Category: Antarctica


plaster, Not-Pumice pic 1 - Christchurch ~May 2011

Plaster, not-pumice pic 1 - Christchurch ~May 2011

This autumn/winter in Christchurch there is chatter about the appearance of the above strange substance on Christchurch beaches. Since there have been recent earthquakes below the extinct volcanic crater of Lyttelton Harbour, and new warm spring flows and sulphur smells in the vicinity, people have become concerned that the ancient volcano could be soon to erupt again. With the appearance of large pumice-like chunks of light and porous ‘rock’ on south Pegasus Bay beaches, some are seeing it as more evidence. And so I present today’s documentary case – to the contrary – that Lyttelton ex-volcano is well and truly safe.

Note for a start the moulding line prominent in the piece at left. Other collectors have reported finding samples with this lining effect too – some with a red, plastic-like residue still attached within it. Source: Woodend Beach.

Plaster, not-pumice pic 2 - Christchurch ~May 2011

Plaster, not-pumice pic 2 - Christchurch ~May 2011


The second view shows what looks like residual concrete attached. I expect this is demolished building material that has escaped from the recent earthquake rubble-dump, the poorly-contained infill of Port Lyttelton, and that has been quickly rounded smooth in the surf. These samples are 10 to 15 centimetres in length.

Plaster, not-pumice pic 3 - Christchurch ~May 2011

Plaster, not-pumice pic 3 - Christchurch ~May 2011


The bubble holes in this material appear unnaturally large – indicating it to be manufactured, I would say.

For comparison, here we have a picture of some real pumice found on Spencer Beach, south Pegasus Bay:

Pumice - Christchurch 2009

Pumice - Christchurch 2009

This pumice came from a wind-separated drift accumulation between eroding sand-dunes. I was soon able to ask a fellow ECan councillor at the time, Geography Emeritus Professor Bob Kirk, what this material was. Bob had seen it and been asked the question many times before, because this pumice was spread along our beaches from a volcanic eruption on the other side of the Southern Hemisphere decades ago – probably 1962 – at the South Sandwich Islands.[1] The floated debris keeps turning up, dropped by the moving sands that caught it at the time. These fragments are just a few millimetres long; I don’t know if there are larger pieces about.

So I maintain the case, that we do not have any new deposits of pumice, for any reason. Confirmation by scientific testing of the new material awaits, however. New hotspring flows and sulphur smells are what we would expect from the steady shattering of Banks Peninsula, as this process provides new routes to surface for normal undercone heat and long-trapped chemical deposits.

You may quote me this way: “Geo-historically, you can have the Southern Alps as a long transform fault, or you can have an active volcano nearby – you cannot have both. The tectonic plate collision very long ago that built up the Alps extinguished Banks Peninsula early in the process.” Ref. Pushing New Zealand’s Boundaries GNS.

We may quote GNS Science this way: “about 1,800 years ago.. The Taupo eruption was the most violent eruption in the world in the last 5,000 years; it was a complex series of events. The first phases of the eruption produced a series of five pumice and ash fall deposits over a wide area of the central North Island, especially east of Taupo and beyond Napier into Hawke Bay. The eruption culminated with a large and very energetic pyroclastic flow that devastated an area of about 20,000 km2 and filled all the major river valleys of the central North Island with pumice and ash. These pumice deposits can still be seen today and many of the major rivers in the North Island carry large amounts of this pumice when in flood. Rounded pumice found on the beaches of the North Island have come from this eruption. The Taupo eruption took place from a line of vents near the eastern side of the modern lake.”

[1] Also see: South Sandwich Islands Wikipedia and January 1956 eruption ;
Lava and ice mingle in the South Sandwich Islands “the most horrible coast in the world.. doomed by nature never once to feel the warmth of the Sun’s rays” – Captain James Cook “..the South Sandwich chain features an active submarine vent, Protector Shoal. Just 30 yards below the surface, Protector Shoal erupted in 1962 and created a giant raft of floating pumice, which drifted several thousand miles and reached New Zealand” USGS October 2008 ; Volcanoes At Both Poles Erupting Now January 2006 etc.

