Ice Age cometh?

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by kmguru, Jun 20, 2002.

  1. kmguru Staff Member

    OR, Planet Earth adjusting for global warming?
    After 1500 years of quiet an Oregon volcano threatens to blow.
    22 May 2002

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    The South Sister volcano, near the town of Bend, Oregon.
    © USGS

    An ominous bulge on a dormant volcano in Oregon, accompanied by the faint whiff of magma from deep within the Earth, suggests that the mountain is rousing itself from a 1,500-year slumber.

    It is unlikely that the peak, called South Sister, will blow in the immediate future, say vulcanologists on the ground. All the same, they are stepping up efforts to monitor the volcano and to predict how an eruption might affect the town of Bend in central Oregon, just 22 miles away.

    "About one in ten such cases might culminates in an eruption," says Clive Oppenheimer, a volcano researcher at the University of Cambridge, UK. The groundswell may be the beginning of an awakening that takes decades or centuries, he says.

    Ground swell

    The bulge was first spotted last year in satellite images of the Three Sisters chain of peaks. Returning to archive images, scientists working for the US Geological Survey (USGS) determined that the bulge first arose in 1996 and has grown about three centimetres a year since. It is now 13 centimetres high and covers about 100 square kilometres on the western flank of the volcano.

    Compared to the 100-metre-high bulge that preceded the devastating eruption of neighbouring Mount St Helens, South Sister's hump is modest to say the least. But, says Oppenheimer, it covers a vast area, so the magma movement that is causing it "must be very big".

    "We're now tracking its growth," says USGS volcanologist Charles Wicks, based in Menlo Park, California. He and his colleagues have installed global-positioning system (GPS) and seismic monitoring instruments at the centre of the bulge. The GPS device measures changes in height and position to within millimetres, confirming that the bulge is continuing to rise.

    What looks like volcanic activity smells like it too. Sensitive molecular detectors are picking up changes in the levels of chlorine and sulphur ions in spring water coming from the mountain and the type of helium gas seeping from rocks. The signatures are characteristic of new magma, suggesting that it is rising from deep within the Earth beneath South Sister.

    But geologists believe that an eruption is a way off, because both carbon dioxide in the air and seismic rumblings are noticeably absent. Volcanoes typically start to release CO2 when magma is close to the surface. Also, the rumblings and small earthquakes that always precede eruptions can only occur when the existing rock cracks to let magma through.

    Keeping watch

    The only way to establish if and when South Sister will erupt is to keep watching, says Wicks. The magma is still about 4 miles deep and not yet breaking through rock, so "anything could happen anywhere", he says.

    If it blew, South Sister could put on quite a show. The Three Sisters are composite volcanoes. Other composites include Vesuvius in Italy, Mount Fuji in Japan and Mount St Helens, just north of the Sisters in Washington state, which have all erupted with devastating consequences.

    The wilderness around Bend is becoming increasingly settled. Some 110,000 people live in areas that were criss-crossed by rivers of hot ash and rubble in previous Three Sister eruptions.

    Based on the early evidence, the USGS is drawing up an emergency-response plan. It details which areas may be most at risk and how best to evacuate the area if South Sister were to wake from her slumber.

    © Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2002

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Magma force: The uplift West of South Sister is shown by a bulls-eye of contour lines in this satellite radar image
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Gifted World Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    What does a volcano threatening to explode have to do with global warming? We should also moniter how much of the eruption's chlorine goes into the stratosphere.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    Volcanoes belch forth huge amounts of various materials into the atmosphere. A lot of how it affects the world depends on how active and just how big. There is an average of 10 volcanoes erupting any given day somewhere in the world. source

    Eruptions of the past

    In 1883, Krakatau erupted and proceeded the year without summer, worldwide. Temperatures were cooler worldwide due to the amount of dust and ash in the atmosphere that had circled the globe. Krakatau was also known as the eruption that was heard worldwide. In reality it was not heard worldwide but a large portion of the world did hear it erupt.

    Volcanic Gases:
    Other than free oxygen, generated by photosynthesis, all atmospheric gases were derived from inside the earth and released by volcanic eruptions. The gaseous portion of magma varies from ~1 to 5% of the total weight. Water vapor constitutes 70-90%. The remaining gases include CO2, SO2 (tear gas), and trace amounts of of N, H, CO, S, Ar, Cl, and F. These subordinate gases can combine with hydrogen and water to produce numerous toxic compounds, such as HCl, HF, H2SO4, H2S, which are typical products of fumarolic activity.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Sulfur dioxide released at the summit, the east rift, and along skylights in the tube system reacts chemically with oxygen, dust particles, sunlight and water in the air to form a mixture of sulfate aerosols (tiny particles and droplets), sulfuric acid, and other oxidized sulfate species that is known as "vog". The pollution clouds of vog are normally carried by the northeasterly trade winds to the southwest, where the winds wrap around the island, sending the vog up the western Kona coast, which is the major tourist location on the island. When the trade winds are moderate, the vog stays on the east side of the island. The vog is toxic and hazardous to humans.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Carrot Registered Member

    The Taupo eruption was a lot bigger than Krakatoa

    basic info

    More info

    Big explosions like this are not uncommon, and they will affect our climate.
    How long depends on many factors, including the current level of stuff in the atmosphere anyway.
    But a simple fluctuation in the cycle of the sun would have even more impact and be even more global.

Share This Page