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…

Sands of time: walking the Grand Canyon

The Earth is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. A long time ago, the local council put in new sewage pipes in the town where I grew up. The smell was overwhelming. Normally, a smell of coffee would permeate the town whenever the wind went northwest: the main…

Jokulhlaup in the English Channel

Christmas is a time of hope. The days may be dark and dismal but the corner has finally been turned. The sun is beginning its journey back to the north, and from here on the days will get lighter and longer. The new year has started. In Christianity, it is the birth of a baby…

Volcano at fault: Neenach and the art of moving mountains

The San Andreas fault makes a great bend around the city. It leaves its citizens well separated from the real America. On the rim of the Pacific, Los Angeles has become the ultimate laid-back city. The beach-and-body life, the Pasadena coffee culture, the dancing on the highways (ok, that was only in that movie, I…

The eruptive past of Indonesia

Gunug Agung has had impressive eruptions in the past week. So far, in spite of the publicity, the event has remained relatively minor. We do not know whether these are the initial rumblings and in the next weeks and months there will be far larger explosions, or that this suffices to relieve the pressure inside…

Agung again: the eruption of 1963

There was a lot going in the 1960’s. This was the time of the generation battle, where the children who had grown up in a time of austerity and a cold war, rebelled and looked for something different – exploring, ignoring the boundaries but never quite finding what they were looking for. Martin Luther King…