Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Glaciers shrinking faster

The BBC reports on new data available from the World Glacier Monitoring Service (http://www.wgms.ch/) which suggest that the rate of glacier shrinking due to global warming is now three times as fast as it was in the 1980's. The photo (from O. Gruber, H. Rentsch and M. Siebers from the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities) was taken in 1968 at Vernagtferner in Austria. Photos taken at the same location in 1912 and 2003 are shown in the BBC News item and demonstrate the huge shrinkage that has occurred over the last century. During 2005 alone, the glacier was reduced in thickness by more than 0.5m.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Indonesian mud volcano continues to erupt

Remember the unstoppable 'mud volcano' in East Java (see posting on 5th October 2006)? A new report into the disaster has been produced by a consortium of Durham, Cardiff and Aberdeen Universities and GeoPressure Technology Ltd, headed by Professor Richard Davies of Durham University’s Centre for Research into Earth Energy Systems (CeREES). They conclude that the flow is almost certainly the result of drilling. When drilling, boreholes are usually protected by steel casing to prevent collapse of the walls due to gas or fluid pressure. It appears that casing was not used during this exploratory drilling into an artesian limestone aquifer. The rock walls fractured, allowing a mud-water fluid mixture to rise to the surface. Poor drilling practice is cited as the most likely cause of the 'eruption'. The team have rejected antecedent earthquake activity as being a contributing factor. Having studied satellite imagery of the area, they also predict that ultimately, the central vent will collapse, forming a crater. There is further information and images in the BBC News report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6293757.stm.