(Late) Wednesday Whatzits: Hawaiian lava flows, more Katla mongering and a possible eruption at Ruiz?

Kilauea lavas on the move near Kalapana. Image taken July 17, courtesy of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Some news over the last few days:

More like this

Quick hits to wrap up the week: Looking into a skylight at Kilauea. Image taken July 8, 2010, courtesy of HVO/USGS. Following up some news about Changbaishan/Changbai caldera in North Korea, Yang Qingfu, director of earthquake and volcano analysis and forecast center with the seismology bureau of…
Grading grading grading! A webcam capture of the eruptive plume from Eyjafjallajökull on the morning of May 6, 2010. News: A quick update on the Eyjafjallajökull eruption: The volcano has been producing an impressive ash plume over the last day (see image above). The current ash plume is reaching…
Leaving for Death Valley tomorrow - I'll be sure to take some pictures of Ubehebe Crater and the volcano at the Mirage. This will likely be the last new post until about a week from now, but look for the Erta'Ale Volcano Profile, maybe a new Mystery Volcano Photo and I'll leave a thread open for…
Lots of little pieces of news I've run across ... time to play a little catch up. Stromboli: A volcano after Don Ho's heart. Every once in a while, my RSS feeds will dredge up some articles from years gone by ... and this week there were two New York Times pieces that are a few years old, but…

Hi Erik,

Glad you have been able to post more as I know you are writing like mad to get the reports done.

I have thought it has been rather quiet on the volcano front for a while, but you never know when things will get rather noisy. That flow in Hawaii is wrecking havoc to some people and it is looking like some are going to loose their homes. Not a fun thing at all.

I'm looking forward to your posts when you can get to it on your research trip. I have never been in that area and I want to know what you have found. I know I am not the only one!


By Diane N CA (not verified) on 21 Jul 2010 #permalink

Katla is indeed quiet at the moment. So quiet that GPS data is stable and not much happening there at the moment.

I am expecting a eruption at Katla in 5+ years time. But earthquake swarms are due to happen more often inside the caldera when Katla goes closer to a eruption. Currently the earthquakes that are happening are summer/autumn earthquakes due the ice-cap being lighter in the summer then in winter. The current area is known for high earthquake activity, and I have recorded earthquakes from there since I setup my Hekla seismometer in 2008 (soon after the Mw6.3 earthquake in the SISZ fracture area).

So far it is all quiet. But that might change, but with Katla not without at least one week warning I would think.

S'okay! Back to the Turrialba webcam! I'll nix Katla from the hitlist and add it to the list with the prefix s- added to it.

Can anybody link me the youtube video shot by the tourists in (unk. central american country) that were standing on the summit when it cut loose with a phreatic eruption?

For Chris from the other thread just in case he missed it.

By request.

Plot is the number of quakes worldwide in 7 day and 30 day bins, USGS data source. Depth 100 to 900 km, Mag 4.5 and greater.

Isn't the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount chain a LOT older than the Yellowstone hotspot? Maybe a better 'family relationship' would be Hawaii as Yellowstone's evil grandpa...... ;-)

@mike [6] -
Good advice. I watched it for a while and caught a spectacular explosion. After the dust settles, it will be interesting to see if there was more than just an explosion.

By Kultsi, Askola, FI (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

Something seems to be shifting under Fox Island, Alaska. There are a lot of large earthquakes at 10km depth.

Sunrise in South America, and it looks like a gorgeous day.

Cotopaxi, Turrialba, and Nevado del Huila looking really clear.

OT a bit. There currently is a swarm going on in Long Valley. There have been two 3+ (largest is 3.8) quakes and they are about 1.5km SW from Whitmore Hot Springs and about .5km from the SE end of the Mammoth-June Lakes Airport. It is close to an intersection of US 395 and the road that goes to the hot springs. I am not sure, but Hot Creek could be involved (they did not name the creek on the map except to say "Creek") because the quakes seem to be right along the creek.

The observatory is only posting updates once a week so for the moment there isn't any info about it. I do know that it is techtonic, most likely, as the depth of the quakes is around 5km avg. and there are a lot of faults in the area.

If I find out any more info, I will be sure to post it. Of course, there are those of you who will probably find out more quickly than I can. :-)

We will see how long this one goes.

By Diane N CA (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

Ooops! I meant to say 5mile, not 5km. LOL

By Diane N CA (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

I find the LVO updates frustrating. Lately they are always one paragraph with no mention of deformation, gas, or hydrology. These are the things we can't see just from looking at the earthquake lists, it would be nice if they'd at least throw in a sentence about them as they used to, particularly since the tiltmeter and magnetometer closest to the current swarm don't show any data on the website.

