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Will the Katla volcano erupt next?
The News - Current Events
April 19, 2010
katla volcano erupts

The word on everyone’s lips right now is ‘volcano.’ The eruption of the long-dormant Eyjafjallajökull on March 21st has absolutely devastated travel across the UK and most of Europe. Most websites on the internet cannot cope with the amount of traffic from people trying to find ways home - the P&O Ferries website has actually crashed due to so many people trying to catch a boat. And phone systems are ringing off the hook.

 But is this only the beginning to the main event?

Katla is another volcano in Iceland. Situated to the north of Vík í Mýrdal and partly covered by the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, Katla’s peak reaches 1,512 metres. Katla last had a major eruption in 1918 and the one word used to describe that has been ‘vicious.’ Since 1999, geologists have been uneasy around the Katla volcano as it showed signs of waking up and historically, every time the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupts, Katla soon follows. The past two days has seen an increase of 200% in Katla’s activity. This isn’t something to just worry the residents of Iceland, but of the whole world too. Smog, famine, floods and freezing were just some of the things the last Katla eruption caused. Let’s hope that travel disruption is the worst of it.

Hekla Has NOT Started Erupting
The News - Current Events
April 19, 2010
Despite what many tweets would have, Mt. Hekla has not started erupting.This has been confirmed by Grapevine representatives on location, and the whole of the Icelandic media.

We have no idea how this crazy rumour got started, but we imagine some genius spotted the RÚV webcam of Hekla (their "Hekla watch," which has been ongoing for years, as Hekla is overdue for an eruption), spotted a plume or two and did some pretty awful guesswork. [ SOURCE ]
Iceland Volcano Isn't Big Enough to 'Change World's Climate'
The News - Climate-Environment
April 19, 2010
iceland volcano world climate
The volcanic ash spewing from an Icelandic mountain that’s disrupting air travel across Europe may be hundreds of times less than what Mount Pinatubo disgorged in the Philippines in 1991 when it altered the world’s climate.

The impact of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano is likely to be “virtually non-existent” on the global climate because the eruption is too small and gases are not penetrating the upper atmosphere, Blair Trewin, a senior climatologist at Australia’s National Climate Centre in Melbourne, said in an interview.

“In its current form, we wouldn’t expect the eruption to have any significant global climate effects,” Trewin said today by telephone. “In terms of how much material was being put up into the atmosphere, Pinatubo was several hundred times larger than this has been so far.”[ Bloomberg News ]

Volcanic ash relentless as tremors rock Iceland
The News - Natural Disasters
April 19, 2010
volcano lightning iceland

  • Ash column above volcano now lower at a height of 4-5 km
  • Farmers, livestock moved indoors as ash falls
  • Icelandic airlines now running flights to Norway

Powerful tremors from an Icelandic volcano that has been a menace for travellers across Europe shook the countryside on Sunday as eruptions hurled a steady stream of ash into the sky.

Ash from the volcano drifted southeast towards the European continent, sparing the capital Reykjavik and other more populated centres but forcing farmers and their livestock indoors as a blanket of ash fell on the surrounding areas.

"We are all doing our utmost to make sure that the farming community in this area survives this disaster," Icelandic President Olafur Grimsson told Reuters Television. [ REUTERS

Company plans doomsday bunkers - California
The News - Current Events
April 19, 2010
doomsday bunker

A U.S. company will start building commercial underground bunkers for people who want to survive an apocalypse such as an asteroid hitting the Earth or a nuclear attack , media reported on Monday.

Vivos, a California-based company, said it is planning a business project that offers the hope of surviving a near-extinction-level event , like the one many people say the Mayans predicted will occur in 2012.

Vivos said it plans to set up 20 "multi-level, 20,000 square foot (1,858 square meters) hardened shelter," with each housing up to 200 people across the United States.

The bunkers will be designed to withstand outdoor temperatures of 700 degrees Celsius, winds of 700 kilometers an hour, flooding for 500 hours or a wave of earthquakes over 10 on the Richter scale. Besides, a portion of the bunkers even includes refurbished Cold War-era nuclear shelters.

