Alaska Volcano Observatory

The US Geological Survey operates five volcano observatories, which keep watch on regions of volcanic activity in the United States. The five observatories are for the Cascades, Hawaii, Yellowstone, Long Valley (in California) and Alaska. My web site of the week is for the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

Here’s a description of the Alaska volcanoes from the AVO site:

Alaska contains over 100 volcanoes and volcanic fields which have been active within the last two million years. Over 40 of these have been active in historic time. These volcanoes make up about 80% of all active volcanoes in the United States and 8% of all active above-water volcanoes on earth.

Most of these volcanoes are located along the 2,500 km-long (1,550 mile-long) Aleutian Arc, which extends westward to Kamchatka and forms the northern portion of the Pacific “ring of fire”. Other volcanoes which have been active within the last few thousand years exist in southeastern Alaska and in the Wrangell Mountains. Smaller volcanoes, some active within the last 10,000 years, exist in interior Alaska and in western Alaska as far north as the Seward Peninsula.

Hardly a year goes by without a major eruption from a volcano in the Aleutian Arc. Eruptions in the largely unpopulated western arc often go unremarked by all but volcanologists. The remote volcanoes are potentially hazardous, as jet airplanes which enter eruption clouds often are severely damaged, and sometimes lose all engines temporarily. There are more than 70,000 large aircraft per year, and 20,000 people per day, in the skies over Aleutian volcanoes, mostly on the heavily travelled great-circle routes between Europe, North America and Asia. Volcanoes in the eastern arc, especially those from Cook Inlet volcanoes, can have severe impacts. The series of 1989-1990 eruptions from Mt. Redoubt was the second-most costly in the history of the United States, and had significant impact on the aviation and oil industries, as well as the people of the Kenai Peninsula. The three eruptions of Mt. Spurr’s Crater Peak in 1992 deposited ash on Anchorage and surrounding communities, closing airports and making even ground transportation difficult, and disrupted air traffic as far east as Cleveland, Ohio. The 1912 Katmai eruption, which formed the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes on the Alaska Peninsula was the largest 20th century eruption on earth.

I chose this site because it has a wealth of great pictures and high-resolution topographic maps:


Fourpeaked Mountain, currently at YELLOW status (USGS AVO)


Kaguyak Volcano (C. Nye, USGS AVO)


Augustine Volcano (C. Read, USGS AVO)


Ukinrek Maars (J. Kienle)


Augustine Volcano (M. Coombs, USGS AVO)


Topgraphic map of Kaguyak Volcano (USGS AVO)


Topgraphic map of Mt. Edgecumbe (USGS AVO)


Topgraphic map of Nuschkolik Mtn. (USGS AVO)

Grace and Peace

More Climate Change

More on climate change:

Christianity Today has posted an article on climate change: Cool on Climate Change. The article highlights the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance. The opening paragraphs of the article read:

A new coalition argues Christians need not heed warnings that millions will die from human-induced global warming and says we should seek more practical ways to help the world’s poor.

Human emissions of carbon dioxide are not the main cause of global warming, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA) said in a document released in July. The ISA, a loosely affiliated group of more than 130 theologians, scientists, policy analysts, and others, said the consequences of global warming for the poor have been exaggerated.

Activities that produce carbon dioxide—such as “breathing, building a fire to cook or keep warm, driving a car or tractor, or burning coal to produce electricity … [are] morally good and necessary activities that God intended for us,” said Wayne Grudem, research professor of Bible and theology at Phoenix Seminary. “It seems very unlikely to me that God would have set up the earth to work in such a way that these good and necessary activities would actually destroy the earth.”

The ISA is responding to the Evangelical Climate Initiative’s February statement “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action,” signed by 97 evangelical leaders. The statement claimed that “[m]illions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors.”

This is from the other side of the global warming debate from yesterday’s post. I skimmed the longer report called A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming, and was pleased to see that it seems to avoid the distortions of science that plague much of the Evangelical/Conservative discussion of global warming and climate change.

