Philippines’ Mayon Volcano: Risk of ‘Imminent Eruption’ as Lava Flows and Earthquakes Shake Region

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An eruption at the Mayon volcano in the Philippines could be imminent, with a second lava flow spotted as dozens of tremors have shaken the region.
An aerial survey taken of Mayon, situated in the province of Albay, showed the volcano is still showing signs of increased seismic activity although…

An eruption at the Mayon volcano in the Philippines could be imminent, with a second lava flow spotted as dozens of tremors have shaken the region.

An aerial survey taken of Mayon, situated in the province of Albay, showed the volcano is still showing signs of increased seismic activity although the lava flow has stopped.

A volcanologist at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), Eduardo Laguerta, said: “The lava flow could be an indication of an imminent eruption, just like in 1984, when after the lava flow had been spotted, within two weeks the volcano erupted.”

This is the second lava flow to be observed from Mayon in two weeks. The first was seen on 12 October, the first since Mayon started showing activity in mid-September.

In 1984, more than 73,000 people were evacuated from the danger zones as recommended by scientists. Over 54,000 individuals have been evacuated within the six-km permanent danger zone so far.

On Monday night, the alert level was raised to a three, suggesting magma is at the crater of the volcano and a hazardous eruption is possible within weeks.

The Most Active Volcano in the Philippines

Phivolcs told GMA News it had observed a moderate emission of white steam plumes drifting from the volcano. It also noted a faint crater glow from the centre of the dome, measuring the new lava flow to be between 300m and 400m long.

The institute said this indicates Mayon is in a “state of unrest” due to the movement of “potentially eruptible magma”.

In the last 24 hours, Phivolcs has recorded 45 volcanic earthquakes and 270 rockfall events.

Rolling rockfall within the uppermost reaches of the Bonga Gully indicates that the summit lava dome is breaching the crater in its southeastern side.

“It’s already erupting, but not explosive,” said Renato Solidum, Phivolcs executive director. “Currently, the activity is just lava coming down. If there is an explosion, all sides of the volcano are threatened.”

New ash deposits have been spotted at the slopes of Mayon and last week, sulfur dioxide emission was recorded at 272 tons a day.

Mount Mayon, a popular tourist site known for its near-perfect cone, is considered as the most active volcano in the Philippines. It has erupted 50 times in the last 500 years, sometimes violently.

In May 2013, the volcano suddenly released ash which killed five climbers who had ventured near the summit despite danger warnings.

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Researchers Find Evidence Of Earth’s Formation Trapped In Samoan Volcano

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Researchers have found an unusual glimpse of the beginning of Earth deep in a Samoan volcano.
Known as hotspots, volcanic island chains such as Samoa can have ancient primordial signatures from the early solar system that have somehow survived billions of years.
Researchers now say they have…

Researchers have found an unusual glimpse of the beginning of Earth deep in a Samoan volcano.

Known as hotspots, volcanic island chains such as Samoa can have ancient primordial signatures from the early solar system that have somehow survived billions of years.

Researchers now say they have found unique chemical signatures that show them what conditions were like.

The UC Santa Barbara geochemist studying Samoan volcanoes has found evidence of the planet’s early formation still trapped inside the Earth.

Matthew Jackson, an associate professor in UCSB’s Department of Earth Science, and colleagues utilized high-precision lead and helium isotope measurements to unravel the chemical composition and geometry of the deep mantle plume feeding Samoa’s volcanoes.

Their findings appear today in the journal Nature.

In most cases, volcanoes are located at the point where two tectonic plates meet, and are created when those plates collide or diverge.

Hotspot volcanoes, however, are not located at plate boundaries but rather represent the anomalous melting in the interior of the plates.

Such intraplate volcanoes form above a plume-fed hotspot where the Earth’s mantle is melting.

The plate moves over time — at approximately the rate human fingernails grow (3 inches a year) — and eventually the volcano moves off the hotspot and becomes extinct.

Another volcano forms in its place over the hotspot and the process repeats itself until a string of volcanoes evolves.

‘So you end up with this linear trend of age-progressive volcanoes,’ Jackson said.

‘On the Pacific plate, the youngest is in the east and as you go to the west, the volcanoes are older and more deeply eroded.

Hawaii has two linear trends of volcanoes — most underwater — which are parallel to each other.

There’s a southern trend and a northern trend.’

