O'Meara Brings Volcanoes to Life

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Stephen James O'Meara, one of our Extreme Exposure featured photographers, was the first IRIS Nights lecturer in our new series. O'Meara and his wife Donna (who graced us with her presence at our opening night) have lived on a volcano for the past 30 years. You read right - they not only take pictures of volcanoes erupting around the globe, they LIVE atop an active one.

Stephen's lecture was called "Does the Moon Affect Volcanoes on Earth?" - which if you attended you now know is not such a wild subject. Stephen is an animated speaker who is incredibly inspired by his studies. He also happens to be an astronomer, so no one could be better prepared to answer this question. Stephen explained how the Moon affects tidal flows of water, but also of the Earth crust itself.

He went into great detail about how the tides of the Earth's crust rise and fall at regular interval, but when the Earth is closest to the Moon (perigee) those tides are more rapid and when the Earth is farthest from the Moon (apogee) the tides of the crust grow more slow.

The best part was how he demonstrated this change by condensing the daily and monthly tidal intervals by breathing in and out. It was an incredibly simplified demonstration but it made very clear what the effect Moon has on tides (both water and crust) and therefore on the probability of volcanic eruptions.

Steve seemed like he was about to erupt a few times!

It was a great pleasure listening to such an informed and inspiring individual. I can't believe we've never had a Vulcanologist/Astronomer lecture here before!

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