Seconds before death. Photograph from Japan Times.

The sad legality of geology

This is an opinion piece about earthquakes, volcanoes and court cases. Last week we learned that a group of relatives to the victims of the 2014 Mount Ontake phreatic detonation that occurred at 11.52 on the 27th of October. Before I start I will say that my heart goes out to the families of the…

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Echoes from a silent spring

It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh. (From Rachel Carson: Silent Spring) The history of life on earth…

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Life’s end: mass extinctions

Volcanoes affect life. That is as true for volcanoholics as it is for other life forms. As Bjarki pointed out, the puffins on Bogoslof are not going to be impressed, when returning to their nesting holes to find them all gone, blown up to bits or filled with ash and lava. They will be affected…

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Tapping the Bárðarbung

Being considered the world leading authority on something is probably more of a curse than a blessing. All of a sudden you have a reputation to defend and everyone will be annoyed with you when you do not agree with their interpretation about what is happening. To top it off there will be a not…

The cinder cones at the base of Maly Semiachik

Kamchatka, a volcanic wonderland – Part II – Geothermal Areas

In the second part of the series about Kamchatka, we will analyze the geothermal wonders of this amazing territory, Uzon Caldera and the Valley of the Geysers. Uzon is the biggest geothermal field in Kamchatka, 9×12 km in size and formed around 40.000 years ago. In this magical place we can find mud pools and…

The pre-eruption island (wikipedia). Click on the image for full resolution.

The Bogoslof eruption

Volcanoes are the tip of an iceberg. 90% of the volcano is hidden, down to the magma chamber 10 km or more below the surface. What we see is only the cone on top of the conduit. The perfect cone of Fuji, or even St Helens (before it blew up), is like the hat on…

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Volcano’s child

Child The volcano towers; forms a mountain sublime Build by eruptions and matured over time But a new site is feeding from its magma supply A small mountain is trying to reach for the sky The volcano watches a new cone unfold Child of its magma. New life to behold The little volcano plays with…

Two cats (one live, one dead) and a volcano.  Photo by Giorgos Katsavos

The Quantum Volcanologist

Physiology has a dog; physics has a cat. Pavlov’s dog was a sad animal, lying in its cage with wires attached both inside and out, alive but not as we know it. I know – I have been in his lab when the place was called Leningrad. The dog was still there, or at least…

Hekla resting under a snowcap waiting for the next eruption.

Debunked: Feeling the strain

Why on earth am I using the term ”debunked” about a piece of equipment that is used by scientists across the globe? The answer is quite simple, it is when laymen start interpreting them that they are overused, or used in ways they were never intended. And this causes a plethora of faulty reasoning and…

Napoleon's march through the volcanic Russian winter

Volcanohistology: when eruptions make a difference

Volcanoes are frightening. They can dramatically alter the local landscape, and change people’s live – normally for the worse. The best place to be is far away. But large eruptions can have wider impacts. The ash can cover regions a continent away, and sulphate aerosols can spread at high altitude around the world. The sulphate…