All posts by Scott Hensel

For Science or For Recreation, Volcanoes Come Through Again

Volcanic gases are widely understood to be one of the more dangerous aspects of active volcanoes.  Where they can certainly be hazardous to your health or even deadly, the volcanic gases also have a more positive side that never seems to get enough light.  Hot springs pop up all around the world near active volcanoes, and gases emitted by volcanic vents provide useful scientific opportunities.  Such opportunities should be taken, though cautiously, because these gases don’t have a bad reputation for no reason.

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Broken Fire

Volcanic explosions are one of nature’s most extreme displays of power.  A common and devastating result of volcanic eruptions is the fast movement of hot gas and rock that flows away from the volcano.  The Greeks called them πῦρκλαστός (pronounced pyr klastós) which loosely translates to ‘broken fire’.  Nuée ardente is another name used to describe these events which is French for ‘burning cloud’.  In the science world today, they are referred to as pyroclastic flows.

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Akrotiri; Doomed for Destruction, but When?

The ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri was an outpost of Crete, and existed on an active caldera. Inevitably the massive volcano erupted causing worldwide effects. China experienced extreme climate change, and pumice was found in places as far away as the Nile and Israel. The effects on the volcanic island were incredibly powerful, and completely buried Akrotiri in copious amounts of ash. Today the ash and pumice on Santorini is measured to be 60 meters at its thickest, and led to the island being uninhabited for approximately 200 years following the eruption (1).

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