Friday Flotsam: Eyjafjallajökull, Chilean volcanoes and the Syfy "super eruption"

Time to play a little catch up ...

Eyjafjallajökull erupting in early May. Image by and courtesy of Martin Rietze.

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@Birdseye, #499: You stumbled upon one of the big problems in science today. Most papers are not open to the public although they have been financed by grants from the public. The only way to avoid this, is to publish open source, the short way of getting these papers is to ask somebody from a university. For what papers are you looking for?

@Birdseye, #499. Yesterday Boris gave a link to a website with free articles. See comment 354

Thoro cam is starting to clear.

By Dasnowskier (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

@Chris500 - of course, I have been searching up and down the blog again and can't find it - Thordarson et al out of a UK university , study of eruptions in Iceland, patterns, volumes of 'product' of various sorts - the abstract was the only thing I could see.
@leo 501, thanks for the reminder, if I find the reference again I'll try that access route ;))

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

From what little glimpses there are on Thoro cam, looks like noticeably more water in the river from Gigjökull.

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

Wishful thinking - only the big river showing - false notice - sorry - back to hole.

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

@499 Most college libraries will have access to J-Stor and other journals. The problem is finding a place that is friendly to non-students. Sometimes local librarians can request temporary access for you for information that is not available in public sources. Locally, Harvard is snotty as it gets, but Boston College is fine with visitors as long as it's not peak exam time.

By Janice Sutcliffe (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

I agree that the (non) availability of scientific research papers for the non-academic public is very unpleasant; unfortunately nearly all editors of scientific journals seem to put high priority on commercial issues and thus the articles are sold, often at quite a high price (30 US$ for a single pdf of a scientific publication is pretty much the rule). Some editors, like American Geophysical Union (AGU), have more accessible prices but it's still 9 US$ for a single pdf.

When I was a student I used to haunt all major university libraries I could set my foot in and make tons of photocopies of all the stuff that I was interested in, which was practically all that had the word "volcano" printed on it. The result is that I never got rich because I spent a fortune on photocopying articles and books and photographs, but I do have a nice little archive of all that stuff, which is now filling half of the volumetric space of our apartment ...

You should, however, try to do a Google search on every article that you're interested in, writing its title or the main words of it, and maybe one or two of the authors - like "Allard Behncke Etna anatomy cycle" and you will find that quite a few authors post at least the manuscript versions of their more important papers on their institutional web sites. For example, Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, an Icelandic geologist who has been quite a bit in the news during the current Eyjafjallajökull eruption, has posted virtually all of his recent publications in pdf format on his staff web page - (he'd actually done that quite some time before this eruption, I had his page bookmarked since a couple of years).

As for older publications, do check digital collections like The Internet Archive - - and search "volcano" and you'll be amazed about the stuff that's in there; for France there's the Gallica archive - - and looking around on the Internet you'll find more and more interesting things to read on volcanoes, old and new. The US Geological Survey - - has a formidable archive of its publications - virtually all of the past 10 years or so are available for free in digital format, and many older publications are as well, including highlights as the famous USGS Professional Paper 1250 on Mount St Helens - - and the seminal two-volume USGS Professional Paper 1350 on Hawaiian volcanism - - and many many more. Just look around, this will help you through the hours and days when Eyjafjallajökull is in clouds or, beware, once it stops erupting :-D

@ 494...I got to thinking about MadScientist being poached by a fumarole in Papua and my thoughts floated to the Blue Lagoon, 88 miles west of Eyjafjallajokull. Is that heated by a fumarole? Always wanted to go there, but never really thought about how the water gets hot. Does the water temperature there fluctuate much? Is the eruption activity at Eyjaf close enough to have any effect on it? I have no concept of subterranean volcano plumbing, and what hooks up to what. I'd find it interesting if any of you volunteer to explain.

By Janice Sutcliffe (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

@Janice 494,
As i remember, the Blue Lagoon is heated/filled by the 'waste' from a geothermal power plant nearby, it is not a natural lake.
Nonetheless, the 'waste' is rich in minerals and good for your health.

