Saturday, November 29, 2008
Students learn about volcanoes through scientific experiments
The kids used paper mache, plaster and foam to build the erupting mountains.Many added a personal decorative touch to their volcanoes with paint, plants, rocks and more and constructed the volcanoes around water bottles.
Baking soda was placed inside the bottles and when it was time for an eruption, the students placed their volcanoes on a table and poured vinegar into the bottle, then quickly plugged the bottle with a cork. Lastly, they wait for the baking soda-vinegar combination to react and send the cork into the air with the 'lava.'
Albanese said the chemistry lesson he hopes the students learn is that a weak acid ‹ vinegar, and a weak base ‹ baking soda, usually form a gas.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Underwater volcanoes are now a hot topic
"I honestly never thought this would happen," he said. "But it's going to and it's quite incredible."
Mark Hannington addresses questions from the audience at the 2008 Geoscience Forum after his presentation on ocean floor volcanoes.
Hannington, a geology professor, researcher and fifth editor of the international research journal Economic Geology, gave a presentation Tuesday evening titled "Exploring Active Volcanoes on the Ocean Floor" to more than 80 people at the legislative assembly's Great Hall. The presentation was part of the 2008 Geoscience Forum being held in Yellowknife this week.
Hannington's presentation focused on underwater volcanic activity and the significance it has to mineral deposits forming on the ocean floor.
"Eighty per cent of all volcanoes on Earth are underwater," he said. "There are about 1,500 active volcanoes on land and some 15,000 to 20,000 underwater younger than 190 years old."
Created by satellite imaging, the map they use of the ocean floor is a model based on gravity and isn't an actual topographic map, but is the best available map of the ocean floor.
"By measuring deflections in the sea surface, basically bumps on the surface of the ocean you could calculate a gravitation effect of something sitting on the ocean floor," he explained.
Hannington explained how "black smokers", or sea vents, produce metals on the ocean floor. A black smoker is a type of hydrothermal vent found on the ocean floor. The vent is formed from superheated water from below the crust of the Earth coming through the ocean floor. The water is rich in dissolved minerals from the crust, most notably sulfides. When it comes in contact with cold ocean water, many minerals precipitate, forming a black chimney-like structure around each vent. The metal sulfides that are deposited can become sulphide ore deposits.
"It creates mining opportunities. The only thing is would it be a money making venture or not," said Hannington.
Nautilus Minerals, a mining company, plans to start mining at its Solwara 1 project off the coast of Papua New Guinea in 2010. Seabed mining is something Canadian mining companies might be able to profit from in the future, said Harrington, he said but this is yet to be seen.
"There is a lot of potential benefits but there is also possible environmental effects that could be devastating."
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Man says he can read moods of volcanoes
Eventually he chose to go with physics, but all he wanted to do was to get back to studying the earth and environmental sciences. So when a position came up for a physicist to monitor volcanic gas plumes, he did not think twice and there has been no looking back for him since then.
Scottish physicist McGonigle is one of the Rolex Enterprise Award 2008 laureates. He was honoured recently for his contribution to study on prediction of volcanic eruptions. Inspired by a technology that helps in glacier mapping, McGonigle created a remote-controlled two-metre-long helicopter that he would fly over the volcanic mountains of Etna and Stromboli. The technology created by him will help predict, weeks in advance, whether the mountains would erupt. The prediction would help save lives and property.
McGonigle has specialised in the study of air pollution and volcanic gases by using lasers and other sensing devices. He has climbed over 15 of the 60 most active volcanoes, and analysed the gas signatures of many more. His works have proved decisive for volcanic research all over, but it was the coupling of science with the emerging technology of remote-controlled aircraft that was the stroke of genius, leading to his selection for a Rolex award.
In March 2007, McGonigle, with the help of David Fisher and Prof. Alessandro Aiuppa of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, developed the prototype helicopter AERVOLC 1 and flew over a fuming vent of Vulcano, a volcanic cone near Sicily. The instruments recorded levels of sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and wind speed, enabling the scientists to calculate the flow of gases from the volcano.
