More Icelandic Boom Boom!!

April 15, 2010

I’m telling you, Iceland’s gonna go ooooffff!

The same volcano in Iceland, which for some reason doesn’t have a name, which erupted last month, is at it again!  It’s located in the Eyjafjallajoekull area, so we’ll just call it that… but not out loud, because that’s just ridiculous.

Unlike the last eruption, this one actually occurred under glacial ice, raising water levels in rivers by several metres before the eruption even began.  No casualties whatsoever, however quite a few villages had to be evacuated.

This isn't Iceland, but pretty cool, yeah?

But while this eruption is wreaking havoc for parts of Iceland, the stories in the news are concentrated elsewhere.  Again, unlike the last eruption, this one released tons and tons of volcanic ash into the air, and prevailing winds are smackin’ Europe in the face!!  Long story short, don’t get on that plane, yo!  Flights anywhere to and from most of Europe, are grounded because of all the ash flying about.

Why does this mess things up?  Well when most people think of ash, they think of the stuff left in firepits basically… wood ash.  Volcanic ash is a little different.  Think of it as smashing a window down to a dust, because that’s what volcanic ash is…. glass.

Getting fine glass sucked up into an engine just isn’t a good thing.  Haven’t you ever seen Dante’s Peak?!  Actually, however lame that movie is, scientifically it’s probably more accurate than any other volcano movie.  Except for no geologist looks like Pierce Brosnan…. except for me, I’m fucking dashing.

So for your enjoyment, here are pictures of me in geology action!:

Here I am getting ready to unload some samples...

Here I am questioning my career choices...

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FIRE AND ICE!! The battle continues…

March 22, 2010

More geology!  And oh man, I do love volcanoes.  If you haven’t heard, Iceland’s been acting up, and it’s putting on quite the show.

Wicked shot of a the volcanic fissure that erupted near the Katla volcano in Iceland.

Iceland’s about to go off, I swear!  This tiny little country (only a population of over 200,000) is the most geologically active country on this non-stop action planet of ours.  The reason…?  The mid-atlantic ridge, where the North American and the Eurasian tectonics meet, and in this case, are being pushed apart.  The ‘push’ is cause my recycled magmatic material being pushed up along the mid-atlantic ridge, causing the plates to extend some 10’s of centimeters a year.  The fact that Iceland is directly on the ridge is the reason, you may have noticed, that this volcano occurs more along a ‘line’, other than the typical crater style volcano you see all over the place.  I’m not going to go into the differences, unless you ask, because it can get retarded.

However, I have noticed that on the CBC article, they refer to this volcano as a hot spot, which it definitely isn’t.  Alright, looks like I’m getting right back into this, shit it’s getting late.  A hot spot is defined as a volcanic event not related to any plate boundary activity… seeing as Iceland is right on a boundary, it’s not a hot spot.  The most famouse of hot spots…..?  Hawai’i…. take a look at where it lies, right smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or geologically speaking, the Pacific Plate.  Ok really, I’ll stop…. if you actually want to know more, just comment on here, and I’ll lay it all out!!  Holy shit my brain is oofffffff, it took me an hour to figure out what I was writing… damn you TV!!!  Every time I look at it, I forget what I’m writing about, and now this entry is way too effing long.

Anyways, while this Icelandic eruption was relatively small, it’s causing a stir over whether it not it will be a precursor to a much larger eruption from the nearby Katla volcano, so I’ll keep you posted on what happens….. by flying over and camping out.  I watched the video below on mute, so I don’t know if there’s any chatter in there, I’m assuming there is… enjoy!


Earthquake in Haiti

January 14, 2010

As many of you may have heard, a fairly large earthquake devastated Haiti earlier this week.

The variables just didn’t work out for this, hitting an impoverished country such as Haiti, but the worst being that the epicenter of this earthquake was a measly 15km from Port-au-Prince, making the 7.0 magnitude quake all the more devastating.

USGS map showing epicenter of quake.

As mentioned, the main reason for such a disaster is the proximity to the epicenter, and taking a look at the tectonic plates around the globe, the Dominican Republic lies directly south of the plate boundary between the Caribbean and North America plates.  That is, the North American plate (correct me if I’m wrong) is subducting beneath the Caribbean plate, however the Caribbean plate is so small in relation because it itself is being subducted beneath the South American plate.  So basically it’s getting squeezed out and in millions and millions of years, will be completely subducted.

Simple map of the tectonic plates around the globe.

When people think of subduction zones, they’re pretty much thinking of a cut-and-dry scenario, where one plate goes under another, and that’s that.  However, depending on it’s orientation, there are several places along a plate boundary where they don’t meet head on, and you get what’s called ‘strike-slip’ faulting, where instead of one plate going underneath the other, they slide past.  Combine that with subduction, and you have an area like that in the Caribbean.  Eventually, the area that’s undergoing strike-slip will eventually subduct, but at the moment (geologically speaking), this small area slides past.  Now, even my explanation is pretty simple in relation to what’s really going on, but I’ll leave it at that.  Hopefully countries worldwide will come to the aid of the tiny nation of Haiti!

Below is a better picture of Haiti in relation to the plate boundary from Google Earth.

Google Earth image of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The red star is the epicenter of the quake, and the line to the north is the Caribbean-North American plate boundary. Click for hi-res photo.


Geology News

February 3, 2009

Being a geologist, I can’t help but share what’s been going on around the world, geology-wise.

There’s not a whole lot, but a volcano did erupt yesterday, which was enough to get me excited.  Mount Asama in Japan began spewing out smoke and loose rock, but nothing extreme and nobody’s been hurt.  Mount Asama is in fact pretty active and doesn’t necessarily pose a threat.

Mount Fuji on the other hand is apparently due to erupt one day, so I hear, but I haven’t done any looking into that, so don’t quote me on it, but feel free to correct me!

P.S.  Go find Mount Asama on Google Earth, it’s pretty cool.