2 volcanoes at once is weird, right?
Let’s talk volcanoes for #volcanomonday. Last Friday, we ran two posts about volcanic eruptions that started that day; one in Iceland and one around the world in Papua New Guinea.
A question that came up both in press reports and even in our own comments is…is this unusual?
The answer is no, it’s not unusual at all for many volcanoes to erupt at the same time. For example, this satellite image was taken last week and it shows the island Nishino-shima south of Japan. Last December, we covered the formation of a new island here, Niijima, a volcanic peak that emerged from beneath the waves (http://tinyurl.com/oe22xtl). Niijima has spent the last 9 months erupting, with no signs of slowing down, and has grown so large that it consumed the island it appeared next to.
That’s one volcano that has erupted almost non-stop for nearly a year, and there’s nothing abnormal about that at all. When people were asking whether the two eruptions on Friday were unusual, the continuing eruption at this volcano was forgotten. That should help convey the point; volcanoes can stay active for years, even decades at a time. In fact, there are some volcanoes that almost never shut off.
The most famous of those are probably Kilauea and Stromboli. Kilauea, on the big island of Hawaii, has been constantly pouring out lava since 1983. The volcano Stromboli off the coast of Italy has been in a state of eruption for about 2000 years. Other volcanoes, like Ol Doinyo Lengai and Erta Alae in Africa and Erebus in Atarctica are regularly erupting as well, sometimes even maintaining long-lived lava lakes.
The real extreme of this effect, by the way, is the mid-ocean ridge system. Mid-Ocean ridges around the world are almost constantly erupting; if you counted up each location as a volcano, there would easily be hundreds of different eruptions at any given time.
Around the world, volcanoes become active and shut down. Sometimes we notice and cover them, some times we don’t. There are usually well over 10 around the world erupting, sometimes several dozen, but most of them don’t get much coverage. The difference typically is whether or not they’re in urban or developed areas. In developed areas, we hear reports of them, and most importantly photographs are produced. When a volcano like Erebus, on the continent of Antarctica erupts, we typically don’t get good pictures of it. When a rift zone opens on Iceland, we get great coverage and images of every step because people are there to watch it.
Volcanoes in one part of the world don’t impact another part of the world. So under the #volcanomonday tag today, just count this as a reminder that a couple volcanoes being on your news feed might be a cool thing to watch, it might produce some great images, but there’s no larger story other than the way plate tectonics works on an average day.
Image credit: NASA
List of currently active volcanoes:
Press report calling it weird: