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Analysis and Comment (23)

Bardarbunga from the air. Bardarbunga from the air. EPA

All you need to know about Iceland’s volcanic eruption

The Bárðarbunga (or Bardarbunga) volcano has erupted, evoking memories of the 2010 Icelandic ash cloud that caused chaos across European and North American air routes. Dave McGarvie, a volcanologist at…
Dark days from the 2008 eruption of Tavuruvr. Dark days from the 2008 eruption of Tavuruvr. tjt195

Move over Iceland, Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea is the volcano to watch

Last week, the eyes of volcanologists – and presumably a few nervous pilots – were fixed on Iceland. But unexpectedly, the volcanic eruption that made headlines happened on the other side of the world…
Subglacial Gjalp eruption in 1996. Subglacial Gjalp eruption in 1996. Páll Stefánsson, Iceland Geological Survey

Is Iceland’s next volcanic eruption about to happen?

The Iceland Meteorological Office has increased the risk of an eruption at Bárðarbunga (or Bardarbunga) volcano, after hundreds of earthquakes were reported over the weekend. The risk level has been set…
The impressive scar-like rifts of the aptly-named Afar region. The impressive scar-like rifts of the aptly-named Afar region. Graham Dawes

Scientists at work: counting eruptions on Ethiopia’s volcanoes

In September 2014, the Natural Environment Research Council will launch a major five-year programme to study the volcanoes of Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley. The project team contains core investigators…
Plymouth, Montserrat’s abandoned capital, buried under ash and mud. Plymouth, Montserrat’s abandoned capital, buried under ash and mud. mikeschinkel

Caribbean island buried by eruption goes green with volcano power

The eastern Caribbean island of Montserrat has suffered more than its fair share of natural disaster. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo struck the island, causing massive destruction with more than 90% of the island’s…
Nailing down the sites of ancient volcanic eruptions could help identify mineral deposits. Nailing down the sites of ancient volcanic eruptions could help identify mineral deposits. Ásgeir Kröyer/Flickr

Tracing the Earth’s hottest volcanoes from core to ore

Volcanic eruptions are as old as the planet itself. They inspire awe, curiosity and fear and demonstrate the dynamic internal activity of the Earth. However, the impact of modern volcanoes pales in comparison…
Mount Erebus is Antarctica’s obvious volcano, but there is more below the ice. Mount Erebus is Antarctica’s obvious volcano, but there is more below the ice. Josh Landis/USAP

Volcanic rift valley under Antarctica hotter than expected

The Thwaites glacier is one of the most rapidly changing in Antarctica. It’s been the focus of considerable attention in recent weeks, after scientists suggested that this sector of the huge West Antarctic…
The Grand Canyon of Mars – Valles Marineris. The Grand Canyon of Mars – Valles Marineris. NASA,Viking Project,USGS

Lava, not water, formed canyons on Mars

The canyon-like scars which line Mars' crust are seen by many as evidence for liquid water. But a study now suggests that a different kind of fluid – one much less hospitable to life – may actually have…
The explosive eruption of Sarychev Volcano, on Russia’s Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan, seen from the International Space Station. The explosive eruption of Sarychev Volcano, on Russia’s Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan, seen from the International Space Station. Flickr/NASA Goddard

Crater creator uses explosions to find the secrets of volcanoes

You can learn a lot about volcanoes by studying explosions. The more we can learn about their explosive behaviour, the more chance we have of saving lives when they suddenly erupt. There are many volcanoes…
The huge caldera of Mount Tambora, Indonesia – still active today. The huge caldera of Mount Tambora, Indonesia – still active today. Jialiang Gao

Largest volcanic eruption in human history changed the 19th century as much as Napoleon

Most have heard of the Battle of Waterloo, but who has heard of the volcano called Tambora? No school textbook I’ve seen mentions that only two months before Napoleon’s final defeat in Belgium on June…
Volcanoes can help life survive in the cold. Volcanoes can help life survive in the cold. Flickr/august allen

Antarctic volcanoes help preserve life in the freezer

Antarctica was once covered in lush, subtropical forests, inhabited by diverse plants and animals including large dinosaurs. That’s going back many millions of years. These days, Antarctica is 99.7% covered…
Lava-flooded craters and large expanses of smooth volcanic plains on Mercury’s surface. Lava-flooded craters and large expanses of smooth volcanic plains on Mercury’s surface. NASA

