Photo evidence for "possible" eruption of an extinct volcano near the Ross Ice Shelf

UPDATE #3 02/15/08

 I have received seismic data from MEVO for 10/24/07, and I’m now satisfied that no significant volcanic eruption occured on that date. So what we are seeing is either some meteological effect, such as perhaps a lenticular cloud being shredded and blown downwind, or perhaps a steam release without and eruption. I can’t be sure at this point but it has been an interesting time of investigating it and I learned a tremendous amount in the process.

UPDATE #2 02/14/08

I’m still waiting for the director of MEVO, Dr. Philp Kyle, to provide Erebus seismic data for October 24th. He maintains that no eruption occurred on that day, but the MEVO website stops reporting on October 23rd, and so far he hasn’t provided me with the data I’ve asked for. When/if he does, I’ll post it here.

Also the explanation of “cirrus blowoff” seems to be applied only to thuderstorm anvils, and I have not found any references to it related to volcanic peaks. If anyone has a reference, please let me know.

UPDATE: I’ve received a reply from the director of MEVO (Mount Erebus Volcanic Observatory) My initial concerns about this perhaps being misidentified seem to have been valid, even though the photo evidence and anecdotal evidence appears convincing for volcanic plumes.

Here’s what the director of MEVO has to say. I think he means “serious blowoff” in his email. Others have suggested “cirrus blowoff” which turns out to be correct when he emailed back:

—– Original Message —–

From: Philip Kyle

To: Anthony Watts 

Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 9:11 AM

Subject: Re: Sat image shows possible eruption of Mt. Terror

Hello Anthony

I was in Antarctica at the time of this unusual phenomena and it has been noted by others.

This is a case of sirius blowoff and due to wind and cloud conditions. There was no eruption from Terror (as much as we would love there to be one).

Philip Kyle


From: Philip Kyle
To: Anthony Watts
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 11:39 AM
Subject: Re: Sat image shows possible eruption of Mt. Terror

i made a mistake it is “cirrus blowoff”

I am not a weather person.

In the past when we have seen the phenomenon i was told by a weather person that was the correct term.

you will need to consult either a meterologist or the people who generated the satellite image.


If it has been “noted by others”, why not put it on the MEVO web page to clarify it for everyone? The MEVO website hasn’t been updated since October 23rd 2007, and I queried him on that. His reply:

1. We lost our webmaster.

2. The student who was keeping the site up got distracted and did not do the work.

3. Eruptive activity almost ceased at Erebus

4. We were all in the field and involved with field work.

If the scientific organization responsible for providing the volcanic information about the area won’t keep their own web page updated, how would anyone know that this has been “noted by others” and that his eyewitness account says otherwise?

These images have been looked at by a lot of folks who have reviewed weather satellite imagery, so if we’ve all been misled by it, MEVO should put up a notice on their web page so that other researchers are aware. It shouldn’t be that hard to find someone who can edit a webpage at a University.

Even with this new info, this has been a fun learning exercise, and it just goes to show that when you are chasing a hypothesis, you should get all available information at your disposal, and if you operate a scientific website for public consumption, you should keep it updated. – Anthony



Like I’ve said before, when your work becomes known, people start sending you things to look at. Such is the case here. An email was forwarded to me by Jim Kingsley that contained a NOAA-17 POES satellite photo and discussion about what it meant. The plume to the left was identified as Mount Erebus, but the plume to the right was simply referenced as “new” with no label as to the landmark. There was also the query “What do you think?”

Initially my first thought was “wow”, but then I started thinking it was probably just another Internet hoax or something misidentified, or simply “volcanic business as usual” there and the folks at McMurdo Base knew all about it.

