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Sat, 30 Jul 2016
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Alarm Clock

Alaska's Pavlof Volcano alert level increased amid signs of possible eruption

© Pavel Izbekov via AVO
A 1 p.m. Thursday photo of Pavlof Volcano, taken from a PenAir plane en route from Dutch Harbor to Anchorage, shows an ash plume drifting northeast.
The Alaska Peninsula's Pavlof Volcano is once again drawing concern from volcanologists after a major eruption in March.

Pavlof's alert level was raised Thursday in response to indications it might erupt again.

A Thursday update from the Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the volcano's aviation color code to orange and its alert level from advisory to watch. The alert level for Pavlof, roughly 600 miles southwest of Anchorage, had been raised from normal in early July after it showed signs of unrest.

On Thursday, webcam images of the volcano showed "steam de-gassing" from the volcano, with pilot reports and satellite data indicating an ash cloud rising less than 15,000 feet into the sky.

"Seismicity remains elevated, with periods of volcanic tremor continuing," staff wrote. "Activity is currently at relatively low levels. An increase in eruptive activity is possible and could occur with little or no warning."

During Pavlof's March eruption, dozens of villages received a dusting of ash, with ash clouds rising as high as 37,000 feet and posing a hazard to Alaska aviation due to ash blown northeast into Alaska's Interior.


Guatemala's 'Volcano of Fire' erupts spectacularly, authorities on alert

© redeyecollection / Instagram
Amazing images have been captured of Guatemala's Volcan de Fuego (Volcano of Fire) erupting spectacularly. Authorities remain on high alert as it continues to display intense activity.

The volcano, considered one of the most active in Central America, is being monitored by CONRED, the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction of Guatemala, and INSIVUMEH, the National Institute for Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology.

Comment: Some recent activity:

Bizarro Earth

Iceland's largest volcano Katla rumbles with earthquakes

© Iceland Monitor/Sigurður Bogi Sævarsson

Two earthquakes of magnitude 3.2 occurred in the Katla caldera in Mýrdalsjökull glacier around 4:00 AM this morning. Ten smaller earthquakes followed.

Katla is one of Iceland's largest volcanoes, and with twenty eruptions being documented since the year 930, Katla remains on of the country's most active volcanoes.

Arrow Up

Lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano flows into ocean for first time since 2013

© Lava Ocean Tours
Lava oozes into the ocean from Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano.
Lava from an ongoing Kilauea eruption entered the ocean early Tuesday, creating photo opportunities for those brave enough to get close.

The United State Geographical Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said the lava flow extending southeast of Pu'u O'o toward the coastal plain on Kilauea's south flank reached the ocean about 1:12 a.m. local time.

The flow started May 24 and it's the first time it has traveled south down Kilauea and across the coastal plain since 2013.

USGS officials are warning those venturing out to view the spectacular display to use caution:

"There are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs," wrote the USGS in an update. "Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water."

They warned that the new land created by the lava flow is unstable because it is "built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea."

In addition, visitors should be careful to avoid the acidic plume that rises when the lava comes into contact with the water as the fine volcanic particles in the steam can irritate the skin, eyes and lungs."

Comment: Pu'u O'o volcano, Hawaii unleashes it's largest volume of lava for 500 years

Arrow Up

Japan's Sakurajima volcano erupts: Ash plume spewed 5,000 meters high with multiple static lightning discharges

© YouTube/kaze shiroi (screen capture)
Mount Sakurajima erupted early on July 26, belching out a massive column of smoke rising 5,000 meters in the air.

The eruption occurred at 12:02 a.m. at the mountain's Showa crater.

This is the first time that the active volcano in southern Kyushu has spewed out a smokestack that high since an eruption on Aug. 18, 2013, according to the Kagoshima Meteorological Office.

It marked the 47th eruption this year, and the observatory is warning residents and travelers in the area that traffic accidents may occur because of the falling ash.

The Japan Meteorological Agency continues to keep Sakurajima on an alert level of "3," which closes off the entire mountain except for residential areas along the coast. It has been at that level since February.


The coming ice age - Antarctic peninsula has been cooling not warming

© Wikimedia Commons
A tidewater glacier on the Antarctic coast, with a sharply peaked mountain behind.
The "fastest warming place" on Planet Earth wasn't warming.

A new Antarctic study wipes out 20 years of panic about the West Antarctic Peninsula. All these years while people were crying about penguins, it turns out that the place was cooling rather than warming. Mankind has emitting a third of all its "CO2-pollution" ever from 1998, and there was "no discernible" effect on Antarctica. Indeed, the study quietly finds that even the bigger longer warming that has happened in the last century was not "unprecedented" in the last 2000 years.

In the last decade as this cooling trend was happening in the real world - in the media, the same spot was being described as "one of the fastest warming places on Earth":
The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest-warming places on Earth, NBC, 2013

West Antarctic Ice Sheet warming twice earlier estimate, BBC, 2012
And this sort of news has been going on for years. This was "big deal" once-in-2000 year type stuff:
UK scientists say parts of Antarctica have recently been warming much faster than most of the rest of the Earth. They believe the warming is probably without parallel for nearly two thousand years. - BBC, 2001
But the news in 2016 was a bit of a bomb, prone to being misinterpreted, so the PR Team was pre-armed with excuses, from the first line of the scientific abstract which pretty much says that the peninsula still was one of the fastest warming places on Earth (if you look at warming from 1950 and ignore the last 20 years the study is studying). Great opening line. The abstract also mentions that the Antarctic peninsula is only 1% of the Antarctic (though no one seems to mention that when it was melting).


