Friday Flotsam: More Mayon evacuations, an alert at Batur, how to predict Halema`uma`u and Roland's Yellowstone

We've arrived at Friday. The local time is 8:45 A.M. Set your watches accordingly.

Batur, Indonesia

Some news!

  • More evacuations have been authorized near Mayon as the volcano continues to show signs of significant eruption. Activity has quieted some since Tuesday's explosion, but PHIVOLC still expresses concern that an eruption in impending within weeks. I'll also add a link to this story on Mayon, not because it has new news, but because it has quiet possibly the worst accompanying photo for this story I've seen so far. I mean, really, couldn't you have found some stock picture of Mayon instead of using what looks like a still from Krakatoa, East of Java? It is like posting an article of President Obama and throwing a picture of Bill Pullman from Independence Day in with it.
  • Speaking of being annoyed, there is a video about how Roland Emmerich produced the Yellowstone eruption in 2012. Really nothing to do with volcano science, but you could revel about all the wrong things in the portrayal of the eruption.
  • There was a very brief note about a special alert for Batur in Indonesia after seismicity increased at the volcano, which hasn't erupted since 2000.
  • If you're like me, Friday is a great day to look at pretty pictures - and Seed posted a great gallery called "Earth on Fire" of volcano-related images by Bernhard Edmaier. Striking stuff.
  • Somehow I forgot to post this week's USGS/SI Weekly Volcano Report, so here it is.
  • Finally, Hawai'i 24/7 has an article on the activity at Halema'uma'u and whether it can be predicted. Not a lot of news in there, but it is interesting to see how dynamically the crater vent system and lava lake behave.

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Im gonna indulge you.
What was wrong with the 2012 Yellowstone sequence?
Besides outrunning a pyroclastic flow in a Winnebago, that is?
PS - great photo of Batur, very menacing

Well, if we ignore the Winnebago travelling, oh, 300 km/h or more, the fact that giants balls of magma are raining from the sky is pretty farfetched. And by pretty farfetched, I mean close to impossible, especially at a rhyolite caldera like Yellowstone. Giant pumice blocks? Maybe. Fully molten boulders of magma raining from the sky? Not so much.

The fact alone that the eruption shows fire in the ash clouds is reason enough to do a facepalm...

On the other hand, there is no volcano movie that gets it right... unfortunately

It's a film (a pretty poor one at that). Aside from what Eric has also mentioned, I love how everyone seems to think it would go in a single giant blast (maybe it would be a big blast once the pressure drops enough for the overlying ground to drop into the volcano), I think it more likely that a Yellowstone event would go in a sequence of smaller blasts, perhaps a sequence of VEI6 blasts until the caldera forming event (See Supervolcano 2 part docu/ least they tried to present some scientific evidence)

Aside from that...the CGI was pretty good, just a shame the movie is sooooo bad. I mean I like a good disaster flick as much as the next guy, I actually liked "The Day after Tomorrow" but 2012 is a stretch too far, its plotless drivel and a waste of 2 hours or so of my life that I will never get back.

All in the name of money. Science is not the point in movies.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 13 Nov 2009 #permalink

My script for a yellowstone super volcano movie would start with a winter scene on a farm in eastern North Dakota. A middle aged couple waking up to the still dark sky, thick ash drifting down, kind of like the descriptions of the black dusters in "the worst hard times". They would discover that their electicity, internet, TV and radio were all cut off due to downed lines and electrostatic interferance. The roof would be groaning from the added weight of the ash, but they couldn't go outside to clear it off. And they know what's goind on. A series of flash backs would start, beginning with 5 or 6 years earlier when the seismic activity under yellowstone lake started to creep above back ground levels (like this last spring). other flash backs would deal with the uncertain goverment policy on evacuations (like with st. Helens in 1980), social and economic dislocations, personal drama around the question of whether to move out or not, and then whether to move back when the risk seemed to subside. Nature shots, real science, exploding geysers, romance in the lab? Yes. Supersonic winnibagos, brave helicoptor pilots rescuing hikers under billowing ash clouds and cute bambi- like dear outrunning the eruption? Sorry, not this time. And the ending? Insert your favorite here:

Anyone can make that kind of script up.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 13 Nov 2009 #permalink

I did check out the Mayon picture and they sure picked a crummy one. And it does look like Krakatau. Oh, well...

As for the Winnabego scene, I know I will not be wasting my time on that movie!

I also read in the news (I wish they would shut up about 2012)that there are some people that are loosing sleep over the idea the world is going to end. Come on, people! The media wants to scare everybody. That is big news, you see. Yeah, right!

The Idea about the end of the world is not a new one, 2012 will be replaced with another date, 2036 apophis asteroid is supposed to give us a close miss some time around there, but thats good enough for doom mongers.

