Hekla-ing Egypt

One thing leads to another. Sometimes things “weave” together, attracted by some unknown force, so two topics keep dancing together, often from an unseen connection. Then there are the just random sporadic connections.

It looks like Iceland and Egypt (and the rest of the EU for that matter…) are tied in one of those pairings. For Hekla in particular, the Egypt connection might be a ‘one off’, or it might be something bigger.

First off, a h/t to J. Martin to for pointing me at a Hekla article saying it is getting ready to blow, and this time might be significantly bigger than last time.

Second, I was looking up some Egyptian history related to the Santorini eruption and landed on a paper that claims to have done C-14 dating such that the 200 year “issue” in some of the Egyptian dates might be resolved… but at the cost of needing to change some of the existing ideas about what happened in particular times…

Digging into exactly which episode ended up where relative to what ;-) I discovered an interesting bit of “connection” to Hekla…


Twentieth Dynasty

The last “great” pharaoh from the New Kingdom is widely regarded to be Ramesses III, a Twentieth Dynasty pharaoh who reigned several decades after Ramesses II.

In the eighth year of his reign the Sea Peoples invaded Egypt by land and sea. Ramesses III defeated them in two great land and sea battles. He claimed that he incorporated them as subject peoples and settled them in Southern Canaan although there is evidence that they forced their way into Canaan. Their presence in Canaan may have contributed to the formation of new states, such as Philistia, in this region after the collapse of the Egyptian Empire. He was also compelled to fight invading Libyan tribesmen in two major campaigns in Egypt’s Western Delta in his sixth year and eleventh year respectively.

The heavy cost of these battles slowly exhausted Egypt’s treasury and contributed to the gradual decline of the Egyptian Empire in Asia. The severity of these difficulties is stressed by the fact that the first known labor strike in recorded history occurred during the 29th year of Ramesses III’s reign, when the food rations for Egypt’s favored and elite royal tomb-builders and artisans in the village of Deir el Medina could not be provisioned. Something in the air prevented much sunlight from reaching the ground and also arrested global tree growth for almost two full decades until 1140 BC. One proposed cause is the Hekla 3 eruption of the Hekla volcano in Iceland but the dating of this remains disputed.

Well, a “dating dispute” and a “New Dating with C-14” and a “Hekla” now vs a “Hekla then” is just too much to pass up!

Did Hekla punctuate the Invasion Of The Sea People, and the Last “Great” Pharaoh? If so, what might this “different” Hekla eruption mean for us?

Following Rameses III’s death there was endless bickering among his heirs. Three of his sons would go on to assume power as Ramesses IV, Rameses VI and Rameses VIII, respectively. However, at this time Egypt was also increasingly beset by a series of droughts, below-normal flooding of the Nile, famine, civil unrest and official corruption. The power of the last pharaoh, Ramesses XI, grew so weak that in the south the High Priests of Amun at Thebes became the effective de facto rulers of Upper Egypt while Smendes controlled Lower Egypt even before Rameses XI’s death. Menes eventually founded the Twenty-First dynasty at Tanis.

So something bad happened, and things were pretty bad for a couple of generations after. Hekla blew up ‘about then’, but was it causal, or just coincidental, with the droughts? Could it have caused the sunlight deficit, but left the droughts as due to a Sleepy Sun (rather like ours, now…)

In short: Is past prologue?


There’s a wiki on the eruption from then. It doesn’t say much, so I’ll quote it in full:

The Hekla 3 eruption (H-3) circa 1000 BC is considered the most severe eruption of Hekla during the Holocene. It threw about 7.3 km3 of volcanic rock into the atmosphere, placing its Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) at 5. This would have cooled temperatures in the northern parts of the globe for a few years afterwards.

An eighteen-year span of climate worsening is recorded in Irish bog oaks, and H-3 was blamed for it.

The eruption is detectable in Greenland ice-cores, the bristlecone pine sequence, and the Irish oak sequence of extremely narrow growth rings. Baker’s team dated it to 1021 + 130/-100 BC.

Baker preferred a “high chronology” (earlier) interpretation of these results. In Sutherland, northwest Scotland, a spurt of four years of doubled annual luminescent growth banding of calcite in a stalagmite is datable to 1135 ± 130 BC.[6] A rival, “low-chronology” interpretation of the eruption comes from Dugmore, 2879 BP = 929 BC ± 34.

In 1999 Dugmore suggested a non-volcanic explanation for the Scottish results. In 2000 skepticism concerning conclusions about connecting Hekla 3 and Hekla 4 eruptions with paleoenvironmental events and archaeologically attested abandonment of settlement sites in northern Scotland was expressed by John P. Grattan and David D. Gilbertson.

Some Egyptologists in 1999 firmly dated the eruption to 1159 BC and blamed it for famines under Ramesses III during the wider Bronze Age collapse. Dugmore dismissed this notion and maintains his dating to this day. Other scholars have held off on this dispute, preferring the neutral and vague “3000 BP”.

So some folks have it at 1265 BC to 1005 BC. Others have it a bit later at 929 BC, and the Egyptologists have it at 1159 BC whacking Ramesses III.

Into The Carbon Fourteen

This paper is rather interesting. The guys looked around for bits of stuff that was NOT wood (as that gets cut at one time, and sometimes actually used to make things centuries later) like food and baskets. Dated it, and made the first fairly comprehensive C-14 series for Egypt. They find a near 200 year “issue” in some of the Egyptologists dates…

Comparison of these 14C results with the 14C investigation by Bronk Ramsey et al. of dynastic Egypt gives rise to a problem. Phases D1.2-1.1 of Tell el-Dabca are associated with the beginning of the New Kingdom, dated by Bietak ( 13, 14) on historical-archaeological considerations to ca. 1530 to 1480 B.C.E. However, the calibrated 14C age range for these strata, after sequencing, is ca. 1720 to 1640 B.C.E. ( 14), which is much older than the results by Bronk Ramsey et al. for the beginning of the New Kingdom, ca. 1550 to 1560 B.C.E. Hence, a time difference of ~90 to 170 years exists between two investigations for the beginning of the 18th Dynasty.

What is erroneous here—the 14C dates by one study ( 7) or the other ( 14)? or the associations between the Tell el-Dabca archaeological phases and dynastic history, as the 14C results from Tell el-Dabca are systematically older by ca. 100 to 200 years than the Egyptian historical chronology ( 13, 14)? or the associations between the various funerary archaeological contexts from museum collections and dynastic history ( 7)? The last possibility seems unlikely, given the coherence between the 14C dating results from multiple archaeological sources. On the other hand, Tell el-Dabca has detailed archaeological linkages with the Aegean and the Near East ( 13, 14). Therefore, not only Tell el-Dabca is involved in this enigma, but the Middle and Late Bronze Age archaeology of the Aegean and the Levant as well.

The paper has an interesting graph in it:

Egypt Dates traditional vs C-14

Egypt Dates traditional vs C-14

This shows the traditional Egyptology dates in blue, and the Carbon 14 dates in yellow. Notice that each of those C-14 dates has a width that overlaps the neighbors. That is because each is a distinct sample with an error band. Notice, too, that the C-14 dates move things back in time about 200 years. Now Santorini is in the period just before 1600 BC, instead of in 14xx BC. It also has moved more into the end dynasties of the Second Intermediate Period, though all those Dynasties are now earlier in time.

On final note: Santorini in 17xx BC is about 700 years before Heckla-3. That “Half Bond Event” interval…

In any case, we now have Santorini in the middle of the “Second Intermediate Period” when things were unstable and a bit of a mess; and we’ve got Ramesses III at about the time of the Hekla eruption having a hard time feeding his folks. Clearly volcanoes in the Mediterranean area are coincident with bad crop yields in Egypt and instability.

And right now we have Hekla getting grumpy.


From that article about Hekla:


In 2004 Hekla had received as much new magma as was discharged during the 2000 eruption and sometime during late 2008 to early 2009 that figure had doubled. After that the inflation stagnated and no real uplift was measured at the GPS-stations with the exception of what was most likely magma moving between the different magma chambers.

