February 2, 2013 – EARTH – An earthquake of magnitude 6.7 struck off the coast of the Solomon Islands (Santa Cruz) in the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Friday. The quake was later downgraded by the USGS to a 6.3 magnitude event. The depth of the quake was 10 km (6.2 miles) and the epicenter was 68 km southwest of Lata. The quake hit at 9:16 a.m. local time on Saturday. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not immediately issue any alerts on its website. This quake was underscored by an even stronger 6.9 magnitude earthquake that just struck the Hokkaido region of East Japan on February 2nd. This is the ninth major earthquake to strike the planet in the last five days. The present cluster of earthquakes began with a 6.0 event in Eastern Kazakhstan on January 28th, following a full moon on January 27, 2013. Perhaps, it may not be readily apparent to most that our planet appears to now be inching towards the spectrum of some major cataclysmic event. This approaching black swan occurrence is characterized by the gradual escalation of geological activity of a violent seismic and volcanic nature. 44 volcanic eruptive events have already been recorded for the month of January; where there was only 77 chronicled for the entire year of 2012. The on-going volcanic activity in Kamchatka also provides compelling testament that massive changes are now taking place within the planet’s interior. No less than 4 volcanoes on the Far Eastern peninsula of Kamchatka are erupting simultaneous, though all the volcanoes lie in relative close proximity to each other (with a 110 km radius). Even more interesting, the magma flow fueling each volcanic system appears to emanting from a separate magma source. However, what’s even more disconcerting is the fact that Plosky Tolbachik volcano awakened from 40 years of dormancy and is now ejecting massive rivers of lava across the landscape of Kamchatka. Russian scientists attest this is the first time rivers of lava have ever flowed from one of the Kamchatka volcanoes during the Holocene period. Large-scale protracted effusive eruptions, such as these, are generally fueled by a deep magma source. Most originate from a magma plume from deep inside the planet’s crust. Both of the planet’s volcanoes, which have had large effusive eruptions in the past, Kileaua (Hawaii) and Mount Etna (Italy) both lie over magma plumes- Kamchatka’s Plosky Tolbchik volcano does not. Kamchatka peninsula, which has a total land mass that is slightly larger than Germany, is one of the most active parts of the infamous “Ring of Fire,” the zone of volcanic and seismic activity that encircles the Pacific Ocean. Three tectonic plates — the North American Plate, the Okhotsk Plate and the Pacific Plate — collide beneath Kamchatka, with the peninsula’s coastal range boasting 30 active volcanoes. The crust is thinning here, and is becoming more fractured as seismic stresses increase.
February 2, 2013 – JAPAN – An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.9 jolted Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido on Saturday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. No tsunami was seen as a result of the quake and there were no reports of damage to local police as of 11:30 p.m. (1430 GMT), about 10 minutes after the quake occurred, public broadcaster NHK said. There were no abnormalities at Tohoku Electric Power Co’s Higashidori nuclear plant in northern Japan, NHK said, citing the utility.
February 2, 2013 – SCOTLAND – A 2.4-magnitude earthquake has been recorded in one of the most northerly parts of the UK. It is the largest quake in the area for around 120 years. It was recorded by the British Geological Survey at 4.16 am yesterday, about seven miles (11km) south of the village of Durness, in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands. Only one resident, who lives near Loch Eriboll, reported feeling a “slight rumbling.” The earthquake is the largest recorded in the region since one on September 26, 1887 which had a magnitude of three. The Richter Magnitude Scale typically ranges from 0 to 9. David Galloway, a seismologist at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, said the earthquake was fairly small and went relatively unnoticed by residents because of the time of day it happened. “We only had one person, who was already awake, report to us that they felt a slight rumbling,” he said. “Most people will have been asleep when this happened and we wouldn’t expect it to wake anyone up. If it was during the day, and in an area of higher population, we would expect more reports of people having felt it. It is one of five or six recorded in the region within a 30km (19-mile) radius, and the largest since 1887. It is not a region that experiences many earthquakes.” No reports of any damage were made.
February 1, 2013 – EARTH – The Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ has been angry over the past day, producing five strong earthquakes over a 48 hour period- not counting the 5.9 quake which struck Papua New Guinea. North-central Chile was the first to feel the Ring’s wrath, as a magnitude 6.8 quake went off at about 3:15 p.m. EST, centred roughly 40 km north of Vallenar, the capital city of Chile’s Huasco Province. Reports say that it shook buildings as far away as Santiago, nearly 600 kms to the south, and closer to the epicenter; some buildings in lower-income areas of Vallenar suffered collapsed walls. According to a Reuters report, one unfortunate woman died shortly after the quake, of an apparent heart attack. The Solomon Islands (Santa Cruz), in the south Pacific, were next, as three strong earthquakes, registering as magnitude 6.0 and 6.2 on the Richter Scale, struck just east of the island of Nuendö at 6:03 p.m. EST. No reports of any damage or injuries from either of these earthquakes as of yet, however the area is sparsely populated, with Lata, a community of just over 550 residents at the northwestern end of Nuendö, being the closest settlement to the quake epicenter of magnitude 6.0 earthquake off the southern coast of Alaska. Finally, this morning, at 4:53 a.m. EST, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake shook an already battered region along the southern tip of Alaska. The Alaskan Earthquake Center is apparently reporting that today’s tremor is an aftershock of the magnitude 7.5 quake that shook this same area on January 5th, and it is just north of where a magnitude 7.7 earthquake shook Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands) in October of last year. No damage or injuries have been reported from this latest quake. Although earthquakes around the ‘Ring of Fire’ have been known to touch off tsunamis, no alerts were sounded as a result of any of these four events. These earthquakes occurring in relatively quick succession, separated by distances of thousands of kilometers, punctuates just how active the ‘Ring of Fire’ is and just how unpredictable it can be. Although efforts are being made to put early warning systems into place, true earthquake prediction remains a lofty goal.
January 31, 2013 – ANCHORAGE, Alaska —A strong shallow earthquake has shaken southeastern Alaska, but officials say there is no danger of a tsunami and there are no immediate reports of any damage. The U.S. Geological Survey said the 6.0 magnitude quake struck about 1 a.m. Thursday and was centered in the ocean, about 188 miles south of the capital, Juneau. The Tsunami Warning Center says there is no danger of a tsunami. The earthquake was widely felt across the region, according to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center. However, it had no immediate reports of any damage. The center believes the quake is an aftershock to a magnitude 7.5 temblor that struck the region on January 4. That earthquake sparked a tsunami warning for hundreds of miles along the Alaska and Canadian coasts, but it was cancelled after a few hours when no damaging waves were generated. The 6.0 quake in Alaska is the fourth strong earthquake to rumble across the planet in 24 hours, following events in the Santa Cruz Islands and Chile. Seismic tension across the planet remains relatively elevated.
January 31, 2013 – SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS – A deep 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck near the Santa Cruz Islands in the Pacific, about four hours after the region was rattled by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake. The 6.2 magnitude earthquake had a depth of 55.4 km (34.4 miles) with an epicenter of 60 km (37 miles) E of Lata, Solomon Islands. This is the third major earthquake to strike the planet in a 24 hour period. The planet is experiencing a heightened level of seismic activity following a record number of volcanoes across the globe exhibiting activity in the month of January. Today’s earthquake was followed in rapid succession by two 5.6 aftershocks, and a 5.0 magnitude earthquake in southern Sumatra, Indonesia, and a 4.5 aftershock in Atacama, Chile from the 6.8 magnitude earthquake. Seismic tension is also mounting on the Indo-Australian and Sunda plate near the region of Indonesia.
