Monday, January 6, 2014

Unfortunately Named Or Impossible To Pronounce Volcanoes

One of the fun parts of 'Earth Browsing" on programs like Google Earth, is that you run across some... shall we say... unfortunately named places in the world. Some of the names of these places are downright hilarious, such as the town of "Batman" in Turkey, or places with ridiculously long names like Ambodilazanivivy in Madagascar. But truly, people who have the privilege of naming volcanoes have gotten away with a wee bit of fun, or at the very least, had no idea what some of these mountains would sound like in other languages.

The list of silly names for volcanoes is sort of long, but I'll pick the ones I consider to be the top 5 in the hilarity/strangeness category, and of course give you some info on them.

5) Kamchatka, Russia. Kamchatka is Russia's volcanic capitol, and home to the vast majority of all of its active volcanoes. The place lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and is host to frequent eruptions from several of its many stratovolcanoes. One of these dormant volcanoes goes by the very unfortunate name of "Taunshits".  Taunshits volcano last erupted in 550BCE, and has not had any historical eruptions, however it is likely to one day erupt again. Its summit sports a very thick andestitic lava flow reminiscent of its namesake... or at least the second syllable... oh brother....

4) Andaman Islands, India. India does not have many active volcanoes. The country itself is host to the Deccan Traps, remnants of what is thought to be ancient lava flows from the hotspot that is responsible for Reunion Island's "Piton de la Fournaise", but India itself is no longer host to any active volcanism. It does however own some island volcanoes North of Indonesia... namely an island called "Narcondum". Sounds like a mix of "narcotics" and "condom", but I'm certain it has some cultural meaning... or at least I hope. Narcondum island hosts one of India's two volcanic islands, the other being Barren Island. There have been no verified historical reports of any eruptions at Narcondum, but it does have a youthful look to it.

3) New Guinea is host to many active volcanoes, and many dormant ones. Off its North shore lies the volcanic island of "Blup Blup" (one can only guess as to why it may have been given such a silly name), which has never had any historical eruptions, although it is suspected to have erupted during the Holocene.

2) North of Grenada Island, in the Carribean chain of volcanoes which include volcanic 'superstars' such as Sofreirre Hills in Montserrat, and Montagne Pelée on the island of Martinique, is the bizarrely named "Kick 'em Jenny" submarine volcano. Again, one can only guess as to what brought a volcanologist (or whoever named this volcano) to name this volcano something that sounds like a violent suggestion, but hey, it gives us something to ponder I suppose. Kick 'Em Jenny has had many eruptions since its discovery in the 1930's, with rumbling sounds frequently audible by beach goers who dive underwater. It is a relatively new volcano, and it's last eruption was in December of 2001.

1) And the number one country with funky names for volcanoes has to go, hands down, to Iceland. Yep, we're going there with Eyjafjallajökull, a volcano with a name I'm not sure even Icelanders like to attempt to speak out loud (many opt for the shorter 'Eyja' or 'Eyjafjöll' moniker... to which I say, bully, still hard to pronounce!). Indeed, every web site, news caster, scientist, even the local Icelanders seem to have a different way to pronouncing this tongue twisting, air-travel-halting monster of a mountain. Eyjafjallajökull was the source of an eruption in 2010 that created massive ash clouds that drifted directly over Europe, causing airports to ground their air craft during the holiday season, creating travel chaos, delaying families, celebrities, students, musicians, and politicians from being able to fly. This eruption caused massive amounts of economic hardship for countries that were already experiencing the effects of the global recession. Eyjafjallajökull isn't the only tongue twisting Icelandic native however. It is also host to volcanoes with such names like "Snaefellsjökull", and "Theistareykjarbunga".

Hope you enjoyed this list! There are definitely more places and volcano names out there that will make you scratch your head, twist your tongue, or simply make you chuckle. Go find them!

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