Revolutionizing Awareness

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Posts Tagged ‘iceland’

Exclusive: WikiLeaks Will Unveil Major Bank Scandal

Posted by Admin on November 30, 2010

First WikiLeaks spilled the guts of government. Next up: The private sector, starting with one major American bank.

In an exclusive interview earlier this month, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Forbes that his whistleblower site will release tens of thousands of documents from a major U.S. financial firm in early 2011. Assange wouldn’t say exactly what date, what bank, or what documents, but he compared the coming release to the emails that emerged in the Enron trial, a comprehensive look at a corporation’s bad behavior.

“It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume,” he told me.

Read Forbes’ full interview with Assange and our cover storyon what he and WikiLeaks means for business here.

“You could call it the ecosystem of corruption,” Assange added. “But it’s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest.”

WikiLeaks recent priority has clearly been the publication of hundreds of thousands of government documents: 76,000 classified documents from the war in Afghanistan, another 392,000 from Iraq, and on Sunday, the first piece of an ongoing exposure of what will likely be millions of diplomatic messages sent between the U.S. State Department and its embassies.

But that government focus doesn’t mean WikiLeaks won’t embarass corporations, too. Since October, WikiLeaks has closed its submissions channel; Assange says the site was receiving more documents than it could find resources to publish. And half those unpublished submissions, Assange says, relate to the private sector. He confirmed that WikiLeaks has damaging, unpublished material from pharmaceutical companies, finance firms (aside from the upcoming bank release), and energy companies, just to name a few industries.

Whether and when those secrets come out is solely a matter of Assange’s discretion. “We’re in a position where we have to prioritize our resources so that the biggest impact stuff gets released first.”

For more, read our cover story on Assange’s plans, how a legendary hacker is working with the Pentagon to stop him, and how Iceland hopes to spring a flood of leaks worldwide.

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This Volcano Is About More Than Flights

Posted by Admin on April 20, 2010

While it is early in the morning in Europe the following picture shows the impact of the volcano in Iceland on European air traffic (as of Thursday), if you compare Northern (none) and Southern (60) European flights. The blue crosses are airports. The volcano has already had a stunning impact on Europe, although articles about it are already dropping below the lead headlines.

There is a thought that the plume may last another five days, and even though the cloud is largely invisible to those who are being impacted by it, the damage by neglecting these precautions could be severe. And given that the British election is on May 6th, the impact of a sustained eruption on the debates in the UK, and the result may go beyond just limiting the travel of those who would campaign, to become more dominant with the length of the flight curtailments and the responses to help resolve what are likely to be growing transportation problems.

Flight Map

The presence of sulphur dioxide is already obvious to local residents, though there don’t appear to be any concerns over its toxicity. This is the toxicity information given by gasdetection.com:

WITH ACUTE EXPOSURE, 5 PPM CAUSES DRYNESS OF NOSE & THROAT AND A MEASUREABLE INCR IN RESISTANCE TO BRONCHIAL AIR FLOW; 6 TO 8 PPM CAUSES A DECR IN TIDAL RESP VOLUME. SNEEZING, COUGH & EYE IRRITATION OCCUR AT 10 PPM; 20 PPM CAUSED BRONCHOSPASM; 50 PPM CAUSES EXTREME DISCOMFORT BUT NO INJURY IN LESS THAN A 30-MIN EXPOSURE … 1000 PPM CAUSES DEATH IN FROM 10 MIN TO SEVERAL HR BY RESP DEPRESSION.

The larger eruptions of Katla, have ejected up to 1.5 x 10^9 cu m of material with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of up to 5. For comparison Mt Pinatubo in 1991 ejected 1.1 x 10^10 cu m with a VEI of 6.

The Times has an interesting graphic that shows some of the concerns and I am going to use a bit of it to show that the problem may be a little bigger than even the article suggests.

To begin with recognize that Iceland is at the intersection of different plates that together form the shell of the planet. Whereas in some parts of the world these plates are pushing together and riding over each other, in this part of the world they are tending more to separate, so that the magma, on which the plates ride, can make its way up along the joint planes and erupt at the surface.