January 31, 2013 – CHILE – A magnitude-6.8 earthquake shook offices, toppled supermarket shelves and broke windows on Wednesday in north-central Chile, where people fled some buildings in panic. A 55-year-old woman in city of Atacama died of a heart attack, said Mayor Rafael Prohens, who attributed her death to fear during the quake. Authorities said that damage was limited and discounted the possibility of a tsunami. The U.S. Geological Survey originally reported the quake at 6.7, but later revised it upward. It struck at 4:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m.; 2015 GMT) and was centered 27 miles (44 kilometers) north of Vallenar, Chile. The quake shook the capital of Santiago, causing office buildings to sway, but was felt most powerfully in the north where state television showed images of scattered groceries at supermarket floors and broken windows at several homes in Vallenar, Copiapo and other nearby cities. Witnesses described people running from buildings into the streets in panic. Vallenar Mayor Cristian Tapia said telephone lines were jammed and some electricity lines were temporarily down but services were slowly returning. “The first half hour was really tough. We’re still having problems with telecommunications,” Tapia told state television. “Two walls collapsed. We’re evaluating ruptures at homes to find out if they’re still safe to live in.” But Chile’s Emergency Office, ONEMI, said no injuries were immediately reported and damage to infrastructure appear minimal. The oceanographic service discounted the possibility of a tsunami. “There’s no doubt the population in some places fled, following a culture of evacuation,’ Miguel Ortiz, national chief of the early alert center at ONEMI. Two lower intensity aftershocks were also reported. A devastating 8.8-magnitude quake and the tsunami it unleashed in 2010, killed 551 people, destroyed 220,000 homes and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts. The disaster cost Chile $30 billion, or 18 percent of its annual gross domestic product. Chile is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. Just off Chile’s long coast, the Nazca tectonic plate plunges beneath the continent, pushing the Andes to ever-higher altitudes. The 2010 quake was so strong it changed time, shortening the Earth’s day slightly by changing the planet’s rotation. Less than 3 hours later, a powerful 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Santa Cruz Islands in the Pacific. The quake struck about 10 km (6.2) below the ocean floor and was followed by 4.6 magnitude aftershock. There were no reports of damage or injuries from the islands.
January 31, 2013 – OREGON – A magnitude 5.3 earthquake struck about 170 miles off the southern Oregon coast. The National Weather Service’s West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said there was no danger of a tsunami from the Tuesday evening quake. There were no immediate reports of damage. The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., said the 7:14 p.m. PST quake occurred at a depth of 6.4 miles. By 10 p.m., the center’s website had logged four reports from people who said they felt a weak shaking from the quake. In the last 12 months, the number of quakes erupting off the coast of Oregon has been moderately increasing.
Quakes continue to plague East Texas: A 3.9-magnitude earthquake occurred on May 10, and on May 17, there was a 4.8-magnitude earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Those were followed by a 2.7-magnitude on May 20; a 2.5-magnitude on May 26; a 2.1-magnitude on June 16; a 2.8-magnitude on Dec. 7; a 2.6-magnitude on Dec. 22; and Friday’s earthquake. The most recent earthquake — a 2.8-magnitude — occurred about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. Timpson court clerk Paula Mullins said Tuesday’s earthquake wasn’t as bad as Friday’s. It just kind of felt like a sonic boom,” she recalled. She said residents discuss earthquakes when they come, and everybody wonders why. “Everybody’s got their own idea of fracking or God giving us a wake-up call,” she said. “It’s just happening, and we don’t know (why).” Cliff Frohlich, associate director at The University of Texas at Austin Institute for Geophysics, said Tuesday there is a fault system in East Texas called the Mount Enterprise fault system, which has been known for a long time. He said faults there can get reactivated by stresses of various kinds, and some people say the fault system may be related to a 1981 Center earthquake and an 1891 Rusk earthquake. Frohlich said there’s been a lot of interest in human causes of Texas earthquakes in relation to the injection of fluids into the ground. He said there are wells near where Timpson earthquakes were the strongest, and it’s possible that the injection of disposable fluids played a role. Sometimes when you inject fluids you get earthquakes, (and) in Texas there are (numerous) disposable wells,” he said. Frohlich noted that faults are also everywhere, and some might be as small as a football field or garage. He said there is friction to help prevent faults from slipping, but if fluids are pumped in, it can become “like an air hockey table. If mankind is causing them, it’s triggering faults that were stuck…,” he said. “If conditions are right for a fault to move, it moves.”
