Science and pseudoscience

Our modern world is one of scepticism. Trust is scarce. In the UK, politicians tell the voters not to believe experts, at least those experts that the politicians do not agree with. Of course they assume a certain level of trust in politicians. Facts are disputed, and the contradictory era of false facts has arrived. A whole industry has grown up around changing the facts, with the aim to shape people’s opinions. We distrust experts, politicians, bankers, lawyers, – and this list can readily be expanded. But on whose authority do we question authority? If we don’t trust experts, who do we rely in for our information?

An extreme example is the scepticism expressed in some circles about the reality of the moon landings. It started with an article in the New York Times from December 1969 by John Wilford, although all he did was telling that this story went around some bars in Chicago. It gained little traction. Opinion polls showed that about 5% of the US population had doubts about the lunar Apollo landings. However, this changed when Fox news reported on the story in 2001, after which as many as 20% preferred the hoax. VC made use of this with one of the news items on the April-1 Mars Bar. It is reprinted below, for your enjoyment.

But we the problem of false facts goes much further back than 1969. The (rather harmless) Flat Earth society started in the 1800’s, and it still exists. It now advertises itself as ‘free thinkers’ (that claim may have lost some of its credibility by advertising a round-the-world cruise.) The flat-earth stories have themselves an interesting history. In Greece, the view of a flat earth was replaced with that of a spherical world already in the 5th century BC. In South Asia, it took until the 5th century AD, and China remained flat until the 17th century. But you may have heard that Europe in the Middle Ages thought that the world was flat? It turns out, that is a fib. It would have been hard for such an idea to make a come-back. The story that Europe of Columbus believed in a flat earth appeared in the early 19th century: it can be traced to Washington Irvin’ biography, The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus, published in 1829. It made for a nice story, but was a false fact.

But there is nothing new under the sun: false news has a much longer history, and seems a normal human attribute. The oldest recorded ‘false news’ is 3,000 years old, when Ramses II engraved great victories over Libya and Nubia, representing battles we now know he lost. Perhaps it was the head line in the Daily Papyrus or the Tablet Weekly?

Facts

It is important to discern which facts you should accept, and which you should treat with some healthy suspicion. When someone from Nigeria emails you with the request to give you a lot of money, letting greed get the better over common sense can become quite costly. So it is with phone calls about pension investment ‘opportunities’. And if a magazine reveals how crystals cure cancer, believing such false facts can badly damage your health.

So what is a fact and what is not? And why do we accept some facts but not others? It appears it partly depends on language. Facts need to be phrased in terms that people can relate to. Use the wrong words, and there is trouble. And it works both ways: a real fact using the wrong language may be rejected, while a false fact phrased in a language that resonates may be accepted. In a volcano blog, use the words ‘It’s going to blow!’ and the audience looses much of its critical faculties. An other example is the difference between the words ‘climate’ and ‘weather’. People know weather, but they do not experience ‘climate’ in the same way. The words ‘global warming’ convey what is happening in a way people understand. The words ‘climate change’ are vague, and meet more resistance. The importance of using the right language goes even further: research has shown that people who are bilingual are more likely to accept a fact in their first language, and more likely to deny it in the other language. Our language reflects (and determines) our way of thinking. The divisions go deep: people who speak different also think different. After all, what we call consciousness begins with putting our unconscious thoughts into words. The words and vocabulary we have mastered determine what enters our consciousness. The tower of Babel did lasting damage to the world.

Science

The battle between facts and non-facts, fake news and real news, is sometimes fought in the territory of science. Not everything that labels itself as science is indeed science. And science is an easy target, because it uses a language all of its own, which can be incomprehensible to those outside the ivory tower of babel. Everyday language and sentences are not precise enough for science, so that it needs to create new words and even sentence structure. But before science can go into battle, we first need to know what science stands for.

You can find definitions of ‘science’ on the internet, but they never seem to get to the heart of it. Some only apply to a single area of science, or a single way of doing science. Others are phrased in the language of philosophy, rather than that of science, introducing a whole new level of confusion.

To me, science is an empirical and systematic way of understanding the world. Its goal is to obtain knowledge (after all, that is what the word means). The ‘natural sciences’ operate by creating a model which fits current knowledge. Next, the intrepid scientist determines how the model responds to a new situation, and courageously tests this in the real world. If the test fails, the model needs changing, but any proposed change has to fit existing data and has to be tested in the same way, using a prediction on something which was not used in creating the model. As the data becomes more accurate, the models become more complex, but a complete change of the model is quite rare. Applied science now takes the model and uses it to design machines (or something similar). For example, the model of quantum physics is used to design (with disputed success) quantum computers. Medical science can skip over the model building phase. It puts more emphasis on practical outcomes, and worries less about exactly how medicines achieve that outcome. (To a physicist this sounds primitive, but physics does not have to deal with life and death situations). Psychology studies how stimuli lead to responses but exactly how the process works remains vague. All this is science, and what it has in common is that it always looks for evidence.

A very important point is that science is not based on personal authority. The models and the evidence can be checked by anyone, and it doesn’t matter who does an experiment: anyone doing the experiment in exactly the same way will find the same result. Science has its heroes, but the validity of data does not depend on who did what. Science belongs to everyone. This does not mean that everything done is science. A fossil hunter and a paleontologist may find the same thing, but if the fossil hunter fails to record the relevant details of the find and its context, science can’t do much with it. That is why fossils bought on ebay have little scientific value.

Bad science

But not all science is good science. You may read a paper that has an error in the interpretation. An effect may have been overlooked. And sometimes a paper has so many holes that you don’t know where to begin. Scientific publishing uses a system of peer refereeing to catch these cases, but things do slip through.

An example in volcanology is a paper claiming that explosive volcano eruptions depend on solar activity, which is sometimes mentioned on this blog. (I won’t mention the authors.) The paper claims that muons created by cosmic rays enter a magma chamber and can make it act as a bubble chamber: gas bubbles form and a run-away explosion is triggered. The study makes the spectacular claim that the solar cycle has an effect on volcanic explosions: during solar minimum, the solar wind is weaker, and as this wind keep cosmic rays out, the cosmic rays on earth increase. A careful reading of the paper reveals four main issues. The data consist of 11 eruptions of which 9 fit their expectation as occuring during a presumed solar minimum: that is too small a sample for a significant result. The muons which supposedly cause the eruption only penetrate a few meters into the ground, far too shallow to reach magma chambers. In any case, the muon flux is less than the radiation from natural radioactivity even at the surface of the earth, let alone in the ground. And finally, the muon flux only varies by a few per cent during the solar cycle, while the day-to-day variations are larger: a high flux can therefore occur at any time during the solar cycle. The data is unconvincing, the mechanism disputed (to put it mildly) and the model does not work.

Still, this is science. The paper follows the scientific method, and the results make a prediction which can be falsified. It is an example of rather poor science, but it is not pseudoscience.

Progress: the science of change

Science does not stand still. Take the flat earth as an example. There was a time, rather a long time ago, when a model of a flat earth made some sense. It fitted with the evidence of the eyes. But as more evidence came, and people traveled further, that changed. Accurate clocks showed that the times of sunset and sunrise were different in different places (the accurate clocks of course did not exist: the Greeks instead used times of solar and lunar eclipses seen around the Mediterranean). Nowadays we have a much better model, and the flat earth has been banished from the domain of science.

As an other example, the earth-centric model, where the sun moves around the earth, was proper science for a long time. It was central to Ptolemy’s Almagest which remained the reference book for astronomy for over a thousand years. The Almagest did not just survive out of scientific inertia. The model predicted where each planet would appear on the sky at what time, and how fast and it which direction it would move. The predictions were accurate, and therefore the model survived. When Copernicus proposed a model where the sun moves around the earth, it was not accepted – not because of religious concerns (as often assumed), but because the model did not predict the correct movement of the planets on the sky and the Almagest actually did a better job in fitting the data. A new model should be an improvement, not a step back! Now we know that this was because Copernicus assumed circular orbits while the Almagest used epicycles to form oval orbits: the latter is a better approximation. Tycho Brahe, a superb observer, was the first to find discrepancies between the predictions of the Almagest’ model and actual observations. The dispute was finally settled by Kepler, who showed that orbits are not circles but ellipses, and was able to for Brahe’s data. In addition, Roemer showed that Jupiter orbits the sun, not the earth (which he did by measuring the distance to Jupiter at different times in its orbit). Nowadays we can measure the speed of the earth directly and the Almagest is now science of the past. Science moves and what once belonged in its domain may no longer.

