Tag Archives: volcanoes

The Legend of Zelda: Volcano of the Wild

Hello everybody, we have our first guest blogger looking at the representation of volcanism in videogames! We have Ed McGowan taking us through the gorgeous environment of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild! Sit back and enjoy, it is awesome. If you want to have a go yourself, just let me know and I will give you the space here to write up!

***

The latest game in the Zelda franchise, Breath of the Wild (BotW) throws out the rule books of the semi-rigid storyline structure well known to all Zelda players. Instead, BotW was the flagship of the Nintendo Switch, and so designed to show off the full capabilities of their new console. With a map bigger than any of the previous games, BotW offers an open-world gaming experience with a Zelda skin, where you are free to climb any and every mountain, exploring every single nook and cranny possible, all the while reminded it’s a Zelda game by name drops of the Master Sword, Princess Zelda, Hyrule and more.

One such popular Zelda classic is the volcanic region, Death Mountain. Having appeared in 9 of the 19 Zelda games to date, this is one of the franchise’s most well-known landmarks. Usually Death Mountain is an average sized active volcano with a path up to the dungeon entrance that is found within the volcano itself. However, thanks to BotW’s developers focusing so much effort into creating gorgeous scenarios, this game’s Death Mountain is massive! And taking full advantage of the game’s open-world-ness I made sure to leave no molten rock unturned!

To keep in line with the other reviewed games, I’ve continued Jazmin’s criteria out of 10, 1 being unrealistic and 10 being realistic for:

  1. Aesthetics
  2. Accessibility
  3. Viscosity
  4. Death
  5. Overall plausibility

Results: They really did pack this game with a lot of content…

BotW (2)

Like with any volcanic area in a videogame, BotW couldn’t make it that easy to access Death Mountain thanks to the game’s new temperature feature. The closer to the volcano I got, the hotter things became. Soon my temp gauge reached 37°C, beyond this point the gauge breaks (saying ‘error’) and things quickly become a problem. The first is that any wooded weapons equipped ignites and if left burning for too long are destroyed… Remain here for a few more seconds and your clothes ignite, causing fairly quick health damage till death…If you teleport in at a closer distance to the lava lake or volcano itself then death is near instant.

BotW (1)

Looking up the autoignition temperature (the temperature at which things spontaneously catch on fire) for oak (because the game has acorns), the US Department of Agriculture found that oak could last 30 seconds at 430°C before igniting. As for cotton (I assume that’s what the basic clothes are made of in this game), autoignition temps are also around 400°C, depending on how wet the cotton is. No wonder the temperature gauge breaks. Although a sudden temperature increase from 37°C to 400°C in a single step sounds a bit much.

The only way to bare the scorching temperatures is to at, first drink fireproof elixirs made of locally found fireproof lizards, which only last a couple of minutes, until better fireproof clothing (like the silver space-looking suit real volcanologists have to wear) can be purchased in the aptly named Goron City (home of the Gorons).

Now it’s truly time to explore!

First up is a look at the physical volcanology. One of the few obstacles met on the way to Goron City is a still hot lava flow (fig b), that has been channelled down the valley, covering the path. A simple climb up to continue on track, but still a nice sight to see.

Next up is the lava lake north of Goron City (fig c), fed by lavafalls from a second smaller lava lake that surrounds the main cone, like a three-tiered fountain! To me, it looks like each tier of the fountain is an old caldera (rim marked out in red lines on the map), now acting as a bowl to contain the flowing lava.

BotW (2)

Volcanoes found within old volcanic craters are very common on Earth, forming after the caldera collapses and a new volcano dome begins to grow (e.g. Anak Krakatau, or volcano island inside Taal volcano). Here’s a time lapse of a lava dome forming within Mt St Helens’ crater:

Continuing further we finally reach the active cone of Death Mountain. When first reaching the mountain, it is very restless due to a ‘divine beast’ roaming around the crater (left flank of fig a), causing a plume of ash and lava bombs to be thrown into the air. Like with Jazmin’s review of Lego Marvel Superheroes 2, the ash plume from Death Mountain unrealistically rises up and evenly disperses in all directions instead of being blown in a prevailing wind direction.

The final physical volcanology aspect I found lies just NE of Death Mountain and was not something I expected to find, a tall pillar sticking up in the middle of a crater. Its purpose in the game is to act as a mini climbing challenge to reach the shrine on top (BotW’s mini dungeons), but how on earth would something like this realistically form?

BotW (9)

One option is that it was part of the volcano that was flung in the air by a very powerful eruption, smashing to the ground and formed an impact crater. Very plausible…

The other option is that it is a volcanic plug, eroded out and exposed. These form when lava within the volcano’s vent cools, corking the volcano like a bottle of champagne. When the surrounding host rock is less resistant to erosion than the plug, they are often left exposed as tall pillars of volcanic rock. Examples of volcanic plugs can be found across the world. One of the most well-known examples is the Devils Tower in USA.

