"It Was 30 Years Ago Today"

… Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play …

by Steve Goddard

I remember May 18, 1980 like it was yesterday.  I was skiing behind Taos Ski Valley in ten foot deep snow, up to the base of Wheeler Peak.

Current view of Taos Ski Valley

At the time, I was working as a volcano researcher for the US Government, studying the nature of explosive volcanic eruptions. When we got back to Taos, we turned on the TV and saw amazing pictures of Mt. St. Helens, which had literally blown it’s top.

Eastern Illinois University photographs

Mt. St. Helens had previously been a dependable source of snow and ice all summer, and the K2 ski team (including Phil Mahre) used to train up there in the summer. It no longer is tall enough for summer skiing.

The mechanism of the eruption is well understood, thanks to an amazing video reconstruction.

As the magma chamber rose up in the volcano (magma is less dense than rock) it did several things. First, it melted the snow and ice and turned the soil into mud. Second, it made the north slope of the volcano steeper and less stable. Third, groundwater from melted snow and ice seeped down into the magma chamber and added to the steam pressure. At 8:32 am, a large earthquake further liquified the soil on the north slope, and caused a massive mud slide. The weight of the overburden quickly became less than the steam pressure inside, and the volcano blew it’s top. A massive amount of ash and trees poured down into the Toutle River wiping out everything in it’s path.

Bridge on the Toutle washing downstream

A reminder that explosive volcanic eruptions dump a lot of steam, ash and gas into the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, back in Iceland ….

In June 1783 the Laki volcano close to Katla erupted for several months with clouds of poisonous gas that killed 9,000 people in Iceland. But the eruption also created a cold fog that spread across much of Europe and North America, in some places causing the coldest summer for 500 years as the Sun’s warmth was blotted out.

“The summer of the year 1783 was an amazing and portentous one, and full of horrible phenomena,” wrote the naturalist Gilbert White in Hampshire. “The country people look with a kind of superstitious awe at the red louring aspect of the sun thro’ the fog.” The climate across the northern hemisphere was sent into upheaval, even weakening the monsoon rains in Africa and India, leading to famine in Egypt and India.

A few days ago, the Met Office forecast that the ash cloud would move to the northeast out of British airspace by May 19th. Their forecast for May 18th (today) appears to have been very accurate.

Below is their current forecast for the next five days.

Will Katla erupt? What do readers think?

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104 thoughts on “"It Was 30 Years Ago Today"

  1. I don’t know, but I’m glad that governments are starting to abandon their computer models and allowing flights through the present ash cloud. Hopefully they will come to see the flaws in climate-change computer models…

  2. I give it a 50/50 chance……..how’s that for a solid commitment?
    I’ll bet my prognostication proves accurate!

  3. That’s a cool gig… A volcano researcher in Taos!
    Valles Caldera is pretty cool too. It’s funny that Los Alamos National Laboratories are built in a volcanic hazard area.
    I got my BS in Earth Science that year a couple of weeks after the eruption… I guess I missed my 30th class reunion.

  4. Yes but when. Recent discussion on here is that when the current volcano stops erupting the pressure builds up in the chambers and spreads to Katla where it goes kaboomb!

  5. Has anyone bothered to check the known very large volcanic eruptions against what we know about the climate at the time?
    e.g. in New Zealand the largest eruption from Taupo occurred 26,500 years ago producing 300 km³ of ignimbrite and 500 km³ of pumice. That is a lot of stuff in the air that would go round the southern hemisphere at least. There have been many eruptions since.
    Mt Tarawera in 1886.

  6. Just a little more from Gilbert White in 1783:
    ‘From June 23rd to July 20th inclusive, during which period the wind varied to every quarter without making any alteration in the air. The sun at noon looked as blank as a clouded moon and shed a rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground and floors of rooms, but was particularly lurid and blood-coloured at rising and setting.’
    ‘All the time the heat was so intense that butcher’s meat could hardly be eaten on the day after it was killed, and the flies swarmed so in the lanes and hedges that they rendered the horses half frantic and riding irksome. All the while, Calabria and part of the isle of Sicily were torn and convulsed with earthquakes, and a volcano sprung out of the sea on the coast of Norway.’

  7. OT

    Mann No Expert on Tree Proxies
    Did a Secret Climate Deal Launch the Hockey Stick Fakery?
    But the deeper we dig the more we uproot our so-called tree-ring expert. In Mann’s lavish 13,465-word online résumé the word ‘tree’ appears only 6 times. By comparison the word ‘ocean’ appears 37 times. Even his doctoral dissertation makes not one reference to trees-its all about oceans. Clearly, our Michael is not a Mann enamored by tree ring research. source May 13th 2010

  8. If the conditions that would cause Katla to erupt come about, most likely Katla will then erupt.
    Sorry, just testing my IPCC speak.

  9. I think Katla will erupt within a few months. There is this relationship between solar minima and earthquakes and volcano eruptions; we had a long solar minimum and Katla hasn’t erupted since 1918.

  10. I’m wondering how you could have skied uphill in ten feet of snow behind a valley. But that would sure be something I would remember.

