June 2, 2018
It's past time we confront one of the forces that remake our beautiful planet.
The password today is “Volcano.”
Let's pick one with lots of vowels in its name. How about...
That's Eyja as in “(El) ijah” Fyalla as in “Fee Allah” Jokull as in “ Joe Cull”
Take a sip of what3ver you're dr9nking. Take a deep breath. The rezt of this blahg is mutch eeziier.
The name means “Island Mountains' Icecap.” Or “Island Mountains' Glacier.”
(I know, I know...”Icecap” is not a synonym of “glacier.” Glaciers are on the move. Icecaps aren't. )
This volcano is also referred to as “E15.” Lucky for me.
E15 is completely covered by an icecap. It is a stratovolcano, with 3 main peaks on the rim of its crater.
It used to be on the coast of Iceland, but the sea, apparently worried about its being identified as a volcano about to blow, retreated from it to a distance of about 3 miles. By way of a farewell gift, the volcano made cliffs (the sheer kind), with several waterfalls.
Winds there are strong enough to blow water from some of the smaller waterfalls UP the volcano. Really.
A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a volcano built up by many layers due to perpetrating periodic explosive eruptions and effusive eruptions.
"Effusive" is like a very runny nose instead of a sneeze. Volcanic "ash" is tiny pieces of lava and rock that looks like ash... but is really a cloud of glass shards.
[Stratovolcanoes for 50, Alex. [ All right, Ronny. Waterfalls that fall UP the mountain. [That'd be “what is Eyjafallajokill” or E15, Alex. [Sorry Ronny, it's JoKull. [I hate you, Trebek...]
The glacier on E15 exploded at exactly 1:47 and 55 seconds on 01-16-67 (official-- verified by seismographs)... when 530 million cubic feet of “tephrah” come a- flyin' up and a-fallin' back down... And lots of water and ice got displaced and relocated into the lagoon at the glacier's foot.
Volcanic ash is nasty. Really nasty.
Creatures die from inhaling enough of this ash to create a kind of cement when it gets into the moist environment of their lungs.
Ash can stall engines-- lawnmowers, no biggie; cars—biggie; airplanes, very biggie. When E15 blew again in 2010, most of Europe closed its airspace for seven days. You can imagine what this cost.
Volcanoes erupt. Scientists say that 8 to 12 of Earth's volcanoes are erupting at any given time. Some are very entertaining, like Kilauea in Hawaii right now, gushing fountains of red-hot lava.
(Some tourists actually go to Hawaii to get close to this thing. I am not making this up. People are dipping the bottoms or tips of their tennis shoes into the flowing lava. “Dain bramage for 50, Alex.)*
Between lung cement and lava, not to mention deadly gases, steam, etc., you'd think a person wouldn't want to stand on one leg on a slippery rock/icecap just in order to sear a tennis shoe. (Don't they have a nice propane BBQ at home? I mean... just in the remote chance that you'd lose your balance.)
The term “tephra “defines all pieces of all fragments of rock ejected into the air by an erupting volcano. Most tephra falls back onto the slopes of the volcano, making it fatter. But, billions of smaller and lighter pieces, less than 2 mm diameter (less than one tenth of an inch), termed ash, are carried by winds for thousands of miles. In 1815, Mt. Tambora (rhymes with “Slam-bore-uh”) belched so much tephra that the whole summer was dark. The whole summer!
Now, it sounds like E15 is King Volcano of the Second Millenium. But let's take another look at OUR Big Kahuna volcano, now playing in the glorious 50th state of the good old U.S.A.
OUR big blowhard of the moment—Kilauea-- has been shooting so much hot gas, rocks and ash that it is creating-- wait for it-- its own weather system! Building up giant thunderheads in the sky!
(Also known as Pyrocumulus clouds.)
(Scientists like long descriptive names, especially if they contain lots of syllables. Super-especially if they contain lots of vowels. Which doesn't daunt Hawaiians one bit.)
(Hey-- two possible names for your new rock band! Giant Thunderheads in the Sky ...and Hot Gas, Rocks and Ash! )
These volcanoes bring their own lightning. Their sulfuric dioxide makes acid rain. Heavy rain. They create volcanic smog. Also known as Vog.
Small potatoes when you compare Vog to, say, large rocks inside of flying fireballs.
It remains to be seen, how much new real estate Hawaii will gain from all this activity... and how many gorgeous waterfalls we are going to get...and how much all these pyrotechnics will affect the weather around the world.
We wait in appreciative wonder.
~~~~~. *Tennis Shoe Dipping is apparently a weird sports trend. Several years ago, I saw people dipping theirs into those bubbling sulfur pots in Yellowstone Park.
Not putting their shoe on a long stick. Putting their shoe, WITH THEIR FOOT IN IT, on the surface of these pots. The average temp at the hot features of Yellowstone is 199F.