During the summer of 2011 earthquakes was registered and a public safety alert was issued stating that Hekla was close to erupting. From then on Hekla has had earthquakes ranging from miniscule to 2M+ without erupting. For those who are not familiar with Hekla one should notice that she normally is aseismic, or in other words, that she does not have a lot of earthquakes.

From 2010 and onwards Hekla started to show a new feature that I dubbed “transients”. The transients are sudden rapid drops in the strain measured at the borehole strainmeters. These transients have only been seen before as Hekla erupted. They had before 2010 never been seen without an eruption occurring. A transient is in short happening as the mountain strains to open up.

So it is more full of magma this time, and gagging a bit…


After this Hekla entered into a new phase never seen before, this time a phase of very rapid and unbroken inflation started. What happened is most likely that the earthquake swarm removed blockages inside the deep feeder tubes of Hekla enabling fresh magma to flow into the volcanic system.

The rate of inflation varies a lot depending on where the GPS station is placed. The big exception is Mjóaskard situated to the west of Hekla. It has only suffered an uplift of 5mm in the last 5 weeks. For the other stations the rate of inflation is between 15mm in Hestáalda and 32mm at ISAK. Average uplift is 16mm, and 21mm if MJSK is not counted. This type of rapid inflation has so far never been measured at Hekla.

But perhaps such rapid inflation was seen back in the larger eruptions of ancient history. Like Heckla-3…

Which also begs the question “How soon?”

If the inflation continues at the current rate Hekla will erupt. When? Well I am not going to make any bets, but any time from 1 hour from when you read this to 4 weeks.

Oh Dear! As they say…

I personally would not at any cost get closer to Hekla then 10 km from now on. And then I would stay in the car on the road. If you are closer the chance of you surviving is not good and 5 km the chance of you surviving the initial blast is pretty much nill.

What will the eruption be like? Here I will be guessing since Hekla has changed her behavior compared to the last eruptions. I would say that Hekla has remobilized old evolved magma during all that moving of magma, and this latest inflation phase seems to fill up a lot of old magma chambers. This causes me to fear a rather explosive start of the eruption. I would also say that there is quite a high likelihood of there being more lava erupted then was seen during the last 3 eruptions. I will hedge my bet by saying that I would expect it to be anything between a VEI2 and a VEI4 on the volcanic explosivity index, and that Hekla will effuse between 0.1 to 2 cubic kilometers of lava.

The article also has more analysis and some nice graphs in it and a link to a site where you can monitor Hekla:


In Conclusion

The C-14 doesn’t necessarily change the date for Ramesses III, but I think it does move Santorini back to an interesting point in time, and reorders some of the various Egyptology events vs the volcano. It also puts the Hekla-3 eruption as likely close to when Ramesses III was “having issues” and we’ve got 2 examples of volcanoes making a mess of things. Presently, for us, the volcanic activity looks like it is increasing, back to a level more like the 1800’s.

The implications of all that are pretty simple. It looks like when volcanic activity picks up, the people of Europe and the Middle East have a Very Bad Time. The “Sea People” who tore up the Mediterranean prior to being stopped by Ramesses III, were likely fleeing something. Bad times, cold, and crop failures in Northern Europe have frequently caused migrations toward the south. Visigoths and Ostrogoths, Huns and even Germans. (And in later years my Anglo-Irish ancestors fleeing to America in the Little Ice Age.)

So what happens when Heckla blows? Depends on “how big”. If it is a “Hekla-3” size, with a sleepy sun and already cold winters, things could get a little grim. If it’s “like last time but a bit more”, an annoyance.

In some way, the more distressing thing, is just seeing once again that 700 year “Half Bond Event” timing and increased volcanic activity in cold times pattern come around again.

So keep an eye on Iceland, and Mediterranean volcanoes, and ponder what happens next in Egypt if things go “bump in the might”.

We already have Israel bombing Syria a couple of times, and the Egyptian Police protecting “protesters” as they attack Christians and Christian Churches. It’s gotten so complicated in Syria I can’t even start to sort out who all the factions are and what side is allied with whom… Is Israel aligned with the rebels in Syria? Or with Assad? Or none of the above? Is Iran shipping arms to ‘the rebels’? Or to Hezbola? Or “The Egyptian Brotherhood” (who effectively run Egypt now and have strong position in Libya…) There are at least 7 competing interests I can count, not including the EU, UK, USA, Russia or China.

We’ve got something of a powder keg, with a lit fuse, and folks with cans of kerosene standing around looking to toss them. And now; now, we might have Hekla blowing a big ball of fire into the mix?

I just really don’t like the way these historical patterns are rhyming at the moment…

Update Iceland Quake Map

I’m adding a screen capture of the image that R. de Haan linked in comments. Notice all those green star for “Greater than Mag 3 quakes”?

Iceland Quakes 9 May 2013

Iceland Quakes 9 May 2013

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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49 Responses to Hekla-ing Egypt

  1. Gail Combs says:

    Not to mention China in India and all the posturing.

    Here is the map of earthquakes in the Hekla region of Iceland: http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/earthquakes/myrdalsjokull/

    At the moment, it is fairly quiet Map of all of Iceland

  2. adolfogiurfa says:

    The Heck of a volcano that Heckla!

  3. Ian W says:

    And the annoying thing if it _does_ erupt will be the AGW Team immediately claiming that ‘but for the volcanic cooling it would be getting extremely hot!

  4. Gail Combs says:

    On another related issue there were a couple of comments at WUWT by William Astley on papers about correlation between Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles and solar magnetic cycle change.
    comment 1 and comment 2

    From the first comment

    ….If you have a look at the attached I can explain the mechanisms in more detail. If I understand the mechanisms we are going to experience either the cooling phase of a Dansgaard-Oeschger cycle or a Heinrich event due to abrupt stopping the solar magnetic cycle. A solar observation to support the assertion that we are going to experience the cooling phase of D-O cycle or a Heinrich event would be the abrupt and unexplained termination of the solar magnetic cycle. (i.e. No sunspots and the solar magnetic cycle is flat lining.)

    Click to access Atmos_060302.pdf

    Atmospheric Ionization and Clouds as Links Between Solar Activity and Climate

    Observations of changes in cloud properties that correlate with the 11-year cycles in space particle fluxes are reviewed. The correlations can be understood in terms of one or both of two microphysical processes; ion mediated nucleation (IMN) and electroscavenging. IMN relies on the presence of ions to provide the condensation sites for sulfuric acid and water vapors to produce new aerosol particles, which, under certain conditions, might grow into sizes that can be activated as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Electroscavenging depends on the buildup of space charge at the tops and bottoms of clouds as the vertical current density (Jz) in the global electric circuit encounters the increased electrical resistivity of the clouds. Space charge is electrostatic charge density due to a difference between the concentrations of positive and negative ions. Calculations indicate that this electrostatic charge on aerosol particles can enhance the rate at which they are scavenged by cloud droplets. The aerosol particles for which scavenging is important are those that act as insitu ice forming nuclei (IFN) and CCN. Both IMN and electroscavenging depend on the presence of atmospheric ions that are generated, in regions of the atmosphere relevant for effects on clouds, by galactic cosmic rays (GCR). The space charge depends, in addition, on the magnitude of Jz. The magnitude of Jz depends not only on the GCR flux, but also on the fluxes of MeV electrons from the radiation belts, and the ionospheric potentials generated by the solar wind, that can vary independently of the GCR flux. The roles of GCR and Jz in cloud processes are the speculative links in a series connecting solar activity, the solar wind, GCR, clouds and climate. This article reviews the correlated cloud variations and the two mechanisms proposed as possible explanations for these links.

    Greenland ice temperature, last 11,000 years determined from ice core analysis, Graph from Richard Alley’s paper.