“For me the biggest breakthrough was getting it all to work on the test flight. I was almost in tears,” said McGonigle.
He added that he and his associates were sure of the technology’s capability to predict a volcanic eruption weeks to months ahead.
McGonigle said, “Prediction of volcanic eruptions would be a lot easier now with this technology and it can save thousands of lives. Today hundreds of millions of people in many countries dwell in the shadows of volcanic mountains in constant fear of eruption. Once the technology has been perfected it will be distributed to volcanologists all over.”
It takes place over two weekends, beginning Saturday and Sunday and continuingNov. 28, 29 and 30. The festivities take place at the Volcano Art Center Gallery, located in the historic 1877 Volcano House adjacent to the Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.Original wreaths will be available at the annual Invitational Wreath Exhibit.
Gallery artists, working in a wide variety of media, materials and techniques, present their highly creative concepts of "wreath." Just for the holiday season, the gallery displays Hawaii-handcrafted ornaments, home decorations and gifts not found the rest of the year, including ornaments by Stevens that are Volcano Art Center exclusives.
The exhibit continues through Jan. 4.From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Varez is debuting four new prints, as well as signing books and copies of his other Hawaiiana prints. The new prints are titled "Damien of Molokai," "Pele with Silversword and Koae," a four-part one "Hawaiian Diver" and "The Birth of Hiiaka."
Stevens will be showing visitors some of the many methods she uses to make her "Christmas critters" from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday. She'll be joined by Melia Goodenow who will be giving visitors sniffs of the various Hawaiian floral scents used in Hawaiian Rain Forest Naturals products. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Larsen-Goodin will demonstrate her lampworking skills, making glass beads using a gas torch.
After Thanksgiving, Varez returns from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Nov. 28 to personalize everyone's selection from his huge collection of affordable prints as well as copies of the many books he has illustrated. The Rhodes are joining Varez. They will demonstrate how they use a variety of heirloom tools -- spokeshaves, shrapers, drawknives -- to shape their walking sticks and kitchen utensils. They also will show hobbyists how their techniques can be used in any woodworking project.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 28 and 29, Ocean View potter Smith will be on hand with a wide selection of his "wasabi" style wind chimes, teacups and pots.The Volcano Art Center Gallery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is wheelchair accessible.
Call 967-7565 or visit http://www.volcanoartcenter.org for more information. National park user fees apply for those without passes.the Country begins Saturday.
Underwater volcano is now protected!
Davidson Seamount stands 7,546 feet above the ocean floor, in pitch black waters about 80 miles southwest of Monterey. Until eight years ago, almost nothing was known about it, largely because its summit sits 4,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
But as marine biologists began to send unmanned submarines to explore it, they found a
pristine environment rich with life, from red crabs with spindle legs to anemones that close like Venus flytraps.
"We were astounded to discover the variety of life, and particularly the size of the animals," said Dave Clague, a geologist with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in Moss Landing. "Some of the corals are truly huge. The big pink bubble gum corals get at least 10 feet tall. And they are hundreds of years old. We'd never seen anything like that."
On Thursday, the Bush administration published final regulations to expand the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by 14 percent to include Davidson Seamount. The first such expansion since Congress and President Bush's father established the sanctuary.
in 1992, the newly protected waters total 775 square miles — an area more than half the size of Yosemite National Park.
All offshore oil drilling is banned in the Monterey sanctuary, which stretches from the Marin headlands near the Golden Gate Bridge along 276 miles of coastline to Hearst Castle. With the new boundaries, the drilling ban will be extended to Davidson Seamount, as will other regulations prohibiting harmful fishing practices, mining and other exploitation.
Scientists from MBARI and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have conducted 14 expeditions to Davidson Seamount since 2000.
They have collected dozens of samples of corals, sponges, clams, fish and other marine life on which to perform DNA tests and other experiments, using remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs.
But 99 percent of the seamount remains unexplored.
