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‘Catastrophic collapse’ of Mount Etna could trigger tsunami, scientists warn

Danger that Europe’s biggest active volcano could ‘form a landslide that moves really fast into the sea’, although researchers have no idea when

Europe’s biggest active volcano is slipping into the ocean, and it’s feared the recent discovery could trigger a tsunami.

Scientists are concerned the slow movements that have been measured on Mount Etna’s southeastern flank could escalate and result in part of it collapsing into the water.

Such an event would put neighbouring communities in Sicily at risk as debris enters the surrounding ocean, possibly causing devastating waves.

However, researchers monitoring the site say all they can do for now is “keep an eye” on the active volcano as there is no way of telling whether this acceleration will come within years or centuries.

Previous work suggested Etna’s movement was the result of magma swirling inside the volcano, meaning the movement would be confined to its summit.

However, careful monitoring of the seafloor around the site has revealed that Etna’s gradual sliding movements affected a far wider area – a finding the scientists say increases the risk of “catastrophic collapse”.

“Mount Etna is huge. It’s over 3,000m high and it rises up from below sea level,” said Dr Morelia Urlaub from Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research. “It’s really heavy, and it grows continuously.”

Illustration of devastation caused by Tsunami

Past work has only focused on Etna’s above-ground component, but gathering the new underwater measurements confirmed the movement is due to gravity acting on its growing, and unstable, flank.

“You can think of a slow landslide at the moment – we had 4cm in 15 months, so it moves really slowly, but there is a danger that it could accelerate and form a landslide that moves really fast into the sea,” Dr Urlaub told The Independent.

There are historic accounts of such collapses happening on smaller volcanoes, but the geological record has evidence of it affecting large areas in Hawaii and the Canary Islands millions of years ago.

To understand whether something similar was going on in real-time at Etna, the scientists collected data from pressure sensors over several months, publishing their results in the journal Science Advances.

While this data gives them a better idea of the volcano’s movements, Dr Urlaub said that it is difficult to calculate the risk of disaster from these measurements given its immense age.

Indonesia volcano Mount Soputan erupts on same island as earthquake-stricken city of Palu“We have been monitoring Etna on shore for around 30 years now, but 30 years is nothing compared to the age of Etna, which is 500,000 years old,” she said.

“It could happen in 10 or 100 or 100,000 years – we can’t tell.”

With this in mind, she said for now it is very important to keep monitoring the volcano and try to get an idea of what level of movement could indicate an imminent collapse.

“There is much more research to be done,” Dr Urlaub said, noting they would try “to be aware there is a hazard, and keep an eye on Etna’s flank”.


Source www.independent.co.uk

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Planet Earth

Powerful sprites over Kansas were visible to the naked eye

Have you ever seen sprites? They say that this is impossible. Strange and fleeting forms of Red Lightning materialize over thunderclouds, usually disappearing in less time than it takes to blink. However, storm hunter Michael Havan had no problems seeing them on May 23rd.

“The extremely bright jellyfish sprites were easily visible to the naked eye at dusk!” Says Gavin. “This is one of the brightest shots I’ve captured with my modified Canon T3i.”

Gavin saw this sight from Northwest Kansas. “Clear skies provided fantastic views of the MCS (mesoscale convective system) moving through Nebraska almost 100 miles from us,” he says. “I was not the only one who saw them.” There have been reports that people also saw sprites from Interstate 70. “

The storm lasted so long that Gavin managed to attach an 85mm lens to his camera for several close-up shots. “Because I had an image of the same area without a sprite from a few seconds earlier, I was able to subtract the sky (stars, air glow, etc.) to take a photo of the structure of the sprite without any distractions.

A solar minimum can stimulate sprites. During the low phase of the solar cycle — now occurring — cosmic rays from deep space penetrate the inner solar system relatively unhindered due to the weakening of the Sun’s magnetic field. 

Some models claim that cosmic rays help sprites get started by creating conductive paths in the atmosphere.

By the way:

Today, May 25, 2020, the level of cosmic rays crashing onto the Earth, reached its maximum levels, increasing today by 10.4% of average values.

Cosmic rays 

The magnetic field of the sun is weak, which allows additional cosmic rays to penetrate the solar system. Neutron counts from the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory of the University of Oulu show that cosmic rays reaching Earth in 2020 are close to the peak of the space age.

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Planet Earth

A surge in volcanic activity threatens the Earth with a new Ice Age

Over the past few days, we have witnessed a turbulent global volcanic surge in activity. He sends us all signs that the Great Solar Minimum is approaching.