They probably changed who is writing the updates at LVO. They may have even had to have sent people to Hawaii to help out with activity there in the past year, I don't know.
The activity there in 1980 and the late 90s has been attributed to dike intrusion. I believe the most likely scenario for the next eruption there is such a dike reaching the surface.
Anyone out there plugged in to happenings at LVO?

@ Ekoh and Jen, I don't like the way they are doing the reports either. I have written to them to see if I can get an answer, but I bet they won't very quickly if they do. We can try the USGS at Berkely to see if anyone there will give us an answer. I was communicating with Steve Walter, but he quit answering my emails so I figured I was bothering him too much. I know they went though, but no answer from him. Anyway that is about all I can say at the moment about it. I think they should at least write up something when a swarm takes place. I mean it is close to the airport and right by the road going to Whitmore Springs and also the creek. Almost right on the creek.

Oh well...

By Diane N CA (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

Well, lo and behold, I did get an answer of sorts from Long Valley. It is an automated message telling me that Dina Y. Venezky is out of the office until Friday. She was presenting at the Google Teacher Institute.

So maybe we will hear something then as this is the only message I will get until tomorrow.

By Diane N CA (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

On an unrelated topic:

A grad student at MIT came up with a new theory on the fluid dynamics within Stromboli volcano. Apparently the old theory of large gas bubble popping and causing the frequent eruptions didn't use realistic values for the viscosity and surface tension of lava....

Science in action, we'll see if this new approach will find broader acceptance or not.

You can read a short article at:


By Holger, N California (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

>I find the LVO updates frustrating. Lately they are always one paragraph with no mention of deformation, gas, or hydrology.

The updates may be brief, but it's not like you can't quickly access the data for recent trends.

The LVO website is loaded with information and is one of the better organized and annotated USGS-VO electronic data centers. The only monitoring data link that sucked was gas, although do provide a recent trend synopsis.

They even have QuickLinks for accessing data.

The only monitoring station data that looks a bit odd is Fossil.

I did some checking on the LVO site and I found out there is a geothermal plant in the vacinity so the quakes may be from that activity. I did not see just where the quakes are in relation to the plant as I had to make a guess on that, but I don't think they are too far apart. The site has some good information on the effects of quakes on the hydrology of the area and also has info on the plant. Here is part of what they say:

"Wells drilled on the southwest side of the resurgent dome at Casa Diablo tap into the caldera's hydrothermal system by pumping hot water (170°C) to supply three hydrothermal power plants that generate about 40 megawatts of electricity. Using a binary technology, a secondary fluid (isobutane) is heated by the pressurized geothermal water, vaporized, and then run through the generating turbines. Cooled geothermal water is reinjected underground.

The hydrologic monitoring program has detected changes in the hydrologic system caused by geothermal development and variations in precipitation and recharge. For example, we have delineated decreases in thermal-spring discharge at sites within about 5 km to the east of Casa Diablo that are caused by subsurface pressure declines at the geothermal well field. No changes have as yet been detected in the springs in Hot Creek Gorge. There has also been an increase in steam discharge at Casa Diablo and sites farther west due to increased boiling in the geothermal reservoir caused by geothermal production."

Link: volcanoes.usgs.gov/ivo/activity/monitoring/hydrology/intex.php

don't use www.

By Diane N CA (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

Thanks Passerby for steering me in that direction.

By Diane N CA (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

@21 Passerby, the other monitoring info is there, but not included in the updates, which I think is what the informed and interested layperson would be looking for.

In any case, it looks like just a tectonic quake and aftershocks. No change in depth, gas emission or deformation, all things that would occur if magma was on the move. The fact that its in the caldera doesn't mean too much, since future eruptions need not occur there, in fact many of the past events did not.
Long Valley would be an interesting topic for Erik sometime if things are slow.

@Lurking: I think we need a graph for Grimsey. Pretty interesting swarm going on there.

By Renato Rio (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

@mike [6] Thanks for the tip re Sakurajima; clicked on the link and was rewarded with quite a show ( about 3:55pm MST )

@mike [6] Thanks for the tip re Sakurajima; clicked on the link and was rewarded with quite a show ( about 3:55pm MST )

A very nice swarm in the Tjörnes Fracture Zone - 70+ quakes ranging up to M2.8 and from 1km to 25km deep, probably tectonic(?). Those of you who missed the lead up to Eyjafjallajökull, take a look because this is the kind of swarms you'd expect if Katla was up to anything! But please note what Erik said about EQs starting deep and moving upwards with time - Lady E kept going for almost two months with up to 350+ quakes over the 48-hour period displayed by Iceland Met.


By Henrik, Swe (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

*squint* The Longterm Trend statement, right underneath the weekly report, reports on seismic, deformation, gas data. There has been very little change for quite some time, with the exception of the Fossil site.

The weekly report hasn't mentioned deformation and gas data for many moons now. Years. The weekly report covers automated seismic detection system reports EQ number, and LVO staff add depth data for larger quakes above the monitoring threshold, as well manually reported quakes and nearby activity (sourced from an additional 20 stations within 50-km of the caldera boundary).