Global warming is another example. The scientific argument raged in the 1990’s when the evidence was studied in great detail. The evidence for warming became conclusive. Predictions were made, and in the following decades the data confirmed the predictions. The earth is now considerable warmer than it was even in the 1990’s. The discussion has moved on. Details of the models are still being improved, and the discussion is about how fast and how much – not if. The IPCC reports specify in great details what aspects are secure, and where further work is needed.

Science uses the body of knowledge that exists at the time. Something that was science in the past may no longer agree with the data we currently have.

Pseudoscience

The term pseudoscience was first used in 1796, when James Andrew described alchemy as a fantastical pseudo-science. It was a most effective term which quickly caught on. The term has been used on occasion in the comments on this blog, not always justified.

What is pseudoscience, and how can you recognize it? The objective of the research is important: pseudoscience often is either about the promotion of a particular theory (whilst disregarding opposing evidence), or it has the goal to discredit a particular scientific theory or branch of science. In addition, it tries to give the impression that it is or reports science. Examples are alchemy and UFOs. Another is astrology, but its proponents can argue that they never claimed to be a science. There is a fair amount of pseudoscience involving volcanoes. Mainly one volcano, actually. Yellowstone.

There are a few general categories found in pseudoscience.

Denialism: the claim that there is a scientific controversy when there is in fact none. This is not new. In the science of history, holocaust denial dates back to the 1980’s. Tobacco companies denying a link to lung cancer, and chemical companies denying that CFCs destroy ozone, all fall in this category. These statements were supported by ‘research’ designed to promote one side. Obviously, science has real controversies, but denial tries to create a controversy in disregard of the evidence.

Scepticism: this term has been adopted by both sides and can therefore be confusing. Scepticism is an accepted part of science but it has to take account of the evidence. When it goes beyond this, and goes against the scientific consensus, it enters the realm of pseudoscience. Scientific scepticism questions assumptions behind models. Pseudoscientific scepticism questions the data.

Facts resistance: a disregard for the evidence when advocating a particular theory. A requirement for scientific papers is that opposing evidence is also presented and acknowledged. Pseudoscience does not do that: it ignores evidence that is not in its own interest.

How do you recognize pseudoscience? Here are some pointers, taken from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

-Unrepeatable experiments: Reliance is put on experiments that cannot be repeated by others with the same outcome.

-Handpicked examples: Handpicked examples are used although they are not representative of the general category that the investigation refers to.

-Unwillingness to test: A theory is not tested although it is possible to test it.

-Disregard of refuting information: Observations or experiments that conflict with a theory are neglected.

This list can be extended but you will get the idea. To get an idea how pseudoscience can develop, the post https://www.volcanocafe.org/volcanoes-and-co2-continued/ tells how the fallacy that volcanoes produce CFCs came into the world, through a chain of hyperbole and chinese whispers.

Yellowstone

Yellowstone is the pseudoscientist’s favourite volcano. This is the most dangerous volcano in the world, at least, according to the usual suspects. Here is an excerpt from that well-known science journal, the Daily Mail, based on an USGS report.

The eruption could kill as many as 90,000 people almost instantly and release a 10 ft (3-meter) layer of molten ash 1,000 miles (1,609km) from the park.

The ash would block off all points of entry from the ground, and the spread of ash and gases into the atmosphere would stop most air travel, just as it did when a much smaller volcano erupted in Iceland in 2010.

Sulphuric gases released from the volcano would spring into the atmosphere and mix with the planet’s water vapour.

The haze of gas that could drape the country wouldn’t just dim the sunlight — it also would cool temperatures. It adds that falling temperatures would damage our food supply, destroying crops and causing a worldwide food shortage. 

The article actually acknowledges that an eruption is not considered likely, and what it reports is indeed in the source material: it just focusses on one possibility.

You can find many of these stories, and they have a few things in common: they quote selectively from USGS research; they focus on the consequences of a supereruption; and somewhere in the article they will have a disclaimer saying that it is unlikely to happen. It is possible to find worse than this on the internet, often based on such second hand stories with the disclaimer left out. Here is a bad one from the weathernetwork:

About 600,000 years ago, the last super eruption occurred at Yellowstone Volcano, located in its own national park in Wyoming, U.S.A.

The eruption was so large that it played a part in sending the world into the last ice age.

Data suggests that Yellowstone erupts every 600,000 to 700,000 years, meaning it is due for another eruption.

The volcano has an elevation of almost 3,000 metres which, to put into perspective, is about a thousand metres smaller than the city of Toyko, Japan. A super eruption from it could send rocks and ash 1600 kilometers away from its current location.

Volcanologists have come up with different theories on how large the next eruption would be, and if it even would be large enough to consider it a super eruption, which is rated as a Magnitude 4 or greater on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI).

According to the USGS, a super-eruption is equal to the force of 1,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs exploding every second, creating the potential for widespread destruction.

At this time, however, it’s still safe to visit Yellowstone, according to the USGS, which monitors the volcano daily and posts reports online.  Scientists have no detection of any kind of warnings of an eruption happening in the immediate future. If they do detect something, they believe  they would be able to see the activity months, or possibly a year, in advance.

While we won’t be around to see the next eruption, the next one is scheduled to take place in the near future, geologically-speaking. It’s forecasted to happen sometime in the next 1000 to 10,000 years.

It is very hard to find anything in this that is factually correct!

Here is another example. A paper in 2014 reported that helium degassing in Yellowstone was much larger than expected. They interpreted this as helium that has collected below the ancient craton over 2 billion years, until the Yellowstone hot spot melted through the crust 2 million years ago, and the helium found an escape. So far, this is very interesting as it shows how stable this craton has been. But this is what one random website made of it: What has scientists very concerned is that Yellowstone has suddenly begun emitting massive amounts of Helium-4. Helium-4 seems to be the predictor of activity, as proved with other volcanos. Apart from the typo, the site takes two observed but unrelated facts, leaves out confusing information such as the 2 million years that the helium has been leaking out, and builds up to the conclusion that an eruption is coming. This is pseudoscience in a action.

I should point out that in my experience, science journalists go to great length to get the story correct. They always ask about all the provisos of the research. They are normally scientifically trained and know what ‘uncertainty’ means.

What is the reality of Yellowstone? It has had three enormous eruptions in the past few million years, and a repeat would be bad news, although how bad is under discussion. There is a large magma reservoir at depth, and the geysers show that water is circulating through zones heated by the magma. On the other hand, for a supervolcano it is remarkable quiet. It hasn’t had a major eruption for half a million year, and no eruption at all for 70,000 years. At this rate, it may actually be one of the safest places in the US! The geysers are in fact a sign of the stability of Yellowstone. It may never erupt again, and if it does, it may be a small eruption. The chance of a VEI-8 event somewhere on earth is larger than that of any eruption at Yellowstone.

Yellowstone – the world’s safest volcano. Source: nationalparks.org

Volcanocafe

VC is a popular science blog. It tries to provide a forum to look at volcanoes (and a few other topics, on occasion) through the eyes (and language) of science, and makes scientific results accessible. After all, science is meant to be shared. It always amazes me when scientists publish papers in journals that restrict access. What is the point of doing research, but to publish your findings where no one can read them? But that is beside the point. The second goal of VC is to close the loop, by giving the public a chance to comment and in that way contribute to the progress of science. Centuries ago science was done by people in their spare time. (If you work at a university, it may feel like that is still the case.) We belong to that tradition.

Curiosity is an essential part of science. So is lack of knowledge! Science aims to learn, and you can’t learn of you know everything already – or think you do. Asking questions is fine – especially on this blog. The discussions they generate qualify as science. In most cases, at least.

Science is not everything. There are many aspects of our lives which it does not cover. It doesn’t know about right and wrong, it doesn’t do friendship and humanity, and it only knows love as a chemical. There is more to us than science. But that is beyond the topic of this post.

Albert, January 2019

Appendices

Here is the promised April-1 story:

Apollo 11 moon landing site found on Mars

NASA admits deception

Reprinted from http://news.marsbar.space/: see that site for more Mars news stories.

During the exploration of Mars, the Musk team has found a complete Apollo-11 landing module, surrounded by the various items used by the astronauts during the moonwalk movies. Even the famous footstep is still there.

When NASA was pressed about this discovery, the spokesperson admitted that the Apollo-11 landing had indeed been faked, and in reality had been staged on Mars. She said this was due to problems with the landing rockets. On Mars, they had been able to use the tested parachutes.

She said it had worked very well, but the strength of the wind on Mars had come as a surprise. ‘It became impossible to keep the flag still’, she said.

