Ruminarian V – Get your coffee, you’re gonna need it. (repost)

The sulfate anion, SO4 (2−) WikiMedia Commons

The sulfate anion, SO4 (2−) WikiMedia Commons

One of the reasons I do this, is because as I was growing up, having an interest in things Geophysical/Astrophysical, there was always a search for the “wow” factor. Not everyone’s “wow” sense is geared the same… and in some cases, the scale of stuff that people are familiar with has a lot to say about how they perceive the “wowness” of it. Grabbing that meaningful nugget of data, or of a concept that totally re-vamps your experience level is way cool. It changes your world in incremental steps… or at least how you look at it.

The difficult thing is finding usable data to ruminate on, or to have some esoteric thought wrapped up in equally esoteric language. (see “e-folding” from the last Ruminerian) It’s not that people are intentionally obtuse with the language or ideas, it’s that there is a lot of technical jargon that develops out of any technical field. (How many of you know that a “gyraline modulator” is?) This post, and the others that I have written, are geared towards the person who seeks to find out more.

This, is more.

Before I continue, a bit about SO2. SO2, Sulfur Dioxide, is a volcanic gas. It reacts with water to form H2SO4, also known as sulfuric acid. Take away the water and you get sulfate, SO4. The reaction in the atmosphere goes something like this:

SO2 1 OH 1 3H2O ═> H2SO4 (1) 1 HO2

In Ruminerian IV, I ended on a pretty interesting graphic. (well, I thought it was)


It is derived from “Stratospheric Loading of Sulfur from Explosive Volcanic Eruptions” Bluth et al (1997). This plot shows the e-folding times for SO2 to sulfate conversation, and then for sulfate removal from the stratosphere.

Where this particular model fails horribly, is in how it treats the SO2 input. It assumes one sizable lump of SO2 injected to the stratosphere. Odds are that many volcanic eruptions are not going to be just one quick blast of SO2 and the show is over. For the sake of modeling influx to the stratosphere, you can probably get away with it… but you have to always be aware that this ideal treatment is going to be incomplete. Another line of thinking is that an established vertical plume can eventually propel the gases past the tropopause if it persists long enough and has enough strength.

Revising that plot and looking at the peaks in it and the narrative that went along with it, moderate sized SO2 releases have a sulfate peak about 2.07 months after the event. In winter (for whatever hemisphere) this conversion rate can be slowed by up to 20% (Bluth et al 1997) giving a peak at about 2.27 months. (30 day months). For large eruptions the curves yield 2.78 months and 2.99 months (winter).

Okay, a lot of stuff about … something. But why?

Sulfate is an aerosol. “a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in a gas.” Smoke from a fire is an aerosol. Clouds and fog are aerosols. That brown crud drifting off of the iron pellet plant in Bahrain is an aerosol. That massive black cloud that spurted out of the stacks on a steam powered Cruiser in Mayport Florida, that then settled on the Quarterdeck of the spiffy new Gas Turbine powered Cruiser moored on the other pier… that was an aerosol. (trashed a lot of summer white uniforms as the partially burnt diesel precipitated out) Even that gunky haze that you can see over New York from 30 km at sea is an aerosol (the same for LA by the way). Fine particles suspended in a gas.

In some way form or fashion, they all act upon light that is traveling through them. Reflection, scattering, refraction, absorption. You name it. If the particles are quite small, the effects are generally in the category or Rayleigh scattering. That’s what makes those vivid sunsets or the sky blue. If they are about the size of the light’s wavelength, you get Mie scattering. That’s the effect that makes the clouds appear white.

Now I deviate. As I was growing up, I used to listen to the radio. At night I could pull in stations from hundreds of miles away… during the day time, only the closer stations would show up. I had a great uncle who was into Ham radio, and he took a partial interest in my fascination with all things electric. He gave me a copy of an ARRL handbook. I never got a ham license, but I learned everything in that book… and then some. (I wound up specializing in Electronic Warfare in the military). That late night effect that allowed me to hear stations far away, is caused by ionized layers of the atmosphere.. specifically, the ionosphere.

There are three principle layers involved, the D layer which is strongest during the day, mainly absorbs radio waves. Above that, the E layer, present during the day, acts to reflect radio waves. And above that, the F layer. It’s always present, and in the day time it tends to split into the F1 and F2 layers. This is the one that causes most of your long haul radio intercepts late at night. In CB jargon, its called “skip” because that is what the signal is doing… bouncing off of the ionosphere, back to Earth, and could bounce a second time repeating the process. (no, this is not the Van Allen radiation belts, that is something totally different) “Anomalous propagation” (the real term) can occur due to a number of causes… the sun is the main driver, but meteor showers can energize the various layers also.


This rather busy plot gives you an idea of where everything is at. Note that the vertical scale is logarithmic. Just for reference, I’ve place a few altitude events and items in there for reference… such as Felix Baumgartner’s leap altitude, and the record holder prior to that, Joseph Kittinger. Also noted are high and low altitude of the ISS, and the elevation that Mt Pinatubo erupted to during it’s strongest phase.