  11. Will Katla erupt? What do readers think?
    Dreg’s only know, doesn’t it?
    But more interesting is the amount of volcanic ash left in N Hemisphere (and other materials). Someone said a few weeks ago that the ash went too low to reach the stratosphere to have any impact on this year’s weather events. Meanwhile the ash plumes went much higher, crossed Tropo-Strato boundary and what EUMETSAT daily images shows, it looks like part of the ash/dust stay in the atmosphere (light to dark orange) every day whirling around Northern Atlantic all the time:
    http://oiswww.eumetsat.org/IPPS/html/MSG/RGB/DUST/WESTERNEUROPE/index.htm
    Meanwhile the Vistula River flowing throughout Cracow in Poland where I live has reached historical levels (photos):
    http://www.dziennik.krakow.pl/pl/galerie/regiony/krakow/1019230-fala-kulminacyjna-w-krakowie.html
    But more interesting is a statement from a “government scientist” that
    “Polish Rainfall is intensified by the volcanic dust”.
    Read it in English (Google translation):
    http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dziennik.krakow.pl%2Fpl%2Faktualnosci%2Fna-biezaco%2F1019235-opady-deszczu-poteguje-pyl-wulkaniczny.html&sl=pl&tl=en
    Original text:
    http://www.dziennik.krakow.pl/pl/aktualnosci/na-biezaco/1019235-opady-deszczu-poteguje-pyl-wulkaniczny.html
    My question is – is there any possibility that there is any nexus between the ash and the more intense rainfalls in Europe or, if the Eyjafjoell will continue to emit volcanic ash, will it have some impact (and what) on Europe’s weather in the coming months?
    Regards

  12. Katla will likely erupt at some point soon. While such an event is never good, an eruption of Katla combined with other cooling factors that seem to be occurring would be amplifying the pain of a cooling world.

  13. Regarding the eruption of Katla, the experts say it never fails to go off a year or two after Eyjafjallajokull, so I’ll rely on what they predict. It sounds pretty certain; WHEN is not exactly known. However, I believe significant seismic activity will precede its arrival so that loss of life will be significantly less than the last time it went off.

  14. The eruption of mount St. Hellens was absolutly devistating to all aircraft on the continental United States. Aircraft were falling out of the skies at a rate of 100 per hour between Boise Idaho and New York City. The deaths from all these aircraft crashing numbered in the thousands.
    NOT!
    Sometimes, people and computer models need a reality check…

  15. My son, who is 10, and I visited the Mt. St. Helens observatory last summer. Amazing that nearly 30 years later there is still so much evidence of the eruption over such a vast area. We were talking last night about how the animal species, specifically the reptiles, have returned and changed in the area.

  16. Steve Huntwork
    You can’t compare the airspace over Washington State with Europe. There are probably a couple of orders of magnitude more planes flying over Europe.

  17. The most hilarious thing I see is 25 year old trees creeping up the mountain side, or the bs hitting the fan over and over for every time the green muppets said over and over that it’d take like a “million years” for nature to reclaim that mountain.
    When I hear greenies and their muppets say they are nature folks, being one with nature and all that crap I go ROFL and call ’em by name–hippies!

  18. “Jimbo says:
    May 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm
    OT
    Mann No Expert on Tree Proxies […]”
    This would explain the many “unconventional” things Mann has done as opposed to real dendroclimatologists. And why he has “found out” things nobody before him has found out. (ok, the other possible explanation would be that he’s a genius but that sounds a little far-fetched…)

  19. Iceland–I spent the summer of 69 making surface deformation measurements w/eysteinn tryggvason on katla and other locations,including surtsey and hekla.
    that katla might also blow is very probable. a bigger concern for europe is hekla-
    its effect on climate in the dark ages lead europeans to consider it the gateway to hell!
    lanny

  20. The ROBUST findings of the PEER REVIEWED literature SUGGEST that the chances of Katla erupting is LIKELY.
    But more research (dollars) is needed.

  21. I made a comment a couple days ago to make a point about cycles in the climate:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/16/volcano-update/#comment-391470
    The relevant part is:
    From TimesOnline ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7127706.ece ) comes the following story:

    The Icelandic eruption that has caused misery for air travellers could be part of a surge in volcanic activity that will affect the whole of Europe for decades, scientists have warned.
    They have reconstructed a timeline of 205 eruptions in Iceland, spanning the past 1,100 years, and found that they occur in regular cycles — with the relatively quiet phase that dominated the past five decades now coming to an end.
    At least three other big Icelandic volcanoes are building towards an eruption, according to Thor Thordarson, a volcanologist at Edinburgh University.
    “The frequency of Icelandic eruptions seems to rise and fall in a cycle lasting around 140 years,” he said. “In the latter part of the 20th century we were in a low period, but now there is evidence that we could be approaching a peak.”

    Just because Eyjafjallajokull is erupting is no guarantee that any other volcano will blow its top. However, given the history of volcanic activity in Iceland over the course of centuries, I’m guessing that it’s likely we’ll see a major eruption by mid-century. {Damn! With that sort of prediction, I’m sounding like I could land a job with the IPCC. *shudder* Now that makes me feel unclean}

  22. Considering that Iceland is on the mid-Atlantic ridge, which is still spreading, Katla is likely to erupt again. When? If it has consistently followed the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, then it is likely to erupt sooner rather than later.

  23. DirkH
    “I think Katla will erupt within a few months. There is this relationship between solar minima and earthquakes and volcano eruptions; we had a long solar minimum and Katla hasn’t erupted since 1918.”
    I doubt there is a scientifically convincing relationship between solar minima and tectonic events. What could connect them?

  24. I lived in Portland at the time of the eruption. We had repeated ash dumps through the year- large enough to pull the gutters off of the houses and turn the ground gray, like a really dirty snow. We wore masks or bandannas when it was really bad and changed our cars air filters often. I’m sure the air port shut for the worst as it is right in the mountain’s shadow but I remember the largest travel disruptions were due to the damage to the bridges. Possibly the ash is more corrosive and higher in fluoride in Iceland. I know of no long lasting ill effects in the North West from exposure to ash who to anyone who wasn’t in the blast site.

  25. stevengoddard says:
    May 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm
    ‘Steve Huntwork
    You can’t compare the airspace over Washington State with Europe. There are probably a couple of orders of magnitude more planes flying over Europe.’
    I think you might be wrong there Steven if you compare, as Steve Huntwork suggested, the lower 48 with Europe! Someone else will undoubtedly tell you how wrong.

  26. “In June 1783 the Laki volcano close to Katla erupted for several months with clouds of poisonous gas that killed 9,000 people in Iceland. But the eruption also created a cold fog that spread across much of Europe and North America, in some places causing the coldest summer for 500 years as the Sun’s warmth was blotted out.”
    Rubbish. CET June 1783 = 14.8, July = 18.8 (hottest before 1983), August = 15.8.
    There was very cold Feb/Mar, with a strong temp uplift in April 1783.
    23,000 died in Britain from 3 months of fumes and dust.
    1784 was a cold year overall, but Jul/Aug/Sep temp`s were warm.
    St. Helens 1980 eruption started March 21st, peaking again April 13th, then the final event May 18th. All three incresed activity stages were on temperature rises.
    Seattle temperatures;
    http://www.tutiempo.net/en/Climate/Seattle_Seattle_Boeing_Field/03-1980/727935.htm
    http://www.tutiempo.net/en/Climate/Seattle_Seattle_Boeing_Field/04-1980/727935.htm
    http://www.tutiempo.net/en/Climate/Seattle_Seattle_Boeing_Field/05-1980/727935.htm
    Details of events;
    http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/May18/MSHThisWeek/412425/412425.html

  27. A climate significant eruption will be the saving grace for the AGW advocates. Any cooling will be attributed to the volcano. What the skeptic camp needs to emphatically prove its case is a sustained period (at least five years) of global cooling with no special inputs.
    For that reason alone it is desirable for the Earth to keep its hat on for a while.

  28. Ulric Lyons says:
    May 18, 2010 at 5:12 pm
    I have already addressed the winter of 1784 and its astronomical causes here;
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/05/suns-magnetics-coming-alive-again/#comment-386726
    Theory says volcanic effects on climate are cooler summers and warmer winters, that is not what we see with 1784. I can carry on giving as many examples possible on +ve temperature anomalies leading up to eruptions, and have serious doubts about accepted ideas about signifant cooling of surface temperatures after the events, particularly 1816.


  29. Vulcanism is a persistent phenomenon, and involves the episodically waxing and waning of gaseous discharges in extremely large volumes.
    Is there any source of information on the character and quantity of such discharges – as a total impact upon the earth’s atmosphere – whereby these may be compared to emissions secondary to purposeful human action?
    The warmist True Believers are persistent in their dismissal of vulcanism as a contributory factor in the atmospheric changes to which they attribute anthropogenic global warming. I wonder how much validity there is in these creatures’ claims.

  30. Will Katla erupt?
    Not the right questions:
    Are you afraid Katla will erupt and be worse than possibly imagined?
    Every time I visit Redding and see Mt. Shasta I say to myself: “Sure am glad I can’t see that thing from where I live”.
    Why Mt. St. Helens and not Mt. Rainier or Mt. Hood? Why not the 3 Sisters all popping thier lids?

  31. PJF says:
    May 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm
    Actually, it’s up to AGW to prove it’s case what with the 10 years there was no cooling and no major eruptions circling the globe.
    We don’t need no 5 years, ’cause we already got twice that much.
    5 years of big poppers circling the globe will surely summon the Ice Cream Truck Monster.

  32. lanny joe reed says:
    May 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm
    concern for europe is hekla- its effect on climate in the dark ages lead europeans to consider it the gateway to hell!
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    Was it something like this?

  33. I grew up in a small community in Eastern Washington. On the morning of May 18, 1980 I recall watching the thick ash clouds roll in completely blocking out the sun. The ash fell like snow for several hours. We got a couple of inches at my house. Some communities a bit north of us got well over 6 inches!
    Clean up was a big mess. For several weeks we had to wear dust masks to go outside, but on the bright side, school was canceled for the remainder of the year.

  34. Google search for “1783 coldest summer for 500 years Gilbert White” gives 264,000 results. Its quite astounding looking at the same “edit” everywhere, all cloned from one source by the look of it, deliberately chopping the part where it says how hot it was. Claims of severe cold in Siberia, Alaska etc. Misinformation influenza! Thanks to “el gordo says: May 18, 2010 at 2:48 pm” for pasting in a more complete report.
    European temperatures from 1700 don`t point at any regional difference, this is a solar signal and it would have been hot all over the N.H. in 1783 summer.
    http://members.casema.nl/errenwijlens/co2/errenvsluterbacher.htm

  35. England and Wales rainfall for 1783, 887mm total (916mm average 1766-2009). September the wettest (125mm) as it cooled down that month.

