Volcanos and snails

The CLAMA congress is going on these days in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. I hope it is as crowded as I know it was before. Unfortunately I didn’t have the financial sources to make this trip, although my intention was to attend the congress. Last year I did some initial work together with Gabriela Cuezzo organizing the symposium on non-marine snails. Perhaps more on that later.

Despite the attraction of the program of CLAMA, it is inevitable that the congress will be suffering from the recent eruption of the Puyehue volcano in Chile. The following picture is from Bariloche, a place that I visited during the Southern Connection Congress early last year and so for me it is just more than a picture.

Schermafbeelding_2011-06-15_om

While Puerto Madryn (inside red circle) lies ESE of Bariloche, it is probably just outside the ash cloud as may be seen on this NASA picture.

0schermafbeelding_2011-06-15_om

However, participants will have had a hard time to reach the place due to closure of airports in Argentina. One of the participants wrote me last Saturday that he was unsure to reach Buenos Aires by plane; but if he would succeed, he had to go 20 hours by bus from BA to Puerto Madryn. My guess is that the congress will be less crowded than usual.

But there may be another malacological effect too. If you look again at the picture of the street in Bariloche, you will see that the ash layer is quite thick. Imagine as a snail to be covered by – let’s say – 30 cm of ash. Inevitably this will lead to some local or even regional extinctions. After the 2008 eruption (see also http://bit.ly/judwiM figure 1 for distribution of the ash deposition) this is another blow for the Patagonian malacofauna. But perhaps a blessing in disguise for a Neotropical malacologist to do some research on the effects of volcano eruptions on the regional malacofauna?

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