Magnitude 6.5 – SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION 2011 March 06 14:32:35 UTC USGS
etc …
Magnitude 5.2 – SOUTH GEORGIA ISLAND REGION 2011 June 24 19:28:56 UTC USGS
Magnitude 5.4 – SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE 2011 June 27 17:02:36 UTC USGS
Magnitude 5.5 – BALLENY ISLANDS REGION 2011 June 27 20:04:16 UTC USGS
Magnitude 5.2 – BALLENY ISLANDS REGION 2011 June 27 20:31:46 UTC USGS
Magnitude 4.9 – BALLENY ISLANDS REGION 2011 June 30 04:21:17 UTC USGS
[… to be continued in new blog post]

The Southern Ocean is teeming with tectonic life, of late. Connecting with greater energy from the north?
Magnitude 5.0 – KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION 2011 June 24 13:18:19 UTC USGS
Magnitude 5.2 – SOUTH OF THE KERMADEC ISLANDS 2011 June 27 13:39:10 UTC USGS
Magnitude 5.5 – OFFSHORE VALPARAISO, CHILE 2011 June 29 05:36:49 UTC

Alaska mag' 7.2 - USGS 250611

Alaska mag' 7.2 - USGS 250611


Kermadec Arc mag' 5.2 - USGS 280611

Kermadec Arc mag' 5.2 - USGS 280611


Balleny Islands mag' 5.4 - USGS 280611

Balleny Islands mag' 5.5 - USGS 280611


southern East Pacific Rise mag' 5.4 - GIM 290611

southern East Pacific Rise mag' 5.4 - GIM 290611


South Sandwich Islands mag' 5.2 - USGS 290611

South Sandwich Islands mag' 5.2 - USGS 290611


Chile mag' 5.5 - GIM 290611

Chile mag' 5.5 - GIM 290611

Volcanic ash and pumice do partly shape New Zealand’s past and future – Chile’s volcano has our airspace shut down yet again this week. …

~ Kia ora

It is very clear that New Zealand geologists have suffered ‘silo effect’ in their misreading of the Christchurch earthquake series. They failed to read a very obvious sequence of earthquakes, from a much larger ground movement process, as a single source and single “main shock” concern initially, and thus proved incapable of preventing loss of life and community confidence when they could have preserved both.

The corporate-influenced scientists’ recent advice has just been proven seriously incorrect. From geonet.org.nz/canterbury-quakes/aftershocks page (“Observed” figures updated to 18 June by me, although GNS Science has revised and deleted this earlier projection since June 13th) asking for accountability:

“1 month forecast, May 19 – Jun 18
Expected range of aftershocks of magnitude 4.0-4.9 | Expected average | Observed to date
1 – 10 | 5 |” 20

“Expected range of aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 and above | Expected average | Observed to date
0 – 2 | <1 |” 4

Note: the new 13June2011 ‘aftershocks’ will continue to inflate these ‘unforeseen’ high results.

But finally we are getting useful advice from GNS, after the above projection and early-June media presentations by them turned out to be so embarrassing.[1] This can be understood one of two ways:

Either GNS geological methodology was seriously flawed (for dealing with central Canterbury’s unique seismic risk), or they knew a lot more than they were telling us previously (in a paternalistic policy of withholding ‘scary’ information, that they have now dropped, perhaps).

– Neither of these reasons are acceptable to the New Zealand public, for keeping us and our visitors safe, in the face of significant natural hazard. EQC has similarly proven woefully unprepared.

– Wake up to Zealandia's Chatham Rise “straight line” great fault awakening: the line-up of the Greendale Fault, through 22 February’s 6.3 and 13 June’s 5.6 and 6.3, straight out towards the Chatham Islands – and probably escalating seismic activity[2] – is looking incontrovertible:

http://quake.crowe.co.nz/QuakeMap/Search/ magnitude 5 and up - Christchurch

http://quake.crowe.co.nz/QuakeMap/Search/ magnitude 5 and up - Christchurch - revised to 6.3, 5.6, 6.3

The finished 13June2011 earthquake location record:

