Friday, June 23, 2006
Active volcanoes attract tourism!
"Tourists can watch from a distance, safely, an erupting volcano," Solidum said, adding that part of this "volcanic" tourism drive would involve distributing maps marking mountains which are also volcanoes so tourists will be able to plan trips. Besides being possible tourist destinations, active volcanoes also provide surrounding communities with mineral-rich soil that promise bountiful harvests for farmers, Solidum added.
The attraction of volcanoes as tourist sites has been proven by the high visitor traffic to such scenic spots as Taal volcano in Tagaytay City in Batangas, Mt. Mayon in Albay, Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales, Mt. Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin and Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon. When in Zambales, nature treks through Mt. Pinatubo are a popular tourist offering, as are trinkets and items crafted from the lahar that poured down Mt. Pinatubo’s slopes after the June 1991 eruption. A visit to Tagaytay City is not complete unless one crosses Taal Lake and takes a horseback ride close to the crater rim, though such trips are banned when Taal volcano shows signs of activity.
Former information minister Gregorio Cendaña said the idea of inviting tourists to watch the "fury of nature" was adopted during the reign of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Under the tourism program of the Marcos administration, the then Ministry of Tourism arranged travels to volcanic areas during eruptions, the rationale behind which was explained by Cendaña: "Watching an erupting volcano is a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
He added that tourists then spend their hard-earned money to get closer to nature, flocking to beaches and mountain resorts that are open year-round and, of course, for the chance to watch the natural light-show put on by erupting volcanoes. Cendaña recalled that, when Taal erupted in the 1960s, tourists flocked to the site of the eruption to see it up close, despite many casualties claimed by the volcano’s fury.
"It must be included in the tourism promotion brochures in the country," Cendaña said of the country’s volcanoes. In other countries that sit on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the area where the most amount of volcanic activity in the world is concentrated, trips to active volcanoes are a regular feature of tourists’ travel itineraries.
Four volcanoes ready to explose!
Seismologists detected two high-frequency earthquakes around Bulusan in Sorsogon. But they said its steaming activity was weak to moderate, with the highest reaching 150 meters before drifting northwest.
Mt. Kanlaon’s ejection of steam and ash happened between 5:25 and 5:40 a.m., and the steam rose as high as 800 meters above the crater before drifting southwest.
Seismologists detected 11 high-frequency earthquakes on Taal Volcano, which ejected steam that rose about 10 meters high.
Mayon Volcano had 12 high-frequency and 17 low-frequency jolts, and its steaming activity was weak to moderate, seismologists said.
But they did not discount a major explosion in the coming days as they warned people leaving within the 4-km radius around Bulusan, Kanlaon, and Taal, where Alert Level 1 was still in effect, to be extra careful.
Alert Level 1 was also in affect around Mayon, where people are not allowed within a radius of 6 km.
Scientists warned residents near the four volcanos not to approach the permanent-danger zones as a result of the continuing threat of steam-driven explosions and rock falls.
In Quezon City, the Local Water Utilities Administration urged the water districts
in Bicol and Sorsogon to prepare to secure water sources and facilities in case of a major eruption.
“We have been monitoring developments in Bulusan and Mayon, and we are in constant contact with the water district authorities there,” Daniel Landingin, the state-run agency’s acting administrator, said in a statement.
Volcano's existence are related to
The volcano is higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, with one peak just seven metres below the sea's surface.
Empedocles is dormant and shows no sign of imminent eruption. Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano, lies 100km (60 miles) to its north.
The structure - which incorporates peaks previously thought to be separate volcanoes - has a base that measures 750 square km and stands 400m (1,300ft) high.
At various times in history, Empedocles has formed a small island. The first recorded eruptions occurred in the third century BC and the last in 1831.
Its emergence then put it at the centre of an international row over to whom the volcano actually belonged.
New survey equipment was used to confirm that what used to be considered a series of small underwater fissures are in fact part of a single massive volcano.
"People used to think that there were small centres of emission, distant from each other," Cesare Corselli, president of the National Inter-University Consortium for Marine Science, was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.
"The hypothesis... is that this is a singular volcano that, alongside Etna as an example, can have a central eruption or a series of lateral eruptions," he said.
The volcano was named Empedocles after the Greek philosopher who hypothesised that all matter consisted of four elements - earth, air, fire and water.
Eruption of ashes sparks evacuation
According to the AP, the scientists said they needed to gather more details and possibly conduct another aerial survey of Bulusan's summit before they can assess prospects of a major eruption.Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology, revealed Sunday's explosion belched ash up to two kilometers (1.2 miles) into the sky, accompanied by a number of mild tremors.
No one was hurt and the volcano was reported quiet on Monday.Local disaster relief official Noel Pura reported about 350 residents were ferried by military trucks and government vehicles from villages close to the volcano in Juban and Irosin towns, 390 kilometers (240 miles) southeast of Manila, to evacuation centers about five kilometers (three miles) away.
Mayor Edwin Hamor of nearby Casiguran town reported another 100 villagers living near the slopes of the volcano moved to a high school, but that most of the men stayed behind to guard their homes and farms.Authorities estimated more than 20,000 people face a possible evacuation in case of a major eruption, and set out plans for erecting tents cities outside a six-kilometer (four-mile) radius of the volcano.Hamor says rains on Sunday night increased the danger of ash and debris falling from the volcano, prompting the evacuation of residents.
The volcano's last major eruption was in 1994.The Philippines, which has about 22 active volcanoes, sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the northern Philippines exploded in one of the world's biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century.
Mount Bulusan's eruption is near!
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) based in Sorsogon province said at 7:30 a.m. yesterday that it had recorded four volcanic earthquakes and one brief tremor in the past 24 hours. The ash drifted northwest towards Juban and Magallanes towns, said volcanologist Orlando Guardacasa.
“It’s expected, considering the recent activity of Bulusan. Even in March, we’ve been saying that explosions might occur in Bulusan, and they’ve been increasing since May 31,” Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said in Manila yesterday.
Bulusan has erupted 15 times, most recently in November 1994, though minor eruptions have been recorded on April 29, May 25, May 31, June 3, June 7, June 10 and June 13, 2006, with the intervals between explosions becoming shorter and shorter.Solidum said alert level 2 remained raised on Bulusan. The volcano was being monitored closely for “magma moving up from below,” a major factor indicating a possible eruption, he said.
Residents were advised to avoid the 4-km permanent danger zone (PDZ) which Phivolcs said was at risk of being hit by sudden steam or ash explosions.
Residents in areas beyond the PDZ but downwind of the crater would also be adversely affected by ashfalls during explosions, Phivolcs warned.
Residents near the river or stream channels have been advised to be watchful of sudden volcanic flows because ash and other loose volcanic deposits from the upper slopes may be “remobilized” and impact areas near the danger zone.
Phivolcs raised its alert level on Bulusan to a precautionary 2 earlier this month and reminded residents on Thursday to stay away from the mountain after its crater belched clouds of ash.At level 3 an explosion is considered possible, at level 4 it is seen as likely and at level 5, the highest alert, an eruption has occurred, with lava flows or ash columns reaching 6 km.
Casiguran town Mayor Edwin Hamor said he had ordered local police units to start the evacuation of residents from Imlagadian village, which is inside the PDZ, because of Bulusan’s increased activity.“The residents there refused to leave their homes,” Hamor said. “We were just obeying the orders of the President to move people on the volcano slopes to much safer areas. We don’t want to sacrifice lives in case of a major eruption.”
Juban Mayor Tess Guab-Fragata said that thick ashfall rained down on the villages of Puting Sapa, Buraburan and Guruyan in Juban and Bolos village in Irosin.
Mount Merapi's eruption claims at least two lives!
An Indonesian rescue team carries the bodies of two men found dead in an underground volcano bunker.
The two men, who had helped people evacuate a nearby village, were found in an underground steel emergency shelter, officials said.
