Tuesday Tidbits: Chaiten webcam, Soufriere Hills images and should airlines pay for ash monitoring?

Not a lot of big news, but a lot of little news:

Soufriere Hills at night during the late January 2010 dome growth episode. Note the hot rock falls from the collapsing dome. Image courtesy of Photovolcanica.

  • This might not be new, but Dr. Boris Behncke brought the new webcam at the rim of Chaiten in Chile to my attention. You get a birds-eye view of the growing dome from the edge of the caldera - pretty nifty view for a once-in-a-hundred-years sort of event.
  • The NASA Earth Observatory has posted a close-up of the Soufriere Hills imagethat I posted yesterday, showing the February 11 plume. The plume was caused by a collapse of ~10-20% of the summit dome - yes, it only took a small portion of the dome to collapse to create an explosion like that! If you want to see some more stunning images of Soufriere Hills' activity this year, check out the collection on Photovolcanica.
  • Another great NASA EO shot have Shiveluch showing off either lava flows or lahars coming down the flanks of the volcano and an impressive steam plume. You can compare this new shot taken on February 13 to one from December 18 of last year.
  • In news that could be interpreted in many ways, state legislators in Alaska are wondering if commercial passenger and cargo airlines should be kicking in money to help pay for the Alaska Volcano Observatory. Although it makes aesthetic sense, it is a slippery slope to start privately funding offices for the public good. If you are in Fairbanks tonight, you can check out a talk by Dr. Michael West on forecasting volcanic eruptions.

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Two impressive eruptions going on right now: Soufriere Hills erupting on February 11, 2010. Image courtesy of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. Soufriere Hills just keeps on raising the bar during its new eruptive period. The volcano on Montserrat in the West Indies produced a 15 km / ~45 000…
Sometimes it is hard to keep up with the mountain of remote sensing (or not so remote) images that get released on the internet. Over the last few days, the NASA Earth Observatory has released a bunch of images/videos of current eruptions, so I thought I'd round them all up here for you to peruse…
Image courtesy of Calvin Hall. Taken 3/28/2009 during an eruption at 10:59 AM3:28 PM. UPDATE 4/2/2009 at 11 AM Pacific: I'm moving this up from the comments, but Eruptions reader Doug Cole pointed out (and I have no idea how I missed this) that Redoubt has a new webcam! This one is at the DFR…
Sally Sennert from the Smithsonian Institution sent me an email to say that this week's USGS/Smithsonian Institute Weekly Volcanic Report will be delayed due to the inclement weather in the Washington DC area. She can't connect with the server, so the report can't be updated on the Smithsonian…

Airlines, like all forms of passenger transportation, all in some way taxpayer subsidized. Even, if a carrier is not directly owned by a government, some governmental entity (i.e. in the US Federal, State, and sometimes local)runs the airports, ATC, security etc. Yes, there are tariffs and other fees charged to airlines, but funding still must come from taxpayers. That is because ports are considered public property operated for the public good. Transportation arteries in the air and sea are also considered public, unlike a railroad right of way. Bit of trivia, this can also be called the "commonwealth", or as the Romans called it res publica, the root of the word republic.

It's bad to read about the shortening funds even in Alaska. So it might be a global problem that began with KVERT some weeks ago, I don't want to think of more important scientific activities to face decreasing funds...but still have to ask: what would be the next? Maybe those news agencies and TV companies that get lots of money for broadcasting natural disasters should also improve some payment to these funds...

The funding of AVO by airlines might be debatable, but
they clearly should be contributing to the operation
of KVERT, which is there largely for their safety.

By richard raburn (not verified) on 16 Feb 2010 #permalink

The flows seen in the Shiveluch satellite image are most certainly not lava flows (that volcano is building a viscous dome), but rather small pyroclastic flows plus associated lahars.

Other news today are that there are signs of a re-intensification of the activity at Llaima and Chaitén in Chile, and the dramatic fall of a hiker into the crater of Mount St. Helens.

"Red alert at Chaitén": http://www.losandes.com.ar/notas/2010/2/16/un-472723.asp (it has been on red alert since it started erupting in May 2008)
"Alert level at Llaima raised to Yellow": http://www.latercera.com/contenido/680_226323_9.shtml
Keep an eye on the webcams.

At Mount St Helens, a climber seems to have fallen from the sharp rim of the huge crater formed in 1980, into the crater, which is a fall of about 500 m (1500 feet).

Great to know about that new Chaitén webcam!
I'm already streaming images from it to my hard disk :)

By Akira Shirakawa (not verified) on 16 Feb 2010 #permalink

There are other parties that benefit from volcanic activity and emissions monitoring for reduction management, from KVERT and AVO: the insurance industry.

They are fat cats, financially-speaking, even in a global economic downturn. Lloyds of London and it's many insurance partners would be a better target for fees to offset monitoring and reporting costs.

The commercial airlines industry has been very hard hit by the downturn in the economy this past 18 months; I doubt they can afford to pony up much at present. I would look to the insurance industry first, then perhaps ask for a bit of help from the airlines later on, once real operating costs and aviation risks have been discussed in three-party negotiations (representatives of US, Canada, Korea, China, Japan) government/commercial airlines/insurers).

Addicted to the Chaiten webcam! Watching a series of enormous blocks growing at the left-hand side of the summit..one of them has already collapsed, an even bigger one now visibly growing. Awesome.

This picture of Montserrat makes me want to repeat the question I posed the other day. When does a lava flow become a pdc become a pf? Are we looking at a simple lava flow or is this lava so full of gas that it qualifies as a pyroclastic density current and does a particularly mobile one of these then equate with a pyroclastic flow? Or are all pdc's also pf's?

By bruce stout (not verified) on 17 Feb 2010 #permalink

Even in sunny and clear days the Chaitén view of the caldera is cloudy because of the constant steaming of the volcano.

By Guillermo (not verified) on 17 Feb 2010 #permalink