Here is the photo below that started it all:


UPDATE -NEW IMAGERY: see new satellite image below from TERRA/MODIS

My thinking was that this was just another Photoshop trick, where the plume from Mount Erebus had been extracted and repasted to the right, giving the appearance of two eruptions side by side. The photo had a caption at the bottom which read:


I figured it would be a simple matter to prove this a fake by finding the original satellite image. I found it, but to my surprise the source satellite image in the AMRC Ross Ice Shelf sat image archives at the University of Wisconsin SSEC looked EXACTLY the same.

Click this link to see it from the University of Wisconsin server.

Note that the link is by day of the year, not calendar date, so I had to use this online day of year calculator to find the right image for October 24th, 2007, which was day 297. I looked at sat images several days before and several days afterwards, seeing no other plumes, it appeared this was a one day event.

Being unfamiliar with Antarctic landscape, it took me awhile to get the “lay of the land” to really understand what I was looking at. I found this map that helped me understand the landscape:


zoomed, click for original source image

Based on the scale key on the map above, and also Google Earths measurement tool, Mount terror appears to be about 20 miles (33 kilometers) to the East of Mount Erebus.

There were no landmarks on the NOAA-17 satellite image at all, I couldn’t even locate McMurdo base. The infrared sat image was low contrast, and had quite a bit of obscuring clouds, so I wanted to be sure these plumes weren’t from some other source, like some experiment where maybe scientists were releasing some smoke to track wind flow or something equally odd but not an eruption.

I figured there had to be another explanation. After all, the reference I found on Mount Erebus, and its companion to the right, Mount Terror, all said that Erebus was active and that Terror was extinct. I wondered why they called it “Terror”, if it was extinct, and soon learned Mount Terror was named in 1841 by it’s discoverer Sir James Clark Ross for his second ship, the HMS Terror. His first ship was named the “Erebus”.

Puzzled, I figured I’d better check to see if in fact Mt. Erebus was erupting at that time, but more importantly, I figured that if Mount Terror had erupted at the same time, there would surely be some mention of it someplace, since Antarctica is crawling with scientists.

To my surprise, I found nothing indicating any awareness of an eruption.

The authority for volcanism on Ross Island, the New Mexico Tech, operates the Mount Erebus Volcanic Observatory. But while there was a plethora of info about eruptions of Erebus, including photos, movies, a seismic network, and a live cam, there was no mention of anything about Mount Terror. Curiously, the last eruption they recorded on Erebus was on October 23rd, 2007, and there were quite a number of eruptions leading up to that. None are listed since, but given the previous frequency of Erebus eruptions listed there, it seems likely that may be simply a web page gone stale. Other searches on the Internet for a reference to an eruption on Mount Terror proved fruitless, but I did find this below.

From International Volcano Research Centre they write:

“As of the 1st of February, the Mt. Erebus Volcano Observatory (MEVO) reports that the volcano continues to have frequent Strombolian eruptions with infrequent ash eruptions.”


“The Mt. Erebus volcano in Antarctica was successfully forecasted by INTLVRC’s programme ERUPTION Pro 10.7 to erupt in 2008 with 100% probability.”

Clearly though, from a graph of eruption frequency of Mt. Erebus, there appears to be an increase in activity over the last couple of years, though it is not clear if the lack of the updated entries for late 2007 after October 23rd into 2008 is lack of eruptions or a reporting problem:


click for original source image from the International Volcano Research Centre

I also noted that in the live cam image, you can’t see Mount Terror, some 20 miles away. But this makes sense, why monitor an extinct volcano?

click for larger image

So the next thing I did was to try to ascertain that the plume seen in the original NOAA-17 satellite image was in fact coming from Mount Erebus. The original photo had low contrast, cloud cover, and no good landmarks, so it was hard to be sure where the plumes originated. Once I was sure that the leftmost plume was in fact Erebus, it then should be easy to correlate the position of Terror.

Having some skill in computer graphics, I decided that I’d try to enhance the contrast of the original satellite image to see if Ross Island would become visible. I was successful:


click for a larger image: ross-ice-shelf-satellite-10-24-07-contrast-enhanced.jpg

The characteristic “bulb” on Ross Island which is Mount Bird, became clearly visible, identifying the source of the plumes as being on Ross Island. I’ve created this image to help you identify the “bulb” in the contrast enhanced image above.