By Viktor, Budapest (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

@Chris Aha - this one -
Volcanism in Iceland in historical time: Volcano types, eruption styles and eruptive history
Journal of Geodynamics, Volume 43, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 118-152
T. Thordarson, G. Larsen

I have the abstract. will go looking for a free copy online now.... :-I

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

@Birdseye,#504: Can you give me the exact title?
And the reference of Boris is
One more hint: If you can access the abstract and get the mail adress of the corresponding author, it often helps to write them a polite email that you want to read this article but cannot access it and so on and if he can provide you a pdf-version of the article. This works quite often, as people are glad to have other people read their stuff.

@Boris, #508: This is the reason why I love Endnote in combination with PubMed and articles as a PDF. No more tons of paper on the shelf.

Technical journal and book published is a business; they are either privately owned publishing company conglomerates or they are published by nonprofit technical organizations - worldwide.

Journals have paid subscribers bases that foot the bills for publication and staff costs, just like hobby, business, home and general interest magazines. Journals published by professional organizations typically require membership AND a paid subscription in order to access and read on-line articles, but there are exceptions: some current issues offer Open Access (openly downloadable) articles each month. Others allow public access to articles after 1-3 years for issues published as long as 5-10 years ago.

Authors pay a fee for publishing articles, sometimes hefty (many hundreds of dollars). The public has recognized that publishers have been able to substantially reduce internal costs (savings after a trend 10 years ago to migrate to fully electronic publishing formats), and later through offering 'online only' subscriptions (no physical issues).

A third option used by some publishers is to offer electronic access as downloadable issues through paid subscriptions from 3rd party magazine and journal vendors like Zinio.

There are also cases like Canada that provide public access to select present and older issues of various Canadian journals, restricted to legal residents/citizens.

Some professional journals have been offering 'Open Access' articles in each issue in response to public pressure to provide lay person access to peer-reviewed, publicly-financed and published studies.

There are also a limited number of open-access journal in the sciences - mostly in the hardcore (archivx) and biomedical science (PubMedCentral, PLoS) domains. These articles are author manuscripts that are typically peer-reviewed and are declared openly accessible (with certain copyright provisions) by authors and Open Access publishers. - Discussion and Encyclopedia Article. Who is ArchivX?

ScienceBlogs has a science librarian blogger:
Confessions of a Science Librarian

Erik would do well to invite John Dupuis to post a guest article and take on questions, regarding options available to the the interested lay public/science professionals outside of academia for Library Guest and on-line access, retrieval of journal articles.

I seem to remember that there is a very large caldera in Germany that is not considered to be dead. Am I right and is there anyone monitoring that?

By Brian (Skye) (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

@Chris #512 - I do appreciate the possibility of having articles in digital - mostly pdf - format, though I must say, I prefer reading from original paper, a book is something much more sensual than a computer or a laptop expecially when reading in bed before falling asleep ¦-D

#Brian #514, you probably mean the Laacher See volcano, which is not really a caldera or if so, a very small caldera filled with a scenic lake. It is part of what we call the East Eifel volcanic field, which has numerous other (mostly smaller) eruptive centers in it. It's not very likely that the Laacher See volcano will erupt again but there are good probabilities that one day - next year or in 10,000 years - a new vent will erupt, probably much like Paricutin in Mexico in 1943-1952. Monitoring of this volcanic area is certainly not sufficient, and scientists have recently started demanding heightened attention and strengthened monitoring efforts in the area.

#511 @birdseye: Check comment #344 in this very thread. I got a 35-page PDF from there that looks like the whole article to my layman eyes.

By Reynir, .is (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

ref. access to science journals in academia and at the moment volcano papers in particular, - is it a trend that libraries subscribe to fewer and fewer digital journals now, so that academics must still struggle for or pay for access to back issues which were previously archived and available as paper volumes but are no longer on the digital subscription list?

