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13 September 2011
This summer, while I was out in New Mexico, I went to the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, which is hosted on Museum Hill, Santa Fe’s equivalent of the National Mall. As part of the festival, attendance at all of the museums was free, and I took advantage of the chance to visit a unique exhibit and hear one of the visiting folk artists speak about his work.
The Museum of International Folk Art was hosting the exhibit, entitled “The Arts of Survival: Folk Expression in the Face of Natural Disaster”; the concept behind it was to display art that came about as a result of natural disasters. In this case, four events were represented: Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the flooding in Pakistan in 2010, the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the 2010 eruption of Merapi. Being a volcanologist, I was particularly interested in the Merapi part of the exhibit – and lucky enough to be there on a day when the artist, Tri Suwarno of Java, Indonesia, was available to speak about his volcano-inspired shadow puppets.
17 August 2011
Last week I happened to be watching the National Geographic Channel and caught their new program, “How to Build a Volcano”. Being somewhat interested in volcano-building processes myself, I sat down with a pad of paper and got ready to take notes for a review.
The show started off with an exciting idea: bring together a special effects team and a group of volcanologists and try to replicate volcanic processes on a large (but controllable scale). Thus, building a volcano. The four volcanologists (Mike Manga and Ben Andrews of UC Berkely, Josef Dufek of Georgia Tech, and Ed Llewellyn of Durham University) worked with special effects expert Max MacDonald to create a 10-meter-high volcano in a Canadian quarry (and we all know from Mythbusters that anything involving an abandoned quarry is also going to involve explosions).
18 June 2011
Well, ash-flow tuff got taken pretty quickly, but I’m fairly certain no one will come up with my favorite geology term (or the particular meaning I’m going to talk about). That word is autobrecciation. I’m not talking about the autobrecciation that happens when the surface of a lava flow breaks up and gets incorporated into a lava flow, but the meaning used in several volcanology papers about rockfalls and lava dome collapses: volatile-rich, pressurized lava dome rocks fragmenting explosively in response to rapid decompression, which occurs at a critical pressure difference between the overpressurized rock and the surrounding environment (i.e., the point when the pressure overcomes the tensile strength of the rock). As you can see in the video, the rocks basically disintegrate into a lot of fine material (and probably some leftover rock chunks), which is the perfect recipe for a pyroclastic flow.
23 March 2011
Statistical analysis and volcano monitoring has established that there are both eruptions which were likely triggered by large earthquakes, and given us some plausible mechanisms for how this might happen, although this is still a rather rare event. Ron Schott brought up an interesting point in a comment, however: The mechanisms that I discussed are generally regarded as operating in the short-term – i.e., a few days to weeks after an earthquake (perhaps even a few months). But what about long-term earthquake triggering – are there connections between volcanic eruptions and earthquakes which happened years before? Are there any plausible mechanisms for long-term triggers, and how would they operate? I did a little research to see if I could find answers to either of these questions.
12 March 2011
The geoblogosphere – and the rest of the news – have been buzzing with information and discussion about the recent M8.9 earthquake in Japan. Despite being a country that is relatively well-prepared for events like these, even Japan couldn’t withstand the power of such a quake and the resulting tsunami, and they will need help. Please consider donating to a relief organization such as the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, …
13 February 2011
Jim Lehane at The Geology P.A.G.E. is hosting this month’s Accretionary Wedge, and asks:
What geological concept or idea did you hear about that you had no notion of before (and likely surprised you in some way)?
I can’t think of any particular moments where something like this hit me all at once, but one concept that I’ve encountered as a grad student strikes me as something that I never really thought about much as an undergrad (or as a kid who liked volcanoes, for that matter). It’s the idea that an eruption style at a single volcano – not just in a region – can change dramatically in a relatively short period of time.
20 November 2010
One of the things that I come across when I’m working on my thesis is details about how much lava is being produced at a volcano (usually in a volume flux, such as cubic meters/second). In my case, it has to do with how quickly a lava dome is growing, though this also applies to more fluid eruptions as well. But it can be hard to put these numbers into …
9 November 2010
Volcanoes have been getting a lot of media attention this year, which is not surprising; natural disasters make for exciting stories. But your average reporter is likely not going to hold themselves to the same standards of research that science writers do, which ends up being detrimental to everyone, including their readers. Part of this may be because natural disaster stories are quickly written and not well fact-checked in an …
6 November 2010
One of the sad – but not unexpected – stories to come from the eruption at Mount Merapi concerns the death of the “Gatekeeper” of the volcano, Mbah Marijan. Marijan was mentioned in a 2008 National Geographic article, “The Gods Must Be Restless”, that I blogged about a long time ago – and that has turned out to be depressingly prophetic.
5 June 2010
Like Brian over at Clastic Detritus and Callan of Mountain Beltway, I’ve also recently contributed an article to EARTH Magazine’s website. Mine talks about the recent eruptions at Pacaya and Tungurahua, with a little bit of exposition on the inevitable question of whether they’re linked. (Nope!) I’m digging into some research in the next few weeks, so posting will be a little sparse (again). I’ll try to get the Volcano …