Another Kilauea Update


The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory/USGS just issued this; I think they mean that the overall deflation at Kilauea’s floor has been 3 feet, not that it dropped that much today. But it’s worth giving you a heads-up because the floor of Kilauea’s summit crater has collapsed before (there’s nobody in it, don’t worry) and it could again – there are some surprising parallels between this ongoing activity and what went on in 1924.

Anyway, here is the update. To follow this eruption in more detail, just click the link in the upper right corner of this page. And thank you for your interest!


HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY INFORMATION STATEMENT
U.S. Geological Survey
Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 2:35 PM HST (Thursday, May 17, 2018, 00:35 UTC)

KILAUEA VOLCANO (VNUM #332010)
19°25’16” N 155°17’13” W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WARNING
Current Aviation Color Code: RED

KĪLAUEA INFORMATION STATEMENT

Strong earthquakes within the summit of Kīlauea Volcano continue in response to ongoing deflation and lava column drop. As of the afternoon of May 16, the floor of Kīlauea caldera has dropped approximately 3 feet (90 cm). This movement is stressing faults around the caldera of Kilauea, causing them to move and resulting in strong earthquakes of up to magnitude 4.4 thus far.

Employees at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and nearby residents are reporting frequent ground shaking and damage to roads and buildings. Hawaii County Police reports cracks across Highway 11 between mile markers 28 and 29. Although these are passable, motorists are urged to use caution.

As deflation continues, strong earthquakes in the area around Kilauea Volcano’s summit are expected to continue and may become more frequent. Areas further from these earthquakes may feel some ground motion as well, but much less severe.

The shallow depths of these earthquakes make them more damaging in the immediate vicinity of the epicenter, and individuals need to take precautions to minimize damage from the shaking, including the removal of unstable items from walls and shelves. Steep slopes should be avoided as they may become destabilized during strong earthquakes.


Featured image: USGS


Guest Video: Vanadium

This element was named after a Norse goddess of beauty because it comes in many colors, which chemists enjoy playing with:

Hard to believe vanadium is also a critical mineral used in metal alloys, as well as a possible cancer drug!

This colorful element is found in multivitamin supplements, though there is no US recommended dietary amount. The quantities are very small–there is a very fine balance between too much and too little of this mineral!

Vanadium apparently isn’t mined out like gold, silver, or even phosphate. According to the USGS 2018 mineral commodity report, it is generally produced as a by-product of various industrial processes. That’s not a very auspicious origin for an element whose compounds “have been shown to be potentially effective against diabetes Type 2, malign tumors including cancer, endemic tropical diseases (such as trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis and amoebiasis), bacterial infections (tuberculosis and pneumonia) and HIV infections.” (Source)

Very little is known yet about vanadium’s effects on our bodies. It sounds promising, though–we can only wait for new discoveries to be made about this chameleon of the periodic table.


Featured image: Steffan Kristensen, public domain.


If Twitter Was Around When Mount St. Helens Blew


It’s wonderful (from a distance) to follow the ongoing eruption at Kilauea via the Web. Twitter is especially helpful.

I’ve been wondering what the 1980 reawakening and eruption of Mount St. Helens would have been like on Twitter. Here are some tweets I’ve found from volcanologists and other interested people who have not forgotten May 18, 1980, as well as a movie from the National Archives.

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George F. Kunz, Gentleman Explorer


It’s a Golden Oldies weekend, with a Geoscientist of the Week I first described back in 2014.


The US Geological Survey has said almost everything that needs to be said about this man: “George F. Kunz (1856-1932) [was] a mineralogist and gemologist, gentleman explorer, and employee of the USGS and Tiffany & Co.”

That’s pretty awesome.

The great dramas of money, power, history, and beauty all figured in Dr. Kunz’s life.

And until reading this, unless you happen to be a specialist or know a certain kind of New Yorker, you have probably never heard of him.
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Guest Video: The Diatomist


I came across diatoms and radiolarians–tiny little sea creatures–while looking up the history of climate change over the span of geologic time that cats and cat-like creatures evolved.

I’d never heard of either one before but noticed that the images in various scientific papers were beautiful. What a surprise to learn that Victorians knew this, too, and actually made microscopic art of diatoms!

And someone is still doing it today.


Featured image: Prof. Gordon T. Taylor, NOAA. Public domain.


Hybrid Domestic Cats


I’ve discovered something intriguing while researching wild-domestic hybrids. According to the cat fancy, the Bengal leopard cat/domestic cat hybrid is one of the most popular breeds in the world, yet shelters are overwhelmed by abandoned Bengals.

Two very reputable groups, with conflicting statements–what’s going on here?

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A Cold Air Funnel Cloud Just Passed By!


After getting this statement, I went out with my tablet (unfortunately I lost my camera recently and haven’t gotten a new one yet) and saw this. Forgive the clumsiness, it’s my first weather video. I think the “funnel” was dissipating, but it was interesting.

Of note, I am facing roughly northeast (toward Corvallis) and the wind is moving the clouds roughly ESE.


Update: This was taken about 25 miles southeast of us, but I think it was earlier in the day. So that’s what cold-air funnel clouds look like.

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