1 April 2018

Origin of a myth

A pseudoscience story of volcanic proportions, reprinted from https://www.volcanocafe.org/volcanoes-and-co2-continued/

Some have claimed that volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans do. Ian Plimer famously stated “Over the past 250 years, humans have added just one part of CO2 in 10,000 to the atmosphere. One volcanic cough can do this in a day.” A politician, Mike Huckabee, said “The volcano that erupted over in Northern Europe actually poured more CO2 into the air in that single act of nature than all of humans have in something like the past 100 years.“ He can be forgiven for not trying the pronounce the name Eyjafjallajökull. But what is the scientific truth?

It turns out, they were a little off in their numbers. Mike Huckabee claimed that Eyjafjallajökull produced as much CO2 as humanity in 100 years. The correct number is 30 minutes. Huckabee was therefore wrong by a factor of 1.7 million, a sad indictment of the level of numeracy required for government. Ian Plimer stated that one volcanic cough equalled 250 years of human CO2 emissions. He doesn’t define what a ‘cough’ is, but presumably it is less than one Eyjafjallajökull in which case he was wrong by a factor of at least 4 million, and possibly much more. ‘Astronomical’ doesn’t begin to describe it. Such extreme arithmetic errors can be career-defining for a politician but would be career-ending for an engineer. We can safely discount their numbers as silly.

So where did these outrageously wrong numbers come from? Both people wouldn’t have done the calculations themselves: they quoted from somewhere else. It turns out, there were several steps on their path from science to silliness.

The story began with a paper by David Johnson, published just after he died in the St Helens eruption. The paper discussed the chlorine emission from Augustine volcano, Alaska, 1976 and argued that of the 525 million kg of chlorine it produced (it erupted 0.19 km3 DRE), roughly 100 million kg could have reached the stratosphere in the form of HCl: such a stratospheric contribution would be equivalent to a quarter of the 1975 world industrial production of chlorine in fluorocarbons. Read that sentence twice to see what he actually said, and remember that at this time, fluorocarbons were just about to become a major concern because of the destruction of the ozone layer. Johnson argued that explosive eruptions could inject enough chlorine into the stratosphere to be a significant factor.

He also wrote that if the Bishop Tuff of Long Valley Caldera emitted the same fraction of chlorine, its stratospheric contribution would account for 570 times the 1975 world industrial production of chlorine in fluorocarbons. This number represented a 100 km3 eruption 700,000 years ago. In hindsight, the paper was correct about the total amount of chlorine, but overestimated how much of it entered the stratosphere. The explosions also eject water, and HCl dissolves into this water and rains out before it gets to the stratosphere. But that is a different story.

Dixie Lee Ray, in 1990, wrote that Augustine volcano put out 570 times the total world production of chlorine and fluorocarbon compounds in the year 1975. He quoted Johnson but mixed up the two volcanoes and ended up overstating the Johnson number by a factor of 2000. These things happen. He also used the number for the stratosphere as if it were for the entire atmosphere.

The next year, Pinatubo exploded and the discussions re-ignited. This was at a time when industries were trying to avoid restrictions on CFC production. In their defence, Rush Limbaugh stated in 1992: “Mount Pinatubo has put 570 times the amount of chlorine into the atmosphere in one eruption than all of man-made chlorofluorocarbons in one year”, again mixing up volcanoes, and also confusing the atmosphere and the stratosphere. (In fact, measurements did not show any significant increase of stratospheric chlorine after the eruption.) In Limbaugh’s book of 1993, he amended the statement to: “Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines spewed forth more than a thousand times the amount of ozone-depleting chemical in one eruption than all the fluorocarbons manufactured by wicked, diabolical, and insensitive corporations in history.” He changed a single year (1975) to all of history, and increased ‘570’ to ‘more than a thousand’. Note that he wrote in the context of a polemic defence of the chemical industry, and note his use of hyperbole.

After this, the story took on a life of its own. In 2006, Christopher Monckton said “In a good year for eruptions, Erebus can put out as much CFCs as Man used to.” This is another change of volcano, and again there is confusion with Long Valley, but in addition HCl has now become CFCs, something volcanoes do not produce. This confusion was clearly based on using Limbaugh as his primary source, as Limbaugh hadn’t specified which ozone-depleting chemical was meant – Monckton substituted the only one he knew about.

Remember the mentions of fluorocarbons? Jude Wanski, in 2004, wrote “The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 dumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than all that has been released since the industrial revolution”. Long Valley has now morphed into St Helens, HCl has become ‘greenhouse gases’, and the stratosphere is again equated with the atmosphere. The greenhouse confusion came about because Monckton had changed HCl to CFCs, and these do act as powerful greenhouse gases.

And this led directly to Ian Plimer, who changed ‘greenhouse gases’ to ‘CO2’ (unaware there were others), and elsewhere in his book writes that Mt. Pinatubo released “very large quantities of chlorofluorocarbons”. He gives a reference to a 1992 paper, but this paper contradicts his writings and he cannot have read it. His information clearly came from Wanski. Mike Huckabee used Plimer as source, but substituted Eyjafjallajökull for Pinatubo (which through several previous substitutions was actually Long Valley) , CO2 for HCl, and 100 years for one year. (An interesting aside is that Eyjafjallajökull and Augustine had about the same eruption volume in DRE, so replacing one with the other could have been defended, had it been that simple.)

This strange story shows how important it is to go back to the original source, preferably peer reviewed. Authorative, reliable sources are needed for factual information. Pseudoscience picks any data that seems to support its objective, fails to check its accuracy, and ignores any opposing evidence. This is pseudoscience in action.

329 thoughts on “Science and pseudoscience

  1. Small outbreak at the top of Mauna Loa including a 3.7,

    2019-01-27 21:54:48 2.5 -2
    2019-01-27 21:08:21 1.9 -0.6
    2019-01-27 17:21:57 1.9 3.4
    2019-01-27 13:33:31 2 -1.3
    2019-01-27 13:24:04 3.7 -1.6
    2019-01-27 09:08:58 1.9 -1.3
    \
    It has not been reviewed yet.

    • “Outbreak” or swarm? There might be a slight difference in meaning to some people…

      • Yes, I should use my non alarmist vocabulary. I did not feel that swarm was appropriate. What number of quakes in an area or time frame would we consider a swarm on the big Island?

        It was reviewed
        3.47 – .5km

  2. The thickest parts of the fissure 8 flow are around 50 meters thick offshort of where kapoho was, this part of the flow will likely glow visibly for several years if dug into and still steam in wet weather for decades, probably this flow will still be steaming and barren when the rest of the 2018 lava is greening over and another eruption is likely to have happened in the LERZ since.
    If a big piece of the new lava slides into the ocean right now I wouldnt be surprised if molten lava flowed out of the flows interior. That happened in late 2007 on an old lava delta that was inactive for months before and it was still hot enough to glow and cause a major littoral explosion. This delta was tiny compared to fissure 8s entry.

    Fissure 8 also might have an actual name too, ahu’aila’au. Still waiting on official confirmation but I have seen it mentioned on hawaiitracker facebook. When it passes it will be the first officially named geological feature in hawaii since 1986.

    • I haves amazing colourvison, Im soure you too
      This glow from lava specialy effusive fluid basalt.. its so beautyful
      That made me volcanofanatic in the first place.
      Its wonderful the black lifeless landscapes and the furnace glow of an active vent.
      Its magical Im so happy genetics gave me so good colourvison

      Its wonderful to enjoy the heat too when I visits active lava flows in Hawaii and Italy
      Stand in the winter cold and enjoy the fercious radiation from the flow front

    • Its time for you and Albert to build me a spaceship like Bobba Fett or samus haves
      So I can visit IO at will.. when ever I wants…
      IO is magical the most voclanic place in this solar system.
      Pele patera and Loki woud be awsome to see
      give me it, give me it now….

      • Step 2: Serious – I mean SERIOUS – radiation shielding. There is enough radiation in Jupiter’s radiation belt to kill an (unprotected) adult human within 36 hours. And it would be even worse in the Io Flux Tube. Not to mention that the radiation would fry any unprotected electronics.

    • I wants to take a canoe and surf down Twasthar Pateras lava rivers
      And stand on the huge moving cliffs in these lava flows, with a giant jupiter in the sky and magical ionized suplhurious auroraes above.

      Surfing komtatite flows far far away

      • According to Gurgle™, broken down into three parts… ‘Body Oil Team’

        … so… “Oil Wrestling?”

      • It directly means ahu of aila’au. An ahu is a rock structure that is meant to be a marker of something. I think the moai on easter island are usually placed on structures tgat are also called ahu but these could be slightly different.

        Aila’au means forest eater, he was the volcano deity before pele and lends his name to the aila’au lava field which covers about 1/4 of kilauea north of the east rift. This eruption was in the 1400s and would have destroyed a lot of forest. There is also the idea than another very different eruption, a massive LERZ flow around 1500, is the source of this legend, which given its potential similarity to this year would have been a terrifying event back without modern technology. That eruption might have been even bigger than last years flow but we will never know because most of it is now buried under flows from pu’u honuaula (the hill PGV is built on) and now also fissure 8.

