The rise and fall of Anak Krakatau

It was the largest volcanic eruption since the start of the world-wide web. The invention of telegraphy in the 1850’s had made long distance connections instantaneous. It changed the world. Newspapers were the most obvious beneficiaries, being able to bring gossip news from far away places. And in this landscape, Krakatau exploded. 36,000 people died…

‘Oumuamua: a visitor from the stars

It is easy to forget the size of the Universe. For all its divisions and separations, Earth is not a good model for space: it is just too small. Nowadays, a seasoned traveler may have seen much of our world. Most of it can be reached within a day or two of travel. Of course,…

Volcanic Organs and Gandalf’s Pipe

Back when I was a kid, I had two interests in life, physics and playing music. In music my favourite instrument was the church organ. Over the following years those two interests merged into one as I got interested in how soundwaves form, and onwards into what I usually call waveform theory. Waveform theory is…

Hekla – Small things and stars in the night

I was asked to write a small weekend piece while we wait for Albert to finish the second part about Grimsvötn. My original idea was to write about people eating volcanoes, but thankfully Iceland saved us from that. As many of you have noticed Grimsvötn has thrown some big ones since my part of the…

Living Dangerously – Grimsvötn Forecasted

In August of 2017 Albert and I stuck our necks out on a limb and made a forecast each of what the future pattern of Grimsvötn was most likely to be. Or in other words, when would it erupt next. As I reread our two separate forecasts, I am struck by how different methodologies we…

Activity at Hekla and The Dead Zone

While we are waiting for Öraefajökull to drop a Christmas present and Grimsvötn to hatch an Easter egg, we instead might get a gift from Hekla. And at the horizon suddenly, a far darker bird looms. So, once more we must ask and answer the age-old volcanic question; what gives in Iceland? Hekla Many people…

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…

Signs and portents of Iceland – Revisited

When I planned to write this article about the current states of Iceland I only wanted to write about Katla and Öraefajökull. But, as things turned out a third volcano got my attention. In the end this article will be about how hard it can be for a layman to see what is important and…

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…

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…