Saturday, March 31, 2007

Peru residents are affected by volcanic eruption

Just over a year after the Ubinas Volcano registered increased activity, a strong explosion was felt and seen by townspeople early this morning, causing panic in the towns adjacent to the volcano, located in the Andean department of Moquegua, Peru.

According to town resident Roxana Amachi, the explosion occurred at approximately 5:15 a.m. this morning and afterwards, a large plume of smoke of observed from the volcano's summit."We observed falling rocks, a long column of smoke, and then we were hit with a blanket of falling ash which has caused problems to our eyes and noses," stated Amachi who lives in the town of Anascapa, located just 6 kilometers away from the Ubinas Volcano.

Anascapa town authorities passed out protective masks to residents, however, due to the limited supply, authorities were not able give every resident a mask.Amachi also informed that many residents of towns located around the base of the volcano returned to their homes believing that the 'worst had passed.'Marco Rivera, an expert from Peru's Geological, Mining, and Metallurgic Institute (INGEMMET in Spanish) indicated to Andina News Agency that the volcano has experienced an increase of activity during the past weeks, with today's explosion being the strongest.

The geological expert stated that monitoring efforts will be stepped up in the wake of the increased activity."At the beginning of the month, small explosions occurred every 6-8 days, but now that rate has gone up considerably," stated Rivera after revealing that a smaller explosion was registered at 2:40 a.m. this morning.

The INGEMMET representative indicated that a report on the status of Ubinas will be released later today.The Ubinas Volcano is located at an altitude of 5,400 meters (17,716 feet) above sea level and is located in the province of Sanchez-Carrion. Two major eruptions have been recorded in its past.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Kilauea volcano compared to Mount St.Helens

Mount St. Helens may be following the example of Kilauea in Hawaii with magma being replaced from a reservoir beneath the volcano as fast as it emerges as lava at the surface, scientists say.
While the two volcanoes are different in many respects, St. Helens appears to have become an "open system" as its domebuilding eruption that began in the fall of 2004 continues at a pace that has been unchanged for the past year, said Daniel Dzurisin, a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory.

This pair of Jan. 23, 2007 photos released by the U.S. Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory, shows Mount St. Helens' dome as seen from the north, top, with a matching thermal-imaging infrared image, bottom. Scientists say Mount St. Helens may be following the example of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, with magma being replaced from a reservoir beneath the volcano as fast as it emerges as lava at the surface. (AP Photo/Courtesy U.S. Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory, Julie Griswold and Matt Logan)

Analyzing of digital elevation models made from high-resolution aerial photographs, scientists have kept close tabs on the rate at which lava has been pushing into the crater. At first it was about a dumptruck load, roughly 8 cubic yards, per second.

A year later it was down to slightly more than 1 cubic yard per second and since last April it has been fairly constant about 0.6 of a cubic yard per second _ still the equivalent of about nine truckloads every two minutes.

The longer the eruption continues at that rate, the more likely it is that a direct pathway has developed for molten rock to emerge from deep within the planet's crust, Dzurisin said, adding that it will take another year of data to reach a more definite conclusion.

"That situation could go on for a long time," Dzurisin said. "The ongoing eruption (at Kilauea) in Hawaii, for example, started in 1983."

Other evidence indicating the development of an open system at St. Helens is the slowing of deformation around the flanks of the volcano, indicating the magma chamber beneath the surface is being refilled rather than deflating, which would cause sagging.

At Johnston Ridge Observatory, five miles north of the crater, a global positioning system monitor has moved toward the volcano by about an inch since the eruption began, with most of the movement coming in the first year and a half.

Since then the rate of deformation has subsided considerably while lava continues to emerge, indicating the magma is being replenished.

It took about four centuries to build the symmetrical, cone-shaped peak that led St. Helens to be compared with Mount Fujiyama in Japan before a massive blast on May 18, 1980, removed the top 1,314 feet, flattened miles of southwest Washington forests and left 57 people dead.
"We know that St. Helens is capable of dome eruptions lasting decades," Dzurisin said.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Russian volcano spews ashes

According to Russian RIA Novosti, Klyuchevskoi volcano is spewing lava to a height of 100-150 meters.

