Dinosaur extinction: ‘Asteroid strike was real culprit’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Dinosaur extinction: ‘Asteroid strike was real culprit’

Media caption Prof Paul Wilson: “The impact event is exactly contemporaneous with the extinction”

Was it the asteroid or colossal volcanism that initiated the demise of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago?

This has been a bit of a “to and fro” argument of late, but now a group of scientists has weighed in with what they claim is the definitive answer.

“It was the asteroid ‘wot dun it’!” Prof Paul Wilson told the BBC.

His team’s analysis of ocean sediments shows that huge volcanoes that erupted in India did not change the climate enough to drive the extinction.

Volcanoes can spew enormous volumes of gases into the atmosphere that can both cool and warm the planet.

And the Deccan Traps, as the volcanic terrain in India is known, certainly had massive scale – hundreds of thousands of cubic km of molten rock were erupted onto the land surface over thousands of years.

But the new research from Southampton University’s Prof Wilson, and colleagues from elsewhere in Europe and the US, indicates there is a mismatch in both the effect and timing of the volcanism’s influence.

The group drilled into the North Atlantic seafloor to retrieve its ancient muds.

“The deep ocean sediments are packed full of these microscopic marine organisms called Foraminifera,” Prof Wilson explained.

“You get about a thousand of them in a teaspoon of sediment. And we can use their shells to figure out the chemistry of the ocean and its temperature, so we can study in great detail the environmental changes that are occurring in the run-up to the extinction event.

“And what we discovered is that the only way in which we can get our (climate) model simulations to match the observed temperature changes is to have the volcanic emissions of harmful gases done and dusted a couple of hundred thousand years before the impact event.

“We find the impact event is exactly contemporaneous with the extinction.”

Investigations of a 200km-wide crater under the Gulf of Mexico suggest it is the scar left by the culprit asteroid.

When it hit the Earth, the city-sized object would immediately have generated tsunami and wide-scale fires – in addition to hurling billions of tonnes of debris in all directions.

But what scientists have also established recently is that the asteroid struck rocks rich in sulphur. When this material was vaporised and ejected into the high atmosphere, it would have led to a rapid and deep cooling of the climate (albeit over a relatively short period), making life a struggle for all sorts of plant and animal life.

As the fossil record shows, the dinosaurs, apart from birds, couldn’t get beyond the stressful environmental changes. In contrast, the mammals could and rose to the prominence they enjoy today.

The new study is published in the journal Science. Its lead author is Dr Pincelli Hull from Yale University.


The impact that changed life on Earth

Drill siteImage copyrightNASA
Image captionToday, the asteroid crater is buried under the Gulf of Mexico
  • Scientists now think a 12km-wide object struck Earth 66 million years ago
  • The crater it produced is about 200km wide and is buried mostly offshore
  • On land, it is covered by limestone, but its rim is traced by an arc of sinkholes
  • Experts drilled into the crater to study its rocks and reconstruct the event
  • They say the impact was more than capable of driving a mass extinction
CenoteImage copyrightMAX ALEXANDER/B612/ASTEROID DAY
Image captionMexico’s famous sinkholes (cenotes) have formed in weakened limestone overlying the crater

New Zealand orders 186,000 square inches of skin from US for volcano victims

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY)

 

New Zealand orders 186,000 square inches of skin from US for volcano victims

USA TODAY

New Zealand has ordered 186,000 square inches of skin grafts from the United States to aid the burn victims from the eruption of a volcano on a popular tourist island.

Twenty-nine victims of the White Island volcano eruption Monday were in intensive care in burns units throughout New Zealand — 22 of whom were in critical condition and require airway support, Dr. Pete Watson, the chief medical officer at Counties Makanau Health of New Zealand, said in a press conference Wednesday.

A majority of the burns, said Dr. John Kenealy, the clinical director of surgery at Counties Makanau, were very severe. Some patients’ burns covered 90 to 95% of their bodies.

“We currently have stock but are urgently sourcing additional supplies to meet the demand for dressing and temporary skin grafts,” Watson said.

