Volcanoes are becoming very active: data and discussion

For those of you interested in volcanoes, here is some data.
In the last month, the news stories regarding weather have revolved around tornadoes, hail, and quakes. Now it's volcanoes.

I wrote a blog essay a while ago showing my interpretation of the Revelation 6:12 verse, "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;" It is called "Of volcanoes, dry fog, and sun as sackcloth". In that blog essay, I posted some examples of what sackcloth looks like. When volcanoes explode, the ash circles the atmosphere and the sun's rays are dimmed, and what rays do emit through the haze look hairy instead of beamy.

Volcanic ash has the same effect on the sun as described in the Revelation verse. The Byzantine historian Procopius recorded of 536, in his report on the wars with the Vandals, "during this year a most dread portent took place. For the sun gave forth its light without brightness...and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear." That event is thought to have been caused by an extensive atmospheric dust veil, possibly resulting from a large volcanic eruption in the tropics." The resulting weather changes and attendant devastation on plant and human life is called "Volcanic Winter".

The science magazine Wired has a great article about volcanic winter in our recent past, one that happened in the 1700s (that Ben Franklin wrote about) and one that occurred in the 1800s. In the article, it states, "The cloud of ash that was fine and light enough to stay in the atmosphere circled the globe. Average temperatures dropped as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next year ... and beyond. Many Europeans and North Americans called 1816 the "year without a summer."

In Gray, Maine where I used to live it was indeed called the year without a summer. The bad weather of winter 1815 continued with heavy frosts in August and snowfalls every month of the year in 1816. It became known as “The Year without a Summer” or “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death”. Scientists now believe the cause was the eruption of a volcano, Mt. Tambora, in Indonesia. On its first day of eruption, it spewed 2 cubic miles of magma into the atmosphere. The next day it spewed 36 cubic miles of rock and ash into the air. This eruption was the largest in nearly 2000 years and spewed massive quantities of ash into the atmosphere which impacted the climate in the summer of 1816.

The Egypt Road was said to have been named so by people in East Raymond ME who used the road to come to Gray to get seed corn in the spring of 1817. One section of town was lucky to have its corn crop survive in 1816. This was said to have been due to the fact that the hill where the corn grew was high, and prevailing winds scoured the frost before it could settle. Seed corn was given to some Raymond citizens. They named the road they took “Egypt Road” since they were remembering the deliverance from Joseph to the starving masses. (Genesis 41:49; 56)

Over the year after the eruption, the largest famine in the 19th century impacted the northeast, maritime Canada, and northern Europe. The famine was deadly. This weather report from the July 10th Eastern Argus news of Portland ME is typical: "The weather is yet remarkable! On Monday night last a smart frost was experienced in a number of towns in this vicinity—it was confined principally to low ground."

We know that in the Tribulation, geologic changes occur which eventually change the face of the earth. Quakes are so severe that entire islands disappear. We got a taste of that last March when the Japan quake occurred, which was a 9.0 magnitude. The whole island was jogged 8 feet to the right, and the whole planet was jigged off its axis by 4 inches. One thing people rarely connect are the drastic changes that occur with climate in a volcanic winter. Atmospheric changes which lead to temperature changes which lead to reduced or failing crops which leads to wars to obtain the remaining food which leads to famine which leads to death which leads to pestilence...you read Revelation 6:1-8 and you see this progression The world's volcanoes are really waking up.

This first story is very ominous. 20 million people would be affected. And though we can't ever really predict when a volcano will erupt, that the Mexican government is actively warning people to prepare an evacuation route shows how seriously they take the situation...

Popocatepetl Volcano Threatening to Erupt, 19 Million Prepare to Evacuate
"The Popocatepetl volcano is making movement and threatening to erupt, causing Mexican officials to raise the alert level from yellow phase three to yellow phase two.The volcano has already begun spewing red-hot bits of rock, and its opening has expanded. These are signs that the volcano, still quite active, could soon erupt. In a statement by Mexico's National Center for Disaster Prevention, the volcano could produce "moderate exhalations, some with ash, sporadic low to moderate explosions with likely burning fragments, and flaming magma within the crater. "Residents and tourists have been advised to remain at least seven miles away from the volcano's base, lest magma or hot rock injure anyone. Mexico has been experiencing natural disasters with increasing frequency."

President Calderon said, "we have taken steps and we are doing even more to ensure the operability of all escape routes from neighboring states to the volcano Popocatepetl. As precautionary measure we have determined a safety radius of 12 kilometers from the summit of the crater."

The President of the National Disaster Center said that historically speaking, the last eruptive phase of the volcano was between 1919 and 1924. He explained that Popo is the kind of volcano that explodes violently [Ed. note- as opposed to Mauna Loa, which dribbles] "In the recent activity there could be explosive activities of the intermediate to high growth of domes and possible expulsion of lava, explosions of increasing intensity, rains ash on nearby towns. "

Geology professor and volcano expert Erik Klemetti said, "This week a lot of the volcanic focus has been on Mexico’s Popocatepétl and its rumbling – and rightly so. When it comes to volcanic hazards, many times it is all about location, location, location. ... Popocatepétl is situated within 70 km of a major metropolitan center with a population of over 20 million, so even small-to-moderate eruptions can have wide-ranging effects."

Explosions Continue at Popocatépetl as Mexico Prepares for an Eruption
"It appears that the activity at Popocatépetl has picked up, with more ash emissions and even (unconfirmed) reports of new lava at the summit. This would all suggest that the potential for a significant eruption is high. The explosions from the volcano have been large enough to rattle windows in communities surrounding the volcano. CENAPRED reported over 12 explosions in two hours starting at ~5 AM on Friday (April 20). The steam-and-ash plume from Popocatépetl topped out at ~3 km / 10,000 feet while seismicity remains at elevated levels."

There are about 500 active volcanoes throughout the world. In an average year approximately 50 of these erupt. Volcanic hazards create fewer disasters and deaths compared with earthquakes and severe storms. Many of the deaths associated with volcanoes are indirect hazards such as famine due to crop damage or from secondary hazards such as lahars. Volcanoes are composite hazards. There are both primary and secondary hazards which can be caused by volcanic eruptions. The primary hazards include pyroclastic flows, air-fall tephra, lava flows and volcanic gases. The secondary hazards include ground deformation, lahars (mudflows), landslides and possibly tsunamis in ocean floor volcanic eruptions." (source, 'Natural Hazards: Volcanoes')

I counted the eruptions at the Smithsonian Global Volcanism site by year. Smithsonian's site is to volcanoes as United States Geological Survey (USGS) is to earthquakes. Between 1970 and 2010 the average number of eruptions per year have been 61. This year in the first four months we have almost met that average: there have been 56 eruptions already.

1970 - 55
1971 - 53
1972 - 53
1973 - 66
1974 - 60
1975 - 49
1976 - 55
1977 - 64
1978 - 55
1979 - 60
1980 - 66
1981 - 55
1982 - 58
1983 - 55
1984 - 59
1985 - 54
1986 - 67
1987 - 64
1988 - 63
1989 - 54
1990 - 55
1991 - 64
1992 - 57
1993 - 58
1994 - 58
1995 - 62
1996 - 59
1997 - 52
1998 - 56
1999 - 66
2000 – 67
2001 - 65
2002 - 68
2003 - 64
2004 - 71
2005 - 73
2006 – 76
2007 - 72
2008 - 78
2009 - 68
2010 - 69
2011 – 56
For eruptions with a listed start date of 2011