins basin. And they cannot stand captivity. I believe that is the main reason for them having become a legend.

        • I worked as a youth with them, and I used to breed them for quite a few years. I kind of lost my mojo for snakes when my friend who was a world leading herpetologist was murdered by jelous collegues in Australia.

          Edit: The Australian police never did a proper investigation of his death. They tried to put the blame on a locked up snake (that was in a terrarium the entire time), but the post mortem cleared the snake. The police also refused to investigate the series of threats that he had received. Most likely Erik Attmarsson was murdered by either jelous collegues, or other parties envious of his new position.

          • Dear me! Talk about poisonous snakes! They are far much better than us humans, and still get the blame for being the incarnation of the devil himself – how unfair!

            • I am not in the club of people that like snakes , however i understand there role in the ecology and wont go out of my way to harm them and the more i think about it i feel that snakes have more value to human existence than bankers and politicos have

            • I don’t go out of my way to harm them either. But if one is underfoot I am going to unleash whatever firepower or weaponry I have available until I can get to a safe distance. (where I can keep an eye on it).

              If this involves levitation or the use of sticks, so be it.

  12. then we need more of the large constrictors as the supply of verminous politicians has exceeded the ability of the environment to carry them

    • Actually it is a tremendous victory for the standard model of quantum chromo dynamics. I can not stress how big it is that someone finally has found not only a theoretical model that is congruent with the path-integral solution of QED, but also found experimental evidence for it.
      It literaly opens up the stars for us, does away with the branes gravity theory, it also squashes string-gravity.
      Poor Higgs, from hero and Nobel-price to a footnote in physics history in one year…

      It will help immensely with bringing forth a unifying theory. Now I will take my physicist arse and do a celebratory dance around the living room :mrgreen:

      (For comparison, it is like someone all of a sudden not only wrote a theory of QNA (something that seemlessly explains all of DNA and RNA whilst prognosticating a third pesky strand) and ontop of that actually finds it) Sorry, that was the best explanation I could do in your field of how immense this is. Hm… I guess I just showed how little I understand Peters field, but hopefully it kind of shows how big this is… Or not. I will now shut up and let Peter come up with something that is big enough in his field on his own.

      • Why now is this big?
        Well, this is an entirely new class of particles. Now that we know that one of them exist we can start to look for all the other “sterile” equivalents of particles.
        Take the humble but all important electron. We know it has an inverted friend (anti-particle) in the positron. Now we can start looking for the neutraliton.

        The world today is based on two non-congruent theories, the Relativistic model and the Feynman diagram interpretation of quantum electro-dynamics (path-integral solution. This can now be re-written into a complete theory and as such be elevated into the impossible Pantheon of a proven physical theory. As such it will function as a lynchpin for our understanding of the universe that we can add pieces to until it comes into congruent contact with the relativistic model thusly unambiguously proving that one too.
        Basically we had very good reason to belove both to be true, and we suspected that at some point one or both would be proven to be correct, I just never thought I would see it happen in my lifetime.

        Remember, up until now just a few parts of mathematics and formal logics have been proven to be correct and true (within its own system). To have a part of physics elevated to that level… it is mind-boggling.

        • Why now did I write it opened up the stars?
          A while ago a theoretical break-through was made on hyperspace engines. Only problem was that it was likely that the field would create a massive wave of strange-matter as the field dispersed that would hit the target planet and utterly destroy it. Now we know that the strange-matter does not exist and that it would be safe. We are therefore free to actually build FTL ships operating under folded fields.


          • Alright Carl…. a question for you. As you know, neutrinos oscillate from one flavor to another. This was discovered as a solution to the “Solar neutrino problem” (turned out they were looking for the wrong flavor of neutrino.)

            How does the “sterile neutrino” fit in to the Electron neutrino → Muon neutrino → Tau neutrino scheme of things?

            A fourth type altogether that does nothing? Or an intermediary state between the normal neutrino oscillation? Perhaps its a Graviton neutrino?