One person died overnight, and one Australian patient will be transported and repatriated back to the country “to enable treatment closer to home.” More Australians will follow, Watson said.

New Zealand volcano eruption:At least 6 killed on popular tourist attraction island

Is the cruise line liable?:Royal Caribbean passengers hurt in New Zealand volcano eruption

The severity of the burns and other injuries, Watson said, is “complicated” by the gases and chemicals of the scalding steam from the eruption.

“This has necessitated more rapid surgical treatment of these burns than is the usual case for thermal only burns,” Watson said, noting that treatment for some patients may take months.  Doctors, he said, are working round-the-clock to help victims.

Forty-seven people were on the island at the time of the eruption, some of whom were walking along the rim of the crater. Six deaths have been confirmed; eight others are missing and feared dead, New Zealand authorities said.

More steam and mud erupted from the volcano Wednesday, further delaying recovery efforts for the missing.

Twenty-four of the confirmed visitors on the island were Australian, nine were American, five were New Zealanders and the others were from Germany, Britain, China and Malaysia. Many were passengers on the Ovation of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

The first confirmed death was a New Zealander, Hayden Marshall-Inman, who worked as a guide for tourists around the island.

“This number of burns is unprecedented in New Zealand,” Kenealy said, “and in the rest of the world.”

Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote

‘Unfathomable grief’ as eight still missing at New Zealand volcano

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

‘Unfathomable grief’ as eight still missing at New Zealand volcano

At the time of the volcanic eruption, the island was being visited by a group of more than 30 people from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Ovation of the Seas, which left Sydney on a 12-day voyage last week.

WORLD Updated: Dec 10, 2019 06:48 IST

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Whakatane
The eruption at White Island -- also known as Whakaari -- occurred just after 2:00 pm Monday (0100 GMT), thrusting a thick plume of white ash 3.6 kilometres (12,000 feet) into the sky.
The eruption at White Island — also known as Whakaari — occurred just after 2:00 pm Monday (0100 GMT), thrusting a thick plume of white ash 3.6 kilometres (12,000 feet) into the sky.(@ALLESSANDROKAUFFMANN/via Reuters)

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed “unfathomable grief” Tuesday for tourists caught in a deadly eruption at the White Island volcano, where five people have died and eight more are feared dead.

Ardern held out no hope for the eight people still missing after Monday’s tragedy, saying overnight aerial reconnaissance flights had found no signs of survivors.

“The focus this morning is on recovery and ensuring police can do that safely,” she told a press conference.

Among the missing and injured are tourists from Australia, the United States, Britain, China and Malaysia, as well as New Zealanders who were acting as guides.

“To those who have lost or are missing family and friends, we share in your unfathomable grief and in your sorrow,” Ardern said.

“Your loved ones stood alongside Kiwis who were hosting you here and we grieve with you.”

In addition to the five dead and eight missing, Ardern said 31 people who were on the island during the cataclysm were in hospital with various injuries, including serious burns.

In the hours after the eruption, police had determined the risk was too great for on-land rescues.

Police spokesman Bruce Bird said a helicopter has scoured the area for 45 minutes, checking if anyone was still alive — without success.

Safety concerns have stalled the effort to recover bodies.

“We will only go to the island when it is safe to do so for our people,” said Bird.

A large proportion of the victims are thought to be Australian.

At the time of the eruption, the island was being visited by a group of more than 30 people from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Ovation of the Seas, which left Sydney on a 12-day voyage last week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 24 Australians were among those on the volcano tour.

“We must prepare for some difficult news in the days ahead,” he said.

Britain’s high commissioner in New Zealand said two of its citizens were being treated.

Camera feeds went black

The eruption at White Island — also known as Whakaari — occurred just after 2:00 pm Monday (0100 GMT), thrusting a thick plume of white ash 3.6 kilometres (12,000 feet) into the sky.

The island is about 50 kilometres (30 miles) offshore in the picturesque Bay of Plenty and attracts about 10,000 visitors every year.

