Volcano Erupts, Destroys Jindal and Palin

Unfortunately, the bugger blew in the middle of the night, so we’ll have to content ourselves with this image from Mt. Redoubt’s 1990 eruption, which more accurately reflects its effect on Jindal and Palin’s talking points.

I do so hope you lot can watch videos online. This one gets it in one:

Paul Krugman’s Parthian shot is a sheer delight:

Volcano monitoring – why would you want to monitor a volcano? ‘Cause it might erupt and kill a lot of people.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the 10,000,000,001 reasons why one should never trust Cons to run the government.

Volcano Erupts, Destroys Jindal and Palin


I usually don’t filch from PZ (most of you have already dropped by Pharyngula, right? Yes? If not, why not?), but unterseevulkan!

I couldn’t decide which picture I liked best, so I’m snagging both. Plenty more where these came from!

I love the locals’ reaction:

“This is not unusual for this area and we expect this to happen here at any time,” said Keleti Mafi, Tonga’s geological service head.

Interesting perspective, that.

This brings back memories of the first submarine volcano I ever got introduced to.

Until I read about Surtsey, I’d never thought of volcanoes as things that could pop up from under the ocean. All I knew about them was that they were big and sometimes erupted, but I’d never thought of them being born – it seemed more like they were always there. Just like islands. At that tender age, I hadn’t yet realized that islands and volcanoes both could appear overnight.

But they do, as the good people of Iceland and Tonga can tell you. So can Mexican farmers, for that matter:

Parícutin began as a wee little fissure in a cornfield, noticeable only because when you’re plowing a field, you don’t expect to get nipped by steam, ash and cinders. Within a few hours, the farmers had a mountain; in a few weeks, the volcano had eaten not only the corn field but a couple of villages for dessert. The photo above is baby’s first lava flow, at age five days. Amazing how you can go from corn to cinder cone so quickly, eh? It certainly made me watch the ground beneath my feet a little more closely as a child.

Justlikethat, the world changes. I think that’s one of the things I love so much about volcanoes. As long as I’m not standing atop them when dey go boom, I’m thrilled watching them build new lands.

(For those who might be wondering about the title of this post, I don’t really know what the Germans call submarine volcanoes. This one just put me in mind of Ray Bradbury’s story “Unterseeboot Doktor.” And yes, that’s what the U in U-boat stands for: unterseeboot. So why not unterseevulkan, eh?)


Sleep, Helen, Sleep

This was the scene 28 years ago today, when Mount St. Helens decided to show Washington State just who’s boss.

My initial reaction upon hearing the news that a volcano had exploded within the continental United States was, “No, way!” I was five. For some reason, my five year old brain thought volcanoes happened to other countries.

My second reaction was to draw St. Helens a get well card. Just look at her. Tell me she doesn’t look like that hurt like hell.

I’ve been fascinated by her ever since. I read books, articles, survivors’ stories. I discovered that a pyroclastic flow is no picnic. I learned about lateral blasts, which led to a bad moment once at the San Francisco Peaks.

See that big gouge? Yup. The Peaks used to be a peak. Lateral blast, baby, yeah! At one point, Flagstaff, Arizona looked a damned lot like southwestern Washington State circa May 18th, 1980. This could explain why I had a bit of a heart attack when hiking on the Peaks once, and our guide announced “We’re standing in the center of a caldera” whilst I was admiring the pretty bowl-shaped valley we’d wandered into.

You never want to hear a guide say “We’re standing in the center of a caldera” when you have a volcano phobia.

St. Helens and I got to see each other for the first time last year. If you look closely, you can see she’s putting on a tiny little show of steam and ash. Nothing major, just showing off a tad.

It seems she’s gone back to sleep, for now. I’m glad she decided to wait until this phobe got to stare into her abyss and overcome fear with fascination.

Happy eruption anniversary, my dear. Sleep tight.

Sleep, Helen, Sleep