    An article from John Kehr the Inconvenient Skepitc to go with that graph: Norway Experiencing Greatest Glacial Activity in the past 1,000 year
    And the paper he discusses: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033589411001256

    Another paper cited by William Astley (and well worth reading in its entirety)


    “The role of solar forcing upon climate change”
    When solar activity is high, the extended solar magnetic field sweeps through interplanetary space, thereby more effectively shielding the Earth from cosmic rays and reducing the production of 14C. Low solar activity lets more cosmic rays enter the Earth’s atmosphere, producing more 14C. So the 14C record is a good proxy for the solar radiant output (Bard et al., 1997).

    However, explaining the observed changes in 14C concentration by production-rate variations alone is too simple an assumption, the more so when rapid 14C concentration changes appear to be coincident with significant changes in climate.

    However, if we observe sudden, major 14C increases like the ones starting at c. 850 cal. BC and at c. 1600 AD (about 20 per mil), it is hard to imagine any change in the global carbon cycle that can bring about such a drastic fast change, simply because there is no reservoir of carbon with higher 14C concentration available anywhere on Earth. Even a sudden stop of the upwelling of old carbon-containing deep water could not cause the sudden (within decades) 14C concentration increases that are documented in the dendrochronological records. So, if we observe that such a sudden 14C increase, which must be caused by a production increase, is accompanied by indications for a change towards colder or wetter climate, this may indicate that solar forcing of the climate does exist. In theory, increased production of cosmogenic isotopes can also have a cause of cosmic origin such as a nearby supernova (Sonnett et al., 1987). We consider this scenario unlikely, and note here that events such as the 850 cal. BC peak are present in the dendrochronological curve with a periodicity of about 2400 years (Stuiver and Braziunas, 1989; see below)…..
    Based on archaeological, paleoecological and geological/geomorphological evidence, van Geel et al. (1996, 1998a) concluded that climate change around 850 BC occurred in both hemispheres. They compiled evidence for a change from a relatively warm climate to cool and wet conditions in the middle latitudes of the N. Hemisphere (Europe, N. America, Japan) and the S. Hemisphere (S. America, New Zealand), being synchronous with a shift to drier conditions in the tropics (Africa, Caribbean). The 850 cal. BC event can very well have been caused by a reduction of solar energy output, comparable to the situation during the Maunder Minimum. Maunder-type minima show up in the 14C calibration curve throughout the Holocene with a periodicity of about 2400 years (Stuiver and Braziunas, 1989). The association between climate (palaeowinds in varved sediments) and solar activity (radiocarbon content of tree-rings) was established by Anderson (1992) in sediments formed between 7300 and 5300 years ago. The wind record is preserved as changes in the thickness of varved sediments related to changes in cyclonic activity and tropospheric winds. This time interval is characterised by a weak magnetic field and abrupt changes of the 14C content. Cross-correlation had a coefficient that is significant at the 95% confidence level….

    Bond et al. (1997) found evidence for ice-rafting events during the Holocene at 1400, 2800, 4200, 5900, 8100, 9400, 10,300 and 11,100 cal. BP and during the Last Glacial at a similar timing as the Dansgaard—Oeschger events. They identified that these climatic shifts occurred with a cyclicity of 1470 years, and conclude that solar forcing of these cyclic events is ‘highly controversial’, as ‘no evidence has been found of a solar cycle in the range 1400—1500 years’. Instead, they favour a driving process from within the atmosphere—ocean system, most likely related to the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation. However, Mayewski et al. (1997) showed that a 1450 periodicity is present in the band pass component of both the 14C residual series derived from tree rings and glaciochemical series from the GISP2 ice core, believed to reflect changes in the polar atmospheric circulation. As these authors conclude, this may indeed suggest a link to climate—solar variability. Moreover, the GISP2 10Be record presented by Finkel and Nishiizumi (1997; see Fig. 2) shows (in our opinion) that periods of reduced solar activity, as possibly indicated by high 10Be values, coincide with cold phases of the D—O events. In addition, at least two of the recognised Holocene ice-rafting events, viz. the ones around 8100 and 2800, as well as the Little Ice Age event, are known to coincide with periods of reduced solar activity as reconstructed with the aid of 14C and 10Be records (viz. EMHT and 850 cal. BC events). This evidence, in combination with the study of Holocene lake-level fluctuations related to the atmospheric 14C record (Magny, 1993), strongly points to solar forcing of global climatic shifts…..

    The Gerald Bond et al paper A Pervasive Millennial-Scale Cycle in North Atlantic Holocene and Glacial Climates Abstract links to several more papers that cite that paper. One is Holocene palaeoclimate in the northern Sahara margin (Jefara Plain, northwestern Libya)

    The palaeoclimatic evolution of northwestern Libya has been deduced from the study of the palustrine and aeolian sediments. The Holocene environmental variations have been recognized through geological and stratigraphic surveys and by pollen analysis and malacofauna content of the sediments. Some organic-rich horizons have been dated using the radiocarbon method. The data show that in general, the presence of marshes is linked with the period of higher humidity, which began around 9.4 ka BP and ended around 5.0 ka BP. From c. 5.0 ka BP up to about 4.4 ka BP, there was a simultaneous presence of marshes and vegetation of arid climate as a consequence of rainfall in the mountains and/or a decrease in temperatures. The Holocene wet period was interrupted by two arid spells dated about 8.2 and 5.5–5.4 ka BP. The end of the wet phase must have been gradual. The climatic events that occurred in the Jefara plain seem to be well correlated with those identified in Saharan Africa even if the Mediterranean is only 100 km away.

    The Holocene record of environmental changes in the ‘Stagno di Maccarese’ marsh (Tiber river delta, central Italy)
    …The complex evolution of the marsh is demonstrated by the variations in water salinity and the presence of erosion surfaces and soils between the sediments. In the early Holocene, the area studied was an isolated marsh with water having variable salinity, and it was only about 6000 cal. yr BP that it was encompassed in the system of inner delta marshes. In the delta environment, the water of the marsh was oligohaline until about 9th–8th centuries bc, brackish from 9th–8th centuries bc to about 600 yr BP, and later oligohaline until the 19th century drainage. A number of environmental variations are connected with local phenomena, such as erosion of the beach ridges and Tiber floods, but the others can be correlated chronologically with climatic events recorded at regional and global scale. The millennial variations seem to be connected with changes in insolation, while abrupt variations can be correlated chronologically with the IRD events dated at 8200, 5900, 4200, 2800, 1400 and 500 cal. yr BP.

    Abrupt variations in South American monsoon rainfall during the Holocene based on a speleothem record from central-eastern Brazil
    Well-dated high-resolution oxygen isotope records of speleothems in central-eastern Brazil spanning from 1.3 to 10.2 kyr B.P. reveal that the occurrence of abrupt variations in monsoon precipitation is not random. They show a striking match with Bond events and a significant pacing at ∼800 yr, a dominant periodicity present in sea surface temperature records from both the North Atlantic and equatorial Pacific Oceans that is possibly related to periods of low solar activity (high 14C based on the atmospheric Δ14C record). The precipitation variations over central-eastern Brazil are broadly antiphased with the Asian and Indian Monsoons during Bond events and show marked differences in duration and structure between the early and late Holocene. Our results suggest that these abrupt multicentennial precipitation events are primarily linked to changes in the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). Anomalous cross-equatorial flow induced by negative AMOC phases may have modulated not only the monsoon in South America but also affected El Niño−like conditions in the tropical Pacific during the Holocene.

    This one I found really interesting given that Annoying Lead Time Graph is this one by the Chinese. (there were others)

    Different patterns of changes in the Asian summer and winter monsoons on the eastern Tibetan Plateau during the Holocene

    …Here the dust flux and the content of trace metallic elements (Ti, Ni, and V) in a peat sequence from the Hongyuan Swamp (32°46.7′N, 102°31.0′E) are used to reconstruct variations in the intensity of the Asian winter monsoon during the Holocene. This record, when compared with the summer monsoon proxy, can help elucidate the phase relationship between these two systems. Our proxy-based reconstructions show different patterns of changes in the Asian winter and summer monsoons before and after 5.5 cal. ka BP. Generally, the two monsoons varied reciprocally before 5.5 cal. ka BP; however, after 5.5 cal. ka BP, these two systems exhibit synchronous changes. Moreover, both the frequency and amplitude of the variations in these two monsoons are different before and after 5.5 cal. ka BP. The rate of changes in the solar insolation during the Holocene matches well with these monsoon records, implying that the mid-Holocene climate transition may have resulted from orbital forcing.