6.3 & 5.6 Sumner earthquakes -  quake.Crowe.co.nz 160611

6.3 & 5.6 Sumner earthquakes - quake.Crowe.co.nz 160611


Further (amateur) analysis detail is here: infohelp.co.nz/quake2

[1] More mis-informative, ‘authoritative’ downplaying of our current geological events, from late May: Big earthquake risk put at 23 per cent “during the next year” and ‘only 6% chance of it being near Christchurch’ ?! [2] (already! – so with the forecast likelihood of an even bigger shock now raised to “30%”, that is even surer) Press 31May11; Quake experts to speak 2Jun11; New faultlines found “Region has a low fault risk in the long term”; Little change to risk of big quake – expert 3Jun11; New faults fail to dull optimism 4Jun11; until:

Monday’s quakes reveal new fault “Another fault several kilometres south of the Port Hills fault is now believed responsible for yesterday’s major aftershocks. GNS Science seismologists said the newly confirmed fault had already generated a number of quakes since the deadly February 22 event. Dr Bill Fry said the dominant energy in Monday’s magnitude 5.7 and 6.3 aftershocks had been horizontal compared with vertical in February’s 6.3 quake. This meant they were felt differently. Unfortunately for Cantabrians, rather than reduce the statistical probability of another big quake, yesterday’s violent shakes will, for a time, increase the risk of another large aftershock of similar magnitude. However, GNS Science hazard modeller Dr Matt Gerstenberger said that elevated level of risk would not last long. It was also important to realise the risk estimates, and any other aftershock forecasts, were only computer models based on average quake sequences and not derived from any physical evidence, he said. Only two weeks ago, Christchurch city councillor Sue Wells released aftershock forecast information given to councillors. The calculations from GNS Science warned of a 23 per cent probability of a quake of magnitude 6.0 to 6.9 hitting the Canterbury aftershock zone within the next 12 months. GNS Science said the risk of an aftershock of that size occurring under or close to Christchurch was much lower – around 6 per cent. Yesterday’s largest earthquakes were located close to the coast and slightly south of the eastern tip of the Port Hills fault, which generated the magnitude-6.3 quake on February 22. Given their similar positions, scientists say the 1pm earthquake is believed to be a foreshock of the second quake..” 14Jun11

Conclusions: New-old fault larger? ~ #kaiapoi #chch having asked Will it be this June? ~ #eqnz re Big One.

Note too how 13June2011’s aftershocks are – unless the seismometers are calibrated differently – more strongly felt towards the Southern Alps:

Canterbury Seismometer Drums - Geonet 130611

Canterbury Seismometer Drums - GeoNet 130611


Combine this with the Murchison, Hanmer, Haast and Milford Sound earthquakes of the past week (mid-to-high 4s) and we must now START WATCHING THE ALPINE FAULT INTENTLY …
Milford Sound 4.8 - GNS 120611

Milford Sound 4.8 - GNS 120611

Zealandia is the ancient and unique Pacific Plate landmass (mostly submerged) that, in stalling the Australian Plate, built up the Southern Alps. It’s massive might has only just started to reveal itself.

Regarding an Alpine ~8.0 earthquake, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Zealandia Continent map Wikipedia; NIWA bathymetry and news.

Believable? – ‘No movement imminent on the Alpine fault soon’ What lies beneath? The Press 18Sep10

Palmer Station Antarctica - 131611

Palmer Station Antarctica - 131611 NZST

But most noteworthy of all today perhaps, the view from the other side of Antarctica, at Palmer Station:

The big disturbance shown is our Christchurch 6.3. Above that and much smaller is the – much nearer to Palmer Station – South Shetlands Islands 4.9 of 0.02am UTC. At top and magnitude ~5+ is… something not recorded anywhere else (on quakes.globalincidentmap.com that is). This must be another Antarctic earthquake, that needs closer examination. Check the graph of dramatic other recent Antarctic perturbation on #Earth vs #Capitalism #volcano #disaster post, again from Palmer Station.

Let us observe with consideration that the faulting ‘cracks’ in the ‘eggshell’ Earth are converging south upon Antarctica.

