Vesuvius as it appeared prior to the 79 AD eruption as depicted in a mural discovered in Pompeii.

The Enigma of the 79 AD Eruption of Vesuvius

The August 24th eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD is the most famous and well-known volcanic eruption of all time. By now, volcanologists have pieced together the sequence of events to form a coherent and comprehensive picture and the only official dilemma is the actual date with meteorological evidence arguing a date towards the middle…

North Atlantic seascape (Hiroshi Sugimoto, WikiArt)

Trembles at Tjörnes

Although the 2,265 volcano-tectonic earthquakes at Planchon-Peteroa as reported yesterday by Georges Vitton (Le Chaudron de Vulcain) is perhaps the more interesting news, our readers are probably more interested in the large earthquake swarms in Tjörnes Fracture Zone. What is happening? Is it an eruption, is an eruption imminent or can an eruption be expected…

helium

The Power of Helium

Helium is the rarest common element. Out in the Universe, 25% of all matter is helium. Yet on Earth, this abundant element has gone missing. It should be in our air, but it isn’t. Helium is so rare, it is the only element to have been discovered in space before it was known on Earth. But once you know…

Llopango, El Salvador, was the location of the devastating 536AD eruption which caused a decade of volcanic winters and  affected humanity worldwide. It ended the resurgence of the roman empire.  What did it look like before the eruption and what danger signals were there?

Rulers of Earth

    We haven’t seen a large eruption since Tambora, 200 years ago. That is a good thing: the world has had enough troubles in that time, and a major volcanic disaster was really not needed.  There has never been  a major eruption in a highly developed area, and we don’t know how resilient a…

Guatemala City

The Guatemalan Earthquakes of 1917 and 1918

I am a man blessed with two home countries, one is my native geologically stable Sweden and the other is my new home country of Guatemala. The latter is being highly geologically active to the point that it is to be considered as a geological high risk zone. We all know that this is a…

1890 engraving of Mount St Helens: Clohessy and Strengele

Life in the fast lane: Mount St Helens

It must be the only volcano named after a British ambassador to Spain. Mount St Helens was also known as the Mount Fuji of America: a perfect cone standing above the country side. The 1980 eruption destroyed much and had a significant human cost. It also damaged the mountain badly: the perfect cone gone, and…

Richat's structure: the Eye of Africa. http://www.okwave.com/arigato/en/posts/29583

Terrae Nova: the Eye of Africa

The previous post on Venus described a peculiar type of volcanic construct called a corona, unique to Venus. This blog is read by knowledgeable people with a somewhat critical attitude to authority, while at the same time having a strong respect for experts [For UK readers: see footnote], and this statement was immediately questioned. A…

The surface of Venus, as seen from the Venera 13 lander

Volcanoes are from Venus

It is hell up there. No man-made object has ever survived the immense heat and pressure for more than a few hours. Each day lasts 117 earth days, but the Sun never appears. The yellow clouds which hide the Sun contain sulfuric acid, but down at the surface the air is not corrosive, just boiling,…

Hekla at predawn on April 14th, 2012. (Mila webcam capture)

Hekla Ready to Erupt?

According to an article published today by journalist Kristján Kristjánsson on the Icelandic Internet news outlet Pressan, “Hekla is ready to erupt” and “tension is very high in the mountain”. The article, which is in Icelandic, goes on to quote (Professor) Páll Einarsson, the man who rightly won international acclaim in 2000 when he read…

Radar image of Mauna Loa taken from space shuttle Endeavour in 1994. Colour indicates surface roughness, where red is smooth  (pahoehoe lava) and white is rough (a'a lava).  source: JPL

Trouble in Paradise: awakening Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa keeps paradise interesting. It has erupted 33 times since 1843, with large eruptions happening on average once every 8 years. Over that time it has covered its slopes with 4 km3 of new lava. But those are just the most recent stirrings. Its older lava flows cover over half of the island of…