But I still wasn’t happy with the result, so I tried a different technique. I located a satellite photo of a clear day in the Antarctic summer, the NOAA-17 photo from December 15th, 2007 which clearly shows the Ross Island outline and its features. Note though it appears this photo is using a different IR channel than the winter photo, so the picture looks different. This is probably to help spot iceberg calving better.

So I combined these two NOAA-17 images:

ross_shelf_2007349_blank.gif ross_shelf_2007297_blank.gif

click for larger versions

The process I used was 66% transparency for the 10-24-07 image placed on top, and did a 3x contrast enhancement to help bring out details. This is the resultant image:


click for a larger image

While there was some slight orbital perspective misalignment of the coastline (or perhaps shelf movement) from the 10-24-07 picture to the 12-15-07 picture, from the characteristic outline of Ross Island it is clear that the plumes are originating from Ross Island and near the summits of Mount Erebus and Mount Terror.

See the zoomed sector below:


I also used Google Earth to help me pinpoint the two given their published lat/lons (Mount Erebus -77.53° 167.17° Mount Terror -77.5167° 168.533°). The Google Earth Image below is rotated to the right:


Ok, so I’d proved the plumes are coming from very near or at the summits of Mt. Erebus and Mount Terror.

UPDATE: Alert reader Dave D. provided a link to a TERRA/MODIS image that showed much greater detail at 500meter resolution.  It is in bands 3,6 and 7 (land/cloud/aerosols properties) at 500m resolution taken at 19:40 UTC 10/24/07


Click the image for the original source image.

But I still had some issues with the images I’d adjusted and composited:

  1. This is an infrared image, thus warmer things should show up as darker (like the sea) so why do the plumes look white?
  2. What else could be causing the plumes? High wind driven blowing snow from the summits or simple orographic lifting creating a cloud trail perhaps? Contrails?
  3. If this were a volcanic eruption on Mount Terror, why hasn’t this been reported on an continent crawling with scientists, seismic monitors, live cameras and satellite observations?

So I looked further trying to answer these questions.

1. This is an infrared image, thus warmer things should show up as darker (like the sea) so why do the plumes look white?

Normally that would be a dead giveaway as it being a “cold” plume on a GOES satellite image, but this is POES, and a visit to the NOAA-17 page provided a clue under the AVHRR sensor characteristics table:

Medium Wave IR 3B 3.55-3.93 sea surface temperature, volcano, forest fire activity

I’d noted that in the December 15th, 2007 image, the IR channel appears to have changed from the image taken on 10-24-07 that showed the plumes. Unfortunately, there is no reference in the University of Wisconsin imagery that says what channel is used, or when it might be switched. It seems plausible though that they would switch channels depending on what they were looking for, such as iceberg calving, which seems to be the main mission of the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center at the university of Wisconsin where the sat images are processed and archived.

So its possible they were running on IR channel 3B at the time, which by the AVHRR sensor description should be sensitive to such events. Another thought I had was that the plumes weren’t ash or steam, but rather ice crystals from steam that perhaps froze in the cold, high, thin air where the steam was ejected.

UPDATE: Barry Wise sends me a link at the European Space Agency to this photo of Mt. Etna erupting, showing a similar image in IR with an explanation that sound much like my question and conjecture.

ats_et4s.jpg (10639 bytes) The image, taken by the ERS-2 ATSR instrument on 24 July 2001, shows details using the infrared and 11 micron channel. 

The plume of smoke is very evident in the image due to the temperature difference between the smoke and the sea. Interestingly, the smoke is cooler than the sea – much like the vapour trails that follow a jet aircraft.Click to see full size image.

2. What else could be causing the plumes? High wind driven blowing snow from the summits or simple orographic lifting creating a cloud trail perhaps?

