In her 1948 novel “Trollkarlens hatt” (Finn Family Moomintroll), Finnish author Tove Jansson describes how on the first day of spring Moomintroll and his friends discover a large, black hat and bring it home without knowing that it is the Magician’s lost hat and that anything that stays in the hat too long will be transformed into something completely different. The first items to end up in the hat are some eggshells and next morning, they discover several small clouds. Experimentation yields the facts that they will carry a person and that it is possible to steer them to where you want to and they have a lot of fun riding their little magical clouds before they disappear.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all, just like the Moomintroll and his friends had our own little magical cloud that could take us anywhere in the world we wanted to go whenever we felt the need? To leave behind the almost too-familiar and drab view out of our window on a late and rainy November evening and exchange it for some gloriously exciting, beautiful, awe-inspiring and, dare it be said, sometimes frightening views! In a way, we actually do as there are hundreds and thousands of online webcams for us to peruse.
My very own magical cloud materialised in late March 2010 when a fissure opened up on the saddle between Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjökull at a place called Fimmvörðuháls (“Five Cairns Pass”) and the generous Icelanders quickly positioned cameras to show this latest wonder to the world. Together with many others, I spent hours glued to my chair in front of the PC, ogling the views provided. The very best views were to be seen when then the sun had set and just before total darkness engulfed the fire fountains. Looking back, I think many of us can say of those days – “that’s when I became a volcanoholic”.
Unfortunately, my PC-skills were such that I had not yet discovered that via the simple expedient of pressing the “Prnt Scrn” button and then pasting the resulting “screen grab” into MS Paint, I could make my own photographic record of the event. By the time the main eruption of Eyjafjallajökull started on April 14th, I had rectified this deficiency and made hundreds of webcam photos in addition to spending almost all of my free time glued to the screen.
Again, the generous Icelanders hastened to set up webcams to showcase the eruptions with Mila providing live streaming of the event while Vodafone provided high-resolution stills that updated every minute or so. I cannot recall now if it was on the second or third day of the eruption Mila set up their Hvolsvöllur cam which was to provide the most spectacular views of the eruption.
As an aside, there are advantages and disadvantages with both types of webcam. Live stream webcams let you follow events in real time, albeit at a lower resolution. You can sit with your finger hovering over the “Prnt Scrn” buttom and have a reasonably good chance to capture the more interesting and transient events. The other type of webcam provides stills that update every 10 seconds to five minutes. While there is a very high likelihood that you will miss the most interesting events, you do have time to make a judgement on which frames to grab and, usually, at much higher detail resolution.
After Eyjafjallajökull, I was hooked and I dare say many share this experience: Once you have witnessed your first eruption “Live”, you cannot wait until the next one. You are addicted – “Hi! I’m Henrik and I am a volcanoholic” – and all that matters is the next fix. Luckily there have been several interesting and photogenic eruptions since and even if I readily admit that webcam captures never can rival the truly awesome photographs taken by experts such as Marco Sulle, Mike Ross, Adrian Rohnfelder and many, many others, they have a special place in my heart. Here are a few more I’d like to share:
These are some of the places my little magic cloud (petit nuage magique) has taken me over the years. Which is your favourite memory of volcano-watching via webcam? Is there a particularly stunning or interesting webcam capture that you would like to share with us?
Over to you!
Momotombo volcano, Niquaragua, shows signs of increasing unrest
Yesterday, there was an earthquake swarm directly below the Momotombo volcano as reported by Albert. Today, the webcams show an increase in out-gassing and the seismographs show numerous brittle quakes and tornillos, signs of magma moving upwards in the system. Momotombo began an eruptive cycle earlier this year after a century of quiet but has been relatively calm for the past few months. The recent activity could signal a renewal of eruptive activity and thus it is one to keep an eye on.
Here are links to the three webcams that update once every five minutes or so. Do not forget to bookmark them!
From Managua across the lake: http://web-geofisica.ineter.gob.ni/webcam/v_momotombo/index.html
From the east looking to the west: http://web-geofisica.ineter.gob.ni/webcam/v_momotombo2/index.html
From the SSW looking to the NNW: http://web-geofisica.ineter.gob.ni/webcam/v_momotombo3/index.html
And there is more activity happening at Momotombo. In the early hours a fumarole was born on the flank of Momotombo, and two hours later this happened.