        The name overall then means ‘marker of the forest eater’.

        The name is not pu’u aila’au because the fissure 8 cone is open on one side and has no obvious high point, and a pu’u is literally a hill so I guess it has to be a smooth structure and have a single summit. Fissure 22 fits this definition but I dont know if there is any plan to name it properly.

        • And this is one of the great things about VolcanoCafe… until this comment I was totally unaware of a pre-Pele deity/concept.

          … sort of like finding out that Katla was actually a pretty irritable lady at sometime in history according to folklore.

    • https://twitter.com/RyanMaue/status/1090059530090807296

      Minimum wind chills across the Midwest and Great Lakes are extremely dangerous: Large area colder than -50°F including #Minneapolis … and -60°F in northern Minnesota. -50°F around Chicagoland with -40s stretching around Lake Michigan along I-80 and I-94 in S Michigan.

      https://twitter.com/RyanMaue/status/1090059863495987200

      The coldest observed Wind Chill Temperatures may be in Minnesota … in the neighborhood of -70°F

    • https://us.cnn.com/2019/01/29/weather/winter-weather-tuesday-wxc/index.html

      Extreme cold torturing much of the US, Minnesota may see wind chills of minus 70 degrees

      (CNN) Even for the hardiest, cold-tested Americans, this week’s deep freeze is brutal, with dozens of temperature and wind chill records expected to occur from the Dakotas to Long Island, leading to warnings for people to stay inside.

      In Minnesota, blustery weather could mean wind chills that could approach 70 below.
      “These are VERY DANGEROUS conditions and can lead to frostbite on exposed skin in as little as five minutes where wind chill values are below -50,” the National Weather Service office near Minneapolis and St. Paul tweeted. “Best thing you can do is limit your time outside.”
      A mammoth blast of frigid air sweeping through the Midwest is headed toward the East, on track to shatter dozens of records along the way. And it can be deadly, with the weather blamed for three deaths this week.

      “The coldest air in a generation is sinking south, with below-zero temperatures already in the Upper Midwest,” CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said Tuesday. “And the worst yet to come.”

    • Both the ECMWF (Euro) and the US High Resolution Rapid Refresh currently project A record low temperature for Chicago area tomorrow morning. Temperature at O’Hare airport likely below -30F at 6am Chicago time (1200 UTC) Thursday.

      Here’s the latest HRRR

      O’Hare roughly between Elmwood Park and Elk Grove Village on the map.

      • Well an absolutely spectacular fail of even the NWS HRRR at the +1 hours range as it is still currently showing temps about 10F below actual measured. Temp at O’Hare seems to have bottomed out about -21F rather than -31F. Temps below -30 were recorded about 100 miles west and NW of Chicago though.

        As the HRRF is updated hourly with real measured data I’m not even sure how that is possible. Not to mention I’ve never seen the Euro so far outside it’s own supposed maximum error at such close range. Hopefully the weather model physics gurus on various forums and tweets can cast some light. Missing input data might be one explanation.

        • Looking a bit further, the Euro 0000z main run was way outside of even its perturbed ensemble members at just +12 hours for Chicago O’Hare temperature. The main high resolution run settled on -28F for 6am Chicago but the perturbed ensembles were between -23 and -26F with a mean of minus 24. Actual NWS temp recorded at O’Hare at the time was -21F. That shouldn’t really happen. Yesterday the Euro was pretty much spot on all day then it all went spectacularly wrong over just a few hours overnight. Not as badly wrong as the “best” US official short range model though. Bizarre.

  3. Albert are you soure Turtlebirdman is correct?
    If earth fell deep inside the sun: the pressure of the suns “mantle” woud keep earth stable and stop it from vaporizing into oblivion?

    I think he is correct.. after all supergiant stars do have solid cores of iron at billions of degrees C

    But I think if Earth skimmed the photosphere then.. the planet woud vaporize

    • It us more to do with the density of the earth vs the outer layers of the sun. The sun is a bit denser than water overall but the core is 5 times denser than osmium so conversely the outer edges must be way less dense than water and could be even less than the air at the tropopause. The density of a red giant is lower than the density of air in a commercial vacuum chamber. It us true this matter is very hot but it won’t erode a planet very fast probably so slow it is not perceptible over a human lifetime. The metal core would probably survive entirety. Many white dwarfs are orbited by planets, and most white dwarfs are invisible beyond about 3 light years so there are probably hundreds of them. These planets are probably terrestrial planets whose cores survived. The earths core will probably survive the red giant sun although not most of the mantle, the earth will probably look like mercury at that point. The moon might also survive as its core too.

    • Stars do NOT have solid iron cores. I don’t know where that story came from, but it is misinformation. They are gaseous throughout, and only the most massive stars have a brief phase (about 1 day) where the core becomes an iron gas, before it explodes. The earth inside the sun would be heated by radiation, not the gas. And it wouldn’t survive: the crust would evaporate, and the =gas would reach escape velocity. It could get pretty far into the sun, but that actually happens very fast.

      • Just being inside the photosphere woud be enough to vaporize Earth right?
        5700 C is enough to vaporize everything
        Earth woud be transformed into a huge meteor as it enters the suns lower atmosphere
        It woud be like a giant impact with a gas giant very much I think
        Poor Earth transformed into rock vapour

      • Albert are you soure .. that Earth woud become rock vapour .. even in the deeper highly pressurized parts of the suns mantle?

        Turtlebirdman means the pressure from all sun above woud keep Earth from vaporizing

        The plasma in suns center is so dense
        Its 10 times denser than lead
        Still a gas that woud appear solid

        • A solid and a gas are fundamentally different things. ‘a gas that appears solid’ makes no sense. And remember that every substance has a critical point; if temperature increases above that, a gas cannot turn into a liquid or solid no matter what pressure is applied

          • A plasma can appear and act solid though, if compressed far enough it will look like a metal.
            There is no gas on the sun only plasma, even HF which generates temperatures hot enough to melt tungsten if you make it by direct combination of the elements at standard pressure, would thermally decompose to H+ and F+ and some e- under those conditions, chemistry isnt a thing there. The middle of the sun will be a hard metallic object, not a true solid like a metal on earth but it wont be a transparent invisible thing you could move through it will be a physical barrier and with no knowledge someone would think it is a solid.

          • This is pseudo nonsense. I am not sure that even the Infinite Improbability Drive on the starship Heart of Gold could calculate odds this small.

            First, something with enough velocity and mass has to enter the solar system and hit Earth with enough force to to knock it out of orbit and into a direct collision course with the Sun without turning both objects into dust.


            Second, assuming the planet survives that initial collision, the Earth would probably be travelling at at least 1/4 the speed of light or more and would accelerate even more as it got closer to the sun on its what…4-5 hour journey.


            Miraculously still entirely intact, Gaia then produces a force field and protects the earth as it passes through the sun. The sun’s gravitational field slows the earth back down on the other side and we slip gently back into orbit on the opposite side of the solar system and Gaia tuns off the force field. The Moon wouldn’t make it but all of the people and unicorns are saved.

            Mods…feel free to delete this. PLEASE delete. 🙂

            Edit: How’s that?

          • I think you might have confused two different ideas here. Also for the record I dont think the earth could survive in the sun as it is now I was talking about planets surviving within the stellar envelope of a red giant sun. And i know plasma isnt a solid like a rock but something with 11 times the density of lead isnt going to be the same as air no matter which way you look at it.

          • I am sorry for having been a bit harsh. But I was upset with this refusal to correct a fallacy.

            1 The gas inside the core of the sun is a gas. And yes, it is just like air. The fact that is denser doesn’t change the physics of gas. Even the ideal gas law still largely applies.
            2. It is NOT a metal. In a metal the electrons are free to move but the atoms are not.
            3. There is no iron core: the core is hydrogen and helium, just like everywhere else. Only 0.01% of the sun is anything else than those two elements.
            4. A solid could not withstand the pressure inside the sun. Only a hot gas can. The reasons is that in a gas, pressure scales with temperature. In a solid it doesn’t.
            5. Nuclear fusion in a solid is catastrophically unstable: it blows up. In a gas under its own gravity the fusion reactions can stabilise

            Please, please read up on the structure of the sun before making these statements.

          • I dont think I ever suggested the sun has an iron core, just that stars which are on the verge of going supernova accumulate iron in their cores and that it might aggregate into a particular objectwhich later collapses into a neutron star. A neutron star is mostly iron atoms on the very outside and further in more of the protons and electrons merge until about 100 meters deep it is all neutrons.

