Shinmoedake Volcano Eruption Warning Raised To Level 2 As Tremors Increase

The Meteorological Agency has raised the warning level by one notch against a volcanic eruption for Shinmoedake peak, located in the Kirishima mountain range bordering between Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures.

The agency took the step late Thursday night, saying it issued a Level 2 warning for Shinmoedake in light of a recent series of small volcanic tremors observed in the area.

A Level 2 warning restricts entry to areas near the mouth of the volcano, while a Level 1 warning only tells the public of its existence. Level 5, the highest alert, urges people to evacuate.

According to the agency, 12 tremors were observed on Shinmoedake on Sept. 23, and 39 on Oct. 4. The number continues to rise.

Given the developments, small-scale eruptions could occur soon, and rocks could be spewed within a 1-km radius from the mouth, the agency said.

The agency lowered its warning level from 2 to 1 on May 26 after signs that volcanic activity had subsided.

Volcano Warning: Mexico Fears Latest Eruption From Popocatepetl After Earthquake

The 5,426-metre high Popocatepetl volcano is the most active in Mexico, with more than 15 major eruptions reported since 1519.

But the volcano, which is also referred to by Mexicans as El Popo, is now causing other problems in the region as neighbours report rivers of mud flowing from the skirt of the mountain following a recent mini eruption.

Experts at geological news service Sismologia Mundial reported the plume as a “mild eruption” and confirmed Popocatepetl is now “normal”.

But now neighbours have warned large rivers of mud from the volcano have flowed into the streets over the last three days, reaching the municipalities of Atlautla and Ozumba.

María de los Ángeles Ibáñez, a neighbour of San Juan Tehuixtitlan, said: “We are afraid. There are times when it comes with more strength and it rumbles, it is not a normal river.”

Ladislao Rocha Martínez, head of Civil Protection in Atlautla, said that since yesterday the Civil Protection of the State of Mexico reported that “there was an avalanche of black mud.”

And residents say they are unable to sleep at night, as they are fearful the plague of mud could be a sign an explosion is imminent.

One neighbour said: “I live in a two-storey house and it has one or two fractures. The authorities came to see it, they said it was safe to live inside.

“But I no longer feel safe, for fear of another earthquake or a volcano eruption.”

On 19 September a deadly 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico City and triggered a volcanic eruption.

The Popocatepetl volcano burst into life at the same time as the earthquake, which killed at least 248 people, and sent plumes of thick, black smoke into the sky.

And during the eruption a church collapsed during mass, killing 15 people, in Atzitzihuacan on the slopes of the volcano, Puebla Governor Jose Antonio Gali said.

The landslides after the earthquake created a dam, which with the constant rains has been washed away, dragging tons of mud to the lower parts, especially in Nexpayantla.

Since the earthquake, the neighbours of these communities, the most affected ones, say they can no longer sleep peacefully as they fear what could happen.

The mountain is known to be very active and previously had a significant eruption on August 22, sending a volcanic plume some 4km into the air.

Last year, Popo erupted for the first time since 2000 when ash was propelled a staggering three kilometres into the sky.

Since then, there have been several eruptions.

The eruption comes after a spate of volcanic activity around the world – with all eyes on the Agung volcano in Bali which is showing signs of erupting.

Fuego Volcano Erupts Sending Ash 5 km Into The Sky After 12 Eruptions In One Hour

The Fuego Volcano in south Guatemala burst into life on Wednesday plumes of ash blew into the sky in what has been described as on of “the largest recorded eruptions” in the volcano’s history.

The volcano, known locally as Volcan de Fuego, which translates as ‘Volcano of Fire’, is an extremely active volcano, and this is the seventh time this year that it has erupted.

Guatemala’s National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (Insivumeh) stated that ash has been spread 20 kilometres in east and northeast directions.

Authorities have also warned that ash could spread all the way to Guatemala City, the capital of Guatemala, some 50 kilometres northwards of the volcano.

Insivumeh warned that “in the eruptive behaviour of the volcano and the variability of the wind, experts do not rule out the possibility that this activity will continue to make ash fall at greater distances”.

Guatemala’s Volcano Observatory added: “These explosions are of a weak, moderate and strong character, expel columns of grey ash at a height of 4400-5,000m (14435-16,405ft) and are driven by wind at distances ranging from 16-20km to the east, northeast”.

Authorities have also alerted aviation bosses to warn them about the plumes of ash which could cause travel chaos.

The Civil Aeronautics said: “This is one of the largest recorded eruptions of the volcano of Fuego, so it is not appropriate to ascend to any flank of the volcano of Fuego.

The 3,800 metre tall Volcan de Fuego is one of South America’s most active volcanos, which is some feat as the continent is dotted with them and over 30 in Guatemala alone.