Fortunately, The University of Wisconsin operates a number of Automatic Weather Stations around Mount Erebus, and I thought that would give me a clue as to the likelihood of that possibility. Fortunately they take pictures of their weather stations (hmmm where have I seen that before?) every year.

[Willie Field AWS]

AWS at Willie Field in 2002

They also conveniently provide an overlay of weather station plots on the NOAA-17 satellite imagery from the Ross ice shelf. Here is the image from 10-24-07 with those plots:


The surface winds, while strong, didn’t appear to correlate well directionally with the “volcanic” plume directions, and by looking at cloud patterns there appears to be a curvature to the right for cloud movement, so the case for wind driven snow off the summits forming downwind plumes doesn’t seem strong. Nor does the case for orgraphic lifting creating a cloud trail, which would likely be different and divergent from peak to peak. It seems from the straight and nearly identical flow, that the plumes had reached stratospheric height, something not uncommon for a volcanic eruption but unlikely for wind driven summit snow or orographic lifting.

UPDATE: new imagery from TERRA/MODIS (above in orange) shows the plumes casting shadows on the cloud deck below it, lending credibility to the idea of the plume originating clouds reaching the stratosphere. This could also be related to a lenticular cloud phenomena, but more study is needed.

3. If this were a volcanic eruption on Mount Terror, why hasn’t this been reported on a continent crawling with scientists, seismic monitors, live cameras and satellite observations?

This didn’t seem to make sense. But, as I began to get a “lay of the land” by studying the landscape, the placement of sensors and cameras, looking at the research focus, and finally going back to look at other satellite images for months either side of the eruption, it started to become clear how such an event could be missed. Here is my reasoning:

  • The scientific attention is focused on Mt. Erebus. Mt. Terror is “extinct” so why watch it?
  • Mt. Terror is apparently not visible from McMurdo Base, but it is visible (see photos further below) from Scott base just two miles away on the other side of the ridge. Mt. Terror is lower in elevation that Mt. Erebus. So, if there weren’t any eyes near McMurdo at the correct vantage point, the Mt. Terror plume might go unnoticed. Scott base is less populated than McMurdo.

    Scott base and Mount Erebus

    Scott base with Mt. Erebus, Mt Terror is beyond to the right (see photos further below).

    Here is a YouTube Video tour of McMurdo Station and a second video tour.

  • Erebus erupts regularly, the closest eruption reported on October 23rd, 2007 by MEVO was routine. It is still unclear why MEVO has not reported any eruptions since then though they appear to have regular frequency. Thus there didn’t seem to be any cause for alarm or to go looking at Mt. Terror. The question remains as to why MEVO has dropped the ball on updating their web page beyond October 23rd, 2007 when there is anecdotal evidence of eruptions of Mt. Erebus from the International Volcano Research Centre
  • Weather appears to also be a complicating factor. A review of satellite images on the day shows cloud cover in the area. A review of additional satellite images prior to and after the 10-24-07 satellite image showing dual plumes show that cloud cover in that area is common, further complicating a visual sighting. This it seems unlikely that human eyes would have seen an eruption or plume emanating from Mount Terror.terror520.jpg

    Here is a photo showing Mt. Terror as seen from Scott base, notice the cloud deck at summit. On the day in question it was cloudier than this according to the satellite imagery. It would be difficult to discern a plume even with a “good” weather day as shown above.

    Click for a large panorama of Mt. Erebus, and Mt. Terror seen from Scott Base.

  • In checking satellite images bracketing 10-24-07, it appears this was a one day event, maybe even just a few hours and the satellite got lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Something so short could also easily be missed by ground observers.

Thus my conclusion:

I’ve spent several days looking at this issue, scanning and creating imagery, plus gathering all other supporting evidence I could find, including seismographic records, surveys, weather/winds at the time, and additional satellite imagery and absent any other explanation that fits, it seems that yes, on October 24th, 2007, on Ross Island in Antarctica, Mount Erebus and Mount Terror (said to be extinct) both let loose with some sort of an event, which may be steam, or steam and ash.