  36. Some of the ash from Mt. St. Helens fell over Wallowa County in NE Oregon. My grandpa mixed it with epoxy and inlayed it into some of his gunstocks. He usually carved out a diamond pattern. I sure miss that big guy.

  37. The Thames froze solid for two winters in a row between 1783 and 1786, just as solar cycle 3 was nearing bottom.

  38. “As the magma chamber rose up in the volcano (magma is less dense than rock) it did several things. First, it melted the snow and ice and turned the soil into mud.”
    Does this need some qualification about density? Otherwise, why has the global crust not sunk into the magma?

  39. Amino Acids in Meteorites presented Ms. SallieLouise Baliunas video of
    climate and the societal response-very informative- now, 500 years later and we still have “witches”! Hekla erupted~1300–200 years earlier (beginning of little ice age).
    Might one suggest cause?
    Lanny

  40. Glenn says:
    May 18, 2010 at 3:01 pm
    I’m wondering how you could have skied uphill in ten feet of snow behind a valley. But that would sure be something I would remember.
    _______________________________________________________________
    telemark skiing

  41. Rich Matarese says:
    May 18, 2010 at 5:57 pm
    “……The warmist True Believers are persistent in their dismissal of vulcanism as a contributory factor in the atmospheric changes to which they attribute anthropogenic global warming. I wonder how much validity there is in these creatures’ claims.”
    ____________________________________________________________________________
    So that means if we have additional volcanoes blow and cool weather for the next thirty years, they will not blame it on the volcanoes…..
    I think the “Warmist True Believers” rather embrace “vulcanism as a contributory factor in atmospheric changes” than give up CO2 warming completely.

  42. jaymam
    The more interesting eruption of Taupo, imo, was the circa 200 CE eruption. This was large enough to cause months or years of brilliant sunsets/sunrises as far away as Rome, where it was recorded. Perhaps this event was the trigger for the ending of the Roman Warm Period? An estimated 50 cubic kilometres of fine rhyolite tephra must have played havoc with the albedo of the atmosphere and as a source of water droplet nuclei.

  43. I was fortunate to hear (feel?) the Mt. St. Helens eruption in Eugene, Or., 160 miles to the southwest, although I didn’t recognize it for what it was the instant it happened. It was just a big subsonic “whoomp” that made the front windows of our house vibrate.
    It wasn’t until a bunch of us stopped at a store in McKenzie Bridge on our way back to town from a whitewater adventure on the McKenzie River that we learned that the volcano had let rip. There was a TV on in the store with pix of the eruption. We were agog.
    A subsequent eruption some months later gave us a bit of grit, but that was about it.
    The fact that St. Helens has repaired itself ecologically so quickly despite all the “experts'” hand-wringing at the time started me early down the skeptic’s road regarding all of today’s fashionable alarmism.

  44. Thirty years ago, at the silver mine I worked at in southwestern Idaho, we had a betting pool as to which day Mount St Helens would cease huffing and puffing and just blow its top, big time, as some types of volcanoes have a habit of doing. The mine manager won the pool and then took the whole staff to dinner using his winnings.

  45. Went out on the lawn and saw the billowing cloud of the eruption 30 years ago, today.

  46. “Will Katla erupt?”
    Eventually, yes. The thing that I think people should keep in mind is that volcanoes in Iceland can erupt for years much like volcanoes in Hawaii. This is a volcano over a mantle hot spot, like Hawaii but unlike Hawaii it is also at a rift. Iceland is fairly large and hasn’t existed very long (in geological time). I think something like 85% of all lava erupted on Earth in the past 500 years has been in Iceland.

  47. Will Katla erupt?
    We should be safe as long as we keep Hobbits bearing rings away from the area.

  48. Glenn: May 18, 2010 at 3:01 pm
    I’m wondering how you could have skied uphill in ten feet of snow behind a valley. But that would sure be something I would remember.
    And it was uphill both ways, too.

  49. “Flask says:
    May 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm
    DirkH
    “I think Katla will erupt within a few months. There is this relationship between solar minima and earthquakes and volcano eruptions; we had a long solar minimum and Katla hasn’t erupted since 1918.”
    I doubt there is a scientifically convincing relationship between solar minima and tectonic events. What could connect them?”
    I don’t know but here’s a writeup from the chiefio:
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/ecuador-volcanic-activity-report/

  50. I’m glad that governments are starting to abandon their computer models and allowing flights through the present ash cloud
    They are not. They are trying to map paths through the cloud and they are also raising the threshold for exposure. They have now raised it twice. The first is sensible and reasonable. The second is probably not, at least not to do it any more. What is likely to happen as a result is that they will raise it a third time, and that will be once too often.
    The problem is that the effects of ash are dire, and cumulative. They probably did over react on the first announcements. But a little further down this path we’ll get to engine failure and forced landings. If you fly, or if you live under a flight path, you do not want to risk this.
    The problem is nothing to do with models, and the problem has nothing to teach us about climate forecasts. The techniques used to forecast cloud movements are the same as those used to forecast the weather. If you look at the Met Office site, you will speedily realize that they cannot consistently forecast the weather over the UK one week ahead. In very settled periods they can be right on the next couple of days for a week at a time. Then a changeable period comes, and the forecast for a couple days out changes twice a day, so its just about useless.
    Given this, they are sailing very close to the wind with the current flight permissions. You have fairly unpredictable movement of an ash cloud of varying height and density, coupled with unknown safety levels for exposure to ash. We must wait and see, but it looks from here like a recipe for a low probability, high payoff disaster.

