Volcanic illusions

Is this the most northerly elephant in the world? 200 meter tall and rising from the Atlantic Ocean, this Neptunic elephant lives at Heimaey Island, off the south coast of Iceland. A combination of basalt and wave erosion has left a convincing elephant head, complete with deeply wrinkled trunk. There are other elephant rocks in…

Dissecting Hekla

Hekla is the most mysterious of Iceland’s many volcanoes. Its brooding summit overlooks the broken plains 800 meter below as if it were an English Lord (or perhaps Lady) of the Manor. The fiefdom looks bare and uninviting, but that is not purely Hekla’s fault: once this was dense forest, but it was cut down…

The Bogoslof update

A year ago there were frequent eruptions of Bogoslof volcano. But over the months, it dropped out of the news, as the eruption quieted down and finally ceased. This brief post is a recoup of what came before, and what the state of the island is now. Bogoslof is one (and sometimes two or three)…

When Pinatubo turned the tide

The sea is our fascination. We go out of our ways to find it, and it is where we go for holidays, spending our time lying on the beach. Close to half the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast. For those who live here, there is a good living to be had,…

The Maya collapse: a history in three volcanoes

Here is the story of the beginning, when there was not one bird, not one fish, not one mountain. Here is the sky, all alone. Here is the sea, all alone. There is nothing more –no sound, no movement. Only the sky and the sea. Only Heart-of-Sky, alone. And these are his names: Maker and…

The Kazbek disaster: a cryoclastic debris flow

What makes a volcano dangerous? Clearly, the severity of any eruption plays a role. So does the presence of people nearby. But it is not always the best known volcanoes that are the most dangerous. Tseax is hardly world-renowned, but it caused a major volcanic disaster in Canada. And sometimes a volcano can be dangerous…

El Chichon

  Each century its own. The 19th century was owned by Krakatoa and Tambora. (The mystery volcano of 1808/09 should probably be added to make it a list of three, but it is hard to credit the unknown.) The 20th century was the century of Pinatubo (1991) and Mount St Helens (1980). There were other…

Once in a blue moon

On the night of Jan 31th, 2018, do go out and take a look at the moon. It will be full and will seem either to be a bit brighter than usual, or very faint and red. In either case, it will be a blue moon. Confused? Let me help you. This is an updated…

Black smokers

When visiting volcanoes, the first thing to strike you is the desolation. The ground is black without any sign of green, a lifeless wasteland. In Hawaii, walking through the rain forest, the sickness in the trees is the first thing that becomes evident. A little later, the forest opens up and disappears as the path…

Lurking in the swamp: the Florida volcano

Florida is known for many things. It is home to VC’s stalwart, Geolurking. It has beach life, of the teenage variety. It has Disneyland, of the toddler-of-any-age variety. It has launched space missions to the outermost planets and put men (but not women) on the Moon. It attracts retirees from all over the US and…