The media love a good (or bad) story and plenty of people still believe everything they see in a news paper and on TV, but now with the internet you can just type doomsday into a search engine and get your own flavour of death and destruction all with "scientific proof" and badly translated ancient writings from long dead civilizations (If these cultures had such knowledge why are they dead?)

Appalling footage. Simply appalling. And it would be so easy to get it right and the result would still be just as dramatic.
Gijs, did you see the German "Volcano" TV drama screened in Germany recently? It contained similarly bad science: prior to erupting a giant whirlpool whipped up in a Maar as though the whole thing were some kind of kitchen blender...grrr..

By bruce stout (not verified) on 14 Nov 2009 #permalink

Yellowstone looked likee a nulcear bomb going off to me. I think that is what footage they used too.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 14 Nov 2009 #permalink

But there are people that beliive what they see in the movie is the real thing,espically those who know little about science.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 16 Nov 2009 #permalink

Remember. It's a movie. It's a movie. It's a movie.

Us tornado chasers feel the same about "Twister" :-)

You mean, there's no Helen Hunt?

Yeah...F-5 tornado, she's caught above ground...and her bra stays on? I call BS :-)

By damon hynes (not verified) on 16 Nov 2009 #permalink

@ Bruce: No, not yet. I'm planning to buy the dvd somewhere in the next few weeks, just for my Eifel collection ;-) .
I've seen the official music video (, and the whirlpool in Weinfelder Maar is... well... like huge burning rocks falling from a pyroclastic flow in an Armageddon kind of way... *sigh* Although I have to say I expected 'Vulkan' to be worse than what I've seen so far.

The people at RTL should've made a movie out of 'Die Flucht der Ameisen', the book by Ulrich C. Schreiber. Not that the eruption in the book is a lot more realistic than in 'Vulkan', but the events leading up to the eruption are certainly very interesting.

The best thing would probably be a 'realistic' (no crappy whirlpools or burning rocks) movie about a possible future VEI 5 or 6 event close to Laacher See, in the Pellenz 'Verbandsgemeinde' for example. The scenario by itself would be dramatic enough not to 'need' extra (unrealistic) visual effects.

Hmm... seems to be Pulvermaar, and not Weinfelder Maar in 'Vulkan'. Oh well, same volcanic field.

Hi Gijs! The rest of the film wasn't anywhere near so bad. In fact I don't know why they postulated a VEI 7 event because 98% of the damage they showed in the film could have been caused by a VEI 5 event.

More impressive was the documentary they screened after the film when a volcanologist outlined that the field is slowly migrating eastwards, i.e. in direct proximity to the Rhine. The thought of a temporary dam on the Rhine is pretty frightening just by itself as it would inundate thousands, not to mention an atomic power station or two. To underscore the point they sent divers into the river and showed footage of gas escaping from the bed of the river.

If something like this happened it would be another good example of how the collateral damage of an eruption can far outweigh the direct impact of it.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 19 Nov 2009 #permalink

You mean this one?…

It's a good thing that the potential threat of the Eifel volcanism is finally getting some attention, but I'm not very happy about the quality of the documentary (although I highly respect Dr. Schmincke and Dr. Schreiber for their work). But hey, that's 'popular science'. However, I think the message is clear: the Eifel needs to get a lot more attention. More equipment, good evacuation plans, and more (international) media attention. Maybe adding some 'BullenscheiÃe' to the mix to make it more sensational for those who don't find the fact of potential volcanism in the Eifel alone enough...

*Sigh*, Laypersons...

Yep Gijs, that's it. One does wonder if the money spent on such a fancy production could not have been better spent on a couple of seismographs or three and it was obviously produced by the same sensationalists who produced the film, no doubt with the intention of selling it to the people, but hell, whatever it takes to get the message out there. I wonder how much impact it had at official level!

By bruce stout (not verified) on 22 Nov 2009 #permalink

It might be worth asking 'Landesamt für Geologie und Bergbau Rheinland-Pfalz', but I guess it'll take more than just a movie and a documentary to make a difference. Maybe a 'strong' earthquake (5.0 +) near Koblenz, or a significantly increased level of volcanic gasses at Laacher See would do the trick.

I still wonder what the nature of te microquakes ( is. I've read somewhere they're caused by groundwater that's being heated by heat from greater depth. That shows that the higher degree of partial melting below that part of the Eifel is definately having some effect at the surface, but I don't know if there's enough data available to tell if there are no volcanic tremors of any kind happening, at shallow levels or at greater depth.

There is a nice website, reporting the quakes that happen in Rheinland-Pfalz:

And something that is not directly related, but might be worth applying to the East Eifel, although Laacher See was mentioned in the article as being stable (in 2005...) when it comes to the production of helium:

Anyway: more than enough to get a better picture of the area. If there's anything happening in my backyard, I want to know about it ^_^ .