Thursday, November 04, 2010

Indonesian Volcano Erupts Again!

Eruptions continue from Mount Merapi in Indonesia blasting ash tens of thousands of feet into the sky killing six more people Thursday as the overall death toll hits 44.  This volcano is one of the world's most active volcanoes in the last 100 years.  In 1994, eruptions killed 60 people; in 1930, more than 1000 people were killed in another violent eruption.  These eruptions contain a mixture of sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and water vapor gas with temperatures near 500 degrees. 

Indonesia and the thousands of islands that make up the south Pacific region and the more than 200 million people that call this home live on the "Ring of Fire".  The area of islands along with the edge of the Pacific that runs through the Asian coastlines, around Alaska and down along the western coast of North America is named as such due to its position on fault lines that separate the continents.  These fault lines are the focal point for major earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

The Pacific Ring of Fire has almost 500 volcanoes.  90% of the world's earthquakes occur in thie region.  The Ring was created over millions of years due to Plate Tectonics--the movement of the continents on rock that is under great pressure and heat at a depth of between 65 and 120 miles beneath the surface.  This heat and pressure allows the rock to become "flexible" just enough for the landmasses around the planet to ride along it at speeds measured in centimeters per year.  The Ring of Fire is the intersection of many of these plates.   Some of these plates move underneath other as is the case in California.

The first volcanic blast from Mount Merapi back on October 26th caused a tsunami impacting the Mentawi islands killing hundreds of people.

Scientists believe that these eruptions may get worse in the days and weeks ahead.

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