Because the volcanic composition of parallel Hawaiian trends is fundamentally different, Jackson and his team decided to look for evidence of this in other hotspots.
In Samoa, they found three volcanic trends exhibiting three different chemical configurations as well as a fourth group of a late-stage eruption on top of the third trend of volcanoes.

These different groups exhibit distinct compositions.

‘Our goal was to figure out how we could use this distribution of volcano compositions at the surface to reverse-engineer how these components are distributed inside this upwelling mantle plume at depth,’ Jackson said.

Each of the four distinct geochemical compositions, or endmembers, that the scientists identified in Samoan lavas contained low Helium-3 (He-3) and Helium-4 (He-4) ratios.

The team said the surprising discovery was that they all exhibited evidence for mixing with a fifth, rare primordial component consisting of high levels of He-3 and He-4.

‘We have really strong evidence that the bulk of the plume is made of the high Helium-3, -4 component,’ Jackson said.

‘That tells us that most of this plume is primordial material and there are other materials hosted inside of this plume with low Helium-3, -4, and these are likely crustal materials sent into the mantle at ancient subduction zones.’

The unique isotopic topology revealed by the researchers’ analysis showed that the four low-helium endmembers do not mix efficiently with one another. However, each of them mixes with the high He-3 and He-4 component.

‘This unique set of mixing relationships requires a specific geometry for the four geochemical flavors within the upwelling plume: They must be hosted within a matrix that is composed of the rare fifth component with high He-3,’ Jackson explained.

‘This new constraint on plume structure has important implications for how deep mantle material is entrained in plumes, and it gives us the clearest picture yet for the chemical structure of an upwelling mantle plume.’

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Tropical Depression Forms Off Yucatan, Threatens South Florida With Heavy Rain

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A wet, messy storm in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche strengthened early Wednesday to a tropical depression, a warning that the Atlantic hurricane season is still open for business.
The system, a remnant of Tropical Storm Trudy that triggered fatal mudslides in southern Mexico last week, is expected to …

A wet, messy storm in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche strengthened early Wednesday to a tropical depression, a warning that the Atlantic hurricane season is still open for business.

The system, a remnant of Tropical Storm Trudy that triggered fatal mudslides in southern Mexico last week, is expected to become a tropical storm Wednesday as it heads toward the Yucatan Peninsula with winds of about 35 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. But forecasters expect a cold front moving south to keep it from growing as the storm nears the U.S. coast. Still, South Florida could get hit with heavy rain and possible flooding later this week.

Where and when the tropical storm’s remnants and the cold front collide will probably determine who gets soaked, said NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen.

“They’re playing a game of what if and when,” Feltgen said.

As it crosses the Yucanta, the storm could produce five to 10 inches of rain and life-threatening floods, forecasters warned. A Hurricane Hunter plane was investigating the system Wednesday morning.

The crucial front, part of a nor’easter off the coast of New Jersey and New York, is expected to reach Lake Okeechobee by Wednesday evening, said National Weather Service meteorologist Barry Baxter. The front won’t bring dry air or cooler temperatures, but it could push the soggy tropical system farther south, he said, and pull rain over South Florida.

Forecasters expect the front to stall over the Florida Keys, meaning Miami-Dade and Monroe counties are likely to get the most rain.

While the 2014 hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, has remained largely quiet in Florida, late-season storms can be tricky and deliver punishing winds and rain. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma sailed out of the Gulf of Mexico a week before Halloween and caused $17 billion in damage to the state. Hurricane Sandy triggered massive flooding in the Northeast in 2012 after it landed in New Jersey on Oct. 29.

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BREAKING NEWS: Energetic Jets from Young Stars Formed by Magnetic Fields

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The team of scientists from France, Canada, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, and the United States demonstrated that stellar jets can be confined by a large-scale magnetic field aligned with their axis.

“Not only is it consistent with current astrophysics data, the…

The team of scientists from France, Canada, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, and the United States demonstrated that stellar jets can be confined by a large-scale magnetic field aligned with their axis.

milky_way_system9_m

“Not only is it consistent with current astrophysics data, the proposed mechanism helps explain intriguing X-ray emissions that have been observed along the jets by the Chandra space telescope,” explains INRS professor emeritus Henri Pépin, who took part in the research. “This same mechanism could be at play in other types of astrophysical jets like white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes.”

galaksi-aktif33_m

As part of the project, the scientists developed a model of the interstellar magnetic field in order to study the plasma jets of emerging stars. They were able to simulate this phenomenon in the lab for the first time using an experimental platform combining high intensity lasers and intense magnetic fields. After producing plasma at small scale typical of the atmosphere of young stars, the researchers generated a magnetic field representative of the interstellar environment inside a few cubic centimeters for a few millionths of a second.

