As small earthquakes continue to rumble around the Yellowstone supervolcano in Wyoming, scientists have revealed new evidence of the changes going on beneath the ground.
A new map from the US Geological Survey shows how the ground around the Yellowstone caldera has deformed over the span of two years, as the quakes release uplift-causing pressure, allowing the ground to sink back down.
This activity is typically linked to changes in magma and gases deep below the surface – but for now, the experts say there’s no cause for worry.
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The University of Utah’s Seismograph Stations (UUSS) have been monitoring the activity since it began June 12.
A total of 1,562 quakes have been recorded so far at Yellowstone since the swarm began.
Earthquake swarms are common in Yellowstone and, on average, comprise about 50 per cent of the total activity in the Yellowstone region.
Although the latest swarm is the largest since 2012, it is fewer than weekly counts during similar events in 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2010.
Tremors were recorded from ground level to 9mi (14.5km) below sea level.
Seismic activity could be a sign of an impending eruption of the supervolcano, although this is impossible to predict exactly
The map, created by USGS geophysicist Chuck Wicks uses data from June 2015 and July 2017 to show how the region around Yellowstone has changed.
In the map, the colourful rings show the changes in the ground’s elevation as seen by a radar satellite, according to USGS.
A bulls-eye shaped section of uplift can be seen at the Norris Geyser Basin, where the ground has risen roughly 3 inches.
And, an elliptical subsidence can be seen in the Yellowstone caldera, with the ground dropping about 1.2 inches.
With 130 volcanoes – both active and inactive – Iceland is one of the most intensely volcanic places in the world.
An expert has now warned that four of the country’s biggest volcanoes are priming to erupt, which could lead to travel chaos.
The volcanoes in question are Katla, Hekla, Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn – three of which have already erupted in the last 20 years.
The warning follows the 2010’s explosive eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which caused more than 10 million air passengers to be stranded and cost the European economy an estimated £4 billion ($4.9 billion).
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It seems Mt St Helens is recharging. Scientists are detecting tiny earthquakes deep below ground – an indication the mountain is slowly coming back to life. There’s nothing to worry yet, but it is again just a matter of time. read more
Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, has rumbled back to life in Hawaii over the past 13 months with more seismic activity than at any time since its last eruption, scientists say, while calling it too soon to predict another blast. read more
Strike that iconic image of a tall, snow-capped volcano sitting atop a liquid pool of hot, molten magma. It turns out that many volcanoes prefer cold storage, a new study suggests.
The findings come from a detailed study of crystals in lavas at Oregon’s Mount Hood, from two different eruptions 220 years ago and about 1,500 years ago. These crystals formed inside the volcano’s magma chamber, and provide a chronology and a temperature history.
The crystals told a fairy tale story — they were trapped beneath the volcano, at surprisingly cold temperatures, for as long as 100,000 years. No boiling super-villain’s lair for these tiny pieces of plagioclase. Instead, the magma was so cold it was like a jar of old honey from the fridge — sticky and full of crystals. That means, most of the time, it was too sluggish to erupt. The researchers think that it took a hot kiss of fresh magma, rising from deep in Earth, to reheat the molten rock until it was thin enough to blast into the sky. [50 Amazing Volcano Facts] read more
A lightning volcano… Mother Nature at her most awesome
Streaks of crimson lava soar hundreds of feet into the air as an erupting volcano puts on the most spectacular of light shows.
But Mother Nature isn’t quite finished yet.
She throws in blinding flashes of forked lightning, which crack the red-hot sky and show just the sort of fireworks she has at her command.
Lightning emerges from lava erupting from the Sakurajima Volcano in the Kaghoshima area of South Japan in this picture taken by German photographer Martin Rietze
Lightning only ever strikes a volcanic eruption during heavy ‘vulcanian’ or ‘plinian’ explosions when the amount of red lava is very low
This awesome display of natural power was captured by German photographer Martin Rietze, who waits patiently for days in remote locations for exactly the right explosive moment.
Scientists can’t quite explain how the phenomenon of volcano lightning occurs. They believe electrically-charged particles of ash disgorged during the eruption somehow react with the atmosphere to create the forks of clear white light.
Mr Rietze, 45, spends his life in the world’s volcano hotspots – travelling from Costa Rica to Italy – to capture the grandeur of an erupting firestorm.
This stunning photo of volcanic lightning striking an erupting crater was taken last month at the Sakurajima volcano near the southern tip of Japan.
Patient MrRietze waited days before finally capturing the lightstorm images on February 25, 2013, at around 4.50am
‘You have very few chances to catch lightning close to an erupting volcano because it involves being very patient and waiting for many days,’ Mr Rietze said.
‘I waited around four days for Sakurajima. Knowing that very few people have ever experienced something so beautiful gives a very special feeling. I will never ever forget those moments surrounded by poisonous gas, feeling the heat of the flowing and bubbling lava and hearing noises louder than a plane taking off. Sometimes your body can feel the shockwaves and the ground is shaking.’
He shrugs off the dangers of being so close to molten lava. ‘It’s great fun, and so unique. I have had fewer mishaps chasing eruptions than when mountain climbing,’ he said.