"We see whatever we can catch in the lights of an ROV. It's like sampling the Sierra Nevada only by what we can see from headlights of a car. It will take a long time to fully explore it all," said Bill Douros, West Coast regional director for the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
The area was not included among the sanctuary's original boundaries, he said, because "in 1992, it was simply a point on a chart. Nobody had ever been there or seen it."
The seamount last had a volcanic eruption 9.8 million years ago. Another eruption is highly unlikely, Clague said. If it did erupt, lava would remain below the surface.
The rules giving the seamount permanent protection will become final in mid-March, with no changes unless Congress orders them, which is not expected.
They were part of a package of new NOAA regulations updating the management plans for three California marine sanctuaries: Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank.
The plans also set strict new rules for personal watercraft, known commonly as jet skis, so that the crafts, which environmentalists say harass otters and other wildlife, are confined to four small areas, and can only be used in winter months to tow in surfers to Maverick's, the area off Half Moon Bay known for its massive waves.
The new rules also ban cruise ships from dumping any sewage in sanctuary waters. And they ban all forms of shark chumming, a practice of dumping blood into the water by thrill seekers and filmmakers to attract great white sharks but one that can endanger surfers.
The sanctuary expansion adds to the ocean legacy of President Bush. Bush has drawn sharp criticism from environmentalists for relaxing oil drilling rules and other conservation laws.
In 2006, he created the largest protected marine area in the world, off the northern Hawaiian Islands, and also has pushed measures to ban shark finning and to protect the Florida Everglades.
"Although he hasn't been widely considered an environmental president, he does have a history of some leadership on ocean issues," said Kaitilin Gaffney, a program manager with the Ocean Conservancy in Santa Cruz.
"To me, the Davidson Seamount is the classic crown jewel that the sanctuary program was set up to protect. It's just spectacular."
Trinidad & Tobago: Home of mud volcanoes
Trinidad & Tobago’s unique surroundings also offer visitors a variety of extraordinary attractions and unusual activities that include exploring underground grottos, viewing mud volcanoes and swimming in the destination’s asphalt lake and offshore lagoon. Cave Exploration, Trinidad Most of Trinidad’s Northern Range comprises of limestone caves such as the Sea Caves at Las Cuervas Beach and the Aripo Caves.
The Dunstans Caves, located on the Asa Wright Nature Reserve, is home to the oilbird or guacharo, the world’s only nocturnal fruit-eating bird. The caves also feature a crystal clear pool that adds to the mystery of these underground grottos.
Another place of interest is the Gasparee Caves, which lie below the ground on the island of Gaspar Grande, located off Trinidad’s northwest coast. It is known to be the site where pirates and smugglers once used to secure stolen treasures. Pitch Lake, Trinidad This natural phenomenon, situated in the village of La Brea in southwest Trinidad, has fascinated explorers, scientists and locals since its discovery by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595.
About 250 feet deep at its center, it is estimated to have reserves in excess of 6 million tons, from which approximately 180 tons of pitch are mined daily. On a good day, the output can reach 240 tons. Far from being water, the “lake” is 40 percent pitch, 30 percent water and 30 percent colloidal clay. The only liquid source is the self-replenishing center, known as “The Mother of the Lake.” A gift of nature and a national treasure, The Pitch Lake provides the entire country, and many of the neighboring islands with pitch for building roads.
From a distance the lake appears to be an abandoned car park and visitors can be seen walking on the surface or even swimming, with the hopes of gaining what some believe to be the lake’s healing properties. Mud Volcano, Trinidad Trinidad is one of the few countries in the world where mud volcanoes are prevalent. They are locally referred to as "bouffe" (French for swelling) or by the original Amerindian term guaico, meaning "mud-stream". By definition however, mud volcanoes are areas where there is an extrusion of watery mud or clay, accompanied by or sometimes forced by methane gas.
When the mud is of a dry consistency, a volcanic shape is usually formed and the wet mud tends to result in depressions. One of the most popular mud volcanoes in Trinidad is the Piparo mud volcano (known by some as Morne Roche) located in South Trinidad, just east of Marabella. It reaches an elevation of 365 feet (150 feet in relation to the surrounding land) and covers some 425 acres. This mud volcano usually sits dormant, but occasionally spews mud hundreds of feet into the air. The largest recorded eruption occurred in February 1997.