Now for something totally new to me. Christian Junge, Atmospheric research pioneer, released a paper in 1961 announcing he discovery of the stratospheric aerosol layer. This region is the area where the nitty gritty happens with respect to volcanoes and the climate. I have spent a few days tracking down good info on the location and the make up of the Junge layer plus some of what goes on there.

It resides at about 17 to 30 km in altitude, depending on conditions. This layer is where sulfate occurs when it forms. How dense it is depends on a number of factors… one of the strongest factors is volcanic activity. A volcano can load this layer quite quickly, and as you saw from the e-fold plot, the material can stick around for a while. One interesting thing that I found out was that the Junge layer can occur at distinct elevation nodes. During heavy volcanic activity, there can be an upper and lower node. Eventually it all settles to that lower range over a period of several months.

Yet another interesting thing about it, is that it is usually there… whether the volcanoes are running or not. There is always a background level of sulfate. This is where it gets pretty wild.

At one time, it was thought that SO2 in the atmosphere (troposphere) could drift up and cause this persistent layer. With the way SO2 plagued Los Angeles, you can bet your bottom dollar that some people were chomping at the bit to blame modern society. Many of us have sat around the Café or over at Eruptions or Jon’s Blog oogleing the OMI or TOMS SO2 vertical column data. Some of the plumes we have seen are valid volcanic events, many are not. Beijing almost always has a plume drifting out over the Pacific, one plume that was seen was slap dab in the middle of nowhere… until we found an industrial facility in the Northern reaches of Russia. (Siberian Traps fans were enthralled at possible implications) Of course Europe and The US are producers… even with the emissions standards. Couple those with the bona-fide plumes we have seen, Tolbachik, Grímsvötn (for some reason a huge plume formed over Iceland two weeks after the eruption), Puyehue-Cordón Caulle … you would think that there would be a huge effect in the Sulfate formation.

It’s not gonna happen. At least not from SO2. (Note, Grímsvötn easily punched the tropopause with it’s eruption, I’m referring to the later plume.)

SO2 is a highly reactive gas. As you can see from that plot that it only takes about two and half months for it to react out to below about 10% of what was emitted. (and that’s at the stratospheres rates, it’s probably faster in the tropopause where water vapor is quite abundant) SO2 just does not have the staying power to wind up in the stratosphere due to riding the air currents. In fact, some researchers have studied the SO2 concentration vs altitude and come up with something like this:


Don’t be fooled by that really high correlation coefficient. That’s just how well the curve fit an averaged set of multiple curves generated from the data in Meixner (1984). Think of it as a general guideline and nothing more. What is important is that SO2 trails off quite rapidly with height. It just doesn’t have the staying power.

Before I press on I would like to make mention that the Atmosphere is a highly complex dynamic system. We know a few things about it, such as large scale circulation patterns, but with as much as we do know, you can bet your bottom dollar there is just as much if not more, that is not known. Here is a tidbit that most people don’t know.


Notice the red up arrows. These are the regions where low pressure systems dominate. As air rises, the surrounding air flows inward to fill the space. Where the blue down arrows are at, high pressure systems dominate. Overall horizontal circulation of the individual lows and highs is driven by the Coriolis effect … which is due to residual angular momentum from where the air is coming from. In the Northern hemisphere, Lows rotate clockwise, highs counter clockwise (as viewed from the top). In the Southern Hemisphere, the reverse applies.

Across the world, there are regions that have what are known as “semi-permanent” features… the Icelandic Low is one, another is the Bermuda/Azores high (depending on where it happens to be at) There is no hard and fast rule about what latitude something is going to be at, this is just a generalized rendition of where the boundary regions are at.
Notice that not only is the tropopause usually low over Iceland… the general circulation pattern is lofting air to the tropopause. This also applies to the Kamchatka peninsula which is also not too far south of the Polar cell boundary. (The same for the Aleutian island volcanoes)

Now we move on to the reason for the post… (hell of a lead in eh?)
Two of the more significant volcanic eruption styles… are the massive VEI-6+ explosive eruptions… and the not so explosive VEI-6+ flood basalt events. Of the two, one would think that the huge lava flow events wouldn’t have much of an opportunity to loft stuff above the tropopause. We have already seen that SO2 doesn’t have much staying power, and tends to be scavenged out pretty quickly in the area where most of the water vapor is at… down here in our little realm of existence in the troposphere.

Yet there is a way that massive flood basalts can easily contribute to the Stratospheric Aerosol Layer (another name commonly used for the Junge layer.)

It comes in the form of a little molecule called Carbonyl Sulfide. OCS.
Carbonyl Sulfide can be considered as an intermediate between CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CS2 (carbon disulfide). It has a really long persistence in the troposphere… accounting for up to 80% of the sulfur gases present. I’ve seen residence times ranging from 4 years, to 7.1 to 11 years. Basically, it doesn’t like to react. This gives it time to wander throughout the different atmospheric flows and become well distributed. And a really interesting thing happens when it is hit with ultraviolet light of about 200 to 270 angstroms. (UV-C). The bonds begin to break and it dissociates. Once it does that it forms CO2 and S2… the S2 then reacting with the H2O and OH radicals forming H2SO4… the sulfate.

Hello aerosol haze.

Okay… we have a mechanism not involving SO2 that can make sulfate. Some of the largest sources are the oceans, fossil fuel usage, even the making of concrete. (via a catalytic reaction). In general, the background level of the aerosol is not that big of a deal unless something radically increases the amount there… like an large explosive volcano. Or, a really big flood basalt event. (Eldga, Skaftar, Krafla, Þjórsá lava or any of the huge flow fields that pop up in Iceland from time to time) Remember, OCS is ultra stable in the troposphere, but once it gets to the stratosphere where the UV-C can get at it, hello Aerosol Haze.


This article has gone through about 4 revisions before I actually wrote it. I hope you were able to read it without dozing off. If you did, it’s no big deal. I doze off reading what I think is really interesting stuff from time to time.

Note: The energy in a photon packet (or wave packet depending on how you look at it) is determined by it’s wavelength. The shorter the wavelength, the more energy per packet. 200 and 270 angstroms are the wavelengths that OCS best dissociated at when exposed to it. I don’t know why, but the ratio of the length of the two bonds is pretty close to the ratio of the differences in those two wavelengths. It’s about 1731 times the length of the bond in both cases. Why? I don’t know. I just found it interesting.

As noted there were about four iterations of this post before I actually wrote it. Here is some stuff didn’t make it in, but deserves to be mentioned. (well, since I already did the plots for it)

Stepping back from Carbonyl Sulfide… and back to Sulfur Dioxide and the usual way that volcanoes can affect the Junge layer. NASA GISS has a few models they play with. One is a compilation of the “Stratospheric Aerosol Optical Thickness” (What they have against Christian Junge is beyond me, the Junge layer is where most of this stuff is at.) One of the data products is something called the “Tau Line” and represents the average thickness at 550 nm. (that’s pretty much in the middle of “green” light at 520–570 nm.)

For those of you who are chomping at the bit over the Roaring 40’s, nothing really shows up, but they have some nice graphic of sulfate blooms and spreads for various volcanoes over the years. They also have that tau line data set.

First, let’s look at some of the more recent party poppers.


This is a plot of the Tau Line (Aerosol Optical Depth) in relation to a few volcanoes that have gone off recently. Notice that the hemisphere that received the brunt of the sulfate load depends on what volcano erupted.

Also notice that the shape of the curve pretty much follows the decay rate. The lag time between the eruption and the sulfate peak is noted. For the most part, it follows the growth and decay curves at the beginning of the post. Personally, I thought that was pretty neat.

So.. how do they compare to some known atmosphere shakers? Volcanoes such as El Chichón or Pinatubo?


El Chichón, at 17.36°N, had most of it’s effect in the Northern Hemisphere. According to Wikipedia, the Mauna Loa observatory registered a larger drop in Solar radiation transmittance than Pinatubo. However, Pinatubo (15.14°N) had a longer duration of it’s drop. It also had better coupling to both hemispheres. It also had 4.8 times the output of bulk tephra (using GVP Data).

Comparing them with those diminutive spikes over at the right hand side of the plot… those are the ones shown in the previous plot.

How is that for perspective?


Originally published by Geolurking.


Analyses and visualizations used in this [study/paper/presentation] were produced with the Giovanni online data system, developed and maintained by the NASA GES DISC. (Specifically, the tropopause elevation data)

“Stratospheric Loading of Sulfur from Explosive Volcanic Eruptions” Bluth et al (1997)

“The role of carbonyl sulphide as a source of stratospheric sulphate aerosol and its impact on climate” Brühl et al (2012)

“The Vertical Sulfur Dioxide Distribution at the Tropopause Level” Meixner (1984)

“A ThreeDimensional Global Model Study of Carbonyl Sulfide in the Troposphere and the Lower Stratosphere” Kjellström (1998)

123 thoughts on “Ruminarian V – Get your coffee, you’re gonna need it. (repost)

    • Don’t give me credit for the research, I just gathered the different ideas into one place. The wow factor goes to the original researchers. About the only thing that is remotely “new” that I’ve added to the mix, is the potential mechanism that OCS might play in maintaining the background aerosol levels. I never could find a decay rate for it and it seems like a plausible mechanism to maintain the background levels. It potentially explains how a Flood Basalt event could have a major impact on sulphate formation that is as strong as the larger explosive eruptions.

      • Well, even if it’s not original research you still took the time to dig out the information and present it in a very nice and readable way. You deserve the credit for that part of it. Also, since you provide references, it is obvious that you don’t claim this to be your own research. Just keep it coming, I think we all enjoy reading your ruminations 🙂

  1. Thanks for this post Lurking. I will have to read it aver a couple more times to get the information properly fixed in my head.
    My first thoughts are probably horribly simplistic. and the answers to my musings and questions that I have formed are probably there in your post
    From what I can understand so far is that OK. SO2 arrives up there from all manner of sources. Some being volcanic. it is that last little molecule that fascinates me…
    Carbonyl sulfide

    One of the components (probably) of the very first forms of “Life”

    Now…… Since it sort of stays floating about until it gets high enough to become unstable… how long does it stay floating around?