Devils Tower

The other volcanic part of this game I want to quickly cover is the hazards posed to locals, as despite volcanoes being as deadly as they are, people still live within their shadow. In Death Mountain’s case it’s the Gorons.

Goron City is dangerous enough to human standards with its intense heat and rivers of lava flowing through the streets. But during the divine beasts rampage the ‘magma bombs’ (technically lava bombs because they’re above ground but I’ll let Krane off), are mentioned to be falling daily (fig b), which even to strong Gorons are a deadly hazard.

But why would they live in such a dangerous place, as is the case with so many people in real life? The reason is the rare ores they mine (fig c). Volcanic porphory deposits can host many riches such as copper, silver and even diamonds. As a result, people live in dangerous, volcanically active areas such as Chile and Bolivia for copper and silver.

But I suppose when Death Mountain is less active the risks are less severe, it is actually a nice place to live. Similar to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, there are a few volcanic hot springs on Death Mountain that actually restore your health if you swim in them (but do keep your head above water unlike that little one).

BotW (13)

1. Aesthetics: 10

  • The game was designed to look beautiful, and I can’t deny they did a good job of it! From the flowing lava to the mountains themselves I can happily just stand and watch the scenery.

2. Accessibility: 10

  • Again, the game was designed to be fully accessible, so you can literally go where ever you wish to. The only thing you can’t do is swim in the lava lake but that’s how it should be.

3. Viscosity: 7

  • See Death and Plausibility.

Death: 7

  • Whilst the fireproof clothing looks heavy enough, you sink into the lava like its water. Lava can be viscous, but I’m sure you’d sink a little slower than this.

BotW (4)

  • Also the massive jump from 37 to 400°C in one step mentioned at the start still gets me.

5. Overall plausibility: 8

  • Death Mountain’s massive size and the sheer volume of lava produced is very big. A lava lake that size would soon start to cool and harden on the surface instead of remaining that molten. But the rest of the volcanism I can’t argue with.

***

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Ed will make another guest appearance in the future with a different game! I might be slow this month, but the next post written from me will be on The Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Happy gaming 🙂

Spyro: Spyro: The Questionable Volcanism Trilogy

Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 and Lego DC Supervillains: Lego Marvel-at-this-lava (and DC Supervillains)

Volcano-videogame inventory list: Volcano-videogame inventory

Advertisements

Lego Marvel-at-this-lava (and DC Supervillains)

If you have never played a Lego game, please do so. My first was the original Star Wars trilogy and it was a delight. Anyway, Lego has a small series surrounding the DC and Marvel comicbook universe, and the two most recent ones: Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 and Lego DC Supervillains are just great.

Lego Marvel has the storyline of the time-travelling villain Kang creating his own world by bringing different bits of the Marvel universe together (Xander, one of the cities in The Guardians of the Galaxy becomes neighbours with Post-Ragnarok Thor’s world Asgard). In the DC game, the Justice League’s evil counterparts, the Justice Syndicate, takeover and the villains try to stop them and in equal parts be jealous that they are better villains than them.

Volcanism was limited but still raised some interesting questions! As before, I had some criteria out of 10, 1 being unrealistic and 10 being realistic:

  1. Aesthetics
  2. Accessibility
  3. Viscosity
  4. Death
  5. Overall plausibility

To navigate levels (only contributed to a little bit of the data for both games), I went back and made sure I was a character that could fly and regenerate health (e.g. Raven and Wonder Woman for Lego DC and Captain Marvel for Lego Marvel). Enemies were only a minor nuisance here. Most volcanism evidence was in the hub worlds, so had total freedom to explore.

Results: quality over quantity.

Lego Marvel Superheroes 2

Volcanism in this game is only limited to the Post-Ragnarok area/level. Still found some interesting stuff though.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 (1)Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 (5)

Lego Marvel Superheroes_gif (1)

A nice cone, with extensive lava flows and an ash plume drifting towards the Xander area. The ashfall was a bit unrealistic, as it only restricted to the Asgard area and did not drift. In reality, if when a volcano erupts and it produces ash, wherever the wind blows, the ash goes and falls. Relatively small eruptions that produce ash plumes can still travel far (such as the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland). Bigger eruptions that produce ash plumes however, can circle the whole world! An example is the 1812 eruption of Tambora in Indonesia.

slide_2
Image from BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8634944.stm

If we look at Asgard itself, there are some interesting stuff.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 (3)Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 (3)

First is the interaction between the built environment (well…what is left of it anyway) and the lava flows. The top image shows an almost complete burial of a building and in between two lava channels and the bottom image is lava flowing under a stone bridge.