            • Well, it is not going to be a graviton neutrino. It is not a flavour per se (if I have understood this highly complicated theory) It is a higher order member in the familly than the flavours that are caused by the particle spin. Instead think Neutrino (particle) → Antineutrino (anti-particle) → Steurotrino (Sterile-particle). Think of them as 3 brothers and the flavours as sexual orientations (that can shift depending on what affect them).

              I think that is about as close as I can explain it before enough coffee has percolated down into my system and after having tried to speed-digest an entire new particle-concept during the night.

              Hm… Okay, here is another go.. 🙂 Think of the Olsen-twins all of a sudden being discovered to be tripplets with one who hates movie cameras and spend her days hiding in the basement.

          • Hopefully new war… but might be a new Enterprise though 🙂

            But at the time it will be built we will most likely be wearing diapers again… 😦

            • Dunno how smart a new war would be. We have brain dead diplomats making veiled threats to an ex-KGB officer who seems to have a bent on showing the world that he is still manly and has a pair. (midlife crisis)

              Never threaten someone who has something to prove. Invariably they will almost always call your bluff.

              (Insider secret: Ya know that meme of many Redneck Fatalities being pre saged by the term “Watch This!”? Unusually the situation leading up to it is a friend of the the “something to prove” crowd calling a dare or bluff such as “You don’t have to balls to… [some stupid action]” which it then followed by “Oh yeah? Watch This!

              The self motivated “Hey! Watch This!” group is a subset.

          • Hope it will be built. Start was some time ago, I hope.
            Mini spaceship with full warp whould be fun. Flying back and forth to Mars and beyone in a few days or so whould be real fun. Only 1G accelleration and same G de-acelleraretion, build up to tremendeous speeds fairly quickly. *not expert*

      • Wow, I had no idea sterile neutrinos would be that fundamental. So they’re not merely another addition to the particle zoo? Are you saying this will lead to reconciling gravity at quantum level? So no fourth additional dimension of space for Lisa Randall’s gravity?
        What fascinates me is the realisation just how flooky it is that fundamental physical constants seem to be fine- tuned for permitting life ( Hoyle’s ‘put up job’). I struggle with many worlds:although its Darwnism applied to universes in my mind.
        But then I struggle with the double slit experiment, especially with C60 !
        And as for entanglement: weird, but true.
        I’ll keep reading…. Physics is all so odd to a biologist, but it is asking so much more fundamental questions.

        (PS The heart project is being revived, better late than never, fingers crossed)

        • No, it is an entire new Zoo 🙂
          Gravity is a far more horrendous project to solve at the quantum level, and really even at the relativistic level. Anyone who says they understand gravity is blowing skyscrapers out of their nose. 4 million nice papers and we have gotten nowhere on that subject. So, let us say that the new particle class limits the field a bit by making some theories redundant.
          I would say the androcentric principle, since we can observe the universe due to existing the darwinian processes has allready been at work on our universe.
          Double slit… ah, beauty in motion really.

          For me biology is the hard part. So… hm… messy. 🙂

          • To me biology progress is largely now a question of bums on lab seats, with a few big issues to discover ( morphogenesis, consciousness) but mostly its going to be next-step analysis. Its all Crick and Watsons fault! – we have the blueprints. While physics seems to be where true exploration is going on, much more exciting..

            • And I believe you guys are having more fun… most big thingies in physics came about many years ago. Most things now are done by beancounters, not physicists. Todays physicists just publish boring pappers filled with brilliant math saying nothing about the universe. (with a few stunning exceptions)
              In your field it seems that something cool comes out every day. I guess all the brains today go to your field instead of physics.

            • There’s a lot more cash going into biology, certainly in the medical/pharma fields – as a result new disease insights do come up quite often. But intervention is another matter, much more tricky.

