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Wave Of Eruptions Along Pacific 'Ring Of Fire' Leave 10,000s Displaced

basil_hallwardOct 14, 2017, 6:06:11 PM

Earlier in the week, under the title Yellowstone Rumbles, La Palma Grumbles, I reported on the unusual amount of volcanic activity in the world at the moment. Although my report did not mention it there were a number of eruptions in progress elsewhere. As my son grabbed that headline to use as the title for a song about the unselessness of our ineffectual scientists efforts to control the power of nature, I thought another song title was appropriate to extend that info on volcanic activity.

According to seismologists, the 450 or so volcanoes that make up the Pacific "Ring Of Fire"  have been unusually active this year, with eruptions leading to the evacuation of thousands of people on the Indonesian island of Bali and on the tiny island nation of Vanuatu.

Parts of southwestern Japan have also been affected by a series of earthquakes, causing displacement of much of the local population, in an area where the massive Pacific Plate grinds against other tectonic plates, creating a 25,000-mile zone where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are unusually common.

The Ring Of Fire (image source)

The Shinmoedake volcano in southwestern Japan started erupting on Wednesday of this week for the first time in six years. An ash plume rose 1,700 meters (5,580 feet) from the crater and ash fell on cities and towns in Miyazaki prefecture. Television news station TBS showed people wearing helmets and masks on their way to school and work at the foot of Shinmoedake. The Japan Meteorological Agency warns that hot ash and gas known as pyroclastic flows could reach 2 kilometers (1 mile) from the crater, and ash and volcanic rocks are a risk over a wider area depending on wind and elevation. It raised the volcanic alert level from 2 to 3 on a scale of 5. Level 3 warns people to not approach the volcano.

More than 140,000 people left Mount Agung on the Indonesian resort island of Bali after the risk status was raised to the highest level on Sept. 22. Hundreds of tremors daily from the mountain indicate magma is building up inside it, prompting authorities to warn major eruption is possible in the short term. The volcano spewed lava and deadly clouds of molten rock, hot ash, gas and debris when it last erupted in 1963, killing more than 1,100 people. A new eruption is likely to kill fewer people because officials have imposed a large no-go zone around the crater but it could paralyze tourism, which many Balinese rely on for their livelihoods. Indonesia has more than one tenth of the world’s active volcanoes and another two are currently erupting. Sinabung in northern Sumatra is shooting plumes of ash high into the atmosphere nearly daily, and Dukono in the Maluku island chain is also periodically erupting.


The entire population of a Pacific island had to be evacuated in late September and early October to escape the belching Manaro volcano. The 11,000 residents of Ambae island were moved by a flotilla of small boats to other islands in Vanuatu, a Pacific archipelago nation, where they’re now living in schools, churches and tents. Officials have since downgraded the volcano’s danger level but say the population must wait longer to return as activity is still at high risk levels. The island’s water supply and crops have been affected by volcanic ash and acid rain but most villages were spared major damage. Previous eruptions of the volcano have lasted a month to six weeks.

As if the Ring of Fire wasn’t doing enough to inspire visions of an imminent apocalyptic calamity, scientists are warning that supervolcanos in Italy, The Canary Islands and the US could be headed for eruptions that would register as by far the most destructive in modern human history. Earlier this week, scientists from Arizone Universdity USA presented research showing that when the Yellowstone caldera super volcano last erupted more than 600,000 years ago, it took barely a decade for magma flowing into the volcano’s chamber to reach a critical mass. Volcanos, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes – natural disasters are seemingly happening everywhere at once. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that while the American government, under the influence of military / industrial complex lobbyists, is focusing its energy on foreign enemies like Iran and North Korea, the real threat to safety of the American population lies within a cherished domestic landmark and symbol of national pride.