By any other name: the story of the word ‘volcano’

“I remember this mountain. Shaped like a cone, smoke coming out from the top and molten rock flowing down the side. Can’t think of the name – v-something – hold on – no, lost it.” This sounds implausible. Names of uncommon things can easily be forgotten; we have all done it. But not volcano! Most…

In the eye of the storm

We live in scary times. As I write this, one hurricane has left destruction in the Caribbean and is bearing down on Florida. A second hurricane is scheduled to clean up what the first one left standing for some of the worst affected islands. Paradise can come to a devastating halt – and was it…

The Drakensberg and the storm that ended Gondwana

Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo Setshaba sa, South Afrika Imagine. Around you is a sea of sand, stretching out far beyond the horizon. Mirages reflect the cloudless sky, and suggest water where only sand rules. But strangely, a mile ahead a river pushes through the mirages, flowing slowly, a blue ribbon amidst…

CO2: the final count down

A few late votes have still been trickling in, possibly people returning from summer holidays to catch up on their VC. But this is a good time to call the results on our CO2 polls. In total, 200 people voted. The system was set to catch multiple submissions by the same person, although if someone…

Ischia in motion

This is based on an old post by Carl, The World’s most ill begotten piece of real estate – Part III, which has been slightly reworked. The Chinese have a saying, “May you live in interesting times”. And it is in no way a friendly thing to say; on the contrary it is a rather…

Volcanoes and CO2 – continued

In the first part of this post, we looked at magical carbon and where to find it. We now continue to look at how much CO2 volcanoes produce, and how it compares to our own emissions. Who wins the battle? The results of the polls are: A small majority believes that volcanoes produce less CO2…

Volcanoes and CO2

The world we live in has a volcanic history. The continents ultimately came from volcanoes, often volcanic arcs, in some cases several billions of years ago, in other cases more recently. All ocean floor is volcanic, made in mid-oceanic rifts within the past few hundred million years. And the volcanic contributions do not stop there.…

Living dangerously: a Grimsvotn prediction

Grimsvotn (‘Grim’s lakes’) is Iceland’s secret. Of all its volcanoes, this is the most frequent erupter, exploding as often as every 5-10 year. It also causes jokulhaups with decadal frequency. And worst of all, it is a mass murderer, which has killed as many as a quarter of Iceland’s population. And all of this is…

The island at the end of the world: Bouvetøya

If you want to get away from it all, this is the place for you. If you prefer to experience your volcanoes in utter isolation, you could not do any better. If you have seen it all, come and see this. Find yourself a globe (for younger readers, this is a historical version of google…

Images of Mount Fuji

In this land of many volcanoes, one mountain stands out. Few people will have heard of Ontake or Sakurajima – but everyone knows about Mount Fuji. It is the tallest of Japan’s volcanoes, 3776 meters high, with a summit crater which is 500 meter across. The smooth cone shows how young the surface is: this…