  51. @ El Gordo (18 May, 8:11 p.m.)
    Lines 16-17 of the poem “Constantinople” by Lady Wortley Montague written in January 1718 compares the mild climate there to England:
    “The Water Nymphs their silenced Urns deplore
    Even Thames benumb’d a River now no more”.

  52. If anyone doubts the wisdom of not flying into a cloud of volcanic ash the tale of a British Airways B747 which encountered an ash cloud 100nm south of Sumatra on 23 June 1982 should come as a salutary warning. At 37,000ft the aircraft lost power on all four engines almost simultaneously.
    The story is here

  53. I doubt there is a scientifically convincing relationship between solar minima and tectonic events. What could connect them?”
    I don’t know but here’s a writeup from the chiefio:
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/ecuador-volcanic-activity-report/

    And others find correlations between increased seismic activity and solar maxima.
    http://stugood.org/forum/topic/88/solar-cycles-and-natural-phenomena
    Given the solar cycle is only 11 years long and that the “duration” of min or max is arbitrary and subjective anyway (the above link also has lags to help out!) and further that no sensible physical mechanism is offered as to why increased/decreased solar activity would make any difference, you can draw your own conclusions.

  54. Will Katla erupt? What do readers think?
    —————————————————————————
    Katla would probably be showing more signs if it was going to do anything soon… So no.

  55. “David Chappell says:
    May 19, 2010 at 4:15 am
    If anyone doubts the wisdom of not flying into a cloud of volcanic ash the tale of a British Airways B747 which encountered an ash cloud 100nm south of Sumatra on 23 June 1982 should come as a salutary warning. At 37,000ft the aircraft lost power on all four engines almost simultaneously.”
    NOBODY!!!!!! And I mean NOBODY, doubts the wisdom of flying through an ash CLOUD a la Sumatra. Ash clouds bad.
    But I’ll repeat for the umpteenth time there is NO ash cloud over Europe. the skies are perfectly clear. The flights are banned from areas of slight traces suggested by a model and not backed up by observations. Give the thing a wide berth [300 miles] by all means but don’t you think 1000’s of miles is a bit too far? We are banning flights up to 5000 miles away from a relatively small eruption!
    Don’t you get it? Without super computers, algorithms and modelling we would happily and harmlessly be flying about our business without any worries. And how do I know this? Because that’s what happened before our ‘detection’ sensitivity got so advanced. It’s called epidemiology – study of the population [in this case aircraft]. Expose thousands of jet aircraft historically [60 years] to TRACE ash and count the damage, incidents and crashes. Ooh – none!
    cheers David

  56. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    May 18, 2010 at 6:13 pm
    What Mrs.Bailunas tells is that many people (the skeptics of that epoch) were accused of “weather cooking” and the “precautionary principle” was then applied, sending to the stake millions of people.This is precisely what now the Green Church is about to do if climate worsens. Beware!

  57. Will Katla Erupt?
    Yes – my computer models put the time of eruption in a window between 19th May 2010 and 16th of July 4573
    If we dont stop anthropogenic deformations of the earths crust through mining activities causing internal magma cavitations – leading to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions it will be closer to the current date!
    I need billions to do more research on this.

  58. “J.Hansford says:
    May 19, 2010 at 5:35 am
    Will Katla erupt? What do readers think?
    —————————————————————————
    Katla would probably be showing more signs if it was going to do anything soon… So no”
    Lets have a sweep. Put me down for Xmas 2010.
    I admit to having a bit of ‘insider’ knowledge, literally, having spent a couple of weeks surveying the lava tubes under the Laki lava field. 🙂
    cheers David

  59. Curiousgeorge says:
    May 19, 2010 at 2:22 am
    Late September through October this year will be very warm, this will have the strongest effect on S.H. volcanoes as this is S.H spring time and there will be a larger temperature differential following the cooler August, equivalent to N.H February. That is not to say it will not affect N.H activity.

  60. I was working as a Charter pilot and Fed Contractor in the Tri Cities. The cloud went right over the Richland, Wa area, but we didn’t get much ashfall but that wasn’t the case for the rest of the Columbia Basin. Or Yakima. Made Air Ops quite interesting for weeks lots of filter and oil changes, not much in the way of overt damage,at least to Piston engines, there was a Mitsubishi MU-2 operator that fried both engines, but that may have been due to his insistence of operations when there was visible ash in the air.
    Flew lots of USGS Surveys and Battlle NW flights before and after the eruption…
    Then many,many tourist flights..
    July 22nd,1980 was worse for the Tri Cities in some ways….