              I suppose I am so out of date on physics thats its all new to me, and exciting. And plain weird in places. Very different from school physics. We did Young’s double slit experiment ca 1960. – but were only informed of the wave interpretation, no mention of photons. I’ve a lot of catching up to do……

            • It is the weirdness of physics that got me hooked.
              What makes me so sad is that we now have a way forward to go to the stars, and we do nothing. If this had happened just 20 or 30 years ago we would be moving towards that goal. Now people just laugh and ridicule us.
              Yes, there are issues with Alcubierre-White drives, but nobody is even letting us wrinkle it out. Instead we get laughed at by people who do not even care about understanding. Even with a good plausible theory the research money for it is exactly 0$… For the amount it costs to develop a schampoo we could build a means to test it. But in our modern Dark Age we get a new schampoo every day on a global scale, and nothing happens on going to the stars.
              It saddens me that I live in a Dark Age, and it saddens me even more that before I die I will be seen as a lunatic alchemist just for knowing fairly basic physics.

            • Consider the implications of getting that Alcubiere-White drive to work. We’ve only be doing science for say 300 years, but a more advanced civilisation could have got AW drives working millions of years ago. Or billions. So where are the alien visitors in their AW-ships?
              So…….are we alone in the universe?

  13. Good evening all! Sorry if this is a less exciting OT, I have something on volcanoes… 😉 Also sorry if this has been posted before.
    San Miguel volcano (or Volcán Chaparrastique) in El Salvador, which erupted last on 29 Dec 2013 is still in a state of unrest. The MARN website offers actual monitoring results and photos of Chaparrastique, for example this:

    There is a new live streaming webcam for it, hosted on YouTube but may be watched on the MARN website
    YouTube link

    (If you have the bad luck to be in Germany, well, hmm… it is barred… because the volcano could grumble frivolous songs you have not paid royalties for, or so. You would need a plugin like ProxTube to unlock it.)

  14. Ouch… I didn’t mean to display the YouTube webcam here, oh well! But back to the extraterrestrial: There have been northern lights last night (Tuesday) in Germany as far south as Berlin! And today I got a new email alert saying
    “A very large solar event took place early on the 25th of February. It was located near the east limb of the sun facing away from the Earth, so the effect on the Earth may be diminished somewhat. However, we expect enhanced auroral activity when the disturbance arrives late in
    the evening of the 26th of February UT. For North America, this means aurora may reach index Kp=5 or more so as to be visible over the northern half of the US during the night of the 26th/27th. Activity
    could also be high on the night of the 27th/28th.

    To follow the location of the aurora at any given time, go to

  15. This is not quite a post… and is slightly arcane, so I’ll stick it here unless someone wants to make an article out of it.

    My background is RF electronics, specifically, microwave. My original training was in vacuum tube systems, and only later picked up solid state training in the same field… which included a hefty exposure to computing systems and maintenance. Essentially, I have a fairly well rounded training in the field.

    On thing that stood quite important, was the functioning of a superhetrodyne receiver. This sort of receiver takes the really high frequency RF signal and down converts it to a region where line losses and inter-element capacitance has a less degrading effect. In other words, down into a region where the signal is easier to work with. Superhetrodyning involves mixing a local oscillator signal with the incoming RF, then filtering out the part that you don’t need anymore. Any intelligence (modulation) is carried over to the intermediate frequency and you can then further process it as needed. This mixing effect is usually done through a non-linear junction, such as a diode.

    When you mix two frequencies like this, the result is “the sum, the difference, and the two originals.” Take a 10 Mhz signal and mix it with a 12 Mhz signal, you get 22 Mhz, 2 Mhz, 10 Mhz, and 12 Mhz. In this case, you would likely filter out all but the 2 Mhz signal and use that in your detector circuits. In a natural environment, any place where you have loose metal to metal contact, a non-linear junction can form from the corrosion on the metal surface. Spurious harmonics can result if you have high powered transmitters nearby that are broadcasting signals all over the place. As a general rule, the odd harmonics tend to reinforce each other.

    Now, lets move away from RF signals and look at sound. In any musical instrument, you get “overtones” that tend to define the characteristic sound that an instrument makes. They operate more from the physical attributes of the instrument than anything else.

