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…

A volcano is born unto us

A bit about the importance of data-plots It is now many years since I did any heavy scientific lifting. But, the fun part of writing for Volcanocafé is that I get to do quite a bit of work in the field of volcanology in a relaxed popular science setting. It is a rather well-known secret…

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…

Gunung Agung and the potential future

Most people have by now noticed that Gunung Agung has stopped erupting. And to understand why that has happened, and what will happen soon, we need to look at what happened during the eruption. We also need to look at what is currently happening. When a volcano is showing no visible signs of activity, we…

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…