Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mount Kilauea's eruptions increases business for helicopter tours!

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park reported on July 9 that Mount Kilauea, on the southeastern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island, exploded late on Sunday evening causing the spectacular lava waves for tourists to enjoy. The blast is the second to hit Hawaii in less than four months, after the Halema’uma’u crater exploded in March. Such an eruption has not happened since 1924.

Travel expert, Tori Milan reports from the Big Island of Hawaii, "Now is a great time to take a Big Island helicopter tour. Tourists visiting Hawaii can make this an unforgettable vacation. Helicopter tours videotape the journey for the participants to purchase and take home. The views of the lava are currently the best they have been in decades.

Hawaii vacation rentals are the most economical way to take a Hawaii vacation."Officials in Hawaii say that the eruption isn’t causing any danger to nearby residents or tourists. The eruption follows three months of increased activity at the crater, which has been releasing sulfur dioxide gas since March. Geologists have predicted increased volcanic activity based upon the recent observations.

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Chile: Another volcano eruption causes evacuation!

Life near Chile's sporadically erupting, snow-capped Llaima volcano has become increasingly difficult for local residents, as eruptions have lead to a government imposed red alert evacuation for the second ski season in a row.

Residents like Eduardo Mendoza, who works at a nearby ski station, say the eruptions have interrupted their lives and made it more difficult to feed their families.

“People can't go to work because of the danger," he said, a cloud engulfing the majestic volcano behind him.

"Our source of work has been stopped and we depend on it to sustain our families. We can't go on like this," he added, showing a video clip on his mobile phone of the volcano spewing a jet of hot pyroclastic rock 1,300 feet into the air before dawn on Thursday.

The government this month ordered a 9-mile "red zone" around the 10,253-foot-high volcano, and has now evacuated around 60 people from nearby.

There is also a growing concern among residents that snow on the volcano's sides could melt, causing a nearby river to overflow and flood nearby communities.

The volcano erupted violently on New Year's Day, forcing the temporary evacuation of some tourists and residents from the surrounding Conguillio National Park. It belched ash and lava in February. Much of the park is off limits again.

Experts say they are unable to forecast the frequency of any future activity from Llaima.

"The activity is going up and down very fast," said Hugo Moreno, a geologist and volcano expert with state mining and geology service Sernageomin, who is based in the town of Melipeuco, on the fringe of the exclusion zone.

"It is oscillating, so it is very difficult to make a medium-term forecast," he added. "It will most likely continue to oscillate, until it stabilizes at some point."

Cycles have lasted anything from one minute to three years or more, Moreno said.

Agriculture Minister Marigen Hornkohl spoke to worried farmers in nearby Cherquenco, just 11 miles from the base of the volcano.

Farmers there are only allowed to tend to their animals two hours a day, which has raised concern for the animals’ well being.

"We have to take this one minute at a time," Hornkohl told residents and evacuees assembled in the rear of the local fire station. "Now, when we want to be able to go home, the worst thing we can do is to take the wrong decisions," she said.

Earlier this year, Chaiten volcano, 760 miles south of Santiago in Chilean Patagonia, erupted on May 2 for the first time in thousands of years, spewing ash, gas and molten rock.

Chile's chain of some 2,000 volcanoes is the world's second-largest after Indonesia's. Around 50 to 60 are recorded to have erupted, while 500 are deemed potentially active.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A volcano erupted in Alaska!

Ten people were evacuated from a remote island in Alaska Saturday after a volcanic eruption in the Aleutians, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

The fishing boat Tara Gaila picked up the seven adults and three children from Umnak Island after the group called military police on Kodiak Island and requested help, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

The call for help came about 15 minutes after the Okmak volcano erupted unexpectedly, sending a cloud of ash some 35,000 feet into the sky.

The ash was thick enough that a Coast Guard helicopter that had been dispatched to Umnak Island was forced to land in the fishing town of Dutch Harbor.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory said in an advisory that ash in the Dutch Harbor area continued to pose a threat to aircraft.