Explosive volcanoes light up Mercury’s deep past

Mercury has long been a mystery to scientists. Until recently, knowledge of the planet was limited to the grey, patchy landscape revealed by the Mariner 10 probe, NASA’s first mission to Mercury in the…
Olympus Mons (pictured) is regarded as the largest volcano in the Solar System, but there is a new kid on the block. Olympus Mons (pictured) is regarded as the largest volcano in the Solar System, but there is a new kid on the block. NASA

Earth’s largest volcano found in Pacific Ocean

A megavolcano found at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean is being reported as the largest single volcano on Earth. Tamu Massif, as the megavolcano is called, may be as voluminous as Olympus Mons on Mars…
Irazu volcano climbs 3,432 m above Costa Rica. Irazu volcano climbs 3,432 m above Costa Rica. Rafael Golan

Magma refills could predict volcano eruptions

Because of their location’s geology, Icelandic volcanoes are known to be directly connected to the Earth’s mantle. New research shows that a volcano in Costa Rica may have a direct connection to the mantle…
And you think your neighbours are bad: millions live alongside active volcanoes. And you think your neighbours are bad: millions live alongside active volcanoes. Smithsonian Institute Global Volcanism Program

Mexico’s smoking giant El Popo lights up again

The Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico is throwing out plumes of smoke and ash, an eruption that threatens the one million inhabitants of the towns and villages nearby. Mexico City, the world’s third largest…
Mass extinctions caused by rapidly escalating levels of CO2 have occurred before. Mass extinctions caused by rapidly escalating levels of CO2 have occurred before. Global warming image from www.shutterstock.com

Another link between CO2 and mass extinctions of species

It’s long been known that massive increases in emission of CO2 from volcanoes, associated with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean in the end-Triassic Period, set off a shift in state of the climate which…
“There remains no consensus at the present time on the climatic or ecological impacts of Toba.” “There remains no consensus at the present time on the climatic or ecological impacts of Toba.” Victor Hazeldine/EPA

Armageddon and its aftermath: dating the Toba super-eruption

No-one alive today has witnessed a volcanic eruption remotely as big as the Toba “super” eruption. But our ancestors may have done, tens of thousands of years ago, when northern Sumatra exploded, creating…
A blimp-like balloon can be used to pump particles into the upper atmosphere. A blimp-like balloon can be used to pump particles into the upper atmosphere.

Geo-engineering: why research something we never want to use?

What if the world left it too long to take action on global climate change? Is there a way we could somehow cool the planet before an environmental crisis occurs? Geo-engineering is a potential course…
A QANTAS A380 Airbus, one of the last international flights to depart Sydney International Airport shortly before a 3pm suspension of flights in Sydney on Tuesday. A QANTAS A380 Airbus, one of the last international flights to depart Sydney International Airport shortly before a 3pm suspension of flights in Sydney on Tuesday. AAP

Explainer: Why can’t planes fly through volcanic ash?

A volcanic ash cloud produced by Chile’s Puyehue volcanic eruption has circumnavigated the globe and floated over Australia twice, disrupting flights and leaving over 120,000 passengers stranded. The Conversation…
Despite centuries of study and folklore, we’re still not over the moon. Despite centuries of study and folklore, we’re still not over the moon. ~BostonBill~

Chile volcano could turn tomorrow’s lunar eclipse red

What do Chile’s recent volcanic eruptions and tomorrow morning’s total lunar eclipse have in common? Well … Just before sunrise, Earth’s shadow will totally hide the normally-bright moon for about 100…
Do hotter-than-average lake temperatures at Mt Ruaphehu suggest an imminent volcanic eruption? Do hotter-than-average lake temperatures at Mt Ruaphehu suggest an imminent volcanic eruption? Jess Robertson

Mount Ruapehu eruption signs in hot water

A prolonged period of hotter-than-average temperatures in the crater lake of New Zealand’s Mt Ruapehu has seen the country’s media questioning whether another eruption is on the cards. Mt Ruapehu (Māori…

Research and News (4)

Research Briefs (20)

No tree rings after volcanic eruptions

Trees rings may not provide a full record of climate cooling as large enough temperature drops can lead to very short or…

Volcanoes triggered Little Ice Age

A new study from the University of Colorado-Boulder suggests the Little Ice Age, which lasted from the Middle Ages until…

New clues to deep Earth water cycle

Rocks from xenoliths in the Philippines carrying deep water samples have provided new insight into the water cycle of the…

Volcano eruption was predicted

Scientists have successfully predicted the eruption of undersea volcano, Axial Seamount. Bill Chadwick, Orgeon State University…