Volcano Erupts In Indonesia’s North Sumatra

JAKARTA: Mount Sinabung volcano in Karo district, Indonesia’s North Sumatra province erupted earlier Thursday, spewing a column of ash 2km into the sky, Xinhua news agency reported a disaster agency senior official as saying.

The eruption took place at 2.45am Jakarta time, followed by tremors with ash sliding 2km to the east and southeast, and 1.5km to the south of the crater, said spokesman for the national disaster management Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

“But the eruption did not leave casualty and trigger fresh evacuation,” he told Xinhua in a text message.

On Wednesday, the volcano also erupted, spreading ash by up to 1.5km high, said Sutopo.

Mount Sinabung has been on top alert since July 2, 2015 with no-go zone of 7km in the south, southeast and east of the crater, according to him.

Mount Sinabung is one of Indonesia’s 129 active volcanoes.

One Of Planet’s Largest Volcanic Eruptions

Washington State University researchers have determined that the Pacific Northwest was home to one of the Earth’s largest known volcanic eruptions, a millennia-long spewing of sulfuric gas that blocked out the sun and cooled the planet.

Only two other eruptions — the basalt floods of the Siberian Traps and the Deccan Traps — were larger, and they led to two of the Earth’s great extinctions.

“This would have been devastating regionally because of the acid-rain effect from the eruptions,” said John Wolff, a professor in the WSU School of the Environment. “It did have a global effect on temperatures, but not drastic enough to start killing things, or it did not kill enough of them to affect the fossil record.”

The research, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, appears in Geology, the top journal in the field. Starting 16.5 million years ago, they say, vents in southeast Washington and northeast Oregon put out a series of flows that reached nearly to Canada and all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The flows created the Wapshilla Ridge Member of the Grande Ronde Basalt, a kilometer-thick block familiar to travelers in the Columbia Gorge and most of Eastern Washington. The researchers say it is “the largest mapped flood basalt unit on Earth.”

The researchers estimate that, over tens of thousands of years, the floods put out between 242 and 305 billion tons of sulfur dioxide. That’s more than 4,000 times the output of the 1815 Mount Tambora eruption in present-day Indonesia. That eruption blanketed the Earth in an aerosol veil, creating the “Year Without A Summer” and food shortages across the northern hemisphere.

The volume of gas emitted from the Wapshilla Ridge lavas, said the researchers, “is equivalent to a Tambora eruption every day for 11 to 16 years.”

Most of the lava’s gases were released during the eruptions, but some of the gas remained trapped in crystals near the volcanic vents. Klarissa Davis, lead author of the paper, analyzed the gases as part of her doctoral studies. The other authors are Michael Rowe, now at the University of Auckland, and Owen Neill, now at the University of Michigan.

Wolff puts the eruption into one of three classes of cataclysms, the other two being a caldera eruption like the Yellowstone volcano and the impact of an asteroid. A similar eruption today “would devastate modern society globally,” said Wolff.

The eruption also provides an insight into the workings of climate change. It took place in what is known as the Miocene Climactic Optimum, or MCO, when some 50 million years of cooling was interrupted by 5 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit of warming. But at its peak, the MCO had a brief cooling period that coincides with the Wapshilla eruption and its profusion of sulfur dioxide.

Sulfur dioxide is now bandied about as a possible tool for engineering a break in the Earth’s current warming trend, though Wolff is not particularly keen on the idea.

“I personally think that it’s probably a dangerous thing to do without understanding all of the possible consequences,” he said. “But maybe we’re getting an idea of some possible consequences here.”

Footage Shows What An Undersea Volcano In Auckland Would Look Like

A veteran volcanologist has won New Zealand’s top research honour for his work on explosive volcanoes and the threat they pose to us.

And a visualisation by the Auckland Museum shows what a volcano in New Zealand’s largest city would look like.

Victoria University’s Professor Colin Wilson, who is now leading an $8.2 million, five-year study into the risk of a New Zealand super-eruption, has been awarded the Rutherford Medal at the Royal Society Te Aparangi’s annual Research Honours dinner.

Wilson has worked on many of the world’s volcanoes, including Taupo, and Long Valley and Yellowstone in the United States.

His work has pioneered new techniques to map out the volcanic processes from slumber to massive eruption, and has helped us understand how, where and when molten rock gathers below volcanoes.

Perhaps most impressively, Wilson’s research has been able to link long-term cycles with some of the largest and most destructive eruptions known to science.

His research showed how there was a long build-up to the massive Oruanui super-eruption from Taupo about 25,500 years ago, which created an enormous caldera that Lake Taupo fills only part of today.

Scientists believe the eruption would have been heard in central Australia and spread ash as far as Antarctica.

Wilson has also studied the volcanoes of Raoul, Healy and Macauley in the Kermadec Arc – in the latter volcano, he showed how it didn’t produce a violent explosion, but buoyant lava balloons, jokingly described as “lava lamps on speed”.