Seconds before, live camera feeds showed a group of more than a half dozen people walking on the crater floor. Then the images went black.

The threat level at the volcano had been raised in recent days, and questions are already being raised about whether it was safe for tour groups to visit.

Cruise operator Royal Caribbean had sold a day trip to White Island as an “unforgettable” adventure to New Zealand’s most active volcano, one that took visitors so close to the action they could require gas masks and hard hats.

White Island Tours said it “operates through the varying alert levels” but that “passengers should be aware that there is always a risk of eruptive activity regardless of the alert level.”

Ardern said there were legitimate questions to be asked but they could wait until the emergency response was complete.

“The focus today is on providing critical care for those who have been injured,” she said.

Scientists said there had been increased activity at the volcano over the past week — but nothing to indicate an eruption was imminent.

“The eruption was unfortunate but not completely unexpected,” said Jessica Johnson, a geophysicist at the University of East Anglia.

She said levels of activity “have been relatively high since September, and even more elevated over the last couple of weeks,” with small earthquakes and more volcanic gas detected than usual.

Volcano Eruption On White Island New Zealand: 5 Dead ‘No Sign Of Life’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

New Zealand volcano: ‘No sign of life’ after White Island eruption

Media caption Tourists could be seen waiting to be evacuated from White Island

Reconnaissance flights over New Zealand’s White Island volcano have not identified any survivors there after Monday’s eruption, police say.

About 50 people are thought to have been touring the uninhabited island. At least five died and 23 were rescued, some critically ill with burn injuries.

Police believe anyone who could have been found alive was evacuated.

A naval ship is due to approach the island, which has yet to be searched because of the risks to rescuers.

Tourists were seen walking inside the crater of White Island volcano moments before it erupted.

“Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island,” the latest police update says.

White Island, also called Whakaari, is the country’s most active volcano. Despite that, the privately owned island is a tourist destination with frequent day tours and scenic flights available.

Stills from a live feed show the crater minutes before the eruption
Image captionA group of visitors (circled) could be seen inside the crater before images went dark
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Deputy Police Commissioner John Tims told reporters that “both New Zealand and overseas tourists” were believed to be involved.

What happened at the volcano?

White Island erupted at around 14:11 (01:11 GMT), sending up a thick plume of ash and smoke which was filmed by visitor Michael Schade.

Mr Schade, who was on a boat leaving the island after a morning tour, told the BBC he had been at the crater just 30 minutes before the disaster.

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“We had just got on the boat… then someone pointed it out and we saw it,” he said.

“I was basically just shocked. The boat turned back and we grabbed some people that were waiting on the pier.”

Another witness, Brazilian Allessandro Kauffmann, said in an Instagram post in Portuguese that his boat had left five minutes before the eruption.

“This other tour that arrived right after, unfortunately they did not manage to leave in time, and there were some people that suffered serious burns,” he added.

A live feed from the volcano showed a group of visitors inside the crater before the stream went dark.

Who was caught up in the disaster?

Up to 20 people are believed to have been injured, several of whom were brought by helicopter to Whakatane, the nearest town on the mainland, Reuters news agency reports.

There are few details about those caught in the eruption. Some who had gone to the island were passengers from the Ovation of the Seas, a cruise ship owned by Royal Caribbean.

It left Sydney last week and stopped near Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island before arriving in the city of Tauranga, near White Island, on Sunday.

BBC graphic
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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians had “been caught up in this terrible event”, adding that authorities were “working to determine their wellbeing”.

A web page set up by the New Zealand Red Cross for families to register missing loved ones includes people from Australia, New Zealand, the US, India, Britain and other European countries.

Why are tourists allowed on the island?

The island, also known as Whakaari, is privately owned and is typically visited by thousands of tourists every year, despite the fact that it has been erupting in some form since 2011.

Geological hazard monitors GeoNet pass on information about the volcano’s activity to tour operators and the police, but tourists make their own decisions about whether to visit.

Visitors are supplied with hard hats and gas masks to protect against sulphurous steam and must have suitable footwear to make the tour, according to New Zealand website Stuff.

