The Tunguska event of 1908

I still remember the birch trees. Two million of them – they were the main view from the train, interrupted by small villages of wooden houses. Closer to Moscow those houses had been colourful but here in Siberia, paint seemed to be a rarity and the houses looked weathered. We finally left the train at…

IMS 54, Palmer Station, Anvers Island, Antarctica peninsula

The Hunga Tonga treaty

Did you know that there is an international treaty on eruptions? In truth, there isn’t. But there is a treaty on nuclear explosions, and there are similarities between explosive volcanic eruptions and nuclear explosions. Banning eruptions would go a bit above the United Nations powers. Could a volcanic eruption appear as a nuclear test? There…

And the sea was no more: the story of the Tethys marbles

The Elgin marbles International controversies can seem intractable. This particular one is about history set in stone. The Elgin marbles were the decorating sculptures of the Parthenon of ancient Athens. The Earl of Elgin (Thomas Bruce), ambassador to the Ottoman empire, acquired them in the early 1800’s. The acquisition had doubtful legality, although opinions differ…

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Journeymen: the life scientific

VC is a hobby. Watching and discussing volcanoes can be one of the highlights of anyone’s day. No special background is required: everyone can join in, and anyone can spot something others missed. Here at VC, watchers discovered new vents during the first Fagradalsfjall eruption (well before we called it that) which the Icelandic authorities…

The Ring Nebula

Sometimes a project becomes remarkable. Some years ago we started thinking about what to do with the James Webb Space Telescope, whenever it would become available. An idea was developed and we worked out what kind of data would be needed. It turned out to be feasible, so we proposed it. That is harder than…

The Quantum Volcanologist

In view of the current tectonic activity at Katla, we offer our readers a repost. Katla has a reputation among some of the disaster crowd, and any shaking there can lead to predictions of worldwide doom. It sometimes seems like a Yellowstone on ice. Hence this story. Physiology has a dog; physics has a cat.…

Saving the Earth with asteroids

A republication of an older post 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…

Hunting the supernova of 1181

One of my fondest memories of South Africa (apart from being shot at by police) is the bird of paradise. Not a bird: the birds of this name live in a different continent and a very different habitat. In South Africa, birds of paradise are plants with banana-like leaves growing a meter or more tall.…

Trouble in Paradise: awakening Mauna Loa

An eruption has started at the summit of Mauna Loa. It has been a long wait! The inflation over the past month was notable, though not exceptional, but it was the drip that made the volcanic bucket overflow. We now need to see what happens. Commonly, eruptions migrate down the rift zone, in this case…

Why is my favourite volcano broken?

Volcanology is filled with moments when you look at your favourite volcano doing something interesting, and you hope that it will erupt. There is no shame to admit it, we are secretly cheering our favourites on towards the inevitable eruption. Time and time again we are though let down by our volcanoes, and if you…