  5. Gail Combs says:

    Time to “Go fish” in the ether again.

  6. Zeke says:

    ElChiefio says~”Now Santorini is in the period just before 1600 BC, instead of in 14xx BC. It also has moved more into the end dynasties of the Second Intermediate Period, though all those Dynasties are now earlier in time.

    On final note: Santorini in 17xx BC is about 700 years before Heckla-3. That “Half Bond Event” interval…”

    These are very interesting dates and a beautiful table for comparison. Wouldn’t it make sense that Knossos and the other Cretan cities, which were destroyed in 1500 BC, were also linked to this earlier period of destruction in 1645, or even 17xx? The reason I say this is because the cities are reduced to their foundations, and there is evidence also of fire and high temps, but not necessarily any invasion. The period of famine and trade obstruction would have ended an age, effectively.

    This fits well with the subsequent civilizations after this in the Aegian and Italy. There is a sense of slow colonization and an increasing population by people who already possess culture. The Etruscans built cities well inland and on hills (although they were sea traders), and were masters at hydrology and drainage. Then it gets interesting because this time of expansion and colonization would cover the time of the Iliad and Odyssey, so we have a sense of the cities and people of that time.

  7. punmaster says:


    That was a stretch. Was the topic rubber bands?

  8. R. de Haan says:

    Very interesting analysis and a convincing link with the Hekla event but Iceland is not Hekla alone.
    One of the most recent Icelandic volcanic eruptions that brought havoc, not only to iceland but also to Europe, Russia and North Africa, even North America wasn’t Hekla but the Laki eruption: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laki And Laki was a simple, uncomplicated fissure eruption, one of thousand that happened on Iceland in the past, nothing special.
    The other one was an atomic bomb, Tamborra 1815, a volcano on the other side of the planet triggering a year without summer on the NH.
    It’s nice to puzzle and compare dates, no problems with that but there are much more destructive candidates on offer some of them known, other unknown.
    Let us not forget the recent Chaitén Volcano eruption in Chili. This volcano wasn’t even listed, let alone listed as a potential threat.
    The further we go back in time, the more our research is based on guess work at best.

  9. R. de Haan says:

    As for the Brotherhood in Egypt, they have the bad cards for the moment. Egypt is out of money and 50% of the population is too poor to feed themselves without outside support.
    Egypt is at the brink of the biggest famine since the Farao’s.
    For background info see Spengler’s The Hunger will come to Egypt from 2011: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ME10Ak01.html

  10. tckev says:

    It would make for interesting times if there was to be an eruption soon, grain supply is low in fact agricultural output generally is not good.
    So if you could reschedule the eruption for next decade that would be better. :-)

  11. Gail Combs says:

    I think David P. Goldman (Spengler) is off by a few years but all it will take is a bad harvest and 2013 is not shaping up well.

    Earlier in Febuary 2013, Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said “…We should be expecting excellent crops in 2013 which could weigh heavily on prices… But the weather could turn negative, and because we are in a tight situation, prices could react violently and rise…” LINK: Cereal crop prospects for 2013 excellent but stocks tight-FAO

    Global Grain Stocks Drop Dangerously Low as 2012 Consumption Exceeded Production January 17, 2013

    The world produced 2,241 million tons of grain in 2012, down 75 million tons or 3 percent from the 2011 record harvest. The drop was largely because of droughts that devastated several major crops—namely corn in the United States (the world’s largest crop) and wheat in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Australia. Each of these countries also is an important exporter. Global grain consumption fell significantly for the first time since 1995, as high prices dampened use for ethanol production and livestock feed. Still, overall consumption did exceed production. With drought persisting in key producing regions, there is concern that farmers in 2013 will again be unable to produce the surpluses necessary to rebuild lowered global grain reserves….

    The USA no longer maintains the grain reserves it once had. In 2008 during the food riots in more than 60 countries the USDA announced “Our cupboard is bare.” So there is no backup grain stores just cash in a bank account.

    The 2008 food riots occurred despite 2007 Grain Harvest Sets Record, But Supplies Still Tight

    ….People consume a little less than half (48 percent) of the world’s grain directly—as steamed rice, bread, tortillas, or millet cakes, for instance.8 Roughly one third (35 percent) becomes livestock feed.9 And a growing share, 17 percent, is used to make ethanol and other fuels….
    In 2007, a 200-million-ton jump in the global coarse grain harvest was responsible for nearly all of the increase in the total grain harvest. Production of coarse grains—a group that includes corn, barley, sorghum, and other grains fed mainly to animals—increased 10 percent, from 985 million tons in 2006 to 1,080 million tons in 2007. At 784 million tons, the record harvest of corn was buoyed by the growing use of this grain to produce biofuels, which prompted farmers in the United States (responsible for over 40 percent of the global harvest and half of world exports), Brazil, and Argentina to plant more land to corn. Production in China, the world’s second largest corn producer, inched beyond the previous year’s record….

    Wheat harvests increased modestly, by 2 percent, to 605 million tons, with near perfect weather nurturing strong harvests in India, the EU, and the United States. Australia, however, normally the source of one third of world exports, faced lower crop prospects and depleted exportable supplies. And unfavorable weather meant a reduced harvest in China, the world’s second largest producer…

    The amount of grain stored by governments— a good measure of the global cushion against poor harvests and rising prices—continues to decline. Global cereal stocks were expected to stand at 318 million tons by the close of the 2007 season, equivalent to about 14 percent of annual consumption. (See Figure 3.) These stocks, and the stock-to-use ratio, built up by bumper crops in the 1980s and the late 1990s, are now substantially below their all-time high.

    Despite the record harvest, the low stocks and strong demand combined to push prices of all cereals to new highs…

    Then you have all the game playing by the financiers as food commodities trading became attractive when the other financial bubbles burst.

    How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis
    Since the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, there has been a 50-fold increase in dollars invested in commodity index funds. To put the phenomenon in real terms: In 2003, the commodities futures market still totaled a sleepy $13 billion….speculators poured $55 billion into commodity markets, and by July, $318 billion was roiling the markets. Food inflation has remained steady since.

    The money flowed, and the bankers were ready with a sparkling new casino of food derivatives. Spearheaded by oil and gas prices (the dominant commodities of the index funds) the new investment products ignited the markets of all the other indexed commodities, which led to a problem familiar to those versed in the history of tulips, dot-coms, and cheap real estate: a food bubble. Hard red spring wheat, which usually trades in the $4 to $6 dollar range per 60-pound bushel, broke all previous records as the futures contract climbed into the teens and kept on going until it topped $25. And so, from 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of food rose 80 percent — and has kept rising….

    The commodities trading that drove prices through the roof in 2008 has not gone away. Expect the bad news about spring planting in the USA to drive prices again.

    This is an Interview by The Farm Journal of two commodity/grain marketing specialists.

    Farm Journal: 2013 Outlook: Wheat Prices to Tag Along with Corn November 5, 2012
    How would you characterize this year’s wheat crop and the market for the commodity, both in the U.S. and globally? What, if anything, surprised you?
    …. Both total wheat production and consumption in the U.S. are lower this year. Wheat only saw a small hit in yields as a result of the drought when compared to other crops with average yields 2.6 bu/acre lower this year than last…. While wheat disappearance for food and seed are slightly higher than last year’s totals, exports saw a sharp decline. Feed and residual use is seeing significant growth going into next year. Much of the increase can be attributed to higher corn prices due to this summer’s drought causing wheat to become a feasible alternative to corn.