Klyuchevskoi volcano is the highest one in Eurasia. It is situated on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East.

A leading researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences Volcanology and Seismology Institute Alexei Ozerov said: “The volcano’s activity has sharply increased since it last erupted February 15.”

“The size of the lava globs reaches several meters in diameter,” the researcher said. “We should expect lava flows to appear on the slope of the volcano anytime now.”

According to Mr Ozerov, such eruptions have not taken place for more than 15 years, but added that tourists and sportsmen should avoid the slopes of the volcano.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Indonesian volcano erupts!

Authorities warned thousands of people on an east Indonesian island to prepare to evacuate after a volcano started spewing rocks and lava, an official said Friday.

Indonesian volcano Batu Tara (

The 748-meter (2,454-foot)
Batu Tara, which began rumbling last week, released hot lava and rocks over the last two days and shot clouds of hot air as high as 2,000 meters (6,600 feet), said Andreas Duli Manuk, chief of Lembata district.

Andreas said about 6,800 residents in six villages on the northern coast of Lembata island, the closest islet south of the volcano, were on alert for evacuation. He added some have already fled their villages to safer areas.

Fishermen, also, have been warned to stay at least 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the volcanic island, he said.

A survey team that failed to land on the volcanic island because of high waves returned to Lembata on Thursday, Andreas said.

Batu Tara, whose only confirmed historical eruption was during 1847-52, is located on Komba island in the Flores sea, about 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) southeast of Jakarta.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

Russian volcano shows signs of activity

A volcano on the northern Kuril island of Paramushir, off Russia's Pacific Coast, is again showing signs of activity, local meteorological services said Thursday.

Tatyana Kotenko, of the hydro-meteorological station Severokurilsk, said steam and gas clouds could be seen rising some 150 meters (450 feet) above the Ebeko volcano's crater in the morning.
"The volcano is spewing out steam and gases 100 to 300 meters (300 to 900 feet) [into the air], with the temperature upwards 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit)," Kotenko said.
"With a western wind blowing, or when there is no wind, Severokurilsk residents can smell the sulfur and chlorine."

The 1,138-meter (3,300-foot) Ebeko volcano has three summit craters, each 350 meters (1,000 feet) in diameter. Its historical activity, recorded since the late 18th century, has so far been restricted to small-to-moderate explosive eruptions from the craters.

Mt Ruapehu's eruption traps NZ farmers on their land

New Zealanders living near Mt Ruapehu in the North Island are still cut off after a massive deluge of mud and rocks spilled from the volcano on Sunday.

As farmers around the mountain began a clean-up, many were counting their blessings after little damage occurred when more than a million litres of debris inside the volcanic crater burst from the banks between 11am and 12 noon on Sunday (1000-1100 AEDT).

The stream of debris, known as a lahar, had been predicted for more than a decade, amid fears it could destroy bridges and harm people in the area.

A $NZ10 million warning system was in place to alert farmers that it was imminent.

Carla Doolan who owns a beef and sheep farm with her husband was still trapped on her property, after roads were covered over with mud and silt.

"We can't get out of our property. The bridge is still standing thankfully but that is still subject to an engineer's report before we can cross it. The access way on the approach to the bridge has completely washed out," Doolan said.

"It actually came down in stages ... Initially it was just a lot of logs and debris that came down first and then the river level gradually built up and it was more like silty mud flow type material," she said.

"It could definitely have been much worse."

"We have already had diggers in today and they have started the clean-up. They are just trying to establish access. It is still not passable and you definitely can't get there by vehicle, but we have had people fly in," she said.

Sue Blackburn, who lives locally, said she was grateful there was not more damage when the lahar flowed down a river on her property.

"It went right over a bridge that goes onto my son's place. It actually went over," she said.
"We had plenty of warning. All of the warning systems worked well," Blackburn said.

Dave Wakelin from New Zealand's Department of Conservation said the lahar caused little inconvenience.

