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Back in time to Mount St. Helens: News coverage of the 1980 eruption

- Dr. Janine Krippner Today marks another anniversary of the deadly eruption of Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington, USA. This eruption was one of those events where most remember where they were around the world when they heard the news. It changed the lives of those around the volcano - those who lost friends or family, their homes, their view of the local landscape, and their belief that 'it won't happen to me'. Fifty-seven people were lost, including volcanologist David Johnston ( his biography is out now here ). People around the world know this volcano after this day. Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. Courtesy of USGS. Thirty-nine years ago the world watched as the eruption took place, so what did they see? What it was like for those who experienced the eruption firsthand? What did the rest of the country see through the experiences of reporters and those who were there? When the next continental-US volcano erupts some of us will be there. Some of us wil

Días de Lava: del sueño de niñez a la ciencia / Lava days: from childhood dream to the science

  This post is from Ivan Torres a PhD student at the University of Missouri Kansas City who joined the MELT team from Chile in January 2022. She has written the post in Spanish (Top) and English (Bottom). This blog has always been about bringing science to more people, and Ivana's language skills will help us do expand this effort!    Días de Lava: del sueño de niñez a la ciencia Desde que entré a este mundo de re-fundir lava sobre los 1300°C, he estado subiendo contenido a las redes sociales (imágenes y videos) de algunos de los experimentos que realizamos en nuestros laboratorios en University of Missouri-Kansas (UMKC) y en las facilidades de University of Buffalo (UB). Y adivinen cuál ha sido el comentario más común en estos videos… “¡MI SUEÑO DE NIÑEZ ERA JUGAR CON LAVA!” .    Vertimiento de roca líquida en grava en junio del 2022 en las facilidades de University of Buffalo.  Pasando del hecho que trabajar con roca líquida es uno de los sueños de niñez más peligroso, lo q

Addressing La Palma megatsunami fears

- Janine Krippner Originally published on 20/9/2021 here: when we did not have access to our blog. I am honestly angry about how misinformation about a small eruption has put so many people in a state of pure fear across multiple countries. There is enough stress and fear in the world and I truly feel for everyone being impacted by this. It is incredibly sad to see people losing their homes and livelihoods to this eruption, and on top of that is a tsunami of utter lies. We all need more compassion. We all need to be careful of what we share. We all need to be kinder. We all need to think more critically when we are afraid (this is a tough one). This is a bad case of the implications of people acting without these traits. People want us, the experts, to say that this scenario is impossible to ease fears, but that is something that is extremely difficult for a scientist to say. There are many scary things in this world that will not ha

Update: Where are we now?

 - Janine and Alison Wow it has been a few years, hasn't it? We lost access to our blog for a while there and are excited to have it back. The world has been changing a lot over the past few years and we have not been immune to this, so where are we now? Dr. Janine Krippner  Hello! Due to the pandemic and impending visa changes I moved home to New Zealand/Aotearoa after 6 months of the pandemic in the USA. After just over three years at my job at the Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program, this has been my last week. I am so very grateful for my colleagues (especially Ed Venzke, Ben Andrews, and Kadie Bennis), and I will miss working in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. That was such a fun office to be part of! So what am I doing next? I don't know. It is "normal" in this early career stage of many science fields to have rather frequent periods of job insecurity but I am taking it in with patience, and grabbing the chance to get paper

Contents under pressure

-Alison How does it make you feel when a headline reads "molten magma beneath your feet"? It sure sounds exciting, and when it’s followed immediately by some line about disaster or cataclysm it can be quite stressful. Before we tackle the details, let’s start off with-- there is very little magma down there. Most of the Earth’s mantle is quite solid, it is hot, but not much of it is liquid. Some headlines are just click bait, or they've taken some grain of truth and stretched it until it causes that right amount of drama. We can, with a bit of detective work, weed out what real information in the news from the soap opera. The lovely glow from molten rock. This was made in my lab from remelting natural lava. One way is to first wrap our heads around the scale of things "beneath our feet". Just what do we mean when we say the Earth is hot inside? How far must we go to get to hot stuff? More importantly, how much is liquid down there? If you head to a geolog

So you want to visit an active volcano?

- Dr. Janine Krippner This is a scary blog post to write. Why? Because even if you follow every bit of advice here you could still get hurt on a volcano. No one wants to give inadequate advice but I do not want to see any of you get hurt. The only way to eliminate the risk of getting injured or killed on a volcano is to not be there. I repeat: The only way to eliminate the risk of getting hurt or killed on a volcano is to not be there. But you can take some safety steps to reduce that risk. Keep in mind that this is not a complete list, and above all else, ALWAYS follow advice from local agencies who know the volcano and work to keep people safe. Last week a young man lost his life at Stromboli. He wasn't doing anything wrong. There was a large explosion that gave no warning and he never went home to his friends and family. This is what we face when we visit volcanoes. It is a calculated risk just like getting into your car. I love volcanoes and I intend to keep visiting the

YELLOWSTONE and our new Popular Volcanics podcast

- Dr. Janine Krippner YELLOWSTONE is gonna BLOW... is something you see in tabloid headlines in some form or another far too often. Let me start off with saying how sick I am of seeing all of you being lied to about this volcano. Let's chat about the facts, where to find the facts, and how to spot the junk 'news' on Yellowstone. So what is actually happening with this volcano, or "supervolcano" to use the recently popular term? My colleague Dr. Erik Klemetti got in touch about starting a volcano podcast and we have jumped right in, tackling the big problem-child volcano to kick things off. Why make a volcano podcast? Because I want YOU to be able to find and understand all the good stuff about volcanoes. You don't deserve to search for volcano information only to find tabloid junk. I am trying to fix this, step-by-step. Our brand new podcast is Popular Volcanics ( you can head over to our new website here ) where Erik and I are your hosts and we wi

The Life and Legacy of Volcanologist David A. Johnston: Setting the Record Straight

- Dr. Janine Krippner David Johnston in the summit crater of Mount St. Helens  to collect samples. Photo by rick Hobblitt, USGS . People around the world know that David Johnston was a volcanologist at Mount St. Helens in 1980, and that he was killed when the volcano erupted. His last words are repeated over and over. His last photo shared all over the internet. What isn't widely discussed is who he really was as a person. Author Melanie Holmes has dedicated the last four years to talking to his friends, colleagues, and family. Her journey began as a result of a conversation between friends—Melanie has known Dave’s sister more than three decades. Since she began, Melanie has read reams of clippings and letters that his parents kept, as well as Dave’s teenage diary. And she spoke to those of us who carry on his scientific legacy today. It is time that his story is told, 39 years later, to clear up misconceptions and to fill in the gaps about who he was – a genuinely nice

Volcanic ash is not fluffy & volcanoes don't smoke! Setting the story straight & how to protect yourself.

- Dr. Janine Krippner Mount St. Helens, May 18, 1980 . Top information resources for volcanic ash: USGS Volcanic Ash Impacts and Mitigation The International Volcanic Health Hazard Network  GNS Be Prepared: Volcanic Ashfall Global Volcanic Hazards and Risk  List of Volcano Observatories Items to stock before ashfall As you read this, there are likely around 20 volcanoes actively erupting right now. There are over 40 ongoing eruptions around the world. There are 1,431 volcanoes that we consider to be potentially active, or that erupted recently enough to be able to erupt any time soon ( list here ), and there are hundreds of millions of people living around those volcanoes . On top of that, there are many people who travel to or near volcanoes, and even more who fly around the world in planes that can be impacted by volcanic ash . Freight planes and ships can be halted and economies are impacted. As you see in this first video that was taken at Mount St. Helens