End note: I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a vulcanologist, and that my analysis could be wrong, and that the plumes seen on October 24th, 2007 have some other explanation. However, this entry defining “extinct volcano” with historical anecdotes in Wikipedia gives me some encouragement:

…volcanoes may remain dormant for a long period of time and it is not uncommon for a so-called “extinct” volcano to erupt again. Vesuvius was thought to be extinct before its famous eruption of AD 79, which destroyed the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii. More recently, the long-dormant Soufriere Hills volcano on the island of Montserrat was thought to be extinct before activity resumed in 1995.

I feel I’ve done a reasonable job investigating this and looking at alternatives given the time and resources available to me. Just writing this blog entry took me six hours of fact checking, link collection and imagery double checking. I now turn this over to others for falsification or confirmation. Hopefully scientists close to the issue will take an interest and do a site survey of Mt. Terror to determine if any evidence of recent activity exists.

If Mt. Terror did in fact erupt, it may indicate a resurgence of volcanic activity near the Ross Ice Shelf, which is worrisome to many. I welcome comments.

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February 10, 2008 4:10 pm

I would think a steam plume would freeze quickly giving you the white plume rather than a dark one. I don’t know where the actual vents are but there seems to be darker pixels to the “northeast” of the plumes when you zoom in.

Larry Sheldon
February 10, 2008 5:01 pm

Have you attempted contact (direct or indirect) with the folks in charge there?
REPLY: Not yet, that is my next step after I get more commentary. One thing I’ve learned over the years in working in TV news is that there are a lot of nuts out there. We’d often not give any credence to calls or emails unless they had evidence to back it up. A single personal opinion is just not good enough. For scientists in field research in Antarctica, given the keen environmental interest in the area, I’m sure they get bombarded with all sorts of worrisome ideas on a regular basis.
There’s also the “not invented here” syndrome. There is likely a built in resistance to outside ideas in small tight knit groups like this.
So I felt that I had to do the best possible job of researching it and presenting it in this venue, then solicit for comments. If I’m wrong, it will be pointed out in comments with a reason why. If I’m not, when I present it, those at MEVO and McMurdo will have an interest in either confirming it or making it go away.
A simple email or phone call doesn’t have the power of a detailed analysis. So I’m coming into the discussion with better ammunition and thus greater chance of proving the satellite photograph to truly represent an eruption on Mount Terror.

Drew Latta
February 10, 2008 6:37 pm

I know this has nothing to do with Antarctic eruptions, but I’ve been visiting your website for the last couple of weeks and thought I’d lend the following to the discussion.
As you probably know, global climate reconstructions often use tree ring analysis as a proxy for temperature. After seeing your data on modern temperature monitoring equipment, I was interested in seeing how proxies that have used in the past would play out over the last 50-100 years when compared with the use of measured temperature. It actually turns out that the tree-ring data does not match with the measured temperature data, with the tree-ring data suggesting it has been cooler than the measured temperature data. The explanation for this discrepancy that is being advanced is that the trees have been responding negatively to increased UV irradiation due to ozone thinning. However, if you don’t take measured temperature at face value, you could come to the conclusion that perhaps the measurements are wrong. Or that perhaps reconstructions like this have some issues, if things like UV insolation are not constant.
The paper I am referring to is:
K. R. Briffa, T. J. Osborn and F. H. Schweingruber “Large-scale temperature inferences from tree rings: a review
Global and Planetary Change, Volume 40, Issues 1-2, January 2004, Pages 11-26

February 10, 2008 6:52 pm

Anthony. If there was an eruption there would likely be earthquake activity as well. Have you checked against such events?
REPLY: Yes see the link to MEVO’s report, which reported eruptions up to October 23rd, 2007, then for some reason, stopped on the day of the eruption in question. There was increased earthquake frequency leading up to 10/24/07. Links in the MEVO report will show you seismograph output like this one:

February 10, 2008 6:52 pm

Not only patience in a scientific sense. This is the sort of caution a historian must have.
Very commendable.