    Globally, wheat production did not fare as well. Wheat production is projected to be lower in Russia, Australia and the European Union as drought persists in each of these regions. Global wheat use is also projected to be lower….
    [2013 forecast]
    Williams: There are several factors to watch for in 2013. The biggest factor in terms of wheat supply is to watch the drought situation on a global basis. Australia has seen some relief lately, but it looks like it is too late to have much of an impact on the current crop.

    In terms of the U.S., much of South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas are still in an extreme drought. Rain and snow over the winter and into the spring will play a vital role in determining wheat production in 2013. Well over 80% of the winter wheat crop has been planted already, so upcoming USDA reports on planted acres should provide a good estimate of how much wheat has been planted.

    In terms of prices, the USDA’s most recent estimate is $7.65 to $8.55/bushel, but as of October 31 the Kansas City July 2013 futures price for wheat was $9.12/bu.

    That was the ‘optimistic forecast’ from last fall. This is the current week’s news from The Farm Journal.

    April Showers (and Snow) Bring Market Chaos
    …The 2013 planting season has been downright wacky. The calendar has flipped to May, but snow, freeze warnings and excessive rain broke weather records in many areas.

    These rare weather occurrences kept many planters parked across the country. As of April 28, USDA estimates only 5% of the U.S. corn crop is planted. The five-year average for this time is 31%. Last year, nearly half of the corn crop had been planted…

    For the coming week, USDA will not only release its weekly planting progress report, on Friday, May 10 it will release this month’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and Crop Production reports…. USDA has a history of lowering yield expectations if the corn crop is not 40% planted by their May reports….

    it is too early to say with any certainty farmers will change their crop mix. “Nobody has done any concrete changes yet,” he says.

    What he will be watching closely is old-crop corn demand. Will USDA reduce exports more or increase feed usage? “What I would look for is if they don’t raise feed usage, it kind of tells us that we’ll import corn, feed more wheat or do something else to not tighten up that feed supply more than it already is,” Gulke says.

    (A U-tube talk is included)
    The USA IMPORT grain??? HUH? we are the world’s largest EXPORTERS…. link

    Comments on The Farm Journal article from a cynical farmer…

    The truth is that the northern plains still has frozen ground!! And the snow is not gone in much of the Midwest and northern Midwest. Once it is – it will take days of hot dry weather to dry it out. We are already into late May in much of the northern Midwest now. If you farm 2000 – 10000 acres like many farms do – how are you going to get it all in??
    And if you do – what kind of yield is already lost!!?? Come on Jerry – if you are a farmer then you know there are some very serious issues here. Why are you trying to keep the market depressed. Always stating that the crop will miraculously all get in and that farmers will go 24 HOURS!! Wow really?? And Jerry is a farmer?? Why would a farmer run his own markets down with such talk??!
    The United States now has a 60 day food supply instead of the historical 90 day supply. We are one disastrous crop year away from serious trouble and this is the type of analysis we get from a FARMER??

    Canada doesn’t look too good LINK: Canadian Stocks Dwindle, Planting Delayed and my area (NC) is not much better off than the Midwest. We had two weeks of warm weather mid April and since then it has been cold (54 °F @ 8:30AM today) and soggy, just right to rot the seed in the ground before it sprouts. Come to think of it I haven’t seen any plowed ground yet probably because we never had more that a couple days in a row of sun since March.

    If you look at the USDA crop planting guide for the USA the usual corn planting window is Apr 1 to Jun 15 for all states. Possible dates range from Mar 15 (Arizona) to Jun 20 (Texas) For us in NC we have another week of soggy weather forecast although the temperature will finally have highs above 70 °F. Of course that is what they said LAST week and it never got above 66 °F. For North Carolina the possible corn planting dates are Apr 20 – Jun 1 with normal May 1 – May 20. The ground is ~54°F (Just measured at my farm) This is still a bit too cold to plant corn.

    The Agronomy Dept.at Purdue Univ. says, When soils warm to the mid-50’s or warmer, emergence will occur in seven days or less if soil moisture is adequate. Thermal time from planting to emergence is approximately 115 growing degree days (GDDs) using the modified growing degree formula (Nielsen, 2008) with air temperatures or about 119 GDDs based on soil temperatures. A graph of mean temperature vs emergence link shows you really want the temperature above 56°F where the inflection point of the curve is. Otherwise the seed is just sitting in the ground waiting for the correct temperature to be reached and therefore at risk.

    The flip side of the coin is how soon the corn is harvested in the fall and what the weather will be during the growing season and it is not just about rainfall. Dr. R.L. Nielsen at Purdue Univ. has another article.

    Heat Unit Concepts Related to Corn Development:
    Growth and development of corn are strongly dependent on temperature. Corn develops faster when temperatures are warmer and more slowly when temperatures are cooler. For example, a string of warmer than normal days in late spring will encourage faster leaf development than normal. Another example is that a cooler than normal grain filling period will delay the calendar date of grain maturity…

    From the Financiers we have from last fall:

    A Tale of Two Markets….As anyone that has experienced losses from a natural disaster well knows, insurance never covers the total cost of the experience. In addition to the financial costs is mental anguish. Together, these factors are going to make U.S. farmers stingy with their cash til September of 2013 when the next harvest occurs. U.S. farm equipment sales will certainly see the impact of the situation. Fertilizer sales will be less than might have been the case….

    And from the same fellow more recently, Corn: Too Cold or Wet Yet so the traders have certainly noticed. There is an interesting graph in the article US corn planting progress vs corn price the x axis goes from 7.04 (April 7) to 5.05 (May 5) and shows a real jump in price as the planting dates creep into May.

    From another investment advisor on Apr 29, 2013 we have Crop Progress: Only 5% Of Corn Crop Planted… Corn, soybean, and wheat prices increased by double digits today due to the cold weather preventing farmers from planting…

    Planting Dates from: USDA: Field Crops Usual Planting and Harvesting Dates

  12. Gail Combs says:

    EM has mentioned we can shift crops and that is true. Unfortunately The USDA, Ag Universities and the Cooperative Extension Service who give farmers much needed information are controlled by the Ag Cartel and the financiers. What is good for them (and farmers) is famine and starvation driving prices for farm products sky high as we saw in 2008 so do not expect cutting edge advice from the educated elite who are busy buying up farmland all over the world.

    I very much doubt if they care if they starve to death the ‘Useless Eaters”

    “We should find ourselves committed to killing a great many people whom we now leave living, and to leave living a great many people whom we at present kill. We should have to get rid of all ideas about capital punishment …

    A part of eugenic politics would finally land us in an extensive use of the lethal chamber. A great many people would have to be put out of existence simply because it wastes other people’s time to look after them.”
    Source: George Bernard Shaw, Lecture to the Eugenics Education Society, Reported in The Daily Express, March 4, 1910.

    We see this ‘Fabian’ concept alive and well in the UK today.
    Some 7,800 people die during winter because they can’t afford to heat their homes properly…That works out at 65 deaths a day.

    Four patients die thirsty or starving EVERY DAY on our hospital wards show damning new statistics

    NHS millions for controversial care pathway: The majority of NHS hospitals in England are being given financial rewards for placing terminally-ill patients on a controversial “pathway” to death…

    Top doctor’s chilling claim: The NHS kills off 130,000 elderly patients every year: Professor says doctors use ‘death pathway’ to euthenasia of the elderly, Around 29 per cent of patients that die in hospital are on controversial ‘care pathway’

    Now sick babies go on death pathway: Doctor’s haunting testimony reveals how children are put on end-of-life plan

    Children placed on controversial ‘death pathway’…The Liverpool Care Pathway, under which medication, nutrition and fluids can be withdrawn, is being used on young patients as well as severely-disabled new born babies, it has been revealed…

  13. Gail Combs says:

    EM, you might have to “Go Fish” again.