            There is also no gas on the sun anywhere, a plasma is fundamentally as different from a gas as a liquid is. Some things can exist as other states of matter at the sun surface temperature (tungsten carbide for example is still only a liquid at those temperatures) but those arent common materials or major components of stars. Plasma under standard prsssure is a low density material but if compressed enough it becomes a material that would resemble a solid in physical properties such as being a physical barrier to impacts from something even though its atoms are not bound together and it is hekd together only by gravity or magnetic fields. Liquid metals also have unbound or losely bound atoms especially mercury and it is likely a highly compressed plasma would be a similar substance if you ignore the temperature. It is also nothing to do with the composition of the plasma either, but in going with that hydrogen is considered somewhat metallic in its chemistry (loses an electron to form a cation and is a powerful reducing agent like an alkali metal instead of gaining one to make an anion like other gaseous elements) and can be compressed into a conductive metallic fluid inside gas giants, and this is at a temperature way higher than the surface of any average star.

          • The suggestion that the sun has an iron cor was made by someone else, not you.

            A plasma is a gas, and it follows the normal gas equations. You are pushing a fallacy.

            Hydrogen can take a metallic form, under higher pressure and lowish temperature. This happens inside Jupiter. It does not happen inside stars. Surfaces of stars are not particularly hot so that comparison doesn’t mean much but the interiors are far too hot.

            The composition of neutron star crust is uncertain. The neutronium acts as a liquid, and the crust as a solid. However, a neutron star produces no energy so it doesn’t fit the usual definition of a star.

          • The unicorns appreciated the edit. They say they they would really miss the moon if that happened.

            Still, the unicorns tell me that they are still very confused about the premise of this whole discussion thread. Solid objects and even comets hit stars, including the sun, all the time and absolutely nothing interesting happens. The atoms that formed these objects are broken down into the plasma soup of the star within seconds.

            Something the size of the earth hitting a plasma ball the size of the sun would be quicker and far less interesting than this example of a bag of trash thrown into a volcano.

          • “A plasma is a gas, and it follows the normal gas equations. You are pushing a fallacy. ”

            Erm no it isn’t. A gas is electrically neutral whereas a plasma is ionised. A plasma is no more a gas than a liquid is a gas. All are fluids, but the three are distinct from each other. Given the Coulombic forces involved the equations describing plasma are also distinct from the gas equations of state. For example a gas cannot form a magnetic field, whereas a plasma can form an immensely powerful magnetic field.

          • Which give MHD waves. We call it an electron gas. The interactions between particles occurs at a distance, but to a much lesser degree that is also the case with polar molecules. A gas is a substance where the particles move freely, and are not locked in place with respect to other particles. That includes plasma. A gas will expand to fit the available space. You may be thinking about a tokomak where magnetic field confines a gas. But that happens in sunspots too which are largely neutral.

          • So let’s first define what an electron gas is so that those without an extensive physics background can understand what on earth we’re talking about.

            An electron gas is a situation where at least one electron from each atom of a material is essentially free to move around within that material. Each electron is delocalised and not associated with a particular atom. Common situations where the electron gas model is applied include metals, semiconductors, plasmas, white dwarfs and neutron stars. The model is adapted for metals and semiconductors since they are more a periodic structure with a crystalline lattice than a fluid. It is also used to model things like graphite, graphene and carbon nanotubes where what is called a two-dimensional gas is used since in those molecules the electrons are essentially confined to move within a single plane instead of all three dimensions. Again like with metals the carbon allotrope models use the idea of a periodic crystalline lattice.

            So if that’s what an electron gas is what physics governs its fundamental properties?

            The most important thing in considering the behaviour of an electron gas is that the particles it is made out of are what is known as Fermions. Fermions and their counterparts Bosons are what everything in nature is divided into. The thing that divides stuff into Fermions and Bosons is a property of matter known as spin. As its name suggests it is to do with rotation. I must be careful to say here that spin is not an actual rotation, but it is a property of fundamental particles that mathematically behaves like one. Specifically it mathematically behaves like an angular momentum.

            Just like linear momentum is a conserved property, so is angular momentum. The most obvious everyday example of this effect is the ice skater pulling their arms in and out and consequently altering their speed of rotation. Linear momentum is mass multiplied by velocity. Angular momentum is moment of inerta multiplied by angular velocity. Angular momentums magnitude is defined by how fast something is spinning in angular units (degrees, radians etc) per second and its direction is defined by whether the spinning is clockwise or anti-clockwise. Moment of inertia is the rotational equivalent of mass and is determined by how a body’s mass is distributed about the axis of rotation. So a cylinder and a hollow tube might have the same mass, but their moment of inertia would be different because the mass is distributed different; further from the long axis of the shape in the case of the tube.

            So spin is mathematically like angular momentum. Bosons have what is called integer spin and Fermions have what is called half-integer spin. So a Boson might have a spin of 1 or 2 or even 0. A Fermion on the other hand might have a spin of 0.5, 1.5 or 2.5. This property defines how the energy levels that the particles can exist at work. Bosons can all occupy the same energy level with no problems. Fermions are limited to two in a particular energy level and no more. This means that if there are lots of Fermions around they stack up into higher energy levels than would be the case for Bosons. Electrons are Fermions and they have a spin of 0.5.

            The net result is something called degeneracy pressure. In other words Fermions can be squashed together so much and no more. In a white dwarf this manifests itself in the electrons not being able to go into any lower energy states and thus preventing the star collapsing further. Eventually a limit is reached when gravity gets too much and something has to give. The electrons don’t go into lower energy levels, but a dramatic change happens: each electron combines with a proton to form a neutron. Neutrons are also Fermions with spin 0.5 so degeneracy pressure again halts gravity. Eventually another limit is reached and even neutron degeneracy pressure cannot win against gravity with the result that a black hole forms. Another dramatic step change in physics.

            So now that we’ve established what on earth an electron gas is and what it means let’s have a look at plasma as a state of matter v gas as a state of matter. Like I said they are distinct states of matter, just like liquid is distinct from gas, and each has its own physics.

            With states of matter there is the most fundamental divide which is between solids and fluids. Solids have a lattice structure of some kind where the atoms or molecules are essentially fixed with respect to each other and can only vibrate with respect to each other. Fluids have a structure where the components of the fluid are free to move with respect to each other so they can flow. How easily a fluid can flow is defined by its viscosity.

            Each substance can have several solid structure types or phases. I’ve in fact already made reference to this when talking about carbon. Different solid forms of the same element are called allotropes and they can be dramatically different indeed. Probably the most dramatic difference with two allotropes is graphite and diamond. Both are pure, elemental carbon but due to one being essentially sheets of weakly linked hexagons that can slide with respect to one another and the other being a rigid tetrahedral frame of interlinked atoms they have dramatically different properties. It’s not just elements that can have different solid forms: at least 18 structural phases of ice have been identified for example.

            There are a number of types of fluid states which exist. The most well-known are liquid and gas with the primary difference between a liquid and a gas already having been identified by Albert in that a liquid essentially is of fixed volume for a given amount of substance and a gas can change volume, often quite dramatically, to fill the space available. Two less well-known fluid phases are a supercritical fluid and a plasma. A supercritical fluid has some of the properties of a gas and some of the properties of a liquid and is pretty exotic. Some chemists like playing around with supercritical fluids to do environmentally friendly reactions.

            A plasma by way of contrast is not differentiated from a gas by changes of volume occupied but by the electrical state of its component atoms or molecules. A gas is made up of electrically neutral atoms or molecules. Some gas molecules like water are polar due to dramatically differing electronegativity (attractiveness of electrons to the element) of the component atoms. Particularly large electronegativity differences cause a phenomenon called hydrogen bonding to occur which is a particularly strong type of intermolecular bond. Hydrogen bonds are why ice is lighter than water and thus floats. However hydrogen bonds have much more effect in the solid and liquid phases than in gas or plasma. Essentially in a gas or plasma the molecules are moving too fast for intermolecular bonds to have much effect. In a plasma by contrast ionisation has occurred for some reason. There are two main ways ionisation can occur: electrical or thermal. Electrical ionisation can be seen in things like neon signs: pass an electric current through something and you are putting a flow of electrons into it, those incoming electrons hit electrons on the outer edge of a neon atom, dislodging them and making the neutral neon atoms into positively charged neon ions thus creating a plasma. Current must keep flowing to preserve the plasma, otherwise it reverts to being ordinary neon gas. Thermal ionisation occurs when the components of the fluid are so hot that they essentially shake off one or more of their electrons. That is what occurs in the centre of stars. The microscopic definition of temperature is the kinetic energy possessed by atoms or molecules so the hotter something is the faster its component atoms or molecules will be moving (kinetic energy being defined as 0.5mv^2).

