No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Volcano

A rather large bang

Given my interest in volcanoes a couple of months ago I looked at news of the underwater one near Tonga, but that was via a small, specialist web site and I figured it would not be of interest to NM readers.

Now it should be:

According to the Independent, clouds 12 miles high and three miles wide formed above the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano spewing ash, gas, and steam into the atmosphere. They called it “one of the most violent volcano eruptions ever captured on satellite.”

According to comments I’ve seen, the explosions were heard here in New Zealand around 8-8:30 last night, across the North Island. The following is a spectacular catch by a satellite, complete with shock waves like a nuclear test.

Tonga has been hit fairly hard.

There’s also tsunamis, with warnings issued here for the North and East of the North Island. There’s also been some boat damage from one wave at the Tutakaka Marina.

This is also a great shot.

Written by Tom Hunter

January 16, 2022 at 3:53 pm

Posted in New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Tonga

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The Pinto and the pyroclastic flow

It’s one of the most famous photos from the Mt St Heliers eruption in 1980: a Ford Pinto, with a dirt bike attached, being turned around to go in the opposite direction from the gigantic cloud of approaching ash.

A few years ago I visited the Johnson Ridge Observatory (named after a volcanologist killed on that ridge) located in front of the mountain’s crater and saw the photo on a wall. Like everybody else I marveled at it and wondered at the story behind it. Did the person who took the photo survive? Nobody knew.

Well, the story behind that photo has finally been revealed – and it’s a hell of a story.

Richard “Dick” Lasher spent that Saturday night packing some gear figuring he’d head out first thing in the morning to get a look at the mountain before it blew. His plan involved hitching his Yamaha IT enduro bike to the back of his Pinto, driving up to Spirit Lake, then exploring the area via dirt forest roads on the bike. He’d leave before dawn and arrive at the lake right at daybreak.

Sure, it sounds insane now – but would you hold back from driving down to see Mt Ruapehu erupt. I’m sure plenty of people did in 1995 and 1996.

Tired from packing, Lasher slept in an hour or two past his planned departure time. He swore in telling the story many years later that sleeping in that morning saved his life. Based on the angle of the photo and the surrounding terrain, it appears Lasher drove down toward Spirit Lake from the north, likely dropping down from U.S. 12 and the town of Randle into the forest roads of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. He possibly made it as far south as Forest Road 26 by 8:32 that morning.

A few miles north of Mt St Helens then when it exploded at 8:32am.

Don’t be so critical of procrastination.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 9, 2021 at 6:26 pm

Posted in History, USA

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Telephoto lenses have the effect making background objects appear closer than they are, but still, the insouciance of the volleyballers is impressive.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 30, 2021 at 10:56 am

Posted in Environment, Europe, Humour

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BOOM! – White Island

Okay, I can’t see how these people could have survived if they were at this point at 2:10pm as shown by the GeoNet camera mounted on the rim, with the explosion occurring at 2:11pm.
White Island erupting at 2:15pm today – Geonet camera

We get so used to this sort of thing, especially from White Island, that we often don’t think of people getting hurt at such an isolated spot.


Police are now saying there were less than 50 people on the island, but a number cannot be accounted for yet, and at least one person has been critically injured.

This guy’s Twitter shows how close it was for some people:

My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable.

His short video makes it look like a small pyroclastic flow spreading out onto the sea.

There are further video clips, one of which clearly shows a destroyed helicopter.

And the following two photos show it was a bit more than the usual blowing off of steam…

Written by Tom Hunter

December 9, 2019 at 5:27 am

Posted in New Zealand

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