February 10, 2008 7:02 pm

Anthony, a nice website for satellite-based polar photographs is
You can adjust the date in the url to find the October 24 2007 shots.
A nice closeup from February 9 is here
REPLY: Great resource but pretty darn confusing to use, I figured out how to get tracks to location figured out, but how did you get a closeup like that?

Jeff C.
February 10, 2008 7:22 pm

Nice job, Anthony. I don’t know how you find the time, particularly with little ones. Please keep up the good work.
This is quite fitting as Mount Terror is a significant part of one of the plotlines in Micheal Crichton’s “State of Fear”. Although I do note it’s just a fun coincidence lest anyone think this is fodder for the conspiracy mongers.
REPLY: I’ve never read “State of Fear” so I had no idea about the name.

February 10, 2008 7:35 pm

Very confusing to use.
Use the calender in the upper part of the page and select a date.
Then look at the orbital tracks to get a satellite and time that looks like the Ross area
Then go to the corresponding photo.
Then you can use the zoom (down to 500m resolution) to get a closeup.
Very hard yo find landmarks with ice.
I do see that there was no smoke a week before and a week after.
On October 24 I see two plumes beneath a partial cloud deck.
I’ll try to find a closeup worth copying.

Larry Sheldon
February 10, 2008 8:04 pm

Upon reading my question and the responses that follow, I see that there is a way to interpret my question as “fault finding” and I’d like to say that I didn’t mean to to that–and that I should have known that if you had, you would say so, and if you had not there was a reason.
So. I am sorry for the insult. The good news is that you explained for us in the “F” row how a thorough job is done.
It will be interesting to see what they say. I am especially intrigued that “they” didn’t see the second plume.
Nice catch.
REPLY: I’m grateful for fault finding, I never even thought of any insult. It never crossed my mind.

Larry Sheldon
February 10, 2008 8:09 pm

Dang it is fun watching you people work!

George M
February 10, 2008 8:41 pm

The question is whether the GOES(?) bird was the only one to overfly that location that day. With all the Landsats and so forth up there, some with polar orbits, perhaps there is an independent photo of the dual plumes. I’ll bet the Russians have an equivalent photo, but its up to you to get access to it (heh).
One could speculate that the bird tok a double exposure, but the land masses would be blurred. Doesn’t someone do an archive of raw images from all the sensors on the weather satellites? And how about Navy satellites? Lots of questions, no answers. Carry on.
REPLY: NOAA-17 is POES (Polar Orbiting Operational Satellite). Once this post gets some attention of people with resources, all the rest of the imagery will come flooding out of the woodwork to confirm or falsify what I’ve shown. That’s the idea.

Jeff C.
February 10, 2008 8:44 pm

In “State of Fear” eco-warrior terrorists attempt to set off a string of timed explosions around Mount Terror to cause a massive rupture of the ice shelf. The goal is to use it as dramaticm visual evidence of global warming.
An amusing coincidence with the unexplained plume of smoke from the same site.
BTW – it’s a pretty good read, it helped me kill 9 hours stuck in an airport in Ohio on Christmas Eve.