The Japanese meteorological satellite HIMAWARI-8 recorded two powerful eruptions on May 16, both of which occurred in Indonesia.

The first took place in IBU – a relatively new volcano with only 3 noticeable eruptions; in 1911, 1998 and 2008 – and was confirmed by Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), which warned that the ash plume rises to about 13.7 km.

The second high-level eruption occurred just a few hours later on Semera – a very active volcano with an eruptive history; the first happened in 1818, the most recent in 2014.

As with IBU, the Semeru eruption was confirmed by both HIMAWARI-8 and VAAC Darwin, the latter confirming the generation of a “dark ash plume that reached a height of 14 km.

In addition, active lava flows remain active on the southeastern flank of Semeru, currently about 1.5 km long (as of the morning of May 18).

Direct cooling effect

These high-level eruptions are notable for the fact that solid particles are thrown to a height of over 10 km – and into the stratosphere – are often delayed, where they have a direct cooling effect on the planet.

Volcanic eruptions are one of the key factors pushing the Earth toward its next round of global cooling, with their worldwide surge associated with low solar activity, coronal holes, a diminishing magnetosphere and the influx of cosmic rays penetrating silica-rich magma.

In addition to Indonesia, Icelandic volcanoes have intensified, and it is this high-mountain volcanic region of the world that is believed to be home to the next “big eruption” – one that will plunge the whole world into the new Ice Age almost instantly.

Katla is such a volcano here and it shows signs of activity, since a significant gas output has been recorded over the past few days. 

In addition, seismic activity under a large ice volcano has also increased, and this activity is probably caused by injections of new magma entering the chamber.

Icelandic authorities are aware of the danger posed by the next Katla eruption, and a delegation of volcanologists regularly meets with the Icelandic parliament to discuss how to respond in the event of an eruption, the likelihood of which is simply a matter of when, not if.

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Planet Earth

99 years ago, the Great Geomagnetic Storm of 1921

99 years ago this week in May, people all over the world woke up and were shocked by some unusual headlines. “The telegraph service has been defeated, the Comet is not to blame,” the Los Angeles Times said on May 15, 1921. “Electrical disturbances are the worst ever known, “the Chicago Daily Tribune said. 

At that time they did not know this, but newspapers covered the biggest solar storm of the 20th century. Since then, nothing like this has happened.

It all started on May 12, 1921, when the giant sunspot AR1842, crossing the sun during the sunset phase of the solar cycle 15, began to flash. One explosion after another threw coronal mass ejections (CMS) directly to the Earth. 

Over the next 3 days, a powerful geomagnetic storm shook Earth’s magnetic field. Scientists around the world were surprised when their magnetometers suddenly got out of hand, pens in strip card recorders were uselessly attached to the top of the paper.

Auroras in May 1921. The leftmost red circle indicates Apia, Samoa.

And then the fire started. Around 02:00 Moscow time on May 15, the telegraph exchange in Sweden caught fire. About an hour later, the same thing happened across the Atlantic in the village of Brewster, New York. Flames swept the switchboard at the Brewster station of the New England Central Railroad and quickly spread to destroy the entire building. This fire, as well as another one at about the same time at the railway control tower near New York Central Station, is the reason this event is sometimes called the “New York Railroad Super-Storm.”

What caused the fire? Electric currents caused by geomagnetic activity passed through telephone and telegraph lines, heating them to a burning point. Strong currents disrupted telegraph systems in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the USA. The Ottawa Journal reported that many long distance telephone lines in New Brunswick were burned due to a storm. On some telegraph lines in the USA, the voltage reached 1000 V.

Sunspot AR1842 dated May 13, 1921

During the peak of the storm on May 15, southern cities such as Los Angeles and Atlanta felt like Fairbanks, with northern lights dancing overhead, while telegraph lines crackled with geomagnetic currents. Auroras were spotted in the USA right up to Texas, while in the Pacific Ocean red auroras were spotted from Samoa and Tonga and ships at sea crossing the equator.

What would happen if such a storm happened today?

Scientists have long discussed this issue. As a result of research, it was found that the storm peaked on May 15: its intensity was comparable to the intensity of the Carrington event of 1859.

This result disproves the generally accepted point of view. Space weather researchers believed the Carrington Event was the strongest solar storm in recorded history. Now we know that the May Storm of 1921 was about as strong.

If the May Storm of 1921 hit today, it would at least lead to a power outage, profound changes in satellite orbits, and the loss of radio technology such as GPS. GPS malfunction can significantly affect the operation of logistics and emergency services.

This is something to think about on the 99th anniversary of a 100-year storm ….

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