Piparo is considered the most accessible and the most visited mud volcano on the island with recreational facilities including a children’s play area and picnic tables located in close proximity of the volcano. Nylon Pool, Tobago Considered a veritable tranquil paradise in the center of the ocean, the Nylon Pool is located right next to what is dubbed one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean, Buccoo Reef.
The Nylon Pool was named by Princess Margaret during her visit to Tobago in 1962, when she commented that the water was as clear as her nylon stockings. This natural, meter-deep swimming pool is formed from an offshore sandbar and still lagoon in the middle of the sea. With the deep ocean on one side and palm fringed beaches on the other, the shallow waters and powder-soft sand provide a secluded island oasis.
In addition, the unique feature of the reef complex allows swimmers to enjoy their own private swimming pool with depths no greater than 7-10 feet at high tide. Local folklore promises that a dip in the waters of the Nylon Pool will make you look five years younger.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Helicopter could predict volcanic eruptions
Dr Andrew McGonigle, a physicist, thinks the helicopter, which is flown over the crater of volcanoes, could be used across the world to help save millions of lives.It is fitted with technology that tests for carbon dioxide in the air above the volcano, which is usually released weeks, if not months, before the molten magma erupts to the surface.Until now, the process of measuring the gases from volcanoes to predict when they will erupt has been dangerous.Scientists have had to get close to the volcano, using devices such as sensors attached to the rim of the crater.
However, the helicopter can be operated miles from the site, meaning that no lives need be put at risk.Dr McGonigle, 35, was last night awarded a Laureate of the 2008 Rolex Awards for Enterprise. The senior research fellow at the University of Sheffield, who grew up in Edinburgh, received the award at a ceremony in Dubai. He was chosen, with four others, from nearly 1,500 applicants in 127 countries.
Other winners included Andrew Muir, from South Africa, who is helping Aids orphans get jobs in his country's ecotourism sector, and Elsa Zaldívar, from Paraguay, who is creating building materials made from plant and plastic waste.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Moon's volcanic history has more to tell than first thought by scientists
According to a report in National Geographic News, until recently, the prevailing belief was that lunar volcanism started soon after the moon formed, about 4.5 billion years ago, and ended about 3 billion years ago. KAGUYA, which was launched and began orbiting the moon in the fall of 2007, has sent back some of the first high-resolution images of the moon's dark side.
Using these images, the research team was able to manually count craters in several regions. Scientists can determine the age of a lunar landscape by counting the craters that have been blasted into its surface by meteors. The older a region, the more craters it has. There are fewer craters on the far side's lunar maria, or seas, than expected, meaning they're younger than presumed.
"The finding will lead the scientific community to reconsider the early geology of the moon," said lead study author Jun'ichi Haruyama of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.Scientists believe that early in the moon's formation, which was probably caused when a Mars-sized planet hit the Earth, light minerals floated to the top of a magma, or molten-rock, ocean, forming a harder crust. Even after the crust had been fully formed, by about 3.2 billion years ago, the mantle melted occasionally and lava flowed on the lunar surface.
Sometimes, meteor hits could trigger eruptions. Most of the volcanism occurred on the near side in several phases, according to Carle Pieters, a geologist at Brown University and a study co-author. But, there are relatively few basalts-glassy rocks formed by cooling magma-on the far side of the moon, so it was thought that volcanic activity had ended early in that hemisphere. According to the study, the volcanism that formed the few maria on the far side "lasted longer than previously considered and may have occurred episodically."
"The thermal history of the moon is certainly more complex than originally thought," Pieters said. "After a great data famine, this feast of quality new information about the moon will open a renaissance of scientific exploration and new understanding of Earth's nearest neighbor," he added.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Research project based on volcanoes
The city is built on a volcanic field in which 50 volcanoes have erupted over the past 250,000 years.
The volcanoes are now considered extinct but knowledge of how future eruptions might occur is incomplete.
