May 28, 2009 | 3
Paleontologists have found more solid evidence that volcanoes likely set off the Guadalupian mass extinction in the Middle Permian about 260 million years ago.
Previous studies have pointed to volcanoes as likely instigators of large-scale extinctions, such as the Siberian Traps that might have kicked off the subsequent Permian-Triassic extinction (in which as many as 70 percent of Earth's species disappeared). But, note the authors of the new study, published online today in Science, the link between volcanism and extinctions has been difficult to confirm.
A site in the Emeishan province in southwest China has turned up a telling layer of volcanic rock between sedimentary layers of old shallow seabed, reports the paper. An analysis of fossils in the sedimentary rock directly above (i.e. after) the volcanic layer shows a sharp change in the number and types of marine life, namely algae and foraminifers.
Apr 14, 2009
Despite receiving flack from Republicans earlier this year, volcano monitoring is among the first programs to get federal stimulus dough from the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the Associated Press reports.
Of the $140 million that the DOI is shelling out to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), $15.2 million is headed to bolster volcano monitoring programs in the National Volcano Early Warning System, which helped to alert officials to the early rumblings of Mount Redoubt in Alaska before it erupted last month. Also getting a hefty chunk of the cash, earthquake monitoring is receiving $29.4 million to update seismic stations.
Mar 23, 2009 | 2
Thar she blows!
Mount Redoubt blew its lid last night and continues to erupt today, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), which has logged at five eruptions so far. The first was at 10:38 last night Alaska time (2:38 a.m. EDT); the next one occurred 24 minutes later followed by three more eruptions this morning at 12:14, 1:39 and 4:37.
Plumes from the volcano, which is about 103 miles southwest of Anchorage, rose 50,000 feet into the air, according to the Associated Press. The National Weather Service issued an ashfall advisory through noon today, recommending that area residents seal their windows and doors to prevent ash from getting indoors.
Mar 19, 2009 | 8
An undersea volcano in the South Pacific is spewing stunning columns of smoke, steam and ash thousands of feet into the air.
Mar 16, 2009 | 6
It’s code orange for Mount Redoubt, the Alaskan volcano whose rumblings have had geologists predicting an eruption since January.
Officials at the Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the threat level yesterday from yellow, which indicates elevated unrest, to orange, the stage just before eruption when its unrest is escalating or a volcano is emitting minor amounts of ash. Red is the highest level, when eruption is imminent or underway. Geologists had just lowered the threat level to yellow last Tuesday when they began to detect movement of magma within Redoubt’s cracks and fractures, which produces a specific signal, the Associated Press reports.
Feb 25, 2009 | 82
When Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivered the official Republican response to President Obama’s speech last night, he blasted elements of the economic stimulus package as “wasteful spending”– among them, “$140 million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.’”
“Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.,” Jindal said.
What was that all about? Well, Congress authorized some of that $140 million to be spent on volcano monitoring, but not all of it, ProPublica notes in a blow-by-blow of the economic recovery package. That line, ProPublica says, is directed to “U.S. Geological Survey facilities and equipment, including stream gages, seismic and volcano monitoring systems and national map activities.”
Jan 30, 2009 | 6
The so-called ring of fire edging the Pacific is known to be highly active. So it's no surprise that said ring is jolting Seattle residents awake and putting denizens of Anchorage on notice of an imminent eruption from the redoubtable Mount Redoubt.
What felt like a "huge gust of wind," according to Luann Lee of Puyallup (via Twitter) struck Indianola, Wash., this morning, right in the heart of the Seattle-Tacoma urban agglomeration. The quake measured just 4.5 on the Richter Scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and no damage has been reported.
The residents of Anchorage may not be so lucky, as the USGS also issued a warning that Mount Redoubt, roughly 106 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of that city, is rumbling and "an eruption is possible within days to weeks."
Nov 6, 2008 | 1
It's been nearly 25 years since Mauna Loa, Hawaii's most dangerous volcano, last erupted—but researchers warn that another eruption may be on the horizon. It's nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact date or time the mountain may blow next, but a new technology allows scientists to determine the eruption's location on the slopes of the giant volcano, thereby helping them determine where the lava it spews will go.
Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth, is a so-called shield volcano, which means that lava can rush either from its central crater or its slopes—and in some eruptions from both. If lava shoots out of Mauna Loa's southern or northern rifts, two neighboring villages are at risk of being scorched. When the mountain blew in 1950, lava ran down its southwest side, prompting the evacuation of 75 people and destroying 15 homes near the village of Kona, about 25 miles from the mountain. When it last erupted in 1984, rivers of fiery-hot lava flooded the northeastern side of the mountain, stopping just short of the island of Hawaii's largest city, Hilo (population: approximately 150,000).
Sep 10, 2008 | 4
New research indicates that Mount Vesuvius' magma chamber is slowly traveling upwards, suggesting that the volcano may not be as hazardous as previously believed.
Vesuvius most famously destroyed the Roman town of Pompeii in a cataclysmic eruption in 79 AD. The blast was so violent that it covered Pompeii in nearly 100 feet of ash. If Vesuvius erupted today, it could kill up to 700,000 people in southern Italy, including the residents of Naples.
The location of Vesuvius' magma reservoir is a major consideration for estimating the dynamics of the molten rock, which helps researchers predict how strong the volcano's next eruption will be. A team of scientists, led by Bruno Scaillet of the CNRS-Université d'Orleans in France, report in Nature today that they analyzed rocks from four major explosions to estimate the temperature and pressure of the magma chamber over time. Their results suggest that Vesuvius' pool of magma has risen about 10 km (6 miles) in the past 20,000 years.
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