    In the realm of volcanology, one item that comes up is the idea of harmonic tremor. These are seemingly resonating artifacts in the noise of magma movement. How they occur is a point for discussion, but usually the idea of gas dissolution or cavity resonance comes into play.

    As part of a side project, I acquired a relatively high accelerometer. This gizmo is sensitive enough to detect a 5.7 kg weight dropped on the ground a few meters away and would make a fine ad-hoc seismic sensor. In fact, some research has been done in that area.

    Since I had one, and some time to kill, I strapped it to the fill line on a water fixture in my house and tried to grab the sound of water running through the pipe. I figured that it would make a good analogue for a tremor like signal.

    This is what it looked like:

    The wild fluctuations at the beginning and end are the sounds of me attaching it to the fill line. In the next plot, I have trimmed off these sounds and kept just the water flowing through the pipe.

    This is about as close as I can come to a harmonic tremor analogue. Processing that signal to look at the spectral components (with an FFT), you get this

    Paydirt. There are harmonic components. Now, remember that this is just water flowing through a pipe. The pipe is about 8 inches long from the valve to the other end of the line. Looking closer, you see what appear to be other frequencies.

    Apparently, this signal has a few overtones… sort of. Looking closer it appears to be some odd multiples. They are not exact multiples, and I attribute this to the noisy nature of the overall system. That would allow for a bit of slop. The set at about 941 Hz is an overtone of the 427 Hz signal as well as the 11th multiple of the base 83 – 85.5 Hz tone. Again, the noise in the system is the likely cause of them not being exact.

    Anyway… that’s my tinkering for the evening. Enjoy and discuss at will… and if you are more knowledgeable in the field of harmonics or music, feel free to chime in.

    REMEMBER, this is a water pipe with water flowing through it.

    Caveat: I haven’t played trombone in over 35 years. My side project is to eventually find the resonant frequency of my house… but that’s not important, and I don’t really even know why I want to know that… I’m gonna have a friken blast with this thing come the next hurricane.

    Header file info for the data set. (shows the sensor settings)

    ;Version, 300, Build num, --, Build date, Jul 16 2013,

    ;Start_time, 2014-02-26, 20:16:51.529
    ;Temperature, 24.50, deg C, Vbat, 4108, mv
    ;Gain, high
    ;SampleRate, 512,Hz
    ;Deadband, 0, counts
    ;DeadbandTimeout, 0,sec

    Previously, I had tried this with the steam line for a steam wand but had a really crappy signal. The line has an inner hose surrounded by a protective hose to lessen the chance of burning yourself. Attaching it to the wand yielded more noise from me handling it than the sound of steam rushing through it. I may rework that attempt at a later time just to try out some variables. (hose length, constrictions etc.)

      • Not sure of the path to it, but the nearest muni well is about a mile and a half away. It feeds the 21+ inch line that follows Hwy 29.

        Now that you mention it, the low freq is about the range that screws on ships operate at. I used to hang out over with the Sonar Guys between watches and was fascinated by their waterfall plots. (it’s a display mode, not than the typical one in numeric plotting)

  16. something for the webcam watchers

    the outside 2 rings stay in the same spot and the world inside revolves ‘clockwise’ more or less in synch with real time

    that means you can see that japan is just about to move out of the sunlight (sunset) and that america is just about to move onto the sunlit side of the planet (sunrise)

    it’s still hurting my head a bit – but I think it’s great – and would let you know that webcams in the americas or oceania are basically in the dark at the moment.

    Well it’s reforging my perception of the planet and times – “what time is it” changed in my mind to “where are we relative to the sun at the moment” which is very similar to the primitive ‘where is the sun relative to me at the moment’

    • I go by the much simpler… “Is it time for a beer yet?” If no I ponder “Is there time for a beer somewhere else?”
      Life is much simpler that way 🙂

      • Oh, that could be blurring the scientific view of how the earth rotates – there are plenty of places in world where it is always time for a beer! 😀

        • Trust me, that is called beer-time. It is the most exact way to understand time. In physics we also have the beer-gravity. It is the factor of how fast a full glass of beer hurtles towards the floor of a pub… It has led to the startling discovery that the graviton is a beer-atom.

