20 March, 2009


I usually don't filch from PZ (most of you have already dropped by Pharyngula, right? Yes? If not, why not?), but unterseevulkan!

I couldn't decide which picture I liked best, so I'm snagging both. Plenty more where these came from!

I love the locals' reaction:
"This is not unusual for this area and we expect this to happen here at any time," said Keleti Mafi, Tonga's geological service head.
Interesting perspective, that.

This brings back memories of the first submarine volcano I ever got introduced to.

Until I read about Surtsey, I'd never thought of volcanoes as things that could pop up from under the ocean. All I knew about them was that they were big and sometimes erupted, but I'd never thought of them being born - it seemed more like they were always there. Just like islands. At that tender age, I hadn't yet realized that islands and volcanoes both could appear overnight.

But they do, as the good people of Iceland and Tonga can tell you. So can Mexican farmers, for that matter:

Parícutin began as a wee little fissure in a cornfield, noticeable only because when you're plowing a field, you don't expect to get nipped by steam, ash and cinders. Within a few hours, the farmers had a mountain; in a few weeks, the volcano had eaten not only the corn field but a couple of villages for dessert. The photo above is baby's first lava flow, at age five days. Amazing how you can go from corn to cinder cone so quickly, eh? It certainly made me watch the ground beneath my feet a little more closely as a child.

Justlikethat, the world changes. I think that's one of the things I love so much about volcanoes. As long as I'm not standing atop them when dey go boom, I'm thrilled watching them build new lands.

(For those who might be wondering about the title of this post, I don't really know what the Germans call submarine volcanoes. This one just put me in mind of Ray Bradbury's story "Unterseeboot Doktor." And yes, that's what the U in U-boat stands for: unterseeboot. So why not unterseevulkan, eh?)


Cujo359 said...

To take inspiration from '60s rock: Unterseeearschplittenloudenboomer

Silver Fox said...

I first read about Parícutin when I was a small child, and was quite jealous -- I always wanted to have a volcano like it erupt in *my* backyard, but fortunately (we had a fairly small backyard, not a cornfield) that never happened.