Virtual Volcano Vacation #23 WINNER!

Image originally from

Image originally from

Congratulations Madame Zola for finding me. Six shiny new points are all yours.

This week has been a fun one indeed. I set out this time to find a perfectly random volcano by actually rolling four ten-sided dice to get the first four digits of a VNUM, or volcano number. This numerological system of cataloging volcanoes was first developed in the 1950s by the International Association of Volcanology, now known as the Association for Volcanology and Chemistry of Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) , and consists of six or seven numbers. The first two grouping volcanoes by region, the second two by subregion, and then the last three for individual volcanoes or volcanic features. Originally the numbering system was meant primarily to codify geographical and historical information about the volcanoes, but as more volcanoes were discovered in some regions, the system broke down and needed to be revised.

Sanctioned by IAVCEI, the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and the Global Volcano Model (GVM), the Smithsonian Institute’s Global Volcanism Program has assumed stewardship of the numbering system. The current system has been designed to be more compatible with modern computing and no longer includes letters or special characters; and no longer do numbers begin with 0 or 1. . The current numbers still often reflect region and subregion, but geography is no longer the sole criteria for assigning a VNUM.

Coincidentally, my random numbers landed me in the mountains of north Georgia…, not these mountains …but THESE mountains.….and then I closed my eyes and picked the nearest one…#214020, more popularly known as Kazbek.

It is the third highest mountain in Georgia as well as the seventh highest in all the Caucacus Mountains. (If you only count volcanoes, it is the second highest in the Caucacus behind Mount Elbrus. Kazbek sits right at the border between Georgia and Russia, and is a dormant stratovolcano. It is part of the Khokh range of mountains which lies north and parallel to the Greater Caucacus range. The area is still seismically active, and there is a system of geothermal springs in the area surrounding the volcano. It’s summit is topped by five glaciers, but the steepness of the volcano’s slopes keep the glaciers from growing very large. The volcano has not erupted since around 750 BCE, but in its past has generated long lava flows down its flanks. Its summit is 5,034 kilometres, making it an enticing challenge to climbers.

Image originally from

Image originally from

But it was the legends surrounding this volcano that surprised me most. Georgian folklore tells of Amironi, whose exploits stealing knowledge from God to help humankind eventually became the story of Prometheus. When his crime was discovered, he was chained to Kazbek, and each day an eagle would come and eat out his liver, which would regenerate each night to be eaten again the next day.

A more recent legend tells of an Orthodox Christian hermitage located in a cave high up Kazbek’s slopes that is said to contain holy relics including the manger of the baby Jesus.

Next week’s VVVc will be authored by our own Jonet “Zola” Greene. She has already sent me the postcards, but since I will be joining you in the Search Party, I will not look at them myself until the moment I post them here. Scoring will be as usual, and I may even come up with a special award graphic for this challenge. (I still need to add a section on the sidebar for award graphics).

Tune in Monday late-ish for a new volcano and new adventure.

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