~ Kia ora

Easter Island magnitude 4.9 link? - USGS 070611

Easter Island magnitude 4.9 link? - USGS 070611


Southern Pacific earthquake alignments preceding Christchurch 6.3 - Peru 6.0 GIM 080611

Southern Pacific earthquake alignments preceding Christchurch 6.3 - Peru 6.0 GIM 080611


Peru magnitude 6.0 forward of Christchurch 6.3 - USGS 080611

Peru magnitude 6.0 forward of Christchurch 6.3 - USGS 080611


South Shetlands Islands 4.9 - USGS 130611

South Shetlands Islands 4.9 - USGS 130611 NZST


ChristChurch 6.3 - USGS 130611

ChristChurch 6.3 - USGS 130611 NZST

14Jun11 update:

Australian Plate and South Pacific still very lively:

Sandwich Islands magnitude 5.3 - USGS 140611

Sandwich Islands magnitude 5.3, Fiji 5.4, Indonesia 5.6 & 6.4 - USGS 140611

Methven magnitude 4.8 - NSN 140611

Methven magnitude 4.8 - geonet.org.nz/earthquake/quakes/recent_quakes 140611

Geonet “recent quakes” is all Christchurch – but with a Lake Heron, Methven area magnitude 4.8 punching the Chatham Rise “straight line” fault sequence straight into the Alps.

a. Here is Palmer Station again, showing the Indonesia 6.4 quake.

Sumatra 6.4, Sandwich Islands 5.3, Sumatra 5.6 - Palmer Station Antarctica 140611 NZST

a. Sumatra 6.4, Sandwich Islands 5.3, Sumatra 5.6 - Palmer Station Antarctica 140611

b. Then, another ‘undocumented’ Antarctic earthquake from Palmer Station seismometer of 15 June, #2 below.

Palmer Station Antarctica - unknown quake 150611 NZST

b. Palmer Station Antarctica - unknown quake 150611 NZST

c. 18Jun11 update: As predicted yet again, almost, at 5:56pm NZST, a near-Antarctic earthquake.

Bellaney Islands magnitude 5.1 - GIM 180611

c-1. Bellaney Islands magnitude 5.1 - GIM 180611


Bellaney Islands 5.1 - GIM 180611

c-2. Bellaney Islands 5.1 - GIM 180611


Bellaney Islands 5.1 - USGS 180611

c-3. Bellaney Islands 5.1 - USGS 180611

Bellaney Islands magnitude 5.1 - Palmer Station Antarctica 180611

c-4. Bellaney Islands magnitude 5.1 - Palmer Station Antarctica 180611


c-4. Penultimately, the Bellaney Islands magnitude 5.1 as seen in record from the other side of Antarctica, Palmer Station 180611, after two other quakes – unknown and local. N.B. the Bellaney Islands are stratovolcanoes on facebook.

Bellaney Islands region 5.1 - Google Map 180611

c-5. Bellaney Islands region magnitude 5.1 - Google Map 180611

Source: Google Map via USGS record. My facebook comment:

Hi. Have been tracking Canterbury-NZ quake context, following flow south and expecting Antarctic volcanics to soon feature. Then 5.56pm Sat, here it begins: Balleny Islands region http://www.nzgeographic.co.nz/articles.php?ID=194 + my notes: (current page) ..am seeing scenario where Chch quakes stay large and keep breaking east, until final ‘straw’ (camel’s back) that allows Alpine Fault to slip (the major damage source). Zealandia rules our seismic lives, from below the waves and the city.. (Zealandia is the heavy brake that can break)

In the southern hemisphere, we are well into another week of heightened seismic activity; or so it seems from the many medium-sized (5+) earthquakes occurring here. There is an eerie subsurface resonance on two sides of the South Pole, with the recent Chilean volcanic eruption probably venting some displaced energy from March 11th’s Sendai 9.0, and definite ripples on the south-western Pacific. “The last eruption of Puyehue volcano was in 1960 following a 9.5 earthquake. An eruption began at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcano on 24th May 1960. The eruption was probably precipitated by the great earthquake in Chile (magnitude 9.5) which occurred on 22nd May 1960. The eruption consisted of an explosive subplinian phase and the formation of a mushroom-like column 8 km high.” Current visual reference: Chile’s Puyehue Volcano Erupts.