The owners of Whakatane-based company White Island Tours are the official guardians of the island, which was declared a private scenic reserve in 1952, and they grant access through designated tour operators.

According to the New Zealand Herald, White Island Tours warned on its website that visitors “should be aware that there is always a risk of eruptive activity regardless of the alert level”, while stating it followed a “comprehensive safety plan which determines” its activities on the island “at the various levels”.

Map of White Island
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Company chairman Paul Quinn said the event on the island had been a “terrible tragedy” and the company’s “thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been impacted”.

The BBC has contacted White Island Tours for comment.

Last Tuesday GeoNet warned of a heightened level of activity at the site, but also said that “the current level of activity does not pose a direct hazard to visitors”.

White Island has seen several eruptions over the years, most recently in 2016 but no-one was hurt in that event.

BBC graphic
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White Island volcano eruption: One dead, others missing in New Zealand

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

White Island volcano eruption: One dead, others missing in New Zealand

A photo from the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences showing the eruption Monday.

(CNN)At least one person has died and an unknown number are missing after a volcano on New Zealand’s popular White Island tourist destination erupted Monday.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, New Zealand National Operation Commander Deputy Commissioner John Tims said the fatality was a person who had already been evacuated from the island.
Tims said that there could be more than 20 people still on the island who had not been heard from since the eruption.
“At this stage it is too dangerous for police and rescue services to go on to the island… the island is currently covered in ash and volcanic material,” he said.
Tims said in a statement that fewer than 50 people were believed to have been on the island at the time of the eruption and about 23 had already been evacuated.
“Emergency services are working to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including rescue staff,” the police statement said.
About 20 tourists from the nearby cruise ship Ovation of the Seas were on White Island at the time of the eruption, New Zealand Cruise Association chief executive officer Kevin O’Sullivan told CNN.
“Our hope is that everyone will be recovered quickly and unharmed,” he said. The Ovation of The Seas is one of the largest cruise vessels in the world, according to operators Royal Caribbean.
Images of a crater on the island from cameras run by the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences appear to show a group of people inside the smoking center just minutes before the eruption.
Speaking at an earlier press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was too early to say how bad the injuries were but added it was her understanding that a number of those affected were tourists.
Speaking to CNN-affiliate Radio New Zealand, St. John Ambulance said that up to 20 people are believed to have been injured in the eruption, adding that a mobile triage unit was on its way.
Tourist Michael Schade and his family had been on the volcano just 20 minutes before it erupted. They were waiting on a boat, about to leave, when the eruption occurred.
Schade took videos of the ride leaving the island, showing giant plumes of thick black smoke as the boat quickly departed.
“Boat ride home … was indescribable,” Schade wrote on Twitter. “Those are some of the people (our) boat picked up. Praying for them and their recovery. Woman my mom tended to was in critical condition but seemed strong by the end.”
Photos from New Zealand’s official geological hazard information site Geonet showed a huge plume of white smoke rising above the island on Monday afternoon, local time.
“Whakaari/White Island is erupting. More information soon,” announced GeoNet in a notice on their official Twitter.
Injured from White Island volcanic eruption are ferried into waiting ambulances in Whakatane, New Zealand, Monday.

Most active cone volcano

The White Island or Whakaari volcano is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano according to the GeoNet website. It has been built up by more than 150,000 years of volcanic activity.
A cone volcano is the most immediately recognizable mountain-shaped variety, as opposed to shield volcanoes or calderas which are far more flat in shape.
A volcanic ash advisory was issued at 2:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET Sunday) by MetService, New Zealand’s meteorological service. New Zealand Police called for people in the affected ashfall areas to stay indoors.
The Volcanic Alert Level was raised to 4 shortly after the eruption, and the Aviation Color code is orange, according to GeoNet. Two hours later it was lowered to level 3, due to “diminished” activity in the area of the volcano.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said the eruption occurring at White Island is “hazardous in the immediate vicinity of the volcano” and that the agency is assessing the situation with scientific advisers to determine the severity of the threat.
Whakaari/White Island is dubbed “one of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes” on a White Island Tours website, which offers ocean cruises near the island and a guided tour depending on the status of the varying volcanic alert levels.
According to the GeoNet website, more than 10,000 people visit the island every year.