            The MHD that Albert refers to stands for MagnetoHydroDynamics. It’s one way of approaching the modelling of the properties of plasmas. There are two sets of equations which define the behaviour of an MHD fluid. One is Maxwell’s equations which describe electromagnetism. The other is the Navier-Stokes equations which describe the behaviour of fluids. This is what I mean about plasma being a different state of matter from gas and being governed by its own equations of state. The Navier-Stokes equations describe the behaviour of flowing fluids and thus describe much of the behaviour of gases. Maxwell’s equations are not needed to describe the behaviour of gases as gases are not ionised and thus not electrically conducting. Both sets of equations involve lots of vectors and lots of multivariate calculus and tend to need to be solved numerically rather than analytically.

            However it is important to note that MHD only works as a model for plasmas when densities are low (in other words not in the middle of a star for example). That is because it assumes that the distribution of velocities in a plasma (as defined above the temperature in other words) follows what is called the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. In other situations so-called kinetic models are needed which describe things in terms of the actual velocities at individual points of the plasma. Again kinetic models can be and are used for gases as well. However the equations of state will be fundamentally different as electromagnetism does not need to be factored into things.

            So like I said plasma is not the same as gas. It is a different state of matter with its own physics. I am not referring to a Tokomak at all. I am referring to the intrinsic properties of plasma. After all how do you think the sun generates its magnetic field? Plasma interactions in its core.

          • One comment: we also use electron gas for plasma. The reason is that electrons move around much faster than the ions. So we treat them as two independent gases which intermix. In fact we also add the photon gas, as inside stars radiation pressure is also important. Degeneracy happens in evolved stars on the giant branches. The core of the sun is not degenerate, Inside stars, the collision rates of the ions and electrons are very high and the mean free paths are very short, so electromagnetic interaction is not important. That maybe why we don’t consider it. In low density environments it is different, and particle interaction become dominated by electromagnetic forces at a distance.

          • and conversely no solid or liquid can exist, its is a gas above the critical point, erg albert is correct. Quite obvious really. Note the orbital velocity is equivalent to an impact velocity, see some basic sums way up the thread, just multiply by some really big numbers….

          • “and conversely no solid or liquid can exist, its is a gas above the critical point, erg albert is correct.”

            NO. NO. NO. NO!!!!! How many times must it be said: GAS DOES NOT EQUAL PLASMA? They are different states of matter. They are different phases of matter. They have different equations of state. They have different physics.

            Anyone who says that the gas phase and plasma phase are the same thing is objectively WRONG. Anyone who says that the gas phase and the plasma phase are the same thing is not being scientific.

      • Albert the plasma and suns center is so dense that it will appear solid.. yet its not solid at all
        A stars center is an extreme enviroment

        • There is a bad misunderstanding here what makes a solid and what makes a gas. They are fundamentally different and the statements made here make no sense. I am sorry to see them as comments on a post on pseudoscience..

          In a gas the atoms/molecule move around freely. In a solid they are tied in place. It is completely different physics.

          • Albert the plasma in the solar core is 10 times denser than lead
            yet its still a plasma beacuse its so hot
            it woud appear like a white hot solid yet its not solid at all

      • Here is a fun video explaning it: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J0ldO87Pprc

        Albert what Im and Turtlebirdman trys to say
        Is that of course suns center is all plasma

        But that plasma is 10 times as dense as lead in the suns center. ( lots of pressure ) It woud appear as a solid yet its not.
        Yet its still its absoutley not solid at all pure plasma

        A cube of the suns center is the cube of death
        Taken to Earth souch cube woud decompress in an enormous explosion … no longer keept pressurized by all sun above

  4. Have in mind parker solar robot will eperience 1400 C at 7 solar radies away
    Now imagine Earth stuck under the photosphere where its 10 000 C and same plasma pressure as 10 atmopsheres. Plasma drag woud make poor earth into some kind of Giant superbolide meteor in the sun.
    A stoneball in hell.
    But yes Earths rocks and metals are much denser than suns outer layers,
    Its like placing a huge stoneball in a very hot fire

    Earth becomes white hot, blinding to look at, and my home and everything I knows terminated
    hahaha this conversation is so funny and unique I can only laught. Its my own autism and curisoity

  5. Its thr radiation light heating thats the problem for poor earth
    Not the heating of gas particles, too thin to conduct heat
    Thats why Solar Probe can fly in the 2 million corona without vaporizing.

    Im curious what happens if poor old earth ends up deep inside the sun

      • Ever seen a fox pounce onto a rodent under the snow? My 96 lb half lab did that the other day into a pile of brush and clippings. Missing his target, he then began pulling sticks and branches out of it trying to dig his way to whatever had his attention. Strange sight. The other two dogs did the pack thing and took up station on possible escape paths for whatever he was after. He eventually got his mouse, and the whole group had a blast acting out instinctive behavior.

        Canis lupus familiaris

        Note for all, any time you can satisfy the predator instincts of a dog, the dog will consider it fun and devote a lot of time to playing in this manner. Persuit, pounce etc. The kill bite, and dissect bite instincts are usually satisfied with chew toys. In the case of my 96 lb critter, he uses his kill bite all too well and has punctured every basket ball I’ve gotten him within about 2 days. Generally he pins it to the ground and sinks his teeth into it.

        And a side note concerning doggie mental health. Dogs, being very nearly identical to wolves, have a natural role in the pack. (you and your family). Alpha’s run the pack, Beta’s are on the second in command level and are always waiting for an opportunity to become Alpha’s. Pretty much all packs contain an Omega. Omegas are the whipping boy for the pack. Omegas tend to take on a cowered stance among the more dominant members. If you are chastising your dog for bad behavior, if the dog is constantly adopting an Omega style body language, call it over and pet it, let it know that it is a loved member of the pack. Omegas typically have shorter lifespans and keeping your dog from living out a short life as an Omega is beneficial to you and the dog. Along those same lines, I have a place in the house where my dog can retreat to if it is in trouble and I won’t mess with him. Think of it as a time-out corner. He knows that if I’m pissed, for whatever reason, if he goes to his safe spot he’s okay.

        Opinion: It is my feel, that most actual household dog bites are from people pushing an issue with a dog too far. Once the dog feels that it is in peril, it will lash out. That’s the idea of the “safe spot.” (He picked it out, I just reinforced it) I may talk sternly to him while he’s there, but I won’t directly approach or touch him. (Indicates a physical threat) One of the most profound punishments a dog can receive is being separated from it’s pack/family. That hurts on a personal level.

        Side, side note. Saw it first hand. Never get up into a dogs face and stare it down… especially blowing into it’s face at the same time. Years ago, a girl did that to a Doberman I used to know and got nipped on the end of the nose. And yes, locking eyes with a dog is a direct threat to the dog. I’ve noticed that my 96 lb critter is always watching at my face and eyes trying to deduce what I am going to do next. That’s part of canine body language and they are world champions at it. They can pretty much read you like a book.

        • Excellent summation of Standard Dog Language. I grew up with cats, so was more of a cat whisperer. Their language contains some opposites: to make a cat ‘smile’, look into its eyes and blink slowly. It shows ‘friendship’ and a happy cat will do it back. To make contact, extend a finger or a pen or twig, and the cat seems obliged to touch nose – but only once.
          Dogs, as you say, you don’t stare at. To introduce to a dog, turn your back, but extend a closed hand, and wait. What they want is to check you out with their noses. If they like you, sometimes they will turn *their* back to you and even sit on your feet – a ‘showing respect’ which is why they appreciate it when you do it. I never got this, being a Cat Language person, until reading about it on a dog charity web page, so was amazed when it worked.
          A dog does not seem to believe their eyes, barking at people they know until they get a whiff. Their whole lives revolve around scent in ways we simply don’t get.

        • Yeah, I agree on the nose bit. While out back, the half lab appears to sniff the ground like he’s reading a book. I’ve seen it stated that their olfactory sense is so acute that they can literally smell into the past. If that’s the case, then they really are reading about historical chases and events written into the dirt.

        • And a quick note about the dog thing… I occasionally grab a handful of dogfood just to toss to my dog one bit at a time. The act of tracking it through the air and snagging it on the fly exercises their spatial awareness and reflexes. My critter loves to do it.