Scott Finegan
February 10, 2008 9:14 pm

First light starts in August (at McMurdo), then the first arrivals of the new season arrive in McMurdo. Apparently the date varies a bit year to year. So, in addition to cloud cover, you would need to look at population, and hours of daylight. Graph this against minutes available for rubbernecking…

February 10, 2008 9:16 pm

Just a thought on the date discrepancy. Ross Island is just east of the international dateline, so October 24th 2007 on Ross Island is October 23rd in New Mexico and/or Wisconsin. Having moved from San Francisco to Australia, I get these dateline issues coming up frequently. I wonder if the eruptions are recorded at Ross Island time or U.S. time.
I also can’t help wondering if the eruptions of the 23rd and the 24th are therefore one and the same, but because Terror is thought to be extinct a “dual eruption” has been incorrectly attributed as a single eruption on Erebus. Just a thought ………
REPLY: That is an excellent point. I had given some thought to the international dateline issue, but I could not ascertain from MEVO’s site whether they were using the date based on GMT or local, so I dropped it to look at later. The University of Wisconsin SSEC sat images list GMT. Hopefully I’ll be in contact with them soon and can get an answer to this.

February 10, 2008 9:35 pm

I am just curious, could this possibly be contrails from two aircraft flying over the region?
REPLY: That is a good point too. I had considered that, but look at the closeup photos, there are “bulbs” at the northmost ends of the plumes, something not seen in contrails. Contrails typically gradually appear a distance after the jet engines, as the mositure condenses into the air to form condensation or ice crystals.
In this case, I believe the bulbs are a result of looking down on a vertical ejection of steam and the plumes are steam/ice crystals being carried away by high level stratosphereic winds, thus the parallel paths.
More on contrails:

February 10, 2008 10:15 pm

You have a very interesting website; I make sure to check it out every few days.
Here’s an image from Goddard Space Flight Center site cited by davidsmith1. Terra/MODIS at 19:40 UTC 10/24/07:
Looks very interesting, but the similarity in intensity of the plumes… windblown ice and snow?
Image is MODIS, bands 3,6 and 7 (land/cloud/aerosols properties) at 500m.
Aura satellite appears to globally cover aerosols, ozone, sulphur dioxide, etc. I am not sure how images can readily be accessed.
REPLY: Thanks so much, I’ve posted your image find as a zoomed crop with a link to the full size. I welcome ideas on this new imagery. One thing to point out is that it appears the plumes are casting shadows on the cloud deck below, implying they are higher. Also notice clouds to the lower left of the two plumes, one exhibits a similar stretching, though not nearly as pronounced.
This could imply either steam/ice crystal plumes or lenticular clouds, I’m not sure which. Thoughts anyone?

February 11, 2008 5:43 am

I’m curious about why the website updates stopped after Oct 23rd. Volcanic activity surely continued, so what happened? Sensors knocked out? Observers evacuated? Problems back at home? This deserves some inquiry with the folks at headquarters.

February 11, 2008 6:33 am

They won’t be lenticular. With a volcano and its shape you can get wake turbulance, or singular lenticular.

Larry Sheldon
February 11, 2008 6:49 am

I have no idea what relevance, if any, there may be here, but….
I noticed the third “trace” to the left of the two plumes in the orange picture before I read the words about it.
Then I noticed in examining again the NOAA-17 picture composite that there appears to be a similar trace. Are they of the same thing, do you think?

February 11, 2008 7:19 am

What would the odds be of two ice plumes from precisely those two points? Or a photo error at precisely that point? Not impossible, but low, depending on how many “extinct” volcanoes are hanging around that particular area.
I think either it’s probably a genuine eruption or at least expulsion of steam (or it’s a hoax).

February 11, 2008 8:36 am

Anthony, your approach is much too responsible to get attention.
Claim this: “Temper tantrum threatens to melt the south pole”
Then, you’ll get some play.
REPLY: I quit TV news, remember?

Jim Arndt
February 11, 2008 8:40 am

This could be one in the same. Both might be the same volcano. Krakatoa was at first considered three separate volcanoes until the whole thing blew. These two could be the same volcano and now the “plumbing” has opened into Mt Terror. Are there and topo maps of the region that could suggest this?

February 11, 2008 9:03 am

No way those are the same plume, unless you have a real artist at work. That’s no cut-and-paste job at any rate.
JA: Ain’t you the cheery one? (2K-and-froze-to-death? Yeah, I know that one was earlier.)