By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 11:42 EST
California has long been braced for the Big One, but now a proposed new early warning system seeks to give the US state’s residents vital extra seconds before a major earthquake hits.
The $80 million plan, presented by lawmaker Alex Padilla and experts from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), would use technology already in place in Japan to issue warnings from underground sensors.
The alerts could give tens of seconds’ early notice to residents of Los Angeles, for example, if the start of a major temblor were detected a significant distance away from the crowded West Coast megalopolis.
Automatic systems could trigger brakes on trains to slow them down before the quake hit, preventing potentially catastrophic derailments from adding to the disaster.
“A fully developed earthquake early warning system would provide Californians critical seconds to take cover, assist loved ones, pull to the side of the road or exit a building,” said Padilla, presenting the plan Monday.
“It could allow time to stop a train or power down other critical infrastructure … it would also speed the response of police and fire personnel by quickly identifying areas hardest hit by the quake.”
Geologists say a quake capable of causing widespread destruction is 99 percent certain of hitting California in the next 30 years. A magnitude 7.8 quake could kill 1,800 people, injure 50,000 more and damage 300,000 buildings.
January 30, 2013 – CHINA – A massive sinkhole in Guangzhou, China, swallowed up buildings and knocked out power to thousands of residents. According to Shanghaiist, the sinkhole is about 3,230 square feet and plenty deep. A video shows a crowd milling about the sinkhole before it expanded, causing a building to crumble as if it were detonated. Neighboring buildings were evacuated and streets were blocked by police. “Gas could be smelt from over 30 metres away, and deafening noises could be heard as the land continued to crack and sink,” the Shanghaiist reports. Sinkholes are, unfortunately, nothing new. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, some sinkholes are human-induced. “New sinkholes have been correlated to land-use practices, especially from groundwater pumping and from construction and development practices.” They also occur in areas where the rock beneath the land surface can be easily dissolved by groundwater. Human-induced or not, sinkholes are getting a lot of press these days. In China’s Guangxi province last year, a sinkhole formed after a local school dug a well to ease its water shortage. Business Insider reports that in Beijing, massive bomb shelters, “constructed amid fears of an impending nuclear attack during the height of Chinese-Soviet tensions,” may be contributing to the problem. But they certainly aren’t limited to China. In 2011, a Florida sinkhole gobbled up “a garbage bin, an oak tree, the back wall of the building housing a salon and racks of supplies.” A woman in Guatemala City discovered a 3-feet-wide, 40-feet-deep sinkhole beneath her bed. And in Ohio, a massive sinkhole caused part of a state highway to collapse.
January 28, 2013 – KAZAKHSTAN – A shallow 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck a remote region of Eastern Kazakhstan today. According to news reports, the 6.0 earthquake caused apartment buildings to sway in the country’s largest city, Almaty. Residents in Almaty could feel buildings and windows shaking. Some ran out to escape to the open area. The earthquake was followed by three moderate aftershocks: of a 4.4, a 4.5, and a 4.6 magnitude. The shallow tremors were also felt in the capital of neighboring Kyrgyzstan. The 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck at a shallow depth of 10.9 km (6.8 miles). According to the USGS, the epicenter of the earthquake was 60 km (37 miles) SE of Kegen, Kazakhstan.
