July 15, 2013

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

LISTEN: Some Volcanoes Scream

New analysis of pre-eruption cycle

Volcanoes, already rather frightening, are now believed to emit a sound not unlike a scream before they erupt, according to a new study.

A new analysis of a 2009 eruption of Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano revealed a swarm of smaller tremors that rose in frequency and pitch just before the volcano’s release. As the quakes become smaller and more numerous, they coalesce into a kind of “scream,” that ceases right before the final eruption.

While the source of the tremors isn’t exactly known, the University of Washington’s Alicia Hotovec-Ellis, who conducted the study, believes that the harmonic tremors are the result of magma being forced through a narrow conduit deep in the mountain. “Because there’s less time between each earthquake, there’s not enough time to build up enough pressure for a bigger one,” she said. “After the frequency glides up to a ridiculously high frequency, it pauses and then it explodes.”

The study of the scream, which has also been documented at Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica and Soufrière Hills volcano in the Caribbean, should help scientists better model a volcano’s pressurization patterns, allowing for better understanding of the eruption cycle.

You can hear audio of the volcano’s siren song right here.

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A swimmer attempts to cross the Channel.     Photo: Kyle Taylor, Dream It. Do It./Flickr

Woman Dies While Making Channel Swim

Collapses near French coast

A British woman who was trying to swim the English Channel to raise money for charity died Sunday after collapsing on the French coast. Susan Taylor was swimming to raise money for a hospice and diabetes charity. Though Taylor was airlifted to a French hospital, doctors were unable to revive her.

Taylor had trained for the swim for over a year and had smeared herself with goose fat ahead of the swim to protect against the water, which reached an abnormally high temperature of 15 degrees Centigrade.

While French officials do not allow swimmers to depart from their side of the Channel because of currents, changing weather conditions, and shipping traffic, British officials authorized a number of charity swimmers to cross the Channel Sunday.

"We require medicals signed by a doctor and we both require swims of at least six hours before we will register anyone to swim the Channel," Kevin Murphy, the secretary of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, which authorizes attempts to cross the Channel, told The Daily Mail. "It's an extreme sport. We know it's an extreme sport but its safety record is second to none."

Until Taylor's passing, only seven people have died since the first unassisted swim in 1875. The last swimmer to perish was Paraic Casey, a 45-year-old member of the Sandycove Swimming Club in Cork, Ireland, on July 21 2012. Casey became ill a mile from the French coast and attempts to resuscitate him failed.

For more on what it takes to swim accross the Channel, read Dangerous When Wet: Learning to Survive Open Water Swimming.

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Smokey Bear     Photo: USFS Region 5/Flickr

Smokey Is Back, With Bear Hugs

New ad campaign is fuzzier

Despite the explosion of fire season across the country the past few years, Smokey the Bear has been conspicuously absent, leaving us all scratching our heads and asking each other, "Only who can prevent forest fires?"

That's because the Advertising Council has been hard at work on Smokey 2.0, who's back this month in a new ad campaign with a propensity for PDA and a lot less finger wagging.

According to the New York Times, the retooling of the bear's image as a silent but supportive woodland steward is the result of the Ad Council's discovery that nobody actually knew what the heck he wanted from us.

The reason to do so now, he said, was recent surveys showing that although Smokey “is very recognizable,” many people — particularly those ages 18 to 34 — “weren’t sure what Smokey was asking them to do tangibly” to help him prevent wildfires.

And as the videos below demonstrate, a bear hug is worth a thousand words.

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Third Straight Day of Injuries in Pamplona

Bull gores woman in the chest

Another five people were hurt during Pamplona's Running of the Bulls on Sunday, including an Australian woman who had to undergo surgery after one of the bovines gored her in the thorax. The unidentified 23-year-old broke several ribs and damaged her right lung, and is said by authorities to be in serious condition.

The incident marks the third straight day of injuries at the Fiesta de San Fermin, the famous festival popularized in the United States by Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Fighting bulls gored three people at opening day on Friday, including one American man who lost his spleen.

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