    Has all this information and the presence of Carbonyl sulfide been entered into all the models that forecast climate change ?
    If so how “old” are the samples of Carbonyl sulfide . I mean what put them up there. Human activity or natural sources?

    In all my reading I find reference to emissions from manufacturing and automobiles. I haven’t seen many stats about how much Carbonyl sulfide or other residues are left in the atmosphere by Aircraft .

    Lurking Would emissions from aircraft engines behave differently because of their height than emissions from the ground?
    Can they be compared with volcanic emissions although maybe more regular and not perhaps as forceful?

      • I think that sort of research is what Junge was involved in when he made his discovery of the layer.

    • The insidious thing about Carbonyl sulfide is it’s persistence time. From reading the literature, I have yet to see any mention of a decay rate other than a statement about it’s ability to last as long as noted in my post. Ever since I first wrote about it, I have always been hopeful that some enterprising graduate level student might see that and take it up as a pet project. It’s beyond my abilities and training to even hazard a guess as to how to do it.

      High altitude aircraft? Well, just from the region of it’s release, it would seem to have a greater ability to make it to and past the tropopause via normal mixing/diffusion rates.

      As for vehicular emissions, I know that in the US, the sulfur content of diesel is regulated to be below 12 ppb for highway use. Even with that, you can still see that there is a pretty decent level of SO2 emission from normal industry. The concrete production source (via the curing process) is what actually took me by surprise.,26.34,425

      • Yes Lurking. I couldn’t find anything much in my somewhat hasty google for info on decay rate. As I have always told my students. Often it is what is NOT present or not observed that is more important than what you see or can measure and if you cannot find an answer then you go and find a way to get one!
        Alas I am now not in a position to do this even if I had the brains 😀 …. and I have absolutely no head for heights 😀

      • The lifetime of OCS in the stratosphere is listed as 64+-21 yr. It is continuously replenished from the troposphere. About 9% of stratospheric OCS goes on to make sulphate aerosols.

        • That’s helpful, but I was hoping to locate an e-fold rate for it like I was able to get for the SO2 and sulphate rates from the papers.

          Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be difficult to find out the rate that OCS makes the movement past the tropopause. (I’m thinking its going to be via diffusion)

        • Thank you Albert. That is a small amount. 9%. Is it only UV light that breaks the bonds?

          • Good question. OSC is pretty stable, though the Wiki article does note that it can act as a catalyst in the formation of peptides from amino acids, so it obviously has some sort of activity, probably with a nitrogen component. Plants also take it up in their respiration cycle and make use of it. If it is reactive with nitrogen compounds, that would make determining it’s persistence rates even more complicated. Yet another variable that makes it into a more stochastic problem.

          • Regarding the budget, in normal years there is supposedly about 5 Tg (tera-gram) of OCS in the troposphere. 0.7Tg goes into the stratosphere and 0.65Tg comes back per year. The difference becomes sulfate aerosols. In the troposphere, the biggest source is the oceans and the biggest sink is plants. The main destruction mechanism seems to be reaction with OH: reactions with O and uv destruction are both much slower, but these numbers are for the troposphere and may be different in the stratosphere.

    • “Carbonyl sulfide One of the components (probably) of the very first forms of “Life”

      So in one sense, it is a molecular, atmospheric fossil which has outlived its usefulness and instead is causing harm. Have to look up the chemical composition of the inferred primordial atmosphere.

  2. NOTE: My reason for mentioning “The Roaring 40’s” is because at around the time of this article, Puyehe Cordon Calle was in eruption. The ash plume from that volcano affected flights in and around Australia, the reason is because of the particularly heavy atmospheric flow in the region of 40°S commonly refered to as “The roaring 40’s“. It’s known for pretty strong and persistent winds.

    Eruptions from volcanoes in the Southern Volcanic Zone in south America feed directly into this flow. (Chaitén, Puyehe Cordon Calle, Mount Hudson etc.)

    Mount Hudson is particularly threatening since it has a glacier sitting in it’s old caldera. Water + Volcano = Usually bad.

    • Yup! This is the bit most sailors dread in round the world sailing races!

  3. Great Scott, GL! What a daunting article. But not only was it highly readable, I ended up learning a lot and – most importantly – understanding it. Thank you very much!

    • Well, that’s the problem with a lot of science. It intimidates people. Many times what is being looked at is not that complicated, it just takes a bit of perseverance to dig through the references and piece together what is likely going on. If I have helped enlighten one person, then the article was worth the effort.

      Just remember that I am not an expert, the guys who did the research and wrote the papers are.

    • My gut feel says that El Hierro isn’t finished. The down side is that it could end in a very bad way. Even worse, is that the people running the show there will likely hide any indication of pending calamity from the people that live there. They should be running Synthetic Aperture Radar flights on that island quite often just to keep track of where the magma is at. I had a decent handle on it for a while there, but one of their people in authority wanted to hide the data, so he made baseless accusations against me. Thats fine. If he wants to risk killing off people it’s on him, not me. Personally, I would be quite worried if I lived on top of or near an old scoria cone there.