  14. Gail Combs says:

    Seems violence over land grabbing is happening. Violence hits Nicaraguan rainforest as land invasions mount “… Leaders of Nicaragua’s indigenous Mayangna community are battling an invasion of land speculators and small farmers into the Biosawas Biosphere Reserve, the second largest rainforest in the Americas…”

  15. rondehaan says:

  16. Gail Combs says:

    Move violence between Islamists “…You pray in the mosque and for all you know there might be a Boko Haram member praying right next to you,” said Danladi Gana, whose small shop sells locally made leather goods.”You don’t know what you might say and they will mark your face, come back later and kill you — alone if you’re lucky or with the whole of your family if you’re not….”

    Nigeria’s civilians bear brunt of Islamist conflict
    In this relic of a medieval African empire, streets that were once lively markets for silk and perfumes now trade gunfire between Islamist insurgents and the Nigerian military….

    ….The unrest has its origins in 2009, when a cleric called Mohammed Yusuf led an uprising against the government, triggering a security crackdown in which 800 people died, including Yusuf, who was in police custody.

    Far from crushing Boko Haram, it triggered an angry backlash, transforming a clerical movement opposed to Western education into a violent jihadist sect that has since forged ties with al Qaeda-linked groups in the Sahara.

    Thousands have died in a conflict that has destabilised Africa’s top energy producing nation….

    Chinese companies rebuilding roads have paused or pulled out, after Chinese construction workers were killed by gunmen earlier this year…..

    This type of crisis, action, reaction, and more reaction especially when it is grounded in glorifying the “Good Old Days” can only end in a major collapse back into a dark age. “…Boko Haram said it wanted to revive a old Islamic caliphate, tapping into yearning for the days when Muslim sultanates thrived on trade crossing the Sahara to the Mediterranean….”

    I think this is the type of unrest that will be seen in the Middle East if world food prices sky rocket and shale oil/gas is developed by the countries who have been buying Middle East oil. Heck it makes more sense to just with draw completely from the area and leave them to kill each other off for a decade or two before going back in to pick up the pieces especially when you do not need their oil.

    Now if we can just get the idiotic politicians to close our borders in the USA, Australia, EU… and just quit stirring the ants nest and leave them alone to deal with their homelands as they wish.

    You want to return to 850BC? FIne, be my guest. Just stay within your own borders and don’t export your problems.

  17. Bloke down the pub says:

    Being mostly basaltic lavas you might not expect Icelandic volcanoes to be explosive. The fly in the ointment comes from the glaciers that cover many of the vents. Heat from the eruption melts the ice which flows into the crater and causes the explosive effect. Maybe one of the links between periods of cold and catastrophic eruptions is that the volcano is more likely to start off with ice cover.

  18. mkelly says:

    I was stationed in Iceland in 1970 when Hekla went off. Was able to take bus tour out or Reykjavik to see it. They gave us hard hats when we left the bus and were allowed to just wander around near the lava flow. Pieces as big as a house were around. The deep rumble of the volcano that could be felt in your gut. It was awesome.

  19. diogenes says:

    a few years ago, an Icelandic eruption closed down flights over Europe and between USA and Europe. Any way of saying how much more imposing Hekla might be?

  20. R. de Haan says:

    On the SH, after continuous cold events in South Africa four months before the start of the winter season we have cold events announced for New Zealand: http://iceagenow.info/2013/05/wintry-blast-hit-zealand/
    Low solar activity, cold and increased seismic and volcanic activity go hand in hand. With reports of growing glaciers from Norway to Alaska and South America to Nw. Zealand the entire AGW doctrine is looking more ridiculous by the day.

  21. adolfogiurfa says:

    This makes me remember of another country, nearer to us, where more than 50% of the people survive on food stamps As for the Brotherhood in Egypt, they have the bad cards for the moment. Egypt is out of money and 50% of the population is too poor to feed themselves without outside support.

  22. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Adolfo; as to the US food stamp problem. Food stamps were originally a script that could be only used for food purchase. A few years ago this was changed to a debit card with automatic deposits to it. This can be used nearly anywhere for anything. Certainly not to be wasted on food! A federal dole to the “right” people that is handled by the Department of Agriculture as a “farm” support subsidy. All the people that I know of, that receives “food stamps”, could survive without the help. Though they would have to reduce important things like beer and cigarets. pg

  23. E.M.Smith says:


    On 14 April 2010, however, the eruption entered an explosive phase and ejected fine glass-rich ash to over 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) into the atmosphere. The second phase is estimated to be a VEI 4 eruption, which is large, but not nearly the most powerful eruption possible by volcanic standards. By way of comparison, the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980 was rated as 5 on the VEI, and the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo was rated as a 6.

    Compare estimate above:

    I will hedge my bet by saying that I would expect it to be anything between a VEI2 and a VEI4 on the volcanic explosivity index,

    Has a guy who watches volcanoes as a fixation saying “1/100th to the same as” the last one (Ejafajallajokul – Eye ya fa Yall a Yo kul) while historically it can be a VEI 5 or 10 x the last one.

    So “best guess” would be not quite as bad as last time, but maybe as bad, with an outside chance of a Aw Shit… (that I think will come form Katla instead… likely as a VEI 5 or 6 … and likely inside 50 years.)

    Hope that helps…


    Our “Food Stamp” program is rarely used for “survival”. Its major purpose is to support consumption for political donors… lots of food stamps get used for things other than food, and what food is bought typically isn’t dry beans and rice… Try canned ravioli and frozen TV dinners…

    @R. de Haan:

    Yup. Time to be moving down slope and toward the equator… but not too far ;-)


    Ah, yes, the infrasound that vibrates your brain and belly and makes you dizzy ;-)

    @Bloke Down The Pub:

    What an interesting observation… As volcanoes tend to be mountain tops, that will be even more dramatic … Hmmm…


    There will be another big eruption, and likely inside a couple of years (perhaps months). I won’t go into the indicators here, but things are lining up (not the least of which is the history Ejafajallajokul vs Katla ‘double tap’ history…)


    What I expect will happen is that it will take a couple of AwShit years, and probably some big farms failing and some folks starving, before the “shift” to more things like oats, buckwheat, barley, etc. and away from corn and soybeans happens. Frankly, that’s a part of why I have my food storage system and my seed archive. So I can grow “just enough” of whatever is right in any one year to make it past that gap. (OTOH, I’ve still not planted MY garden…)

  24. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith hasn’t planted his garden, Yet! Well mine is planted and it is large, Guess you will have to come up and help with My harvest. ;-) The tomatoes are starting to bloom already. pg

  25. Gail Combs says:


    Our “Food Stamp” program is rarely used for “survival”. Its major purpose is to support consumption for political donors… lots of food stamps get used for things other than food, and what food is bought typically isn’t dry beans and rice… Try canned ravioli and frozen TV dinners…
    More like filet mignon and lobster tails.

    I watched in complete disgust as a prostitute bought filet mignon lobster tails, shrimp, caviar… paid with food stamps and sashayed on her stiletto high heels to her brand new pink cadillac. The cashier and I looked at each other, looked at my hamburger helper and ramon noodles and wondered if perhaps we had made the wrong career choice.

  26. Gail Combs says:

    p.g.sharrow, And I will bring the meat…. ( I am more of a carnivore.) I am still building my goat proofed raised beds, but getting the rest of my fencing built is first priority. For now I buy from my neighbor.

  27. P.G.Sharrow says:

    @Gail; Goat proofing a garden is a REAL task! Two layers of goat fences may be needed. I have to repel deer and bear. The worst garden spot I had to protect was next to a low income housing project. Their dogs could be fenced out. Uncontrolled children can destroy anything and are protected by nasty lawyers and bureaucrats. A least here, I can use a shotgun to scare the deer and bear. ;-) pg

  28. Gail Combs says:

    P.G.Sharrow says: ….Uncontrolled children can destroy anything and are protected by nasty lawyers and bureaucrats….
    We had some problems with a really nasty 7 year old. (He broke into the house, destroyed stuff, left all the windows open froze pipes….) Unfortunately because his Dad was a lawyer the local cops wouldn’t touch the kid even when he was repeatedly caught red handed breaking and entering, stealing and destroying property. Dad and Mom refused to discipline the kid in any way.He would laugh his head off at you in front of the cops and his parents knowing you wanted to beat him to a pulp and knowing your hands were completely tied by the presence of the cops and lawyer Daddy.

