This edition of the photo of the approximate week (plus or minus 1 – sorry for my tardiness) is very cool in that it shows when earth processes that are invisible suddenly become very visible. In this case the submarine volcano, El Hierro, is erupting and instead of the usual bursting lava and fireworks display the only evidence of the turmoil going on is this discolouration at the ocean’s surface caused by volcanic ash particles and gases. Despite the submarine location of the volcano it’s activity was by no means hidden as numerous earthquakes indicated that an eruption was imminent.
This week’s photo brings us back to the world of geochemistry. I don’t have much information on this photo beyond that it was taken in Italy. However, if I may speculate a little it looks like these crystals may possibly be volcanic in origin and the fact that it was taken in Italy, which is famous for its volcanic sulphur deposits. I say this because such crystals are often found near active volcanoes and form from the degassing of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gas from vents known as fumaroles. Groundwater dissolves gases and mineral rich in sulphur at high temperatures however, once the water reaches the low pressure atmosphere of the Earth’s surface these gases are released from the water and native sulphur precipitates.
This weeks photo can be described by one word: mesmerizing.
Honestly, it’s hard to tell which part of this photo is better, the beautiful starry sky backdrop or the glow of Kilauea’s smoking crater. Combined, it’s just fantastic.
Kilauea is part of the Hawaiian Island volcanic chain which has been formed as the Pacific plate has moved across at hotspot. The volcano is about 300,000 to 600,000 years old.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all had relaxing and enjoyable holidays. I sure did. It is time to start off the new year with the 17th edition of the photo of the week. Here in Ottawa it is a balmy -19 degC with the wind chill making it feel like -28 degC right now! Happily I am toasty and warm inside…for now. If you’re curious the coldest place in Canada at the moment is Eureka, Nunavut at -40 degC and a windchill of -46 degC!!!
To overcome the inevitable chill you just got reading that last sentence the photo below is of a more balmy place that we can say with certainty was extremely hot at some point due to its volcanic origin. It is not obvious at first glance, but if you look a little closer you can see that the cliff the falls are pouring over is made of columnar basalt. Columnar basalt forms when a thick lava flow cools. As the flow cools, stresses build, and in order to accommodate these stresses cracks form resulting in columns with a polygonal shape. As you can see Milla Milla falls, which are located near Cairns, Queensland, are pouring over a cross section of a lava flow. By the way, the temperature in Cairns tomorrow is 33 degC!!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for lots of a new posts in upcoming weeks!
Cheers and stay toasty my friends!