#Popo2016: Popo’s circle of life | Volcanology

Popo is up to something: during most of our stay, the volcano calmly and steadily exhaled a faint white plume of gas. At night, this plume reflected an equally faint reddish glow within the crater – a reminder of the power that lies beneath our majestic mountain. But in the last few days, the number and intensity of small explosions has increased, and the colour of the plumes changed from steam-white to ash-grey.

Photo taken at dusk from a balcony showing a row of buildings opposite and the volcano in the background. A plume of ash can be seen rising from the volcano.
A cloud of ash dispersing at nightfall, as seen from Cholula.

This development is not unusual for Popo in the last 20 years of its activity. Let’s have a look at why this happens… Continue reading “#Popo2016: Popo’s circle of life | Volcanology”

Copper futures: how Museum science searches for the copper we need | Sustainability

by Professor Richard Herrington, Head of the Department of Earth Sciences

The world needs copper – we all need copper. It carries the electricity and hot water in our homes through cables and pipes. It is part of all the electrical appliances we use at home and in industry – an essential ingredient in any low-carbon economy. The sources and security of supply of copper are important in economic terms and of great interest for government policy and business strategy.

Photo showing the deposit in the mountain side.
Quellaveco deposit (not yet being mined) in the Peruvian Andes. The white markers in the landscape mark the extent of the copper mineralisation at surface.

Every person in the UK uses around 8kg of copper per year. Worldwide usage exceeds 24 million tonnes annually and, whilst around 41% of European copper needs are met by recycling, the demands of growing economies like China and India mean that 75% of this usage is met by mined metal. Copper can’t be grown and simply recycling what we have already extracted won’t keep pace with demands.

Continue reading “Copper futures: how Museum science searches for the copper we need | Sustainability”