Thu, Apr 23, 2009
Face off: Chaiten, Chile, 2008
Photo by Carlos Gutierrez via BLDGBLOG
These opening images depict the eruption of Chile’s Chaiten volcano, which last year unexpectedly began to vent its volcanic fury for the first time in over nine thousand years. With volcanic lightning getting in on the act, from a purely photographic point of view it was worth the wait. The awesome power of charged electricity violently grabbing hold of and coursing through the plume of volcanic smoke and ash leaves one breathless.
Charged atmosphere: Chaiten again
Photo by Carlos Gutierrez via BLDGBLOG
However, there was a more ominous side to this geologically explosive incident, likewise brilliantly captured by these apocalyptic looking shots. Once it had escaped the grip of the lightning, Chaiten’s eruption column rose to an estimated height of over 98,000 feet (30,000 m), prompting the evacuation of its nearby village and surrounding areas, and sending out dense ash clouds that contaminated water supplies and coated one town 30 cm deep.
Clash of the Titans: Rinjani, Indonesia, 1995
Photo: Oliver Spalt
But let’s concentrate on the volcanic lightning itself, shown here in the form of a bolt looking to lock horns with lava issuing from Mount Rinjani in Indonesia. When volcanic gasses and materials are thrust high into the air, lightning can be triggered inside the ash clouds. Yet despite the fact that such electrical activity frequently accompanies large eruptions, and have done so at least 150 times in the past two centuries, these spectacular natural light shows are not clearly understood.
Fingers on triggers: Redoubt, Alaska, 2009
Photo: Bretwood Higman via National Geographic
For years geologists talked about dry volcanic dust particles colliding with one another and building up enough static charge to cause sparks in an attempt to explain volcanic lighting. However, a new theory focuses on the surprising water content of magma and volcanic debris, which would make this rogue phenomenon more like a typical thunderstorm. Before the recent eruption of Alaska’s Mount Redoubt – pictured above with fingers of lightning clutching at an ash cloud – scientists daringly set up mapping gear to try and see how lightning is born and spreads through the volcanic plumes.
Thrust into the melee: Galungung, Indonesia, 1982
Curiously, some volcanoes with large plumes generate little or no lightning, while those whose clouds are smaller produce a lot more. This suggests that while all volcanoes have electric potential, lightning only occurs when there is high resistance to the volcanic current in the air. Size isn’t everything – and yet a large show of volcanic and electrical force can be a warning to expect a pretty major event. The massive 1982 eruption of Indonesia’s Galunggung – shown in the incredible shot above beset by lightning strikes – resulted in 68 deaths, and its ash column forced two Boeing 747s to make emergency landings.
Seeing red: Sakurajima, 1991
Photo: Sakurajima Volcananological Observatory via thunderbolts.info
The branching of lightning in this image of Sakurajima volcano in Japan is just one example of the types of lightning known to take place over volcanoes. According to one source: “The 1981 eruption of Mt St Helens featured a spectacular display of sheet lightning, with truck-sized balls of St Elmo’s fire seen rolling along the ground 29 miles north of the mountain.” Volcanic lightning surely is one of nature’s most powerful and awe-inspiring pyrotechnic exhibitions, yet mystery still shrouds its origins.
Labels: volcanoes -lightning
Mon, Dec 29, 2008
Images by Jeremy Olden
It looks as if Jack Frost is getting brave. This icicle hanging from a house in Lake Stevens, Washington bares an uncanny resemblance to a face, could it be the infamous ice sprite’s calling card?
The eyes, nose and lips are clearly defined in this frozen spectacle, but who says if Master Frost was to appear to us that he would be in human form? After all, he is meant to be an elf or pixie of some sort.
Hailing from Viking folklore, Jack Frost is thought to be the anglified version of Jokul Frosti, meaning ‘icicle frost’. The mythical creature dances at night decorating the land with intricate ice patterns and icicles, some of which we featured recently in 10 Abstract Masterpieces of Frost.
Labels: jack frost
Labels: earth's mighty cliff faces
Thu, Oct 9, 2008
Image: Herman Erberr
We’re used to seeing stunning images of cascading waterfalls in all their fluid glory, but have you ever wondered how they would look if Jack Frost was let loose on them? Well, you need wait no longer as we have compiled a range of fantastic frozen waterfalls.
1. This enchanting image of an ice waterfall perfectly captures the force and flow of the water underneath the ice, making it hard to comprehend how it ever manages to freeze.
2. Ice climbers flock to The Fang in Vail, Colorado. The enormous ice pillar forms from the cascading waterfall only on exceptionally cold winters, and when it does the column can measure up to 50 meters high and has been known to have a base measuring 8 meters wide.
3. If you think climbing an ice waterfall is scary, imagine the fear factor when part of the cascade breaks off and collapses to the ground mere meters from you and your buddy. That’s exactly what happened climbers Albert Leichtfried and Markus Bendler on their ascent of a frozen waterfall near Hokkaido, Japan. Their friend managed to capture the frightening moment on camera. Both climbers made it to safety soon after.
Image: Herman Erberr
4. Thick layers of ice sit on St Louis Falls in Beauharnois, Quebec. The area is home to one of the largest hydroelectric generating stations in the world.
Image: Eric Begin
5. This fantastic shot shows the waterfall freezing from outside in; there’s still a considerable waterfall flowing within the ice lume.
8. The folds at the bottom of this waterfall demonstrate how slowly waterfalls can freeze, and are in stark contrast to the jagged, spiky icicles hanging from the edge of the rock.
9. This great image was taken in Canyon near a place called Temple of Mother Earth on the West Fork Trail, Sedona, Arizona.
Image: Eileen Nauman
10. A simply fabulous shot from the bottom of the ice waterfall looking up. Just look how the ice has built up from the spray on surrounding twigs. That’s what you call natural beauty.
Image: Stefan Gara
May 2006 June 2006 September 2006 October 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 May 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 March 2008 April 2008 July 2008 August 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 February 2009 March 2009 May 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]