Saturday, September 27, 2014

The reason why last night's surveillance of Holuhraun at Barðarbunga was so dismal is because...


Mount Ontake surprise eruption on Nagano-Gifu border kills hiker, wounds 46 (Video & Images)

Reuters, Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

Mount Ontake, a volcano straddling Nagano and Gifu prefectures, erupted on Saturday, spewing ash and small rocks into the air, killing a female hiker, leaving at least 16 people unconscious and 30 others seriously injured, and stranding more than 40 on the mountain, officials and media said.

Following the eruption at 11:53 a.m., a thick, rolling gray cloud of ash rose high into the sky above the mountain close to where hikers were taking pictures, TV footage showed. Hikers and residents were warned of falling rock and ash within a radius of 4 km.

Rescue headquarters on the Nagano side of the mountain said it had received information from rescue workers that a female hiker was killed in the eruption. Further details, including her identity or cause of death, were not yet available.

A Nagano prefectural official said at least 16 other people were unconscious, based on information gathered from mountain lodges where people were seeking shelter. There were also indications that more than 30 hikers were seriously wounded.

At one point, more than 250 hikers had been stranded on the mountain, which is 3,067 meters high. But some 200 managed to descend by Saturday evening, police said. The remainder were forced to spend the night on the mountain until rescue work resumed Sunday morning.

Nagano police sent an 80-strong team to assist climbers who were making their way down the mountain, while Kiso Prefectural Hospital, near Ontake, said it had dispatched a medical emergency team. “We expect a lot of injured people so we are now getting ready for their arrival,” said an official at the hospital.

The Meteorological Agency said the volcano, about 200 km west of Tokyo, erupted just before midday and sent ash pouring down the mountain’s south slope for more than 3 km. The agency is forecasting further eruptions that may affect people living around the base of the mountain.

No signs of any lava were seen in the TV report, but the footage showed dozens of hikers covered with ash hurriedly descending the mountain. Climbers reaching the bottom points of one trail grasped each other with joy and relief to have made it down. “I barely escaped,” a local resident told NHK. “Immediately after I watched the eruption, I ran away from it but I was soon covered with ash, which piled up to some 20 cm.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who returned from the United States on Saturday, said he had issued instructions to mobilize the military to help in the rescue effort. “We are still trying to figure out details. I instructed that everything possible be done to rescue the people affected and secure the safety of the trekkers,” Abe told reporters.

The eruption also forced aircraft to divert their routes, although officials at Tokyo’s Haneda airport and Japan Airlines Co. said there were no disruptions to flights in and out of the capital.
More than five hours after the initial eruption, the thick ash cloud showed no signs of abating, NHK TV showed. “It was like thunder,” a woman interviewed by NHK said. “I heard ‘boom, boom,’ then everything went dark.”

Mount Ontake’s last major eruption was in 1979, when it emitted over 200,000 tons of ash. It experienced a minor eruption in 1991 and triggered multiple volcanic earthquakes in 2007.
With a relatively easy climb, lodges along the way and a ropeway running part of the way to the summit, the mountain is popular with outdoor enthusiasts for its autumn scenery, drawing large crowds in late September and October, according to the local tourism association.

“It’s all white outside, looks like it has snowed. There is very bad visibility and we can’t see the top of the mountain,” Mari Tezuka, who works at a mountain hut for trekkers, said. “All we can do now is shut up the hut and then we are planning on coming down. … This is a busy season because of the changing autumn leaves. It’s one of our busiest seasons.”


 Found on Twitter @MM; shot taken 1 minute before surprise eruption

 Found on Twitter @MM; the eruption as it happened

Monday, September 22, 2014

Holuhraun at Barðarbunga September 21, 22, 2014 (Video & Images)

The eruption continues with chunks of lava pushed from the spatter cone on the night of September 21, 2014.


However, the next night, curtains of lava shoot from the eruption site, intensified from the previous night. What a sight this display produced.

Here are some stills from the same night:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Especially if you're in Iceland, don't be a putz

Disregarding closures 'life-threatening'

Flokkar: Volcano
A depression observed in the glacier. Photo: Thordis Hognadottir.
Icelandic authorities reiterate that disregarding closures around the eruption site north of Vatnajokull glacier can be life-threatening. Six new off-road trails, created by tourists, were found Saturday in the vicinity of the eruption.
The ongoing lava eruption, located at Holuhraun, an ice-free area north of the subglacial Bardarbunga volcano, shows no signs of diminishing. The lava now covers around 37 square kilometers, equal to around 60% of Manhattan.

The most dangerous place in Iceland

Dead birds, killed by the pollution from the eruption, have been found in the area. Vidir Reynisson, head of the National Police Commissioner's Departement of Civil Protection, stresses that there is a reason for the extensive closures around the eruption. He urges the public to respect closures. "This is the most dangerous place in Iceland, and people have to show caution, and we simply must ask people to think a little before they act."

Great ashfall to be expected

Reynisson says that the course of events has few parallels. Another eruption might suddenly start under the glacier, south of the current eruption, with ensuing flooding and extensive ashfall. Depressions which have been observed in the glacier are among the evidence pointing to that scenario, he adds. "If we assume that the eruption under the glacier would be a relatively small one, then a lot of ash should be expected in a 20-25 km radius (12-15 mi)." He explains that the density of the ash would be so high that people would not see out of the windshields of their cars.

Saving numerous people 'impossible'

Reynisson says that scientists and others working in the field are putting themselves in great danger. Authorities expect to be able to evacuate the 20-30 people who normally work near the eruption, but he says it would be impossible to rescue a great number of people in time.

Holuhraun eruption still stable after three weeks

No significant changes have been obvserved in the Holuhraun eruption. The output of lava has been stable for the three weeks since the eruption started, which is unusual, says Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, professor of geophysicics at the University of Iceland, who has been working in the field for the past week. "This eruption keeps getting larger, and you need to go back to the Surtsey eruption to find something similar," Gudmundsson says, referring to the total volume of lava produced by the eruption. In 1963-1967, a submarine eruption formed a new island at Surtsey, south of Iceland.

Bardarbunga keeps shaking and sinking

Seismic activity in the Bardarbunga caldera is still intensive. Sunday morning, a M5.5 earthquake struck the volcano, one of the biggest quakes since the activity started in August. The largest earthquake to date was a M5.7 on 26 August.
Numerous earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or above were detected Saturday and Sunday. The caldera has subsided by 26 m (85 ft) in the last few weeks, and a subsidence of 25 cm (10 in) was observed in tandem with the M5.5 earthquake Sunday morning.
This graph shows the subsidence of the Bardarbunga caldera in meters in the last two days. The graph at the bottom shows earthquakes in the area in the same period.
This story, by the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV), was updated on 21 September 2014, at 22:57 GMT.


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