Volcanoes are an opening or vent in the Earth’s crust. When gas and magma builds up under the surface it eventually erupts above the surface through this gap, spewing rocks, lava and ash
The lava can reach 1,250C and burn everything in its path. These flows are currents of hot gas and rock that reach temperatures of 1,000C and travel up to 500mph
Mr Rietze shot the magnificent photos on a highly sensitive full format DSLR with a shorter (90-200mm) but very bright tele-lens
A volcano is essentially an opening or vent in the Earth’s crust. When gas and magma – the hot fluid under the surface – build up they erupt through this gap, spewing hot rocks, ash and lava reaching 1,200C (2,192F).
But when lightning follows, it is a different type from that seen in thunderstorms. Dr Sue Loughlin, head of volcanology at British Geological Survey, explained volcanic lightning is still a natural mystery.
‘Lightning typically forms as ash particles are charged through friction during eruption and dispersion in the atmosphere,’ she said. ‘Ice particles in the atmosphere are also involved. But scientists are unclear about the exact mechanisms.’
The stunning pictures were captured by a Russian film crew who swooped across in a helicopter and braved roasting hot pyroclastic flows on the ground to create an immersive, interactive panorama.
Plosky Tolbachik is one of four volcanoes, all within 110 miles of each other, that have been active simultaneously on the peninsula in Russia’s far east since late November.
Scroll down to try the incredible panorama for yourself
The volcano is the subject of an incredible 360 degree interactive panorama by Russian group Airpano
The Tolbachik Volcano system, which consists of the active Plosky Tolbachik and it’s extinct sister Ostry Tolbachik, is the largest of the south-western sector of the Klyuchevskaya volcanic group, said Airpano, the group which captured these amazing images..
It was formed about 10,000 years ago, in the Early Holocene, with a caldera at the summit of Plosky Tolbachik about 3km in diameter.
A regional zone of cinder cones north-east and south-west of the volcano resemble the rifts of Hawaiian volcanoes.
The south zone of the Tolbachik system extends about 45-50km down to the Nikolka volcano and is called Tolbachinsky Dol. It is here that the latest fissure eruption began at the end of November.
Shot from a variety of locations around the volcano, the incredible panorama can be zoomed and panned in much the same way as Google Street View.
It was captured in December by Russian non-profit outfit AirPano, a group of photographers and panorama enthusiasts who create high-resolution 3d aerial panoramas.
In a blog post accompanying the incredible panorama, Oleg Gaponyuk told how the team cancelled a trip to Dubai to shoot the Burj skyscraper at the last minute to capture the spectacular light show.
‘The Tolbachik volcano eruption is classified as an unconventional fissure eruption. Fissure eruptions are known for emitting great volume of lava,’ he said.
‘They are also called “touristic” eruptions for relatively low level of danger and photogenic beauty of flowing rivers of lava.
‘Weather permitting, one can fly up close to a volcanic crater or hover right above a lava stream. We knew it all in theory, but in reality we kept our fingers crossed for a good weather.’
The volcano was captured in December by Russian non-profit outfit AirPano, a group of photographers and enthusiasts who create high-resolution 3D aerial panoramas
The team cancelled a trip to Dubai to shoot the Burj skyscraper at the last minute to capture the spectacular light show
Stas Sedov, who was among the Airpano team that braved temperatures fluctuating from -19C to red-hot lava to shoot the volcano, recalled the dramatic scenes that met them as they arrived.
‘The volcano in front of us is covered with clouds and smoke,’ he wrote. ‘We decide to move up the lava flow. Finally there are the first red hot lava streams underneath us!
‘We slow down the helicopter and shoot several spherical panoramas. We are overwhelmed – we finally saw IT!’
He told how the pilot of the helicopter braved strong winds and cloudy conditions to hover right over the hot lava flow.
‘Ascending flows of hot air threw the helicopter side to side like a feather, but Dmitry held it over the spot as if it was tied to an invisible anchor.
‘Every time I looked out of the window with my camera it felt like I was sticking my head into a hot oven. Everyone was perspiring from unbearable heat and concentration.’
The Airpano team flew around the volcano by helicopter as well as shooting it from the ground to put together their incredible panorama
THE VOLCANOES OF KAMCHATKA
Kamchatka is a 780 mile peninsula in the Russian Far East, with an area of about 100,000 sq/miles.
The Kamchatka River and the surrounding central side valley are flanked by large volcanic belts containing around 160 volcanoes, 29 of them still active.
The peninsula has a high density of volcanoes and associated volcanic phenomena, with 19 active volcanoes being included in the six UNESCO World Heritage List sites in the Volcanoes of Kamchatka group, most of them on the Kamchatka Peninsula.
The highest volcano is Klyuchevskaya Sopka (15,584 ft), the largest active volcano in the Northern Hemisphere.
The most striking is Kronotsky, whose perfect cone was said by celebrated volcanologists Robert and Barbara Decker to be a prime candidate for the world’s most beautiful volcano.
Somewhat more accessible are the three volcanoes visible from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky: Koryaksky, Avachinsky, and Kozelsky.
In the centre of Kamchatka is Eurasia’s world famous Geyser Valley which was partly destroyed by a massive mudslide in June 2007.
This map shows the location of the Tolbachik volcano on the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East
That volcanoes erupt in Kamchatka is hardly news – it boasts 29 active volcanoes – but for four to be active at any one time is the vulcanological equivalent of winning the lottery.
The peninsula, which has a landmass slightly larger than Germany, is one of the most active parts of the ‘Ring of Fire’ zone of volcanic and seismic activity that encircles the Pacific.
It is the meeting point of three tectonic plates – the North American Plate, the Okhotsk Plate and the Pacific Plate – where they all collide causing massive