The only item that has been missing from recent weekly LVO reports is the monotonic recitation:

'The Long Valley Observatory (LVO) monitors and studies earthquakes, ground deformation, degassing, and other types of geologic unrest in and around the Long Valley Caldera. The 15 by 30 km Long Valley Caldera was formed during an eruption 760,000 years ago and is located 20 km south of Mono Lake along the east side of the Sierra Nevada in east-central California. There have been multiple smaller eruptions since the caldera-forming eruption with the most recent occurring 250 years ago in Mono Lake at the north end of Mono-Inyo Craters volcanic chain. LVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.'

USGS staff monitor this blog. The informical wording can be added to the weekly reporting page for public peace of mind.

Agreed on the suitability Long Valley for discussion topic.

'Future eruptions are more likely to occur somewhere along the Mono-Inyo Craters volcanic chain than from the resurgent dome or south moat area within the caldera. '

@Kulsi #24, Sorry about that. The reason I didn't post it as a copy and paste is because 1) I tried it and it didn't work, and 2) I didn't think it would post if I typed it in because some have had trouble posting links. Next time I will type or paste the whole thing and hope it gets posted as one you can click on.

@Passerby, I just wish LVO would go back to daily or at least twice/week on their updates. However, I can see why they might not do that if there isn't much going on in the first place. Anyway, I will see if I get any response tomorrow on the email I sent them. I think it is techtonic and I also think there may be a connection to the geothermal plant because of the close proximity. I don't think it means anything other than that.

I thought it was interesting because it is happening in an area I have not seen before since I have been monitoring Long Valley. I have seen them on Mammoth Mt. and those could have been techtonic also because there are two faults up there. I have also seen swarms outside of Long Valley over in the Adobe Hills in NV. Those are not that uncommon and are techtonic.

I would like for Erik to do a blurb on Long Valley because it is a very interesting place. I have been there and I would love to go back and do some more nosing around at the geology in more depth. I have been to one of the Inyo Craters and that was interesting to look at. Lookout Mt. is an obsidian dome and there is another one called Obsidian Dome and these domes are not small by any means. Cool place to study volcanic geology.

By Diane N CA (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

This is more attention than my griping probably deserves, but this is the kind of thing I mean, from May 28, 2010. "We have detected no ground deformation associated with this swarm and see no other evidence that it might be associated with a magmatic intrusion. Low-level earthquake activity elsewhere in the region continued with little change from the past several weeks. "

It's nice to get an update on these things, because honestly I can't make any sense out of most of the monitoring data links. I'm just interested in the area and like to know what's going on. YVO usually includes a ground deformation summary in their updates, I guess that's what I was thinking of, I hadn't noticed that it wasn't included in the LVO updates until recently. (Probably because there wasn't as much going on there.)

It's instructive to spool through several years of weekly reports, as it affords a baseline that accentuates the increased activity this year. Still not enough, however, to warrant more than weekly updates.

As usual, the USGS has useful background reading, a history of Inyo Craters:



Detailed explanatory text to go with the scanned map/figures

(part 2a is Mono Lake, we'll throw it in here for completeness sake)

@Lurking: Amazing, as always, you plot those quakes giving us a dimension of what's taking place underneath. Thanks a lot.

By Renato Rio (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

@ any seismologists/other experts who might read this:

What possible explanations are there for such stacked earthquake sequences?

I can get my head around Coulomb stress transfer and migration of seismic activity along a stressed fault but these stacks "look" more like dikes and intrusions. Could they however also be stress transfer along a vertical plane, such as you would get in a graben? Somehow they look to neat to me for that.

@Lurking, Passerby. ... thanks! great stuff!

By bruce stout (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

Several months ago, we spent time examining Tjornes. Similar plots were superimposed onto graphics from informative explanatory articles, and recent bursts of activity from this year were found to line up with historical EQ series rather precisely, but with a evidence of further extensional activity (attributed to either geothermal or magmetic intrusion at depth) between faults. The faults trended in a particular geometry horizontally and also vertically.

so... you're saying intrusion at depth pops open the overlying strata in a pattern that creates vertical (and horizontal) sequences?

By bruce stout (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

#39 There's evidence of past submarine eruptions at the region. Could it be the case? EQs don't seem to get to a halt.

By Renato Rio (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

Garry Hayes at Geotripper has these to posts on Long Valley/owens lake/ mammoth lakes




He references this article "A field trip to Owens Valley/Mammoth Lakes

By parclair, lost… (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

Present EQ series patterns match geographically *tightly* to previous history of miniquakes on segmental faults, with newer quake series extending the end of the segment (Grimsey Lineament and Husavik-Flatey Fault), with a spattering of quakes roughly parallel to the two primary dense clusters (tympanic).