Volcano Map

Map of Iceland showing major volcanoes (The Times of London)

Now what the picture is concerned about is that generally when Eyjaflallajokull erupts so does Kalta, which is right next door. But Katla is a larger system and the eruption is generally much more severe.

Unfortunately what has also to be considered is that there are a whole line of craters, not shown on this map, between Katla and Vatnajokull, which are also a worry. Laki, an even greater threat than Katla, lies along this line.

Iceland’s Laki volcano erupted in 1783, freeing gases that turned into smog. The smog floated across the Jet Stream, changing weather patterns. Many died from gas poisoning in the British Isles. Crop production fell in western Europe. Famine spread. . . . . . .

The winter of 1784 was also one of the longest and coldest on record in North America. New England reported a record stretch of below-zero temperatures and New Jersey reported record snow accumulation. The Mississippi River also reportedly froze in New Orleans.

It is at the orange flag in this picture.

Volcano Map

(Google Earth)

There is a line of eruption calderas from Katla up to Laki, which is up around Skaftareldar.
The 3.5 earthquake I wrote about on Bit Tooth Energy lies beyond Laki on the line from Eyjaflallajokull, and was centered further north in the Vatnajokull. Some have blamed the weather created by the eight-month eruption of Laki as a possible contributory cause to the French Revolution.

An eruption of that length, ejecting as much material as it may into the atmosphere, would have consequences that go beyond just the ability to survive the noxious gaseous clouds.

The impact of the dust is shown in this picture from the British Met Office, which shows that plume reaching down past Scotland:

Volcano Map

Dust cloud passing Scotland (Met Office)

And the consequent distribution at different levels of the atmosphere.

Volcano Map

High and low level ash distribution (Met Office via the Guardian)

The agriculture of Europe would be damaged by a prolonged eruption with this distribution, and with it the possible production of biodiesel. Consider that the growth of rapeseed (canola) around the world has been steadily rising over the past few years.

Rapeseed Production

With European countries sitting just behind the leaders.

Rapeseed Production

Somewhere over 4 million metric tons of the crop currently goes to producing biodiesel, mainly in Europe. (Heading up towards 100,000 bd). Losing a year of that crop (and large scale volcanic activity can have an impact for over four years on the climate and the ground chemistry), particularly given the current possible approach of the peaking of conventional oil production, could have an unanticipated impact on overall liquid fuel availability and price.

Unfortunately rapeseed is only one of the crops that will be affected, and the significant drop in crop yields does not appear to be getting much attention yet.

Beyond that, there should be a little concern for the wind turbines that are now dotted over the horizon. The concern is with the speed at which the tips travel through the air. The air, that looks clean, will contain small particles of very sharp glass and other volcanic ejecta, that are the primary cause for the grounding of aircraft across Europe. While the aircraft can see very sudden loss in engine power, because of the high speeds with which they encounter the clouds, and the volumes of debris sucked into engines that then fail. (There are also video explanations.)

Wind wing tip speeds have been projected to be in the range from 264 ft/sec to 326 ft/sec. At impact speeds over 120 ft/sec the particles from the eruption will start to erode the blades of the turbine. If the eruption continues for weeks, and the turbines rotate in that atmosphere (which looks clear to normal vision) then they will lose surface quality, and perhaps the particles will enter into the generators (as they do on aircraft) doing significant damage.

Thus, beyond the initial inconvenience of the loss of a way to fly (bearing in mind I am supposed to fly to Europe myself soon), there are the longer concerns over both the crops this summer and for the next four, and for the longer term health of the turbines. All in all it is a reminder that there is never a time that Nature, with a little nudge, cannot remind us of the risks of complacency.

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Iceland volcano could have world consequences

Posted by Admin on March 23, 2010

Iceland volcano could have world consequences

1783 eruption changed weather patterns, sent poisoned air to British Isles

By Gudjon Helgason and Paisley Dodds

updated 7:30 p.m. ET March 22, 2010//

REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Blasts of lava and ash shot out of a volcano in southern Iceland on Monday and small tremors rocked the ground, a surge in activity that raised fears of a larger explosion at the nearby Katla volcano.

Scientists say history has proven that when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupts, Katla follows — the only question is how soon. And Katla, located under the massive Myrdalsjokull icecap, threatens disastrous flooding and explosive blasts when it blows.