  6. Small but interesting swarm near Kistufell 16 to 19 km depth. At the location where the plumehead is supposed to be.

    Tuesday 29.01.2019 12:13:08 64.834 -17.279 16.4 km 0.3 99.0 6.8 km NNW of Kistufell
    Tuesday 29.01.2019 12:09:21 64.853 -17.285 16.9 km 1.2 99.0 5.2 km SSW of Trölladyngja
    Tuesday 29.01.2019 12:08:19 64.848 -17.279 16.9 km 1.1 99.0 5.5 km SSW of Trölladyngja
    Tuesday 29.01.2019 12:07:51 64.890 -17.368 19.0 km 0.5 99.0 5.7 km W of Trölladyngja
    Tuesday 29.01.2019 12:06:49 64.866 -17.302 15.8 km 1.1 99.0 4.2 km SW of Trölladyngja

    Source IMO

  7. It took 14 hours for Greip to follow up (well if related…) still going on (not manually reviewed yet)

    Wednesday 30.01.2019 17:54:00 64.601 -17.144 1.1 km 1.0 32.34 18.8 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
    Wednesday 30.01.2019 17:19:01 64.587 -17.136 0.8 km 1.0 33.34 19.6 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
    Wednesday 30.01.2019 17:12:54 64.571 -17.164 5.2 km 1.1 43.3 19.0 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
    Wednesday 30.01.2019 05:43:16 64.580 -17.154 13.2 km 0.7 99.0 19.0 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
    Wednesday 30.01.2019 05:41:22 64.594 -17.160 16.5 km 0.9 99.0 18.3 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
    Wednesday 30.01.2019 03:31:48 64.582 -17.147 18.3 km 1.3 99.0 19.3 km ESE of Bárbarbunga
    Wednesday 30.01.2019 03:28:56 64.590 -17.155 15.8 km 1.3 99.0 18.6 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
    Wednesday 30.01.2019 02:41:28 64.597 -17.183 16.0 km 1.1 99.0 17.1 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
    Wednesday 30.01.2019 02:36:39 64.586 -17.132 13.8 km 0.9 99.0 19.8 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
    Wednesday 30.01.2019 02:36:01 64.587 -17.138 17.0 km 1.3 99.0 19.5 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
    Wednesday 30.01.2019 02:35:27 64.589 -17.162 17.0 km 0.9 99.0 18.3 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
    Wednesday 30.01.2019 02:34:27 64.591 -17.165 16.3 km 1.2 99.0 18.1 km ESE of Bárðarbunga

    • There was another swarm at Greip on Jan 27 and before that was a swarm on Jan 14. The one on Jan 14 was the most energetic in quite a while with two quakes >M2.

      I’m a bit surprised to see that nobody has commented on the small swarm out in the dead zone a couple of days ago (Jan 29 between 6:00 and 7:00). Three quakes around M1 in size under the lake Langisjór. Not sure what fissure swarm it belongs to since it sits between the mapped contours of the fissure swarms of Katla and Bárðarbunga.

  8. er…OT but my joy overflows: new stove is finally in… have promised Hubby bacon and bisquits. 27 days without baking…. there will be cookies tonight! and just in time, cause there is a foot of new snow out there. now if i can only understand how to programe the oven…. nuts…. 😉 Best! and watching with “baited” breath for the next Icelandic outcome, motsfo

  9. Couple of interesting ones, interesting depth too:

    31.01.2019 01:45:03 63.337 -20.629 12.0 km 1.6 90.04 3.1 km NNW of Surtsey

    31.01.2019 01:42:05 63.321 -20.644 13.0 km 3.4 90.14 2.4 km WNW of Surtsey

    Can’t remember the last time I saw anything there.

    • Agree. Long time since activity at surtsey. Also a number of quakes at unusual places lately around Iceland. Wonder if somethings on the move deep down.

  10. There has been a new DI event in Kilauea, the first one this year, The drop in tilt started during Jan 23 at a similar time in four tiltmeters, 2 at the summit (SMC and SDH), 1 at Pu’u’o’o (POO) and again 12 km downrift of Pu’u’o’o in the Jonika flow area (JKA). The DI event lasted 3 days at the summit, still waiting for the reinflation of Pu’u’o’o and JOKA, if it hasn’t happened yet and been unusually weak. There was also some sudden inflation before the DI event picked by the 4 stations. I think it is clear by now that the ERZ is still connected to the summit and has a magma body extending all the way down to JOKA.

    Regarding the Pahala swarm unrest during this month there was a small earthquake swarm 20-30 km deep close to the Kilauea summit area towards the end of January, it is hard to tell if it is related but there has been no change in the summit respect to the deflation trend of the last months. So far it has had a negligible or no effect on the volcano.

    • I remember Jesper saying it takes a few years for most magma under kilauea to reach a point where it becomes eruptible, if there are swarms of 30 km deep quakes under kilauea it is almost certain what it means but it is also not surprising that there is no surface relation right now. This is very similar to just after 1955 with lots of widespread deep quakes and then 4 years later was kilaueas biggest summit eruption since the early 1800s. It is plausible a similar trend is going to happen in 1-5 years time from now with a summit eruption followed by an eruption on the ERZ somewhere, probably not as far downrift as the 1960 eruption though. My guess for that mechanism is that the eruption on the rift is the initial ‘goal’ but the amount of magma cant be contained at that point so it goes out the summit in spectacular fasion before the hydraulic pressure of all that new magma opens the rift somewhere. In this case if that happens now an eruption downrift of pu’u o’o near heiheiahulu is most plausible.

      I also just watched phillip ongs latest livestream and it largely concerns the very noticeable similarities between this eruption and 1840. This of course leads to the conclusion though that the same thing will probably happen as after 1840, meaning kilauea goes largely quiet while mauna loa is probably going to see an increase but of I have my own theory which ends in a very different outcome that im sure you are all familiar with in part. However I have updated my theory, and without drawing it on too much I now think mauna loas more short term periods of hotspot domination (eg 1840-1950) are little to do with kilauea at all and more because of deep and fairly random hotspot dynamics (it is not really cyclic) and that if you take that idea into account you can remove mauna loas 110 year high and then suddenly the gap between 1840 and 2018 becomes about 70 years, similar to the gap between 1840 and the late 1780s eruptions. All these eruptions created calderas of similar scale and volume. Taking out the 110 years of mauna loa being dominant also leads to the massive fountains of 1959 and also 1952 (usually forgotten but this eruption reached over 300 meters too) being quick after a big drain. The footprints ash eruption was probably an eruption of similar scale to 1959 but occuring inside a deep caldera and evidently in water. It seems maybe more likely that it wasnt only months after the LERZ eruption though probably several years is more reasonable.

      Because this article has been up for a week now I’ll save an in depth look at this for the next one or later, because it is going to take some explaining. I have barely scratched the surface with what I have said here…

      • It rises quickly… but slow enough so it dont erupt at 1530 C
        If Leilani 2018 came fresh from the mantle source
        Leilani woud erupt at over 1500 C and flow like liquid slag.
        Leilani 2018 was caused by fresh hot 1520 C magma pushing out some of the shallow 1200 C stuff in the upper parts of the system.. thats why Puu Oo and halemaumau went crazy in pressure and the seismic swarm uner halemaumau major sourge..
        The flank slide also helpt the magma to erupt.
        These Holuhraun like events are common in Kilauea.
        Halemaumau have drained into the rift zone many many times before.

        Fissure 8 was madely gas rich! I visted fissure 8 this christmas and there was brown reculite everywhere, everywhere there was this brown basalt foam.
        Many areras where brown of it it was everywhere produced by the early high fountains.
        This was one of the most sulfur rich eruptions ever seen, as sulfur rich as Holuhraun.
        This stuff in Fissure 8 came deep. The compostion was similar to Kilauea Iki with some contarmitation from Puu Oo magmas as Puu Oo drained out.

        Leilani 2018 came deep as fissure 8 started up
        very primitive pictricte compostion with lots of olivine crystals
        Not unlike the very mafic primitive 1959 s magmas that was madely fluid.
        With a magma supply of 0,2km3 every year.. things will start up soon again.

        • Just my opinion ( I am sure i am in the minority) but, I am still unconvinced that any significant portion of the F8 activity was much more than the result of leaky plumbing. To me, it seems like the vast majority of the lava was likely just drained from the upper magma reservoir area.

          FACTS (USGS):

          The volume of the KL caldera crater before June was 54-60 million cubic meters.
          The volume of the KL crater now is about 885 million cubic meters.
          The estimated total volume of the eruption was ~1,000 million cubic meters.

          I think that, at the most, only 10%-15% of the erupted volume at F8 could possibly have been “new” magma. It is even possible that that number is closer to 0%.

          Now clearly it was not very “old” magma because it was still blazing hot, but it was probably magma that was cycled into the upper reservoir area in the past few years. I am not remotely convinced that the F8 activity was caused by a brand new infusion of magma from the mantle in the summer of 2018 that suddenly bust out.

