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…

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.…

The Maya collapse: a history in three volcanoes

Here is the story of the beginning, when there was not one bird, not one fish, not one mountain. Here is the sky, all alone. Here is the sea, all alone. There is nothing more –no sound, no movement. Only the sky and the sea. Only Heart-of-Sky, alone. And these are his names: Maker and…

The eruptive past of Indonesia

Gunug Agung has had impressive eruptions in the past week. So far, in spite of the publicity, the event has remained relatively minor. We do not know whether these are the initial rumblings and in the next weeks and months there will be far larger explosions, or that this suffices to relieve the pressure inside…

History of Öræfajökull

Iceland has ice. Glaciers cover 10% of its landscape, including its highest volcanoes. Of its frequent eruptors, only Hekla is (almost) ice free. Katla, Bardarbunga, and Grimsvötn, which together account for the large majority of eruptions, are all hidden underneath ice sheets, which gives problems studying the volcanoes themselves. But a more serious issue is…

The Ruminarian, again

By GeoLurking, January 8, 2014 (republished) Curmudgeon “an ill-tempered person full of stubborn ideas or opinions” Well, if the shoe fits, I guess I’ll wear it. But… I don’t come about it lightly. To me, stuff has to make sense. One thing I abhor is mindless ranting that is specifically intended to scare people. What…

Grimstone vs Yellowvötn: Battle of the Giants

Carl – May 9, 2014 (re-post) In the west corner of the ring you find Yellowstone wearing blue, red and white striped trunks and in the east corner you find Grimsvötn wearing Fire & Ice colored trunks. Welcome to a spectacular fight about who is the largest, meanest volcano on the block. As the fighters are…

Echoes from a silent spring

It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh. (From Rachel Carson: Silent Spring) The history of life on earth…

Life’s end: mass extinctions

Volcanoes affect life. That is as true for volcanoholics as it is for other life forms. As Bjarki pointed out, the puffins on Bogoslof are not going to be impressed, when returning to their nesting holes to find them all gone, blown up to bits or filled with ash and lava. They will be affected…

Volcanohistology: when eruptions make a difference

Volcanoes are frightening. They can dramatically alter the local landscape, and change people’s live – normally for the worse. The best place to be is far away. But large eruptions can have wider impacts. The ash can cover regions a continent away, and sulphate aerosols can spread at high altitude around the world. The sulphate…