Daily Archives: January 2, 2009

Bird News

Scientists monitoring at Mount Moreland – South Africa’s largest Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica roost – have captured their first overseas ringed bird from a festively snowy location. The young Barn Swallow had flown all the way from Finland – a total of 11,000 km! “This is an amazing Christmas gift”, said Hilary Vickers of the Lake Victoria Conservancy – sponsors of the Mount Moreland ringing programme.

“We were carefully fitting the swallows with rings so we can monitor their movements when we spotted a bird already carrying one”, said Mount Moreland bird-ringer Andrew Pickles. “A magnifying glass provided the words Helsinki – Finland!”

More here.

                            <a href="http://www.physorg.com/news149923404.html">A happy new year for penguins</a>
                            The Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society announced today that its efforts to protect a wildlife-rich coastal region in South America have paid off in the form of a new coastal marine park recently signed into law by the Government of Argentina.

Last month a team of American and Honduran researchers and conservationists travelled to western Honduras to search for Honduran Emerald Amazilia luciae, a Critically Endangered species of hummingbird, endemic to Honduras. The principal cause of its decline is habitat destruction, with approximately 90% of its original habitat lost, and the remaining habitat occurring in isolated patches of arid thorn-forest and scrub of the interior valleys of northern Honduras. Based on specimen data, the species was originally known to occur in four Honduran departments, Cortés and Santa Barbara in western Honduras, and Yoro and Olancho in north-eastern Honduras. Despite efforts to find the species in western Honduras, it had not been reported there since 1935. The team conducted searches in Santa Barbara and Cortés and found six sites inhabited by the Emerald, all in the department of Santa Barbara.

Read more here.

Pirates Captured

A French warship has intercepted two suspected pirate boats in the Gulf of Aden and arrested eight Somalis on board, the French navy says.

International naval patrols are credited with helping deter most recent hijack attempts off Somalia, with only two ships captured last month.

But pirates still managed to hijack a cargo vessel with 28 Egyptian crew members on board on Thursday.


Yellowstone Caldera Resources

With the increased seismic activity in the Yellowstone Caldera, it is likely that there is some increased interest in in the geology of the area. Here are some resources that should be of interest.

First, we have a fairly recent peer reviewed publication on the “Super Volcano” known as Yellowstone, including some discussion of just what a “Super Volcano” is.

The largest scale of volcanic eruptions, the so-called super-eruptions, can
destroy all living beings and infrastructure over tens of thousands of square
kilometres, can disrupt agriculture over millions of square kilometres and can
alter global climate for years or decades. As such, society must endeavour to
create reliable volcano-monitoring systems that can detect the sorts of Earth
processes leading to large-scale explosive volcanism. Although the volcanological
community has had some success in predicting small eruptions, the scarcity of
great eruptions over the past 150 years means that we have little experience
understanding the prelude to major events. This is particularly true at caldera
systems, which are capable of large-scale volcanism and exhibit frequent unrest
but have undergone only small eruptions historically…

The paper has some excellent graphics and the discussion of the geology is quite accessible.

Figure 2. Diagram illustrating seismic-wave-velocity anomalies in the shallow crust beneath Yellowstone as viewed from the southwest (adapted from Husen et al. 2004a). The orange volume outlines the anomaly attributed to partially molten rock extending above the main magma chamber (and beneath the surface expressions of the Sour Creek and Mallard Lake resurgent domes). The red volume is an anomaly with properties suggesting gas-filled fractured rock. The green dots are hypocentres from the 1985 earthquake swarm. The arrows are postulated trends of hydrothermal fluid flow from the magma body to the inferred gas-filled body …

The paper by Lowenstern, Smith and Hill is available here (full citation below)

But wait! Before you download that, you may be more interested in a more recent and more written for the general public piece by Lowenstern and Hurwitz, available here. It’s got even better graphics and is even more accessible.


Schematic cross-section of the crust beneath the Yellowstone Caldera based on Hildreth (1981) and Husen et al.

And when you are done reading these papers, you’ll be the most well informed non-geologist visiting the USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory web site, located here.

And, as I’ve mentioned before, you can check out my earlier post on the caldera and my sister, Caldera Girl’s, newspaper article on the subject.

Continue reading Yellowstone Caldera Resources