January 28, 2013 – NEW ZEALAND – Horror stories of Christchurch families living in garages and tents continue to surface almost two years on from the February 2011 earthquake. Some families are still stranded in sheds or illegally overcrowding friends’ and relatives’ houses. Meanwhile, rental housing prices show no sign of abating and welfare agencies believe this year could be worse than the last. Demand on Christchurch’s social services continues to increase: people who have never needed help before are queuing up at food banks and many families still face impoverished living conditions. City Missioner Michael Gorman said the unprecedented demand on the mission’s alcohol and drug services, food bank and night shelters “has not eased at all. There is a lot more money going into rent and a lot less money going into living.” The number of people approaching the mission suffering from poverty or mental health issues was rampant, he said. One of his social workers had a week-long waiting list of families needing assistance with school uniform grants. Another had recently been supporting a young family living in a tent, and a couple renting a washhouse. A desperate woman with a newborn baby emailed Gorman last week asking for any free food because she said she was “paying so much rent, I can’t afford to live. We are seeing many, many new people. Some who may actually own property but are so stretched by having to be out of their houses and pay horrific rents,” he said. Pacific Island Evaluation social worker To’alepai Louella Thomsen-Inder said she was growing tired of “fighting day and night’ for her clients. Before Christmas she dropped food parcels off to 10 struggling families and said she could “smell the poverty as I walked in the door. I saw the reality. Some people had just a twig in a corner for a Christmas tree,” she said. “Some homes have no curtains, babies are crawling around on rotting carpet, it’s damp and the children are running around with no shoes on and with visible skin conditions.” Tenants Protection Association manager Helen Gatonyi believes this year is “shaping up to be the worst. When winter strikes this year, we predict it’s going to be very difficult for a large number of people.” Some owners had been renting out cramped, damp three-bedroom homes for more than $500 a week, she said. “The behavior of some landlords is totally unacceptable. They are renting homes for an arm and a leg, knowing there will be a queue of people lining up to view the place.” Gatonyi is calling for a warrant of fitness and code of practice to be placed on Christchurch rental properties and said the association was about to launch an in-depth inquiry into the living conditions of tenants in the city. The Government’s investigation into overcrowding, homelessness and unsuitable living conditions in Christchurch was kick-started in June last year, but the results are yet to be released.
January 27, 2013 – SOUTH POLE – Today, three earthquakes struck along the southernmost region of the planet, known as the Southern East Pacific Rise. The SEPR lies north of Antarctica. The SEPR quakes occurred in succession, following two moderate 4.7 magnitude earthquakes, which struck east of Bristol Island, near the Sandwich Islands- also north of Antarctica. The East Pacific Rise is a mid-oceanic ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary located along the floor of the Pacific Ocean. It separates the Pacific Plate to the west from (north to south) the North American Plate, the Rivera Plate, the Cocos Plate, the Nazca Plate, and the Antarctic Plate. It runs from an undefined point near Antarctica in the south northward to its termination at the northern end of the Gulf of California in the Salton Sea basin in southern California. The oceanic crust is moving away from the East Pacific Rise to either side at a rate of 70mm/year. The series of earthquakes today ranged in magnitude instensity of from 5.2 to 4.7. We’re seeing more signs of growing tension along tectonic plates in the Ring of Fire. Stay tuned…
Guam earthquake goes unreported: An earthquake that shook the island just before 8am Monday morning has not been reported by the U.S. Geological Survey. The earthquake gently shook buildings throughout the island, but caused no reported damage or injuries. The magnitude of the earthquake is unclear because the USGS website, which normally records and reports earthquakes throughout the world, did not report this temblor. It’s not clear why the earthquake was unreported, but it’s not the first time. Last year, a similarly mild earthquake went unreported by the USGS. Email inquires to the Western Regional Office of the USGS have not been answered. –PNC
California to get early-warning quake system: Californians would have precious seconds to prepare for a major earthquake under a new proposal to create a statewide early warning system. State Sen. Alex Padilla joined with seismologists Monday in announcing legislation to create the system. The U.S. has been testing warning systems for several years but lags behind countries such as Japan and Mexico in implementing the technology to warn the public. Such systems are designed to detect the first pulses of energy from an earthquake, estimate its magnitude and send alerts before damaging seismic waves spread widely. Warning times would range from a few seconds to tens of seconds—enough time for people to take cover or begin shutting down systems that could be damaged by severe shaking. –Mercury
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