This is the seventh eruption of the year, but experts say that this is no cause for concern as it has been blowing regularly since the Spanish conquest.

Siberian Volcanic Eruptions Caused Extinction 250 Million Years Ago, New Evidence Shows

A team of scientists has found new evidence that the Great Permian Extinction, which occurred approximately 250 million years ago, was caused by massive volcanic eruptions that led to significant environmental changes.

The study, which appears in the journal Scientific Reports, reports a global spike in the chemical element nickel at the time of extinction. The anomalous nickel most likely came from emanations related to the concurrent huge volcanic eruptions in what is now Siberia. These eruptions, the researchers say, are associated with nickel-rich magmatic intrusions — rocks formed from the cooling of magma — that contain some of the greatest deposits of nickel ore on the planet.

Using an Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer, which measures the abundance of rare elements at their atomic level, the scientists documented anomalous peaks of nickel in regions ranging from the Arctic to India at the time of the Great Permian Extinction — distributions that suggest these nickel anomalies were a worldwide phenomenon.

This new evidence of a nickel fingerprint at the time of the extinctions convinced the scientists that it was the volcanic upheaval in Siberia that produced intense global warming and other environmental changes that led to the disappearance of more than 90 percent of all species.

“The Siberian volcanic eruptions and related massive intrusions of nickel-rich magmas into Earth’s crust apparently emitted nickel-rich volatiles into the atmosphere, where they were distributed globally,” explains New York University geologist Michael Rampino, the paper’s senior author. “At the same time, explosive interactions of the magma with older coal deposits could have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gases, which would explain the intense global warming recorded in the oceans and on land at the time of the mass extinctions. The warm oceans also became sluggish and depleted in dissolved oxygen, contributing to the extinction of many forms of life in the sea.”

“This new finding, which contributes further evidence that the Siberian Trap eruptions were the catalyst for the most extensive extinction event Earth has ever endured, has exciting implications,” says Sedelia Rodriguez, a co-author of the paper and lecturer in the department of Environmental Science at Barnard College. “We look forward to expanding our research on nickel and other elements to delineate the specific areas affected by this eruption. In doing so, we hope to learn more about how these events trigger massive extinctions that affect both land and marine animals. Additionally, we hope this research will contribute to determining whether an event of this magnitude is possible in the future.”

Large Volcanic Eruptions In Tropics Can Trigger El Niño Events

Explosive volcanic eruptions in the tropics can lead to El Niño events, those notorious warming periods in the Pacific Ocean with dramatic global impacts on the climate, according to a new study.

Enormous eruptions trigger El Niño events by pumping millions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, which form a sulfuric acid cloud, reflecting solar radiation and reducing the average global surface temperature, according to the study co-authored by Alan Robock, a distinguished professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

The study, published online today in Nature Communications, used sophisticated climate model simulations to show that El Niño tends to peak during the year after large volcanic eruptions like the one at Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.

“We can’t predict volcanic eruptions, but when the next one happens, we’ll be able to do a much better job predicting the next several seasons, and before Pinatubo we really had no idea,” said Robock, who has a doctorate in meteorology. “All we need is one number — how much sulfur dioxide goes into the stratosphere — and you can measure it with satellites the day after an eruption.”

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is nature’s leading mode of periodic climate variability. It features sea surface temperature anomalies in the central and eastern Pacific. ENSO events (consisting of El Niño or La Niña, a cooling period) unfold every three to seven years and usually peak at the end of the calendar year, causing worldwide impacts on the climate by altering atmospheric circulation, the study notes.

Strong El Niño events and wind shear typically suppress the development of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says. But they can also lead to elevated sea levels and potentially damaging cold season nor’easters along the East Coast, among many other impacts.

Sea surface temperature data since 1882 document large El Niño-like patterns following four out of five big eruptions: Santa María (Guatemala) in October 1902, Mount Agung (Indonesia) in March 1963, El Chichón (Mexico) in April 1982 and Pinatubo in June 1991.

The study focused on the Mount Pinatubo eruption because it’s the largest and best-documented tropical one in the modern technology period. It ejected about 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide, Robock said.

Cooling in tropical Africa after volcanic eruptions weakens the West African monsoon, and drives westerly wind anomalies near the equator over the western Pacific, the study says. The anomalies are amplified by air-sea interactions in the Pacific, favoring an El Niño-like response.

Climate model simulations show that Pinatubo-like eruptions tend to shorten La Niñas, lengthen El Niños and lead to unusual warming during neutral periods, the study says.

If there’s a big volcanic eruption tomorrow, Robock said he could make predictions for seasonal temperatures, precipitation and the appearance of El Niño next winter.

“If you’re a farmer and you’re in a part of the world where El Niño or the lack of one determines how much rainfall you will get, you could make plans ahead of time for what crops to grow, based on the prediction for precipitation,” he said.