The building looks like it was destroyed by the volcano emerging right there or, buried by volcanic ash and/or pyroclastic material. Cannot say for certain what scenario it is but, all are plausible. The capital of Montserrat, Plymouth, is buried by pyroclastic material/ash/lahars (Figure a). The town of Armero is buried by lahars from the 1985 eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia (Figure b) and lava from Mt. Etna in Italy, has buried buildings in the past (Figure c).

The intact stone bridge with the lava flowing underneath it interests me. Like in figures a, b and c, buildings can withstand the heat and pressures of volcanic hazards to a certain extent. What is the melting point of bricks? No idea, but luckily someone wrote a paper on it! According to Kanolt (1912), various types of brick have the following melting points (I had no idea there are so many types of brick):

  • Fire clay: 1555-1725°C (2831-3137°F)
  • Bauxite brick: 1565-1785°C (2849-3245°F)
  • Silica brick: 1700-1705°C (3092-3101°F)
  • Chromite brick: 2050°C (3722°F)
  • Magnesia brick: 2165°C (3929°F)

The melting points of “stone” really does depend on it being either sedimentary (e.g. sandstone), metamorphic (e.g. marble) or igneous (e.g. basalt). Whilst I cannot say for certain what “type” of stone is used in Asgard, I am going to say it can withstand the high temperatures of lava (700-1200°C/1300-2200°F). On a similar note, last image from Asgard is this tree that had survived:

Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 (4)

If not in the direct path of lava or another volcanic hazard, trees can survive. Even still, if they are, some trunks and branches can survive but lose their vegetation, but some do not lose their leaves! For example, these trees from one of the 1902 pyroclastic density currents of La Soufrière St. Vincent (my masters and PhD study area) stayed standing, but lost their leaves:

yorym_ta123-001.jpg
From Dr. Tempest Anderson’s collection at the Yorkshire Museum, UK: https://www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk/collections/collections-highlights/temptest-anderson-explorer-and-surgeon/

Here are some other photos of the lava in/around Asgard and also what it looks like in the level attached to this area:

Also, this is how you die in both Lego games if you are a character that can regenerate health (characters that do not die instantly):

Lego Marvel Superheroes_gif (2)

  1. Aesthetics: 7
    • It is not bad, flow mechanics behave alright, got cooler bits forming on top of the lava, volcanic ash is visible but like Spyro, there is a lack of flow complexity.
  2. Accessibility: 9
    • In the Asgard portion of the hub, it is easy to get to if you use a flying character. The background in the level attached is not accessible.
  3. Viscosity: 7
    • Pretty good, no complaints but again, lacks complexity and seems too runny for my liking.
  4. Death: 1
    • This is Lego. It really is not in the realms of realism other than that you can die. On a similar note…Lego is plastic. It should just melt. But…I suppose that would be pretty graphic for a children’s game.
  5. Overall plausibility: 8
    • I am quite happy with it! Apart from the lack of flow complexity, the way Lego dies and the volcanic ash not impacting outside of Asgard that brought the mark down.

Lego DC Supervillains

Since this was done by the same company, there is not much difference apart from what volcanism is on offer to explore. All of it is restricted to the world Apokolips (pronounced apocalypse): home of Darkseid (kind of DC’s equivalent of Thanos), Granny Goodness (who is not good) and the Female Furies (who will hurt you).

This place is insane. It is essentially a city living on/in (?) a lava field. I just…I love it. I do not know where to begin. Okay, I will start with that this is not plausible in the slightest. What is feasible are all the lava falls, which I touched upon in my Spyro post. The texture/viscosity of them is like honey which is kind of similar to pahoehoe lava. I cannot say for certain what kind of material the buildings are made out of. It is metal, which was established in my Spyro write-up of being able to withstand the temperatures of lava. Cannot possibly imagine what it took to incorporate the lava into the infrastructure and if the eruption was happening before, during or after the construction of the city.

The background landscape in the first two images is bit confusing, but does reminds me of a fissure eruption landscape. Think 2018 Kilauea in Hawaii and 2014 Bárðabunga-Holuhraun in Iceland. Fissure eruptions produce extensive and complex flow paths, so if the sharp rock features were there before, it works out fine. Not entirely sure if an eruption could form them.

What is also interesting is the texture of the solidified areas in the last image. Looks like basalt lava textures but also like a moonscape? Also not sure about the glowing rock in the background. Unless it is ‘A’a or blocky lava (see photo below) that has been emplaced and is just taking a long while to cool.

hawaii03
A’a lava on Hawai’i. Image from: https://www.lpi.usra.edu/publications/slidesets/hawaii/slidepages/slide_03.html

I have saved the best (in my opinion) to last:

LEGO® DC Super-Villains (8)LEGO® DC Super-Villains (10)

Look.at.that.ropey.lava. It is my favourite bit of lava flows. It is very common and associated with pahoehoe lava. The texture forms when the upper crust of the flow starts to cool and behave like elastic, with the flow underneath creating the folds before it solidifies. It is just so awesome.