Lyrid meteor shower peaks April 22
The News - Science-Astronomy
April 19, 2010
Anyone who enjoys watching the sky for "shooting stars" will have an opportunity to observe an old and reliable meteor display over the next several days: the April Lyrids. The best time to watch will be for a night or two around the peak, April 22.

These meteors are among the oldest known, with ancient records of them dating back nearly 27 centuries. The Lyrid meteor shower is also the first significant meteor shower to appear since the beginning of the year. While it won't produce a storm of meteors, it's a respectable show for those who are patient.

"The annual Lyrid shower . . . has always been my favorite," says NASA meteor expert Peter Jenniskens. "After the low (meteor) rates in the cold months of February and March, this shower is the proverbial swallow of spring for observers in the northern hemisphere." [ ARMAGEDDON ONLINE ]

Iceland Volcano reminds us that we should all be afraid of volcanoes
The News - Natural Disasters
April 17, 2010
why we should fear volcanoes

Eyjafjallajökull's giant cloud of ash is a pest, but a supervolcano's catastrophic eruption could threaten the fabric of civilization.

Every so often the Earth chooses to remind us that we really aren't in control of this planet . The volcanic eruption in Iceland , which started on Wednesday, is just such a reminder. As ash spews out across northern Europe - grounding all flights across Scandinavia and the UK, we begin to realise how powerless we humans really are.

But as volcanic eruptions go, the current fireworks on Iceland are a relative small fry. Scientists "rank" volcanoes according to how explosive they are, using the volcanic explosivity index (VEI) , which goes from zero to eight. The measurement is based on how much material is thrown out of the volcano, how high the eruption goes and how long it lasts. Like the scale used to measure earthquake size , the VEI is logarithmic : which means that a volcano with a VEI of five is 10 times more powerful than one with a VEI of four.

As yet, scientists haven't managed to gather enough data to calculate the VEI of Eyjafjallajökull, but Thorvaldur Thordarson, an expert on Icelandic volcanism at the University of Edinburgh, estimates that this one is probably a two or three - somewhat similar to the eruptions seen on Mount Etna on Sicily in 2002 and 2003, and the kind of eruption we expect to see somewhere on Earth at least once every year.

By contrast, the eruption of Mount St Helens, in the north-west of the US in May 1980, was a one-in-10-year event, with a VEI of around four. Meanwhile, Pinatubo's boom in the Philippines in 1991 was a one-in-50 to 100-year spectacle, with a VEI of about five or six. Bigger still was the eruption of Tambora in 1815, on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia, whose ash was responsible for some of the spectacular sunsets painted by J M W Turner. Rated as a seven on the VEI scale (a one-in-1,000-year event), it was the most deadly eruption in recorded history , killing over 70,000 people.

See Also : Lake Toba Super VolcanoThe Worst Natural Disasters - Yellowstone's Super Sisters

Rare Yellowstone volcano eruption would be deadly
The News - Natural Disasters
April 18, 2010
As ash from an Iceland volcano snarled air travel across Europe, experts said an eruption of the 'supervolcano' at the Yellowstone national park would be deadly, though it is unlikely any time soon.

"The next major eruption for Yellowstone, if you have a guess, is probably thousands of years in the future," Bill Burton, a vulcanologist with the US Geological Survey, told AFP.

The volcano, dubbed a 'supervolcano' because of its enormous strength, has not erupted for hundreds of thousands of years.

It last erupted some 640,000 years ago, and the two prior eruptions were 1.3 million and 2.1 million years ago. That track record -- a major event approximately each 730,000 years -- suggests the volcano won't erupt again for another 90,000 years, though Burton noted that there is no real certainty when it comes to volcanic activity.

"You cannot be totally complacent and assume nothing is going to happen," he said.

For vulcanologists, the key is continued study of the history of individual sites. "The more we know about their past behavior makes you a little more confident about what's going to happen next," Burton said.