    The neighbors finally solved the problem. They had the other kids in the neighborhood beat the snot out of him if he so much as set foot of his own property. Since Daddy Lawyer was always using “Boys will be Boys” as an excuse for his son’s antisocial behavior he got the same right back and the cops were not about to arrest other kids for a bit of a scuffle with a known and documented trouble maker they really hated.

    I had the pleasure of watching a couple of teens plant the kid head first into a snowbank. Did my heart good.

  29. E.M.Smith says:


    At one time you could use the shotgun to put the deer in the freezer… is that time past? For bear, one must be careful of trichinosis (so cook like pork…) I thought there was a ‘protecting crops’ exemption from the hunting license limitations? Or was that back in the 1800’s… ;-)

    To goat proof a garden:

    1) Build BBQ and stock charcoal.
    2) Dress out goat…
    3) Introduce goat to BBQ…


    Had a similar “Don’t discipline the kid” many years ago, when I was a kid. He was my age, and never told ‘no’. Ended up dead at 18 when the local KKK or Neo-Nazi (I forget which) shot him out by the river for “Giving them a bad name”(!). The local police “knew him well”. They investigated all right. Went to the river. “Yup. Looks dead to me. Think someone shot him? Well, have to file a report then…” This kid wanted me to walk on broken glass in the alley behind his house to “join his club” at about 5 years old. I said “No thanks” and he took offense. For 12 more years I had to “take shit” from him from time to time, though mostly he picked on other folks.

    Why that whole “don’t discipline the kid” method is a load of crap. You get lousy product and it tends to not live long… Oh Well. He’s “planted” about 4 graves over from my Dad and I spit on his grave when “visiting”…

    Now I think I’d just smear a load of “extract of poison oak” over “selected surfaces” and sit back and watch the fun… (Acetone extraction ought to work, yield a great strength solution, and be applied with a spray bottle leaving little evidence… Think door knobs and bike handles and …) But then again, now you see how this process works. I can think such things, but have the discipline to never act on them (unless no other alternative exists). He would run around ‘acting out’ all sorts of evil with not a moment of thought…all driven by emotion and hate.) What’s that saying? “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”…

    Ah well, he’s “long gone” and I’m about to have some wonderful Starbucks coffee … and toast & jam from home made bread ;-) “Living well is the best revenge”. To which I’d add “living long”…

  30. adolfogiurfa says:

    @ Or was that back in the 1800′s… ;-) Are you one of the immortals?

  31. Gail Combs says:

    ….To goat proof a garden:

    1) Build BBQ and stock charcoal.
    2) Dress out goat…
    3) Introduce goat to BBQ…
    SHHHhhhh…. My husband may hear you and get ideas.

    We have one bottle baby who is still small enough to slip through the fence and follow me around like a dog and If I am not careful straight into the house. Darn thing will even walk on a leash. He is not big enough to BBQ yet. (Wish he was a female.)

    This is my plan for a goat proof garden but I am going to use concrete block and re-bar instead of wood for the bottom part of the frame. link

    The re-bar is driven through the concrete block and holds the cattle panels in place. re-bar is a lot cheaper than T-posts and can be cut to length and painted with rustoleum. (T post always rust and need painting in a few years) The nice thing is this can be used as a greenhouse and can easily be expanded. In a SHTF situation I would make sure I had a stockpile of cattle panels, T posts and tarps so I could make instant durable shelters.

    more info: http://www.peakprosperity.com/wsidblog/79184/5-uses-livestock-panels

    For sharp edges old worn out hose works well. (Worn out hose does very nicely for protecting the wire running the submersible pump in the well too.)

    That reminds me. EM have you looked into well points and a hand pump from Lehman’s Non-electric Catalog? for a shallow well for your garden/emergency use?

    Most places have surface water within 25 ft. It isn’t clean for drinking but better than nothing and a cheap $50 hand pump will work.

  32. P.G.Sharrow says:

    @Gail; I don’t know if it is any help, But, back in the “Good Old Days” I needed to build or repair cattle fence by the mile (yuk!) I bought “T-posts’ seconds by the 100 weight just like rebar and steel shapes from my steel supply or farm supply, fencing as well. Just ask them for bulk prices for farmers. Funny Farmers/ Estate Farmers pay full retail per each. Real farmers can get 30 to 50% less for bulk purchase. These seconds are primed but not enameled. Not pretty, but I doubt that the goats care. pg

  33. Gail Combs says:

    P. G. Thanks for the tip.
    I found the wholesaler who does the treating of fence posts in the area and got 30% of farm store price. I also ordered a 1/2 semi load of predrilled 3 inch X 71/2 ft plastic line posts for 8 wire high tensile. You use a post pounder to drive the posts just like you do with a T-post and don’t have to worry about insulators. However I did not make a try to find bulk T-posts although I did order a bulk load of heavily galvinized T-posts. (They have not rusted at all in fifteen years.)

  34. R. de Haan says:

    It’s the ridge that’s rumbling and shaking for now: http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/earthquakes/reykjanesridge/

    Interestingly the ridge positioned right over the hotspot and vents that feed the volcanic systems situated at the SW part of Iceland. So watch the shaking shift to the west into Katla territory soon

  35. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. de Haan:

    I’ve added a screen capture, of the image at the moment, to the bottom of the posting. That’s a LOT of “greater than Mag 3 quakes” in one spot…

  36. Gail Combs says:

    R. de Haan, EM that sure looks like an OH Sh*t.

    Glad you did a screen capture.

  37. J Martin says:

    Maybe Iceland is about to get a new island.

  38. E.M.Smith says:

    @J. Martin:

    It does look that way a bit…


    It did get my attention! Looks like a lot of big rocks being steadily moved…

  39. Gail Combs says:

    EM, have you looked at Iceland earthquakes today? Looks like a relatively straight line headed towards Hekla.

    and close up of Hekla: http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/earthquakes/myrdalsjokull/

  40. Power Grab says:

    All that talk of food stores made me come up with a question. I heard that, during the Irish Potato Famine (the original one, not the one under way right now), the Irish turned up their noses at the grain that was offered to them. They said it was cattle feed.

    IIRC I may have come across that sentiment while reading about the bad things that grain does to the rumen of cattle, and many say it does to humans as well.

    The question out of this is this: is there a way to stash potato seed or starts in a way that allows it to be used years after they were produced, as we can with grain?

    Sorry if this is a silly question. I know diddly about gardening for real.

  41. P.G.Sharrow says:

    @Powergrab; There is no way that I know of to long term store potatoes alive. Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes ( totally Different species) can be stored under the right humidity and temperature for over a year. A few varieties make viable seed that can be stored over long term. But most commercial varieties are vegetativly propagated and have lost the ability to make good seed. pg

  42. E.M.Smith says:


    Does look like it’s working its way up the island…. It’s a spreading zone, so maybe the island is about to get wider ;-)

    @P.G.Sharrow & PowerGrab:

    No way to store starts (that is, bits of potato) but if you keep a bag of “organic” potatoes on hand for eating, at any one time you also have a bag of “starts” ;-)

    FWIW, by planting out some “organic” potatoes, I’ve had several types make flowers, that set seed. I’ve also grown out some of those seeds (they are incredibly small) just to prove I could. I now have a packet or two of potato seeds in a glass jar in my freezer where they will keep for years (to decades). Here’s some other ideas:



    I’ve also got a ‘garden square’ that’s 4 feet on a side where I planted some potatoes a decade or so back as a test plot. (several types from “Russian Banana” to a Pink and one purple one). Then just left it. Wanted to see if they would naturalize. They did (here in California – don’t know about where you are). As Bermuda Grass slowly took over, I just kept it watered in summer. They are still pushing up tops even through Bermuda Grass that kills just about everything else. So you might want to try making a patch of potatoes and just letting it naturalize. At most, you are out some spuds. So, for my purposes, I have a square of “seed potatoes” just self renewing for whenever I want to do a more production activity… Someday I need to dig them up and see what kinds have survived ;-) And if any pests have moved in… ( Sometimes the bunnies dig up some of the other volunteers from another square that is not under Bermuda… and they look fine – other than the bunny bites out of them ;-)

    I think that as long as your ground doesn’t freeze down to spud depth, they ought to be OK. In some cold areas, jut putting a ‘cold frame’ over the top in winter might let the ‘seed patch’ survive a freeze.