One man had tried to escape the heat by taking refuge in a bathtub.
The bunker was later covered with up to two metres of debris with temperatures as high as 300 C, officials said.
"The bodies were burned because of the hot temperatures in the bunker," said Widi Sutikno, head of volcano relief operations in the area.
Weeks of violent eruptions
The volcano has been disrupting life in the area during weeks of violent activity. Scientists had thought it was calming down, but there were more eruptions on Wednesday.
One woman who'd been forced out of her home and was living in a makeshift camp said she still does not feel safe.
"I'm so afraid of the smoke and the hot gas that is near the camp," she said.
Merapi is on Java Island about 400 kilometres southeast of Jakarta. It last erupted in 1994, sending out a searing cloud of gas that burned 60 people to death. About 1,300 people were killed when it erupted in 1930.
Indonesia has the world's highest density of volcanoes, with 500 in a localized "ring of fire" along the 5,000-kilometre archipelago nation. Of these, 128 are active.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Two men trapped in bunker were found dead!
Rescuers found the two bodies when they reached the opening of the steel bunker early on Friday, volcano relief operations officials said.Soldiers, wearing heat-retardant clothes, had been digging through volcanic debris on Thursday trying to reach the trapped people in the bunker which had been built for protection from volcanic eruption.
At the start of the rescue operation, officials had not known how many people had been trapped in the bunker."According to my information there are approximately three people, three local villagers, stuck in this bunker and we are trying to get them out," said rescue team leader Sugeng Triyono.Scientists had thought that the 3,000-metre (9,700-foot) volcano was calming down after weeks of activity, but the violent eruptions led to the re-evacuation of thousands of villagers and the government again put the peak on its highest alert level.
Reporters were prevented from travelling to the bunker, around 5 kilometres (8 miles) from the peak.The bunkers, several of which dot the slopes of Merapi, are typically equipped with water and food and emergency supplies of oxygen.
Schools close due to volcanic ashes!
The 1,560-meter (5,149-foot) Mount Bulusan belched a plume of ash 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) into the night sky Tuesday, blanketing at villages in Sorsogon province with thick ash, clouding visibility and keeping jittery people indoors for hours, officials said.
The explosion of ash, Bulusan's seventh since March 21, was accompanied by mild tremors, but there were no other signs of unrest that would indicate an imminent major eruption, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
The ash was blown by the wind northwest toward the farming towns of Casiguran and Juban, where officials canceled classes in at least nine primary and secondary schools to safeguard more than 2,600 students from health risks, officials said.
Although the ash has settled on rooftops and on the ground, it billows back into the air as vehicles pass by, said Maria Teresa Fragata, mayor of Juban where at least eight schools were closed in seven villages hit by ash.
"We think the children would be better off in their homes than in schools today," Fragata told The Associated Press by telephone.
Another school was closed in Casiguran's Mabini village, close to Juban, officials said.
Fragata said she ordered police to warn motorists to drive slowly to avoid whipping up the ash. A brief rain helped clear ash from rooftops and streets, she said.
"There was zero visibility for 12 to 13 minutes, and people were all inside their homes during the ash fall," Fragata said.
Fragata said she called an emergency meeting to assess possible health risks and damage to Juban's coconut plantations, rice and vegetable farms, which are the main source of livelihood in the town of 28,000 people.
Bulusan's ash has destroyed up to 15 million pesos worth of rice crops in Juban in March alone, she said.
Philippine scientists have warned of more ash explosions and possible mudflows from Bulusan, about 390 kilometers (240 miles) southeast of Manila. Officials in towns near the volcano have made preparations to evacuate in case of a major eruption.
The Philippines, which has 22 active volcanos, is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.
In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the northern Philippines exploded in one of the world's biggest volcanic eruptions in the 20th century.
(1 dollar = 53.00 pesos)
Stromboli gets hot headed!