"It passed down the river safely. We had a round-the-mountain walking bridge that was severely damaged. Apart from that, everything went according to plan," said Wakelin said.

"The response plan worked and if anything it was probably a minor inconvenience to the public rather than anything else," he said.

He said rocks as big as cars smashed together in the lahar, but there was little damage to people or structures in the remote area.

"There are obviously some people who live on farms further down, but not right on the banks of the river," Wakelin said.

The lahar was the 46th on Mount Ruapehu since 1953 when a giant lahar formed on Christmas eve, washing away a rail bridge as a train approached, killing 151 people.

"It is just the nature of a volcano. It is a natural event. This was a moderate lahar, because of the way it released. It released over almost an hour. It wasn't a big full-volume release of water," Wakelin said.

The muddy debris in Mt Ruapehu formed after eruptions in 1995 and 1996 caused volcanic material to block off an outlet for a lake in the crater, causing a dam to form.

"It always will be a danger. That is an active volcano. The most common lahars are eruption lahars, where the volcano, which is underneath the lake actually throws the water out of the lake and it can flow down the sides of the mountain or down the river itself," Wakelin said.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Is supervolcano ready to explode?

There's a reason why the volcano over at Yellowstone is considered super. Apart from the fact that it spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, scientists recently discovered yet another super thing about it. Apparently, there is significant activity going on beneath its placid-looking surface -- and one that is increasing lately. Add to that little bit of news is the discovery that the nearby Treton Range is getting shorter.So does this mean that the Yellowstone supervolcano is moving over the landscape, thereby affecting the expanse of the nearby range? Probably so. But that's only the tip of the iceberg -- er, volcano.It's been said that researchers have been poring 17 years of their work just tracking the horizontal and vertical motion of the Yellowstone caldera. This is the huge volcanic crater that was created, thanks to the super-eruption of the supervolcano some super 60, 000 years ago.According to lead study author Robert Smith of the University of Utah, "we think it's a combination of magma being intruded under the caldera and hot water released from the magma being pressurized because it's trapped." And while they still do not consider this as enough warning or evidence for impending doom, aka a supervolcanic eruption, "it would be prudent to keep monitoring the volcano."

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Lightning may give information on volcanic activity

Lightning is the release of built up electrical energy in cumulus thunderclouds. As convection causes cumulus clouds to grow, particles in the upper levels freeze, separating positive and negative charges.Circulating air within the cloud further separates the charged particles, establishing a negatively charged base and a positively charged top.

Lightning results from the build-up and discharge of electrical energy between positively and negatively charged areas of the storm, and between charged portions of the storm and the ground.Volcanic ash clouds are similar to thunderclouds, which explains why lightning is often seen during large eruptions. In volcanic ash clouds, an electric charge is generated from the friction of ash particles expelled into the air, particle collisions and rock fractures.

Ash clouds from large eruptions are composed of particles of various sizes. Larger particles tend to be negatively charged and fall to the base of the cloud while smaller positively charged particles remain near the top, re-creating the same electric distribution seen in thunderclouds. As charges and particles build up, energy is released in the form of lightning.Lightning is the primary cause of forest fires in interior Alaska and is monitored by the Alaska Fire Service under the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Less than 20 small antennas monitor cloud-to-ground lightning across the state. The National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and BLM use this data in aviation forecasts, fire watches and general weather postings.Tom Dang, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage, said lightning-strike data is important in verifying weather conditions."Lightning reports and data are important for our forecasts," he said. "We don't have radar systems for the entire state, and the lighting reports confirm what is happening weatherwise in remote areas."McNutt is also trying to use lightning data as an indicator of volcanic activity.

"In poor weather conditions and at night, when wind and rain pound the ground disturbing our seismic instruments, we can look at lightning data and try to understand what's going on with the volcano and the ash clouds," he said.The published article just scrapes the surface of data collected from the 2006 Mount Augustine eruptions, McNutt said. He plans to continue working with the data to further define the relationship between electrical activity and volcanic ash cloud composition.Other UAF researchers involved in the article were Guy Tytgat and Edward Clark, who contributed technical support.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Indonesia tries to put an end to mud volcano eruption

For nine months, a gaping hole in the ground has spit out a biblical torrent of hot, black mud, swallowing thousands of homes outside Indonesia's second-largest city and attracting amazed geologists from around the world.