How and why a volcano erupts
The News - Science-Astronomy
April 17, 2010
Eyjafjallajokull volcano iceland
Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano is in the second phase of an eruption that began last month. Like all volcanos, the eruption started when boiling hot subterranean liquid rock, known as magma, found a weak spot in the Earth's crust and burst through. Scientists spent weeks analysing the gases and magma that emerged, which is then renamed as lava.

Mike Burton, senior volcanologist with the Italian National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology, said: "Thanks to its location between the glaciers, it produced a largely ash-free eruption, with abundant lava flows. I conducted measurements of the gas emissions from the eruption in collaboration with Icelandic scientists."

That phase of the eruption died down last week, but Eyjafjallajokull was not finished. A second, more powerful, eruption occurred when magma burst through at another point. Unlike the first eruption, this rupture in the Earth's crust was close to the volcano's glacier-covered summit. Fire met ice and fire won. Massive amounts of ice melted and flash floods followed.

Once the eruption melted away its icy lid, some 150 metres (492ft) thick, the volcano began to belch ash into the atmosphere.

Massive Earthquake in Chile Caused Days to Be Longer
The News - Science-Astronomy
April 17, 2010

Since the earthquake in Chile in February 2010, the advanced geodesy research group at the Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) has been helping measure Earth on a global scale. First results indicate that the rotational speed of Earth has become marginally slower and days have become longer by 0.3 microseconds.

Sun's magnetic field may have caused freezing winter
The News - Climate-Environment
April 17, 2010
suns magnetic field freezing winter
It was the coldest winter in England since 1963 – the coldest in Scotland since 1914 – and weeks of ice, snow and sub-zero temperatures from last December to March defied predictions by climate-change scientists of milder, wetter winters. So what happened?

One theory suggests that last winter's cold temperatures were part of a pattern that is set to continue because of a complex interaction between the Sun's magnetic field and the high-altitude jet stream which dominates Britain's weather system. The jet stream normally brings mild, damp westerly winds over Britain during winter but this year it went into "blocking" mode, sweeping back on itself and allowing a bitterly cold north-east wind to blow over the country, bringing ice and snow with it.

Scientists have found a link between blocking changes to the jet stream that result in colder winters and variations in the "activity" of the Sun, as measured by alterations in its magnetic field. This could mean that the UK can expect more cold winters than usual in the coming decade, despite "global warming." (INDEPENDENT UK)

Will the Iceland Volcano Change the Climate?
The News - Climate-Environment
April 17, 2010
iceland volcano climate change
The vast plume of material spewing from this week's eruption of an Icelandic volcano is reddening sunsets and clouding skies across Europe. If the eruptions continue and get bigger — a possibility given the explosive history of Iceland's volcanoes — even the global climate could be affected. But the current eruption is too wimpy to have any significant impact, scientists say.

The eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano may be treating European sky watchers to spectacular sunsets and hampering air travel due to the ash and gas it has spewed into the atmosphere. But "there will be no effect on climate," said Alan Robock of Rutgers University, who studies the effects of volcanic eruptions on climate.

The potential for Eyjafjallajökull to impact the Earth's climate is still there, however, if it begins to erupt more violently.

"If it has another eruption in the future, it could have an impact," Robock said.(LIVE SCIENCE)

China earthquake toll rises to 1,144
The News - Natural Disasters
April 16, 2010
china earthquake death toll
Tibetan monks prayed Friday over hundreds of bodies at a makeshift morgue next to their monastery after powerful earthquakes destroyed the remote mountain town of Jiegu in western China and left at least 1,144 people dead.

State media on Friday reported that another 417 people remain missing -- as rescuers neared the end of the 72-hour period viewed as best for finding people alive. They continued to dig for survivors in the rubble, often by hand.

The official toll was likely to climb further. Gerlai Tenzing, a red-robed monk from the Jiegu Monastery, estimated that about 1,000 bodies had been brought to a hillside clearing in the shadow of the monastery. He said a precise count was difficult because bodies continued to trickle in and some had already been taken away by family members. (DailyHearald)

Huge ash plume blanketing Europe may last four more days
The News - Current Events
April 16, 2010

The unprecedented closure of airspace across Britain and large parts of Northern Europe is set to continue into the weekend, after the volcanic eruption in Iceland that sent a massive plume of ash into the atmosphere.

