Ancient foundations: the earth of the bible. Part II: Volcanics in the fertile crescent

In Part I, the five main faults in the region around the Levant were discussed: the Red Sea spreading ridge and its associated triple point, the Dead Sea transform fault, the Zagros suture, the Anatolian strike-slip fault (actually two near parallel faults), and the Aegean subduction zone. Every type of fault that is known occurs…

When Pinatubo turned the tide

The sea is our fascination. We go out of our ways to find it, and it is where we go for holidays, spending our time lying on the beach. Close to half the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast. For those who live here, there is a good living to be had,…

Lurking in the swamp: the Florida volcano

Florida is known for many things. It is home to VC’s stalwart, Geolurking. It has beach life, of the teenage variety. It has Disneyland, of the toddler-of-any-age variety. It has launched space missions to the outermost planets and put men (but not women) on the Moon. It attracts retirees from all over the US and…

History of Öræfajökull

Iceland has ice. Glaciers cover 10% of its landscape, including its highest volcanoes. Of its frequent eruptors, only Hekla is (almost) ice free. Katla, Bardarbunga, and Grimsvötn, which together account for the large majority of eruptions, are all hidden underneath ice sheets, which gives problems studying the volcanoes themselves. But a more serious issue is…

Krakatoa skies: when the Sun turned blue

Just after 4pm, the phones started ringing at the Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill. Caller after caller reported seeing the sun. The date was September 27, 1950, and the place was Edinburgh, Scotland. Seeing the sun in Scotland can be a bit of a rarity, but even the Scots knew that the sun should not…

Vesuvius in retrospect

Is this the most famous volcano in the world? The shape is instantly recognisable: the twin peaks give the appearance of an unintended gap where something has been removed. Naples of course has the reputation that anything that is not securely fixed down can quickly and involuntarily change owner, so perhaps a missing bit of…

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…

Volcanohistology: when eruptions make a difference

Volcanoes are frightening. They can dramatically alter the local landscape, and change people’s live – normally for the worse. The best place to be is far away. But large eruptions can have wider impacts. The ash can cover regions a continent away, and sulphate aerosols can spread at high altitude around the world. The sulphate…