Pahoehoe
Image taken by Burtner A. (https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/pahoehoe)

Out of the games I have revisited so far, only this game has made an attempt to diversify in the representation of lava flow texture complexity. Give more me diversity!

  1. Aesthetics: 8
    • I am a sucker for pahoehoe.
  2. Accessibility: 9
  3. Viscosity: 9
    • One extra point for the pahoehoe. Bonus point for effort.
  4. Death: 1
  5. Overall plausibility: 9
    • Extra point for the pahoehoe! I love it okay?!

This has been fun, I can strike one more off the list. I promise the next game I do is Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

In the meantime, happy gaming!

Jazmin

Volcano-videogame inventory

Surprise! I thought I update everyone on what my representation of volcanism in videogames inventory looks like! I’ll just list games and some stills I have recently visited and games that are still on my list. I am open to suggestions and if you want to have a go yourself and need a space to blog about it, let me know and I will let you write them up here.

Complete

Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy (click to be taken to the blog post)

Spyro1_Jacques (1)

 

In progress

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

SOTTR_The Forge (3)

Assassin’s Creed Origins/Odyssey

Origins_MethanaOdyssey_Foundry of Hephaistos (1)

From Dust

From Dust2018-12-25-9-21-22

Crash Bandicoot Trilogy

Crash3_Bone Yard (3)

The Elder Scrolls (Skyrim and Online)

Skyrim_Soltheim (2)ESO (5)

Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves

Lego (Marvel Superheroes 2 and DC Supervillans)

LEGO® Marvel Super Heroes 2LEGO® DC Super-Villains

To-do list

  • Borderlands Series (Before number 3 comes out September)
  • Mass Effect Series (Yes, even the one that did not have many fans)
  • Dragon Age Series (This one may take a while)
  • Legend of Zelda Series (I am open to collaborations on this one)
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (I cannot find the first images I took!)
  • Starfox Adventures (Likewise, cannot find the first images!)
  • Pokemon Series (I am also open to collaborations on this one)

Happy gaming 😊🎮🎲

Doing historical volcanology

So every year I say I should do more blogging…we will see how that goes. But in the mean time, I asked Twitter for some ideas of what to write and got this suggestion from my friend and fellow PhD volcanologist Geoff Lerner (he is doing some awesome stuff out in New Zealand, do check out his Twitter!)

twitter

So using inspiration from Geoff…I’m going to attempt to give a general overview of how historical volcanology works.

dog and book gif

To begin: how did we come to know about the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius, and the destruction of Pomepii and Herculeum? The observations of Pliny the Younger. He was a man who lived in the distant past who observed a volcanic eruption. We also have countless volcanology studies about the eruption (and others that happened since). We also have unearthed archaeological sites and artefacts. Thanks to all this evidence, we now know that this eruption happened and its impacts on the surrounding society.

pomepii
…and I guess we have the movie now?

A historian is a person who researches past events that relate to humans through narratives. Volcanologist one way or the other look at past volcanic eruptions…so you could say we are “Earth” historians.

history
Look I just googled “history gif” and I do not know why it is of an animated iceskater okay?

Volcanology in itself is diverse and researchers come from all different backgrounds: geology, petrology, geophysics, engineering, geochemistry  – I labelled here a number of “physical” science disciplines. In volcanology we are increasingly seeing the inclusion of the “social” sciences when exploring the impacts of volcanism on an exposed population.

Historians use tangible (sites, objects, instruments, remains) and intangible (memories, narratives, indigenous knowledge) artefacts. So a historical volcanologist uses tangible and/or intangible artefacts to understand past volcanic events from the human perspective. For me, I have mainly used intangible artefacts, with written records in archives and interviewing people remembering an eruption. Archaeologists are particularly good at using tangible artefacts, with plenty of research out there of looking at deep past volcanic events and their impacts on early human civiliations.

indiana

If a volcanologist looks at past volcanic events, combining the understanding of how people responded to the event within the historical and social context, with the scientific understanding of volcanism, it provides a richness and numerous perspectives of the story of an eruption that may not have been captured if doing a single disciplinary approach. Looking at the past, we can see how much the volcano and the society that live around it, have changed or not. Further social volcanology studies for a given volcano would benefit from the historical perspective in this way. Furthermore, a “traditional” physical volcanology study would complement a historical volcanology study and vice versa. One or the other could find things the other had not found before, which could lead to a fuller picture of what happened!

