Mount Etna is spitting lava more violently than it has in years, and scientists are baffled as to why. Despite being the world's most-studied volcano, the Sicilian mountain is also its most unpredictable.......
"This time, the range of ash fall is much wider than usual," says Behncke. A layer of black ash covers cars as far as 50 kilometers (31 miles) away. ....
"The stream of magma doesn't move uniformly, but in spurts, vibrating as if it were in a hydraulic pump," explains Stuttgart geophysicist Rolf Schick. "This makes Etna so unpredictable." .......
Schick spent 40 years traveling repeatedly to Sicily to explore Etna. "I used to believe that we would soon be able to predict volcanic eruptions," says the scientist, who turns 80 next month. "Today, I'm no longer certain that we'll ever succeed." .......
(November 9, 2002)
Earthquakes and volcanoes share, and also do not share, causes. Common causes of quakes and eruptions are pressures upon plates to move, which causes, in addition to the plate scrapping and crunching along the edges, lava surges. Volcanoes erupt because the lava just beneath the volcano is trapped, under pressure, and the point of least resistance is an opening. Where volcanoes perpetually ooze, this is such a pressure situation, without abrupt pressure changes. In Hawaii, where volcanoes perpetually ooze, there are layers of rock, more plates overlapping, than mankind assumes. These plates are being pushed up, but other Pacific plates subducting under Hawaii, so the lava has many places to go other than up. It can move sideways, and the oozing is only one outlet, so no eruptions. Where a volcano is associated with plate crunching, such as Popo in Mexico, eruptions occur and are closely associated with quakes. Here the eruption does not settle down until the trapped lava, under pressure, has the pressure reduced. During the shift, when all volcanoes both active and inactive will erupt or ooze dramatically, there is more than plate movement and pressure involved. The core of the Earth is roiling then, in motion and continuing in motion even after the crust has stopped. Thus, volcanoes have pressure not only from trapped lava, they have it from lava surges from the core itself.
(November 16, 2002)
Inland cauldera, like Yellowstone, have their basis in pressure that has a long route to climb before heating the surface. During the shift, the fact that they are and have been an outlet for pressure competes with what is occurring in the rock strata. What comes first, for Yellowstone, will not be the rock strata thickening, as during the start of the shift the Atlantic is stretched, the plates on the move, and the core roiling. Thus, there will be explosions, though not violent, of lava, from volcanoes however active along the Sierras and Andes. The later part of the hour sees rock strata pushed under the West Coast of the Americas, shutting off access of lava from those volcanoes, which should speed the easing but not prevent the explosion in the first place. In areas under stretch in Europe and the Middle East, likewise, the roiling will cause oozing and where volcanoes are already open to the air, an outlet established, such as in Italy, they will continue during the early part of the shift to explode and ooze. One must, thus, analyze the past of local volcanoes or caulderas, to gauge their actions during the shift.
(Feb 15, 2000)
Of course all volcanoes will explode, as this is going to be a very severe pole shift. What about the months and years preceding the pole shift? It is no secret that Mammoth Lake and the caldera of Yellowstone are warming up, and the populace has been prepared for these occurrences by the movie Volcano where there, in the middle of LA, lava is bubbling up. In fact, there is a fault line running from the approximate San Diego/LA area, up into the Sierras, and this is liable to rupture rather violently during one of the quakes that precedes the pole shift by some months. Volcanic eruptions from that area in the Sierras can be expected. Will Mount St. Helen erupt? All volcanoes that have been active within the memory of man will begin spewing and burping and oozing, and many that were not expected to become active will reactive. How long will it take the volcanoes to settle down? 100 years, but in a reducing ratio, over this time. By the end of 100 years, their activity will seem as today. Nevertheless, for those downwind, this post shift burping is virtually a death sentence!
Mount Etna is spitting lava more violently than it has in years, and scientists are baffled as to why. Despite being the world's most-studied volcano, the Sicilian mountain is also its most unpredictable.
The volcano is raging. Fountains of lava, some taller than the Eiffel Tower, shoot from its mouth every few weeks, flowing in red-hot streams into the surrounding valleys. There have been 13 eruptions since the beginning of February.
Mount Etna, 3,329 meters (10,922 feet) high, towers majestically above the Sicilian city of Catania. In June, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will decide whether to list it as a World Heritage Site. Etna is considered the most heavily studied volcano in the world, and it is thoroughly wired with sensors. In addition to lava, Etna spits out vast amounts of data -- several gigabytes a day, coming from magnetic field sensors, GPS altimeters and seismic sensors.
Despite this wealth of data, Etna still poses a conundrum to scientists. "The eruptions in recent weeks have been unusually fierce and explosive," reports German volcanologist Boris Behncke, who monitors the mountain together with a few hundred colleagues at Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV). "There have been lava fountain events in the past, but rarely in such rapid succession."
Behncke has fallen under Etna's spell. During the day, he maps the lava flows; at night, he hikes along its slopes. His Twitter hash tag is "@etnaboris." The volcano is the first thing he sees when he looks out of his bedroom window every morning.
"This time, the range of ash fall is much wider than usual," says Behncke. A layer of black ash covers cars as far as 50 kilometers (31 miles) away.
Even in ancient times, people marveled at the forces that were capable of shooting fountains of lava into the sky. In Greek and Roman mythology, the volcano is represented by a limping blacksmith swinging his hammer as sparks fly. Legend has it that the natural philosopher Empedocles jumped into the crater 2,500 years ago. What he found there remained his secret, because he never returned. All that remained of him were his iron shoes, which the mountain later spat out.
A Champagne Bottle under Pressure
For many geologists today, Etna is still the most inscrutable volcano in the world. The mountain is located at precisely the spot where the African and European tectonic plates rub against each other like two giant ice floes. At this plate margin, lava with low viscosity flows upward from a depth of 30 kilometers into a reservoir of magma two kilometers beneath the summit.
"The stream of magma doesn't move uniformly, but in spurts, vibrating as if it were in a hydraulic pump," explains Stuttgart geophysicist Rolf Schick. "This makes Etna so unpredictable." Schick has been a star among volcanologists since 1972, when he caused a stir with his new discoveries about Etna. Using seismic sensors, he discovered a "pulse rate" of sorts in the stream of magma, which is forced through the vent at a rate of 72 beats per minute -- coincidentally, at a rate similar to that of the human heartbeat.
Schick spent 40 years traveling repeatedly to Sicily to explore Etna. "I used to believe that we would soon be able to predict volcanic eruptions," says the scientist, who turns 80 next month. "Today, I'm no longer certain that we'll ever succeed."