          Here is a documentary on Einsteins work on the beer atom. In the end Einstein famously split the beer-atom and put bubbles in the beer.

  17. Those in Iceland, look out tonight for possibly bright northern lights.

    The X-flare of 2 days ago, although it was not facing Earth, it just hit Earth magnetic field about 30min ago, And it seems a rather nice blow (live data on So far, the magnetic field has a positive bz orientation, so still not favouring strong northern lights, but most likely a few hours from now, when dark night comes to Europe, it will turn bz negative, and then there will be some bright northern lights in most of the nordic countries, Iceland, Sweden, Canada. Kp is currently 3 but will most likely reach 5 tonight.

  18. Granya: “Northern lights over Berlin in the 25th Tuesday”: well, that did not technically happen. Double check that report… Maybe it was in the 24th. Kp (index of auroral activity from 0 to 9) was only 2 in the nights of 25-26th and 24-25th, but it was 5 early in the night of 23-24th, allowing for northern lights as far south as north Germany (maybe!).

    Ocasionally, with strong geomagnetic storms (kp 5 or more) can result in northern lights over north Germany, Kp reaching 8 or 9 can result in northern lights as far south as Spain and Italy. Usually, the northenr light will only stay southwards for a short period of time, about an hour or so, then returning back northwards. You got be in the right spot (north horizon without street lights) at the exact right time.

    Often in most geomagnetic storms north lights will only get as far south as Scotland or south Sweden. In North America, northern lights can get much more south, because the magnetic pole is located somewhere over the arctic regions of North America. Tonight its great time for the northern half of the states, for possible northern lights. As said, you got be right time, right spot.

    • And here is one person going to take a nap, hopefully to dream about warm sun and a cool drinks instead of watching any northern lights above my head 🙂
      For those interested I am about 130km from the arctic circle and there will probably be a stupendous arctic light for me to not bother about.

      And while I am at it I will contemplate the small fact that all city-planners should be shot on sight. From my balcony I can see one of the places I went to earlier today. It is 350 meters away if I had been a bird. But to get there I have to walk 3km untill I reach a bridge spanning the train-yard and then walk back 3km. Rinse and repeat on the way back home. I have today walked 25km to cover a distance that by air would be about 7km. I am knackered and filled with loathing of all things city-plannerish.
      And could all the places belonging to the municipality be in the same spot? Oh no, to increase efficiency they have moved each pertinent department in different corners of the city. And each department tells you to go to another department with your papers. But as you go the amount of papers somehow still increase untill you carry around several kilos of murdered trees. Grumble…

      • Had an emergent server call today. Server calls are always fun because I have to put everyone else on hold and deal with it.

        The problem? A cord had come partially unplugged from the redundant power supply. That’s not as bad as the dead network card that I was dispatched on yesterday. I’m at the machine looking at every other machine in their network (can’t do that if the card is dead) and the IT guy still tells me it’s the card…. while I’m hitting it with 2700 packets from the other machine at the site with no loss what so ever. …sigh.

        I had told him where the problem was at three days ago when he sent me a photo of his error message. About the only thing that me going out there accomplished was that now I got paid for telling him the same thing I had already told him. The exasperating part is that I don’t have management rights on his server to correct the problem, and the main server managers at the state capital can’t do it either. He has to do it. It’s a county network and they can’t access the server through their firewall and security settings.

    • Hi Irpsit, it was in the local paper and I had my doubts too, but only now got round to checking for more reports. So, the really real truth seems to be that there were northern lights on Sunday night, 23./24.02.2014 visible only in one area ca 70 km WNW of Berlin, which is said to be one of the cleanest and darkest places in Germany due to extended wetlands with very few villages. No smoke, fumes and lights at night, and if it is clear they have a chance to spot them lights.

      This is the picture that went through many newspapers, it is not dramatic, but beautiful in its own way:

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