      The threats there? Old magma tubes. Flank/slope collapse etc. The old tubes could easily be breached by magma at depth and provide a ready path to the surface. Slope collapse? A real threat there. Three failure scarps are easily visible on any satellite image of the island. A 4th, to the north is a failed collapse. On other words, it started, but stopped before it completely failed. If any one want to research it, I recommend any of the papers by Caracedo. He seems to be one of the only people who have studied that island that has half a clue about it. Their resident expert is a twit.

      I’m not saying that there is imminent danger, but they got off lucky the last time this thing got noisy.

      • Which eruption? The one south of La Restinga or the one out to the west that they hid?

        • Both, and wasn’t there some activity near the rocks NW of Frontera?

          BTW, AVCAN posted alot of deformation info at the time.

          • Heh, yes. NW of Frontera was where the initial intrusion was at. It appeared to do a slow fill. Then the swarm moved south and deepet, then rocketed up the other side of the islands “keel” and followed the trend of the southern scarp face, eventually erupting at Bob.

          • At the time, I was fairly certain that the dominant vent of tagarasoga was gonna be where the show was at, the initial quakes outlined what appeared to be the old plug quite well.

  4. Yes, I remember the kerfuffle about to “hacking” their site and data, even though it was available if you knew how to access it (am I remembering correctly??)

    Also, Im sure thats when I found VC

    • Yeah, his accusation was that I had broken into a server, yet the data was published on the researcher’s website, which is where I acquired it. At the time, my deformation plots were being hit hard on YouTube since data about what was going on was not being promulgated by the government. So, I just posted his letter making the accusation on the last video so that people would know why I stopped producing the plots. That’s also why I know that Sabinosa came pretty close to being destroyed.

      • … following that tit for tat exchange, the data was then removed from the website by it’s owner. I’ve been around long enough to know that any attempt by a site owner to secure the data, no matter how feeble and ineffective it is, constitutes “secured data” and any attempt to breach that measure places criminal liability on the one accessing it. I wasn’t going to fall for the set-up.

        Personally, I have a clean conscious. If El Hierro goes nasty and people are killed, it is their governments fault, plain and simple.

        • Was that the graph that showed deformation prior to July 2011? Could explain why I have not been able to find it again.

          • Not sure. Most of my plots for that were rotating animations

          • Not mine then, I didn’t see the need in duplicating what was already available.

            This isn’t the GPS one (I pulled it per the request of the “dude”) But mine were rotating plots such as this, this particular one is from way back when it all first started.


      • “That’s also why I know that Sabinosa came pretty close to being destroyed.”

        Can you elaborate on that? Do you mean the never officially confirmed eruption to the west? Looking at a map of El-Hierro, if something did happen, I wouldn’t like to be stuck out in that area with only a single road out.

        Apologies if I’m going over old ground – I came to this site long after the El-Hierro crisis, which I only know of from digging up old posts.

        • There was significant ground swelling directly under and just east of Sabinosa. And if you look at the topography, Sabinosa is built directly on top of an old scoria cone. Not a good combo to be sitting on an old vent that has a swelling chamber under it. If it had gone the same as the failure mechanism of kelud, it would have been on the scale of a nuke blast in terms of energy release.

          This pocket of magma later likely vented off to the west and is the one Perez kept quiet until he could finagle his name into a paper about it. I’m not saying he is a corrupt self serving political hack, but those events do not support that idea.

          Add to that the fact that while all this was going on, other more senior entities were suggesting armature underwater photo contests of the active vent south of La Restinga in water that had been measured at pH 5.0, or that they hold an auto rally through a region with abnormaly high SO2 gas measurements, all in an attempt to downplay the seriousness of the threat. It sort of indicates that the interest in the government was not geared towards protecting the population, but more towards not spooking investors in their green energy shenanigans. The pathetic part is that their “green energy” plans that they have are about the only ones that make some measure of sense and are actually sound. Every other one I’ve seen is nothing more than a black hole that sucks up money. Theirs could actually work. That is, unless the storage resistor up on the top of the ridge line, which is built in yet another scoria cone and vent system… reactivates.

        • I wonder if they ever got a threatening letter from Perez as well. Their data source was the same as mine.

    • For anyone wishing to climb up on a soap box, what I produced was a derivative work and the original data source was cited in each video. I also noted that I was only using an interpolated polysheet to derive the overall uplift or subsidence of the terrain, which was then draped over a Google image of the island. A better method would to use a kriging routine, but the software at my disposal was not capable of it.

      On a side note, I have mentioned this to the author of DPlot, and he has taken it into consideration for a future release of his program. The really cool thing about that program is it’s ability to be integrated into Excel. That makes generating 3D scatter plots or surfaces quite easy to do.

    • Yes – science hasn’t come to terms yet with the conflict between the need to publish authorative, peer reviewed papers and providing open access of the data. There is a feeling that the data without the full scientific analysis would be misinterpreted. Also scientists tend to keep unpublished results under wrap, to safeguard their personal credit. It work well in areas such as climate change and medicin: in both cases scientist would be publicly crucified for premature publicity. But it doesn’t mix well with situations which develop fast. IMO handles it very well.

