Researchers claim volcanoes can become active in short time

Mount_Hood

Researchers at a pair of Western US universities report they have uncovered a key factor in predicting volcanic eruptions.

Geologists from the University of California-Davis and Oregon State University have found that in order for a volcanic eruption to occur, molten rock under the volcano must be sufficiently mobile. This occurs when the temperature of rock below the volcano rises to more than 1,328 degrees Fahrenheit.

The researchers developed their findings by studying Oregon’s Mount Hood, located in Cascade Range, about 50 miles east of Portland.

“The team found that the magma located roughly three miles beneath the surface of Mount Hood has been stored in near-solid conditions for thousands of years,” according to RedOrbit. “However, they say that it takes just a significantly short period – perhaps as little as a few months – for said magma to liquefy and potentially lead to an eruption.”

The belief that there is a big reservoir of liquid magma under an active volcano is not always true, said Kari Cooper, lead author and an associate professor at UC Davis.

“The study team said that mobility of the magma depends on the amount of crystallization,” according to RedOrbit. “When it is more than about 50 percent crystalline, it becomes immobile. Crystallization, in turn, depends on the temperature of the rock.

“If the temperature of the solid rock rises to more than 1,328 degrees F, which can happen when hot magma rises up from deeper within the Earth’s crust, an eruption may be imminent,” the online publication added.

“If the temperature of the rock is too cold, the magma is like peanut butter in a refrigerator,” Oregon State University professor Adam Kent said in a statement. “It just isn’t very mobile. For Mount Hood, the threshold seems to be about 750 degrees (C) [1,328 Fahrenheit] – if it warms up just 50 to 75 degrees above that, it greatly increases the viscosity of the magma and makes it easier to mobilize.”

Mount Hood has had at least four major eruptive periods during the past 15,000 years. The last three occurred within the past 1,800 years. The last of these took place around 170-220 years ago, shortly before the arrival of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, according to the website www.mounthoodhistory.com.

For the study, researchers studied rocks ejected from Mount Hood’s previous eruptions. By analyzing the radioactive isotopes and the distribution of trace elements, the team was able to reconstruct the history of the rocks and the conditions they were exposed to before the volcano erupted, according to RedOrbit.

The results of their findings could make it much easier for volcanologists to assess when a volcano is ready to explode. If eruptible magma is indeed relatively rare, then when it does appear, the risks of an eruption are much higher, Cooper noted.

(Top: Oregon’s Mount Hood, part of the Cascade Range.)

Investigating the rich history of Lowcountry rice farming

rice barge

When one thinks of antebellum agriculture, one typically thinks of cotton. Indeed, by 1860 Southern farms and plantations supplied 75 percent of the world’s cotton, and Gossypium hirsutum was the dominant agricultural crop from the Carolinas to Texas.

Cotton was such an important part of the pre-war South that the Confederacy believed it would be the ultimate instrument of its independence.

Much less well known today is the princely standing held by another Deep South crop during the days before the War Between the States – that of rice.

Rice was introduced to the United States in the 17th century and is reported to have been cultivated in Virginia almost as soon as the first settlers landed at Jamestown, but it was in the marshy, humid regions of Lowcountry South Carolina and Georgia that the crop flourished.

Rice planters couldn’t have succeeded without the forced labor of slaves, particularly those from the Senegambia area of West Africa and coastal Sierra Leone.

At the port of Charleston, slaves with knowledge of rice culture brought the highest price and were put to use on rice plantations around Charleston, Georgetown, S.C., and Savannah, Ga.

A new book by Richard Dwight Porcher Jr. and William Robert Judd detailing the once-great Lowcountry rice industry states that nowhere else was an agricultural crop so intimately tied to status and its associated wealth and influence as rice was to the Lowcountry.

The Market Preparation of Carolina Rice: An Illustrated History of Innovations in the Lowcountry Rice Kingdom is an extensive account of the rice industry in Lowcountry South Carolina and Georgia.

market preparation“… the real strength of this book is the author’s documentation based on extensive field research of fifty rice plantations, mill sites, museum and archival collections and travels to investigate foreign connections to the Lowcountry rice industry,” according to a review by the Charleston Post and Courier.

The work, published by University of South Carolina Press, which contains “meticulously rendered line drawings depicting the mechanical devices of the rice industry, lend a startling clarity to the written explanations of how they actually functioned and what part each played in the crop’s journey from the field to the consumer,” the publication adds.

The Market Preparation of Carolina Rice identifies the inventiveness of Deep South planters, recognizing that the U.S. Patent Office granted substantial numbers of antebellum patents to South Carolinians for inventions or improvement for rice harvesting and milling equipment alone.

It also recognizes the contributions of slaves “whose blood and sweat transformed inland swamps and riverine marshes into the remarkably dynamic hydraulic systems that composed the sweeping rice fields of the Lowcountry,” according to the Post and Courier.

The book doesn’t gloss over the fact that slaves worked in brutal conditions, explaining “that tidal river marshes were an extremely harsh environment just to exist in, let alone to work in. As it proved, an enslaved work force was the essential element in the survival of the Rice Kingdom, for without them the days of glory were over.”

(Top: Image showing the unloading of rice barges on a 19th century South Carolina rice plantation.)

Monet discovered among art hoard collected during Nazi era

vue de sainte-adresse

A German art collector who came about his works partly through his father’s questionable dealings during World War II managed to smuggle a Monet with him into a hospital where he was admitted earlier this year.

The hospital sent the suitcase containing the work by the famed French Impressionist to the executor of Cornelius Gurlitt’s estate on Sept. 2 after having kept it in storage for several months following Gurlitt’s death, according to The Art Newspaper.

Gurlitt had some 1,400 paintings, drawings and sketches – believed to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars and including masterpieces by Picasso and Chagall – in his apartment in Munich for decades.

During the Nazi era, Gurlitt’s father Hildebrand was tasked with selling works taken or bought under duress from Jewish families, and avant-garde art seized from German museums that the Hitler regime deemed “degenerate,” according to Agence France-Presse.

In the final days of World War II, Hildebrand Gurlitt had loaded his family and the artworks into a truck to flee Allied bombing, ending up at a baron’s castle in Bavaria, according to the Wall Street Journal.

After the elder Gurlitt died in 1956, his son assumed the collection.

Gurlitt apparently brought the Monet to the hospital in southern Germany as his health worsened earlier this year. Gurlitt went home shortly before he died on May 6, but the work was left at the hospital, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Experts have determined that around 450 works in the Gurlitt collection are suspected of being looted art, while another 380 may have been confiscated “degenerate” works, Agence France-Presse added.

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Independence movements around globe watching Scotland

With a week until the people of Scotland vote on independence from Great Britain, separatist movements around the world are watching closely.

“From Catalonia to Kurdistan to Quebec, nationalist and separatist movements in Europe and beyond are watching the Scottish independence referendum closely – sometimes more so than Britons themselves, who seem to have only just woken up to the possibility that Scotland might vote next Thursday to bring to an end a 307-year union,” writes the New York Times.

“A curious collection of left and right, rich and poor, marginal and mainstream, these movements are united in the hope that their shared ambition for more self-determination will get a lift from an independent Scotland,” it added.

The Telegraph reports that a record-breaking 4.3 million have registered to vote in Scottish referendum, the highest number in Scottish electoral history, and recent polls show the pro-independence movement gaining steam as the vote nears.

As of yesterday, the No campaign had a slim lead over the Yes campaign, 47.6 percent to 42.4 percent. But when the 10 percent who said they were still undecided were removed from the equation, the survey suggests that the Yes campaign would win, 53-47, according to The Telegraph.

The referendum is gathering attention around the globe.

“Busloads of Catalans, South Tiroleans, Corsicans, Bretons, Frisians and ‘Finland-Swedes’ are headed for Scotland to witness the vote,” according to the Times. “Even Bavaria (which calls itself ‘Europe’s seventh-largest economy’) is sending a delegation.”

“It would create a very important precedent,” said Naif Bezwan of Mardin Artuklu University in the Kurdish part of Turkey. Across the Iraqi border (or “the Kurdish-Kurdish border,” as Mr. Bezwan puts it), where a confluence of war, oil disputes and political turmoil has renewed the debate about secession, Kurds pine for the opportunity of a Scottish-style breakup, the publication added.

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It ain’t a party til someone gets naked, busts out windows

windows

Further evidence that people who get naked in public aren’t the sort of folks you want to see naked in public.

Over the weekend, Tina Robinson, 40, of Anderson, SC, was charged with criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature after deputies were alerted that a naked woman was allegedly busting out vehicle windows.

Authorities said the incident stemmed from a domestic incident.

Deputies said a 54-year-old man claimed he and Robinson, his wife, had been arguing about her “being on dope and being gone for days” when she punched him and then went after him with a knife that she ended up plunging into the wall near him, according to WYFF.com.

When she learned he had called 911, Robinson punched out a window of their house and the windows of their vehicle before departing.

Witnesses told deputies a naked female was later seen busting out windows in the neighborhood and had visible injuries.

Anderson was taken into custody after K-9 units were called in to locate her.

Methinks there may be bigger issues here than public nudity and a few broken car windows.

(HT: Waldo Lydecker’s Journal.)

NC woman, born the daughter of a slave, dies at 91

A North Carolina woman believed to be one of the last residents of the Tar Heel State with a parent who had been a slave has died at age 91.

Mattie Rice of Union County was the daughter of Wary Clyburn, a former slave who died in 1930 at about age 90, when his daughter was 8.

During the Civil War, Clyburn ran away from his plantation in Lancaster County, S.C., to join his master’s son, Frank Clyburn, initially a member of Company E of the 12th S.C. Infantry Regiment, working as his bodyguard and cook.

Rice recalled her father speaking proudly about risking his life to save Frank Clyburn, dragging the officer to safety after he had been wounded in battle, according to the Charlotte Observer.

According to the Compiled Service Records, Thomas Franklin “Frank” Clyburn (1843-1896) joined the Confederate Army as a first lieutenant in the summer of 1861 and rose to the rank of colonel, eventually taking charge of the 12th S.C. Infantry.

He saw action at numerous bloody battles, including Second Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg, The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House.

Frank Clyburn was severely wounded on May 23, 1864, in Virginia.

“In December 2012, Rice helped dedicate the marker in Monroe to her father and nine other Union County men. Nine of the men were slaves and one was a free black man, all of whom served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War then received tiny state pensions for their service late in life,” according to the Observer.

The granite marker at the Old County Courthouse is believed to be the first of its kind to honor black men who worked, willingly or not, for the Confederacy.

The marker sparked some controversy and raised questions about elevating so-called “black Confederates” while downplaying slavery’s role in the War Between the States.

Rice ignored such criticism, spending decades “pursuing her unusual family history,” according to the Observer.

Before the 2012 ceremony, she told the publication, “A lot of people ask me if I’m angry. What do I have to be angry about? There’s been slavery since the beginning of time. I’m not bitter about it and I do not think my father would be bitter about it.”

Earl Ijames, a curator at the North Carolina Museum of History, praised Rice’s persistence over the years in highlighting her family background, work that illuminated a long-forgotten chapter of state history.

Rice’s father settled in Monroe, N.C., after the war, and is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery.

(Top: Mattie Rice, seen in 2012, in Union County, NC. Photo credit: The [Monroe County] Enquirer-Journal.)

Persian literature exhibition winding down in Washington

If you’re in Washington, D.C., over the next couple of weeks you can catch the tail-end of an exhibition exploring the literary tradition of the Persian language during the past millennium.

A Thousand Years of the Persian Book,” at the Library of Congress, includes an array of works, from illuminated manuscripts to modern-day publications. The exhibition focuses on the literary achievements of not just Iran, which is recognized as the birthplace of Persian, but also the Persian-speaking regions of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Central and South Asia, and the Caucasus.

The exhibition, which runs through Sept. 20, features 75 items drawn primarily from the Library of Congress’s Persian collection, part of its African and Middle Eastern Division.

“The Persian language gained prominence as a literary and common cultural language about a thousand years ago,” according to information from the Library of Congress. “Since then, a rich and varied written and spoken heritage has developed in the Persian language, elevating the visibility of the Persian civilization among world intellectual traditions.

“That tradition is particularly strong in the fields of storytelling, poetry, folklore, and literature, with important contributions in historiography, science, religion, and philosophy,” it adds.

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