The eruptions are particularly impressive at night and the volcano is much visited by groups of tourists, who leave the village of Stromboli and make a three-hour trek up to the top of the volcano, where the earth is hot and the air impregnated with gas.
The six bunkers have been installed by the Italian department of civil protection around the crest of the volcano and are designed to be used by tourists in the event of a particularly violent eruption. They were carried up to the top of the volcano by helicopter and are made of a double layer of steel, which is sufficiently strong to withstand volcanic rocks weighing up to 150 kilos travelling at a speed of up to 250 kilometres an hour.
Bulusan spits out ashes!
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) recorded the explosion at 7:04 p.m. but said there was no need yet to raise the alert level to 3 as there were no signs of magma.
Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said the explosion was "small" and the possibility of a major eruption was still far off.
"It’s not a big explosion because based on our seismograph record it’s even smaller than the May 31 explosion," he said.
"Most likely, the volcano will stop [spewing ash] for a while then it will explode again," Soldium said in a phone interview. "But the possibility of a bigger explosion is not imminent."
Lesty Saquilon, research specialist of Phivolcs Sorsogon, said Tuesday’s phreatic or ash explosion was weaker compared to the past six explosions since March 21.
It was not expected to cause damage and no new evacuation has been ordered, Solidum said.
Reports said the ash column, which drifted to the east, reached a height of one kilometer.
Casiguran Mayor Edwin Hamor, who was in the village of San Juan at the time of explosion, said ashfall was immediately felt in Casiguran but people in the streets were not worried since they were already prepared.
There was zero visibility in Juban due to the ashfall and residents went inside their homes as vehicles stopped to park on the roadside.
The 5,115-foot volcano, located in Sorsogon province about 390 kilometers southeast of Manila, emitted a continuous jet of steam after belching ash high into the sky overnight on March 21, the first time since November 1994.
On Wednesday last week, Bulusan spewed volcanic ash, damaging a number of houses in villages surrounding the mountain.
The volcano has had 15 recorded eruptions, the latest in 1994.
Twenty-two volcanoes are considered active in the Philippines, part of the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire" made up of islands created by volcanic activity on the Western Pacific.
Japan could see more volcano eruptions!
The Meteorological Agency has issued a bulletin warning of a high possibility of eruptions at the Showa vent, one of the craters on Sakurajima on the southern tip of Japan's southern island of Kyushu, about 1,000 km (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
The agency upgraded the 1,000 meter (3,200 foot) high volcano at Sakurajima to level three, or "active", from two, or "relatively moderate", on its volcanic activity scale of six.
The Showa crater had a minor eruption on Wednesday, spewing smoke hundreds of meters (yards) into the air.
There was a separate eruption at the Minamidake peak on Sakurajima on Monday, spouting a column of smoke about 2,000 meters into the air.
Minamidake has frequently erupted, showering nearby fields with ash.
The agency last issued a similar bulletin for the active volcano in October 2000.
Sakurajima was a 77 square-kilometer (30 square-mile) island until a violent eruption in 1914 filled in the strait separating it from Kyushu.
Japan's biggest volcanic disaster on record was in 1792 when 15,000 people died from a mud slide and tidal wave that engulfed villages around Mount Unzen, also in Kyushu.
Two other eruptions in the late 18th century each killed more than 1,000 people. The biggest loss of life this century was in 1926 when Mount Tokachi erupted on northern Hokkaido island, killing 144 people.
In June 1991, a major eruption on Mount Unzen killed about 40 people.
Mount Merapi brings evacuation with new eruption of lava
The government of nearby Magelang district mobilised more than 40 trucks and cars to evacuate about 11,000 villagers from three subdistricts near the foot of the mountain, said Edy Susanto, a district official.He said the villagers were taken to temporary shelters, including school buildings.“Of course it is dangerous. But we don’t know for sure whether the lava dome will collapse,” said Subandriyo, a government volcanologist who uses only one name.Red-hot lava flowed as far as half a mile from the mountain’s crater, while gas clouds called pyroclastic flows streamed as far as 2 miles down its south-western slope, Subandriyo said.
