Eruptions suggestion thread

I’ll be busy for a couple days when I’m off at University of Iowa, so I thought I’d leave this thread available for you to talk. Specifically, I’m interested in what you might be interested in seeing (or not seeing) on Eruptions. I’ve tried a number of features (Mystery Volcano Photo, Q&A, Volcano Profiles) – do you want to see more/see less of these features with the usual volcano news? More/less coverage of volcano research from the literature? Let me know what you think and how things might be better.

See you next week!


  1. #1 Thomas Donlon
    November 19, 2009

    I would like to have more features that give us a gut feel – (and intellectual grasp of) the power and potential disturbances that volcanoes might cause.

    I’d like to go back in time a little bit to better grasp volcanoes in their historical context. Just a few thousand years ago there were serious volcanic eruptions across the US. Now, Africa might be experiencing an upswing in volcanic activity with the rift zone becoming more active. Lake overturn was recently discussed as ready to take many lives in an African city. The 1800,s had both Tambora and Krakatau as noteworthy eruptions. I’d like to bridge the gap between an excited popular media sounding alarm bells about Yellowstone and supervolcanoes to general volcanic studies which tend to involve scientists who might only study one or several long-period volcanic systems or just study the frequently erupting low-danger volcanoes.

    I’d like to have some sense of how many potential Mt. Pinatubo’s are out there – and what to expect if these types of volcanoes erupt. The mid-power volcanoes like Crater lake, Santorini, Pinatubo, Krakatau, Tambora, Mt Rainier? Camp Flegrei? are the type of volcanoes that are most likely to next capture the world’s attention.

    Low power volcanoes that are frequently mentioned in the weekly volcanic reports and that are always erupting to me have a bit of value in-as-much as people are affected by them or in that we can draw lessons about larger eruptions.

    Maybe a few lessons can be put together (with links) on some basics of predicting a volcanic eruption. That way – it will help your readers be better prepared to understand what might happen when long-sleeping volcanoes (like Mt. Pinatubo) start showing signs of life again. Now, Mt. Pinatubo will sleep again for centuries. I am not asking for predictions, but just in general (if the knowledge is out there) what to expect if different Alaskan, Kamchatkan, Indonesian or Kurilian volcanoes start coming to life. I’d like to know what are the major gaps in understanding volcanoes. Have most volcanoes around the world have been studied for records of previous volcanic eruptions? Has strata been examined in most of these places? Are there many areas of the world that potentially large volcanoes haven’t been studied at all?

    Chaiten erupted and all we knew was that it erupted before about 9,000 years ago. Is this the current state of lack of knowledge for most volcanoes around the world?

    I recently got several of the volcano books that you earlier recommended – and a few additional ones. So I appreciate your guidance, inspiration and diligence in helping us learn about volcanoes.

  2. #2 Paul Callander
    November 19, 2009

    I think you have the balance about right. I come here each day to find in an informative but not too technical manner what is happening with the world’s volcanoes. When there is a period of reduced activity the other features help to build background knowledge.

    In that respect I like the volcano profiles and the Q&A and would be happy to see them as often as is reasonable. The MVP is just fun although I don’t have the personal knowledge to recognise most of them. Definitely keep them coming. By the way, it was a bit tough not to let me identify no: 15!

    With reference to Thomas’s comment, I think that what he outlined would be fantastic but represents a full time occupation rather than a blog you do for your pleasure.

    Finally, thanks for this blog. It is really enjoyable as well as informative.

  3. #3 Thomas Donlon
    November 19, 2009

    Paul was right, I was asking a lot.

    Where you asked, “More/less coverage of volcano research from the literature?” – I would certainly like more coverage. There are several blogs that also cover each little eruption – and there is nothing wrong with you doing that 🙂

    If there are any gems in the literature that fall under “fair use” I’d like to be kept aware of them. Those that have access to such literature where they work or go to school can look deeper into it.

    Those of us that aren’t professionals can at least get a glimpse of what you think and learn from these reports.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    November 19, 2009

    Movies! Review/discuss volcano movies!