Don’t believe it? – Check the sources: usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww & quakes.globalincidentmap.com.

Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge 5.3 USGS 070611

Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge 5.3 USGS 070611

After some Sandwich Islands earthquakes, the southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge has just had a 5.3. This zone presents a mirror echo of southern Australia and New Zealand quakes of late, the biggest a 6.3 (a 6.5 on the Australian scale):

Earthquakes@Geoscience Australia - Macquarie Island 6.5 050611

Earthquakes@Geoscience Australia - Macquarie Island 6.5 050611

Source: Earthquakes@Geoscience Australia ga.gov.au/earthquakes

“Read ’em and weep”, sayeth Ruaumoko below.

~ Kia ora

Update: And now Easter Island has chimed in, with a magnitude 4.9:

Easter Island 4.9 USGS 070611

Easter Island 4.9 USGS 070611

Puyehue - Reuters 050611

Mount Puyehue in Chile erupts - first time since 1960 - Reuters 050611

Puyehue Volcano in Chile : Real life Mordor Egyptian Chronicles

Mid-Atlantic Ridge 5.3 - quakes.globalincidentmap.com 070611

Mid-Atlantic Ridge 5.3 and Easter Island 4.9 - quakes.globalincidentmap.com 070611

~ Now there’s a very scary line-up indeed – the Earth is peeling like an orange? …

It won’t be anthropogenic global warming that ends human evolution, directly; it will be the toxic atmosphere spewed up by the new age of volcanism that global warming unleashes, alongside emmissions pollution and climate change.

The Earth has been there before, and this is the flipside of global warming – the natural switch for rapid cooling, by global ash-cloud coverage. Next comes The Snowball Earth “when the whole planet appears to have [been] gripped by colossal ice ages” (geology.About.com /controversies) after drastic reduction of oxygen-dependent life, like mammals especially livestock and us.

The plant kingdom can then recover the environmental balance that we previously enjoyed. (Ref. Lovelock and “Gaia” theory).

Here is a consequent forecast/prediction/prophecy that you can bank on: Mount Erebus and its neighbours will erupt increasingly: “The glacier-covered volcano was erupting when first sighted by Captain James Ross in 1841. Continuous lava-lake activity with minor explosions, punctuated by occasional larger strombolian explosions that eject bombs onto the crater rim, has been documented since 1972, but has probably been occurring for much of the volcano’s recent history” Global Volcanism Program

List of volcanoes in Antarctica Wikipedia: Mount Erebus “is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, which includes over 160 active volcanoes”
Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory MEVO erebus.nmt.edu Live seismometers etc Science+++
Mount Erebus – Antarctic Volcano antarcticconnection.com Science+++
Antarctica Casey Geoscience Australia seismometer + Palmer Station US National Science Foundation seismometer USGS

Surprise! There’s an active volcano under Antarctic ice wattsupwiththat.com January 2008
Under-Ice Volcano Eruption Spewed Ash Over Antarctica “more than 2,000 years ago” news.NationalGeographic.com January 2008
Buried Volcano Discovered in Antarctica “Under the frozen continent’s western-most ice sheet, the volcano erupted about 2,300 years ago yet remains active.. Brooding giant. Although ice buried the unnamed volcano, molten rock is still churning below.. discovery might explain the speeding up of historically slow-moving glaciers in the region.. hidden volcano doesn’t explain widespread thinning of Antarctic glaciers.. ‘This wider change most probably has its origin in warming ocean waters,’.. which most scientists attribute to global warming resulting from human activity, such as the use of fossil fuels..” LiveScience.com January 2008
Scientists Find Active Volcano in Antarctica “For Antarctica, ‘This is the first time we have seen a volcano beneath the ice sheet punch a hole through the ice sheet,’.. Heat from a volcano could still be melting ice and contributing to the thinning and speeding up of the Pine Island Glacier, which passes nearby, but Dr. Vaughan doubted that it could be affecting other glaciers in West Antarctica, which have also thinned in recent years. Most glaciologists.. say that warmer ocean water is the primary cause. Volcanically, Antarctica is a fairly quiet place. But sometime around 325 B.C., the researchers said, a hidden and still active volcano erupted, puncturing several hundred yards of ice above it” NYTimes.com January 2008
Underwater Antarctic volcano found “Research ship documents apparently fresh lava flow ..no previous scientific record of active volcanoes in the region where the new peak was discovered. The volcano is located on the continental shelf, in the vicinity of a deep trough carved out by glaciers passing across the seafloor” msnbc.msn.com Science updated May 2004
Antarctic volcano not melting ice “..Erebus was erupting when members of Capt. James Ross’ 1841 expedition became the first humans to see it. In fact, the eruption at that time was the largest ever seen. Ross named the volcano for his ship, the Erebus. He named another Ross Island volcano Mt. Terror after his other ship. To the ancient Greeks, Erebus was the dark region beneath the earth that spirits had to pass through to get to the realm of Hades below..” USAtoday.com/weather/antarc January 2001 + NOVA program, “Warnings from the Ice” PBS radio April 1998

