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Seismic Data From White Island Eruption Shows Why People Need to Pay Attention

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posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 09:30 AM
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...to volcanic alert levels BEFORE they go on volcanic island tours.

The recent tragedy in New Zealand is an unfortunate reminder of just how darn sneaky volcanoes can be, but it also shows the potential mistakes that scientists can make. And those mistakes can cost lives. Scientists are in the unsavory position of having to be extremely conservative with their warnings and alert levels at volcanoes, especially when those volcanoes are active tourist attractions.

People want to insist on visiting and living near active volcanoes, thinking "this will never happen to me!" Well scientists can only protect you so far, and it is why they are always issuing disclaimers. They will be the first to tell you that eruptions can occur without warning. In this case Geonet had raised the alert level to 2, but as it turned out, in hindsight they should have issued an alert level 3 at the very least, and severely discouraged or even pushed to prevent visitors from going there for a while. And here is why:

I was able to get the raw seismic data from a station there, and it is interesting to see what occurred. In this first pic of a heliplot of the data, things are just moving along as normal:

The spectrograph shows no abnormal activity just three hours or so before a special signal appears.

But then, some 16 hours before the eruption, a tremor signal is received:

Now see this is where the tough call has to be made, and it is unclear what happened at this point. But it proved not to be enough.
The Sun is reporting:
www.thesun.co.uk...

Just last month, authorities raised its Volcanic Alert Level to Level 2, as scientists observed increasing amounts of sulphur dioxide gas – a key indicator of rising magma deep in its bowels.


Because just 16 hours or so later:

Eruption occurs in the middle of another tremor episode.

And people died.

Now imagine if this happened at Rainier. Or worse, at Yellowstone or Long Valley! We can only guess what our scientists might do in a similar situation. But I have faith they won't take any chances in the case of very dangerous volcanoes such as the above mentioned. This incident at White Island just underscores the need to not take any chances with people's lives. And yet, it is a tricky situation. Even with such tremor signals present, volcanic eruptions are still rare. Often there is deformation, increased gas emissions, increased seismicity, and then.... nothing.

And this puts scientists in the difficult position of having to make the call. After it's all said and done, only people themselves can make the choice. They DID have a choice to avoid that volcano for a while after the alert level went up. Unfortunately in this case, they gambled and paid with their lives.

Note there were no earthquakes in this case. Just the presence of volcanic tremor. That's all the warning that volcano gave in 20 hours or so. A scary reminder indeed of the situation that may present itself to both scientists and the public in the future at a much more dangerous volcano.
edit on Mon Dec 9th 2019 by TrueAmerican because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 10:03 AM
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The moral of the story is folks, if a volcano is in any kind of state of unrest, even minor... The worst CAN happen. So stay the heck away!



posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 10:06 AM
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If I had this kind of information available when I was in my early twenties, I would go to one of those places in hopes of seeing an eruption. I am not that interested in seeing a tourist attraction but to see a volcano erupting would have been great when I was younger. Now I am older and I have no interest anymore in seeing a volcano erupt, I would rather go shopping at Menards to get rebate items these days for excitement.



posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 11:22 AM
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a reply to: TrueAmerican

In fairness TA, vulcanologists refused to go this island between 2011 and 2016 and only sporadically since then because it is so dangerous. They have been advising against visiting the island at all for many, many years.

I wonder how clear the Tour Operators made that simple point to any potential visitors?



posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 11:56 AM
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originally posted by: Flavian
a reply to: TrueAmerican

In fairness TA, vulcanologists refused to go this island between 2011 and 2016 and only sporadically since then because it is so dangerous. They have been advising against visiting the island at all for many, many years.

I wonder how clear the Tour Operators made that simple point to any potential visitors?


I hear ya, and I agree, this is mostly people's fault they died, not the scientist's fault. I am about to go on audio to talk about this live on the SpectroNet live feed:
www.youtube.com...



posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 04:18 PM
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I wonder what kind of waiver (if any) volcano tourists sign before embarking on a "tour". I'll never forget that morning in 1980 when Mt. St. Helens erupted. The plume was clearly visible from our house on Queen Anne Hill, like a giant mushroom cloud from an atomic weapon blast. Scientists predicted that St. Helens would erupt, but I don't think they anticipated the magnitude with which it finally did. Even with all the warnings, one guy, Harry R. Truman (and his cats) refused to leave the mountain. He was quite a character:



posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 04:53 PM
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Every time a volcano erupts and pumps huge amounts of smoke into the atmosphere, I can't help think to myself, "Well, all my recycling efforts were just rendered completely pointless." Because I'm a cynic.



posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 05:17 PM
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In hindsight when I first went there back in the 80s, it was not permitted to land on the Island. It was quit treacherous to disembark onto a broken wharf even for the fit and able, I remember saying, if something happened, there's no way to get off this Island in a hurry, and I was with 2 others. Now 40 years later, same broken wharf and it's a tourist destination!
I have a feeling there are going to be many questions raised about safety and responsibility especially to the government.
Beyond the dangers of eruptions, the terrain changes from year to year, there's no telling just how thick the crust is where you walk.



posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 05:58 PM
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You can certainly keep people off an isolated island, but if either Yellowstone or Rainier blew, there would be little chance to escape. Rainier's pyroclastic flows would reach the port of Tacoma at Commencement Bay and clear to the south end of Lake Washington and wipe out Renton. There are tens of thousands of houses and communities built on top of the old lahars there from the last big eruption that blew a couple thousand feet off the mountain last time. A big Yellowstone eruption would entail evacuating several midwestern states. lol! Not gonna happen. St Helens was easy because it is relatively isolated from major population centers. Even then estimates are about 200 dead Nobody actually knows because those people just disappeared.