    (We just watched Dante’s Peak)

  5. #5 Chance Metz
    November 19, 2009

    I don’t think there is too much you can change to make it better. I all depends on what the volcanoes want to do,whe things are slow why not have some fun like MVP? I will get one right one of these days! lol. Keep up the good work!!!

  6. #6 bruce stout
    November 20, 2009

    it’s Ruaphehu!!!!

    dang, I don’t get a prize… 😉

  7. #7 Jimmy
    November 20, 2009

    Volcano alerts are available elsewhere, it is the thoroughness you employ covering current events and their context that I find the most useful. A greater degree of technical discussion is also encouraged.

    Also, MVP is fascinating and a unique feature of your blog. I am a naif for recognizing profiles so it is very instructive.

    If changing the content leaves you with less time for frequent posts, I would leave it as is.

    Thanks for your efforts!

  8. #8 bruce stout
    November 20, 2009

    Re the blog:
    I think you are doing a fantastic job and this has turned into one of the very few sites I check daily. I love the way you invite interaction and accommodate questions from non-scientists (like me!!). There is nothing here that I would not want to see. Re up-coming features I like Thomas’s idea of focusing attention on smaller scale volcanoes that could still have the potential to make a major impact on society (even if non-life-threatening). Just two that spring to mind are Taupo, (which I grant is not a small volcano but even a tiny eruption in Taupo (and there have been many in the past) could send a flood down the Waikato river which has about eight hydroelectric dams on it) and another is the Eifel field in Germany (if an eruption there dammed the Rhine river, even temporarily, the consequences could be severe). These kinds of volcanic hazards are frequently either ignored or sensationalized. It would be good to draw attention to them.

    Re the science: for us non-professionals, some kind of tutorial or explanation of petrology is what I badly need but that is just a personal thing.

    Finally the “guest appearances” are a fantastic idea and I am looking forward to Boris’ responses on Etna.

  9. #9 Dodgy Dog
    November 20, 2009

    I think its a great site and check daily for new posts. I enjoy the MVP’s, even managed to get one correct. I have been wondering what happened to the Erta Ale profile as this is a great way to introduce the volacanoes of the world to us lay people. I think the profiles should be more regular. I enjoy the general discussions and the note worthy goings on in the news. I dont think there is much than you can do to impove the site whilst still keeping it relatively easy to understand. Keep up the good work.

  10. #10 clheiny
    November 20, 2009

    More research/literature coverage would be a Good Thing. Maybe a semi-regular feature on particularly interesting eruptions – not just Tambora-style catastrophes, but eruptions of scientific or cultural interest, or just plain odd ones.

  11. #11 Gijs
    November 20, 2009

    I’ve tried to post this comment yesterday, but it didn’t appear on the blog. So here’s part of it again.

    I’ve been reading and posting here for about a year now, and I really like your blogging work! So I want to start by saying ‘keep it up!’

    I have a ‘little’ suggestion that might be nice. It’s not something that’ll change the blog itself, but it might add something extra to it. I was thinking about a forum, so that the readers who now post comments to your blogs can easier talk about certain topics. For example: if there’s a new volcano movie out (or a movie with something related to volcanism), information on other comparable movies can be found in one topic.

    What I’ve noticed is that most people who comment here are ‘regulars’, so a forum might be nice to introduce ourselves to one another. We can post our own news topics (that might be worth using for one of your great news threads?), we can share our own volcano stories (‘I’ve been to (…) and I’ve seen (…)’). Although this nlog gets visitors from all over the world, maybe some of the ‘forum members’ can get in contact for travelling together.

    I’ve been posting on several forums (on different subjects, such as pro cycling, mineral collecting, fossil collecting, etc…) for years now, and it’s always great fun to do, because people get to know each other (even in ‘real life’) and can share information and opinions a lot faster.

  12. #12 Lassi Hippeläinen
    November 20, 2009

    Since this is ScienceBlogs, which addresses also educated lay people, there are two obvious themes that could be used to fill the gaps between urgent events: tutorials, and historically interesting eruptions.

  13. #13 JSB
    November 20, 2009

    I have really enjoyed your blog. All the features have been interesting. Keep up the great work!

