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July 19th, 2009

Station Identified and Analysed

One of my photographs of Kilauea's current eruption ended up as the Station Ident image on Warren Ellis' site yesterday.

It's been interesting watching the effects of linked images on my Flickr stats. Digg has giving me the most hits to date, with StumbleUpon a distant second. There's a distinct long tail from BoingBoing and Lifehacker, while news sites like TechRadar give you a quick boost that fades away as stories drop off the front page - as does linking to an image in a tweet...

Warren's site is definitely a long tail site, as I've seen when images of mine have appeared in his regular collages. This new format of his seems to mix the burst of a news site (though not as high traffic, though high for a genre writer) with long tail effects...

The image?

It's another shot of the steam plume from the current lava ocean entry points on the south coast of Big Island.

Pele's steam bath

There's just a hint of lava glow in the underside of the clouds of steam, while the underlighting from the sunset light adds a touch of drama as the southern sky darkens with yet another tropical squall.

Volcanoes FT(photography)W.

World War II Bomber Found On Moon

I used to work with the chap who wrote that classic headline for the infamous Sunday Sport.

Over lunch in a Shepton Mallet pub one day he told me the story behind that (and other headlines). They spent all Thursday, after the rest of the paper had been put together, sitting in various pubs around Hull coming up with more and more insane ideas, before writing up the most weird. Sober, he was a great writer, able to churn out news stories quicker than most people I know. Drunk, well, he could out-weird Charlie Stross after 3 cans of Jolt.

I don't think Chris could have realised that we were just a handful of years away from putting a satellite in lunar orbit that would have the camera resolution to see devices smaller than that World War II bomber his art guys cut and pasted onto an old NASA picture.

But here we are a day away from the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11's landing - and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is sending back pictures of the various Apollo landing sites, including Apollo 11's. That shadow there, between those two craters? That's Eagle's descent stage.

You know, that doesn't look like a movie studio to me.

Tranquillity Base? We can see you from here.

Now to look for that bomber.


The Hawaiian language has many words for the different types of lava, but two have become part of the language of volcanic eruptions. The first, 'a'a, is a rough, crumbly lava that rolls across the land in crusted masses. The second, pāhoehoe, is very different , smooth, often ropey, flows of rock.

Walking to the lava flow viewing areas near Kilauea and to the Kalapana black sand beaches you walk across fields of ropey, slowly crumbling pāhoehoe. Everything has melted, flowing into uneven lumps and whorls of dense black rock. The twists and turns cable their way across the slowly undulating landscape, disappearing in cracks or in the broken roofs of lava tubes. Close up the pāhoehoe shines, an iridescent silver black. There's glass in here, the molten silicates of the basalt crystallising out as the rock slowly cools.

Soon it too will be sand.


Kalapana, Hawaii
June 2009