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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Abstract: "Isolation Theory" Rosenberg, Scott, Shane et al.

Michael Rosenberg (Volcanologist, GNS)
Brad Scott (Volcano Surveillance Coordinator, GNS)
Phil Shane (Assoc. Prof. School of Environment, University of Auckland)
& others (NZ government scientists)

Isolation Theory:
1. Volcanic and seismic activity (earthquakes and eruptions) along known tectonic faultlines occur in isolation to one another and are not connected or related in any way.
2. Only activity that occurs in a small localised area (ie. much less than 200km apart) are connected and related even if other activity occurs simultaneously within the same volcanic field

 Rosenberg: [from GNS Volcanic Alert Bulletin 02/08/2012]:
The increased activity at White Island has no connection with the recent earthquakes and changes in gas flux at Tongariro volcano.

This was issued without any further explanation.

Scott: [from NZ Herald 02/08/2012]:
Brad Scott of GNS tells a press conference it was just a coincidence that White Island and Mt Tongariro erupted within the same week. The weather was at its best this morning to conduct a fly-over, and it was now working against scientists to get up in a helicopter to observe the mountain.

The commitment to a coincidence happens before a full survey has taken place.

Shane: [from NZ Herald 08/08/2012]:
 [...] it was a "grey area" whether the eruption of Mt Tongariro was connected to recent activity at White Island.[...]"The volcanoes are too far apart for them to be directly linked, but then they are linked because all the volcanoes from Tongariro through the central North Island and even out to the Kermadec Islands are all part of the same subduction system - one plate sitting above another," Dr Shane said.But given that the two volcanoes were hundreds of kilometres apart, Dr Shane said it was "just fortuitous" they both showed activity at the same time.
He said it could be up to a week before scientists knew exactly what triggered the Mt Tongariro eruption. 

He recants on the "grey area" in deference to the predominant Isolation Theory. But he does know that whatever triggered it is not related to Whakaari and did not eminate from as far away as that (ie. less than 200km).

Consequences of this theory:

Isolation Theory is employed by NZ government scientists as a confident, unqualified and definitive position that can be asserted immediately as a matter of fact not open to discussion and the media will dutifully circulate this as an uncontested fact so that it has been widely accepted by the general population (see comments in an earlier post).

The government scientists maintain this theory as axiomatic and without the need for further explanation and will as a matter of routine claim that events occuring close together in time are unrelated and coincidental if they are not in the immediate local vicinity.

The corollary of this theory is that looking for correlations between activity outside a local area will not be fruitful and is irrelevant and therefore will not be pursued. The obvious implication is that they will never find any correlation that exists because they won't be looking for it. The avenues of research and knowledge of seismic and volcanic events and processes are being inappropriately limited by the reflexive adherence to Isolation Theory.


How close together in time do events outside of a local vicinity have to be in order to be considered connected? eg. if it isn't a few days or a day, is it an hour? five minutes? Or would an exact simultaneous eruption at two points 200km apart still be considered a coincidence?

How close together in distance do events have to be to be considered connected? Whakaari and Tongariro are approx. 200km and that was ruled out, so what about 100km? 50km? 20km?

Does Isolation Theory (as applied to the North Island situation) mean that there is no possibility of any North-South movement along the fault?

How can Isolation Theory discount connection when it is a common experience that bigger earthquakes can normally be felt well beyond 200km from the epicentre and when entire volcanic structures, like Taupo, are 10, 20, 30km or more across and must extend some way outside of the visible above-ground proximity?


At 8/8/12 1:02 pm, Blogger Rupert said...

The great thing about blogs is that they give the reader direct access to informed opinion, without the editorial and gatekeeper functions of traditional media getting in the way.

The bad thing about blogs is that they do exactly the same thing for uninformed opinion.

You're wrong on this. The only reason you don't know you're wrong is that you don't know enough about the subject to have an informed opinion.

At 8/8/12 1:09 pm, Blogger countryboy said...

As a Christchurch earthquake refugee I say flee !
Use your common sense and ask yourself . Am I at risk here ? If the answer is yes then get the fuck out of there ! It's bloody inconvenient and expensive but it's better than dead I'm thinking . The government is mindful of the financial costs involved and that's all . They see loss of life as collateral damage . Lives before dollars . Charming .
After the September '10 earthquake we made plans to move . We were out of town 12 days before the February '11 quake . My partner would have been in her two story brick studio in Lyttelton when that one struck . I could have been anywhere but most likely in New Brighton . Just sayin' .

At 8/8/12 5:03 pm, Blogger countryboy said...

@ Rupert . Then please enlighten us ? Post a link . Have an opinion that may be informative . Share the knowledge you clearly have ? How else might we emerge from the darkness of not knowing ? Being wrong is fine and pointing out errors is fine also . But how about some nurturing and guiding without the blaming and the poo pooing ? Lord knows there's enough poo around these days . Down with poo ! Let me see the light !

At 8/8/12 8:17 pm, Blogger MCA said...

Iread you clear Rupert, but I wouldn't want to be near either for the near future.


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