    I would like to see more volcano history. More discussion of the latest volcano research would be welcomed as well.

    I have one particular question I hope you can answer at some point. On the USGS Kilauea eruption updates page they mention sulfur dioxide emission rate measurements. How exactly do they measure that?

  14. #14 doug
    November 20, 2009

    more volcano humor

  15. #15 Emory K.
    November 20, 2009

    I’d like to see a post or two about expert-guided travel for people interested in in volcanoes – if such tours still exist. In 1997 I took a two-week trip to Iceland run by Volcano Tours, a travel service associated with Haraldur Sigurdsson. A Ph.D. geologist led the tour, so I learned a lot about volcanoes, and it was also a great way to see Iceland.

    But I’m not aware of anything similar being offered today – One or two week trips to places like Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, etc., led by an expert geologist but aimed at earth-science teachers, scientists who are not geologists, enthusiastic amateurs, etc., rather than being a workshop-trip for professional vulcanologists only.

    If you’re aware of such, please let us know!

  16. #16 Gijs
    November 20, 2009

    It’s in Dutch however…

  17. #17 bruce stout
    November 20, 2009

    John Seach also does tours around the Pacific basin:

  18. #18 cicely
    November 20, 2009

    I’m already liking what you’re blogging, but yeah, the intersection of volcanoes and history would really hit the spot.

  19. #19 Julie
    November 20, 2009

    I just read today that Auckland NZ is smack dab in a volcanic field; one of said volcanoes erupted somewhere around 500 years ago. Might be an interesting subject.

  20. #20 The Bobs
    November 20, 2009

    Over at Volcano Discovery (link), Tom Pfeiffer and team lead volcano tours. I’ve never been on one of Tom’s trips, but he sure takes great photos.

  21. #21 mike don
    November 20, 2009

    In general Eruptions is pretty good as it is. But info on interesting papers from the literature would be much appreciated, since those of us who aren’t in the business don’t get to see them (except, perhaps Nature, which only rarely carries volcano related material).

    Another possibility, following the contributions from Dr Castro and (hopefully Real Soon Now) from Boris Behncke, maybe Erik, or somebody, could lean on professionals in the field with specialist knowledge of other volcanoes/volcanic provinces. Somebody from AVO for example?

  22. #22 Chance Metz
    November 20, 2009

    I know it can’t be easy runnig this blog when you are so busy and have other thigns to do. T tihnk you don’t even really have to be tdoing this but since you love what you do and we all learn tihngs we did not know before you keep posting,good job again!!

  23. #23 Diane
    November 20, 2009

    I like this blog and I am glad I found it. I like the MVPs, though I don’t have have enough knowledge to recognize most of them. I do know some, though. I ,too look forward the the Q&A with Boris ,since I used to communicate with him on a regular basis before I changed my email. That was before he got his PHD. 😀

    I would like to hear some things regarding the effects of techtonic quakes on volcanoes and maybe what the difference between a techtonic and magmatic quake look like as far as the seizmographs look like. I have been monitoring both quakes and volcanoes since I got on line.

    Another thing (I think somebody mentioned it) is what is wrong with the Holly Wood version of volcanic eruptions and the real thing. You did that with “2012”, and there have been some documentaries about Yellowstone and others.

    I like the way you put things. A bit of humor is always a good thing. 🙂

    Thank you for your blog.


  24. #24 Diane
    November 20, 2009

    Emory, you can check out John Seach for volcano trips. He is from Austrailia and goes to Yasur, Ambrem, and others in the Indonesia area. He had a video on Turvurvur not too long ago and it was very interesting. He has two sites, one is a news site and the other refers to general stuff and trips planned.

    I also know there are guides that do trips to Etna. You may want to go to Etna Treking. They are just one of the tour groups. They also have web cams on Etna.

    I don’t know of any in the US, but there are a number of volcanoes you can climb and go to yourself. I have climbed MT Lassen twice and it isn’t too hard if you are in good shape. It is a five mile round trip and goes from 8,000+ feet to 10,000+ feet. Steepest grade is 15%.

    I have been to Long Valley and it is an interesting place to me because there are so many domes in the area and also the Inyio craters that are easy to get to.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. I could say a lot, but I’ve already probably told you what you may know already.