The observatory said the volcano is about 65 miles from Dutch Harbor and last erupted in 1997. It was not immediately known if the explosive eruption produced a lava flow.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Volcano eruption in Alaska traps nine people!

A volcano erupted in Alaska's Aleutian Island chain on Saturday, trapping at least nine people with failing ash until a private boat was able to rescue them after the Coast Guard appealed for help.

The Okmok volcano began erupting at about 11:43 a.m., spewing ash more than 30,000 feet in the air, said geophysicist Steve McNutt. "You wouldn't want to be within 10 miles of this place, depending again which way the wind is going." Umnak is in Alaska's Aleutian chain, about 860 miles west of Anchorage.

Fort Glenn is "much right next door to the volcano," said Tanya Kyle, a tribal administrator in the village of Nikolski, about 20 miles from the volcanoe.

Six adults and three children were at Fort Glenn and reported falling ash and rock to the Coast Guard soon after the eruption, said spokesman Levi Read.

But the ash kept the Coast Guard from sending an aircraft to help. When the Coast Guard was unable to reestablish contact with Fort Glenn, it appealked for any boats in the area to rescue the nine.

The Coast Guard cutter Jarvis was diverted to the island, but it was about 800 miles away and would take 36 hours. That's when the Coast Guard appealed for help and a private boat was able to pick up the stranded people. Details of that rescue were not immediately available.

Two planned flights from Unalaska were canceled because of the eruption, said Jerry Lucas, a spokesman for PenAir, the primary airliner serving the area.

The volcano last erupted in 1997, McNutt said, with lava flow following the eruption for roughly two months.

With wind blowing from the northwest to southeast, the ash cloud would likely pass to the south of Dutch Harbor, he said.

In Dutch Harbor, residents noticed a gray, odorless ash falling by about 3:30 p.m. and a local building-supply store began rationing $2.75 face masks, said reporter Jim Paulin.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Kilauea spews more lava than predicted

The lava flow from Kilauea, which has been erupting on and off for 25 years, started on Nov 21 last year. But experts said that more lava is spilling from the volcano and into the ocean than usual.
Officials at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said that the lava is emerging near the Pacific on the southeastern side of the state's Big Island. A surface flow is snaking eastwards from the crater, while underground "tubes" are also expelling lava into the ocean.

A white plume can be seen rising from the Halemaumau vent near Kilauea's summit, which stands at 4,091 feet. Scientists said that the plume is carrying small amounts of ash and elevated levels of sulfur dioxide.

Visitors to the scene of the eruption have so far been able to watch the lava flows from a viewing area, safely located a few hundred feet away from Kilauea.

Experts from the US Geological Survey have also been monitoring the increased activity for the past few days.

Kilauea, which means "spreading" or "spewing" in the local tongue, is the most active of five volcanoes in Hawaii.

Volcano erupted in Chile!

A red stream of lava flowed down the flanks of the Llaima volcano in southern Chile on Tuesday and officials said they evacuated about a dozen people.

Emergency Bureau Director Carmen Fernandez said only some 50 people live in the "first risk ring" around the 9,400-foot (3,120-meter) volcano.

Bureau Vulcanologist Juan Cayupi said officials were monitoring the situation to determine if they will need to expand the evacuation to small villages in the region 650 kilometers (370 miles) south of Santiago.

Llaima is one of Chile's most-active volcanos. It erupted for about two weeks in January, forcing hundreds of tourists to evacuate from Conguillio National Park but causing no damage.

The long-dormant Chaiten volcano further south erupted in May, forcing the evacuation of some 4,500 people from the nearby town of Chaiten, which has since been largely destroyed by ash and by water from a river partially blocked by volcanic debris.

New Zealand: Mr Ruapehu may erupt again...soon!

Temperatures and gas levels in Mt Ruapehu's Crater Lake remain high nine months after it erupted, and scientists admit further eruptions are possible.

The volcano last erupted on September 25 and GNS Science yesterday said it remained in a state of unrest and was showing unusual activity.

GNS Science volcanologist Michael Rosenberg said the elevated temperature and gas levels indicated the presence of magma in the mountain, but this was not necessarily a sign of an impending eruption.

