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Dana Hunter
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There had been warnings that Anak Krakatau, the restless young volcano rising like a phoenix from the remains of its predecessor, was in a particularly dangerous mood. It had been in a vigorous eruptive phase since June of 2018, sometimes imperiling boats passing near it in the Sunda Strait. But Indonesians were quite used to the tantrums thrown by their problem child. Life went on as usual. After all, nothing the child could do would match the catastrophe caused by its parent volcano, which had destroyed itself in August of 1883, killing nearly 40,000 people.

So when the eruptive activity abruptly increased on December 22nd, no one expected much in the way of disaster.

As the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia recorded 423 separate events from noon until 6 pm, and raised the warning to Level II, authorities advised citizens and visitors to remain at a prudent 2 kilometer distance, but otherwise didn't see the cause for undue alarm.

Here is the fearsome truth about volcanoes: no matter how well we know them (and we'd known Anak Krakatau since it was born), no matter how well we monitor them (and this one has been continuously monitored since 1980), they can still take us by surprise.

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If there's only one book on volcanology I'd ask you to get for young kids, this is the one.

Will it Blow? Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens, is freaking awesome. There will be volcanologists in a couple decades who trace their origins to this book. You may even be the one who gives them the book that inspires their career. And even if the child you gift it to doesn't end up doing science at splodey mountains for a living, you'll still have created a citizen who understands the importance of volcano monitoring.

So, am I telling you to get a copy of this book for the nearest available kid between the ages of five to preteen? I absolutely am.

The chapters cover all the most important clues to whether a volcano will erupt: Earthquakes, gas emissions, ground deformation, heat, and lava. I'm astonished by how much information she and Lewis managed to pack into one short book. There is so much, and yet it never feels too crowded or rushed.

So, yes, absolutely, this is the book to get every single kid who has even the slightest interest in volcanoes and how we can tell they're going to erupt. And, y'know, there's no reason why you shouldn't sneak a read before you give it away! Anyone who wants to know more about volcano monitoring can get something out of this excellent little book.

(If you buy through the link below, Amazon will share a portion of the purchase price, which will help me find more awesome books for you.)

https://amzn.to/2SXAxHR
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It's 2019 for many around the world! At the time of this writing, the Pacific Northwest is still living in the past. So let's look back on some of the notable themes of 2018, and at the end, you'll get a sneak peek at what's coming up for Rosetta Stones in the new year.

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Were you naughty (or lucky) enough to get some coal in your stocking this Christmas? Congratulations! Coal is a fascinating rock and tells us a lot about the geology of ages past in the locations where it's found.

You probably wouldn't expect Santa to be able to locally source his coal – after all, it's a rock that requires swampy or marshy areas with lots of lush plants. That's not really what you find around the North Pole! But a mere 650 miles away, halfway to Norway, you'll find an island that provides all the coal Santa would ever need. It's the glacier-capped island of Svalbard, and Santa wouldn't even have had to go digging when he first went looking for coal. It was right in plain sight...

Where Does Santa Get His Coal?
Where Does Santa Get His Coal?
blogs.scientificamerican.com

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Hello, and welcome to GeoBits, wherein I give a formal name to the occasional roundups of tasty geoscience news we do here. This inaugural edition has some truly incredible and inspiring stuff.

We begin with a seismic mystery on November 11th that had some scientists joking about sea monsters.

Plus: a treasure trove of dinosaur footprints, Mars InSight's bonza geological mission, and North America's largest diamond!

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On Friday morning, Anchorage got a jarring reminder of the importance of seismic building codes.

Alaska's no stranger to earthquakes. The Pacific plate is headed northwest, but that oceanic slab is too heavy to override the more continental North American plate. But those 2.28 inches (57mm) of plate per year need to go somewhere, so the slab dives. Tectonic forces we're still working to fully understand pull it down into the mantle. And as it goes, of course, earthquakes and volcanoes happen.

The M 7.0 earthquake that struck Anchorage occurred in that slab, 27 miles (44 km) down. The rupture happened a mere 8 miles (12km) from the city. The large size of the earthquake, plus its proximity, meant that Anchorage and its surrounding areas saw some pretty heavy-duty shaking. The photos and videos that emerged in the aftermath were jaw-dropping: cracks that dwarfed cars in roadways, buildings split nearly in two, tiles raining down from school ceilings. Being caught up in a tectonic event of this magnitude is terrifying.

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Many Americans just got done celebrating the long Thanksgiving holiday. What most of us probably didn't realize as we sat down to our feast was that descendants of the Native Americans who joined the Pilgrims for a harvest celebration are losing their lands. Again.

Here's how you can help:

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The area of the Pacific Northwest I live in is seriously dangerous. When the Cascadia subduction zone rips, it will cause massive destruction: think the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in 2004 or the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011. In the meantime, it fuels ferocious volcanoes that erupt on sometimes monumental scales. And smaller faults throughout the region keep the ground shaking, sometimes causing a fair amount of damage on their own, like the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake. It can be scary, living here.

But when all's quiet on the tectonic front, it's absolutely gorgeous.

If you're in the Seattle area on a clear day, and want to take in some pretty sweeping views of what the Cascadia subduction zone has to offer, you'll want to hop aboard the Kingston Ferry in Edmonds, WA. It's a short trip, but you'll see a remarkable amount of geology going there and back again. It's not the subduction zone roller coaster I'd like to build, but it's close enough.

Sailing Through Subduction
Sailing Through Subduction
blogs.scientificamerican.com

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If you spend ten minutes with geologists, you'll notice most of them absolutely love two things: rocks and beer. Sometimes in that order.

For most of us, alcohol never becomes a problem. We can sit back and have a few, or not; our drinking is limited to social situations or just one or so beers a day; if we stop drinking, we don't suffer physical or psychological withdrawal. But some of us aren't wired that way. We're prone to addiction, and one beer soon turns into too many. Or we're suffering from an underlying mental illness, and self-medicating. We may not even realize that's what we're doing. We just get to a point, one day, where either we or our loved ones realize we have a serious problem.


When Beer Becomes the Burden
When Beer Becomes the Burden
blogs.scientificamerican.com

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Continuing a fine tradition begun only last year, I'm bringing you a collection of eerie, outrageous, and astonishing geology for all your spoopy All Hallows Eve needs.

Let us begin with...

Sharks in Volcanoes!

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