The 3,000m mountain is one of the world’s most active volcanos.Activity has risen since a magnitude 6.3 earthquake on May 27 hit a region about 30 20 miles to the south, killing at least 5,862 people.Some scientists say the quake may have contributed to the increased activity at the mountain.A major eruption could severely strain quake relief efforts.
The government had earlier urged residents to evacuate from a danger zone on the mountain’s fertile slopes, but thousands of villagers remained in their homes, saying they didn’t want to abandon their fields and livestock and complaining of boredom at the shelters.The mountain, about 250 miles east of the capital, Jakarta, is notoriously unpredictable.
Government scientists say they’re not sure whether the lava dome will suddenly collapse, simply keep growing, or gradually break into small pieces.Its last deadly eruption was in 1994, when it sent out a searing gas cloud that burned 60 people to death.About 1,300 people were killed when it erupted in 1930.Indonesia is located on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. It has 76 volcanoes, the largest number in the world.
Philippines see volcano eruption of ashes
There were two minor explosions of Bulusan volcano in the Bicol region, but there was no sign of laval flow, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said in a statement.
Ernesto Corpuz, one of the institute's chief monitoring scientists, said Bulusan's activity had been increasing and more explosions and ash falls were likely in the coming days.
"Our monitoring indicates magma is rising to the surface," said Corpuz, referring to hot molten rock inside the volcano.
However, he told reporters that the institute could not predict when a major eruption would occur, and it was for now keeping its alert level at 2 on a scale from 1 to 5.
At level 3 an explosion is considered possible, at level 4 it is seen as likely and at level 5 an eruption has occurred with lava flows or ash columns reaching 6 km (3.75 miles).
Bulusan, one of the six most active volcanoes in the Philippines, has had five ash eruptions since March.
Officials have warned residents in three towns of Sorsogon province not to venture within 4 km (2.5 miles) of the 1,559-meter (5,246-foot) volcano because of the risk of sudden explosions.
Casiguran town, on Bulusan's northern slopes, was declared under a state of calamity on Friday after ash damaged houses, crops and fish ponds and forced schools to close.
Like neighboring Indonesia, the Philippines lies in an area of the Pacific basin vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Mount Pinatubo, on Luzon island in the northern Philippines, erupted in 1991 after lying dormant for 600 years. That eruption buried dozens of villages under metric tonnes of mud and more than 800 people died, mostly from diseases in crowded evacuation camps.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Bulusan volcano is responsible of alert following eruption
The Bulusan volcano caused no damage to surrounding areas when it burst to life Wednesday night, but light ashfall was reported 5km to the north and traces of ash in Sorsogon city, 15km further north, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.The institute warned residents near the volcano to keep away from a 4km zone around the crater because of possible sudden explosions that could send superheated volcanic debris down its slopes.
The institute late Wednesday raised the second of a five-stage alert for the 1 560m volcano, about 390km south-east of Manila, because of "a continuing state of unrest which could lead to more frequent ash explosion or to hazardous magmatic eruption."
It was the fifth in a series of eruptions that so far have caused no damage or injuries since Bulusan erupted on March 21, the first time since 1995.The Philippines is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the northern Philippines exploded in one of the world's biggest volcanic eruptions in the 20th century.
Japan suffers a volcano eruption
Mount Sakurajima erupted at 5:30 p.m. (0830 GMT) and registered as moderate on the agency's scale for both the sound and the strength of the tremors it caused, according to a volcano bulletin.
There was no other significant change in volcanic activity, the bulletin said. "We do not believe that a large-scale eruption is imminent,'' said agency official Akira Otani.
Authorities in the area have received no immediate reports of damage or injuries, according police official Shoichi Araki in Kagoshima city, across the bay from the volcano. There has been ash falling in the city for several days, he added.
