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Posts Tagged ‘volcano’

2048

Photo: Erika Fish/QUT/AAP 
A pumice raft in the southwest Pacific in 2012. It is similar to the one now floating toward Australia. Pumice is a porous rock extruded by volcanoes. It can carry marine life, including coral, across the ocean and can help to replenish reefs.

Sometimes Nature works miracles that can leave a person breathless. So I feel a need to reach into Greek mythology for an explanation of the following.

The Great Barrier Reef suffered an 89% collapse in new coral after bleaching incidents in 2016 and 2017, according to the Guardian. But now from the sea bottom comes a repair kit. A message must have been sent through some mysterious channel to Poseidon, and he responded with roughly 37,000 acres of floating pumice carrying help.

Reports the Guardian, “A giant raft of pumice, which was spotted in the Pacific and is expected to make its way towards Australia, could help the recovery of the Great Barrier Reef from its bleaching episode by restocking millions of tiny marine organisms, including coral.

“The pumice raft, which is about 150 sq km, was produced by an underwater volcano near Tonga. It was first reported by Australian couple Michael Hoult and Larissa Brill, who were sailing a catamaran to Fiji, on 16 August.

” ‘We entered a total rock rubble slick made up of pumice stones from marble to basketball size,’ the couple said in a Facebook post. ‘The waves were knocked back to almost calm and the boat was slowed to 1 knot. The rubble slick went as far as we could see in the moonlight and with our spotlight.’ …

“Since then, the pair have been working with Queensland University of Technology geologist Scott Bryan by providing pictures and samples of the volcanic rock.

“Bryan said the raft will be the temporary home for billions of marine organisms. Marine life including barnacles, corals, crabs, snails and worms will tag along as it travels toward Australia and become a ‘potential mechanism for restocking the Great Barrier Reef. … Based on past pumice raft events we have studied over the last 20 years, it’s going to bring new healthy corals and other reef dwellers to the Great Barrier Reef.’ …

“Pumice forms when frothy molten rock cools rapidly and forms a lightweight bubble-rich rock that can float. The pumice raft comes from an unnamed but only recently discovered underwater volcano that satellite images reveal erupted about 7 August.

“[It] should begin to hit Australian shores in about seven months’ time, passing by New Caledonia, Vanuatu and reefs in the eastern Coral Sea along the way as coral begins to spawn. …

“Bryan said, ‘Each piece of pumice is a rafting vehicle. It’s a home and a vehicle for marine organisms to attach and hitch a ride across the deep ocean to get to Australia.’ ”

More here.

 

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Photos: Ciro Fusco / Pompeii Parco Archeologico
Frescoes in Pompeii’s newly discovered “Enchanted Garden” room. The ashes of Mount Vesuvius left the ancient city remarkably intact after the volcano erupted in 79 AD.

When my younger grandson told me about a volcano in Guadalupe, where Suzanne’s family spent the holiday, he hastened to reassure me that it didn’t erupt. He’s six, and a stickler for fact.

Whether young or old, we are all fascinated by the extraordinary power of volcanoes and the way they change the world very suddenly, sometimes with no warning at all.

The complete destruction of Pompeii by the volcano Vesuvius in Italy is one of the reasons eruptions have such a hold over the collective imagination.

Interestingly, Pompeii continues to yield previously unseen beauty to archaeologists even after all these years.

As Sarah Cascone reported in October at ArtNetNews, “Pompeii is the city that keeps on giving. More than two hundred and fifty years after the ancient Roman town was discovered buried under a heap of volcanic ash, the archeological finds show no sign of abating. Now, archaeologists for the Great Pompei Project have uncovered yet another impressive discovery: an ancient shrine, or lararium, covered in gorgeously preserved frescoes, in a 16-by-12-foot room containing an altar, a garden, and a small pool.

“The Italian media has dubbed the new room, which would have been partially covered by a tile roof, ‘the Enchanted Garden.’ The figures in the paintings include two serpents, a wild boar fighting unidentified creatures against a blood-red backdrop, and a mysterious man with the head of a dog that may have been inspired by the Egyptian god Anubis. In front of a painted peacock, strolling through the plants, there would have been a planted flower bed, extending the illusionistic decorative design into the real world.

“ ‘It is the first time that such complex decoration has been found in a space dedicated to worship inside a house,’ Massimo Osanna, the director of the Parco Archeologico di Pompei, told the Wall Street Journal, praising the find as exceptional.

“ ‘Every house had a lararium of some kind,’ Ingrid Rowland, a professor at the University of Notre Dame and the author of From Pompeii: The Afterlife of a Roman Town, told the New York Times. But ‘only the wealthiest people could have afforded a lararium inside a special chamber with a raised pool and sumptuous decorations.’

“After clearing out the volcanic rock fragments, or lapili, that had buried the room for almost two millennia, archaeologists found an altar decorated with eggs, a symbol of fertility. There are burnt remains, which archaeologists believe may have contained food offerings, such as eggs, figs, or nuts, to fertility deities. The altar is flanked by paintings of the Roman gods of household rituals. …

“New excavations are much more careful than the original explorations of the site, which began in 1748. Without modern technology and techniques to aid their excavations, early archaeologists could be quite destructive. The new discovery helps provide a better understanding of what the early excavations would have looked like when first uncovered. …

“Since 2011, Italy has been carrying out much-needed preservation and restoration work to preserve the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Great Pompeii Project, an initiative aimed at stemming the deterioration of the ancient structures, had an initial budget of €105 million ($140 million). … The discovery of the ‘Enchanted Garden’ represents perhaps the project’s greatest success thus far.”

More here.

In Pompeii, a recently uncovered household shrine, or lararium, features two serpents among its beautifully preserved frescoes.

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Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.
Volcano in Indonesia, Turner sunsets for years.

OK, I made that last part up. But there really is a connection between volcanoes and sunsets half a world away.

Writes Sindya Bhanoo at the NY Times, “Sunsets painted by the great masters are now providing a type of information their creators could never have imagined: important clues about air pollution.

“Polluted skies result in redder sunsets, and artists captured this redness on the canvas, said Andreas Kazantzidis, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Patras in Greece who was involved in the research.

“He and his colleagues analyzed hundreds of high-quality digital photographs of paintings done between 1500 and 2000. The period included more than 50 large volcanic eruptions around the globe.

“In each painting, they looked at the red-to-green ratio along the horizon of each sunset to estimate the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere at the time.

“When the Tambora volcano in Indonesia erupted in 1815, ash and gas spewed into the atmosphere, producing bright red and orange sunsets in Europe for several years. This is evident in the paintings of the British master J. M. W. Turner.” More.

 At the NY Times, an 1829 landscape by J. M. W. Turner that researchers analyzed for its sunset.

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