Tag Archives: volcanic

Explaining the deadly volcanic tsunami that hit Indonesia

Explaining the deadly volcanic tsunami that hit IndonesiaHundreds are dead, with more missing, following a tsunami that took the Indonesian coast by surprise on Dec. 22.  But this was no typical tsunami. Rather, it was a volcanic tsunami, and understanding what that means may help explain why this particular manifestation of nature's power was so devastating.  The tsunami that struck between the Sumatra and Java islands was triggered not by an earthquake — as is typically the case with tsunamis — but instead by an active volcano in the area known as Anak Krakatau. The volcano reportedly partially collapsed, triggering a landslide underwater, which then in turn kicked off the tsunami, said Dwikorita Karnawati, who leads Indonesia's meteorological agency, according to multiple news reports. The sequence of events didn't trigger a tsunami alert, catching the country by surprise.  "[It] did not rise to the level of triggering [a tsunami] alert," University of Southern California's Tsunami Research Center director Costas Synolakis told NBC News. "So from that point of view, the Tsunami Warning Centers were essentially useless." SEE ALSO: Radioactive boars have taken over towns abandoned after Fukushima The 305-meter volcano responsible for the landslide, reports Al Jazeera, rose from the sea starting in the 1920s at the site of a deadly 1883 eruption that left over 30,000 dead.  It was only a few months ago in late September that another tsunami struck the Indonesia coast. That tsunami followed a magnitude 7.5 earthquake, and resulted in 6-foot waves.  As for Saturday's tragedy, Northwestern University earth science professor Emile Okal told NBC News that volcanoes are constantly in motion and that landslides are one essentially unavoidable outcome of that fact.  "A volcano is something that is a living thing," explained Okal. "Eventually it's going to have a landslide, and if it’s underwater, going to displace water and make a wave." Tragically, for those on the Indonesia coast affected by Saturday's tsunami, this fact reverberates both into the past and the future. Officials warn that more volcanic tsunamis may be coming, with CNN reporting that Anak Krakatau is still erupting and could experience more landslides.  But for now, rescue workers are focused on today, and that means finding those people still missing following the uniquely dangerous volcanic tsunami.  WATCH: Transform your tub into an emergency water storage



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Extreme volcanic eruptions could explain mysterious rock formation on Mars

Extreme volcanic eruptions could explain mysterious rock formation on MarsCould a volcanic eruption be the key to unlocking the mysterious geological history of Mars? Back in the 1960s, NASA's Mariner spacecraft discovered an extremely large and unusually soft rock formation. The makeup of the mass, now known as the Medusa Fossae formation, stumped researchers for decades because they were never able to determine how it got there.  SEE ALSO: Tiny NASA satellite bound for Mars snaps photo of Earth from thousands of miles away But now, new research seems to answer that question — and maybe many others.  More than 3 billion years ago, extreme volcanic eruptions on Mars dropped the huge deposit near the Martian equator, according to the new study published in the
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. A 13-kilometer (8-mile) diameter crater being infilled by the Medusae Fossae Formation.Image: High Resolution Stereo Camera/European Space AgencyThe Medusa Fossae is about one fifth the size of the United States.  “This is a massive deposit, not only on a Martian scale, but also in terms of the solar system, because we do not know of any other deposit that is like this,” planetary scientist Lujendra Ojha, the lead author of the new study, said in a statement. Ojha and his colleagues used gravity data from spacecraft orbiting Mars to measure the formation density. Through this, they were able to determine that the rock was unusually porous, allowing them to rule out other potential compositions like ice.  On a basic level, the formation is a bunch of hills and mounds of sedimentary rock but because much of Mars’s history is shrouded in mystery, a finding like this is huge.  An isolated hill in the Medusae Fossae Formation. The effect of wind erosion on this hill is evident by its streamlined shape.Image: High Resolution Stereo Camera/European Space Agency.Eruptions of the magnitude suggested by the study would also have an enormous impact on the planet's climate as well. A considerable amount of “climate-altering” gases like hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide accompany most volcanic eruptions and would have spit out enough water to cover the red planet in a global ocean, the study says.  These findings paint a better picture of what habitability on Mars would look like, as well as the usefulness of gravity surveys.  “Future gravity surveys could help distinguish between ice, sediments and igneous rocks in the upper crust of the planet,” co-author and planetary scientist Kevin Lewis explained.   WATCH: NASA is attempting to fly a helicopter on Mars for the first time