Vanuatu: Volcanic Eruption Forces At Least 6,000 People To Evacuate Ambae Island

The Manaro volcano has been active since 2005, but a recent increase in activity has raised fears of a major eruption.

The national government also approved a $2 million fund to provide food, shelter and water to those affected.

The volcano’s activity measure was raised to Level 4 for the first time over the weekend, which indicates a “moderate eruption” and is the second highest level in Vanuatu’s volcanic alert system.

“There’s ash, fire, stones and lava being thrown out from the mouth of the volcano,” Shadrack Welegtabit, the director of Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office, said.

He said it was difficult to say whether there will be a major eruption, and that those who have been evacuated will just have to sit and wait.

“With the seismic machine, we can measure what’s happening but we can’t really predict what the volcano will do next,” he said.

About 10,000 people live on the island, and those in the north and south are most vulnerable.

The Vanuatu Red Cross said those villagers have been moved to the eastern and western sides of the island.

“The priority now is shelter, water and food, and also looking at health,” said Augustine Garae, the organisation’s disaster management coordinator.

Evacuees struggling to get information

Georgia Tacey, the Vanuatu country director for non-governmental organisation Save the Children, said those affected are struggling without reliable information about the eruption.

“They’re incredibly distressed, there isn’t a great deal of mobile cell coverage over the island so [they] rely on word of mouth. Radio coverage is also very little,” she said.

Vanuatu’s Meteorology and Geohazards Department said in an alert that villagers within 6.5 kilometres of the volcano face the biggest risk from airborne rocks and volcanic gas.

The department warned that acid rain could damage crops across a broader area.

Ms Tacey said authorities have a contingency plan in place for if the volcanic activity increases.

“They would be looking at evacuating the entire island to nearby islands,” she said.

“Obviously no one wants that to happen because apart from that being incredibly distressing it would be logistically challenging and would displace people for a very long time.”

Vanuatu is considered one of the countries most prone to natural disasters, with a half-dozen active volcanoes as well as regular cyclones and earthquakes.

It sits on the Pacific’s Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanoes are common.

Volcanic Eruption Fears Prompt 75,000 to Evacuate in Bali

Thousands of people have scattered to all corners of the Indonesian island of Bali, fleeing a possible eruption of volcanic Mount Agung.

The mountain, situated on the northeast section of the island, last erupted in 1963 killing about 1,100 people, and a dramatic increase seismic activity has officials worried it may be about to blow again.

“The latest analysis indicates that Mount Agung’s seismic energy is increasing and has the potential to erupt,” the National Vulcanology Center said in a statement to Reuters. “However, no one can predict exactly when there will be an eruption.”

Most people are choosing not to risk staying in the area. More than 75,000 have relocated to areas further away from the peak, and some have crossed to the neighboring island of Lombok, The Associated Press reports.

“Our staff are combing the area and urging everyone to evacuate,” said Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said at a news conference. “There are some who are staying behind because the volcano hasn’t erupted yet or because of religious beliefs.”

Thousands of evacuees are living in temporary shelters, sports centers, village halls and with relatives or friends, according to the AP. Some return to the danger zone, which extends up to 7.5 miles from the volcano, during the day to tend to livestock.

“There are many livestock in our village but nobody is taking care of them,” Nengah Satiya, who is one of several who volunteered to feed the pigs and chickens in his village, told the South China Morning Post. “We take turns going back to feed them.”

Others have given up on their livestock.

“We have already sold our cattle, because we thought it was better than leaving them there for nothing,” villager Wayan Merta, whose home is just 4 miles from the summit, told the AP. “My feeling is the mountain will erupt. But no one knows, we just pray.”

Meanwhile, in the evacuation centers, the government is distributing hundreds of thousands of face masks and thousands of mattresses and blankets, Nugroho told the AP.

“The biggest challenge is we can’t predict the number of evacuees,” Putu Widiada, head of the local disaster management agency in Klungkung district told Reuters. “If the number of evacuees exceeds our maximum capacity, we have asked that every public hall in the district be prepared to become evacuation camps.”

Officials have said there’s no immediate threat to tourists and a spokeswoman for the Sheraton Bali Kuta told The Australian that as of Monday, “travelers are still coming in. We haven’t had any postponement or cancellations.”

She went on to say that the hotel is advising guests to monitor information from local authorities and travel advisories, a significant eruption would force the closure of Bali’s international airport, stranding thousands.

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Fearing just such an occurrence, some tourists had already decided to leave.

“It’s obviously an awful thing,” an Australian woman who identified herself as Miriam told the AP at Bali’s international airport. “We want to get out of here just to be safe.”

When the volcano last erupted in 1963, it hurled ash as high as 12 miles, according to volcanologists, and remained active for about a year. Lava traveled 4.7 miles and ash reached Jakarta about 620 miles away.