The seven-year exercise aims to better define Auckland's volcanic risk using the latest geological techniques and sophisticated computer modelling.
The information provided from the $5 million project, called Devora (Determining volcanic risk in Auckland) will help prepare the city for any future volcanic eruption by enabling better decision-making to protect assets and reduce casualties.
The Government-owned research and consultancy company GNS Science and the Institute of Earth Science and Engineering at Auckland University are jointly leading the project in collaboration with public and private sector organisations.
Jan Lindsay, joint project leader, said it would be a step forward in improving the understanding of the risk to Auckland, and Aucklanders, from volcanoes.
"It's not a matter of if, but when, and the more we know about volcanoes and the impact an eruption would have on our city, the better prepared Auckland can be."
Dr Lindsay said there were three main strands to the research - physical models of how the volcanoes worked, risk and hazards from the volcanoes, and the social and economic impacts.
The project would improve knowledge of the history of the Auckland volcanoes and the effects they have had on what is now Auckland City.
A future volcano might erupt anywhere within Auckland with effects such as lava flows, hot ash and gas avalanches, fire fountains and ash fall.
Auckland was also at risk from ash fall from distant eruptions at volcanoes in the central North Island, and Devora would improve understanding of that threat as well.
Alex Malahoff, chief executive of GNS Science, said the collaboration would provide an unprecedented amount of information on the volcanic risk in the region.
"It is important to understand how the volcanic field might erupt in the future, so Auckland can continue to develop as a major economic hub in New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific."
Dr Malahoff said the project was designed so the information could be taken up readily and used in civil engineering, infrastructure planning, emergency management and the insurance industry.
David Middleton, chief executive of the Earthquake Commission, said the research was needed because not enough was known about the risk of volcanic eruption in the Auckland region.
"It is important that conventional wisdom is not allowed to crowd out scientific advances. The better our understanding of the hazards we face, the better equipped we can become to deal with them."
This work was based on the success of the "It's Our Fault" project in Wellington where the risk of earthquake in the region was assessed through a collaboration of industry, regional government and science institutions.
THE FULL PICTURE
* Auckland is built on a volcanic field.
* 50 volcanoes have erupted over the past 250,000 years.
* Each volcano erupted for a few months or years and then became extinct.
* Knowledge of when each volcano erupted, and how future eruptions might occur is incomplete.
Yellow alert has been given as Colombian volcano displays signs of activity
The volcano’s crater is covered with an immense dome and more than 20 thousand people inhabit this land in the south of the state of Tolima.
The magnitude of Machín is one of the greatest of the volcanoes of the area, and therefore a possible eruption would cause a gigantic emergency.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Mud volcanoes erupts, sending villagers packing!
Up to Press time, mud continued spewing several feet into the air from two large craters lying in close proximity to a pumping jack in the Los Bajos Field located at Francis Trace. The erupting mud was accompanied by the strong scent of methane gas. Long time residents of the area told Newsday this was the first time that the area ever experienced a volcanic eruption and that there were never any signs of activity to cause concern.
Shocked villagers said they were awakened by a loud rumble yesterday morning and later discovered that a flat piece of grassy land on which they had walked and played the day before had been transformed into two mud volcanoes. There were reports of similar activity at smaller type craters in the neighbouring Wadell Village and up to late yesterday officials were said to be monitoring the situation.
Yesterday Acting Assistant Divisional Fire Officer Anthony Jules (South) told Newsday that evacuees would be housed at Los Bajos Youth Facility at Bennet Village, Santa Flora. “There are three rooms and a kitchen and it should be able to house the evacuees.” The evacuation process of 12 households began at about 10.30 am yesterday.
According to reports, at about 2 am yesterday, residents were awakened by a loud rumble and upon checking discovered mud spewing from the earth. There were also reports of gas emissions. Appliances from the Santa Flora Fire Station and Petrotrin’s Santa Flora facility responded to the distress call together with senior Petrotrin officials, personnel from the Office of the Disaster Preparedness and Manage-ment (ODPM), officers and councillors from the Siparia Regional Corporation. Insp Basdeo Deonarine along with officers from the Santa Flora Police Station was also on hand.