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 10:40 AM
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Freaked me out when I heard. Our friends live in kiwi land, so we pay attention when things happen there. The odds that they're the anonymous dead Americans are infinitesimal but you still can't help but think about it.



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 11:03 AM
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Well one thing has become clear after researching this more: There was no increase in alert level once the tremor signal was received. The alert level increase to 4 happened once the eruption had taken place. So yes, it jumped from 2 to 4. There was no Level 3 alert until well after the eruption when things had calmed down a bit, and it still remains at Level 3.



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 01:46 PM
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a reply to: TrueAmerican

I still can't believe they did tours there. I've been to a few volcanoes myself but would never dream of visiting the crater of an active strato volcano. Particularly a huge island one where the island top itself is the crater.

ETA:

They've clearly never thought of the likelihood of phreatic explosions in such a location.
edit on 10-12-2019 by Flavian because: Clarity



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 01:51 PM
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originally posted by: seattlerat
I wonder what kind of waiver (if any) volcano tourists sign before embarking on a "tour". I'll never forget that morning in 1980 when Mt. St. Helens erupted. The plume was clearly visible from our house on Queen Anne Hill, like a giant mushroom cloud from an atomic weapon blast. Scientists predicted that St. Helens would erupt, but I don't think they anticipated the magnitude with which it finally did. Even with all the warnings, one guy, Harry R. Truman (and his cats) refused to leave the mountain. He was quite a character:


The island's owner better have some kind of waver. Because if this volcano was so active that even volcanologists wouldn't set foot on the island, then allowing tourists to go there sounds a lot like negligent homicide to me.



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 05:33 PM
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a reply to: AndyFromMichigan

The news reported that 2 of those inured were an American couple on their honeymoon. He has burns over 80% of his body and she needed emergency surgery. They're likely to survive though.



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 09:01 PM
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a reply to: TrueAmerican

Thanks TA for letting us know that there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to nature.

Personally, volcanoes are not something I would temp (having been showered by Mt. Redoubt’s ash back in the early 1990’s). And that was a “first earthquake, then eruptions” type of volcano. And I am nearly 100 miles away (62K). But to walk one that, like a geyser can do what it wants... no thanks.

Sorry for the surviving families.


For those wondering...

PS - The “Do not cross” lines at Yellowstone are there for a reason (the 145 degree acidic water creates ‘bubbles’ in the lime stone so you don’t know what is ‘solid’ ground)

PSS - Each country has their own rules about injuries, death, and indemnity for these kind of events. NZ has received awards for their safety record. I am expecting “tours around the island only” from now on.



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 10:56 PM
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www.youtube.com...

Tremor just increased on the White Island spectro, and I verified that by looking at amplitude in the raw seismic data. Something is building, and there is clearly still a lot of pressure down there. There could be an even bigger eruption.
edit on Tue Dec 10th 2019 by TrueAmerican because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 11 2019 @ 01:41 AM
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a reply to: TrueAmerican

I would love to hear your thoughts on Campi Flegrei.... which has been one of my interests over the years.



posted on Dec, 11 2019 @ 03:26 AM
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This time last week, i was down in Sydney for work. Decided to go on a walk to Darling Harbour and ferry around to Circular Quay. As we came under the Harbour Bridge i saw the Ovation of the Seas preparing to leave the port. I was so excited and rang my daughter telling her the ship we are booked to go on in 7 weeks was in port. Took pics and text them to her.

I got off the ferry and walked around to the Opera House so that i could watch the little tug pull her away from shore. I was talking to a woman i never met before who like me was admiring her size. Having been on a cruise myself before, i took joy in pointing out all the people up top partying to the music and cocktails on their sail away party. I was so excited thinking that will be me in 7 weeks.

We are going to the South Pacific and a week ago after watching her leave i was researching volcano visits for either Vanuatu or New Caledonia.

Now, i just feel sick seeing the news, the families, the absolute tragedy of it all. I can still see the ship pulling away with the sail away party in full swing .



posted on Dec, 11 2019 @ 07:51 AM
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a reply to: ketsuko

Surely survival depends upon the severity of the burns and the exposure. If he is suffering 80% burns the i don't fancy his chances - it would have been from the pyroclastic materials meaning he would have severe internal organ damage. A simple example being his lungs - volcanic ash sets like concrete so if he has inhaled lots (as would expected with front row seats to a volcanic explosion), his lungs will be filled with setting ash and so badly burned all down the oesophagus that they can't really treat it yet.




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