The 1,117-meter (3,686-foot) high Sakurajima is one of Japan's most active volcanoes. Clouds of ash constantly drift from its crater. It sits in Kagoshima Bay, about 950 kilometers (590 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
Sakurajima's last major eruption was in October 2000, when smoke rose about 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) into the air and blanketed Kagoshima city in dust. That eruption did not cause any injuries.
With 108 active volcanos, Japan is among the most seismically active countries in the world. The nation lies in the "Ring of Fire'' - a series of volcanoes and fault lines that outline the Pacific Ocean.
In 2000, an eruption at a volcano on Miyake Island, about 180 kilometers (110 miles) east of Tokyo, forced all 4,000 islanders to evacuate the island. About half of them returned last year after the evacuation order was lifted.
Indonesia is threatened by eight possible volcano eruptions
Speaking before the weekly forum Kapihan sa Sulo, Philvocs Director Renato Solidum Jr.
identified the eight restless volcanoes as Mt. Bulusan, Taal volcano, Mayon, Mt. Pinatubo; Mt. Canlaon; Mt. Hibok-Hibok, Mt. Matutum and Mt Parker. The last two are in Mindanao.
“These eight volcanoes are among those 22 active volcanoes in the country, but these (have been) frequently erupting since (the) 1960s, that is why we are keeping our eye on these,” Solidum said.
According to Solidum, Philvocs is monitoring allactive volcanoes in the country as these may cause a strong earthquake in the future.
He said a strong earthquake like the killer temblor that hit Indonesia last week may strike the country since the Philippines is within the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Earthquakes are normal occurrences in the Philippines with Philvocs recording more than 20 weak temblors every day.
The country experiences at least one to two strong earthquakes every five years.
Because of this, Solidum once more called on the public to be always prepared for disasters.
Copies of a preparedness manual is already available at Philvocs for the general public especially people living in fault line areas.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Mt. Merapi has been erupting for 6 days!
In its most active day of eruptions, Merapi sent 80 lava flows down its Western slopes. The recent Indonesian earthquake is attributed to the volcano’s increased activity. Indonesian Vulcanologist Tri Yani said: "It is the first time that lava was seen flowing to the west.”
Comoros volcano shows signs of activity
An early morning reconnaissance flight over the crater of 2,361-metre (7,750-ft) Mount Karthala -- one of the world’s largest active volcanoes, which dominates the island of Grande Comore -- gave no new clues.
“The information we have is that the lava is flowing. The crater is full of lava. We don’t know which direction it will flow,” Col. Ismael Daho, head of the emergency management team for the Comoros archipelago, told Reuters.
He said the lava was covering an area about 3 km square (1.2 miles).
Residents were nervous, but the volcano’s periodic past eruptions, which have rarely caused a major disaster, have tempered some on the island of 300,000 against panicking.
“Everyone is scared. No one could sleep the whole night,” said Jimmy Mohamed, from the village of Nvouni on Karthala’s western slope.
“But we all stayed and no one left. We’re used to this.”
Nonetheless, some said they were frightened.
“I saw a bright light and black smoke coming out of the volcano, then everyone came out to watch it. We’re very scared,” said Chena Mohamed Ali, 35, who lives in the village of Itsinkoundi, on the east side of Karthala’s slopes.
“The mosques around here are full of people praying to God to calm the volcano,” he told Reuters by telephone.
Until African Union observation flights determine where the lava might flow, authorities urged people to wait for evacuation instructions.
Lush green slopes
The lush green slopes of Karthala, covered with vanilla and ylang ylang plantations, form most of the largest island of the three in the Comoros chain, 300 km (190 miles) off the coast of east Africa.
Karthala has rarely punished Grande Comore harshly.
The worst disaster on record came in 1903 when 17 died from noxious fumes that seeped from cracks.
The last big eruption, in April 2005, sent thousands fleeing in fear of poisonous gas and lava. That was the first eruption in more than a decade, but the volcano has erupted on average every 11 years over the past two centuries.
In November, Mount Karthala fired clouds of ash and sparks across the island, blanketing the capital Moroni and other villages in grey dust.
Moroni is about 15 km from Karthala’s crater.
