This Volcano Erupted in 1991: You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

By: Kristopher Bangsil, Xavier Bodensieck, Sabrina Chan, Andrew Cook, Abigail Ritz, and Helen Warfle

The story of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption began several months before the actual explosion. On April 2, 1991, a series of small explosions caused a fissure to open up on the side of the mountain, alerting geologists to the volcano’s reawakening. Because of this, scientists from the USGS Volcano Hazards Program along with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) began a joint operation with the US military to create a seismic map and observatory to monitor the volcano. Using technology developed in 1981 to monitor the Mount St. Helens eruption, the scientists were able to predict that the volcano would erupt around June 15, and they were surprisingly accurate. On June 6, a series of volcano-tectonic earthquakes began to “puff up” the volcano – that is to say that the volcano was preparing itself for the eruption. Thus, on June 10, 15,000 people were evacuated from the area. On June 12, the first eruption occurred, spewing a twelve-mile high ash column and convincing the scientists the evacuation had been warranted. On June 15, exactly as the scientists predicted, the volcano exploded. The eruption was so large that a new, 1.6-mile wide caldera was formed at the top of the volcano. Valleys in the area were filled with volcanic flows of magma and rock, layered as thick as 660 feet and the ash column grew to reach as far as twenty-eight miles into the atmosphere.

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Back to Profanity

In one of my previous posts, I discussed the profanity found in The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate. In that post, I didn’t talk about “rogga” or “still” as slurs, mostly because the real world parallel to rogga is both obvious and something I don’t feel qualified to talk about. However, I would like to return to profanity by discussing still as a slur.

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The Uncanny Valley (no geological pun intended)

I first learned about the concept of the Uncanny Valley in a class I took with Professor Kirsh (psychology) called Parenting in the Zombie Apocalypse. One of the very first things we covered was why zombies, and other monsters found in the genre of horror, are scary to us. Besides their physical danger to living humans and their mindless pursuit of wiping out all of humanity, zombies are simply creepy because their appearance falls in the Uncanny Valley.

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Profanity and World Building

One of my favorite things about The Fifth Season is the incredible amount of detail N.K.Jemisin puts into her worldbuilding. Even the profanity the characters use is appropriate to the world they come from (thank you, Professor McCoy, for pointing this out). However, how do you build a new profane vocabulary? What words do you choose to be considered explicit in the context of a world completely different from our own?

Disclaimer: this post uses profane words.

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On Geophagia

In Dr. Farthing’s lab on Monday, one of the things that stood out to me was the discussion of Hoa and the consumption of geological materials. Professor McCoy’s mention of kaolinite led to me researching its potential nutritional value, eventually leading me to the term geophagia, or the eating of geological materials, specifically earth, soil, or clay.

According to the same source, geophagia is defined by psychologists as a form of pica,  a mental disorder that is characterized by eating objects of no nutritional value. However, this website does mention that eating clay does not necessarily a pica patient make, as “some cultures promote eating clay as a part of medicinal practice.”

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Velikovsky and Ancient Civilizations: What Can We Really Know?

When reading the introduction to Apocalypse by Amos Nur, I came across the term “Veliskovskyian” for the first time. The quote in whole reads “Rose [an archaeologist] demanded that, before one can hypothesize that an earthquake destroyed a society, one must prove not only that it happened, but exactly how it happened. Without proof, he claims, such a hypothesis is no more than a Veliskovskyian-style science fiction presented in the guise of science” (Nur, 3). Essentially, Nur is paraphrasing the view of opponents to his theory that civilizations were more frequently destroyed by earthquakes and other geological events than previously thought. From context, we can extrapolate that Veliskovskyian means outlandish, but where does this term come from?

Immanuel Velikovsky (also stylized as Veliskovsky because the conventions of the Cyrillic alphabet do not always translate well into the English one)  was a Russian author who was active during the mid to late 20th century with his most famous work, Worlds in Collision, coming out in 1950. Velikovsky’s specialty was analyzing ancient texts. Eventually, using comparisons of various ancient texts such as the Bible, he came up with a theory about our solar system and the effects of astrological events on human civilization that remains controversial to this day. 

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On Boats and Containment

I have been trying to write this post for a while now, but only recently did Professor McCoy provide me with the lens to critically think about what I am attempting to discuss in this post- containment.

I grew up on boats, yet I am terribly afraid of drowning. Starting at age four, my father and I went on canoe camping trips every year in the Adirondacks. I started sailing with him at age six, and at age ten, I learned to sail on my own. My family vacations always include water, usually going to the Thousand Islands or the Adirondacks and bringing a few of our eleven and a half boats (my dad is currently building one) with us. To add insult to injury, I was a competitive swimmer in high school. What I am trying to say is that I have absolutely no reason to be afraid of drowning. Continue reading “On Boats and Containment”