Saving the Earth with asteroids

The dinosaurs would disagree. After owning the Earth, they were now in a bit of a bother. A major re-arrangement of the Earth had taken place. Pangea had split; Gondwana was broken up. The Indian ocean had formed but not in a clean way: a number of parallel rifts were running through Africa, and the…

Baekdu and how I learned to love the bomb

There is a weird beauty to the blueprints for the Tsar Bomba design by Babayev-Sacharov-Trutnev. Never before, nor after, have a bomb reached that level of engineering perfection. It is to date both the largest, and the cleanest, nuclear device detonated. Compared to the inherently flawed Ulam-Teller design and its derivatives used by the US,…

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…

Reventador and Sumaco: two jungle volcanoes on the Amazon slope

I’ve been fascinated with the scenario of an active volcano poking above the jungle. Back in 2009, I experienced it when I visited Costa Rica and watched Volcan Arenal for 4 nights at the Arenal Observatory Lodge observing incandescent lava rocks tumbling down the flanks before stopping at it’s jungle base. We are going to…

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…

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…

Volcano forecasts and Campi Flegrei

There are a few volcanoes that I do not feel comfortable writing about, and those are volcanoes that are far too close to large human settlements. The reason is obvious, it is far too likely that I will write about an event that will kill a lot of people. There are two ways to increase…