Volcano Club

Volcano Club only offers one type of membership - and that's lifetime. To become a member send some volcanic themed work to the HQ (volcanoclubhq@gmail.com) and you might get a codename or some other cool shit.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Forests and Volcanoes

As any volcano club fans will know- the reason I like volcanoes is that they are linked to pretty much everything. The main reason I am giving for the recent absence of the volcano club is that I have been writing my masters thesis and generally studying and I can't really be expected to write more than one thing at once. For those who don't know I have been studying forestry and one of the main reasons I like forests is that they are also linked to pretty much everything, there are other reasons such as I actually like ecology, trees and all that crap. As volcanoes are linked to everything and so are forests then they are obviously linked to each other - but not in a vague tenuous shit way. You could say that the reason I like forests and volcanoes is because I don't actually them and what I really like is all the other stuff but you'd would be wrong. Anyway I thought that combining volcanoes and forests would be the perfect way to relaunch the VC blog, which is what this is, a fucking relaunch. The new picture at the top = relaunch, there was even a relaunch party with wine in plastic cups, bombay mix and volcanic experts, I might have made the relaunch party up but it sounds fun, I should do it for real. Anyway back to the forests and the volcanoes the basis is that the areas surrounding volcanoes tend to have rich soils which can lead to interesting plant life, here are three examples.

For no real reason I've linked songs to the three forests below, they are all great songs and connected to the forests in my mind at least, also I'm working on a volcano compilation so send me any suggestions.

1. Aokigahara 
I've written about this forests lots before, basically it's at the base of Mount Fuji (my favourite volcano), is one of the mostly densely vegetated places in the world and a suicide hotspot. The forest is quite small and so dense and dark that there are very few animals there, obviously it's haunted too. It is also known as the sea of trees which sounds quite pretty and reminds me of the linked song, because thinking of a suicide forest wasn't depressing enough.
Do not do a google image search for Aokigahara unless you want to see dead bodies in a forest. 

All of Java is volcanic and has great forests and it's a place with volcanoes that I have actually been to! While I have been to West and Central Java and I did see some forests (because I was there on a forestry field trip) I didn't get the volcanic vibe. But in East Java I went to both forests and volcanoes, yes it was fucking great. Volcanic soils tend to be good due to the breakdown of nutrients and large amounts of trace elements (which can be limiting to plants) when you go to areas with volcanoes you can really see this. Ijen is probably the best volcano to use as an example, because I went there twice and is surrounded by a lovely forest, where I saw monkeys. It is the volcano where they do sulphur mining, which is job that does not pay well especially when considering the health hazards, I did have a great conversation about Wayne Rooney with one of the sulphur miners though. 

Anyway back to my point, amazingly I do actually have one, which is that you can actually see effect the volcanicity has on the soil. Quite soon before I climbed the volcano there had been heat flare things (technical term) meaning that most of the vegetation at the top of the volcano had been killed. This meant you could really see the rocks and soil which were all really amazing colours and small plants were springing up everywhere as you can see in the above pictures. You have to climb the volcano at night (otherwise it's too hot) so the first time I really saw the area surrounding the volcano was when climbing down. Which was a really weird experience as you started at this strange barren crater and walked down into this amazingly lush forest and you could really see the zonation and were also aware of how special the conditions were. So it was quite a nice illustration of what a field trip is actually for; that when you actually see something even for a really short period time it makes so much more sense than any reading or anything else you can do (even though we weren't really studying any of the shit I've just said). 

3. Pacific Northwest
I don't really know much about this, not so surprising I know but I live a state of fear where someone will tell me everything I've written on my blog is crap, so this is just a little disclaimer, please don't use this to write essays or anything. But here are two facts that I know to be true- this area has shitloads of volcanic activity and this area has shit hot forests. So I think that probably all the volcanic activity had some kinda long term positive effect on soil quality on the growth of plants in this area, which is home to the most productive temperate rainforest in the world, but I can't find much info on it (it's not on Wikipedia). You learn shitloads about these trees when studying forestry as lots of the trees such as Douglas Fir and Sitka Spruce as really fast growing and are used in European forestry. There was also a lot of interesting forestry techniques that was pioneered here, the main volcanoes are the cascade range which contains Mount St. Helens. It's also the bit of USA and Canada that looks amazingly great and people keep going there and I really want to go.

Loads of volcanoes

A volcano and a forest! (Mount Bachelor to be precise, which is just south of Mount Hood)

That's a little bit about some volcanic forests, hopefully marking the beginning of period of high VC activity. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Volcano of the Week #26 - Mount Ontake

It's been a while since I've done one of these and it's a bit of a sad one. I've been planning stuff for the blog all week but considering the nature of volcanoes, it is fitting that my plan was disrupted by yesterdays eruption. It's quite big news so I imagine people know quite a lot about it (probably more than me). Mount Ontake is Japan's second biggest volcano, after Fuji, both volcanoes are in the mountainous Chubu region which is just south and west of Tokyo. Its quite hard to find out exactly when the volcano last erupted but there hasn't been a major eruption in modern times. So far over 30 people have died in the eruption, the volcano is a popular hiking spot particularly at this time of year and it's pretty beautiful, it also has religious significance and there are temples and shrines in the area.

There were hundreds of people who did manage to evacuate the volcano and the eruption had little warning. Obviously (lying on a fault line) volcanic activity in Japan is quite high and there was a bit of seismic activity but not enough to suggest the volcano was about to erupt so soon. I'm no volcanologist but what I do know is that predicting eruptions is difficult and not exactly accurate all the time. Climbing volcanoes is a risk but so are most worthwhile things (also mundane ones like crossing the road). So hopefully there will be no more fatalities and the rescue efforts go smoothly. There are loads of awesome (in the true sense of the word) pictures and videos of the eruption and here is a more scientific blog if people are interested.
Really scary video.