4 Most Active Volcanoes in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

4 Most Active Volcanoes in the World

There are approximately 1,500 active volcanoes around the world today. When volcanoes erupt, they can cause immense damage, destroying towns, forcing massive relocation’s, and even grounding planes. While some volcanoes lie dormant for decades, others are more active. Here are four of the world’s most active volcanoes.

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Stromboli, Italy

Stromboli, Italy

Credit: AZ68/iStock

Located in the south of Italy among the Aeolian Islands, Stromboli is one of the most popular volcanoes for tourists to visit. Beautiful beaches and incredible vegetation surround it. Stromboli has been erupting almost non-stop since the 1930s and was fairly active for 2,000 years before that. Its fiery eruptions mean that it glows for miles in the night, which has led it to be nicknamed “the lighthouse of the Mediterranean.” Stromboli’s eruptions are generally small but frequent, with streams of lava spewing from its summit approximately every 20 minutes. This style of eruption is so distinct to Stromboli that scientists refer to any other volcano with small, frequent eruptions as “Strombolian.”

Stromboli is also unique in that ancient records all indicate that it has been active for as long as people have been able to keep track of it — this volcano has never lied dormant. Fortunately, it rarely erupts in any sort of catastrophic explosion. Only three times in the past 100 years has Stromboli caused human fatalities or property damage: once in 1919, once in 1930, and, most recently, in 2003. Otherwise, this volcano is relatively safe despite its steady stream of activity.

Of course, as with any natural phenomena like this, Stromboli does still pose a risk. One of its most significant hazards is the Sciara del Fuoco, or Stream of Fire — this large scar stretches along the northwest edge of the volcano. If it collapses, it could cause tsunamis and dangerous clouds of volcanic material to erupt into the air.

Piton de la Fournaise, France

Piton de la Fournaise, France

Credit: Avanius/Shutterstock

Piton de la Fournaise is located on France’s island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean. It erupts approximately once every nine months. Although it is in a state of nearly constant eruption, these eruptions are generally small and harmless. Piton de la Fournaise’s activity tends to consist of one explosion of lava, followed by a slow, steady lava stream down the mountain. While this could pose significant problems in populated areas, the lands around this volcano are mostly uninhabited due to its constant activity. This means that the eruptions cause little to no damage when they do occur.

Scientists closely monitor Piton de la Fournaise in the Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Observatory. These scientists can predict eruptions several weeks before they happen, which gives them plenty of time to warn hikers, close the paths, and provide emergency instructions to anyone staying nearby. When no eruptions are expected, the volcano is open for people to hike and sightsee, and plenty of tourists visit — The La Réunion islands are a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This volcano has only had two catastrophic eruptions in the past 50 years. The first occurred in 1977 when an unusually strong lava flow made it to a populated area and caused severe damage to the village of Piton Sainte-Rose. The second was 30 years later, in 2007 — a considerable eruption released dangerous clouds of sulfur and sent a strong stream of lava down the mountain, destroying the island’s main road.

Mount Etna, Italy

Mount Etna, Italy

Credit: SalvoV/iStock

The second most active volcano on earth, Mount Etna is in the south of Italy, near Sicily. Locally known as “Mongibello,” or “Beautiful Mountain,” this enormous volcano currently stands over 10,000 feet high, although this is subject to change — its frequent eruptions often cause Mount Etna to grow as lava solidifies along the top of the mountain. This volcano is the tallest in Italy.

Although Mount Etna’s eruptions rarely cause any damage, disruptions do still happen. In July of 2019, a particularly ashy eruption forced authorities to close two airports in Catania, Sicily. One flight had to be diverted, and several more could not take off. There was also once an attempt to divert a flow of lava that was threatening Catania. This attempt, which occurred in 1992, was called “Operation Volcano Buster.” It involved United States Marines working with the Italian government to take explosives and blast a large hole on the side of the volcano. They then dropped concrete into the hole in an attempt to slow down the lava. Unfortunately, they were ultimately unsuccessful.