Papers (open access docs)

TRANSFORM ZONES OF ICELAND. F. Bergerat, J. Angelier, C. Homberg, S. Garcia, S. Verrier and M. Bellou (2010)

Tjörnes fracture zone. New and old seismic evidence for the link between the North Iceland Rift Zone and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

has Tjornes microquake data 1994-2005, see first paper
Fig 1. was overlayed with May 27-30 EQs from IMO map.
Fig 2 has historical swarms 1994-2005

Excellent explanation of the tectonics:
Fig 3a from Garcia paper, second paper.

Off to bed.

@ passerby, juicy paper!! beachballs and all. Thanks!

By bruce stout (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

damn, second paper seems to have been taken down by IMO

Tjörnes fracture zone. New and old seismic evidence for the link between the North Iceland Rift Zone and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

parclair, thanks for the link to "A field trip to Owens Valley/Mammoth Lakes." Boy, does that bring back memories of the many trips my family took up and down Highway 395 east of the Sierras in my youth. So many familiar, but nearly-forgotten place names. At different times we camped at Rock Creek and at Mammoth Mountain (before there was a ski area), stayed at a ranch in the Alabama Hills, hiked the Mt. Whitney Trail (when I was only 4 or 5), visited so MANY fascinating geologic sites over the years. 40 years ago, I picked up a volcanic bomb at the Red Hill cinder cone in the Coso volcanic field. It has served as a hefty bookend in my den ever since. Good times.

23.07.2010 08:38:23 66.650 -17.946 22.5 km4.190.0112.4 km NNE of GrÃmsey
Two 4.1 quakes!

By Renato Rio (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

23.07.2010 08:38:23 66.656 -17.997 13.4 km4.190.0412.7 km N of GrÃmsey

By Renato Rio (not verified) on 22 Jul 2010 #permalink

@ Renato, now we're talking. That's a good swarm going on there. Most between 8 and 12 km depth with a suspiciously high number of M1.1 quakes at 100 m depth (which obviously need checking!)

By bruce stout (not verified) on 23 Jul 2010 #permalink

Ahh.. found it. I lost track of which thread was talking about GrÃmsey.

This is a cross post.

GrÃmsey Perspective View

Time vs Depth

Time vs Depth for the last batch of activity (End of May)

@Lurking: It looks pretty much like rising magma to me, what do you say?

By Renato Rio (not verified) on 23 Jul 2010 #permalink

EQ 3.5 off north shore, cal. near SF earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsus/Quakes/nc71436076.html#details

There is internet chatter that the 3.5 off California coast is a pre-quake and that a 6 or 7 pointer will hit by Tuesday. What do you all think of that idea or is it just chatter?

@Stigger: there will be a 6 or 7 quake in California, but probably not by Tuesday. All scientific chatter around the matter agree that these things are unpredictable.

By Renato Rio (not verified) on 23 Jul 2010 #permalink

@54 Renato: Yes, agree it will happen at some point and that they are very unpredictable; no one actually knows
I find it quite alarming how quickly all these self proclaimed experts suddenly appear and predict unpredictable events.
Not sure why I even asked other than sheer curiosity.

@stigger [53]/[54]

"...chatter that...will hit by Tuesday, ...just chatter?"

Mostly chatter with a significant chance of actually coming true... much like predicting that a tree is going to fall by wenesday. No particular tree, just a tree, somewhere, will fall. California just happens to have more seismic event's than you can shake a stick at, and with the hype and fear from the Mex 7.2, a lot of people have concerns over it.

I have my own pet loon theory about stress waves. I had a good track on one moving up the center of the Gulf of California, tracked it quite well from the quakes and swarms that would happen about every two months 135 miles north of the previous quake. It was a nice wave. Then I lost it in the clutter of SoCal and it's multi-fractured crust blocks. I can't say one way or another if any of the events going on there are part of the wave or not. I believe that there is increased stress there, but I can't prove it. California has quakes all the time. The Mendocino triple junction has them more often. ('cuz it's a triple junction)

Here's a redo of an old plot of mine


This is a plot of quakes along the length of the interface of the Pacific plate and North American plate from the Mendocino triple junction to the triple junction at the Rivera microplate (next to the Cocos plate) The vertical axis is the Latitude.

What you are essentially looking at, is the grinding along this fault system. Some creaks and pops migrate north, some migrate south. The disparity between North of â32°N and South of â32°N is because of the difference in Mexican seismic networks and US Seismic networks.

Other than that, it's a pretty neat graph.

Will there be a large quake in California? Most definitely. When? BTFOOM.

@Lurking @stigger: Talking about disparities, take a look at ongoing discussion over Philippines EQs on the other thread. It's really amazing what's happening at the Pacific right now.

By Renato Rio (not verified) on 23 Jul 2010 #permalink

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