New at Rosetta Stones: Volcanoes Behaving Badly


No thanks to Comcast, I’ve finally got another volcanolicious post up for you. Learn how the May 18th lateral blast at Mount St. Helens changed some of our perceptions – and a bit about the volcanoes that caused Soviet geologist G.S. Gorshkov to introduce the term “directed blast” into the scientific literature. You’ll also get a sense of why he used the word “Gigantic” in the titles of so many of his scientific papers.

I didn’t mean to read two extra papers, mind you. I’d just got done reading a quartet in USGS Professional Paper 1250, and my brain was definitely weeping. I’m still trying to recover enough to go back and extract notes from those four. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to do up a bit about the other volcanoes that had gone sideways-boom, and intended to glance – merely glance – at Gorshkov’s landmark papers.

Thing is, he’s a charming writer, and his English is idiomatic enough to be great fun while still being completely comprehensible. He loves the word “gigantic.” Considering the eruptions he’s talking about, it’s an excellent word to have chosen, although you don’t often see it in the American geologic literature.

One of my favorite moments comes in his “Gigantic Directed Blast at Shiveluch Volcano (Kamchatka).” He’s describing what he and other geologists found as they explored the devastated area after the catastrophic lateral eruption at Shiveluch, and it’s utterly charming. “We met whole blocks of slightly cemented pumice andesites,” he says. “Ten and more km from the eruption centre we also met enormous blocks of dense ice…” One can almost picture him striding up to those blocks of rock and ice and booming out warm greetings and introductions.

So I read both papers, and enjoyed them immensely, and you’ll be hearing more about them soon, as I think you’ll find them fascinating. In the meantime, though, go enjoy our gigantic interlude.

Comments

  1. rq says

    Lessons learned at great cost.
    Excellent post, as always, and yes, I was very excited to see it up today!
    As for Gorshkov, I suppose when he says ‘really gigantic’, he really means it. But I wonder what it is like, to meet whole blocks of slightly cemented pumice andesites. You’d certainly need a booming voice for that.

  2. Lyle says

    I might say that the term behaving badly implies a human judgement on the behavior of the volcano. The poor volcano is only doing what nature dictates if the cap on the magma is removed, having a big blast. Perhaps a better title is volcanoes have a big sideways blast.