Stories tagged volcanoes

Sep
11
2008

Thing of the past?: New studies show that the likelihood of a major eruption of Mount Vesuvius, like this computer image of the infamous blast of 79 A.D., are decreasing.
Thing of the past?: New studies show that the likelihood of a major eruption of Mount Vesuvius, like this computer image of the infamous blast of 79 A.D., are decreasing.Courtesy Wikipedia
About a year ago visitors at the Science Museum of Minnesota learned about the disaster that struck Pompeii, Italy, when Mount Vesuvius erupted, wiping out the city and a lot of its residents in the span of just about a day.

Today, about three million people are living within range of a Vesuvius eruption. But the good news from geologists is that they may be under lessened risk for a devastating eruption like the one that hit in 79 A.D.

A new study shows that the volcano’s magma reservoir has been rising up closer to the Earth’s surface over the past 20,000 years. At that higher level, the magma is likely to produce less violent eruptions.

That magma has actually moved quite a bit. Between the huge Pompeii-devastating eruption and another one in the year 472 A.D., the magma pool climbed about 2.5 miles toward Earth’s surface.

But that doesn’t mean people can sleep totally at peace in the volcano’s neighborhood, experts advise. Other factors also play into the severity of a volcano eruption, including tectonic plate shift and the deposit distribution of the magma, factors that weren’t part of this new study.

Kilauea, the volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, has been erupting for 25 years, and has recently picked up the pace. While not an immediate threat to human life, scientists are keeping an eye on it.

Apr
16
2008

Nevado del Huila: Huila, the highest active volcano in Colombia, is a stratovolcano constructed inside an old caldera. The volcano is seen here from the SW.
Nevado del Huila: Huila, the highest active volcano in Colombia, is a stratovolcano constructed inside an old caldera. The volcano is seen here from the SW.Courtesy Juan Carlos Diago, 1995 (Bernardo Pulgarín, INGEOMINAS, Colombia).
Nevado del Huila, a volcano in Columbia, erupted shortly before midnight on Monday forcing about 3,500 people to evacuate. The eruption was preceded by seismic activity that started on April 8.

Nevado del Huila last erupted in 2007, causing flooding and mud flows (lahars) as the eruption melted the snow and ice cap on top of the tallest active volcano in Columbia.

Before this recent activity, Nevado del Huila had been quiet since the 16th century.

In 1985 25,000 people were killed when another Columbian volcano, Nevado del Ruiz, erupted initiating a series of deadly lahars.

Apr
13
2008

NASA Science website is an awesome resource

NASA Science website
NASA Science websiteCourtesy NASA
To show how useful this site can be, here are links to pages I found as I dug deeper into just one of the many areas on the NASA Science website.

Science for different levels of learning

The NASA Science website provides learning opportunities for four learning groups.

Earth, sun, planets, and astrophysics

The NASA Science website is divided into these parts.

I'm going through Pompeii withdrawal here at the museum now that our recent exhibit on the volcano has left. Then I ran into this story about a volcano getting ready to go in South America. Read on all you fellow volconologists!

Dec
04
2007

Roman throne: This isn't the actual find, but archaeologists near Pompeii have unearthed what is believed to be the oldest known throne from the Roman empire. The new find is throne made of wood and depicts scenes from Greek mythology.
Roman throne: This isn't the actual find, but archaeologists near Pompeii have unearthed what is believed to be the oldest known throne from the Roman empire. The new find is throne made of wood and depicts scenes from Greek mythology.Courtesy mharrsch
Once or twice a week, I get to work in the Pompeii exhibit currently here at the Science Museum of Minnesota. And during most shifts, at least once I’m asked if they’re still finding items buried in the rubble from the volcanic explosion that hit the coastal Italian city in the year 79 A.D.

The short answer is “yes.”

The longer answer is that archaeologists this fall uncovered what they believe to be the first Roman throne. The throne was found at an excavation of Herculaneum, a small city that was buried along with Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted.

Items that were found were only two legs and portion of the back of the throne, but it’s a one-of-a-kind find. The only other depictions of Roman thrones from that era that researchers have previously found have been in works of art from that period.

The throne was found 82 feet below the surface of Herculaneum in a house that is thought to have belonged to Julius Caesar’s father-in-law. The throne is adorned with images from Greek mythology along with pine cones and phalluses.

And this is really only the start of the learning process. The throne remains will now go through a restoration process while archaeologists continue digging at the site to find out if there are any other treasures buried there.

What to learn more about what's currently happening in the Pompeii region? Here's a link to the official website of the archeology organization that's conducting the excavations.

A substantial volcano on Maluku island in Indonesia (map) is threatening to erupt. The BBC reports that as many as 2000 people are still within the 5 mile danger zone around the volcano.

Rock slab at Mount St. Helens: View biggerCourtesy Dan Dzurisin, Cascades Volcano Observatory, USGS
Rock slab at Mount St. Helens: View bigger
Courtesy Dan Dzurisin, Cascades Volcano Observatory, USGS

Check out this amazing photo of a growing rock slab at Mount St. Helens.

We will be doing more features on volcanoes this summer while we host artifacts from the ancient city of Pompeii here at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Researchers are converting volcanic seismic data into frequencies able to be heard by human ears. These so called “songs” assist researchers in detecting patterns that may warn of future eruptions.

Jun
28
2005

Saturn's moon Titan is the only satellite (moon) in our solar system that has a dense atmosphere. Nitrogen is the main component of this atmosphere and methane the second most important. The Cassini spacecraft photographed Titan as it passed by on October 26, 2004. Later analyses of the images revealed a cryovolcano that spews ice instead of lava. This finding is reported by Christopher Sotin and associates at Universite de Nantes and the Universite de Paris-Sud in France and other institutions in Germany, Italy, and the USA (Arizona, California, Colorado, New York, Washington). This giant ice volcano may also release methane into the atmosphere; however, the images show that a widespread methane ocean does not exist. Because Titan's atmosphere is similar to that of Earth, scientists are studying Titan for clues to the origin of life.