An international team of scientists has found evidence that an approximately 800-foot-tall tsunami was generated when the eastern slope of the Cape Verde islands’ Fogo volcano. Megatsunamis are caused by the collapse of volcanoes into the ocean during violent eruptions, whereas a normal tsunami is caused by an underwater earthquake shifting the ocean floor and displacing water.
Geologists in the Cape Verde Islands off Africa have discovered compelling evidence that 73,000 years ago, an eruption causing the collapse of a side of the Fogo volcano into the Atlantic Ocean triggered a megatsunami which reached heights of up to 886 feet, as tall as a Manhattan skyscraper. The tsunami crashed into a nearby island named Santiago, speeding along at 395 feet per second. The islands are primarily composed of young volcanic rock, but 650 feet above sea level and third of a mile (or 0.6 km) inland, marine-type rocks weighing up to 1.5 million pounds have been flung up the hill by the tsunami.
The 2011 Fukushima tsunami in Japan was a mere 127 feet (39 m) in height, yet killed 16,000 people. One dreads to think how many people would be killed by a megatsunami of the Fogo type. How often do these events happen? Scientists are unsure. Another one occurred in 1792 in Mount Unzen in Japan. Erupting magma caused several powerful earthquakes which triggered the collapse of the southern flank, causing a megatsunami which killed more than 15,000 people, an a country that then had a population of 27 million, versus 127 million today.
The world’s largest supervolcano erupted some time between 69,000 and 77,000 years ago, in one of the Earth’s largest eruptions ever. The eruption changed the weather dramatically, causing a 6 – 10 year winter, and possibly even leading to a 1000 year long cooling period. The shift in weather was enough to cause the human population of Earth to decline dramatically.
The volcano is located at Lake Toba on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia. Its big blow was even bigger than the giant Yellowstone eruption 2.2 million years ago, and threw 2,800 cubic kilometres of volcanic ash and lava into the atmosphere. In today’s world, Indonesia is a very densely populated country, and 50 million people live in Toba’s shadow. These people would be immediately affected by another eruption, and in addition, Toba is located only 40 kilometers from the Indian Ocean, very close to where the catastrophic 2004 tsunami was generated to then spread across the world.
In recent months there have been reports in the Indonesian press of volcanic gases and heating of the ground surface, which has led to speculation that the Lake Toba super volcano might be getting ready to blow its top again. Stay tuned!
This photograph, taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station shows one of the few places on Earth where an international border can be seen at night. The long and contested border between Pakistan and India is lit by security lights that have a distinct orange tone. This nighttime panorama looks north across Pakistan’s Indus River valley. The Arabian Sea appears completely black, and the bright cluster of lights facing it is Karachi. City lights and dense agriculture closely track the great curves of the Indus valley. The distance from Karachi to the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains is 1,160 kilometers (720 miles).
It takes the space station just three minutes to travel the length of the Indus valley. More than two thousand years ago, Alexander the Great entered the Indus plains from the northwest. He then spent many months leading his army and navy down the length of the Indus valley shown in this view. From near Karachi, he then began the march back to Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) through the desert.
An 8.3 moment magnitude earthquake just struck about 10 miles off the coast of central Chile about 150 miles from the capital, Santiago. The USGS has already reported four aftershocks, ranging from 5.7 to 6.4 moment magnitude. 90 minutes after the quake struck at 7:54pm local time …
.. a tide gauge off the shore of Coquimbo, less than 100 miles from the epicenter has logged tsunami waves more than of 14 feet high.
NOAA’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is predicting even higher waves of up to 36 feet along the Chilean coast. Other than the Chilean coast, French Polynesia, a group of over 100 islands including Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, is in the risk zone for tsunami waves from three to nine feet. Even smaller tsunami waves can be very dangerous and destructive.
NOAA has also included smaller tsunami warnings for any nation with Pacific Ocean shores.
What comes out of The Blue Fire Crater on Java isn’t actually lava. Sulfuric gas works its way to the surface from deep underground via cracks in the rock. It bursts forth at great pressure and extremely high temperatures of up to 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of it combusts and ignites in flames up to 16 feet tall, and some becomes liquid sulfur that looks like blue lava.
The Kawah Ijen crater on Java might just be one of Earths great wonders. The island of Java is of volcanic origin and currently has 45 active volcanoes. The blue flames are only visible at night, and in order to see them it is A two-hour hike is required to reach the rim of the crater, followed by a 45-minute hike down to the bank of the crater. Kawah Ijen has one of the worlds highest concentrations of sulphur and the fumes can burn your lungs, so visitors wear masks. Photographer Reube Wu says: “The plumes from the fumaroles drift around inside the crater, and it’s very difficult to navigate and orientate yourself, let alone focus on taking a photograph,” he says.
Intense is an understatement. Wu’s photos perfectly capture the toxic beauty of an otherworldly landscape. Tiny yellow crystals of sulfur coat the rocks, contrasting with wisps of white smoke and steam drifting across a brilliant green lake. The fumes can burn your lungs, so visitors wear masks. That can be disorienting, though, and Wu occasionally found himself lost in a cloud of sulfuric gas.
