Thanks, Liz, for the groovy MSH update! I always love hearing from my favorite volcano.
I need to get a new camera so I can post cool pictures like Liz on this site. For the moment, I'd like to make a note of how this blog got started, and why, we, as Volcano Goddesses (ok, maybe just Volcano Chicks, I don't want to incur the wrath of Pele), are here. I can at least speak for myself, at present.
To me, volcanoes represent the entire spectrum of death and rebirth that is a part of our entire existence on this planet. Plus, let's face it, hot magma and plates banging together below the surface of the earth is just sexy. And hot. Most literally.
Also volcanoes may have been where life first began in this world. As evidenced by this article:
Also, as an anthropologist and disaster analyst, I am very intrigued on how humans interact with volcanoes. Disaster is a HUMAN-created event. I will say this again, in a more scientific way: Disaster is ANTHROPOGENIC. Volcanoes erupt. They do not wake up one morning and decide to destroy a village. WE, as HUMANS, are in the path of an event. It then becomes a disaster. Take a look at Nevado del Ruiz. This wasn't even a very large eruption, but the resulting mudflows took all of the town of Armero. The occupants could have been led to safety if the warnings of the scientists had been adhered to, or even conveyed.
OK, so what does that have to with the price of tea in China? Well, our activities as humans are leading to more natural hazards: ineffective city planning and communications (Armero), icecaps melting and creating flood conditions (if you don't agree climate change is real that is another subject, I will try to stick to volcanoes here), building on landfills, building dams upstream from communities, and the list goes on and on. Let's just say as a catastrophe analyst I've looked at my fair share of buildings wondering whether or not they were worth insuring against "natural" hazards.
So, that's a little of my soapbox time. Basically, I think we should let volcanoes do what they do, and try to stay out of the way. Volcanoes do incredible things over the long term: make land more available for agriculture by refreshing topsoil mineral content, provide us insight into what is happening INSIDE our earth, produce unique artifacts for trade (obsidian), create new seafloor (daily!) and help create ozone. Additionally, here in the Pacific Northwest, we owe much of our rainforest to the volcanoes, which trap moisture to the west of the Cascades, making it rain A LOT.
Volcanoes remind us that as strong as we are, ultimately everything is temporary, and there are some things that are out of human control. To me, literally, I am reminded I am not in charge. I can breathe easy. The planet will still do what it does, as long as we don't blow it to pieces ourselves.