lightbulb

So to end this post I have compiled a little checklist I have gained during my PhD doing a historical volcanology project:

checklist

  1. Whatever “physical” science approach to volcanology you use, think outside of the box of how it would be beneficial to the society who has to live with the particular volcanic region you are researching;

imagination

2. This is important for every volcanologist – do your research on your volcano: its past activity, current activity, what signs and hazards it is known to produce and any probablitic scenarios of any potential future impact on society;

3. And now we take it up a notch: do your homework on your volcano in the context of the society who had to live with it. Here I mean the social and cultural significance of the volcano, what they knew and do not know about it, and perhaps most importantly (if using intangible artefacts): what language was used to describe what they saw and felt about the volcano? In times of activity would be a priority, but if you have the time (and money) look at quiet periods too;

word

4. And now, if you are looking at a historical eruption and you want to see what is in the archives* ask yourself: has the language to describe any volcanic phenomena associated with the volcano, similar or different to the present? You will need to be very aware that in the past, especially before the modern notions of “volcanology” as a science, people were very descriptive when observing volcanic activity (think “curtains of fire”, “it grew dark during the day”, “we heard rumblings” and so on);

*Using archives first requires identifying a collection: in most places this is available online, others it requires contacting the specific department and arranging a visit to see what is there. If a collection may prove useful, be prepared to go down some rabbit holes and not come back up for a while…it takes perseverance to find what you are looking for.

rabbit hole
Actual representation of what it is like doing archival work

5. Be respectful of the words written/spoken, objects etc. of those who are no longer here. As a volcanologist, and as a scientist, you can interpret what was observed with rigour but never dismiss other people’s own interpretations when they were within the moment, observing a phenomena they may have never witnessed before. Like all disasters, volcanic eruptions induce stress and anxiety (usually temporarily, but sometimes longer), occurring in their own social and cultural context that is different from your own;

6. Be extra mindful when researching volcanoes in countries that were colonised/occupied. I say this because written records that have survived are usually of one dominant “voice” and many others have either been manipulated or silenced. For my investigations into the 1812 and 1902-1903 eruptions of La Soufrière, I found that the voices of women, children, African slaves, freed persons of colour and indentured servants were almost entirely absent or manipulated (the experiences of myself, my family and POC friends allowed me to have a trained eye to stereotypical/racist language and behaviour). I tried to correct this by doing my interviews for the 1979 eruption by including men and women of varying ages and ethnicities – remember: each voice who provided a narrative is valid as many people experienced these violent events with their own education, experiences and perceptions;

7. Seek out local historians, they may know information that you could not find. I have been in contact with a local Vincentian historian who has been super helpful in pinpointing locations that no longer exist on maps today – then of course give credit where credit is due;

8. Lastly, give back! I have used documents from multiple archives in 3 different countries, all have had a dedicated curator/librarian to help me find what I needed and are super keen to help in anyway possible. As a way of saying thanks and to provide knowledge for any future researcher, give a copy of your finished work to the archive you used. For public dissimination, certainly put the country whose volcano you are researching first – you may be as creative and collaborative as you like!

Historical volcanology has been a new and exciting avenue to me, I have learned a lot about the volcano, the country, its people and myself. I know people say “leave the past in the past” but how else would we know how to better ourselves as a people and know how far we have come in living on this dynamic planet?

To embrace the future…why not start with the past!

Jazmin

To aspiring girls everywhere

Hello! The Inthecompanyofvolcanoes blogging ladies have called upon women who do volcanology around the world (including myself) to share why love what they do and encouraging words to girls (and boys) to get into STEM and geoscience. 

It’s an inspiring read with so many fantastic women featured, so do check it out and share with kids! You can find it here.
It will be updated as time goes on, so do check it out every now and then! 

Jazmin

Cities on Volcanoes 9 experience

Upon returning from US fieldwork, I only had a number of weeks to create a conference poster and be on my way to the airport. I was preparing for the Cities on Volcanoes 9 (CoV9) international conference in Puerto Varas, Chile.

I did not know what to expect from the country or the conference. Luckily, both exceeded my expectations. I learned a lot from those who viewed my poster to the talks and other posters, met/made many new contacts and friends, as well as seeing some familiar faces.

CoV is an international conference occurring every 2 years hosted at an alternative city in the vicnity of a volcano(es). The aim is to bring together volcanologists, disaster managers and other researchers concerned with volcanic impacts on society, through the promotion of inter/multi-disciplinary research and establishing colloboration between physical and social scientists, as well as stakeholders like town planners. The particular theme for this year was “Understanding volcanoes and society: the key for risk mitigation”. CoV is part of the IAVCEI (International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior), which represents all volcanologist throughout the world.

I am not entirely sure how many delegates there was, but it certainly had to be over 500. There was such a rich representation of research across the world, in poster and oral form. There was a lot of them so it was impossible to sit in all talks and speak to everyone about their poster. My priority is to stick the talks and posters that are relevant to my project as well as my research interests, then if I have the time to see/read others, then I will.

