Hi! My name is Ms. Graham. I am a teacher at the Marymount School of New York. Join me as I investigate the effects of Masaya, an active volcano in Nicaragua!
Monday, March 1, 2010
Gravity, GPS, and Bats... Oh My!
Today I saw my first volcano... and it was amazing. As you can see, the Masaya volcano, or more accurately, the Santiago crater, or caldera, in the Masaya volcano (because there are many craters in the volcano, but Santiago is the only active one) constantly emits gas. The cloud in the picture is actually a mix of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and most significantly, sulphur dioxide. Though we did not do so today, in the next few days, we will take air quality measurements to quantify the sulphur dioxide. We will also follow the plume of gas as it travels west toward the Pacific coast. Any idea why this might be important?
The measurements we did take today include gravity readings and GPS readings. GPS readings are important so that we know where we are around the volcano and support the more important gravity measurements. Gravity measurements are taken around the volcano to surmise what might be happening under the ground in terms of magma activity. (I will explain more about this tomorrow and bonus points to the person who can accurately report back with the equation for calculating gravity!!) I think one of my favorite parts of today was listening to the magma; you can't see it, but you can clearly hear something that resembles the sounds of waves crashing on the beach.
My last adventure today was exploring a lava tube in the caldera, which is basically a cave that was created by lava flow from a prior eruption (the last eruption was in 1772!). This area is now a bat cave, so I braved the darkness and uneven terrain to steal a glimpse of a few hundred bats (they were small and cute!) both flying and hanging around in their natural habitat. To my relief, they didn't mind me, or my flashlight, at all. Thank goodness.............