However, Mount Etna is mostly harmless and is even good for Sicily’s economy. The fertile soil it creates ensures that residents do very well agriculturally. The volcano also brings in quite a bit of money from tourism, as visitors to the island flock to see it.

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Mount Kilauea, United States

Mount Kilauea, United States

Credit: Ishigaki Taira/Shutterstock

Mount Kilauea is currently the most active volcano in the world. It is on the island of Hawai’i, also known as The Big Island — the southernmost Hawaiian island. This unique volcano is in the middle of the longest eruption ever recorded, which began back in 1983. This eruption has produced lava covering over 100 square miles of land and has expanded the coastline of the island.

Mount Kilauea is so active that it has become part of Hawaii’s traditional Polynesian legends. According to these legends, Mount Kilauea is home to the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, Pele. Pele is both a destroyer and a creator — while the eruptions cause damage, the solidified lava creates new land and fertilizes the existing soil.

Kilauea is a UNESCO World Heritage property, part of a national park, and can be visited by tourists. Although sections of the park are closed due to recent eruptions, visitors can stop at the Kilauea Visitor Center to see what’s open, learn about hiking routes, and sign up for activities. But make sure you don’t take any lava rocks with you; this is considered disrespectful to Pele, and locals strongly discourage it.

3 Volcanoes You Can Hike

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Volcanoes You Can Hike

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to reach the summit of a volcano on foot and stare down into its crater? Achieving this entry on your bucket list is surprisingly a lot easier than you might imagine. And your reward for completing the adventure is unrivaled views, spectacular sunsets and a true edge-of-the-world sensation. Here’s three volcanoes that you can hike in a day.

Atitlán Volcano, Guatemala

Credit: Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock.com

Soaring to a height of 11,598 feet, the Atitlán Volcano is the tallest point of a chain of volcanoes that tower over Lake Atitlán. This dormant stratovolcano has erupted over a dozen times since 1469, with the last activity recorded in 1853. Guided hikes depart from the lakeside town of San Lucas Tolimán and you can opt to return the same day or camp overnight. Gear up to hike amid coffee plantations, corn fields, a cloud forest, and craggy, arid landscapes. At the summit you can warm your hands over thermal steam and then sit and admire the views. Gaze over the rolling Guatemalan Highlands and down to Lake Atitlán. Spot the peaks of San Pedro Volcano and Tolimán Volcano. Keep an eye open for azure-rumped tanager and horned guan, among other rare bird species.

The best time to hike Atitlán Volcano is during the dry season between November and May.

Find more information about hiking Atitlán Volcano.

Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland

Credit: Peter Wemmert/Shutterstock.com

Eyjafjallajökull gained notoriety in 2010 when its eruption sent volcanic ash flying across North Europe and brought air travel to a standstill. Things have since calmed down at this 5,417-feet-tall ice-capped stratovolcano and it is among Iceland’s most popular summer hikes. So strap on your hiking boots and prepare to witness an authentic snapshot of Iceland’s dramatic countryside. The 8-hour trek takes you up mountainsides, along streams and to the top of glaciers. You’ll traipse through snow and ash before arriving at the about 2-mile-diameter crater. Views take in the Mýrdalsjökull and Tindfjallajökull glaciers and the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. On your return, rest up in the Seljavallalaug outdoor swimming pool.

The best time to hike Eyjafjallajökull is from March to September. Outside of these months temperatures can become dangerously low.

Find more information about hiking Eyjafjallajökull.

Mount Ngauruhoe, New Zealand

Credit: travellight/Shutterstock

Made famous as Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings, Mount Ngauruhoe stands at the heart of Tongariro National Park on the North Island. This 7,516-feet-tall behemoth is an active stratovolcano, although the last registered eruption was in 1977. A 90-minute hike brings you to the base of the volcano and the first section is suitable for all ages. After this is a challenging section up a 45-degree incline, over rocky terrain and across ice caps and lava flows. At the summit, you can walk around the outer rim of the crater and enjoy unsurpassed views of Mount Ruapehu and Mount Tongariro. The first section is part of the 12-mile-long Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which passes lakes, springs and volcanic craters.

