Monday, March 7, 2011

Volcanoes: Friend or Foe?- Help for global warming?

Volcanic activity seems to be on the upswing. But then it always is, isn't it? One of the reasons it seems this way is the way these things get reported. What scientists do know ( and of course that means reporters do) is that whenever we see a series of earthquakes, we are going to see a series of eruptions before and afterward.  The report linked below is a study that Oxford did two years ago that confirmed this correlation between earthquakes and volcanoes.

Large Earthquakes Trigger A Surge In Volcanic Eruptions (Science Daily, January 2009)

The graphic below should illustrate the principle fairly well:
Where you see the black lines, these are the Tectonic Plates.They float on top of the layer of the Earth right below the first 50-100 miles of land: the Magma.When these build up a lot of friction things heat up. When they slide to the point where the volcano is over an area of magma, the stage is set for an Eruption.

It looks as though we get eruptions most often when we have earthquakes, because they make the liquid Magma move around and find the path up to the volcano. The volcanoes do a lot of damage, but they really do harm to only a fairly small area. Of course, to the people who live there it doesn't seem so small an area, but in scientific terms it is.

One of the most interesting things scientists are studying about volcanoes is the fact that they put out a lot of very small particles called aerosols. The aerosols can get so thick they make the sun look dimmer. A few years ago, a volcano in the Phillipines, Pinatubo, caused theEarth to cool by two degrees for two years.The good thing about this, if scientists could create it on purpose, is that it could cool down the earth at the same time global Warming is warming it up. This might result in ameliorating the global warming-greenhouse effect.

So, the next time you see something about a volcano, remember, it could be that Mother nature is fighting back against Global Warming and trying to protect us.  Have a good day...Jeff Darling

1 comment:

  1. I'm as facsinated by Volcanoes just as much as you do. On my trip to Guatemala I've climbed some and witnessed their tops during nightfall. I gotta tell you, Global warming may be terrifying, but try looking into the deeps of boiling lava as it fluids beneath your feet.