Most say the flow is unstoppable, but Indonesian experts refuse to listen, and they have recently begun carrying out a scheme straight from a Hollywood movie: dropping nearly 1,500 concrete balls into the mouth of the mud volcano.

Indonesian workers drop some of the 150-pound concrete balls into the mud volcano on Thursday. The unusual plan will cost $130 million, officials say. 'We know lots of people think this is a crazy idea. But we think it will work,' says professor Satria Bijaksana, one of three geologists leading the effort. The mud flow has covered thousands of homes.

"We know lots of people think this is a crazy idea," said professor Satria Bijaksana, one of three geologists behind the $130 million plan aimed at reducing the spew by as much as 70 percent. "But we think it will work."

Mud volcanos are fairly common along volatile tectonic belts.

But the eruption just outside the city of Surabaya is exceptional because of the sheer volume of mud that has been surging from the hole — enough to fill 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools each day. Twelve villages and 20 factories have been swallowed, with mud-caked roofs and the tops of lamp posts as the only reminders of what once was there.

Some scientists suggest the rupture was triggered by improper drilling at a nearby natural gas site. Other research points to a major earthquake two days before the mud first appeared in a rice field in May 2006.

Engineers are using a pulley system to hoist beachball-sized concrete spheres over the crater and drop them from a height of about two stories. The balls, each weighing about 150 pounds, are chained together in clusters of four. So far, nearly 150 have been tossed into the abyss, too few to have an impact.

Critics say almost everything depends on the shape of the volcano's gullet, believed by the ball-dropping team to resemble a champagne glass, although recent sonar readings indicate it might be larger than that. "The hope is that the balls will fit snugly at the bottom, but it is unlikely to be that simple," said Richard Davies, a geologist at Britain's Durham University who has studied the mud volcano.

Another concern is that if the hole is blocked, pressure will build up behind the balls and trigger eruptions elsewhere. "It's like putting your thumb at the end of a hose pipe — a fairly rotten hose which could spring a leak anywhere along its length," Davies said.

But with scientists predicting the mud could flow for decades or even centuries, those who have been made homeless say it's worth a shot.

The displaced residents are living in a former market near the site.

"They can't just give up, they have to fight this mud," said Subagio, 49, a father of four who, like many Indonesians, uses only one name. "We have no home, no job, nothing. And who knows how long we will be able to stay here?"

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ecuador, shaken by volcano eruptions

Ecuador's regional authorities on Monday evacuated hundreds of villagers following the eruption of the Tungurahua Volcano which had lain dormant for six months.

The 5,029-meter-high volcano, 135 km from Ecuador's capital Quito, has been active for a week. It has thrown out ash and a 2 km-high column of heavy smoke.

A report by the Ecuadorian Institute of Geophysics said the volcano erupted after being dormant for six months, causing 87 small earthquakes in the area in 24 hours.

Four hundred villagers living nearby have been evacuated.

An official from the Ecuadorian Red Cross warned that more severe eruptions could happen in the near future, and called on the emergency services to help evacuate the region.

Two deadly eruptions last year destroyed six villages, killed six people and injured 12.

After remaining dormant for eight decades, Tungurahua rumbled back in to life in 1999 and has been active ever since.

Russian volcano has erupted!

Chikurachki, the highest volcano on Paramushir Island in Russia's Far East, erupted Monday.
The volcano erupted on Monday morning, emitting an ash plume to a height of 1.5 km above the crater.

According to experts, the volcano poses no danger to residential areas. The nearest town of Severo-Kurilsk is situated 70 km from the volcano. Several earthquakes have been registered in the area.

Since the 19th century, eight large explosive eruptions at Chikurachki have been recorded, the latest was in 2002, which resulted in a heavy ash plume falling on the deserted village of Podgorny on the Pacific coast.