Seems to me that if we want to encourage general wider science knowledge in our populations, maybe a universal-access digital library card could be a big seller - sponsored by all interested journals, who would get a piece of the price.

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

@Raving ... Tis large! But not viewable on vodafone or mila webcams :(

I hope they're not suffering power outages.

By beedragon Canada (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

@Boris: I am talking about archiving the stuff. For reading I agree, paper is better. Its also nicer to use a pen to make remarks in the paper than on the screen :-))
@Birdseye, #518: Its a matter of more and more papers which appear in every field and unsufficient funding. Its already a problem in the university libraries.

Of course - as soon as I post, the Mila cams come back online :)

By beedragon Canada (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

@Reynir,517 - maybe because you're in Iceland? I am limited to 'Guest access,' same link, and the abstract - also table of contents, but contents only available at a price - lucky you!

"If you have a User Name & Password, you may already have access to this article. Please login below.
If you do not have a User Name and Password, click the "Register to Purchase" button below to purchase this article. Price: US $ 31.50"

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

OK, back to Iceland's volcanoes - : ) ...the one I can see - and learning by osmosis : )

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

Re: Daniel #495: Earthquake magnitudes are on an open-ended logarithmic scale, with no upper and no lower limit. While you're not going to see a magnitude 100 quake (would the solar system survive?) it's quite possible to have an earthquake that's less than magnitude 0.0. When the math works out, the exponent turns negative instead of positive. You won't see earthquakes with that small of a magnitude reported that often, except in highly monitored areas, because earthquakes that small are hard to detect against background noise.

By lifeblack (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

#523: Maybe. I dunno. Or maybe the system was having a monday. How very bourgeoisely odd.

By Reynir, .is (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

On accessing academic papers:

1. Quite a lot of papers have been posted by their authors online either in final version or a preprint/working paper version. In some fields such as physics and economics there are organized archives - ArXiv, RePEc, SSRN etc. Google Scholar is good for finding others.

2. E-mail the authors for a copy.

3. Here in Canberra the public can access a lot of stuff at the National Library. There are public libraries with decent access in major cities around the world. Most university libraries though now need a password/username to access online journals.

4. If you are a serious researcher try to get a university affiliation. I'm currently a "visiting fellow" at Australian National University. I don't get paid but I do get library access etc. and I credit them with my publications.

5. The most sneaky and unethical depending on what you think is ethical - find a friend with access to give you their username/password.

@Chris Reyk : ))))) Tak Fyrir with extras!

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

#523: Another method to try:
1. Go to
2a. Click on J in 'Browse by title' and select 'Journal of Geodynamics' from a long list.
2b. Click on 'Earth and Planetart Sciences' under 'Browse by subject', click on 'J' in the 'Journal/Book Title' bar and select 'Journal of Geodynamics' from a shorter list.
3. Click on 'Volume 43' under 'Articles in Press', then select Issue 1. "Volcanism in Iceland in historical time" is the tenth article on the list and should be directly downloadable. If not, I'm outta clues.

By Reynir, .is (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

@Lifeblac #525.

Thank you for the explanation. I do not know the mathematics behind the calculation of magnitude but that actually makes sense. :-)

See I learned something new today also by following this blog. :-)

@Chris, @Reynir,Passerby, Boris et al, thank you, copy now in hand...

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

Plume just becoming visible on Hvolsvelli webcam. Looking quite tall and lively.

@Birdseye Hi! Thanks for the map link!

I´m at work behind a huge firewall so no downloading of interesting pictures here. But a nice view over the volcano on Mulakot and Hvolsvelli cam. What happended to Vodafone and their cams? I miss them.

