18 January 2012
Magma, P.I. (Or, I Go On Dr. Kiki’s Science Hour And Try To Sound Good)
Posted by Jessica Ball
So if anyone caught my tweet late last Thursday, you’ll know that I was interviewed on Dr. Kiki’s Science Hour, an internet video show on TWiT TV. Dr. Kiki (otherwise known as Dr. Kirsten Sanford) actually got in touch with me during AGU, hoping to tape a show, but electronic issues on my end of things delayed the interview until last week. Still, it was a lot of fun (and I hope I didn’t flub any of the geology too badly!)
The episode is #128, The Geology Ball (they came up with that with no prompting from me; as the writer of a blog named after a bad geology joke, I thought it was pretty funny). The conversation was geared toward the interested layman, so per Dr. Kiki’s request I tried to avoid being too jargon-y, and explain things like I would on the blog. (I also spend a lot of time talking about my own field area, so you get Guatemala saturation for a bit.)
Thanks to Ron Schott (@rschott) for posting about it on Twitter!
I haven’t seen the show notes or chat transcript yet, but I think everything went pretty well. I had a fun time talking with Dr. Kiki, and from the feedback I’ve seen in a few places, I hope people enjoyed listening to me ramble about how much I love volcanology. I’m also in really good company – I mean, she’s interviewed everyone from beekeepers to astronomers to paleontologists! A very cool experience for me, and I hope it gives geobloggers some more good press.
One thing that I loved was a tweet from one of the show’s listeners:
I accidentally “bumped into” your Blogsite this morning, and want to write “Good Onya”! I admire your ability to keep things current!
Buffalo seems to be a “hotbed” of good volcanology studies – gotta visit your campus one day….. I’m headed back to a “Geograds” reunion at Princeton this spring, but unfortunately my grad alma mater’s geofocus seems to have drifted far away from anything to do with real rocks – hot or cold….
Good luck wrapping up your Santiaguito studies, but “ten cuidado” – domes are really dangerous places – as we so sadly learned at Galeras…. Mo’bettah to watch activity from top of Sta. Maria!
Thanks for the great comment! We’d love to have you visit here at Buffalo someday (although Mandie will be disappointed to have missed you!) And I’m happy you found the blog – hopefully it’s entertaining.
I’ve really enjoyed the Santiaguito work, but you’re right – best to keep well away from the eruptions! We stayed firmly on the older domes and were fortunate to have a relatively quiet period for fieldwork (not like what’s going on right now). The view is pretty darn good from Santa Maria, though!
Enjoy your blog. Was at Santiaguito last May (2011) and it was in nearly continuous eruption–ash & gas. Will be returning to Guatemala & Honduras in May 2012 and was wondering if there was a way to learn about the current eruption status of Santiguito.
Might want to show my young nephew the volcano if it was likely that we could observe an eruption (from a safe distance on Santa Maria)
I noticed that you mentioned in your reply to Jack Lockwood that it now is fairly active again. Can you expand upon that description?
Bob – there is definitely a way to find out about the current eruption status! The Global Volcanism Program maintains records of volcanic activity for all active volcanoes under monitoring, and the Santa Maria/Santiaguito page has a collection of weekly reports (http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=1402-03=&volpage=weekly) from the observers at OVSAN. There is also a blog being written by a geophysical expedition that was recently at the domes (http://expedicionsantiaguito.blogspot.com/), which should give you a good idea of very recent activity.
Since February/March of 2011, there has been a particularly active, oversteepened lava flow on the summit of the Caliente dome; it has been producing pyroclastic flows which are traveling down the S and SW sides of the dome, and there has been an overall increase in explosive activity. I would say that it is probably still safe to observe from the summit of Santa Maria, but I would caution against approaching the domes from the south (and certainly stay away from any tour companies offering dome hikes; they’re nuts!)
Thanks for the info. Very helpful.
When I was there last May I went with Eduardo Patzan, just to the Santiaguito lookout. He described the 3 day trip to the dome overlooking Caliente and offered to take me. Seems like some of the folks in the santiaguito expedition blog must have camped there for their work. Your advice would be to avoid camping so close to Caliente during this period of increased activity?
I would err on the side of caution, myself. The expedition seemed to have been mostly on the inactive domes, where I have camped before. However, my visit was during a relatively quiet period in 2010, before the activity ramped up. The route to access the domes comes around the backside of Santa Maria and avoids Caliente, but there is always the chance of a larger-than-usual eruption on Caliente that could cause trouble for the rest of the domes. If you are considering taking a child with you, I would stick with the Santa Maria hike. The domes are not at all easy to get to (not to mention that you have to first hike down into the crater, and then up the domes again – very tiring, and there isn’t always water available).