After 36,000 years, an ancient volcano near Rome is rumbling to life

The country of Italy, home to one of the most famous volcanic disasters in history, is showing signs that another massive eruption is brewing, according to a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Almost 2,000 years after the burial of Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D., an ancient volcano near Rome is rumbling to life, say scientists. About 19 miles away from the heart of Rome, an ancient volcanic district called the Colli Albani is stirring. The Colli Albani, a 9-mile-long semicircle of hills on the outskirts of Rome, last erupted 36,000 years ago, so geologists had classified it as extinct - until about 20 years ago.

Comment: See also: Calm before the storm: Restless volcanoes undergo periods of seismic quiet immediately before eruptions

Bizarro Earth

Volcano on the outskirts of Rome is waking up, researchers say

© Pixabay
A new study is warning that a volcano may be awakening in Italy in the Colli Albani Volcanic District, on the outskirts of Rome. A new Geophysical Research Letters study, authored by Fabrizio Marra and others, reports that over four million people could be at risk if the Colli Albani volcano complex, bordering the Rome metropolitan area, goes into a full-scale eruption.

The Alban Hills, or Colli Albani as it is called locally, was particularly active between 608,000-351,000 years ago, when it produced massive eruptions of ash totaling some 67 cubic miles, Wired reported.

"This change in behavior is good news for Rome, because the Colli Albani appears to be more regular in the spacing of its eruptions than most volcanoes. In their new study, Marra and team identify dormancy and recurrence intervals for the Colli Albani that, since 608,000 years ago, have varied from 29,000±2,000 to 57,000±4,000 years, averaging 41,000±2,000 years between eruptions and 38,000±2,000 years between periods of renewed activity," Wired detailed.

Researchers propose that, as it has been roughly 36,000 years since the most recent eruptions, and that the volcanos have been remarkably consistent in their patterns, they may be due for a period of increased activity. The revelations are troubling, as the area is a mere 16 miles from the center of Rome.

"Rome doesn't have to harbor the same apprehension that Naples must have for the Campi Flegrei and Vesuvius. However, this would be an excellent time to start planning, in case the Colli Albanidoes decide it is time to wake back up," Wired suggested.

Alarm Clock

Increased activity at Pavlof Volcano, Alaska raises alert level

© U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mount Pavlof in Alaska is still showing signs of seismic activity and steam emissions indicating a possible eruption by the end of the year.
Last week, the Alaska Volcano Observatory observed increased seismic activity and steam emissions from Pavlof Volcano. The movement has raised the volcano's alert level. Located on the southwestern end of the Alaska Peninsula, the volcano is among the most active in Alaska, with over 40 recorded eruptions, as per the observatory.

Most recently, the volcano erupted in May. In March, an eruption sent ash plumes nearly 40,000 feet over sea level.

The observatory noted that eruptive activity may occur with slight or no warning, and scientists are looking forward to closely monitor the volcano continuously. However, geophysicist David Schneider told Alaskan radio station KUCB that the current activity of Pavlof is normal.

He said, "Pavlof is among those volcanoes that can erupt without very much in way of precursory activities. It's very easy for magma to arise in volcano and make it out. So even subtle signs of unrest we think it's prudent to increase our alert level".

The Alaska Dispatch News reported that the volcano's eruption in May marked the first time in two decades when notable ash-fall was recorded on the ground. The Dispatch News reported that one-eighth to two-thirds of an inch of ash had hit Nelson Lagoon, a village consisting of 39 people 55 miles northwest of the volcano.

Arrow Down

California's Lassen Peak is sinking and volcanologists don't know why

© US Geological Survey/Amanda Sweeney
A view of Lassen Peak in California from the south of the summit of Brokeoff Volcano in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
With no explosion in over a century, it might appear that California's Lassen Peak hasn't changed much. However, recent findings show the volcano has been slowly sinking for the past three decades, but volcanologists can't figure out why.

In a recent study, researchers used multiple sets of data from an Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) to look at the more than 10,000-foot high volcano located in the Shasta Cascade region of Northern California and track characteristics of deformation in the peak's vicinity between 1992 and 2010. They discovered that there was a broad range of sinking measuring about 18 to 24 miles and progressing at the rate of about a centimeter per year.

InSAR uses radar images of earth's surface to track changes on the ground, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Unlike visible or infrared light, radar waves are able to see through clouds and are equally effective in the dark, allowing researchers to see changes at night and during bouts of bad weather, which comes in handy during a volcanic crisis. The images collected by the radar are compared to each other to determine if there was any movement of the ground surface.

The scientists' research lead them to believe that this slow sinkage of Lassen Peak has been going on since the 1980s. They believe the source of the sinking is a point located about 5 miles beneath the volcano's center.

"Time-series analysis suggests that the rate of volume change of this source may have varied over time," the researchers wrote. "The source geometry and the temporal evolution of deformation contrasts to subsidence observed at nearby Medicine Lake Volcano since the 1950s."