Sahara, Scotland

The conifers stand tall, straight. They look old but there are patches where trees have been cut, and there is replanting elsewhere, evidence of tree harvesting. The evergreen forest is popular with tourists. This is in spite of the latitude: there are more northerly places in Scotland, but not many. The climate is not as…

On the importance of Deep Quacks

Back in early 2011 I was sitting down for a late light evening read of “Lower-crustal earthquakes caused by magma movement beneath Askja volcano on the north Icelandic rift” by Soosalu et al. As I read angels started to sing a glorious hymn as I had an epiphany and my view on how volcanoes operate…

536: apocalypse

The legend of the horsemen of the apocalypse goes back to the first century AD. It is a gripping image, which has transcended cultures. The best-known of the horsemen is Death, riding an ashen-coloured horse. This is the only one given a name in the original. One horseman, riding a black horse, brings famine, making…

Michio Kaku and the stale dough

Flat earthers believe that the earth is flat, but the rest of us have good reasons to think that we know that it is round. The difference is that they trust in their belief in something, and that we trust the scientific process and the data and theories that it yields. A flat earther stubbornly…

Darwin’s frog: a story of two volcanoes

In our modern world, no animal has gone extinct because of a volcanic eruption – as far as we know! That should not come as a big surprise. Volcanoes tend to affect fairly small areas around them, at least regions that are much smaller than the typical areas where species live. One animal particularly at…

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…

Eruptions to come

Let’s start with a question. Which country do you think has the most frequent volcanic eruptions? Before you read on (or peek below for the answer), take a minute to think about it. You can probably guess that Australia is not a front runner. In fact, only two or three countries readily come to mind.…

A volcano year

This is the time of the year when people like to look back. What was the year like? Good or bad – or, as is almost always the case, a bit of a mix? And if looking back is not your thing, newspapers run columns where specialists (of varying level of expertise) are given a…

Living dangerously: another Grimsvotn prediction

  Grimsvötn is heading for an eruption. There can be no doubt about that. Of course, it is always heading for an eruption. This volcano has ADHD. For Grimsvötn, more than a decade of brooding is unusual: normally it just throws it out. A misplaced snow flake can set it off. And it produces not…

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…