This new type of eruption was named by Wilson and his team as the “Tangaroan” eruptive style, after the Niwa research vessel that is itself named after the Maori god of the sea.

In a new government-funded study he and colleagues aim to create a state-of-the-art model to clear up some of the uncertainty surrounding the risk of volcanoes.

Super-eruptions are extremely rare: in the past 2.8 million years only 10 have been recorded, four of them in our Central North Island.

“Professor Wilson is a world-renowned geologist whose research has provided profound insight into how volcanoes behave,” stated the selection panel that awarded him the honour.

“He is a meticulous, insightful and highly productive researcher who melds acute field observations with advanced analytical techniques.”

Wilson said he was “deeply grateful” for the honour and the recognition that it brought.

“The work for which I am being recognised owes, however, a great debt to the many outstanding students and talented colleagues with whom I have worked over the years, and to my family for their support.

A Surprise From the Supervolcano Under Yellowstone

Beneath Yellowstone National Park lies a supervolcano, a behemoth far more powerful than your average volcano. It has the ability to expel more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of rock and ash at once — 250,000 times more material than erupted from Mount St. Helens in 1980, which killed 57 people. That could blanket most of the United States in a thick layer of ash and even plunge the Earth into a volcanic winter.

Yellowstone’s last supereruption occurred 631,000 years ago. And it’s not the planet’s only buried supervolcano. Scientists suspect that a supereruption scars the planet every 100,000 years, causing many to ask when we can next expect such an explosive planet-changing event.

To answer that question, scientists are seeking lessons from Yellowstone’s past. And the results have been surprising. They show that the forces that drive these rare and violent events can move much more rapidly than volcanologists previously anticipated.

The early evidence, presented at a recent volcanology conference, shows that Yellowstone’s most recent supereruption was sparked when new magma moved into the system only decades before the eruption. Previous estimates assumed that the geological process that led to the event took millenniums to occur.

To reach that conclusion, Hannah Shamloo, a graduate student at Arizona State University, and her colleagues spent weeks at Yellowstone’s Lava Creek Tuff — a fossilized ash deposit from its last supereruption. There, they hauled rocks under the heat of the sun to gather samples, occasionally suspending their work when a bison or a bear roamed nearby.

Ms. Shamloo later analyzed trace crystals in the volcanic leftovers, allowing her to pin down changes before the supervolcano’s eruption. Each crystal once resided within the vast, seething ocean of magma deep underground. As the crystals grew outward, layer upon layer, they recorded changes in temperature, pressure and water content beneath the volcano, much like a set of tree rings.

“We expected that there might be processes happening over thousands of years preceding the eruption,” said Christy Till, a geologist at Arizona State, and Ms. Shamloo’s dissertation adviser. Instead, the outer rims of the crystals revealed a clear uptick in temperature and a change in composition that occurred on a rapid time scale. That could mean the supereruption transpired only decades after an injection of fresh magma beneath the volcano.

The time scale is the blink of an eye, geologically speaking. It’s even shorter than a previous study that found that another ancient supervolcano beneath California’s Long Valley caldera awoke hundreds of years before its eruption. As such, scientists are just now starting to realize that the conditions that lead to supereruptions might emerge within a human lifetime.

“It’s shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption,” said Ms. Shamloo, though she warned that there’s more work to do before scientists can verify a precise time scale.

Dr. Kari Cooper, a geochemist at the University of California, Davis who was not involved in the research, said Ms. Shamloo and Dr. Till’s research offered more insights into the time frames of supereruptions, although she is not yet convinced that scientists can pin down the precise trigger of the last Yellowstone event. Geologists must now figure out what kick-starts the rapid movements leading up to supereruptions.

“It’s one thing to think about this slow gradual buildup — it’s another thing to think about how you mobilize 1,000 cubic kilometers of magma in a decade,” she said.

As the research advances, scientists hope they will be able to spot future supereruptions in the making. The odds of Yellowstone, or any other supervolcano erupting anytime soon are small. But understanding the largest eruptions can only help scientists better understand, and therefore forecast, the entire spectrum of volcanic eruptions — something that Dr. Cooper thinks will be possible in a matter of decades.

Canary Islands Panic As Earthquakes Hit La Palma – 40 Tremors In 48 Hours

Fears of a volcano erupting on the Canary Islands has sparked panic as the Spanish archipelago was hit by more than 40 earthquake tremors in just 48 hours.

La Palma was rocked by more than 40 seismic movements of low magnitude and intensity between 1.5 and 2.7 on the Richter scale, according to the data of the National Geographic Institute.

The biggest earthquake, recorded at around 1pm on Saturday, had a magnitude of 2.7 and took place in the area of the Natural Park Cumbre Vieja, 28 kilometres deep.

