Archive for the ‘Tectonics/Volcanoes’ category

Katla: The Game Changer?

May 30, 2010

Sleeping Katla

According to MSNBC, the Katla volcano in Iceland is about to blow her top – hat tip Joe Bastardi Joe Bastardi blog. Katla is the big sis of Eyjafjallajökull;I mean the really big sis. And according to an initial research paper by the University College of London Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction:

Analysis of the seismic energy released around Katla over the last decade or so is interpreted as providing evidence of a rising … intrusive magma body on the western flank of the volcano.


 We conclude that given the high frequency of Katla activity, an eruption in the short term is a strong possibility.

A Katla eruption could be an order of magnitude greater than Eyjafjallajökull and possibly emit significant quantities of ash and sulphur particles into the stratosphere. Read the part about volcanoes at FOCUS warming will end. If that happens, then it’s a game-changer.

And look for a lot of uneasy alarmists to use it as a back door out of an increasingly embarrassing situation.

Accelerating Global Erosion Consensus Smashed – Artifact Of Observation

May 16, 2010

Wiki Photo

The consensus was that global erosion of mountains and the Earth’s surface had been accelerating over the last 5 million years. Well, guess what? This once long accepted hypothesis has just been smashed by researchers at the GeoForschungsZentrum in Potsdam Germany. They present their results in the May 13 issue of NatureGFZ Potsdam (click English top right). They write:

The globally observed four-fold acceleration of sedimentation is an artifact of the observations. Important geological hypotheses that are based on this observation now require revision.

Artifact of observation? Gee, where can one see that today? Hansen, are you reading?

Erosion of rocks and the Earth’s surface over the last 5 million years could be found as sediment. Measurements of the sediment layers suggested that erosion had increased over the last 5 million years. The question was why? What caused the acceleration?

Hypotheses for the cause included the increased global growth of mountains by movement of tectonic plates which resulted in accelerated erosion, or the onset of the ice ages 3 million years ago – which accelerated erosion. But neither of these hypotheses was satisfactory. Another wrench in the the machine was CO2 –  it just didn’t pan out.

GFZ-scientists Jane Willenbring and Friedhelm von Blanckenburg appear to have solved the riddle.

They found that the increase in sedimentation rates is a so-called “artifact” of the observations: the more detail geologists observe, the more sediment they discover. In younger geologic time the observations get better than those made on sediment millions of years in age. This is so because not all sediment, once deposited, survives the passage of geologic time. The increase in sedimentation therefore is not real – it merely mirrors the better preservation of younger sediment.

Read the GFZ Potsdam report to see how they used isotope Beryllium-10 to solve the riddle.

Of course other scientists could claim that the consensus supports the old view, and that the GFZ researchers are just a couple of fringe scientists that can’t be taken seriously.

Eyjafjallajökull – Year Without A Summer?

April 17, 2010

Can the 1666-meter tall Eyjafjallajökull volcano cause climate change? That depends on 2 factors:  1) How long will it continue to erupt?  2) How much sulphur dioxide (SO2) reaches the stratosphere?

Climate – 3 million tonnes of SO2 needed for cooling

SO2 bonds with water molecules to form sulphuric acid, which produces a reflective haze around the globe that blocks out some sunlight. Once in the stratosphere, it can take months or years before it dissipates. But this effect requires at least 3 million tonnes reaching the stratosphere before it causes measureable climatic cooling. In 1991 global temperatures dropped about half of a degree C for 2 years after Pinatubo had erupted. Even if the Eyjafjallajökull eruption continued for weeks, this effect is improbable. The particles have not reached the 13,000 m altitude needed for the blocking effect. Conclusion. No climatic effects.,1518,689506-8,00.html

Weather – Year without a summer?

Eyjafjallajökull could however effect the weather over the next few weeks or months if it continues to emit more ash, which makes the sky appear more milky. Should it continue to emit, it could drop temperatures over parts of Europe a few tenths of a degree and make spring a little cooler. And if the eruption continues for weeks, some scientists say it could produce a year without a summer like in 1816, after Tambora in Indonesia erupted a year earlier and caused dramatic cooling.,1518,689506-9,00.html.

PS. Remembering how to spell Eyjafjallalökull 1) break it up into three words: Eyjaf – jalla – jökull;  2) Repeat that 20 times. (But don’t ask me how to pronounce it!)

Update: pronouncing Eyjafjallajökull – 

Wasn’t that easy!

Iceland Volcano – Sign of Bigger Things To Come?

April 16, 2010

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the latest on the Iceland volcano.–the-supervolcano-is-coming-20100416-sj01.html?autostart= .  Its VEI is estimated at 2-3, not sufficient to cause global climate change. It is similar in magnitude to Mt. Etna in Sicily, 2002. Volcanoes of this magnitude typically occur worldwide about once a year. Compare that to:

– Mt. St. Helens, 1980, VEI = 4 (typically occur every 10 years) 

– Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines, 1991, VEI = 5-6 (every 100 years)

– Mt. Tambora, Indonesia, 1815, VEI = 7 (every 1000 years)

– Mt. Toba, Sumatra, 74,000 years ago, VEI 8 (devastating supervolcano, occur every 100,000 years).

The Eyjafjoll eruption probably will quiet down in a day or two, but there is a chance it could go on for a lot longer, even for months or years. Eyjafjoll last erupted in 1823 and lasted for more than a year. In the past 10 years, vulcanologists have noticed increased activity and say Iceland might be entering a more active phase and “brewing some really big bangs”.

Unlike conventional volcanoes, so-called supervolcanoes occur about every 100,00 years and have catastrophic consequences on life and climate. They are not always obvious from the surface, thus making it difficult for scientists to predict where the next one might be. Yellowstone in Wyoming, the Phlegrean fields near Naples, Italy, and Lake Taupo in New Zealand are possible locations for the next super-eruption. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.

Iceland volcano brings chaos to Europe

April 15, 2010

Not only is flying ash over Europe causing air traffic disruptions, about 800 people have been forced to evacuate their homes around the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in southern Iceland because the flooding cut roads. A huge cloud of ash from the 2nd major eruption in less than a month blew eastwards and closed major airports more than 1700 km away in London. The volcano on the Eyjafjallajokull glacier erupted just after midnight on Wednesday.

The ash is about 8-10km in the air and cannot been seen from the ground. But experts say it’s a danger to jet engines and restricts visibility.