  61. I lived in a house in a pitch pine forest at the time, my brother (a geologist) lived in Colorado. He and coworkers collected Mt St Helen’s ashfall from their cars’ windshield, and he report that it was definitely new material in the ash, not just powdered mountainside.
    When the ash made it to me, I went out and was excited to see some yellowish powder on my car’s windshield, then wondered why it wasn’t gray. A quick check with the nearest pine made it clear that pine pollen season had started….

  62. I remember a few days after MSH blew up I was washing the ash off my car… in Dallas Texas!

  63. AndrewsDad says:
    May 18, 2010 at 3:15 pm
    … We were talking last night about how the animal species, specifically the reptiles, have returned and changed in the area.

    Chances are, if armageddon happends, some GREEN REPTILES will return too….

  64. Central Atlantic Rift activity (it crosses Iceland):
    M 5.2, Greenland Sea
    Date: Sunday, May 16, 2010 16:39:33 UTC
    Sunday, May 16, 2010 04:39:33 PM at epicenter
    Depth: 10.00 km (6.21 mi)
    M 5.0, Greenland Sea
    Date: Sunday, May 16, 2010 15:29:02 UTC
    Sunday, May 16, 2010 03:29:02 PM at epicenter
    Depth: 10.00 km (6.21 mi)
    M 4.8, Greenland Sea
    Date: Sunday, May 16, 2010 20:23:04 UTC
    Sunday, May 16, 2010 08:23:04 PM at epicenter
    Depth: 29.80 km (18.52 mi)
    M 4.9, Azores Islands, Portugal
    Date: Friday, May 14, 2010 13:25:34 UTC
    Friday, May 14, 2010 01:25:34 PM at epicenter
    Depth: 22.30 km (13.86 mi)
    Details from USGS web site

  65. Ulric Lyons says:
    May 19, 2010 at 5:57 am
    Yarmy says:
    May 19, 2010 at 5:01 am
    If you want to look for “strings”, as this a temperature forcing issue, try the 17yr cocronal hole cycle. Otherwise, notice how many large eruptions are preceded by very cold winters: http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/largeeruptions.cfm

    So it’s solar max, solar min, 17 year coronal hole cycle, and cold winters that cause large eruptions. That’s narrowed it down. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s absolutely nothing to do with any of those things.

  66. Thanks for the links, DirkH, Yarmy, Ulric, Enneagram, some show correlation with minima and some with maxima.
    The reduction in load of a continental glacier melting might contribute to or accelerate an eruption, or trigger movement on a fault to start an earthquake, less likely melting of an alpine glacier. Changes in atmospheric pressure? not impossible to find a correlation, but the events are still inevitable, not caused by a strong wind or deep low pressure, but by internal processes. Lunar tidal effects are constant and regular enough that they will probably not cause an eruption or earthquake that would happen anyway, though there might be a correlation between high or low tide and the onset of an earthquake or eruption. More distant objects like the sun or other planets will have that much less effect.
    Correlation between solar minima or maxima seems like it has got to be coincidence, though magnetic perturbations could do something in the earth’s core, which might affect tectonism. It might be worth checking for increased volcanism at periods when the earth’s magnetic field reversed, earthquakes would be harder to date accurately enough.
    Gravity is the important force in the workings of the earth, and interactions between gravity and energy from the sun run the oceans and atmosphere.

  67. @Enneagram says:
    May 19, 2010 at 6:07 am
    January 1600 was very cold. Temperatures were raised strongly from around Feb 9th, and again more fiercely from around the 17th, the eruption was the 19th. A very similar astronomical configuration occurs in Jan/Feb 1779 and gives the same temperature profile.

  68. Flask says:
    May 19, 2010 at 9:07 am
    I can assure you that there is overwelming evidence for activity to increase on a strong temperature uplift after a cold episode. Its probably in history somewhere, I can`t believe this has not been correlated before. Local temperature is also highly instrumental. So what is the mechanism? thermal expansion, air pressure+temp`s?

  69. I live 34 miles west of MSH and watched it blow up that morning. Two days later on my day off from working at a grocery store I had the unique opportunity to fly on a rescue mission in a Huey H1D filled with national press corps. None of them knew I was just a “local yokel” with a 35mm Minolta. I beat out 300 press for one of only eighteen seats available for a ride of a lifetime up right next to the mountain and over Spirit Lake which was at that time covered up with logs and ash. I saw some pretty gruesome sights that day but luckily had run out of film. Of course the others in the chopper with me had lots of film and they later appeared on the pages of Life magazine etc.

  70. Didn’t I read somewhere that it is likely that Eyjafjallayokull and Katla have magma chambers that are thought to be connected and that Katla usually goes off a few months after Eyja?
    We are told that the ash plume will have no effect on British weather, but up until yesterday, the spring here has been pretty cold. I only turned the central heating off on Monday night, that’a bout a month later than usual. And a dark grey sand did fall on my car.
    Our prevailing weather in the UK is from the SW but recently it has been from the NW, hence cold arctic air and volcanic ash coming over. The ash is not the cause of the cold weather, at least at this stage, but they are both coming this way together because of the wind direction.