Talks/posters I focused on related to agricultural impacts of volcanic eruptions, risk perceptions, historical reconstructions of volcanic eruptions, lahars, PDCs, risk and politics.

The conference itself had opportunities to visit some volcanoes (Chaitén, Calbuco, Osorno and the Laguna del Maule Volcanic Complex) before, during and after the conference. Unfortunately I could not afford any of them but luckily the ones during the conference were included, to visit either Calbuco or Osorno. I chose Calbuco, as it erupted last year. As this was a recent eruption that was on the ‘door step’ of Puerto Varas, it was talked about a lot at the conference. Wired has a nice summary of the activity.

del-rio-j-2015
Del Rio J. (2015) Calbuco in eruption, taken in Puerto Varas.

We went to an area that was impacted by lahars, but a year on the rivers/streams have been cleared and artifically transformed, mainly by moving the bigger boulders on the banks. There was a primary school in this area…right under Calbuco to be exact. We walked up the river to a destroyed fish farm. The building was still standing, but was far beyond being operational again with the giant boulders that the lahar carried down. Walking up a little bit more we came to the waterfall in which the lahar came down, it was impressive to see if not slightly unnerving that a vast amount of water filled with volcanic material flowing down the river with such severity. The most interesting part was that we went back to the school and got first hand experiences from a number of individuals from the surrounding villages. The main things that I took away from their experiences were:

  • As farmers, their main priority was to secure their livelihoods. They accepted the risks and did everything they could to save their livestock;
  • For many, this eruption was the first they experienced, so a lot of things were learnt as the eruption of occurring;
  • They were fully aware of their needs, but the government did not and tried to impose what they thought they needed and ignoring what the villages really needed. This frustrated the communities and in the end they had little assistance from the government;
  • Throughout the event and afterwards, they built and maintained community resilience, social cohesion and social networks, key aspects of withstanding hazardous impacts.

Overall, I am so glad I went. I met some great people, learned a lot and have had valuable feedback from those who came to look at my work on the historical impacts of La Soufrière on the agricultural industry. Most importantly, it gave me confidence and belief in my work and that I could be a valuable member of the social volcanology community.

I am looking forward to the next one in 2018, when it returns to Naples! Hopefully I will be a stage to give a talk.

Jazmin

15192773_10153970914231053_5176532335783756537_n

The “p” word: preparedness

So this week and the following week there are volcano awareness activities occurring across the northern half of the island. But something interesting happened yesterday.

I was telling the host I am staying with about where I will be and what time I will be back and other bits of housekeeping and she asked why I am going to all these places and what are “those people” (those involved in organising the week and running the activities) doing. I explained it is about raising awareness of the volcano and making sure the communities have the most up-to-date information, as well as participating in community resilience activities. The host burst out with, “that’s stupidness, everyone you talk to knows about the volcano. It’s there, how more obvious does the ‘awareness’ need to be? It’s a waste of government money which would be better used elsewhere.”

I for one, was shocked. I tried my best (and calmly) to convince her that people’s awareness of the volcano must be continuous, with more research on the volcano, and for communities to engage in planning for a potential future volcanic crisis.

She was not having any of it. So I said “we will agree to disagree” and left it at that.

I have had a similar conversation with her and a couple of her friends when they recounted their experiences with the 2013 tropical storm, and also when they felt the earthquakes from the volcano Kick em’ Jenny in 2001 (still the coolest volcano name ever). I asked out of curiosity, “What do you do in an event of an earthquake? Where is the safest place if you were in the house?”

“The cupboards in the kitchen”, one replied.

I remembered looking into the kitchen and noted the gas cannister connected to the cooker, which was next to said cupboards. Sure I can see why he would choose the cupboards but…there was pressurised gas next to it. I asked in return, “what about the dining table?” It was quite a sturdy and big table. The person laughed and told me it is not safe as it would collapse under the weight from the roof if it caved in.

Earthquake, tsunami and volcano awareness does happen in this country. But apparently some do not participate in these events or even appreciate the necessity for them. I said that preparing for such events is important, in which I was told:

“Prepare for them? The only preparation you need is to make your peace on Earth and confess your sins because God might be coming for you.”

 photo whatjusthappened3_zpsea76de68.gif
This was me moments before accepting defeat.
For being taught from undergrad all the way through my current PhD that awareness and preparation towards natural hazards is vital (along with all other aspects of disaster management), I have now been stumped twice in people’s attitudes towards it all. Granted these people are of a completely different generation so that might have something to do with it.

But I have asked myself: why did I get the response that I did? Did I explain preparedness wrong? Did I make it relevant to them? Is it ignorance? I have always held onto the belief that in no given society that is exposed to hazards that people are ‘ignorant’ about them, people just choose to perceive them and their environment, differently. Like I was told, La Soufrière is right there for all to see. That is being very conscious of its existence.

