The Anchorage earthquake of 2018

Where there are volcanoes, there are earthquakes. Both are a sign of a broken earth. Volcanoes require vertical movement and earthquakes (by and large) are horizontal: the two are not identical, but to get a volcano you need a vertical path, and to get that you need to move crust sideways. Enter the earthquakes. A…

Living dangerously: another Grimsvotn prediction

  Grimsvötn is heading for an eruption. There can be no doubt about that. Of course, it is always heading for an eruption. This volcano has ADHD. For Grimsvötn, more than a decade of brooding is unusual: normally it just throws it out. A misplaced snow flake can set it off. And it produces not…

Hell and its angels at Kilauea

There has been a lot of discussion on what will happen next at Kilauea. For 30 years it overflowed through Pu’u’O’o, leaving the summit safely under-pressured. That had been changing slowly as Pu’u’O’o declined, and the summit had become restless. A lava lake made its appearance and slowly enlarged itself. But this mode, with pressure…

Iceland in ashes

I had never seen the Manchester sky so blue. The usual milky white which goes by the name ‘Manchester sunny day’ was gone, transformed into an azure experienced mainly during distant holidays. Great Britain of course has a bit of a reputation. Already the Romans wrote that “the atmosphere in this region is always gloomy”.…

Sun storm: the Carrington event

Lights of the North! As in eons ago, Not in vain from your home do ye over us glow! William Ross Wallace (1819–1881) Jan 25, 880 AD, was a remarkable night. The Arabian historian Ibn Abi Zar wrote about it more than 400 years later, from the ancient city of Fez, northeast of the Atlas…

Iwo Jima in 45 eruptions

Iwo Jima has long been of particular interest to VC. It is an enigmatic volcano with a very human history. One of the pivotal battles of the second world war took place here, at immense human cost which arguably changed the way the war ended. The island remains home to the Japanese navy, and visits…

The Sulawesi earthquake

Sulawesi is the unknown Indonesia. Some may remember it under its Portuguese name of Celebes. It is part of the northern chain of Indonesian islands which runs from Borneo to New Guinea. The island has a disjointed shape, appearing as a connection of peninsulas running in random directions, like an uncoordinated octopus. The four peninsulas…

The fall of Surtsey

In the previous post, we read about the birth of Surtsey. It was a famous eruption, which taught us how quickly and unexpectedly new land can form. We have since seen similar eruptions elsewhere as well. Nishinoshima is a small and isolated Japanese island, 1000 kilometers south of Tokyo. An eruption started just off its…

Surtsey – The Birth of the Modern World

(A repost, originally written by Carl, November 13, 2013. The post has been expanded from the original.) Tomorrow, the fourteenth of November, will be the official birthday of Surtsey. In a way it was a triple birth. First of all it was the birth of the Island of Surtsey, it was also the birth of…

The air we breath: the sulfur smell of volcanoes

“The sun became dark and its darkness lasted for one and a half years… Each day it shone for about four hours and still this light was only a feeble shadow… the fruits did not ripen and the wine tasted like sour grapes.” Michael the Syrian, about a 6th century eruption It smells. Sulfur is…