How will your area fare? Check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Institute’s interactive sea level rise tool to view the impact on your neighborhood.
NASA satellites reveal that the ocean’s mass is increasing due to rising global temperatures. “When heat goes under the ocean, it expands just like mercury in a thermometer,” said Steve Nerem, lead scientist for NASA’s Sea Level Change Team at the University of Colorado in Boulder. This expansion is leading to a global sea level rise of about 1.9 millimeters (0.07 inches) per year, which constitutes a third or the current rise in ocean levels. The remaining two-thirds is a result of the melting ice sheets in Greenland, Antarctica and mountain glaciers.
How fast will oceans rise? So far we don’t know exactly. “Even that worst-case scenario may not capture the risks. Ice sheets are contributing to sea level rise sooner, and more than anticipated,” said Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “People have never seen the collapse of a huge ice sheet and therefore don’t have good models of the effects. The IPCC models only take into account temperature changes at the surface of glaciers, but not the rapid melting that occurs when glaciers calve and break up into the ocean.”
Earlier this summer, the enormous Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland calved off 4.6 square miles (or 12 square kilometers) of ice in one day. If the entire Jakobshavn glacier melts “it contains enough ice to raise global sea level by half a meter — just this one glacier in Greenland,” said Rignot. “If all the land ice on the planet were to melt, it would raise sea levels about 197 feet (60 m),”
Cyclone Update: Where are they now? For the first time in history, three category 4 hurricanes have formed in the Pacific Ocean simultaneously, and they’re still there. Check the link below for a live view.
The Weather Channel reports nothing even close to this has ever happened before. Three simultaneous Category 3 hurricanes is a momentous event, and has never ever been recorded. Right now Hawaii is first in the firing line, but Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan could very likely be under threat next.
The culprit is the super El Niño event, with elevated ocean temperatures leading to more frequent and stronger storm patterns. An international group of scientists quoted in Nature say get used to it. are saying we should start to get used to it, as Global Warming will create many more seasons like this in the future. The Australian Bureau of Meterology says the eastern half of the northern Pacific was now more than one degree warmer than the averages – with patches more than 2 degrees higher.
Click the link below for the live interactive map:
We have a pretty good tsunami warning system here in California, but what about earthquakes? Shouldn’t we be given a heads up there too? Japan and Mexico both have earthquake warning systems that would at least give you a couple of seconds to get away from that giant plate glass window, for example.
“The technology is getting here,” says Jennifer Strauss from UC Berkeley’s seismology lab, “but it’s figuring out how to move beyond the academic exercise of, ‘Is this scientifically possible?’ and moving into the realm of, how do you get an alert to people?”
The project has been languishing for two years since a law was passed authorizing such a system. For technical reasons, getting earthquake information out to millions of cellphones, like you do with an Amber alert, is not so easy. And as always, there is no money. When the law was passed, it did not include any funding. 80 million is not such much compared to the damage just one smaller earthquake can cause, but it just isn’t available.
The project, named ShakeAlert is still in the testing phase at selected institutions. The program includes a visual and audio alert which says “Earthquake! Earthquake!” and shows up on personal computers. It announces how strong the shaking will most likely be, and gives a countdown in seconds. In the 2014 Napa Valley 6 pointer earthquake, testers in Berkeley were given ten seconds of warning before the first rumbles arrived. The farther from the epicenter, the more notice it provides.
The system is also only about 90% accurate so far. “In California the geography, compounded with where we like to put all our people, makes this very tricky,” says Strauss. “You need very fast telemetry, you need very fast processing speed, you need very fast communications in order to warn people who are sitting directly on top of a fault.”
Hopefully one day soon, it will all come together!
How does your county hold up? Lucky us in California – all of the top ten nicest counties are located right here.
The USDA has created a “natural amenities index” of the best and worst places to live in America, based on of scenery and climate. The index consists of “six measures of climate, topography, and water area that reflect environmental qualities most people prefer.” According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, (and common sense) most people prefer mild, sunny winters, temperate summers, low humidity, topographic variation, and access to a body of water. These aspects are assumed to be constant and unchanging. “Natural amenities pertain to the physical rather than the social or economic environment,” according to the USDA. Interestingly, the counties with nicer weather and surroundings tend to have less religious residents. How does your county fare? Check out the interactive map. Link below:
Thermal water is touted for being good for your health, but in the Taupo area of New Zeeland it might be good for your wallet too. Geoscientists have discovered millions of dollars’ worth of gold and silver, dissolved in reservoirs inside a series of New Zealand volcanoes.
The Taupo Volcanic Zone is heated from below by a shallow pocket of magma. Water in the Taupo area’s Champagne pool comes out of the ground at a scalding 500 degrees F. It dissolves nearby rock and becomes loaded with many metals, including gold and silver.
Champagne Pool Hot Spring
Geoscientist Stuart Simmons of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and his team found six water reservoirs hundreds of meters deep where gold concentrations in the water topped 20 parts per billion and silver concentrations reached 2,000 or more parts per billion. The volcanos are already being used for geothermal electricity, and conventional methods of extracting the gold would interfere with this process, However, just one of these water reservoirs could yield as much as $2.71 million of gold and $3.6 million of silver annually.