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22 August 2014

10% of Iceland Closed as Concern Over Volcano Grows

Concern is increasing tonight that the Bararbunga (BOWR-Thar Boon-Ka) volcano may be getting ready to erupt. Earthquakes continue, and these type of quakes indicate that magma (Lava with high pressure gases) is moving beneath the volcano, which is much larger than the one that caused serious air travel disruptions a few years ago. Late today, Icelandic officials declared about 10% of Iceland off-limits, and is evacuating residents, hikers and campers …


29 August 2013

Lessons of Volcanic Eruptions

  Volcanic eruptions are the most important natural cause of climate change, and they teach us many lessons about the climate system.  The cooling Earth experiences for a couple years after a big volcanic eruption, like that of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, helps us calibrate the amount of warming we will suffer in the future from continued human emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.  By filtering out the …


17 January 2013

The two-faced crust of Mars

I am always a sucker for research that uses very simple observations to come to profound conclusions, and that is definitely the case with “The dual nature of the martian crust: Young lavas and old clastic materials” by Josh Bandfield, Chris Edwards, David Montgomery, and Brittany Brand. This paper suggests that the martian crust has a dual nature, where the oldest rocks are actually softer and easier to erode, while more recently lava flows have led to much more durable terrain.


9 December 2010

Hell on Earth (and Io)

If you don’t follow the Boston Globe’s photoblog The Big Picture, you’re really missing out. The topics range widely from current events to pictures of saturn, and the photos are of course always stunning. Yesterday was an especially awesome set of photos from the indonesian sulfur mine Kawah Ijen. The photos were taken at night, and sulfur has the interesting quality that it burns blue, resulting in some spectacular and otherworldly scenes of fire and brimstone.