Monday Musings: Ash from Soufriere Hills and lingering danger at Mayon

A couple bits of news:

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The ash plume from the February 11, 2010 eruption of Soufriere Hills taken by theAqua MODIS camera. Image courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory.

  • Flights have been disrupted in the West Indies since last week with the large dome-collapse eruptions of Soufriere Hills on Montserrat. The 10 km / ~35,000 foot ash plume is apparently lingering in the air at commercial flight levels, meaning delays, cancellations or long detours for many flights in the area. Flights in and out of Dominica, Guadelope, Montserrat, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis have all been effected by the ash from the volcano. The ash has also been a big problem, not surprisingly, on Montserrat itself, mostly making daily activities more difficult from breathing in the fine ash. The folks over at NASA caught a nice Aqua MODIS image of the erupting volcano on February 11 (see above).
  • It seems like only yesterday we were talking about the dangers of Mayon in the Philippines and now they are already worrying about opening the volcano back up to hikers. However, PHIVOLCS has made it clear that it is still not safe to enter the 6-km exclusion zone around the volcano as sulfur dioxide emissions from Mayon still remain elevated. This suggests that there is still degassing magma within the upper parts of the magmatic system.

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Two impressive eruptions going on right now: Soufriere Hills erupting on February 11, 2010. Image courtesy of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. Soufriere Hills just keeps on raising the bar during its new eruptive period. The volcano on Montserrat in the West Indies produced a 15 km / ~45 000…
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Soufriere Hills on Montserrat in an undated image from the Royal Navy. Just wanted to pass along this bit of news: the current eruptions at Soufriere Hills on Montserrat are prompting cancellations of over 40 flights today from Puerto Rico. This is due to the ash plumes from the current dome…
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Awesome picture! That one really gives the scope of the eruption and just how big it was.

Erik, can you explain that big signal that the Yellowstone instruments picked up the other night? I did check to see if they had listed the magnitude and I couldn't find anything unusual.

BTW, in case you didn't see my post below, I got the book Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Tsunamis and I am enjoying the read. It's a very good book. Thanks for listing it.

Wow, Boris, you have amazing sources. I didn't know about that webcam at all and have been following the shifting cloudscapes on the airport cam for nearly two years now! Thanks! What a view!

By bruce stout (not verified) on 15 Feb 2010 #permalink

@Bruce, this close-up Chaitén webcam was actually installed very recently, but not much advertized. If you go to the Sernageomin website
http://www2.sernageomin.cl/ovdas/ovdas7/ovdas66.php
you'll find to the left a whole bunch of new webcams also for the volcanoes Llaima and Villarrica. Villarrica is nice to see at night because its lava lake is again producing quite a glow, which is strongly reflected in the gas plume.

oh no! .. now I am going to need TWO new big monitors. cheers!

By bruce stout (not verified) on 15 Feb 2010 #permalink

Boris, Thank you for the GREAT Chaiten link.
I visit the Kiluea cam several times a week and the view is great when the lava is flowing. I am hoping the hole fills and overflows.
Also, I find your Etna information very interesting. 14,000 tons of gas a day, WOW !! Be safe when she goes.

By Dasnowskier (not verified) on 15 Feb 2010 #permalink

Re: Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Tsunamis - assume you're talking about Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists by Levy and Salvadori. From the index, getting the impression it's pretty highlevel. Personally, I really like Volcanism by Schmincke and Volcanoes by Oppenheimer. Less known is Fundamentals of physical volcanology by Parfitt and Wilson, but a must for volcanomaniacs :) Pretty serious books, though, and be prepared you'll need your physics books from highschool again...

By Geurt Schimmel (not verified) on 15 Feb 2010 #permalink

@Erik, you are right. That is the book I got, the one by David A. Rothery. I like it.

@Guert: I didn't take highschool physics, but I did take two sememsters of physics as part of my course study when I got my two year degree in electron microscopy. The first part was physics 51, which did not transfer and the second semester was electron optics whic hdid transfer. One of the students who also took the course went to UC Berkeley and took physics 1A and 1B and it was identical to what we had.

So, I do have some scientific background so that helps me understand some of what is going on. A couple of things I had to do was 1)be able to look at an electron micrograph and tell you what I was looking at and what the function was and 2) be able to explain what an electron is doing when it is traveling down the column of a transmission electron microscope from the electron gun to the screen you are looking at. Another thing we did was do a quantitative analysis of Hexcel hip joint material. That was fun...NOT!

That course of study was not easy. It took me four years to do what was supposed to be a two year course! But I had a couple of things I wished I could do: look through an electron microscope and look at the stars from Mt Palomar. I did one. The other, well, that one is off the table. That's ok, though. I can just go to APOD and see what they have and that is good enough.

Hey Erik or Boris, I was adding to my list of megavolcanoes and I wondered do you have any info on Pastos Grandes and Cerro Guacha? I knew the Pastos Grandes was a megavolcano but wouldn't Cerro Guacha with 7000 cubic km be considered one too?

R Nix - very interested to see what your list looks like. Are you putting it together with an aim to publish something?

All - seen the great footage of the Italian "landslide" yet? Its a slide all right, and not at all like what the movies would have you think.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8517378.stm

I trust Boris's house was not in the path...

Fitz...who me publish something? Oh no...not me I will leave that to someone else;) Wow very cool video...talk about a mass wasting event!

@Fitz: yes, my house is still standing - it's on Etna's flank, which consists of vey permeable lavas and pyroclastics, so we don't have the same problems as in those areas where there's a lot of sedimentary rock, mainly clays and the likes. The spectacular movie that you refer to actually snows a landslide in Calabria, on the Italian mainland on the other side of the Messina Strait. But also here on the island of Sicily there's been quite impressive mass movement, well featured in this video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rv91WTkL3E
Just to add an update, after one day of fine weather it's again raining in Sicily today. And the Italian government is still thinking of wasting incredible amounts of money to build a bridge over the Messina Strait, money that would be necessary to solve a hilarious number of burning issues first. But that's another story.
@Randall, a volume of 7000 cubic km certainly would classify Cerro Guacha as one of those gigantic systems, or megavolcanoes as you call it (actually a much better term than "supervolcanoes" because "mega" means "BIG"). Didn't find too much info about it and Pastos Grandes - some short info is here
http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/CVZ/guacha/index.html
http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/CVZ/pastosgrandes/index.html

Thanks Boris! There really isn't a lot out there about Guacha, Pasto Grandes, La Pacana, Coruto, Vilama or Capina and they all seem to qualify as megavolcanoes. I noticed they seem to have all went off around 5 - .6 million years ago but there isn't a lot of info out there on them. It must have truly resembled something like Tartarus during this time. I wonder if the eruptions of these megavolcanoes could have had a big enough influence on the weather to have had some influence on the accent of early hominids.

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My my my, I can feel the nostalgia. Those Golden days are still worth remembering. You presented a true picture of Alfred Rugby and i hope they will keep our heads high