Supercomputers were then used to model emerging young stars as well as the laboratory experiment. These simulations confirm the key role of interstellar magnetic fields in creating, accelerating, and directing the jets that travel astronomical distances.

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Partial Solar Eclipse over the U.S. on Thursday, Oct. 23

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People in most of the continental United States will be in the shadow of the Moon on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 23, as a partial solar eclipse sweeps across the Earth. For people looking through Sun-safe filters, from Los Angeles, 45% of the Sun’s diameter will be covered at 3:38 p.m. PDT…

People in most of the continental United States will be in the shadow of the Moon on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 23, as a partial solar eclipse sweeps across the Earth. For people looking through Sun-safe filters, from Los Angeles, 45% of the Sun’s diameter will be covered at 3:38 p.m. PDT (local time); from Seattle, 64% will be covered at 3 p.m. PDT; from Denver, 55% will be covered at 4:35 MDT; and in Chicago, 55% will be covered at 5:42 p.m.

partial_solar_eclipse

The Sun will set before the eclipse is visible in New York or New England. A tiny bite would be visible at Sunset while looking through special Sun-safe filters farther south on the Eastern Seaboard.

  

Jay Pasachoff, a professor at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., and Chair of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Eclipses, points out that “this partial eclipse visible to people looking through Sun-safe filters on Thursday is a coming attraction for the August 21, 2017, eclipse that will have the moon entirely covering the Sun in a 60-mile-wide band across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina, with 80% or more of the Sun covered from most of the continental U.S.”

Pasachoff continued, though, “the Sun is so bright that even through ordinary Sunglasses you can damage your eyes if you stare at it. The special solar filters that are available, which are made of a black polymer, block out all but about a thousandth of a per cent of the Sun’s brightness, while ordinary Sunglasses would dim the Sun by only a relatively small bit even in the visible while allowing almost all the hazardous infrared to come through.”

For those who don’t have time to get inexpensive Sun-safe filters, which cost only about a dollar, number 12, 13, or 14 welder’s glass is safe to look through at the Sun. Also, when a substantial bite appears to be taken out of the Sun’s disk, a simple projection method works to see that the Sun is no longer round-shaped. Simply punch a hole a quarter of an inch or so in a piece of cardboard and use that hole to project the Sun’s image on the ground or on a wall, with the Sun behind you, over your shoulder.

Often, the spaces between the leaves of a tree provide this “pinhole” effect, and crescent Suns appear on the ground among the shadows of the leaves.

A hundred eclipse enthusiasts—amateurs and professionals alike—will gather at Sunspot, New Mexico, for viewing the eclipse and, the following days, a series of talks near the National Solar Observatory’s station there. The 4-day conference in New Mexico is organized by Patrick and Joanne Poitevin. These international Solar Eclipse Conferences are organized every non-central solar eclipse year. The next one will be in 2018. In recent years, ecotourism has increasingly involved thousands of tourists who travel the world to see solar eclipses, especially the total phases when the Moon entirely hides the Sun, allowing the Sun’s faint outer layers to be seen as the sky grows dark in midday. But this year’s partial eclipse will still leave so much of the everyday solar surface visible that the sky will not darken noticeably.

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Year’s Best Meteor Shower from Halley’s Comet

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As Earth orbits the Sun, it continually ploughs through dust and debris left behind by passing comets and asteroids. On any night of the year, a keen-eyed observer might see five, or even ten, meteors (shooting stars) per hour.

But over the next week, that number will rise markedly, as Earth…

As Earth orbits the Sun, it continually ploughs through dust and debris left behind by passing comets and asteroids. On any night of the year, a keen-eyed observer might see five, or even ten, meteors (shooting stars) per hour.

halley_comet2

But over the next week, that number will rise markedly, as Earth moves through the center of a stream of debris left behind by the most famous of all comets, comet 1P/Halley.

Most meteor showers have a short, sharp maximum that is best observed over a single night or two. But the Orionid meteors (which have already been active for a couple of weeks) will really kick into action this weekend, and should remain close to their peak for most of next week. Best viewing is likely on or around Tuesday evening, October 21.

Comet 1P/Halley is probably the best known of a vast population of dirty snowballs that circle the Sun. Every 76 years or so, it swings through the inner solar system.