      • Again, I have to agree. IMO has long been lauded and held in great esteem by Volcano Cafe… to the point that we have on occasion, belittled other organizations for not living up to the standards that we see from IMO.

  5. And three days ago there was an M4.7 midway between Apoyeque and Momotombo volcanoes., underneath lake Managua. Well timed for the NDVP series. There have been tectonic seismic events near both volcanoes over the past year, but a bit of a cluster at this midway position. Aftershocks of the M6 in early 2014.

  6. Image this morning from Fuego, (Guatemala) red color from sunrise??

  7. And the karma monkey shows it’s presence again. Last Saturday night, I lost track of where my tobacco was at. The only option was to go buy some more. Usually, I pick up a nicely discounted package of it at exit 33 on the Interstate, but did not feel like making that long a drive just for a nicotine fix, so I stopped locally and got enough to last me until I happened by where I normal shop. Karma was with me in that decision. It seems FHP arrested a teenager that night on the interstate for racing. He bounced off a wall at 110+ mph and wound up hitting or getting hit by several other cars. And I was safely at home with nary a care, other than finding my lost tobacco in the truck when I pulled back in.

    “Young failed to maintain control of his vehicle and collided with the concrete barrier wall on the east shoulder of I-110. Young’s vehicle then collided with the rear of Hale’s vehicle, forcing Hale’s car int to he same concrete barrier, according to the release. Young’s vehicle went into the southbound lanes of 1-110 where it collided with a vehicle driven by Christopher Reids, 20, of Pensacola.”

    To give you an idea of just how lucky this IDIOT was, here is a Fith Gear crash test at 120 mph.

    • They are probably quite fortunate to have had their incident where they did. At the end of that road, the exit is marked at 50 mph. It would have been a really good opportunity to go airborne… and just over the guardrail in the last turn is Pensacola’s original cemetery. “officially designated a cemetery by the King of Spain in 1807

      One thing that probably lead to their survival, was impacting the barricades at an oblique angle. Interesting is that the trailing vehicle hit the wall first, then hit the leading vehicle, sending him into the wall. In that race, everybody lost.

  8. Mauna Loa is racking up a decent swarm with a shallow M3.2 today. Nothing eruptive and it has done this before, but there clearly is stress in the inflating magma chamber.

    • Noticed that most of the quakes have taken place in the southwest rift zone. Wonder what the chances are of an eruption taking place in that rift zone.

    • The cool part about this plot, is that you can make out the generalized feed system where magma trickles up through the crust and pools beneath the island. This is 10 years of quakes.

    • Hopefully, it will find it’s way peaceably to a vent. We don’t want swelling chambers in the Hawaiian islands… parts of them tend to fall off from time to time.

    • If it’s oak, that makes a really nice hot and persistent fire.

      Oregon Oak is roughly 22.7 million BTU/cord.

      Dunno how fast they grow, but I have a bag full of Persimmons here if you want to try and grow some. They rank about 25.8 million BTU/cord. My stepson picked them for me on the off chance that I would try to make a wine out of them. I would have prefered scuppernongs or muscadines, but he means well. I plan to do a sample survey of the batch to see what the sugar content is, and determine if I need to let them set in the sun to ripen a bit more. You haven’t had fun until you bite into a non ripe Persimmon.

      • No oak in Ne Oregon, to speak of. Love that stuff for firewood on the south coast of Or.,my Wife won a Log truck load on raffle. had years of good wood from that. Here it is Larch (Tamarack) and Doug fir. Hot burning but doesn’t last as long.
        Maple is common here too hard to get as most want to keep it.
        Can’t do persimmons here, too cold. My southern bred Granma always talked about them though.

      • Oh, scuppernongs! I lived in North Carolina for a couple of years where I learned about these tasty golden grapes. Sure do miss them

      • Felix Sandor has a nice persimmon wine recipe, his advice is to taste each one before using it. If it tastes good use it, if it doesn’t, throw it out.

        • My experience with them is hurling them at my cousins. Almost the perfect shape and density to leave a welt.

          • Green apples of the Transparent variety are effective against cousins , also
            Until the older, bigger one gets
            hold of you-she’d like to have killed me….

          • “Tizzard” was the big one. His brother and I were playing in the carport back when they lived across the street. I grew curious about some serious caterwauling that happened around the corner out front of the house. There stood Tizzard over the neighborhood bully, why was lying at his feet wailing his arse off. I later found out that Tizzard had been “hired” by our parents to keep an eye on that arsehole, and Tizzard caught him halfway to where we were and had beat the ever loving snot out of him.

            Several years later, I had to go help Tizzard cut pulpwood. He was quite the mule when it came to slinging wood. I’m pretty sure that the neighborhood bully was a bit surprised when Tizzard got ahold of him. Even more years later, that same bully thought it was quite funny to urinate through a knothole in the fence onto my car. (he had officially graduated to the neighborhood arsehole) My dad and I thought it was the dogs doing it, so we put in a metal bar along the bottom of the wooden fence tied to a trickle fence charger in order to dissuade the dogs from doing that. Being a trickle fence charger, it was designed to break the current periodically to give the animal a chance to get off of the fence. We found out who was urinating on the car… it wasn’t the dogs.