The area of Kuril Islands is characterized by active volcanic eruptions. There are currently 36 active volcanoes on the Kuril chain, and at least seven others are also considered to be dangerous, including the Mendeleyev, Golovnin, Tyatya, Grozny, Baransky, Chirip.

Stomboli volcano erupts in Sicily

Spectacular eruptions from the volcano on the southern Italian island of Stromboli may cause tidal waves, and all locals and tourists should stay away from the coast, emergency services said yesterday.Two big lava flows burst out of Stromboli’s side on Tuesday, sending up vast plumes of steam as they plunged into the Mediterranean waters below.

Authorities said there was no immediate risk to people living on the island, off the coast of Sicily.“The eruption (lava flows) are very well fed,” said Enzo Boschi, head of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology. “But there’s no reason to think that anything extraordinary will happen in the short term. The population is not at risk.”

Locals fear a repeat of the events of December 2002 when a similar upsurge in volcanic activity caused a massive chunk of rock to drop into the sea, causing a 10m tidal wave that ruined houses close to the shore.Emergency sirens sounded on the island when the new eruption began and local authorities ordered all residents to move to at least 10m above the water line.

The lava is flowing down an uninhabited part of the island and the risk, either of a greater eruption or of a tsunami, have not been deemed great enough to prompt a full-scale evacuation.In winter only a few hundred people live on Stromboli, but the population swells to several thousand in the summer.Tourists are drawn to climb to the 924m summit of the live volcano and peer down into its crater as the volcano blasts molten rock high into the sky.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Next time Vesuvius erupts could put 300,000 people at risk

AT LEAST 300,000 Italians living near the Vesuvius volcano would be killed the next time it erupts if they are not evacuated beforehand, according to the first three-dimensional simulation by supercomputer.

However, up to 200,000 others living in the north-north-western areas of the high-risk "Red Zone" could have more time to escape thanks to the volcano's towering Mount Somma rim, which acts as a natural barrier, scientists say.

"For the first time, we have seen that these flows could be substantially diverted," Augusto Neri, of the National Geophysical and Vulcanology Institute in Pisa, who led the research, said.
"It seems Mount Somma acts as an effective barrier. But this doesn't mean they're safe."

Although Vesuvius has slept for more than six decades, scientists fear the next big eruption could rival the one in AD79, which buried the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killed about 16,000 people.

The authorities have a plan to evacuate the more than half a million civilians living in the 18 towns within a four-mile radius of Vesuvius. They estimate they can get everyone to safety within a week.
Mr Neri's research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, could give authorities a greater understanding of how the will behave in the event of a big eruption - and which communities need to be evacuated first. "We've already passed the civil protection authorities these results. They are going to consider some of the results of this simulation in the revision of their emergency plan," he said.
Peter Baxter, at Cambridge University's Institute of Public Health, who also participated in the study, said history looked set to repeat itself by pummelling modern-day communities around the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

"The pyroclastic flows are going to be pushed to the south-side, toward the sea," he said, adding "that's where Pompeii and Herculaneum are".

Mr Neri said the Vesuvius computer simulation was the first in 3-D that showed what a big eruption would look like over a period of time, factoring in complex variables such as topography.
The scientists specifically tried to simulate the effects of a collapse of the eruption column - what happens when the exploding mushroom cloud is too heavy for the air, and the material comes crashing down the sides of the volcano.

The crater sits some 4,200ft above and 13 miles away from the Naples, Italy's third largest city.
The simulation calculated the temperature of magma would be 950C - 1,742F - as it left the crater, and 200C at the outer edge of the Red Zone, four miles away.

• STROMBOLI, the Italian volcanic island popular with tourists, has started to erupt more violently than usual, sending a flow of lava into the sea, emergency services said yesterday, advising locals to keep away from the danger areas.

The cone-shaped island is an active volcano attracting thousands of visitors every year to climb to its summit and admire the regular blasts of molten rock, but more powerful eruptions can be dangerous. The last time, in December 2002, a large eruption caused the island to be closed for months.

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