As it flies by the Sun, ice on the comet’s surface sublimates (changes directly from solid to gas) to space. The ice carries with it vast quantities of dust and debris, causing the comet to shrink by about a meter with every apparition.

 

From the release of this gas and dust, as the comet sheds its skin it grows a magnificent tail and coma, making it easily visible with the unaided eye, once per generation.

The dust shed by the comet continues through space, following a very similar path to the comet itself.

Comet Halley has been trapped in its current orbit for thousands of years. The shells of dust ejected each time it has passed by the Sun, have gradually dispersed. They now form a wide tube of dust, sheathing the comet’s path.

Twice per year, once in May, and again in October, the Earth runs into this debris and sparks a meteor shower.

The shower in May, the Eta Aquarids, is actually the most impressive, as Earth passes closer to the centre of the debris swathe left by the comet. This means that the shower provides more meteors per hour, as we run through thicker dust. Unfortunately, it is hard to see, and is only really visible for a couple of hours before dawn.

The October Orionids, by contrast, are visible from around midnight onwards, and can still put on a spectacular show.

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Europe Secures New Generation of Weather Satellites

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Contracts were signed today to build three pairs of MetOp Second Generation satellites, ensuring the continuity of essential information for global weather forecasting and climate monitoring for decades to come.

MetOp-SG is a cooperative undertaking between ESA and Eumetsat, the European…

Contracts were signed today to build three pairs of MetOp Second Generation satellites, ensuring the continuity of essential information for global weather forecasting and climate monitoring for decades to come.

eumetsat-IJPS_m

MetOp-SG is a cooperative undertaking between ESA and Eumetsat, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. These new satellites offer enhanced continuity of the current MetOp series, today’s main source of global weather data.

As with the first generation, the satellites will provide users with crucial information on atmospheric temperature and water profiles, cloud detection and analysis, and sea-surface temperature and winds, extending to aerosols, trace gases and air quality.

Comprising six satellites in total, the mission is based on a pair of satellites that carry different packages to deliver complementary meteorological information. The A series of satellites will be equipped with atmospheric sounders as well as optical and infrared imagers, while the B series focuses on microwave sensors.

Following the first documents that were signed at the Berlin Air Show earlier this year, the full contracts to build the six MetOp-SG satellites were signed today by ESA and Airbus Defence and Space.

The ceremony at ESA headquarters in Paris, France, was attended by Geneviève Fioraso, the French Minister for Higher Education and Research, and the Director-General of Eumetsat, Alain Ratier.

Airbus Defense and Space France now takes up the role as prime contractor for the A satellites and Airbus Defense and Space Germany for the B series.

Although the different satellites will be developed and built in Toulouse, France and Friedrichshafen, Germany, respectively, a large industrial consortium of many European companies will be involved under the leadership of Airbus Defense and Space.

Volker Liebig, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programs, said, “These contracts mark a very important milestone in maintaining Europe’s leading edge in the development of meteorological systems, and for the provision of weather forecasting and monitoring services.

“The MetOp-SG satellites will continue and enhance essential observations from polar orbit that are needed for numerical weather prediction.”

Alain Ratier remarked, “The signature of the MetOp-SG contracts is a new landmark in our highly successful cooperation with ESA.

“The MetOp-SG satellites will improve all the observations of the first MetOp generation and, in addition, will observe precipitation and cirrus clouds. This will further improve weather forecasting and climate monitoring from space in Europe and worldwide.”

MetOp-SG takes the highly successful cooperation with ESA into the next decades. The satellites constitute a true milestone for an innovative system that will yield benefits from 2022 onwards to further improve forecasting.”

As a cooperative effort, ESA funds the development of the first satellites and procures the repeat satellites on behalf of Eumetsat. Eumetsat then funds the duplicate satellites, develops the ground segment, operates the satellites and carries out the data processing.

New instruments observing extended spectral and frequency ranges will allow new environmental measurements to be collected.

In addition, the A series will carry the Copernicus Sentinel-5 instrument on behalf of the European Commission. Sentinel-5 includes five ‘spectrometers’ from the ultraviolet to the shortwave infrared, to monitor atmospheric composition and support the forecasting of air quality.

Each satellite will be launched separately. It is envisaged that the first A satellite will be launched in 2021, followed by the first B satellite in 2022.

The MetOp-SG satellites will orbit Earth at an average altitude of 831 km in a polar orbit to provide global coverage.

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