The second largest quake, of 2.6, took place at 1.23pm on Sunday in the same area, while the third quake erupted at midnight on Monday, reaching a magnitude of 2.1, according to the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan).

The earthquakes have sparked panic across the Canary Islands, with volcano experts pulled in to examine the unusual seismic activity.

María José Blanco, director of the National Geographic Institute in the Canary Islands, said the island has “never recorded a similar swarm” and although the energy levels are low and very deep, it is different from the seismic activity they have recorded so far.

The Ministry of Territorial Policy, Sustainability and Security of the Government of the Canary Islands, respecting the Special Plan for Civil Protection and Emergency Care for Volcanic Hazards, will meet with the Scientific Committee of Evaluation and Monitoring of Volcanic Phenomena, to evaluate the data obtained from monitoring stations on the island.

A scientific team of five will also visit La Palma to keep track of the tremors in situ.

Ms Blanco said the team will start to increase the number of seismic stations in the volcanic monitoring network in a bid to develop the geochemical measurements usually carried out in the island of La Palma.

So far, the earthquakes have not been felt by residents because they are occurring at a great depth.

The last significant seismic activity in the archipelago took place in 2011 on the island of El Hierro, which finally led to the eruption of an underwater volcano in the southeast of the island.

The eruption was followed by more than 7,500 earthquakes, which lasted for three months.

La Palma is a volcanic ocean island, which rises almost 7km above the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. There is road access from sea level to the summit at 2,426metres, which is marked by rocks called Los Muchachos.

It was originally formed as a seamount through submarine volcanic activity and is currently, along with Tenerife, the most volcanically active of the Canary Islands.

The island is composed of two large volcanic centres.

The northern part of La Palma is dominated by the older Taburiente, with a width of 9 km and a depth of 1,500 metres and is surrounded by a ring of mountains ranging from 1,600m to 2,400m in height.

Around a half a million years ago, the Taburiente volcano collapsed with a giant landslide, forming the Caldera de Taburiente.

But the younger 1949-metre-high Cumbre Vieja, the southern volcano, is one of the most active in the Canaries.

Volcano Erupts Following Hundreds Of Earthquakes

Shinmoedake’s volatile eruption is understood to have been sparked after the country’s Meteorological Agency reported there had been 100 volcanic tremors per day had been registered so far this month.

The volcano, located on the southern island of Kyushu, blew its stack on Wednesday for the first time in six years.

Tremors in the Kagoshima and Miyazaki regions have intensified since September prompting the agency to issue a Level 2 warning.

At Level 2 residents are restricted from entering areas near Shinmoedake’s mouth, while a Level 5 urges people to evacuate.

It is believed the earthquakes were caused by the movement of magma and hot water underground that caused periods of shaking that lasted for several minutes.

Earlier this year the agency issued a Level 1 warning following signs of volcanic activity in May.

Japan is located in the famous ring Ring of Fire, where about 75% of the world’s volcanoes are located.

Incredibly, the island nation is home to 10% of active volcanoes and as many as 1,500 earthquakes are recorded every year.

Closer to home, panic erupted over fears a Canary Islands volcano could blow and send a monster tsunami to hit Spain after 40 earthquakes struck in just two days.

Bali Volcano: Earth Set To Become Cooler After Mount Agung Erupts

BALI’s largest volcano, Mount Agung, looks set to erupt any day now and the event will have a shocking impact on the world’s temperature.

Even though the enormous volcano is likely to spew out molten lava and vast amounts of ash and sulphur dioxide, the Earth is actually set to become a little bit cooler.

The gases and dust particles thrown into the atmosphere during the eruption will help cool the planet by shading incoming solar radiation – effectively providing a partial sun block.

Meanwhile, the sulphur dioxide reacts with the water vapour in the air to form droplets of sulphuric acid.

These droplets accumulate in the Earth’s stratosphere and form a haze, which acts as a barrier to UV rays and results in a cooling effect.

The cooling effect can sometimes last for a few years, according to Professor Arculus, an Emeritus Professor in geology at the Australian National University, but eventually the droplets will fall back to Earth.

He said the change in temperature “doesn’t last long enough for us to notice”.

He added: “It’s more likely to be an instrumental effect that scientists notice.”

When Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, global atmospheric temperatures dropped by 0.1-0.4 degrees Celsius.

While this may not sound like a lot, even the smallest change in temperature can have a huge effect on the Earth.

The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, had a huge effect on global temperatures.

Professor Arculus explained: “After its eruption, it was known in Northern Europe and northeast America as ‘The Year Without Summer’.

“It caused a big enough temperature drop that there was frost in the New England region of the United States in August and that’s unheard of. And [there were] widespread crop failures.

“Global temperatures were affected enough for the people who were trying to grow things and feed animals to notice the effect.

“There’s no notion yet that Agung will have an eruption as large as Tambora.”