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The volcano that destroyed Pompeii caused heads to literally explode

Being in proximity to a volcano as it unleashes hellfire upon the land is, well, not good. The residents of Pompeii and Herculaneum likely never knew what hit them when Mount Vesuvius erupted in spectacular fashion way back in the year 79, but new research helps to put the volcano’s incredible destructive power into perspective. The study reveals that the immense heat from the blast actually caused blood to boil and heads to explode.

The research, which was published in PLOS One, is incredibly gruesome in its discoveries. Using well-preserved skeletal remains from the victims of the eruption, the scientists paint a dire picture of what the last moments of life was like for those living right next Vesuvius.

“New investigations on the victims’ skeletons unearthed from the ash deposit filling 12 waterfront chambers have now revealed widespread preservation of atypical red and black mineral residues encrusting the bones, which also impregnate the ash filling the intracranial cavity and the ash-bed encasing the skeletons,” the researchers write. “The extraordinarily rare preservation of significant putative evidence of hemoprotein thermal degradation from the eruption victims strongly suggests the rapid vaporization of body fluids and soft tissues of people at death due to exposure to extreme heat.”

There’s some pretty high-level words to navigate around but to put it simply: The heat from the eruption was like that of a bomb, causing all liquid to be instantly vaporized, including body fluids like blood. When those fluids rapidly heated, expanded, and vaporized, it meant blood literally boiled and the skull of victims couldn’t contain the expansion. With temperatures potentially reaching as high as 500 degrees Celsius, their heads literally exploded.

The only silver lining in any of this is that death occurred so rapidly that those who the volcano claimed likely didn’t even have a chance to think before they succumbed. They may have had a brief moment to realize that the volcano had blown its top, but the time between when the blast reached them and their deaths would have been so short that it’s unlikely they felt much of anything before it all went dark.

Jupiter’s moon Io is covered in volcanos, and astronomers may have just spotted another one

Jupiter might be the largest, most eye-catching planet in our Solar System, but the planet itself isn’t the only interesting thing in its neighborhood. Jupiter’s moon are also a huge point of interest for scientists, and Io is one of the most bizarre. Io is similar in size to Earth’s moon, but it’s a much more active place. Its surface is dotted with incredibly active volcanoes, and astronomers studying Io might have just spotted yet another one.

Thanks to NASA’s Juno spacecraft scientists have been able to get a better look at Jupiter and its natural satellites than ever before, and when the orbiter’s Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM for short) set its sights on Io, it saw something new.

“The new Io hotspot JIRAM picked up is about 200 miles (300 kilometers) from the nearest previously mapped hotspot,” Juno co-investigator Alessandro Mura, from the National Institute for Astrophysics, explains. “We are not ruling out movement or modification of a previously discovered hot spot, but it is difficult to imagine one could travel such a distance and still be considered the same feature.”

The hotspot, seen in the image above, isn’t quite as dominant as other well-known volcanic areas of the planet, but the signal is clear enough that scientists know something is going on there. Volcanic features on a world as active as Io can move and shift, forming new volcanos and fissures over time. Scientists already know of at least 150 active volcanos on its surface, but they have long suspected that there are still hundreds of potentially active volcanos on the moon which are waiting to be found. This new hotspot may be one of them.

The data used for this discovery was originally gathered back in December of 2017, but this isn’t the last time that Juno will be making observations of Io. The orbiter will be making “even closer” passes of the striking alien moon in the future, so we might be on the verge of discovering additional features of its surface.

Police are arresting tourists for taking selfies with Hawaii’s Mt. Kilauea eruption

You know how it goes: you’re on holiday on Hawaii, on the same island as an ongoing volcanic eruption, but rather than following the lava from a safe distance via television like a normal person, you have to go see for yourself. And while you’re there, might as well take a selfie, because those Instagram pics don’t like themselves.

Unfortunately, being in the lava zones on Hawaii’s Big Island isn’t allowed, because officials are worried a tourist will injure themselves, putting more of a strain on emergency workers, and giving the impression that Hawaii is dangerous right now. (The island remains open, and only one person has been reported injured so far.)

Hawaii News Now reported earlier this week that officials have arrested about 40 people for loitering in lava zones since eruptions began. The government has had to increase the penalties for being caught in a closed rift zone — violators can now face up to a year of jail time and $5,000 in fines.

“I find there is a need to strengthen the enforcement tools available to county and state emergency management officials in controlling public access to dangerous areas and associated evacuation efforts as a result of the failure of the public to comply with instructions and orders issued by officials,” said Gov. David Ige in a statement.

The eruption started on May 3rd and has been going on for over a month now, with no signs of an end any time soon. The consequences are being felt as far away as the Marshall Islands, which are currently covered in a haze of volcanic smog. However, the actual areas physically threatened by the volcano remains small relative to the size of the island of Hawai’i.

New video shows Hawaii’s lava river flowing faster than you can run

The US Geological Survey has released a new video of the highly active Fissure 8, which has been releasing lava from the Kilauea for over a month. The lava flows out of fissure 8 and into a main channel, where the lava is moving up to 15 miles per hour, about the speed an average human can sprint over good ground. The flow slows down significantly before it reaches the ocean.

The USGS has been providing all kinds of video and photos of the ongoing eruption, which it has been studying closely.

“In this video taken from the Leilani Estates subdivision, lava at fissure 8 pulses above the cinder cone adding fragments of lava (spatter) that build the cone higher,” the USGS explains. “From fissure 8, lava flows freely over small cascades (rapids) into a well-established channel. Near the vent, lava is traveling about 24 km per hour (15 mi per hour). Lava slows to about 2 km per hour (1.5 mi per hour) near the ocean entry at Kapoho.”

The video was taken on June 17th by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Late yesterday, the eruption vigor increased, and the rate of lava flow from fissure 8 ticked up significantly.

The eruption started on May 3rd and has been going on for over a month now, with no signs of an end any time soon. The consequences are being felt as far away as the Marshall Islands, which are currently covered in a haze of volcanic smog. However, the actual areas physically threatened by the volcano remains small relative to the size of the island of Hawai’i.

Dozens dead after volcano erupts in Guatemala

All eyes have been on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano as it continues to pour molten rock from a number of fissures in the ground, but another volcanic event just occurred and it’s already caused far more dread. Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted yesterday, stretching into the night, and the current death toll stands at 25.

According to observers, the eruption was fierce, spewing lava and shooting smoke several miles high. The resulting ash and debris blanketed residential areas and buried homes and people. Evacuation orders were immediately issued, displacing over 3,000 people, but not everyone made it out unscathed. Officials say the death toll could still climb.

Recovery and rescue efforts are still ongoing, and the country isn’t out of the woods yet. Researchers from Guatemala’s National Institute of Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology warn that subsequent eruptions could follow. On top of that, the agency warns that mudslides could occur due to the volcanic debris piling up, and the huge amount of ash created by the eruption will be spread to new areas by winds.

Photos released by government agencies show the extent of the damage, with huge areas covered in ash and rescuers doing their best to round up residents and escort them to safety. Roads and buildings are absolutely covered in volcanic material, and it’s clear that the cleanup effort is going to take some time.

The country’s officials have declared a state of emergency. El Salvador, Israel, and Puerto Rico have reportedly reached out to the government of Guatemala to express their support and offer assistance.

Volcanos are quite common on Guatemala, and the country counts 37 different volcanos in its borders. Only a handful of them are active, with Fuego being one of the most volatile in the region. Still, eruptions can be completely unpredictable, and this one seems to have caught lots of people off guard.