Mount Ngauruhoe and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing are accessible year-round but you should prepare for snow and sub-zero temperatures at all times.

Find more information about hiking Mount Ngauruhoe.

10 Things You Never Knew About the Pacific Ocean

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Things You Never Knew About the Pacific Ocean

As a source of oxygen and food, a means of climate regulation and transportation, and the supporter of one of the world’s biggest economies, it’s safe to say that oceans are our livelihood. With all the oceans do for us, it may be surprising to learn that humans have only discovered about 5% of what lies beneath. With so much left uncovered, it’s clear there’s a lot more to explore.

While we wait for the remaining 95% of the oceans to be discovered, let’s delve deeper into the biggest and baddest of them all — the Pacific Ocean. Here are 10 things you might not know about the Pacific Ocean.

It’s the Biggest Ocean in the World

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We just said that, but it deserves to be stated again for the record. The Pacific Ocean spans from California to China, covering an incredible 60 million square miles. Let’s put that size into perspective; if you accumulated all the world’s landmasses together, the Pacific Ocean would still be bigger.

It’s Also the Deepest Ocean in the World

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Just as impressive as its size is the Pacific Ocean’s depth. The deepest point was found in 2010 in the Mariana Trench, an impossibly deep channel that bottoms out at just over 36,070 feet (roughly 7 miles deep). And just to put that into perspective, Mount Everest could be placed in the trench and still be covered by about a mile of water.

It Was Named for Its Pleasant Demeanor

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Despite its vast size and depth, the Pacific Ocean is also known, at times, for its peaceful waters. In fact, it was these characteristics that inspired Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to name the ocean“Pacific” — meaning “calm” or “peaceful” — as he sailed through a serene patch of water in 1520.

It’s a Force of Nature

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With its sprawling size and warm waters, the Pacific Ocean is the breeding ground for some of the strongest hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons our planet has ever seen. Not only that, the Pacific Basin (aka The Ring of Fire) is a hub of seismic activity. The majority of earthquakes and volcanic activity take place along these tectonic plates.

It’s the Home of the Blob

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Global warming is a growing problem, but do you know specifically how climate change has hurt our greatest ocean? There are many telltale signs, but perhaps the most shocking was the Blob, a mass of warm water that had harmful effects on the Pacific between 2014 to 2016. Residing in the Pacific Northwest, the Blob claimed responsibility for the death of hundreds of sea creatures. Many fear the Blob is a sign of what’s to come if humans don’t do their part to combat climate change.

It’s an Island Paradise

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The Pacific Ocean encompasses roughly 25,000 islands, most of which are south of the equator. That’s more than all the other islands in all the other bodies of water in the world combined. That’s good news for all you traveling beach bums out there — it means there’s no shortage of tropical destinations to choose from!

It’s a Goldmine and a Dumping Ground

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The Pacific Ocean houses both treasure and tragedy. Australia, Japan, Panama, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea all harvest pearls from the Pacific. On the contrary, the largest man-made dump in the world — dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — also exists in the Pacific Ocean. Located halfway between California and Hawaii, this pile of rubbish is twice the size of Texas and is mostly made up of microplastics and old fishing gear.

It Keeps Ancient Secrets

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Exploring underwater cities may seem like something better suited for a science fiction movie. However, there have been some real-life discoveries of past civilizations that now lie beneath the surface of our oceans. The most intriguing of these sites is in the Pacific Ocean. The underwater pyramids of Yonaguni Jima have scholars baffled and divers totally awe-struck. Some believe the ruins were once part of Mu,the legendary lost continent swallowed by the Pacific Ocean thousands of years ago.

It’s a Satellite Cemetery

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Point Nemo is widely acknowledged as the most remote place on earth. Located smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and 1,450 nautical miles from any landmass, many nations deorbit their satellites and old spacecrafts over this point. The space junk plummets into a watery grave, never to be seen or heard from again.