Antarctica Erupts! “On Mount Erebus, the churning magma is exposed at the top of the volcano, in a roiling 1,700-degree Fahrenheit lake perhaps miles deep.. it had recently broken a two-year quiet spell. Mount Erebus had started acting up in early 2005, and when scientists arrived it was erupting several times a day, each time ejecting 50 or so lava bombs” SmithsonianMag.com/science-nature December 2006

Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory diagram - CO2 degassing

Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory diagram - CO2 degassing


Smithsonian - volcano steam

Smithsonian - volcano steam

“Antarctica Erupts! Seemingly dreamed up by Dr. Seuss, Mount Erebus’ improbable ice towers form around steaming vents, growing up to 60 feet before collapsing” – Photos: Smithsonian

Ross Island Map - Wikipedia Mount Erebus

Ross Island Map - Wikipedia Mount Erebus

Antarctica location map - Wikipedia Mount Erebus

Antarctica location map - Wikipedia Mount Erebus

Another peel of the orange? - Chiapas 5.4 & Hawaii 3.4 080611

Another peel of the orange? - Chiapas 5.4 & Hawaii 3.4 080611

Chiapas alignment through Easter Island to Macquarie Island

Chiapas alignment through Easter Island to Macquarie Island

Extra: Today’s bigger quakes brought further sign of change.. ..Five Injured in 5.3-Magnitude Earthquake in China’s Xinjiang “A specialist with Xinjiang’s earthquake administration said further earthquakes in the region are unlikely.’Quakes over 5-magnitude have rarely been reported in Toksun County over the past 70 years. Citizens do not need to worry'”

Magnitude 6.0 earthquake Southern Peru depth 101.3 km 03:06:18 UTC Wednesday 8th June 2011 – it took about 10 minutes to reach Palmer Station seismometer in Antarctica..

Peru 6.0 Palmer Station USGS 080611

Peru mag 6.0 Palmer Station USGS 080611


and 12 minutes to reach Erebus MEVO Station seismometer Abbot Peak on the other side Antarctica..
Erebus MEVO - Peru 6.0 20110608

Erebus MEVO - Peru 6.0 20110608


For comparison, here is Abbot Peak’s record of the 5 June 2011 Macquarie Island magnitude 6.3 quake:
Erebus - Macquarie Island 6.5 20110605

Erebus - Macquarie Island 6.5 20110605


Antarctic view - USGS 080611

Antarctic view - Peru 6.0 + Chile shocks / south-west Pacific - USGS 080611


Palmer Station Antarctica 080611

Palmer Station Antarctica 080611

Palmer Station 12 hours later: small local seismicity that does not show up, or relate to any remote event, on the global record. i.e. keep watching Antarctic seismometers to better read Antarctica.

Of course, as with diurnal peaks and troughs of seismic activity, there are seasonal flows and ebbs of earthquakes too – all due to planetary warming (then cooling, in cycles). So we should not expect the heightened Antarctic volcanism until next summer, January to March 2012. Make your bets now. …

12Jun2011 – Unless?!?:

Palmer Station Antarctica 1200611 - unusual movement?

Palmer Station Antarctica 1200611 - unusual movement?

These notes continue on new page Earth vs Capitalism