Our safety demands that volcanoes and fault lines be monitored
By Mary MacElveen
March 1, 2009
In his response to President Barack Obama’s speech before congress this past Tuesday, Gov. Bobby Jindal stated we are wasting millions monitoring volcanoes. Oddly enough there was a show on during the president’s speech on the History Channel concerning Krakatoa. Somehow, I am still amazed at the timing of Jindal’s response.
Of course, I watched President Obama’s speech and will seek out when the History Channel will re-air that particular program since volcanic activity always fascinates me. Call me an arm-chair volcanologist if you will, but the sheer force of nature is something so awesome for lack of a better word.
According to Wikipedia, Krakatoa's "eruption culminated in a series of massive explosions on August 26–27, 1883, which was among the most violent volcanic events in modern times." I have heard through documentaries, its blast could be heard thousands of miles away. Its dust encircled the planet thereby sending temperatures lower world-wide.
The sheer force its eruption "was equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT—about 13,000 times the yield of the Little Boy bomb (13 to 16 KT) that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II and four times the yield of the Tsar Bomba (50 MT), the largest nuclear device ever detonated."
Now a new one is in need of watching called Anak Krakatau. Anak meaning the child of. It broke water back in August of 1930. According to Wikipedia, "produced lava flows faster than the waves could erode them." Very impressive. Incidentially, there are two ways of spelling Krakatoa.
If we are speaking of monitoring any volcano, please pay attention to this, "The most recent eruption began in April 2008, when hot gases, rocks, and lava were released. Scientists monitoring the volcano have warned people to stay out of a 3 km zone around the island." Now imagine if Jindal pulled the funding to this one particular volcano and no one knew to stay away from it? Suppose it blew its top? Think of the death and devastation.
Have you ever seen on television in any documentary the sheer force of a pyroclastic flow that consists of lava and hot-ash? It truly makes mere mortals like me shake and tremble thinking a force of nature like that can level an entire city taking with it an entire population. If one could go back in time, wouldn’t we like to hear if the citizens of Pompeii would have wanted to be warned of their impending doom? But, their bodies lay there as they did when that eruption happened and remind us all of this force of nature and the frailty of all human-kind.
If you truly want to be shaken to your core and yes pun intended, I would love to point you in the direction of the Canary Islands whose own volcano, Cumbre Vieja is one worth monitoring. If you are a citizen of Florida, you really NEED to pay attention to this, “Computer models show that a future eruption could send dozen waves, each 60 to 75 feet high, crashing onto the Florida at freeway speeds. The waves would spread easily over Florida's flat land, reaching areas perhaps a mile or more inland. Smaller waves would hit coasts far to the north and south of Florida.”
In a past documentary I watched concerning this one lone volcano, if you hear news reports citing that it did erupt and you live on the east coast of these United States, you are to immediately head inland due to the tsunamis created by this eruption. What does create these mega-tsunamis is when the volcano itself erupts, a large land mass on the island it sits on slides into the sea. BOOM!
If we need to pay attention to volcanoes such as Cumbre Vieja, this paragraph his highly significant, "About 10 years ago, Mr. Day began studying the area around Cumbre Vieja. He discovered that a near miss occurred 55 years ago, and set the stage for the current concerns."
The land mass we are speaking of which can be affected by an eruption of this volcano is that of the land mass equal to "Toledo to Columbus. The mass now rests on the mountain, loose and poised to slip into the Atlantic Ocean when shaken by another eruption." In fact according to Mr. Day, this land mass is beginning to separate itself.
We all must remember the huge volcano blast that hit Mount St. Helens: “During its 1980 eruption, Mount St. Helens literally blew its top off, producing what geologists described as the biggest landslide in U. S. history. Mount St. Helens was 9,677 feet high before the eruption. The explosions cut it down to 8,363 feet.”
As you will see, all volcanoes are worth monitoring for the safety of those living around it and yes those clear across the Atlantic Ocean. Should those in the United States be hit by another eruption, our federal response to it will be in the billions of dollars. It is cost affective for we as Americans to have both volcanoes and fault lines monitored on a 24/7 basis. That is what Governor Bobby Jindal just did not understand and this surprises me since one of the largest hurricanes, Katrina hit the shores of Louisiana. I guess tax cuts are more important than the safety of those are in the line of fire when the next volcano blows. KABOOM!
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