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24 July 2014

Askja: a very large volcanic landslide in Iceland

This week a very large landslide occurred on the flanks of the Askja stratovolcano in Iceland. Initial estimates are that is over 25 million cubic metres. and that it generated tsunami waves in the lake at the toe that were over 50 m high.

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14 May 2014

Volcanic ash creates sticky situations for jet engines

WASHINGTON, DC — Thousands of airplane passengers were stranded in airports across Europe in 2010 when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano spewed billions of cubic feet of volcanic ash into the sky. The large cloud of ash – enough to fill at least two football stadiums – threatened to clog jet engines and cause airline accidents.

But it is not just large volumes of volcanic ash that can cause problems for jet engines. Volcanic ash can melt when it gets inside the hot engine and even small amounts of the melted ash can do harm by coating the interior of turbines, interacting with protective coatings, or sticking to parts that cool the engine.

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5 February 2014

Stunning HD videos show volcanoes erupting … gorgeously

As the Tectonic Plates bend, creak, snap, and rattle in earthquakes, blobs of heated rock rise through them from within and punch through the surface, puffing out vast clouds of rock dust and volatile gas, and pouring out mounds upon mounds of hardening molten rock. Volcanoes may fall under the purview of some other realms of the blogosphere, but a spate of recent videos are just too stunning (and informative!) …

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12 December 2013

Volcanic eruptions bubbled beneath Earth’s largest extinction

Long before the dinosaurs died off, the “Great Dying” killed nearly all life in the ocean, 70 percent of terrestrial animals and even insects. But this mass extinction more than 250 million years ago – Earth’s greatest natural disaster – is still a scientific mystery. Little evidence remains of why and when life on the planet crashed to this long pause.

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Holy city of Islam lies in volcanic peril

Researchers have designed a new model to predict the riskiest areas of Al-Madinah, the second holy city of Islam that sits at the northern tip of a dangerous volcanic field. The model could improve evacuation and building planning for the city.

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12 April 2013

Newfound chamber below Old Faithful may drive eruptions

A previously unknown underground cavity might help trigger the timely eruptions of the famous Yellowstone geyser Old Faithful, a new study shows. The researchers who uncovered new evidence of a chamber suspect that it stores the pressurized near-boiling water, steam, and other gases that propel Old Faithful’s eruptions.

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7 April 2013

Future trends in natural hazard losses – the Powerpoint file from my Geographical Association 2013 conference talk

A talk from the Geographical Association annual conference on future losses from natural hazards, focusing on storms, floods, earthquakes and volcanoes

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25 February 2013

Rockfalls shaking a volcanic lava dome apart (including a dramatic video)

James Reynolds has collected a remarkable video of rockfall activity on Paluweh volcano in Indonesia as seismic events shake the lava dome

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6 December 2012

Ground under ancient Chilean volcano is rising fast

The Laguna del Maule volcanic field in the Chilean Andes Mountains lies in the heart of volcano country. The region is a well-known subduction zone, where the friction of one crustal plate sliding under another heats rock to form magma. But for the last 2,000 years, Laguna del Maule has been a quiet water-filled caldera. Now, scientists are recording rapid deformation of the land around the caldera, suggesting that a magma reservoir is inflating below the surface.

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5 December 2012

Glacial quakes mask those warning of volcanic eruptions

Swarms of tiny, repeating earthquakes often precede volcanic unrest, as they did prior to the 1989 eruption of Alaska’s Mount Redoubt. New research at Mount Rainier in Washington state finds that glaciers produce similar low magnitude seismic shocks that are not predictive of volcanic activity, and that could be interfering with efforts to predict when a dangerous eruption is imminent.

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4 December 2012

Fiery volcanos seed lightning-generating ice

Volcanic eruptions conjure up images of huge fiery explosions, searing hot magma and charred, decimated landscapes. But some eruptions also create something very different: ice crystals. In a poster presented at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting Monday, atmospheric physicist Arthur Few of Rice University in Houston tied these ice crystals to volcanic lightning, and figured out how they form

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2 November 2012

Landslides in Art Part 16 – Dan Holdsworth Part 1

The latest installment of the landslides in art series, featuring the work of photographer Dan Holdsworth

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12 October 2012

On the early lives of diamonds

Diamonds may not be forever, but they do last an incredibly long time. The forces in the Earth’s interior that shape these famously durable gems have long been mysterious. A new study looks at teensy chunks of an inner zone of the planet that can get caught within diamonds’ crystal structures. It presents new evidence that diamonds often take a long ride in the planet’s fluidly moving gut before rising to the surface.

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15 June 2012

Volcanic impacts on everyday life — circa 1600

Massive volcanic eruptions that spew sulfur-rich particles into the atmosphere can disrupt climate around the globe, leading to cooler temperatures worldwide. Researchers can track the impacts by looking at ice cores or tree rings that record summer growth, but a different approach involves scouring through historical records to see what kind of an impact these volcanic explosions had on everyday life.

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Quiet Eyjafyallajökull littered with reminders of 2010 explosion

Three years ago, icebergs floated at the base of this glacier, in the milky water of a glacial lagoon. But in May 2010, Eyjafjallajökull erupted forcefully beneath Gígjökull, causing torrents of melted water called jökulhlaups to surge down the valley and into the lagoon, carrying with them enough boulders and debris fill it up, displacing all the water.

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Halema’uma’u volcanic vent rockfall video

A neat video of the collapse of the west rim of the Halema’uma’u volcanic vent

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14 June 2012

Volcanoes lessen global rain — by more than climate model predicts

Scientists are working to understand how explosive volcanic eruptions – and potential geoengineering efforts – would affect rain worldwide. And climate models might be underestimating how much precipitation decreases after eruptions.

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13 June 2012

Exploring where Earth’s crust rips apart

Þingvellir, Iceland – There aren’t many places in the world where you can walk along a “mid-ocean ridge” and still keep your feet dry. But here the separation of two vast slabs of Earth’s crust—a slow-moving drama usually hidden far below the ocean waves at the bottom of the sea—takes place in plain view.

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12 June 2012

Citizen-scientists answer call for Icelandic volcano ash samples

When Iceland’s Grímsvötn volcano erupted in May 2011, ejecting 0.7 cubic kilometers (0.2 cubic miles) of ash far up into the atmosphere, most of the material headed north to the pole. Computer models predicted the path of the plume, satellites beamed back images, but one researcher turned to a low-tech and inexpensive method of tracking the ash fall – cellophane sticky tape.

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Volcanic lightning examined through ash grains

The awesome sight of explosive volcanic eruptions occasionally includes a light show as well. But why lightning happens during some eruptions, and not in others, is still a question – one that a couple of curious volcanologists have recently been linking to characteristics of the ash itself.

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