By snotra viking,… (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

Amazing view of the plume on the Hvolsvelli cam right now :)

By Corporal_E (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

Today Eyjafjallajokull's plume has the appearance of a huge grey elephant hiding behind the clouds. I tried to come up with a haiku for this but failed miserably :)

By beedragon Canada (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

#531: Here you are:
1. Ashfall forecast (undated)
2. Emergency evacuation on Apr. 15th
3. Magma under Eyjaf. and Katla
4. (Evacuation zones because of) eruption in Eyjaf.
5. Roads severed because of floods (by the Road Works)
6. Flood from Eyjaf. on Apr. 14th
7. Eruption in the top crater
8. Possible lava flow from Fimmv.
9. (Safe) spots to view the eruption from
10. The eruption zone between the glaciers
11. Eruptions in the Katla caldera and Eyjaf. since settling
12. (Expected paths for) floods from Mýrdalsjökull
13. Seismic activity in Goðabunga
14. Evacuation because of eruption on Fimmv.

By Reynir, .is (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

I'm not the only one, am I, to think that the tip of GÃgjökull plus the fracture in the boulder resemble one of those nasty stiletto-heeled ladies' shoes?

By Reynir, .is (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

@Snotraviking hi back - suw's one-stop-shop, a good place to catch up if you have a computer at home -
@Reynir 538, outdated now, oh well, but maybe a good place to check in case of future 'events.'

By birdsesye (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

#525 lifeblack,

The energy released in a hypothetical magnitude 100 event would be about 6*10^154J. Which is what you get from annihilating 6.5*10^137 kg of matter. This is about 3.2*10^107 solar masses or 5.6*10^95 times the mass of our galaxy or about 8*10^84 times the mass of the observable universe. A pretty much inconceivable amount of energy...

So no, the solar system would not survive it. Neither would the galaxy and probably the universe also would seize to exist (when it gets hit by the news of the explosion). Maybe some new civilization of a new lifeform will describe the event as a "Big Bang".

Another useless trivia to annoy people with...

Does anybody have a weather satellite picture over Iceland? I would like to see how the weather is, suspecting that the clouds will stay on and thicken during the evening, even though I hope not! On Met Office site, they say that lightning is detected in the ash plume, would be great to see some.

By snotra viking,… (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

Reynir, #540, no you are not the only one. LOL That is what I think it looks like, too. I have seen some really weird shoes lately. One was composed of nails! I don't like any heel higher than about an inch.

By Diane N CA (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

Does anyone know what has happened to the Vodafone webcam, I'm missing my fix. :(

So basically SyFy is remaking "Dante's Peak" and sticking a "super" in front of it? Gosh, I'm so looking forward to catching this latest indispensible contribution to the disaster-movie genre. Not.

We already saw "10.5." Why can't they just call this one "11"?

By Raging Bee (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

For the Icelanders reading this: congratulations for Icelandic singer and artist Björk winning the Polar Music Award (together with Italian composer Morricone).

@551: Since it takes more than a hundred millennia for the Yellowstone site to "re-charge" itself, I assume the film will take place in 50.000 AD.
In which case, the super-civilization inhabitants will simply drill a ten-mile hole lined with "unobtanium" to drain the heat and gas from under the site. No need for Pierce Brosnan to show up :-)

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 17 May 2010 #permalink

They will use the energy drained from it to bring him BACK!

snotra---That is an interesting name.

Here is the link. Click the 24 hour box in the right hand and use the infrared selection.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 May 2010 #permalink

Snotra in Icelandic: Pretty face.

By Dagur Bragason (not verified) on 18 May 2010 #permalink

Personally I find it maddening that research papers are all locked up in for pay journals. Tax money funds the research, grad students often work as virtual slaves, but in the end its all locked up out of reach of those who payed for it.

@Birger Johansson [552]

"...In which case, the super-civilization inhabitants will simply drill a ten-mile hole lined with "unobtanium" to drain the heat and gas from under the site... "

Say, what ever happened to that Italian project to drill down into the chamber of the Phlegrean Fields to see what was down there?

We know that BP is pretty safe in drilling non-volcanic areas with their much more predictable morphology...


Thank you for making the honest strive to provide an explanation for this. I think very strong about it and would like to learn more. If itâs OK, as you reach more intensive knowledge, could you mind including more posts very similar to this one with more information? It will be extraordinarily helpful and helpful for me and my colleagues.