I made trip out to Virginia last summer. While there, I experienced my first earthquake since my year in San Francisco decades ago, and my first hurricane since Agnes in 1972. A few minutes ago the house shook for 30 to 45 seconds. It wasn’t as strong as the Virginia quake, where I was near the epicenter, but it was unquestionably an earthquake, the first I ever felt in Kansas. Should I expect a hurricane here in the near future?
Update (Sunday evening): I just felt an aftershock. This one was weaker than Saturday’s and only lasted perhaps ten seconds.
Robert Stacy McCain is angling for theambassadorship to Vanuatu. Charles G. Hill mentions a few facts about the islands, but omits why I hope someday to visit them: there are numerous active volcanoes, including Yasur and Ambrym. The former has exhibited constant strombolian and vulcanian activity for hundreds of years, and is considered to be perhaps the most approachable of erupting volcanoes. The latter is one of the very few places on earth where you can find active lava lakes. ((The others are Kilauea in Hawaii, Villarica in Chile, Erta Ale in Ethiopia, Nyiragongo in the Congo and Erebus in Antarctica. To my knowledge, there are no lava lakes in Indonesia, Japan or Kamchatka, despite the intense vulcanism of those regions, or in North America.)) There are many videos on YouTube of the violently churning lake in Marum crater in the Ambrym caldera; they put me in mind of Mt. Doom immediately after Gollum returned the ring to its source.
Life continues to be insane. ((A special award goes to the TSA agents who, mindful of the deadly threat posed by frail octogenarians, patted down my parents on our flight out here last week.)) Perhaps by October things will return to what passes for normal, but don’t count on it. Activity at this weblog will continue light and spasmodic.
We might see some nice lava fountains tonight. According to vulcanologist Boris Behncke about 40 minutes ago, “It’s still quite modest Strombolian activity as of now, and might still take a few hours to reach its culmination – however, the increase in volcanic tremor amplitude is accelerating.”
Mt. Etna in Sicily is putting on a brilliant show today, which you can watch here. (You’ll need to refresh the page every five minutes or so.) See Eruptions for commentary. (Scroll down to the later comments.)
Update: The show’s over for now. According to Boris Behncke, a vulcanologist in Sicily, “This has been a typical lava fountain from the Southeast Crater (that is, the vent on its east flank which seems to have completely taken over the job from the old vent at its top), with jets rising 300-500 m – maybe a bit more – and lasting for little more than one hour.”
Everything you ever wanted to know about Mt. Etna: here, here and here.
Update II: For those who missed the show, here’s a video:
Gunung Merapi in Indonesia is beginning an eruption, and there are indications that it could be major — bad news in that densely populated region. I’ve been keeping an eye on the webcam (you will need to refresh the image every 30 seconds or so), ((Link removed — some creeps hacked the website.)) and I grabbed a few screencaps of the mountain in the early morning light. See the comments at Eruptions for discussion of the activity.
Update: Merapi did indeed erupt. There’s much discussion and many links here and here.
Update II: The eruption is turning out to be every bit as bad as feared. The best source of information remains the Eruptions weblog. Reuters pictures of Merapi, and also of Anak Krakatau (Krakatoa, Jr.), can be viewed here.
Incidentally, you can keep tabs on Hawaii’s Kilauea here. The best viewing time is just before dawn on the big island (around 11 a.m. here in Kansas). Check Erik Klemetti’s Eruptions weblog for breaking news and much more information about vulcanism around the world.
Update: Grrr. Now that it’s daylight in Réunion, it looks like the cameras are all on the wrong sides of the mountain. There are some photos here and here. Update II: Here’s a video.
Here’s where this was shot. As far as I can tell, this is for real, though the people probably look closer to the hot stuff than they actually are because telephoto lenses compress distances.
The New Zealand mountains Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe were Peter Jackson’s stand-ins for Mt. Doom, but the video above is closer to my mental image of Tolkien’s volcano. (Tolkien is said to have modeled Mordor on the perpetually erupting Stromboli.)
Nothing worth watching on television? Eyjafjallajökull not doing much these days on the rare occasions when it’s not hidden by clouds? Take a look through the Sakura-jima webcam. When the weather is clear, you probably won’t need to wait long to see a nice column of ash burst out of the crater. Sakura-jima has been almost continuously active since 1955.
You can control the camera, by the way. Click on the box with crosshairs at the bottom right of the viewer and wait for the countdown to end. The bar to the right of the picture controls the zoom, and the little box under the picture controls where the camera points.