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4 March 2019

California is volcano country

One of the big projects I’ve been working on for the past couple of years has been assisting my SIC (Scientist-In-Charge) at the California Volcano Observatory in writing a report about California’s exposure to volcanic hazards. And (not) coincidentally, that’s the title of a new report that the USGS just released last week!


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25 April 2012

Hot s(tuff)

Volcanic tuff isn’t a particularly strong rock, but it easy to carve and shape, which is why it’s a very popular building material. Naples, Italy is especially known for this; the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff, Campanian Ignimbrite and Piperno Tuff, all formed by eruptions of the Campi Flegrei caldera, are three of the units quarried the most often for dimension stone. In “How tough is tuff in the event of fire?”, M. J. Heap et al. take a look at a potential threat to structures built from tuff.


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4 May 2011

The Earth is out to get you!

Just a quick post today before I go enjoy some birthday mimosas. The New York Times has an interesting new infographic about where you should live to avoid natural disasters – namely hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. Here are the maps (click to see the full size, readable version): Buffalo actually falls in an area of mild earthquake risk; we’ve had a few small earthquakes since I’ve moved here, and it’s …


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6 November 2010

The volcano Gatekeeper

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.


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3 June 2010

Perception of volcanic hazards in Iceland

The eruption may be subsiding a bit, but there is still a lot of discussion (and arguing) centered around the Eyafyallajökull event. It’s not entirely surprising; most people in Europe don’t have to deal with active volcanoes, and the last time an Icelandic one caused widespread trouble was in the 18th century. But what about the Icelandic response? One might assume, given the prevalence of volcanic and geothermal activity in Iceland, …


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5 June 2008

Stop! In the name of the carbonate!

I just came across this news item, which discusses a proposal a new method for slowing and/or diverting a lava flow. The original article is titled “How to stop or slow down lava flows”, by R.D. Schuiling in the International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, 2008, vol. 8, p. 282-285. I can’t access the journal itself, but the summary goes like this: “Schuiling believes a geochemical approach might be effective …


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23 December 2007

The Gods must be restless? Take a look at the scientists.

I just finished reading the most recent National Geographic, and I spent some time thinking about Andrew Marshall’s article, “The Gods Must Be Restless”. In it, he talks about some of the beliefs that have grown up around Indonesian volcanoes – and there are a lot of them, considering that Indonesia has the most active volcanoes of anywhere in the world. I found myself conflicted about the attitudes of some …


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