Friday Flotsam: Australian volcano watch continued, the impact of the Siberian Traps and the threat from Hualalai

News to finish up your week:

Summit area of Hualalai in Hawai'i

  • Another day, another "threat" of volcanic eruption in Australia. I'm impressed with the abject fear Aussies seem to have for this perceived increased threat of an eruption - or at least what the press wants you to believe. This time, watch out near Bundaberg, Townsville and Cooktown in southeast Queensland!
  • In more press-related exaggeration, the Siberian Traps - a flood basalt eruption from, well, thousands of rift/vents in Siberia - is boiled down to being one Siberian volcano by the Telegraph. Dr. Mark Sephton of the Imperial College London has found more evidence that the Traps, which erupted ~251 million years ago, could have had a very significant effect on global climate, possibly being the cause of the great Permian Extinction. The research itself sounds fascinating, but as usual, the science journalism drops the ball. If you want to read a little less dramatic version of the research, try here.
  • Hawaii 24/7 has a short piece on the threat posed by Hualalai. The volcano is definitely still considered "active" and last erupted in 1801, but there have been a number of earthquake swarms at the volcano since then. Hualalai is on the tail-end of its active Hawaiian volcanism lifespan, but can still pose a real threat to communities near the volcano.

More like this

Which Australian rag is promoting eruptions in Australia? I've never seen much interest in such things except for the odd person who may have believed the fairytale and repeated it. I've never encountered any that were afraid anything would happen.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 02 Oct 2009 #permalink

I guess those quakes are at the other end of the valley near Lone Pine. But 243 earthquakes in the past week would be a swarm.

By theroachman (not verified) on 02 Oct 2009 #permalink

Appreciate the gentle invective. We all tire of hearing that the sky is falling. False alarms (or overstated alarms) are a serious disserviece to our fellow man.

In regards to the Siberian traps:

Has anyone here looked at in detail that trap formation is related to major impact events? The theory (hope I don't butcher it too badly here) is that shock waves from a comet / asteroid impact coalesce at a point opposite of the point of impact causing the crust to rupture (and forming a mantle plume).

Basically, the Permian ended with a double whammy of a massive impact and massive volcanic eruption.

By Hell_Is_Like_Newark (not verified) on 03 Oct 2009 #permalink

Cleveland volcano erupted today: link.

Has anyone noted the difference in the two articles on the Fungus.

The Telegraph has Professor Sephton saying:
"The worry for us scientists at the moment is we are now seeing the sixth through manmade global warming - and this one could be the quickest."

But Science Daily makes no mention of this.

I wonder why?

Fitz, thanks a lot for that link!! Absolutely fascinating stuff. Does anybody have any more stuff related to this research?

For a long time I haven't been able to get away from the suspicion that magma genesis is fuelled less so by convectional upwelling of material from deeper in the earth than it is by the interaction of seismic energy, declining pressure and rising temperature.

This impact theory, which postulates LIPs as the antipodal expression of an impact, i.e. LIPs are the product solely of focused seismic energy, reinforces this suspicion. I still can't quite get my head around it but I have a feeling there is something in it. If anyone is able to explain to me how this focused seismic energy would lead (apparently even with a delay of a couple of million years) to the ponding of huge amounts of melt, I'd be most grateful.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 04 Oct 2009 #permalink

There is a hotspot under Bass Strait. Burnie (N. coast of Tasmania) has a hot spring in a park that's fueled by it. One tiny, little, hot trickle that spills into a storm-water drain.

By Katkinkate (not verified) on 04 Oct 2009 #permalink

There is a hypothesis that there might be a hotspot under the Adirondacks in upstate NY. Nobody is really sure why the Adirondacks are rising (faster than the Himalayas by some measurements). There are no subduction zones or major faults that could be causing the mountains to rise.

By Hell_Is_Like_Newark (not verified) on 05 Oct 2009 #permalink

I'd never heard that idea for the Adirondacks. My guess would be that uplift in that part of the US would be glacial rebound - that is, the land recovering from the weight of glaciers during the last ice age.

As for the asteroid-impact-LIP connection, that theory is floating around, but I have yet to see an argument that truly cements it all together for me. It is still a little bit too much "correlation equals causation" for me, but it is definitely a fascinating subject to examine.

Has anyone done any recordings of the Adirondacks and compared them to lava-flow harmonics? Why not? How many vulcanologists live in the Adirondacks - or have all the rats left the ship?

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