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Earth Science

Researchers Fake Mini Volcanic Eruptions 41

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-comes-the-boom dept.
ananyo writes "Volcanologists detonated explosive charges buried in a meadow in Ashford, New York, blowing 12 small craters in the ground and throwing debris 80 meters in the air. The aim was to recreate, in true-to-life detail, what happens when a volcanic eruption punches through Earth's crust. The work could guide the way that active volcanoes are monitored, and could help safety officials to decide where to restrict public access at volcanoes such as Italy's Stromboli, where dozens of tourists arrive every night to watch spectacular fire fountain displays."
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Researchers Fake Mini Volcanic Eruptions

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  • Oh please! Mythbusters did this five years ago...

  • The tiny town of Ashford was engulfed in molten lava. Nearby, residents are wondering if study approval got proper scrutiny.
  • by bigredradio (631970) on Monday May 13, 2013 @02:33PM (#43713315) Homepage Journal
    The first thing that came to mind was the baking soda volcano that are a part of every 6th grade science fair. I wonder how many of these researches saw this as the "grown-up" version.
    • by mooingyak (720677)

      First thing in my mind too was that this was a "grown-up" version, but I think you and I mean different things by that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 13, 2013 @02:35PM (#43713353)

    That's some groundbreaking research right there.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So does my wife!

  • That's the only thing about this story that caught my attention.
  • "The aim was to recreate, in true-to-life detail, what happens when a volcanic eruption punches through Earth's crust."
    Hugh, it seems to me the aim an excuse to play with explosives.
    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday May 13, 2013 @03:33PM (#43713923) Journal

      "The aim was to recreate, in true-to-life detail, what happens when a volcanic eruption punches through Earth's crust."
      Hugh, it seems to me the aim an excuse to play with explosives.

      Especially since it DOESN'T model eruptions - especially the explosive kind.

      One of the major martyrs to science is the geologist who died in the most recent explosive eruption of Mount Saint Hellens. It was known that some mountains explode, and that this was the usual mode for this volcano. But it was a big mystery HOW they exploded.

      He was too close to escape when the action started. But he had a (film) camera with him. So he took a series of photos as the mountain went off, then wrapped his camera in his backpack and jacket before the devastation got to him. His camera was recovered, the film developed, and running the series of stills as a movie made the mechanism utterly clear. It was an "Of COURSE!" moment.

      In this case there is a LOT of gas pressure under the mountain. This pressure, not just the buoyancy of the lava, is much of what is pushing the mountain up. Meanwhile, the weight of the mountain is what is holding the gas down, at enormous pressure.

      Eventually the mountain is pushed up enough that a rock avalanche starts on one side. This releases some of the pressure, which lets the gas push the mountain up further, making it shrug much more of the side off in an enormous rock slide. One side of the mountain slides away. This leaves the gas pressure held down only by the remaining rock, which is insufficient for the task. Before the rock slide is more than about a quarter of the way down the gas is blasting the remaining rock into fine dust and launching it into the stratosphere -(as well as sideways, so goodbye neighborhood). Essentially the whole mountain goes away, leaving a crater where rebuilding the mountain for the next cycle begins.

      Let's see you model THAT with explosives! (Hint: If you're throwing rocks you didn't use enough explosives.)

      Lesser eruptions have a number of models, depending on things like the composition of the lava (including how much gas is bubbling out of it, like soda fizz once the lava makes it to near atmospheric pressures). Explosives don't do those justice, either.

      • by LocutusMIT (10726)

        You're actually confusing three people caught in the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens:

        David Johnston: The volcanologist stationed at the Coldwater II observation post (now Johnston Ridge). He was able to make one quick radio call to the USGS before he was killed by the lateral blast and buried by the landslide. His body and equipment were never found.

        Reid Blackburn: A photojournalist covering the buildup to the eruption. He was killed when the pyroclastic flow engulfed the area in which he was camped.

        • THANK you for that correction.

          I got the story from the voiceover on a video made from what was apparently Rosenquist's film. Don't know if I misheard/misremenbered it or if it included the misattribution of the film to Johnston (or Blackburn).

  • >> could help safety officials to decide where to restrict public access at volcanoes such as Italy's Stromboli, where dozens of tourists arrive every night to watch spectacular fire fountain displays

    Let's not go there, please. If we lose a couple of dozen tourists, that's an acceptable risk. Hell, there's many things all of us do (skydive, kayak, rock-climb, drive on interstates, eat cheeseburgers, visit hospitals) that expose us to risk...but without those risky experiences, life wouldn't be nearl

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They recreated a volcano eruption that is true to life, but they had no lava, no ash blown in the air, no steam and no intense heat? They basically blew a hole in the ground and called it a volcano? Youd think after all the years mankind has been blowing holes in the ground they would have the info they needed by now.

    They tried to recreate something that happens every night in order to see it so they can tell officials how far to restricts civilians?

    Im having a real hard time finding any real use for this e

  • Someone please tag this. WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong.

  • This is my neighborhood! Go do this shit in your own backyard! Just because we're sparsely populated, out here, doesn't mean we don't care if you ruin our terra firma.

    Left behind were craters as wide as 2 metres and as deep as 45 centimetres.

    Oh. Never mind. Geez, I didn't even hear the blasts...

  • with vinegar and baking soda!

  • Pfft, I can achieve more with less.

    Just give me Taco Bell.

  • Why not use a computer model? There has been very large money already spent on nuclear explosion simulators. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and other places have the computing expertise. Why would anyone use the real thing today? It is so unpredictable, you cannot calculate on it very well ad hoc. In a simulator you can at least determine how much unpredictable you want.

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