February 11, 2008 9:06 am

Oh, BTW, is it a CRN5 violation if your weather station is sited on top of a volcano? #B^1

Jim Arndt
February 11, 2008 9:35 am

Even, Same magma chamber equals the same volcano. This could be a single volcano with two vents, albeit twenty miles apart but considering Toba and Yellow Stone a definite possibility.

Jim Arndt
February 11, 2008 9:36 am

Hi Sorry Evan! thick finger today LOL

February 11, 2008 10:01 am

sarcasm off

February 11, 2008 11:08 am

“sirius blowoff”
Could he have meant cirrus?

Phil Nizialek
February 11, 2008 11:28 am

I think that’s exactly what Kyle meant. Note his reference to “wind and cloud conditions.” These are cirrus streams in the lee of the mountains.
REPLY: I just heard back from him on clarification, and that is what he meant.

George M
February 11, 2008 1:17 pm

I have observed a similar phenomenon under much different conditions. Sitting in traffic in Algeciras, Spain and looking across the bay at the Rock of Gibraltar with a north wind blowing, I watched compression/expansion clouds forming just to the lee of the peak and streaming south, dissipating out over the Straits. Camera not handy, of course, but I do not recall ever seeing the rather elegant example of compression/expansion cloud formation described before. Any of you meteorologists remember seeing it in a text anywhere?

February 11, 2008 1:49 pm

There appear to be 4 volcanic cones on Ross Island. See topo map below.
Typically, a group of volcanoes like this are formed by a single mantle plume migrating over time. That means only one of them is over the mantle plume at any time and only that one will erupt.

Jim Arndt
February 11, 2008 2:37 pm

Philip B.,
Not necessarily true. Hawaii, Kilauea is erupting and at the same time the big island and the new undersea volcanoes are erupting or will erupt. All one hot spot. see Google Earth

February 11, 2008 2:37 pm

compression/expansion clouds
Search for Lenticular clouds or standing waves.

February 11, 2008 5:03 pm

Cloud show
REPLY: Thanks David. I’m very familiar with lenticular clouds, and they tend to be stationary with a finite dry line just past the point where the compression wave ends. The sat photos of Ross Island don’t look like this, but look more like the result of steam that has turned to ice crystals and been blown downwind.
The official “explanation from MEVO’s director is “cirrus blowoff”.

February 11, 2008 5:54 pm

How come people move to a place where there is even a remote possibility of a volcano being there? It just seems like a bad idea if you ask me.
i don’t really know how to read what someone posts if they want to comment back (I’m a little knew to the blogging thing here) but if you want to say anything or talk or anything at all, my blog is:

February 11, 2008 6:48 pm

Ah, it was problems back on the mother ship. Always suspect a distracted grad student and/or staffing problems when academic/research websites go dormant.
Mosher, don’t pretend your sarcasm has an OFF switch. Or a circuit breaker. 😉

Jeff in Seattle
February 11, 2008 10:04 pm

How come people move to a place where there is even a remote possibility of a volcano being there? It just seems like a bad idea if you ask me.

How come people move to places where hurricanes can and do hit every year, sometimes several times a year? Why do people move to where Tornadoes are prevalent? Nowhere is really safe from, extreme weather. Colorado gets major snow which can and does kill people, deserts have their own sets of problems, and an earthquake can hit anywhere as well.
I moved to the Puget Sound area because it’s very beautiful, and because my dad retired there ;). There are multiple potential volcanoes in the area, but I live far enough from any of them that they would not present a problem to me. And prevailing winds are westerly, so most ash and smoke would blow in the opposite direction, meaning areas NOT prone to volcanoes would suffer worse effects than I likely would.

February 12, 2008 3:15 pm

Jim Arnt, you are right and I was over-generalizing. Kamchatka is an example of where there are a large number (50+) of active volcanoes in close proximity.

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