  71. Flask:
    Don’t think there is a relationship per se between min/max solar cycles and volcanic eruptions though there is significant solar radiation pressure on the earth’s surface, when the huge suface area being affected is considered, that changes with radiation changes. Of course in any one smaller area this pressure would be minor. See: http://www.blazelabs.com/f-g-rpress.asp. More likely Earth’s orbital eccentricity, axial tilt and precession which would all cause changes in sun’s tidal forces upon the earth and its magma would have a more direct effect upon eruptions. Dr. Iben Browning of the New Madrid Fault fame spoke of some of these issues back in the 80’s.

  72. According to the Institute of Earth Sciences Katla seismicity discussion, Katla volcano under the Myrdalsjokull glacier (fills the caldera) does show seasonal seismic activity with activity concentrated in the latter part of the year and is attributed to deloading of the thin crust above the magma chamber due to summer melting of ice, and to high ground water pressure in the caldera roof. Perhaps this information coupled with the apparent affinity of Katla to erupt soon after an eruption at Eyjafjallayokull might cause a betting person to lay a wage that Katla might erupt in late summer.
    BYW – the study of the geometry of the Katla magma chamber indicates a shallow magma reservoir with a bottom at a depth of 3 km , a thickness of 1 km , and a approximate volume around 10-12 km3. This geometry would indicate onset of a rapid eruption with the potential of significant volume of eruptives (the Solheimar eruption circa 12,000 ybp estimated at 6 to 7 km3). The 1918 eruption (most recent) was responsible for extending the Southern coast by 5 km with lahar flood deposits.
    see http://www2.hi.is/page/ies_katla

  73. Katla has now been quiet for the longest period in the last 500 years and this period is approaching twice the usual average at rest time , so the odds are probably rising that she will blow in a none to distant future. Of course I being a native of the island and living none to far from the beast , certainly hope she stays quiet , or if she blows , it will only be a slight demon fart and not a major eruption like that one almost a century ago, that I am told, added up to 5 klom’s to the shoreline at some places on the coast. However there what everybody seem to miss when the discussing the current eruption taking place at Eyjafjallajökul and it´s possibility as being a precursor to a Katla eruption , it´s estimated that there is evidence of there having been 21 eruptions from Katla, ( 10 of which there are verifiable written records of, the rest estimated some other way) but only 4 in Eyjafjallajökull (prior to the current one) , 3 of which have been followed by a Katla eruption 8-15 months later, and 1 where Katla stayed quiet for usual her pregancy period. There have therefore been 17 Katla eruptions (“childbirths” :-)”) she has managed on her own (plus some smaller farts not big enough to make it through the glacier last one in 1955) , and that therefore it’s is just as likely that the Eyjafjallajökull-Katla connection is just a high occurrence ( 3 out of 4 ) coincidence. I at least hope so and the geologists say the two of them have no direct underground connection that they know of so maybe we have few more years to wait for the old lady (Katla in my book translates to an english equivalent of “She-Kettle” or “She-Cauldron”, and is a female noun therefore I tend to speak of it as her) to blow her top. But then again we may not, but I am not betting on her blowing yet.
    Also another thing Katla eruptions tend to be fairly big , spectaculary explosive, and short lived. The 1918 incident lasted only three weeks, it’s a caldera type volcano and the magma chamber is not particularly big so usually she runs out of ammo fairly fast,and though there is of course possibility of considerable destruction or damage from an eruption there, the one in Eyjafjallajökull is a of a different kind , and even if the material it is putting up in the air and piling up on the land is not that much on a daily basis, it might be a persistent and longlived bastard and f.x. keep on interfering with the air traffic flow for one thing for perhaps a year or two before its spent, and in the end have bigger impact , than a short but violent Katla explosion.
    Ok, but before I wind down, understandably many people have trouble with trying to figure out how to pronounce or even spell the name of the glacier Eyjafjallajökull. The name is a composition of three words “Eyja” a plural form of the word “Ey” meaning an island, the word “fjalla” a plural form of the the word “fjall” which is the the icelandic version of what is called a mountain in english, and the word “jökull” which translates to “a glacier” in english.
    The name Eyjafjallajökull therefore literally translates to “Islands-mountains-glacier” in english, and is of course the glacier in the a mountain range named “Eyjafjöll” ( = eng. “Islands mountains”) , how the name originated I do not know and am not going to attemt to guess at , but I am going to suggest that if you are one of them having trouble with the local name then why no use the equivalent english transliteration “Islands Mountain Glacier” . Simple! No?

  74. Sorry, I somehow managed to leave out that the time period for those 21 Katla eruptions I was talking about in my last comment was from around 900 A.D. to present.

  75. Ulric Lyons:
    Of course the Milankovitch cycles to which I was referring regarding tidal forces on the earth’s magma are on geological time scales and would not necessarily have any short term predictive value. Where as if you are correct re heat and cooling cycles they being more immediate, seasonal phenominae could.
    Jim

  76. @Jim G says:
    May 20, 2010 at 10:01 am
    This would fit, with why there was such a lot of volcanic activity, coming out of the last Ice Age too. I don`t actually subscibe to Milankovitch theory, not only because of the 41/100kyr, problem, but the record is saw tooth, that does not fit the nature of orbital changes too well. And because I know the Heinrich Events are astronomically forced,
    (4627.33yr return of Superior and Inferior Planets)
    its makes sense to me that the Glaciation cycle can be seen to be a descending series of these events, progressively falling into worse configurations, until the accumulated”slip”, over a relatively short period, falls back into the +ve mode, if you follow me.
    U.

