The Sciences

Friday Flotsam: Caribou versus the volcano, watching Marianas volcanoes and the plume at Kilauea

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiFeb 26, 2010 10:40 AM


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Catching up with some news:

Anatahan erupting in the northern Mariana Islands in 2003.

  • I ran across this article right before I got sick, but its been popping up around the interwebs (and is pretty interesting). It details a study in Molecular Ecology that suggests that populations of caribou in Canada's Yukon Territory were strongly effected by the White River Tephra. The White River Tephra is supposedly the largest Holocene plinian tephra (from a ash cloud fallout), with two components dating from ~1900 years ago and ~1250 years ago. The vent for the WRT is likely from[strike] a vent beneath the Klutlan Glacier[/strike] Mt. Churchill(see the discussion in the comments below) in eastern Alaska and produced a total volume of well over 50 km^3. This tephra was significant enough to potentially kill off the older caribou populations in that part of Alaska, which were then replaced by a genetically different population after the WRT. [strike]Now, nothing like a big eruption like that coming from an unknown, subglacial vent to keep the disaster-types biting their nails.[/strike]

  • Volcano monitoring in the Mariana Islands will be getting a boost, mostly thanks to a desire to safeguard U.S. military and commercial aircraft that fly over the Pacific island chain. The USGS and Southern Methodist University will be installing seismic and infrasound monitoring systems in the Marianas to help feel and hear the signs of a new eruption. We can thank ARRA for the money needed to build this infrastructure.

  • Hawai`i 24/7's Volcano Watch column - written by members of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory - today features information about the gas plume from Kilauea - including the composition and ramifications of its high sulfur content.

  • Finally, the NASA Earth Observatory has nice before-and-after images of the revived activity at Soufriere Hills on Montserrat. Especially prominent is the increasing pyroclastic fan at Trant's Bay to the northeast and the pyroclastic debris in the area of Harris.

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