NOTA BENE

Notes, comment and buzz from Eugene Kaspersky – Official Blog

April 10, 2013

Tolbachik – hotter than Tolbasco.

Herewith, the second Tolbachik report – to follow the first.

Today – about natural incineration; for it turned out that the most fun to be had on our trip to Tolbasco-chik came from assorted items burning up in flames after being thrown into the flowing lava!

tolbachik-lava-eruption-kamchatka

As we were told by various volcanists, the temperature of the lava here is from around 700° centigrade (1300° Fahrenheit) where it cools (black), and up to 1000°C (1800°F) or more (where it’s red hot). This is perfectly sufficient for practically any object – no matter what it’s made of – to combust and be reduced to ash, literally in a flash! 

tolbachik-eruption-volcano-lava-kamchatka07The Ballantine’s rides again

It all started with simple curiosity – with a stone thrown in “to see what happens”. To our surprise it didn’t sink, instead making a knocking sound on the surface of what seemed to be a liquid substance. After the stone, in went a tissue. It flared up instantaneously and burned for quite some time.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before everything disposable we could lay our hands on (or at least everything not too expensive or irreplaceable) followed in the (lava!) tracks of the stone and tissue (shame we didn’t have some scissors, for neatness’s sake:). So, one by one – in flew plastic bottles, glass bottles, and two champagne corks (a birthday was celebrated here)…

Before we went silly lobbing all our bits and pieces into the lava, we first got the green light from the volcanists, who told us that our garbage would do absolutely no harm to the lava. Thus emboldened, the next day we decided to bring with us a bag full of all sorts of odds and ends for ritual launchings. Accordingly, also ceremonially cremated here were: a domino set, an umbrella, and – last and least – a toilet roll (when everything else had run out).

What burned best of all were logs of wood (we had several bags of firewood for heating up the tents (we had a portable wood stove)). Glass bottles weren’t bad either (who goes to a volcanic eruption where there’s nothing but extreme bad weather conditions without plenty of liquor?). As per the advice of the volcanists, we put messages into said bottles, also business cards, and even 100-ruble notes (the aforementioned liquor I think by then having kicked in something proper).

Once the bottles had been catapulted, we saw that the lava flowed in two directions – to the east and to the west. This got us wondering – where would they end up? In the Sea of Okhotsk or the Pacific Ocean?

tolbachik-eruption-kamchatka2“МЧС РОССИИ” is an abbreviation for the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia, but it can be translated directly, though not quite properly, as … Extreme Situations of Russia. I think that sums up Tolbachik blowing its top rather nicely!

tolbachik-eruption-volcano-lava-kamchatka08“Scarpa”? – maybe she’d better :)

tolbachik-eruption-volcano-lava-kamchatka09The infamous brolly – before…

tolbachik-eruption-volcano-lava-kamchatka…during…

tolbachik-eruption-volcano-lava-kamchatka009…and after

Funnily enough, the lava had almost no visible effect on the domino set! No bursting into flames, nothing! Thus, advice: don’t bother taking dominos with you on a lava observation operation :).

So, what else?…

Another unexpected curiosity:

What made the greatest impression during the whole trip weren’t the streams of red hot lava, or even the nighttime fireworks displays of the eruption. Most impressive of all was the moment when we first landed at the site. Bags unloaded, helicopter flown off, we were left on our own in an immense snowy desert, right next to a thundering volcano and lava streams, with a ferocious wind and a temperature around -20°C (-4°F). Now that was something I’ll never forget.

Tale of the unexpected #2:

During a snowstorm, about 200 meters from us we could make out the figures of two human beings! Eh? How’s that possible? Where’ve they turned up from? Why would anyone be walking about up here of all places? As it turned out it was the Russian photographer Irina Daletskaya and her daughter. They’d flown in to snap the eruption and wound up under a cyclone. As a result, instead of two days’ photographing they got two weeks of trying to survive in the most extreme of conditions – frost, wind, hot flying slag cutting into tents, and so on. But all ended well. The weather sorted itself out, we flew in to the rescue, and three days later we were all evacuated off Kamchatka back to the mainland. Phew!

tolbachik-kamchatka-eruption-lava-photo01I wonder – do laptops have a minimum recommended operation temperature?

tolbachik-kamchatka-eruption-lava-photo

That’s all for now. If I think of more interesting stuff from out here – I’ll tell you shortly…

The rest of the photos are here.

comments Leave a note
Leave a note
July 31, 2015

Icelandic Waterfallism.

Iceland‘s a very wet country in the cool time of year, and very snowy in winter. (There isn’t a warm season here to speak of – unless you submerge yourself in hot springs for three months.) So, in terms of H2O here – there’s plenty. And since there are a great many volcanoes in the […]

July 29, 2015

Icelandic tectonic.

Everyone’s got a basic idea of how this planet of ours is constructed, even primary school kids. It goes something like this: in the middle of the planet is the core – the nucleus; then there’s the mantle, and on the outside there’s the hard crust, upon which you’re reading this blog. But the earth’s […]

July 28, 2015

Iceland: Niceland.

I’d long dreamed of one day getting to the very volcanic island of Iceland for a spot of sightseeing, trekking and leisurely driving. I’d heard great things from friends and colleagues, seen some awesome pics of the scenery there, and heard some of the island’s music, but only recently did I finally find myself spending […]

July 24, 2015

Your car controlled remotely by hackers: it’s arrived.

Every now and again (once every several years or so), a high-profile unpleasantness occurs in the cyberworld – some unexpected new maliciousness that fairly bowls the world over. For most ‘civilians’ it’s just the latest in a constant stream of seemingly inevitable troublesome cyber-surprises. As for my colleagues and me, we normally nod, wink, grimace, […]

July 23, 2015

The tiniest biggest country in the world.

Hi folks! This here post is the last in my mini-series from St. Petersburg. It continues the ‘places to visit‘ theme, but with a difference; for the place it describes resembles a museum, but it isn’t a museum really, I think. Or maybe it is. It claims to be one… Hmmm, whatever it is, it’s […]

July 21, 2015

Railroad feats in St. Pete.

There are different kinds of museums. There are real museums (in the classic understanding of the word), there are expositions, exhibitions, installations… What other words are there for describing such events? Graffiti! Btw, good quality graffiti done in good taste – is it an exposition or installation or hooliganism? The latter I cross out since […]

More