It’s Shrinking

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As big, beautiful and mighty as it is, the Pacific Ocean is actually shrinking. As North America moves away from Europe, the size of the Atlantic Ocean slowly increases while the size of the Pacific decreases. The change is small — the Pacific Ocean loses approximately one inch per year.

Italy volcano: Etna and Stromboli burst into life

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS NEWS)

 

Italy volcano: Etna and Stromboli burst into life as double eruption strikes Sicily

MOUNT Etna in Sicily has burst into life, releasing huge plumes of volcano ash into the sky – while erupting Stromboli caused lava flows and fires to break out.

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Explosive activity increased at Etna’s New Southeast Crater (NSEC). Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily’s second-largest city, has one of the world’s longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BCE. The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) said their surveillance cameras showed increased gas emissions from the base of the southern flank of NSEC, indicating that a new fissure has opened at the crater. It created ash emissions, explosions and lava flows.

The volcanic ash cloud reached 4.5 km (15 000 feet) above sea level.

Meanwhile on Saturday, the nearby Mount Stromboli volcano’s activity intensified.

The Stromboli volcano also caused fires to break out in nearby Punta Lena.

Etna's volcanic activity increased on Saturday, sending plumes of ash into the sky

Etna’s volcanic activity increased on Saturday, sending plumes of ash into the sky (Image: GETTY)

Fires affected an area of around 100m and despite the continuous work of fire crews, it is still active.

The area is uninhabited and there is no danger for islanders and tourists.

Stromboli is continuously monitored by INGV and Italy’s Civil Protection agency.

The Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) Twitter account posted images showing lava flow in the southern part of Stromboli island

The tweet read: “#Sentinel2 has captured the lava flow along the Sciaria del Fuoco, but also the last hot spots from the fires that have affected the southern part of the island in the past few days.”

July has seen a succession of activity on two of Sicily’s three active volcanoes.

Imaging shows lava flows on Stromboli isand

Imaging shows lava flows on Stromboli island (Image: TWITTER/@CopernicusEMS)

Stromboli also increased its activitycaused fires to break out in nearby Punta Lena

Stromboli also increased its activity and caused fires to break out in nearby Punta Lena (Image: GETTY)

On July 21, a heavy emission of ash emanating from Etna into the sky forced the closure of two airports in Catania.

Mount Stromboli has been in almost continuous eruption for the past 2,000 years.

On July 3 of this year, two major explosions occurred, alongside 20 additional minor explosive events.

A hiker near the volcano’s summit was killed after being struck by flying debris as the eruption began.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

China: Indonesia issues flight alert after W. Java volcano eruption

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

Indonesia issues flight alert after W. Java volcano eruption

Xinhua

Indonesian authorities issued a flight alert notice following eruption of Tangkuban Perahu volcano in West Java province on Friday afternoon.

The orange Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation alert issued by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s Geological Agency indicates that volcanic ash particles are still lingering 1,000 feet above the volcano crater.

“This level (of situation) may risk the flights. The VONA alert also shows that volcanic ash clouds are heading to south and northeast directions,” Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency of BNPB Spokesman Agus Wibowo said in a statement.

Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center continues evaluating impacts of eruption in the volcano whose alert is still set at normal grade of Level I at present, Agus said.

PVMBG said that rain of volcanic ashes has affected one to two kilometers of areas around the volcano’s craters.

Administrator of West Bandung regency, that hosts the volcano, has closed down the province’s popular destination for safety reason at present.

Located 161 kilometers southeast from Jakarta, Tangkuban Perahu volcano that stands 2,284 meters above sea level, is a popular destinations for foreign and domestic tourists.

The eruption that occurred at 15:48 Jakarta time has prompted local authorities to evacuate tourists from the volcano craters. The eruption spewed grayish volcanic ashes 200-meter high into the air.

PVMBG said low intensity of ground tremors were also felt during the eruption that lasted in 5 minutes and 30 seconds.