Maybe it is complacency? This woman was actually living in the UK during 1979, so maybe she responded in the way she did because she has not experienced the volcano in eruption?

But the way she said it, so full of venom, and making me feel that the other job of being a volcanologist, to raise awareness of your chosen volcano’s dangers, is not worthwhile…I just cannot shake it. Of course, I am going to participate in the awareness week though, I am not going to let one woman’s opinions stop me trying to make a difference.

But what is it about this volcano that makes people on this island view preparedness in such different ways? Is it related to what I observed last week?

Only time will tell…

Jazmin

*When I came back to the house late afternoon, with a gigantic payapa cut down from a neighbour in hand, all seemed to be forgiven for the morning’s disagreement. So not to worry, I have come to accept that some people’s beliefs and opinions cannot be changed.

2014 Volcanism

What an explosive year 2014 was for volcanism (pun intended). In this post, I have picked 1 volcano for each month, those that made the international news and some that did not make it that far. It will be brief but I will provide some hyperlinks to places where you can read on further if you wish.

UPDATE: Glossary page has been updated to give a brief definition of some terms that are found in this post.

January

Cleveland, Chuginadak Island
Date: 28th December 2013 – 2nd January

Cleveland
Image by Anon. (2014). Taken from here.

Well I never heard about this one at all! According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, an explosion was detected on seismic and infrasound instruments and increased surface temperatures following the explosion were also detected. The third explosion occurred on the 1st January and the next day the aviation colour code was changed to orange. The volcano erupted again in February.

February

Kelut (Kelud), Java
Date: 13th – 15th February

Image by Dzakaaul H. (2014).
Image by Dzakaaul H. (2014).

Ah yes I remember this picture. Satellites first detected the eruption plume at 23:09 local time (16:09 UTC) and parts of the ash plume reached just a short of 30 km. The large amount of heat emitted caused the plume to be buoyant over the equilibrium level which is pretty impressive but what I find interesting is that this buoyant plume did not produce any significant pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) especially since the eruption forced its way through a 2007 lava dome.
The eruption was classified as a 4 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) making it a subplinian eruption. It was one of the largest eruptions since the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle eruption in Chile which happened in 2010.

March

Pacaya, Guatemala
Date: 5th March 2013 – ongoing

Image by Conred (2014). Taken from here.
Image by Conred (2014). Taken from here.

It is one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala and can be easily seen from the capital, Guatemala City. Its common activity is strombolian activity and lava flows. On the 6th-7th and the 9th-10th March this year, small explosions generated ash plumes, a minor avalanche and during the 8th-9th lava flows were observed along with steam plumes rising 200 m above the crater.

April

Tungurahua, Ecuador
Date: 22nd November 2010 – ongoing

Image by Anon. (2014). Taken from here.
Image by Anon. (2014). Taken from here.

This volcano is impressively persistent. On the 2nd April, it was reported that there was an explosion in the morning and at night, with large incandescent blocks tumbling down the flanks. The explosion in the night ejected incandescent blocks and produced an ash plume. On the 4th, an explosion lasted for 5 minutes and generated PDCs.
Reports about the eruption continued throughout the month. Here is a news article where you can learn what Tungurahua means. Media can be informative sometimes.

May

San Miguel, El Salvador
Date: 29th December 2013 – 28th July

Image by Zelaya E. (2013). Taken from here.
Image by Zelaya E. (2013). Taken from here.

It is amazing how often national news does not make the international stage.
On the 10th May, the volcano emitted small amounts of ash that fell as less than 1 mm, but on the 19th, the activity increased greatly. There was an increased frequency and magnitude of gas emissions and small explosions along with ashfall. San Miguel continued the on/off activity until July.

June

Pavlof, Alaska
Date: 31st May – 23rd June

Image by the Alaska Volcano Observatory (2014). Taken from here.
Image by the Alaska Volcano Observatory (2014). Taken from here.

Pavlof is the most active volcano in the Alaskan region (current status is minor activity). Its eruptions are mainly strombolian to vulcanian and sometimes produces lava flows. In the above picture, to the right of Pavlof is its twin, Pavlof Sister.
On the 3rd June a steam plume was observed and PCDs generated a low-level of ash. Seismicity remained constant during this time and elevated surface temperatures were also observed. Lava fountaining was seen on the 4th. On the following day, two strong explosions were detected along with lightning. Activity continued until the 9th but at a diminished rate. Pavlof erupted again in November.

July

Sinabung, Sumatra
Date: 15th September 2013 – ongoing

Image by ATAR/AFP/Getty (2014). Taken from here.
Image by ATAR/AFP/Getty (2014). Taken from here.