  25. #25 Boris Behncke
    November 21, 2009

    I do agree that the Eruptions Blog is a great achievement and an enormous effort. I remember well the times when I had the enthusiasm, but more importantly, the time, to work on the Internet and provide information about Italian volcanoes and especially Etna nearly in real-time. It was a lot of fun. But the risk is always there that eventually one slows down, like when you start having to feed a family, and I’m glad there’s always someone stepping in to continue on the track.
    By the way, my answers to the questions many of you submitted to me recently are on their way to this site … give Erik some time to put them into the Blog, it’s a lot of stuff 🙂
    Concerning volcano tours, Tom Pfeiffer’s Volcano Discovery and John Seach’s Volcanolive seem to be the major operators internationally, but I know there’s some French operators, too. On a more local and more intimate scale, if it should all be about Etna and its surroundings, is a good tip …

  26. #26 Neil H.
    November 21, 2009

    Erik, I really enjoy your eruptions blog; I visit daily and look forward to reading every entry. The only things I could suggest is maybe a once monthly or bi-monthly on-line chat or submitted question and answer session between us rank and file volcano-philes and working volcanologists like yourself. Links to high-quality, in-the-field videos would be nice too.

    That and some gratuitous sax and violins 🙂

    Chust choking!


  27. #27 Boris Behncke
    November 21, 2009

    I should break this news here: Galeras, put on orange alert (eruption probable within days to weeks) in early November, produced an explosive eruption on 20 November. There is a report at the Pasto observatory web site (, and then there are two quite spectacular photographs shot with a thermal camera of the eruption:

  28. #28 Mariek
    November 21, 2009

    How about photos of your favorite volcanic rocks and deposits with a description of how they formed? Lahars, bombs, topography-erasing ignimbrites!

  29. #29 Passerby
    November 21, 2009

    Dear Santa,

    I would like to see cameo profile articles of major volcano research groups. Consider also providing links to explanatory articles on cool technology that is used to assess volcanic eruptions/gases/ash deposition (like ice core analysis or Volcano Monitoring with Infra-Red).

    I also suggest you invite a roster of guest contributors (in rotation as needed), to lessen the load on you in your highly important early tenure-track and family building years. Prevents web blogging burn-out, allows others to bring fresh perspective to your regular column, expands and supports professional content and quality, and encourages positive peer interaction with the public.

    You may want to talk to one or more progressive geology journals about carrying links to your blog on their websites, to help encourage peer participation.


  30. #30 Stephen Tierney
    November 21, 2009

    I like the site just as is, its nice and balanced.

    I’d like some coverage of Hydrothermal systems and maybe fumerole activity in volcanic systems. Maybe a little more info on the plumbing system in general too.

    Thanks for the great site….love it!

  31. #31 Kamaka
    November 21, 2009

    I’ll throw in my vote for volcano history.

    Also, you’re posting some very cool photos. I would guess you have access to a vast photo library…more pictures, please.

  32. #32 VolcanoMan
    November 24, 2009

    Great blog, I have checked it daily since before it was a ScienceBlog. I do have a suggestion though: much of the focus here is on matters of a nature peripheral to our lives, stuff that is very interesting (and the reason I visit), but ultimately disconnected with what us volcano enthusiasts are actually doing. Perhaps a thread or section where people (including you) can talk about direct volcano experiences they have had. Additionally, many of us plan such ventures regularly; I am always looking for people to join me on volcano-themed geological field trips and since all eruptions blog visitors have this common interest, what better place to find people looking to join groups planning to visit volcanically-active areas?

    Getting the word out and spreading accurate information about erupting volcanoes is a truly noble cause, but getting out there and seeing first-hand the power of volcanoes is the logical next step and your blog, the nexus of the volcano-obsessed that it is, would be a perfect place for such people to connect. Just a thought. And as this is an open thread, I’ll do my bit with a facebook group I’ve started – the focus of my trips recently has been Guatemala, but it’s good to get a network of those who may be interested in trips in the near and far future:

    Cheers, and keep up the amazing work!

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