    BTW, I’d doubt that famine story. In a famine, folks are known to eat old shoes, gnaw wood, and even eat each other. Nobody who is starving will turn down grain. I’d not be surprised to find that the true story was they they kept trying to plant potatoes thinking the next harvest would be OK in preference to grains; and not knowing that the blight was now infesting the soil. So most likely is just that in the first year(s?) they said “Grain is cattle feed, we’ll plant spuds again” expecting a good harvest… rather like the French refused the potato as they DID want grain; so kept planting grains even while the cold wet storms were blowing over and rotting them. (They had tall stalks then and unlike the current 6 inch high stems, the 3 foot stems were easily blown over by wind and rotted.)

    Per grains and cattle rumens: There’s a whole lot of different things in cattle feeds. Most plants have some kind of thing that bothers some kinds of animals. There’s an art to mixing the feed such that it does the least to bother the target animals. It’s not just grain specific, btw. The various green parts have things toxic to some animals and not to others. Goats, for example, can eat things sheep and cows can’t. Sometimes, for some feeds, you have to add them gradually so the goat stomach bacteria change to a mix that detoxifies it better.

    Potatoes, for example, make Solanine

    Leaves and stems are toxic to people, but I’ve seen my bunnies nibble on them. Leave potatoes out in the sun, the skins turn green and make solanine. The potato itself becomes toxic. (Causing me to complain to the local discount food store when they set a pallet of potatoes out in the sun in the parking lot… there’s a reason they are shipped in brown bags and kept out of the sun…)

    In short: Most non-fruit foods are “toxic” in some way or another. It’s just that the amount is well below the level that causes people to “have issues” and that the toxin is sometimes aimed at other species (like bugs) not us. (Fruits are intended to be eaten so that the seeds get spread around in the poo…) So looking at foods in terms of “has a toxic element” is not a very good approach. Better is to look at “how much” and “is it commonly eaten?”.

    Spinach has oxalic acid in it. Not enough to bother most folks, but if you are a kidney stone (oxalate type) former, it is ‘toxic’ to you… So some individual variation too…

    So if you are looking to grow spuds instead of grain out of some kind of concern for toxicity effects on the gut, that’s likely a misplaced worry. (If you just LIKE spuds, well, that’s important! ;-)

    At any rate, if you march down to the local Organic Food Store odds are you can buy some nice heirloom potatoes that will happily sprout and grow, and end the season with some nice purple blue flowers and make viable seeds. Mine did.

    (Note that in that sprouts and starts article there is a picture of potato sprouts starting from seeds in a flat…)

    But in reality, you mostly need to find what grows really well and really easily in YOUR location with YOUR soil and YOUR climate range. It’s also a very good idea to start a garden now. Even a tiny little one. Heck, a half dozen pots of 1 foot to 2 foot each is enough to get some experience. (I have purple potatoes naturalized in one 2 foot pot. Just wanted some “seed potatoes” of a known type so kept them isolated to one pot.) That lets you find out what works, what doesn’t, what you do right, what needs work, what’s not interesting to eat ;-)

    It’s much better to do that when things are good than to start trying to learn to garden while starving to death… (Fastest food I know is radishes at 25 days… and you get tired of radishes pretty quick..) So say you decide to plant corn. Now you have a lot of choices. Have you made them already? Flour corn types can take 120 days of hot weather to mature. Some sweet types can be ready in 50 days. BIG difference. You can get way more green beans from a square foot near a fence than you can eat. Or wait 120 days to get 1 or 2 ears of dry corn that can make a bowl of grits…

    A lot of folks think they will just suddenly make a garden big enough to feed themselves in an emergency. It’s not that simple… So better to find out now that snails are going to get all the lettuce as it tries to grow than to wait for that day… and better to find out that you can grow lima beans fine, and can’t get a dry common bean as the weevils get them…. (Freeze them after harvest and the freeze kills the weevil eggs.) Or whatever the actual issues are in your location. (For example, Runner Beans love cool weather and do great in the UK. Here in California, I get months on end of beautiful red flowers that the humming birds love, but they don’t set much seed over 85 F to 90F… )

    In short: If you think you want spuds “available”, the best way is to start trying to grow them now.

  43. GeoLurking says:

    Hekla will sudden and rude. In the last eruption, from the time that there was a seismic indication, to being “full on” was about 61 minutes. Quake magnitude did not cross over into human detectable without the aid of equipment until about 10 to 15 minutes before it went. This is one reason that IMO curtailed hiking to the summit for a while.

    Of the H-3 tephra samples listed in Tephrabase, most of them are very rhyolitic. This sort of magma is violently degases (explosively), and typically is how Hekla starts.

    At around 60°N is the rough boundary between the polar cell and the mid-latitude cell. The general circulation is up, towards the tropopause. Even if large portions of the eruption do not get lofted above the tropopause, this general circulation pattern can assist in getting sulfur compounds up there. My pet idea is that carbonyl sulfide, which is mostly non-reactive in the troposphere, dissociates under 200 to 270 nm light and can become an aerosol product in this region.

    BTW, nice site. I read here often.

  44. E.M.Smith says:


    Good and useful input there… Not liking explosive degassing (we get some of that here in West Coast USA too..). But “watchful waiting” is about all we can do now.

    Thanks for the compliment. I’ll try to keep it up. ;-)

    Had not thought about “where the circulation goes up”… worth thinking about…

  45. Gail Combs says:

    Goats, for example, can eat things sheep and cows can’t. Sometimes, for some feeds, you have to add them gradually so the goat stomach bacteria change to a mix that detoxifies it better….
    Actually that goes for most herbivores. You don’t change feeds fast because they can not vomit. If the feed bothers them they then colic/bloat and die.

    FWIW never use commercial lamb/goat kid milk on newborns. If you can’t milk out the momma, do not have canned goat milk on hand or frozen colostrum in the freezer, or powdered colostrum in the frig, used store bought milk. The commercial stuff will kill your babies unless you change over to it gradually (Too much sugar)

    And yes I have milked goats and sheep. Another FWIW. Do not strip a teat like you do a cow. Pinch at the top and squeeze the teat. If you slide the fingers down the teat you damage it. link

  46. E.M.Smith says:


    Same for rabbits. But what I was talking about with goats was a bit different (and presented too vaguely to make it clear…)

    There’s a legume tree that has leaves with a toxic element in it. Mimosine? I think? Goats CAN eat those leaves, but ONLY if you very slowly add it to the feed. More slowly than the usual feed change. There is a specific bacteria that detoxifies that toxin, and they only build up gradually. It’s not just the regular “change feed slowly”. It requires a gut bacteria change specific to that toxin. If there isn’t any spore source around, even slow feed change doesn’t do it. So for first ever introductions into an area, it helps to have some gut innoculant from a herd with experience of that browse. They die of mimosine poisoning, not just bloat.

    I doubt the spouse will ever let me have goats… but nice to know about the milk issue. Knew about the different milking technique (though never practiced it – only hand milked cows and that was many years ago…) I would be thrilled to have a couple of goats as then I’d not need to pay $4 / quart for goat milk. (Cows milk makes my hands arthritic…) But can’t do that until I’ve left the city; that is unlikely at this point. Sigh.

  47. Gail Combs says:

    EM consider Pygmy or Nigerian Dwarf.
    Figure good land will support ~ 500 lbs per acre and a pygmy doe is about 50 lbs. (Half the size of the big guys) Ayn, my smallest pygmy was just a bit taller than my cats and trained to a litter box.

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