"This is a natural system [which] you can't really expect to do a regular cycle of heating and cooling, and high gas and low gas."

However, Mr Rosenberg said GNS Science was carefully monitoring the mountain as it did any time there were changes to seismic activity, gas levels or Crater Lake temperatures.

"We have to do that in case these are precursors to an eruption ... It's a natural system and it will do what it will do."

Some gas levels have increased since last year's eruption, and carbon dioxide emissions are now about 10 times higher than typical levels.

The Crater Lake is fluctuating between 34C and 37C, and the alert level for the volcano remains at Level 1, which indicates signs of unrest.

On June 17, GNS Science volcano surveillance co-ordinator Brad Scott said Crater Lake temperatures and gas levels usually followed a predictable pattern of returning to normal after eruptions.

"If further eruptions occur, they may occur without warning," he said.

Ruapehu Mayor Sue Morris said Mr Scott had briefed a council meeting on Friday about the high lake temperatures.

"But as far as I know, there is no danger," she said. "We would certainly know very, very quickly - within minutes - if the mountain was going to erupt."

Mrs Morris said Mt Ruapehu was constantly monitored and robust warning systems were in place.
"So people don't need to be afraid of coming to the mountain ... And of course, it's very, very beautiful to be there right now. There's snow everywhere."

The Department of Conservation, which also takes advice from GNS Science, said it was keeping a close eye on the situation but not changing its directions to the public.

"We're just watching and are curious more than anything," community awareness officer Dave Conley said.

"It's not a state of the mountain that any of the guys have seen, so they're all a little bit curious as to quite what it means."

"Most of the eruptions on Ruapehu tend to come without much warning anyway, so it's a watching brief up there at all times."

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, the operator of the Mt Ruapehu skifields, was also watching updates and training new staff in contingency procedures.

Last week, Horizons Regional Council emergency manager Shane Bayley called a meeting of emergency management agencies, where they discussed their Mt Ruapehu eruption response plans.

"We identified ways to improve communications between agencies, including councils, GNS Science, Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, Civil Defence Emergency Management groups, Department of Conservation and police," Mr Bayley said.

"While no predictions can be made about what might happen in the future, based on the unusual levels of unrest on the mountain, it makes good sense to be fully prepared."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Arctic Ocean displays volcano eruptions results on seafloor!

Volcanic eruptions deep below the icy bottom of Arctic Ocean are spewing splintered, fragmented rock, even though intense weight and pressure of water rules them out in theory. Researchers led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found jagged, glassy rock fragments spread out over a 10 square km area around a series of small craters about four kilometres below the sea surface.

The volcanoes lie along the Gakkel Ridge, a remote and unexplored section of the mid-ocean ridge system that runs through the Arctic Ocean.

“These are the first pyroclastic (fragmented rock) deposits we have ever found in such deep water, at oppressive pressures that inhibit the formation of steam… thought… not possible,” said WHOI geophysicist Rob Reves-Sohn, co-author and chief scientist of Arctic Gakkel Vents Expedition (AGAVE-2007).

Seafloor volcanoes usually emit lobes and sheets of lava during an eruption, rather than explosive plumes of gas, steam, and rock that are ejected from land-based volcanoes.

Because of hydrostatic pressure of seawater, ocean eruptions are more likely to resemble those of Kilauea than Mount Saint Helens or Mount Pinatubo.

Making just the third expedition to Gakkel Ridge - and the first to visually examine the seafloor - researchers used a combination of survey instruments, cameras, and a seafloor sampling platform to collect samples of rock and sediment, as well as dozens of hours of high-definition video, reported EurekAlert.

They saw rough shards and bits of basalt blanketing the seafloor and spread out in all directions from the volcanic craters they discovered and named Loke, Oden, and Thor.

These fragments are formed when lava is stretched thin around expanding gas bubbles during an explosion. Reves-Sohn and colleagues also found larger blocks of rock - known as talus - that could have been ejected by explosive blasts from the seafloor.

The paper, co-authored by 22 investigators from nine institutions in four countries, was published in the Thursday issue of Nature.

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