            And the hilarious part about that, was that he had to lean up against a hog-wire fence on the other side to get to the knothole… that made him a really well grounded path for current. I imagine that it hurt quite a bit.

  9. Yes, lignosulfonates are a common concrete plasticizer. And freshly poured, curing concrete does have a bit of a sulfurous smell to it.

    Edit: Rescued from the pending queue /Hobbes

  10. Another 3.3 at BB this morning, depth 3.4 kms – not that we should be surprised. What intrigues me is the tremor guage at Dyn: it seems to my very inexperienced eye to be showing harmonic tremor from about 3 hours after the EQ.

    Two questions: 1) Does weather cause the appearance of harmonic tremor (assuming I’ve read the plot correctly)? There’s a storm going over Iceland, so if so, that would explain what’s showing at Dyn.
    2) If harmonic tremor is indicative of magma being on the move, do we normally expect the tremor to begin to show at the same time as the EQ or after it?

    • 1. Always look at several stations, nearby and farther away, and compare! If you see the same thing over a large area, even if it’s not at the same intensity, it’s almost definitely weather-related.

      2. This is more tricky. If an earthquake is magma-related, it’s usually the result of pressure release after a period of build-up, in which case you’d expect HT to increase afterwards. That said, you can have HT before as more and more magma is being force-fed into the constricted zone. This is where professional knowledge and experience of the system in question is invaluable.

      I hope this leaves you “confused at a higher level”! 🙂

      • Many thanks – I hope I haven’t caused you to say again anything I should have remembered from your article about interpreting tremor plots.

        1) Of course. I knew that really!
        2) I’ll look more carefully in future at what the plots are showing when eg IMO or Wise Dragons suggest magma movements. Meanwhile, from what I’ve seen on the plot, I’m going to infer magma movement and, iirc, this could therefore be related to IMO’s ponderings about a shallow chamber at BB.

        Confused at a higher level? Wonderfully! Blissfully! (And it’s not what a lit crit friend refers to as the Higher BS either.) That’s what I call “edukashun”.

        • Oh, Bardarbunga is far from dormant even if the “Holuhraun Eruption” is over. It’s such a huge volcanic system and such an enormous amount of magma has moved around there (even if only a tiny fraction of it ever erupted) that it is fair to say that it needs careful watching for years to come before it’s safe to say it’s really-really over.

          “Wise Dragons”?!? Where!?! 😉

          • Theoretcal only. The last dragon activity that I know of purchased a glass specifically for his bourbon only to find that he had no bourbon at the house.

          • Should have made clear that I meant the IMO work *in the last few months* suggesting the possiblity that the current inflation of BB is associated with a shallow magma chamber.

            “Wise Dragons” ? OK, you’ve got me there: frolicsome, milk-toothed dragons.

    • Just a quick note on tremor. In general, wind and rain will tend to be dominant in the higher frequencies. Magmatic tremor should have a really strong low frequency signal. Not that you can use that to easily delineate the two, but it is helpful to remember that.

      • Yes, thanks. On the Dyn plot, it was the tremor in the lower frequencies that caught my particular attention.

  11. Quick question here – have been reading along &, hopefully, learning since last year – we were just flicking through the Mila webcams because we watched some awesome Northern Lights over Thingvellir last night, and this was the Hekla webcam – not very impressive, but all the other rural ‘cams are just showing flickery darkness. Anything going on here? There seems to be a constant red glow about ¾ of the way up the screen. Too constant for lightning, doesn’t look like headlights. Scientists doing something with infra-red lights in the snow, perhaps?

    • It is definitely something man-made as it’s been there for years. Although I do not know it for a fact, the most likely explanation is the red warning lights (for aircraft) on a telecommunications installation; tower or mast.

    • Fits in with this sequence, all at 600 km depth. The quakes here tend to come in pairs and we had three last week, so I had been wondering whether there was another one to come.

      • anyone able to draw a nice 3d rotating image of that data set ? – and anyone care to interpret what it means ?

        • You’d really need to use all the data available and not just those few isolated quakes in order to get a “picture” that you can infer things from.

        • Especially since this is down in one of those transition areas where the crystal structure of the down welling slab is changing. The idea is, that if the structure changes to a form with a different volume, the surrounding material will shift to fill the voids. Ringwoodite looses an OH molecule somewhere near this depth. (a form of dehydration) I don’t know of any volcanoes that are specifically fed from meltzones this deep, though I guess it is possible. Pinatubo has a melt source at 110 km depth, and the deeper ringwoodite deydration area is pretty much straight down from there since that is the angle of the slab. I don’t have any idea how you could differentiate magma from the two zones, though I imagine that it is possible.

  12. Hah, just came here to post this. The best part is the alt text:

    “Sure, it may not meet science fair standards, but I want credit for getting my baking soda and vinegar mountain added to the Decade Volcanoes list.”

    • they might have to re-think their planes for Panama canal mark 2 now wouldn’t they?