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Volcanic lava buries two housing tracts on Hawaii's Big Island

Volcanic lava buries two housing tracts on Hawaii's Big IslandBy Terray Sylvester PAHOA, Hawaii (Reuters) – An ever-creeping wall of lava from Kilauea Volcano has engulfed two entire seaside housing tracts at the eastern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island, government scientists reported on Wednesday, an area where civil defense officials said nearly 280 homes once stood. The obliteration of the Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland subdivisions by a river of molten rock some 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.6 meters) tall brings to at least 400 the number of homes and other structures consumed by lava during the past month. “Vacationland is gone, there’s no evidence of any properties there at all,” Wendy Stovall, a vulcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), told reporters on a conference call.



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Volcanic tornado pictured during Hawaii eruption

Volcanic tornado pictured during Hawaii eruptionThe sight of a volcanic tornado has been captured on camera over a fissure at the foot of an erupting volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island. The rare phenomenon came as lava from Kilauea destroyed hundreds more homes overnight, overtaking two oceanfront communities advised to evacuate last week. The “lavanado” – which does not have an official name among volcanologists – was captured by photographer Anthony Quintano during a tour by the Hawaii National Guard of an area known as Leilani Estates.



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The deadliest volcanic eruptions of the past 25 years

The deadliest volcanic eruptions of the past 25 yearsAfter Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted on Sunday killing at least 69 people, here is a list of the most deadly volcanic eruptions over the last quarter century. The sudden eruption of Mount Ontake kills more than 60 people in Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years. Also in Japan, the Unzen volcano kills 43 people when it erupts in 1991.



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Volcanic lava flow spurs more evacuations on Hawaii's Big Island

Volcanic lava flow spurs more evacuations on Hawaii's Big IslandBy Jolyn Rosa HONOLULU (Reuters) – Molten rock from several lava-spewing fissures opened by Kilauea Volcano crept toward clusters of homes and vacation rentals on the eastern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island on Wednesday, prompting authorities to usher residents out of the area as a precaution. Evacuation of the Vacationland development and adjacent Kapoho community, rebuilt after a destructive eruption of Kilauea in 1960, came on the 28th day of what geologists rank as one of the biggest upheavals in a century from one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The Hawaii County Civil Defense agency issued the advisory as lava flows picked up speed late on Tuesday and early on Wednesday and threatened to cut off a key traffic route into the seaside area on the far eastern flank of the volcano.



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Hawaii volcanic eruptions cause more destruction

Hawaii volcanic eruptions cause more destructionThree weeks after Kilauea first exploded, the situation appears to be getting worse with new explosions destroying more neighborhoods.



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Volcanic ash swamps Hawaii school, turning tennis court gray

Volcanic ash swamps Hawaii school, turning tennis court grayHONOLULU (AP) — Aina Akamu gave final exams to his students as they sat on bleachers or the floor of the basketball court in the gym in his small town on Hawaii's Big Island.



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Plume of volcanic ash lingers over Hawaii's Kilauea volcano

Plume of volcanic ash lingers over Hawaii's Kilauea volcanoHONOLULU (AP) — A plume of volcanic ash lingered over the Kilauea volcano Wednesday, prompting more warnings for pilots to avoid the mountain a day after it spewed ash 12,000 feet into the air, scientists said.



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Hawaiians brave volcanic gases, lava to retrieve pets, belongings

Hawaiians brave volcanic gases, lava to retrieve pets, belongingsLava spewing in fountains up to 300 feet high from an erupting Hawaiian volcano has destroyed 35 homes and other buildings, officials said on Monday, warning residents allowed brief visits to their properties to be prepared to flee at a moment’s notice. Many of the 1,700 people under orders to evacuate from the Leilani Estates neighborhood on the eastern side of the Big Island were permitted to return home during daylight hours on Sunday and Monday, during a lull in seismic activity from Kilauea. “Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice,” the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said in an alert on its website.



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