Volcano scoring system updated
A new scoring system will make it easier to keep tabs on New Zealand's volcanic activity from tomorrow.
The Volcanic Alert Level system, used by GNS Science and GeoNet to communicate volcanic activity, has been simplified to provide better guidance in the event of volcanic unrest, GNS Science said.
"The old system was used successfully through many eruptions, but user groups told us that it was too complex," GNS volcano information specialist Brad Scott said.
The six-stage system was changing to better align with the needs of organisations such as the civil defence and emergency management sector, tourism operators, and civil aviation, as well as the public and the media, he said.
The new system was developed as part of a PhD research project at Massey University, with input from the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management and other user groups.
GNS social science researcher Sally Potter said it would improve communication of scientific information.
"During my research the people who use the alert level system told me that having a simple volcanic alert level system is really important to them," she said.
"So we combined the two existing systems into one new system for all of New Zealand's volcanoes, and simplified the wording.
"We also included information on the most likely hazards that will be seen at each alert level. This is important information for our emergency management partners and communities affected by the volcanoes."
She said the former system was too complex, plus developments in volcano monitoring over the past 20 years created an opportunity for a more accurate alerting system, especially in defining lower levels of activity.
The overall number of levels in the new system would remain unchanged, from 0 (no volcanic unrest) to 5 (major volcanic eruption). No changes have been made to the international aviation colour code system.
Volcanologists first developed the alert system in 1994. It was revised before the Ruapehu eruptions in 1995 and this is its third update.
RECENT VOLCANIC ACTIVITY
White Island - January 2014
Papakura Geyser - October 2013
Mt Tongariro - August 2013
Ruapehu - May 2013
Powerful Savo volcano could be solution to electricity demands of Solomon Islands capital Honiara
Updated Mon 30 Jun 2014,
An Australian company is hoping it can use thermal power from a Solomon Islands volcano to provide electricity to the country's capital, Honiara.
Savo Island's volcano last erupted more than 100 years ago but steam escaping from its vents can often be seen from Honiara, on the much larger island of Guadalcanal where blackouts are not uncommon.
If the project works out then power would be delivered to Honiara via an undersea cable that would run for the 14 kilometres between the two islands.
The Brisbane based Geodynamics Limited and its joint venture partner Kentor Energy Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Kentor Gold) told the Australian Stock Exchange the granting of development consent by the Solomon Islands Government follows a review of both their Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and their Environmental Management Plan.
"The next key step for us is to undertake exploration drilling on the island to prove the existence of a geothermal reserve capable of supporting the project," Geodynamic's chief executive officer Geoff Ward said.
"But also, as a key prerequisite to that, we are negotiating a power purchasing agreement to know that there will be a market for the power should we be successful with our exploration."
Those negotiations are with the Solomon Islands Electricity Authority and government.
"Our initial exploration studies have identified a resource in excess of 30 megawatts potential on Savo Island," Mr Ward said.
"That would be enough to supply all of Honiara's demand and a significant part of its future demand."
If it proceeds to development, Mr Ward says the electricity would be generated in a power station which would be built on Savo.
"In geothermal power we're looking to identify and exploit geothermal heat which is trapped in a reservoir deep under the ground typically located at a depth of 1,500 to 2,000 metres," he said.
"So on Savo Island there is a heat source where tectonic and volcanic activity has brought it up close to the surface.
"We hope to find a reservoir trapped in fractured rock with a cap that we can drill through using specially designed and constructed equipment that can safely manage the temperature and pressure of the fluids down there.
"We'll bring the fluids to the surface through a production well, extract the heat from those fluids to drive a steam turbine and then we re-inject the brine or condensed steam back into the reservoir it came from creating a balanced and closed system."
At the moment most of Honiara's power comes from diesel generators, and fuel imports make up about 20 per cent of the Solomon Islands' total import bill.
Mr Ward says the company believes it would need at least an initial 10 MW power station to justify the costs of exploration and building the infrastructure.
"We're very confident that it will be cheaper than diesel," he said.
"We anticipate that the cost of diesel will keep going up and the cost of geothermal would remain flat over the life of the project."
Mr Ward says the switch from imported fossil fuel based energy to indigenous renewable energy should free up foreign reserves currently used to pay for diesel imports and so help it will improve the Solomon Islands Balance of Trade.
However, that is still a few years away.
"If we commence exploration later this year we would hope to be in production in 2018," he said.
Geodynamics is working on a similar thermal-power exploration project on Efate Island in Vanuatu.
Stromboli volcano (Eolian Islands, Italy): intense activity and lava flows
Following intense phases of continuous spattering (or small lava fountaining) from the central and other vents, accompanied by increasing tremor, a first intra-crater lava flow started around 08:30 local time from the NE hornito (S2).
Shortly after, starting from 11:18 an effusive vent starts to open up on the outer northwestern slope of the crater terrace, some ten meters beneath the NW vent complex (vent S3), and issue a lava flow directly onto the Sciara.
Both lava flows were relatively short-lived, while strombolian and spattering activity continued intense at the various vents.
A third lava flow occurred again from the NE hornito at 19:30 inside the crater terrace.
A 4th lava flow, and the most vigorous one so far, and the one still active, began around 20:30 last night as overflow from the same NE hornito (S2) and has been traveling down the upper Sciara del Fuoco. Whether it will reach the sea will mainly depend on how stable the current magma supply rate is.
Video of Pizzo webcam during last night: