Water 'wall' to damp down volcanic ash?

Tim

Creative Writer
Joined
Jan 16, 2005
Location
China
I have seen instances of water walls being experimented with to project a barrier in demolition cases that adequately stopped flying debris.

With more money and a lot of effort, would this be a feasible way of damping down volcanic ash?

As we've seen in the EU, this little problem with a volcano in Iceland has been spewing ash out that is getting into the airspace and is shifting around in the wind interfering with airtravel. Now, going back to cars/coaches/trains isn't so hard, and in a world of broadband internet people can conference over the web fairly easily.

But, what if it goes on and on? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8685193.stm "Aviation expert David Learmount warns the ash could cause disruption for 20 years"

I don't actually know right now whether ash is projected up into airspace at force and then swirled round, or if it has properties that allow it to gradually rise. I suppose I should go a googling.

So, if it is going to continue on and on, then maybe an idea like this has merit. Obviously the engineering considerations are massive and the cost will be hefty, but it seems quite a similar problem really. How to stop objects hurled from an 'exlosive object' from traveling any further. A volcano is quite large, but I wonder if with a frame built round the volcano and water piped up and shot over it, whether it could be an effective barrier that will free the airspace?

EDIT: interestingly, a friend says the lava would solidify, 'corking' the volcano and causing it to erupt somewhere else nearby?
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Yeah, you definitely don't want to 'cork' the crater of a volcano because that is acting as a vent to the built up lava. If the crater was not available then the lava would be forced to find other means to relieve the pressure which could be even worse than the the original problem.

Instead of a water 'wall' I would propose something else... exploring the idea of 'seeding' the clouds to force rain so that the resulting storms would capture the ash. Of course the environmental impact of such an action could have long term impacts as well.
 

Tim

Creative Writer
Joined
Jan 16, 2005
Location
China
Hmm, okay, water in any form might just be an issue. How about an electrified or magnetised dome over it? makes the dust 'stick' or become heavy and drop back down? I can't imagine the inhabitants of Iceland will appreciate everything turning grey and poisonous for them though......And no idea if that will disturb the Earths normal magnetic fields. I'm sure a few Northern Lights watchers may be stood out in the cold feeling rather depressed if they disappear.
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Hmm, okay, water in any form might just be an issue. How about an electrified or magnetised dome over it? makes the dust 'stick' or become heavy and drop back down? I can't imagine the inhabitants of Iceland will appreciate everything turning grey and poisonous for them though......And no idea if that will disturb the Earths normal magnetic fields. I'm sure a few Northern Lights watchers may be stood out in the cold feeling rather depressed if they disappear.
But if such a giant magnetic device did exist in a magnitude that it was able to pull the dust from the air, wouldn't then also likely attract the molten magma below the ground?
 

Tim

Creative Writer
Joined
Jan 16, 2005
Location
China
Strange how there is absolutely no word on anyone thinking/attempting to do something here. Volcano's don't blow that regularly, even less those that will harm lifestyles. You'd think at least one of the news services would pose the question to mechanical orientated scientists? Some of the papers like to pose questions like that on subjects for fillers and to sell copy. But we hear nothing on the subject. Even if it doesn't warrant a story all on its own, you'd think a paragraph within one of the major stories on disruption might be a chance for any scientist to get their '15 minutes of fame' even just saying something like, "we just don't have the technology today to control mother nature"
 

Tim

Creative Writer
Joined
Jan 16, 2005
Location
China
Well, it looks like people are discussing them after all! The BBC magazine has asked the public and got comments from scientists after all. They just didn't link the stories for best effect.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8690513.stm



"Why can't they just put a lid on it?"



They can't, explains Prof Gillian Foulger of Durham University's earth science department, because to do so would be to create a build-up of magma "with the explosive capability of an atomic bomb".
But if the massed ranks of armchair pundits have been unable to offer a solution to the multi-million pound chaos, neither have the climatologists, volcanologists and aircraft technicians.
In a spirit of inquiry, we've asked the experts to come up with suggestions for solving the crisis that are, at the very least, within the realms of scientific possibility, while not necessarily those of practicality, affordability or remote likelihood.
They've come back with suggestions that are unlikely to be presented in learned journals any time soon - but go some way to outlining the balance of power between mankind and volcano.
The ideas from scientists include:


BLOW A HOLE IN THE VOLCANO


CREATE RAIN TO WASH AWAY ASH CLOUD


USE ELECTROSTATICS


DRAIN THE MELTED WATER


GIVE AIRCRAFT ASH CAMERAS


Do you have a suggestion for taming the volcano? Send it to us using the form below and the Magazine will seek an expert assessment.
Or e-mail a diagram to yourpics@bbc.co.uk with the subject line "VOLCANO". Please include your name and location. If you submit an image, you do so in accordance with the BBC's Terms and Conditions.
I just love the way they are open to emailed diagrams! Maybe the community can sketch something Steampunkeque up and mail them in :)
 
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