July 19, 2020 9:00 pm

Monday, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Volcanologist Janine Krippner Answer Cosmic Queries on Volcanoes

On this week’s episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice are stepping into the fire. More like, discussing what makes the fire and why the fire is important. They’re joined by volcanologist Janine Krippner, PhD, to answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries on, you guessed it, volcanoes.

Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in Fimmvörðuháls.

Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in Fimmvörðuháls. Image Credit: Boaworm / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

Let’s start with the question on everybody’s mind: how many active volcanoes are in the world right now? You’ll hear about the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program which keeps track of the world’s volcano eruptions. We discuss why the Ice Age wiped the slate clean in terms of the volcanic record. Janine tells us the difference between magma and lava and Neil shares a term in astrophysics that gets similarly mixed up.

It’s probably true that at some point you’ve heard about the super volcano under Yellowstone National Park that could wipe out the United States. What’s really going on with that volcano? Janine tells us why she’s not a big fan of the term “super volcano.” Then, we dive into another hot bed topic – volcanoes and climate change. Are volcanoes releasing more greenhouse gases than human activity? The short answer is no, but Janine tells us why it’s not even close.

Find out why volcanoes erupt. Janine explains why eruptions are important and why volcanoes are important to the natural cycles of life on Earth. Discover more about the different types of eruptions. How do we analyze volcanoes? You’ll learn more about the tools we use to study volcanology and why robots won’t be taking over for human scientists any time soon.

Lastly, we talk about lava. If it moves so slowly, how can it be so destructive? You’ll also learn more about “pyroclastic flow.” Janine shares how volcanoes can teach us about the inside of our planet. All that, plus, we discuss how volcanologists make predictions, whether there are any dormant volcanoes that can cause mass devastation on Earth, and if a super eruption would cause global darkness.

Please join us tomorrow for Cosmic Queries – Volcanoes at 7pm ET right here on our website, as well as on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re a StarTalk+ Patron or an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free at 7pm, too.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
– Ian Mullen

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