People should remember the news story back in February. Evacuations were ordered when there was unrest in September 2013 but unfortunately there were still fatalities.
Activity was still persistent in July, with a white plume reaching up to 2,000 m above the crater during the 8th-14th July. The plume also changed colour between brown and blue (which is pretty awesome). PDCs were observed on the 10th, extending 3 km south and further PDCs on the 12th also travelled south by 3-4 km.
A lot of sulphur dioxide emissions (which causes the blue illumination) were emitted from Sinabung during this month: 1,252 tonnes/day between the 8th-14th July and up to 3,796 tonnes/day during the 11th to the 18th.
Although in February it was a ‘big’ eruption, it has still been categorised as a VEI 2 eruption. So 2 magnitudes smaller than Kelut.

August

Bárdarbunga, Iceland
Date: 29th August – ongoing

Image by Norddahl E. and Norddahl B. (2014).
Image by Norddahl E. and Norddahl B. (2014).

The media were all over this one in Europe because everyone thought it would be like EyafjallajÖkull back in 2011. I remember the excitement within the volcanology community and especially on my Masters course. The media left it alone when they learned it would not produce the same effect as Eya which is a shame because it is one beautiful eruption. One of the reasons why the eruptions differ from one another is due to the role of the ice.

September

Ontake, Honshu
Date: 27th September – ongoing

Image by BBC News (2014). Taken from here.
Image by BBC News (2014). Taken from here.

People started blaming the Japanese volcanologists for predicting the eruption that killed 57 people. Read my supervisor’s take on why it could not be predicted. I shall say no more, I can get passive aggressive another time.
A phreatic eruption occurred just before midday with only 11 minutes of precursory tremor and uplift detected beforehand. The eruption generated a PDC that travelled more than 3 km south and an ash plume that ascended 7-10 km and drifted east.
The eruption is still ongoing with waning strength but still…it has effectively disappeared from the international news has it not? (I am sure most people can detect my problem with the media…in another post I shall explain).

October

Turrialba, Costa Rica
Date: 29th October – 8th December

Image by BBC News (2014). Taken from here.
Image by BBC News (2014). Taken from here.

Seismic activity began in late September and in mid-October a 3 day volcanic earthquake swarm occurred. Degassing intensified on the 28th and 29th emitting sulphur dioxide up to 2,000 tons/day. A small phreatomagmatic eruption occurred at 23:10 and lasted for 25 minutes, ending with a strong explosion. This strong explosion generated an ash plume that rose 5.8 km and drifted westsouthwast.
I find it odd that some of the news articles say it is the ‘biggest eruption for the volcano in 100 years,’ because…well the Smithsonian has recorded it was categorised a VEI 2, with the previous 2 eruptions in 2013 and 2012 also at VEI 2. Like I have mentioned for Kelut already, that eruption was 2 magnitudes bigger.

November

Fogo, Cape Verde
Date: 23rd November – ongoing

Image by BBC News (2014).
Image by BBC News (2014).

I have been quite disappointed with the international media coverage of the destruction caused by Fogo, which last erupted in 1995.
This volcano’s destruction has impacted the island’s economy severely in the short term and long term. Like the activity update says, the consequences is the destruction of property, infrastructure, utilities, agriculture and tourism. It will take a considerable amount of time to get the destroyed villages of Portela and Banaeira to rebuild and for livelihoods to return back to normal. That is even if those that have been displaced are willing to return. The BBC provides some powerful photos of those displaced from the eruption.

December

Nishino-shima, Japan
Date: On-going

Image by the Japan Coast Guard (2013).
Image by the Japan Coast Guard (2013).

It is the baby volcano! The latest update is from the 27th December but the continuous Strombolian activity and lava flows has been building up the island throughout the year. Since November, the volcanic island has doubled in size. This blog post describes its evolution, comparing it to Surtsey off the coast of Iceland very nicely.

One to watch

Mayon, Philippines

Image by Esplana M. (2014). Taken from here.
Image by Esplana M. (2014). Taken from here.

A friend brought this volcano to my attention and I can see why: during August, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reported the growth of a new lava dome, ground deformation, increased volcanic gas emissions, earthquakes and rockfalls. From mid-August there was emission of white steam plumes. Inflation was observed in the edifice throughout September, along with the first signs of incandescence in the crater. Since then, the alert level has remained on 3 (out of 5).
She is gonna blow at some point.

Of course, the 12 volcanoes featured were not the only ones to erupt this year. About 60 or more eruptions happen each year and some are continuously erupting without any sign that they will stop. 2015 is a new year for volcanoes, with some grabbing the spotlight and others not so much.

A Q&A Sunday (brother suggested it because it rhymes) will appear in the near future and a glossary page will appear soon after and will be updated often.

Toodle-pip

Jazz