Mt. Manaro is full of surprises!
"We are still ... trying to understand this change of color in the lake from blue to red," geology and mines department director Esline Garae said this week from Vanuatu's capital, Port-Vila. She said two scientists on Ambae Island were monitoring Lake Vui as well as seismic activity on the 5,000-foot Mt. Manaro.
Mt. Manaro last erupted in November, forcing half of the island's 10,000 inhabitants to evacuate. An 1884 eruption killed scores of villagers.
New Zealand volcanologist Brad Scott said Lake Vui's color was "quite a spectacular red," but what had caused it "is the $64,000-question."
He said water samples from the lake would help determine what was happening in the crater and below it.
Vanuatu, formerly the New Hebrides Islands, is made up of 13 main islands located about 1,400 miles east of Australia.
UNDERSEA CREATURES: Odd animals growing in gulf; oil rigs headed there
Some 200 miles from shore and more than a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, researchers are exploring a cold, dark world inhabited by bizarre creatures that feed on toxic chemicals seeping out of the sea floor.
The scientists are racing to catalog strange undersea communities of tubeworms and giant mussels because the deepwater neighborhoods on the fringes of the Outer Continental Shelf are the next frontier for the oil and natural gas industry's drilling rigs.
"The oil and gas business is moving out into very deep water," said Harry Roberts, a Louisiana State University marine geologist, "People want to know what the sea floor is like and what are the oil companies damaging or are they being responsible citizens and staying away from these communities we're studying."
The U.S. Minerals Management Service plans to use the research to guide offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Although communities of chemosynthetic animals were first seen in the Gulf of Mexico in 1984, little is known about these bottom-dwelling critters at depths below 3,280 feet.
Unlike plants that use photosynthesis to convert sunlight into life-sustaining fuel, chemosynthetic microorganisms convert hydrogen sulfide, methane or ammonium into organic compounds.
The tiny chemical factories perform their energy-conversion trick inside larger deepwater organisms like tubeworms and mussels, providing their hosts with necessary nutrition.
Both hosts and guests are found only in harsh seabed locations where methane and oil seep from underground deposits directly into the sea floor sediment.
GLOBAL ITCHING: Climate change could mean more poison ivy
If warmer temperatures, rising sea levels and the increased risk of severe weather haven't gotten you concerned about global climate change, maybe this will.
A Duke University study has shown that poison ivy may become more of a problem as the concentration of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide increases.
The study, by Jacqueline Mohan, now at Harvard, and colleagues from Duke and other institutions, was conducted over six years at Duke's Forest-Atmosphere Carbon Transfer and Storage center, which consists of forest plots that allow carbon dioxide levels to be controlled. It is being published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Earlier studies had shown that some vines grew faster in elevated carbon dioxide conditions.
Elevated CO2 levels increase photosynthesis, which, because vines grab hold of other plants and don't need much support tissue, can go into producing even more photosynthesizing tissue.
At Duke, the researchers studied poison ivy growth under CO2 levels matching those forecast for the middle of the century. They found that over five growing seasons, plants grown under increased CO2 weighed about 60% more than control plants. The increase was greater than it was for woody plants in similar experiments.
The Duke research also showed that CO2 levels affected the production of urushiol, the rash-inducing oil that puts the poison in poison ivy. Plants grown in elevated CO2 levels produced more of the unsaturated version of this compound than control plants. And the unsaturated form is more allergenic.
FUNGUS SPREADERS: Waterborne infection killing off amphibians
Populations of certain frogs and other amphibians are plunging around the world, and an aquatic fungus has been implicated in the die-offs.
The fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, infects the skin and kills either by releasing toxins or by blocking the intake of water and oxygen through the skin. Some species are only mildly affected; others can be wiped out by the disease.
Scientists aren't sure how the fungus has spread, but a study by Trenton W.J. Garner of the Zoological Society of London and colleagues gives a clue. Even though it shows no symptoms of fungal infection, the North American bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana, is a carrier.