  13. Er, yeah…

    Note that Digital Equipment (DEC) got gobbled up by Compaq years ago. And that “10 Megabytes?” That’s the HARD DRIVE.

    Also, thats in roughly 1980 dollars, in todays currency, would be about $17,315.41.

    Now, at about the time this ad was being generated, I was working in the computer lab at college desperately trying to write a bubble up sort in Fortran that could be compiled and run on my accounts allocated time slice on the facilities HP mainframe… a beast of a computer that sported two back to back Zilog Z-80 processors.

    • A decade earlier, the Apollo astronauts landed on the moon with the aid of a 4 kB “computer”, yes four kilobyte!

  14. Back in Ruminarian X, I discussed probability and a bridge. The main focus was whether I thought that the bridge would survive a Cascadia full margin rupture. (my call is “no”)

    This is sort of an addendum to that.

    This is the The Newhall Pass interchange after the Mag 6.5-6.7 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. The major portions of the interchange had recently been completed but the roadway was not yet open. By my eyeballing the shake diagram, this area sustained MMI VI to MMI VII or so shaking. Some bridge decking was thrown off of the support columns.

    Image source-Wikimedia Commons.

    • Which parts were thrown off and which parts had not been installed yet? There seems a fair amount of scaffolding and a lack of debris on the ground?

      • According to wicketspeedonya, all of the major parts had been completed for the overpass. Interesting that the toppled sections are oriented laterally to the shock ftont.

    • That, is really nice pic. Is it from Boris’ kitchen window?

    • Read this and refer to the above photo.

      “Strength was with his hands in all that he did and the feet of the strong god were untiring. From his shoulders grew a hundred heads of a snake, a fearful dragon, with dark, flickering tongues, and from under the brows of his eyes in his marvellous heads flashed fire, and fire burned from his heads as he glared. And there were voices in all his dreadful heads which uttered every kind of sound unspeakable; for at one time they made sounds such that the gods understood, but at another, the noise of a bull bellowing aloud in proud ungovernable fury; and at another, the sound of a lion, relentless of heart; and at another, sounds like whelps, wonderful to hear; and again, at another, he would hiss, so that the high mountains re-echoed.”

      This is a description of the Monster Typhon who, according to lore, is imprisoned underneath Etna.

      • that was quiet a bid of power to get all that from below the ground and up past the grater putting on a display like that, with the dust loading and plume as well, do they give the cloud high from the mountain top or do they take the mountain height in the equation?

  15. Interesting little swarm @ Torfajökull, Iceland recently (source > IMO)
    03.12.2015 15:19:10 63.927 -19.013 0.1 km 1.2 99.0 7.4 km SSE of Landmannalaugar
    03.12.2015 14:45:59 63.926 -19.015 0.5 km 1.3 99.0 7.5 km SSE of Landmannalaugar
    03.12.2015 13:58:27 63.928 -19.010 0.4 km 1.0 99.0 7.4 km SSE of Landmannalaugar
    03.12.2015 13:38:43 63.927 -19.030 1.1 km 1.1 99.0 7.2 km SSE of Landmannalaugar
    03.12.2015 13:08:03 63.929 -19.035 0.8 km 1.0 99.0 6.9 km S of Landmannalaugar
    03.12.2015 12:57:03 63.923 -19.013 0.1 km 0.8 99.0 7.9 km SSE of Landmannalaugar
    03.12.2015 11:58:24 63.930 -19.010 1.6 km 1.0 99.0 7.2 km SSE of Landmannalaugar
    03.12.2015 11:31:48 63.923 -19.027 1.8 km 1.2 99.0 7.6 km SSE of Landmannalaugar
    03.12.2015 11:23:32 63.649 -19.158 1.6 km 2.2 99.0 4.6 km ENE of Goðabunga
    03.12.2015 07:55:13 63.924 -19.044 1.7 km 1.1 99.0 7.4 km S of Landmannalaugar

    • Older than I? Not a difficult trick to pull off 😀

      I can’t give any details, but I can say that mag-core memory has been quite handy in examining the environments that some systems were operating in before they finally went cold and dark.

      I still have an Alpha PC around here somewhere that I stripped the NT loader out of and replaced it with a Linux bootstrap. In it’s day, it was far superior in performance to the x86 critters.

    • Good luck with that plan. You need a lot of gas rich magma under pressure to get anything really going. With as broken up as the caldera still is, it already has a ready path to erupt. In other words, if it were ready to go, it would already be doing so.

    • Well. wnd has always been one for the wacky conspiracy theories.

      Still, the plan has some merets. If they can smuggle in most of their nuclear arsenal and get permission to drill all over the US top national park. And detonate them at the right places, it could displace enough material to expose and heat the chamber enough to trigger some kind of eruption. It probably wont be super, but atleast it will glow in the dark.

      It would be easier to just nuke the US. Or exploit one of its many strategic weaknesses. Or just wait a couple of decades.

  16. Keep watching Etna because tremor is still on the rise in spite of the eruptions:

    • Wonder if we are seeing some more evidence for the proposed transition of magma types for Mt Etna. Ionian slab giving Typhon indigestion?

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