This December's James B. Kaler Science Lecture at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium presents a "volatile" topic.
"The 2018 Volcanic Eruption on Hawaii: Causes and Consequences of a Natural Disaster," presented by geologist Dr. Steven Marshak, takes place Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. Admission is $2 at the door with the Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium admitted free of charge.
Beginning in May, 2018, 200-foot-high fountains of lava spurted from a fissure near the east coast of Hawaii. These fountains fed rivers of molten rock that flowed over neighborhoods, roads, and forests, causing the region to be declared a disaster area. Where did the molten rock come from, and why has it piled up to build the world's tallest mountain (as measured from the base to the top)—in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Marshak will discuss reasons for Hawaiian volcanism, in the context of plate tectonics theory, and will provide a firsthand account of what the eruption looks like, and how people are coping with it.
Marshak has been at the University of Illinois for 35 years. He is currently a professor in the Department of Geology and the director of the School of Earth, Society and the Environment. His research interests involve structural geology, plate tectonics, and field geology. He has been involved in research projects in the Midcontinent, the Appalachians, and southeastern Brazil, and he studies a variety of issues including the development of tectonic structures and unconformities in cratons; the development of tectonic foliations in rocks; the formation of fold-thrust belts; and crustal evolution during the Precambrian.
Following Marshak's talk, the planetarium will present its holiday program, "Season of Light." Tickets for regular programs range from $5 to $6 per person. For a full show schedule, visit the planetarium's website or call 217/351-2446.