The eruption caused a traffic pile-up along the Santa Flora Main Road, while scores of curious onlookers visited the area and were spotted video-taping the activity. Petrotrin officials along with firefighters walked from house to house and informed residents about safety measures and also ordered them to evacuate their homes. Robbie Mohammed, 26, a Petrotrin plant fitter who lives opposite the disaster area, was one of 14 members of his family ordered to leave the area yesterday. He recalled to Newsday what he heard yesterday morning.
He said, “Around 2 am yesterday I heard a loud rumble, something like a washing machine tumbling and I came outside to investigate. There was nothing at first — then all of a sudden I felt the earth rocking, I heard gas blowing out, then the ground just split open and start to throw up mud.” He described it as a frightening experience. He said it was only on Monday that there were gas emissions coming from the area and Petrotrin officials visited and locked it off. Mohammed’s mother, Parbatie, 53 told Newsday she has lived on the spot for 35 years and never witnessed such an activity.
“Up to yesterday the ground was normal,” she said, “I stored building material including sand and gravel on the ground but it disappeared into the earth with the eruption.” Arthur Sanderson, Petrotrin’s Corporate Communications Manager, Santa Flora, who was on hand, told Newsday that at about 4 am the company received a report of the activity at Los Bajos Field. He explained, “This is an activity in which mud and gas are escaping from the earth’s core.” Sanderson said he was not sure if a recent earthquake was responsible for the eruption.
“At this moment there is a high density of gas and the area is very unsafe that is why officials have ordered evacuation.” Newsday also spoke to Arnold Corneal, Petrotrin’s Corporate Communications Manager, Pointe-a-Pierre, who described the activity as a “gas leaks”, and said it was too early to determine the cause. “Petrotrin has two well heads in the area and both of them are intact. We have not determined if our wells at all are spewing gas. Our people are down there conducting testing right now and we will not be sure until some time tomorrow.” Corneal added that the geology and landscape of Santa Flora, Rancho Quemado and Palo Seco naturally produce volcanic activity.
“There are natural fissures that keep erupting with oil, gas and mud,” he said. According to the Geological Society of Trinidad and Tobago, (GSTT), mud volcanoes all over the world are associated with quietly or explosively escaping methane gas and that it is reasonable to conclude that the presence of methane gas in the subsurface is also an essential feature of the phenomenon.
“The mud of the volcanoes is a mixture of clay and salt water which is kept in the state of a slurry by the boiling or churning activity of escaping methane gas. Commonly the activity of a mud volcano is simply a mild surface upwelling of muddy and usually saline water accompanied by gas bubbles. However, many instances are known of highly explosive eruptions where large masses of rock have been violently blown out hundreds of feet into the air and scattered widely over the countryside,” the GSTT stated.
On July 26 and 31 2007, an underwater mud volcano off Point Radix, Mayaro burst to life, causing the waters around the activity to change colour while tiny bubbles of escaping gas were seen. There are several mud volcanoes scattered throughout Trinidad including the most famous at Devils’ Woodyard, Piparo and Penal.
Russian volcano erupts!
The 4,750 m Klyuchevskoy volcano is spewing out rocks, ash and gases, said Alexei Ozerov, a scientist with the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
"The luminescence in the volcano's crater is becoming more intensive, which testifies to the appearance of new lava," Ozerov said, adding that the eruption would probably last from two or three weeks to six months.
Continuous flows of lava running down Klyuchevskoy's slopes could trigger mudslides as the molten rock melts the snow and ice, endangering people living in nearby villages, the scientist said.
The volcano eruption is also a threat to aircraft flying overhead as volcanic ash could cause planes considerable damage, he added.
The last powerful eruption of the Klyuchevskoy volcano took place in 2005.
Possible eruption in Colombia
The Galeras is one of the volcanoes of the so called "Pacific Ring of Fire", has a height of 4,275 meters and is one of Colombia's fifteen active volcanoes.
The volcano erupted a dozen times since 1989. The last time was in January when surrounding towns and villages had to be evacuated.