The Making of La Palma

After Iceland, there was La Palma. It could have been the Azores, of course. There are more than just two volcanic archipelagos and islands in our youngest ocean, the Atlantic Ocean. But it was La Palma. Could we have seen it coming? Eruptions at La Palma are about ten times less frequent than at Iceland,…

Askja, 1875

Background Askja is a lesser known major Icelandic volcano. The north volcanic zone (NVZ) where it is located is not as touristy as the east (Bardarbunga, Grimsvotn), the south (Katla) or the southwest (Fagradalsfjall) volcanic zones of Iceland, but it should not be ignored. The Krafla rift eruption here lasted (intermittently) for nine years, from…

Japan: the Fukutuko-Oka-No-Ba eruption

During August 2021, reports came in about an eruption in the ocean south of Japan. The volcano was new to me: Fukuto okanoba. It sounded like something from star wars. It was a friendly explosion, meaning no one was inconvenienced by it. The submarine explosion had produced a tephra raft 60 km long, plus an…

Escape

Who doesn’t dream of escape? Perhaps you have a mind-numbing job, a repressive social environment, or a damp and cold house. It may be an escape in (and from) a computer game, trying to reach the exit while being chased by your real-time friends becoming virtual enemies. Sometimes we need to escape from a dream,…

The Ballad of Ballareldur: Explosions in the night

Over the past weeks, the Fagradalsfjall has settled into in almost predictable routine. There are regular cycles of eruptions and interruptions. During the interruption, the tremor goes quiet. Nothing is shaking or moving on the drum plots. Over several hours, there is a slow build-up of the tremor. Lava begins to return to the crater…

Volcanoes of the North: the fire in the ice

A freezer provides storage. And a deep freezer gives deep storage. You can’t go deeper than an original ice-age glacier. In Greenland, those glaciers are still there, being so tall that the top has remained in deep freeze even though the ice age is a distant memory. In this cryogenic environment, that frozen memory is…

The Great Alaska earthquake of 2021

Alaska can be a shaky place. Earlier this week, at 10:15pm local time on Wednesday, there was an M8.2 earthquake in the region. It was the largest earthquake on Earth since the M8.3 in Chile in 2015. Let’s award the US the gold olympic medal for earthquaking (after all, the Chilean winner was from the…

Volcano on the rocks

People need mementoes. They are small things (normally) with little intrinsic value (often), but which carries a memory which is far more valuable to the owner than the item is in itself. It can be a bit of jewelry, a cup, or a chair, or even a pebble. Or it can be one of many…

The changing faces of Fagradalsfjall: fizz, bubbles and slugs

We have had quite a ride. The eruption began unseen, on March 19. The new fissure opened on April 5, after the initial double cone had begun to wane. The new fissures sprouted a series of cones, mostly twinned. By May, all twins had exterminated one of the siblings, and the survivors had battled for…

Vanished Vikings of the West: Demise of the Western Settlement

In Part I, we looked at the Viking colonization of Greenland, and the failure of their settlement in America. In Part II we saw the fall of the Eastern Settlement. Now we will look at an even more mysterious disappearance, that of the Western Settlement. Of the two Viking settlements, the Western Settlement was both…