          (Again, I am sure I am in the minority on this)

          • Yup you are correct
            Fissure 8 was Puu Oo magma mixed with Halemaumau magma
            And with some deeper components in the end

      • This was just some deep quakes in places that can do and have done better, the activity is not exceptional. I am expecting however that any impact on deformation should take not much more than a month.

        I dont see many similarities to 1840. 1840 was a very unique eruption in a few ways (lava composition, location, size of the dike…) and I think 2018 compares better to the typical LERZ eruption.

        The idea probably needs more explaining cause I dont get your point.

        • I intentionally didnt say as much as I could because the comment would literally be longer than the main article…
          I also want to properly consider everything this time instead of throwing out a new theory every time a small change happens. And also I dont want to write a massive comment and then have the next article go up a few hours later. I will just say though that i think that really big LERZ eruptions happen roughly 60 years apart with smaller eruptions in between and that the biggest ones are preceeded by shields. 2018 was also the only LERZ eruption to erupt more than the volume of its caldera because of this.

          On 1840 I dont think lava composition is that unique, after looking into it most eruptions there erupt deep derived stuff with lots of olivine including last year as well as some eruptions further up like 1959 and some of the high fountain phases from mauna ulu and pu’u o’o. What is most surprising to me about 1840 is that it made no cones at all, not even a low spatter rampart. That infers it was completely free of fountaining but somehow started suddenly and vigorously and if derived from a deep source it would have also likely been gas rich but still no fountains. Fissure 8 made a big cone (which actually is officially named ahu’aila’au now too) and 1960 made a way bigger cone again, and pu’u honuaula is another big cone from recent prehistory about 300 years ago and maybe not a bad analogue to last year either (more on that later). If it has anything to do with location as you mentioned it then that is interesting.

          • Hahahaha comparing the Hawaiian hotspot to Tristan Da Chuna hotspot

            Is like comparing a little Microraptor to Giganotosaurous

            Or comparing a Caiman to Godzilla

            I think Tristan da chuna hotspot Will die completely geologicaly soon

          • I think Puu Honualua probably formed between 1500 and 1600. The tephra of Kapoho crater overlies it. Kapoho crater was described in 1823 to be a lush green valley so it may have been already around 200 years since it formed, Puu Honualua must be older.

          • Kapoho crater is made of only loose tephra though so it likely would have become forested soon after it cooled down, even now only 7 months after the eruption stopped there are plants growing inside some of the fissures and that is on solid lava. Overlying a lava flow also only means it happened afterwards but not how long afterwards, kapoho crater could have formed only a few years after pu’u honuaula or even in the same eruptive episode, given the location if thus is the case then that event could be yet another candidate fir the eruption in the pele hi’iaka chant which coukd then infer that eruption created a caldera too. Several slightly older small vents between the two are roughly dated to about 400 years old and are overlayed by pu’u honuaula flows. The only dated one was buried last year though.

          • William Ellis described Ohia trees inside the crater which had people resting under their shade. I imagine that took some time to grow, not sure how much. There is the legend of Kahawali which I haven’t looked very deep into yet but I think refers to the eruption of Puu Honualua. The legend describes an eruption taking place near Kapoho and from the descriptions being quite violent and reaching the sea, it also describes some people dying under the lava during the onset of the eruption, hope that was an exageration. The natives told William Ellis that Kapoho Crater (or just Kapoho, as it was its original name) was one of the places where Pele had thrown rocks since Kahawali, suggesting that Puu Honualua and Kapoho where two different events separated by time.

          • Wikipedia only says ohia trees are ‘moderately slow growing’ which I think is about 100 years. If this applies here then that probably puts pu’u kapoho at maybe 100 years old there. That gives an age of 1723, more broadly probably any point between 1700 and 1750. Pu’u honuaula is probably within a few decades older so relatively similar time frame around 1680 to 1750.

            After tracing it out onto google earth, it is oretty clear pu’u honuaula made a huge lava field, about the same size as last year around 40 km2 though nowhere near as thick on average, but it was likely at least on the big side probably around 0.5 km3 which is twice as big as 1840 and 3 times as big as 1960. The actual pyroclastic cone is about the same size as ahu’aila’au but it rises from a ridge that might be from the same eruption. It sounds like if there was explosive activity it might have encountered groundwater but given fissure 17 is literally right on the side of it maybe the initial eruptions of pu’u honuaula could have started with andesite or viscous basalt too.

            The previous eruption in lower puna to make a large cone was probably halekamahina which i think probably formed in the 1500s as part of the formation of the wider caldera. It erupted lava similar to this year and formed a large wide cone so it could have been a pretty powerful eruption with high fountains spraying over a wide area like in 1960 but higher eruption rates as well as maybe a strombolian second stage that made it a closed cone. Before that there doesnt seem to have been any big eruptions there for a long time which makes sense as the summit was very active then.

            In jul6y as the fissure 8 flow was spreading towards pohoiki I remember one of tbe then daily updates included a story from someone which was an alternative version if the pele hi’iaka chant, in short it seems pretty well a perfect fit to be either the 1500s eruption or pu’u honuaula, it describes eruptions in the leilani estates area and the destruction of kapoho, as well as, apparently, the eruption being rather violent. I dont know if this is the same as what you found but it is very interesting and more importantly it indicates eruptions similar to last year are not actually that unusual and could be important for interpreting the future now. Pu’u honuaula probably caused a summit collapse but not wider than the existing caldera or it would be better known. It also didnt signal in an extensive phase of large summit eruptions, rather eruptions stayed in the rift and even generally on the LERZ and it was only after the extensive eruptions in the 1780s when the caldera fully formed and summit activity really took over. After pu’u honuaula the summit might have occasionally erupted but might have stayed pretty deep and so in 1790 it sunk below the water table and we know what happened next. This doesnt rule out large summit eruptions but maybe not many of them.

      • When I visited Hawaii .. I was supprised how hot the weather was even in December

        Hawaii is not on the equator
        Its 20 latitudes from the equator
        Yet yet its hot like hell in Kona
        Hawaii is same latitude as South China and North India and Cuba

      • Imagine if Leilani 2018
        came directly from the hotspot!
        We say it was an intrusion directly from the
        1530 C Kilauea – Mauna Loa partial melting pool.

        The results woud be very scary indeed..
        The basalt woud flow out at over 1520 C
        Puna flows woud be white hot and flow watery like liquid slag. It woud be extremely fluid and Pour like water and spray like jets

        The flows woud be just a centimeter thick or less and form miniatyre pahoehoe and small lava channels. At 150 cubic meters a second it woud form a complex lava channel network

        Unless eruptive rates are super high .. souch flows woud end up very small

      • That coud defentivly happen in Hawaii
        And Will as the hotspot is undergoing a sourge

        Hawaiis quite thick oceanic litosphere coud be why Lavas dont erupt at 1500 C

        And in Iceland that 1500 C stuff is trapped underground and emplaced lateraly
        Iceland haves also a very thick intrusive/ plateau basalt crust ( 40 km thick ) that the magmas must go through first.

        Hawaiian hotspot is extremely powerful and the basalts today that emerge on the surface are still the hottest on this planet.
        Its like a blowtorch cutting through that oceanic plate with ease.

      • 30 km down in Kilauea temperatures are likley 1480 C

        And 50 km down its maybe 1538 C
        As hot as Hawaiis hotspot is
        These rocks are likley near completely molten
        Most of Big Islands interior is molten.
        The hotspot have made one huge partial melting pool at over 1500 C that may contain as much as many many tens of km3 magma thats 80 km below the island
        This is the pure melt pool that feeds Kilauea and Mauna Loa
        Kilaueas halemaumau conduit is directly connected with it siphones magma from 70 km below thats may be as hot as 1550 C

        The hotspot rises in the mantle and decompress
        And plume head ends up with being molten
        Hawaii haves a real plume head as the hawaiian swell suggest not just a plume stem like some other hotspots are.
        How much melt the hawaiian hotspot contains is unknown but its likey many many 100 s of km3 of materials below the seafloor in sourthen part of the island chain.
        And this deep stuff is so hot it can almost melt raw iron

  11. Coincidental or nor the the large Pahala swarm and long lived seismic event were also on the 23rd January. I’d also previously noticed that the POO tiltmeter went offline for several days not long after that event but it is obviously back now. I don’t think the backdated data the chart shows now matches what it was showing just before it went offline so possible it was giving bad readings,

    • Best to have the comment here, the thread up there is already crowded and completely off the initial topic.

      In fact the DI event started just 1 or 2 hours after the magnitude 3 quake and main tremor episode, it is suspicious but my guess is that it was just a coincidence. I don’t think a relation between Pahala and summit DI events has showed up before but it is certainly worth watching for in future occasions.

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