  77. Billy Liar says:
    May 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    stevengoddard says:
    May 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm
    ‘Steve Huntwork
    You can’t compare the airspace over Washington State with Europe. There are probably a couple of orders of magnitude more planes flying over Europe.’

    I think you might be wrong there Steven if you compare, as Steve Huntwork suggested, the lower 48 with Europe! Someone else will undoubtedly tell you how wrong.

    After two or three days the ash cloud reached the East Coast. There was ash detected over almost half the US. (See the quote below for an example.) This was a much larger eruption that from Eye…Kull. There must have been lots of flight cancellations, but nothing so “precautionary” as what has been seen in Europe.

    Tommy says:
    May 19, 2010 at 8:15 am
    I remember a few days after MSH blew up I was washing the ash off my car… in Dallas Texas!

    In Seattle I heard what I thought was a 747 flying 100 feet over my house. I went out on the porch and saw several neighbors also looking around in a puzzled way. We were all aware of the volcano’s restlessness, but none of us realized that its blast would be so loud 100 miles away.
    Incidentally, a scientist surveyed people in the area around the mountain about how loud the blast had been and discovered that the loudness didn’t drop off regularly with distance, but that there were irregular zones of relative loudness and quietness. The noise wave may have bounced off something in the sky, maybe.

  78. Ulrick,
    To me the Milankovich cylcles are only one part in the on-going geologic play and to my thinking they could indeed have an effect upon volcanism via tidal forces which would be a second part in the multiple variables that determine climate, though this second factor may have a different timing and not equal effects in each occurance. Add to these the many other potential factors such as large impacts, continental drift changing ocean conveyors over geologic time scales, periodic super volcanic eruptions, etc and you have your saw tooth effect. Consider also the different types of volcanic activities. Here in Wyoming the effects of these are readily visible in the different thicknesses of bentonite (volcanic ash) which is mined here. Some eruptions may spew more greenhouse gas while others may, indeed, cause nuclear winter such as that which a cataclysmic Yellowstone blow might be capable of producing and everything in between. This is a gigantic multivariate regression job for which we know what the causal variables might be but do not know their exact timing or intrinsic value in each event. In any event, it is doubtfull that my Ford F150 is having much impact.

  79. Jim G says:
    May 21, 2010 at 10:22 am
    “Milankovich cylcles are only one part in the on-going geologic play and to my thinking they could indeed have an effect upon volcanism via tidal forces which would be a second part in the multiple variables that determine climate”
    The correlation with spring tides (the largest tidal consideration) is weak, as is Earth perigee or apogee, so tidal considerations are unlikely from my studies. While many events are close to Lunar nodal crossings, which show up in effects on temperatures most strongly too. This is to do with modulations of the solar wind , and nothing gravitational.
    “This is a gigantic multivariate regression job for which we know what the causal variables might be but do not know their exact timing or intrinsic value in each event”
    I do not agree. I can see a clear temperature differential at every event (cold followed by hot), and can show the astronomical cause of each of them. The bigger and faster the change, the greater the severity of events.

  80. @Jims G says:
    May 21, 2010 at 10:22 am
    “Add to these the many other potential factors such as large impacts, continental drift changing ocean conveyors over geologic time scales, periodic super volcanic eruptions, etc and you have your saw tooth effect”
    No none of those will give the 41kyr or 100kyr sawtooth glaciation sequences.

  81. Ulric,
    Perhaps not, but my point was that they will cause the Milankovitch phenominae (orbital eccentricity, axial tilt and precession) to not correlate consistently with temperature variation. And all of the factors I mention above, as well as many others, are potential climate changers. Since they are not quantifiable in exact time or even more to the point, intensity, it simply proves the fool’s errand of climate change prediction.

  82. Jim G says:
    May 21, 2010 at 4:07 pm
    “And all of the factors I mention above, as well as many others, are potential climate changers. Since they are not quantifiable in exact time or even more to the point, intensity,”
    Continental drift and the raising of mountain ranges will affect climate, but that is longer term than glaciation cycles. The large increase in volcanic activty coming out of the last ice age obviously didn`t cool the globe. Was does matter in terms of Holocene temperature change, is highly quantifiable as regards timing and intensity, especially month to month, as this level of change is what will trigger new volcanic events. You see, if temperature change is dependant on solar wind speed, then anything based on TSI changes such as Milankovich, is completely redundant.

  83. Ulric,
    Are you saying that volcanic activity, large impacts, changes in ocean currents & temperature, etc. are highly quatifiable during the Holocene period, or just temperature? I find it difficult to believe that all the potential “causal” variables are quantifialbe for any period before written human history or even during most of it. The Earth is mostly covered with water so in the case of impacts I find it unlikely we have found them all. Same for underwater volcanic activity. Too many unquatifiable independent variables.

  84. @ Jim G says:
    May 22, 2010 at 8:22 am
    Temperature and volcanic activity yes. I was not addressing anything to do with impacts, or ocean currents. I`ll put it this way, with proper understanding of planetary ordered solar variation, it is possible to take any year in the last 8,000yrs, and look in detail at the current solar condition down to weekly definition. Test me. Give me a cold winter that you have specific details as to when it was very cold, and when the thaw was etc, and I will hindcast it.

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