I’m still riding on the fence on this one, but again I’ll say that I’m pleased to see Evangelicals thinking about environmental issues.

Grace and Peace

The Face on Mars

In 1976, the Viking 1 orbiter took a picture of a feature on Mars that had the appearance of a human face. Some people went from “It looks like a human face; isn’t that interesting” to “It must have been constructed by aliens!”

In 2001, the NASA Mars Global Surveyer took better resolution images of the feature, showing clearly that it is indeed a natural feature. However, the “face on Mars” people dismissed this as a cover-up or conspiracy.

An even better image has just been released, taken by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter. I’m convinced that this is natural. Some people will never be convinced.


Viking 1 image, 1976, NASA (The “Face on Mars” is upper center)


Mars Global Surveyer, 2001, NASA


Mars Express, 2006, ESA

Yahoo news article

Astronomy Picture of the Day 9/25/2006

Wikipedia article

Grace and Peace

Global Warming Report

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has published an article on global temperature change. Here is the abstract:

Global surface temperature has increased ~0.2°C per decade in the past 30 years, similar to the warming rate predicted in the 1980s in initial global climate model simulations with transient greenhouse gas changes. Warming is larger in the Western Equatorial Pacific than in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific over the past century, and we suggest that the increased West-East temperature gradient may have increased the likelihood of strong El Niños, such as those of 1983 and 1998. Comparison of measured sea surface temperatures in the Western Pacific with paleoclimate data suggests that this critical ocean region, and probably the planet as a whole, is approximately as warm now as at the Holocene maximum and within ~1°C of the maximum temperature of the past million years. We conclude that global warming of more than ~1°C, relative to 2000, will constitute “dangerous” climate change as judged from likely effects on sea level and extermination of species.

To summarize this even further:

  • The Earth’s temperature has increased by 0.6°C (about 1°F) in 30 years.
  • Warming of the Pacific is occurring in such a way to make strong El Niños more frequent.
  • The Earth’s temperature is as warm as it has been any time in the past 1,000,000 years.
  • Continued warming will bring the Earth’s temperature up to levels that existed in the Pliocene (prior to the Pleistocene, in which the Earth has experienced periodic extensive glaciations).
  • Global warming of 2-3°C would bring temperatures to Pliocene levels, when sea level was on the order of 25 m (80 feet) higher than they are today. [note: the report does not suggest this order of sea level rise in the coming century].

Many conservatives dismiss this as a bunch of baloney. I haven’t made a decision yet, but the seriousness of the topic mandates an intense effort of study by Christians in a variety of scientific disciplines.

Yahoo news article

Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences article

Grace and Peace

Name that element

We’re doing elements and atomic theory in Chemistry right now. Sometimes I give my students worksheets, and sometimes I give them “funsheets.” I tell them that all worksheets are funsheets, but they aren’t convinced yet.

Here’s a funsheet. You may need a periodic table or a list of the elements to help with some of these.

Provide the name for the element:

Clue Element
1. joint between upper and lower leg neon
2. mother’s sister’s cash _________________
3. native of North America _________________
4. to endure hardship or injury _________________
5. where you wash dishes _________________
6. foolish prisoner _________________
7. policeman _________________
8. to press laundry _________________
9. I sit down and eat _________________
10. Yosemite National Park is here _________________
11. Lone Ranger’s horse _________________
12. Canis lupus _________________
13. I am sneezing and have a runny nose. I have a _________________
14. a flower _________________
15. I drink pop, but people in other parts of the country say _________________
16. the Good __________ _________________
17. parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme _________________
18. the chair is on the __________ _________________
19. _______ on the range _________________
20. _______ of Arabia _________________
21. dull chemistry lesson* _________________
22. bile is stored in the ________ bladder _________________
23. European country _________________
24. another European country _________________
25. five cents _________________
26. 50 percent _________________
27. what doctors do _________________
28. what morticians do _________________
29. what cowboys did on horses _________________
30. Carpe diem. _________ the day. _________________

*doesn’t exist in nature

For the answers, continue reading:

Continue reading “Name that element”