Thursday, December 15, 2011

How The Volcano Science And News Blog Works

A couple questions have been asked regarding how I collect, review, and publish data. I am happy to answer these questions. First, a bit about me.

I have been fascinated by volcanoes since I was very young. At age 6 I was making model volcanoes, and watching (nonstop I might add) volcano tapes (yes, I'm old, I used VHS tapes!) from National Geographic. My childhood heroes were Maurice and Katya Kraaft, French volcanologists who were killed in a sudden volcanic eruption in the 1990's (very sad). Since then, volcanoes and earthquakes have become somewhat of an obsessive hobby of mine. Currently, I work as a network administrator for a web development company in the US, which is my second passion (computers).

My educational background is as follows. I went to an art school for High School where I studied video production and journalism, which I also went to college for. I went back to college after a brief stint as a videographer/college news writer, and attained a degree in Computer Network Engineering, which is my current profession. However my passion lies in many things, not the least of which is journalism. I find myself quite frustrated today with the lack of journalistic integrity (and good grammar... why is it that every post I read on the Internet seems like nobody has proof read anything?), so I wanted to get back into the fray and show the newbies how it's done.

As you can imagine, staring at progress bars and computer statistics all day long can get a bit tedious, and as all people should do, I decided to fully embrace my nerdiness and begin publishing scientific-style postings about our active planet as a hobby. I have been watching, visiting, and reading about volcanoes for over 20 years, and consider myself to be an amateur expert on the subject. I try and be very careful not to inject opinion into my blogs, as opinions are not useful when it comes to science. There are far too many sensationalist blogs and bloggers out there, and not enough level-headed geeks who appreciate solid facts.

That all being said, I use many methods to come up with the blog posts. I follow several professional volcanologists online, not the least of which is John Seach , a world-renowned Australian volcanologist who runs a very scientific website.

I religiously monitor all of the USGS websites including (but not limited to):
The USGS Official Website
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)
The Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO)
The Long Valley Volcano Observatory (LVO)
The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO)

Foreign Observatories (I am in San Diego, CA, USA)
The Kamchatka Volcano Observatory (KVERT)
Iceland Meteorological Office (Iceland MET)

Blogs (various)
Jon Frimann

I also regularly check the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program for any eruptions that may have begun that were not reported on the aforementioned sites.

And any other news articles I can search for on Google/Bing/etc.

As far as the seismic monitoring tools I use,  my favorite (but not only) tool is the Google Earth KML file from USGS (provided here) which displays real time quake data that has been reviewed by seismologists. This tool is EXTREMELY useful for quick analysis and situation monitoring, however it only covers areas of the world that have USGS censors, and/or cooperation with other international geological agencies. Some areas like Iceland, the Canary Islands, Africa, etc do not have a cooperative operation with USGS, or my plugin.

I hope this allays any fears that this blog is written by rank amateurs, and I hope you continue to enjoy good reporting on the many goings-on of our very active planet!

In the future, I will try to be more clear on the sources of data as I report for your benefit.

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