Saturday’s eruption at Eyjafjallajokull (AYA-feeyapla-yurkul) — dormant for nearly 200 years — forced at least 500 people to evacuate. Most have returned to their homes, but authorities were waiting for scientific assessments to determine whether they were safe to stay. Residents of 14 farms nearest to the eruption site were told to stay away.

Several small tremors were felt early Monday, followed by spurts of lava and steam rocketing into the air.

Iceland sits on a large volcanic hot spot in the Atlantic’s mid-oceanic ridge. Eruptions, common throughout Iceland’s history, are often triggered by seismic activity when the Earth’s plates move and when magma from deep underground pushes its way to the surface.

Like earthquakes, predicting the timing of volcanic eruptions is an imprecise science. An eruption at the Katla volcano could be disastrous, however — both for Iceland and other nations.

Iceland’s Laki volcano erupted in 1783, freeing gases that turned into smog. The smog floated across the Jet Stream, changing weather patterns. Many died from gas poisoning in the British Isles. Crop production fell in western Europe. Famine spread. Some even linked the eruption, which helped fuel famine, to the French Revolution. Painters in the 18th century illustrated fiery sunsets in their works.

The winter of 1784 was also one of the longest and coldest on record in North America. New England reported a record stretch of below-zero temperatures and New Jersey reported record snow accumulation. The Mississippi River also reportedly froze in New Orleans.

“These are Hollywood-sort of scenarios but possible,” said Colin Macpherson, a geologist with the University of Durham. “As the melt rises, it’s a little like taking a cork out of a champagne bottle.”

There are three main places where volcanoes normally occur — along strike-slip faults such as California’s San Andreas fault line, along areas where plates overlap one another such as in the Philippines and the Pacific Rim, and in areas like Iceland, where two of the Earth’s plates are moving apart from each other in a so-called spreading system.

Unlike the powerful volcanos along the Pacific Rim where the slow rise of magma gives scientists early seismic warnings that an eruption is imminent, Iceland’s volcanos are unique in that many erupt under ice sheets with little warning.

Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, a geologist at the University of Iceland who flew over the site Monday, said the beginning of Saturday’s eruption was so indistinct that it initially went undetected by geological instruments. Many of the tremors were below magnitude 2.6.

Using thermal cameras and radar to map the lava flow, Gudmundsson and other scientists were able to determine that the lava from Eyjafjallajokull was flowing down a gorge and not moving toward the ice caps — reducing any threat of floods.

He said he and other scientists were watching Katla but Monday’s trip was meant to assess immediate risk.

“A general expectation is that because of the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, the fissure would widen and in that sense, there’s a greater risk of extending into or underneath the glaciers and prompting an eruption at Katla,” said Andy Russell with Newcastle University’s Earth Surface Processes Research Group, who went with a team to Iceland before the eruption. “From records, we know that every time Eyjafjallajokull erupts, Katla has also erupted.”

Russell said past Katla eruptions have caused floods the size of the Amazon and sent boulders as big as houses tumbling down valleys and roads. The last major eruption took place in 1918. Floods followed in as little as an hour.

Those eruptions have posed risks to residents nearby, but most of Iceland’s current population of 320,000 live in the capital of Reykjavik on the western part of the island.

Southern Iceland is sparely populated but has both glaciers and unstable volcanoes — a destructive combination.

The last time there was an eruption near the 100-square-mile (160 square-kilometer) Eyjafjallajokull glacier was in 1821, and that was a “lazy” eruption that lasted slowly and continuously for two years.

https://i1.wp.com/www.hotelskogar.is/resources/images/Attractions/hekla2.jpg
Iceland is one of the few places in the world where a mid-ocean ridge actually rises above sea level. Many volcanic eruptions along the ocean basin often go undetected because they can’t be easily seen.

First settled by Vikings in the 9th century, Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice because of its volcanos and glaciers. During the Middle Ages, Icelanders called the Hekla volcano, the country’s most active, the “Gateway to Hell,” believing that souls were dragged into the fire below.

The last major volcanic eruption in Iceland occurred in 2004 with the Grimsvotn volcano.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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