As debris continued to spew from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, airlines were last night preparing to ground flights for at least four more days.

Hundreds of thousands of stranded passengers, already experiencing the worst travel chaos in living memory, faced trying to make alternative arrangements by rail, road or sea — or cancelling their trips.

The National Air Traffic Service denied that it had overreacted by closing UK airspace. It said: “Safety is our main priority and volcanic ash is a serious threat to aircraft.” Safety experts said that if the ash is sucked into jet engines it can cause them to fail catastrophically. (TIMES ONLINE)

Icelandic volcano still spewing huge ash plume
The News - Current Events
April 16, 2010
iceland volcano eruption spewing
An Icelandic volcano is still spewing ash into the air in a massive plume that has disrupted air traffic across Europe and shows little sign of letting up, officials said on Friday.

One expert said the eruption could abate in the coming days, but a government spokesman said ash would keep drifting into the skies of Europe.

The thick, dark brown ash cloud has shut down air traffic across northern Europe and restrictions remained in place in many areas. However, Norway said it had resumed some limited flights in the north of the country.

"It is more or less the same situation as yesterday, it is still erupting, still exploding, still producing gas," University of Iceland professor Armann Hoskuldsson told Reuters.

"We expect it to last for two days or more or something. It cannot continue at this rate for many days. There is a limited amount of magma that can spew out," he added, saying it was the magma, or molten rock beneath the Earth's surface, coming out of the volcano that turned into ash.

Europe flights could be grounded into weekend by ash
The News - Climate-Environment
April 16, 2010

Flights across much of Europe are being cancelled on a second day of massive disruption caused by drifting ash ejected from a volcano in Iceland.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers are affected and severe disruption could extend into the weekend, including on flights to North America and Asia.

Some 5,000 flights were cancelled on Thursday as airspace from the Republic of Ireland to Finland was closed.

The ash is not thought to pose a serious health risk to people however. ( BBC NEWS )

Icelandic volcano eruption intensifies
The News - Natural Disasters
April 15, 2010
iceland volcano
A volcanic eruption in Iceland, which has thrown up a 6-km (3.7 mile) high plume of ash and disrupted air traffic across northern Europe, has grown more intense, an expert said on Thursday.

The eruption under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier continued to spew large amounts of ash and smoke into the air and showed no signs of abating after 40 hours of activity, said Pall Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland.

"The seismographs are showing that since this morning the intensity of the eruption seems to be growing," he said.

Hot fumes had melted up to a third of the glacial ice covering the crater, causing a nearby river to burst its banks, and frequent explosions on the floor of the crater sounded like bombs going off, he said. ( YAHOO NEWS )

Massive fireball reported across Midwestern sky
The News - Science-Astronomy
April 15, 2010
Authorities in several Midwestern states were flooded Wednesday night with reports of a gigantic fireball lighting up the sky, the National Weather Service said.

The fireball was visible for about 15 minutes beginning about 10 p.m., said the National Weather Service in Sullivan, Wisconsin, just west of Milwaukee.

"The fireball was seen over the northern sky, moving from west to east," said the NWS in the Quad Cities area, which includes parts of Iowa and Illinois.

"Well before it reached the horizon, it broke up into smaller pieces and was lost from sight," the service said. "Several reports of a prolonged sonic boom were received from areas north of Highway 20, along with shaking of homes, trees and various other objects including wind chimes," it said. ( CNN NEWS )

Space storms could not knock out National Grid and Sat Navs
The News - Science-Astronomy
April 14, 2010

The solar flares and sunspots throw massive clouds of electrically charged gas at the Earth which cause power surges and throw compasses into disarray.

The weather in space has been through an unprecedented calm period in the last century but the researchers believe we could be entering a more volatile period.

The reason is that the Sun has dimmed to its lowest activity level in nearly 150 years – a phenomenon that usually precedes huge space storms.

The last really big solar "super flare" – in 1859 – knocked out telegrams and ship's compasses and covered two-thirds of the Earth in a blood red aurora. (TELEGRAPH UK)

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