February 20, 2013 – ITALY – Italy’s Mount Etna sent lava and gas shooting toward the stars early this morning (Feb. 19), the first big eruption for the volcano in 2013. The famous Sicilian volcano burst to life overnight, sending a fountain of fire into the air. The dramatic scene was captured in a video by Klaus Dorschfeldt, a videographer and webmaster at Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. Mount Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, had emitted signs of an imminent paroxysm in recent weeks. On Jan. 22, lava and strong flashes in the volcano’s New Southeast Crater were clearly visible from the Sicilian foothills; these often herald a new paroxysm: short, violent eruptive bursts. Dorschfeldt said he knew Mount Etna’s recent signals could precede new activity. “I followed the activity of Etna for many years, and with time you learn to know it as if it were your friend,” he said in an email interview. “Following it constantly (you) learn to be a keen observer and a minor change can lead to something important,” he told OurAmazingPlanet. The tallest volcano in Europe, Mount Etna is almost constantly spewing gas or lava. Its Bocca Nuova crater also erupted earlier this year, from Jan. 10 to Jan. 20. In 2011, Etna’s violent bursts were spotted from space.
February 17, 2013 – ANDAMAN ISLANDS – A new eruption seems to have started. An ash plume rising to 20,000 ft (6 km) altitude and drifting 120 nautical miles to the SW was reported last night by VAAC Darwin. The aviation color code was raised to RED. This volcanic island stands in the midst of a volcanic belt on the edge of the Indian and Burmese tectonic plates. Barren Island is located in the Andaman Sea, one of the most easterly of the Andaman Islands. It is the only confirmed active volcano in South Asia. Along with the rest of the Andamans, it is a part of the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and lies about 135 km (84 mi) northeast of the territory’s capital, Port Blair. The first recorded eruption of the volcano dates back to 1787. Since then, the volcano has erupted more than ten times, with the most recent one which started in September 2010 and continued through January 2011.
February 18, 2013 – WELLINGTON, NZ — A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck off New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands early Tuesday, the US Geological Survey reported. The quake hit at 12:19 am (1219 GMT Monday) at a depth of 34 km (21 miles), about 161 km south of Raoul Island in the Kermadecs. The largely uninhabited islands are northeast of New Zealand’s North Island. A magnitude 6.0 quake struck off North Island Saturday. A shallow 6.3-magnitude quake devastated the New Zealand city of Christchurch in the South Island in February last year, leaving 185 people dead.The country sits on the so-called “Ring of Fire”, the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year. This is the 21st major quake to strike the planet in the month of February.
Tremor strikes Elsinore fault: A magnitude 3.4 earthquake broke 17 miles east-southeast of Julian at 9:04 a.m. Sunday, producing brief, light shaking felt across much of San Diego County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake happened 3.1 miles deep, at a point just east of the Elsinore fault, one of the most active and potentially dangerous systems in the state. The southern leg of the fault produced a quake measuring at least 7.0 in 1892. Sunday’s event was felt in Alpine, Campo, La Mesa, Julian, Poway, Ramona, San Marcos, Borrego Springs, Pine Valley, San Diego and Solana Beach. A Sheriff’s Department representative said there were no reports of damage or injuries. It’s possible that Sunday’s quake was an aftershock to the 7.2 Easter Sunday quake of April 2010. –UTSD
February 16, 2013 – PHILIPPINES – A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Saturday near the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, the state-run Philippines News Agency (PNA) reported. The temblor hit at 12:37 p.m. local time, 149 kilometers (93 miles) south of Davao, the USGS said. It struck at a depth of about 98 kilometers. The epicenter of the earthquake was 28 km (17 miles) SE of Caburan, Philippines. No tsunami warning or watch has been issued. Today’s earthquake marks the 20th major earthquake to strike the planet in the month of February. A 5.7 magnitude earthquake also struck the ocean floor, off the North Island of New Zealand. –, TEP
February 16, 2013 – ITALY – A 4.9 magnitude spooking quake hit central Italy late Saturday, shaking apartment buildings in the center of Rome, and citizens in the region of Abruzzo, struck by a killer quake in 2009. The earthquake hit Frosinone, between the capital and the southern city of Naples, at a depth of 10.7 kilometers according to Italy’s Geophysics Institute. No injuries or damage to buildings were reported. The tremor sparked panicked calls in the Abruzzo region to the emergency services. The medieval town of L’Aquila was hit in 2009 by a 6.3-magnitude quake which killed 309 people, and ruined buildings still scar the landscape. Inhabitants in villages in the national park in Abruzzo raced out of their houses in panic, according to Italian media reports. Earlier on Saturday, three Italian builders and a technician were found guilty of multiple manslaughter after a dormitory they had restored and safety approved collapsed during the L’Aquila quake, killing eight students.
February 14, 2013 – MOSCOW – A strong 6.8 (6.6 USGS) magnitude earthquake shook Thursday the remote and largely uninhabited Sakha region in Russia’s Far East, ITAR-TASS quoted the local emergency ministry service as saying. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the quake, whose epicenter was recorded 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of the village of Ust-Nera. The quake struck 10 kilometres (six miles) below ground at 5:13 Moscow time, the Sakha emergency ministry said.
February 15, 2013 – MORRISTOWN, TN – Late Tuesday afternoon dozens of concerned neighbors called Hamblen County 911 to report the earth shaking and the sound of a large blast. At first the US Geological Survey reported there was no earthquake in the area. That prompted local emergency management officials to spend Wednesday looking at other options. 10News spoke with TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation) who ruled out fracking or quarry activity. Then, we checked with the University of Memphis Center for Earthquake Research and Information, sponsored by the USGS. Geologist Gary Patterson went and pulled the records from sensors on Tuesday and says he could see activity consistent with an earthquake or quarry blasting. Emergency Managment Agency Director Chris Bell says there was no licensed blasting in the Hamblen County area on Tuesday. 10News also confirmed with the area’s only quarry, Vulcan Materials, which say no blasting happened yesterday. Patterson says the activity shows up over a large area with sensors reporting vibrations in Copper Ridge, Avondale Springs, Green Top, and Lonesome, VA. He says the USGS doesn’t have a lot of sensors in that area which may have resulted in the automated system’s failure to report the activity. Patterson says they need more time to investigate, but either an earthquake or quarry blasting could solve the ‘Morristown Mystery.’
February 14, 2013 – INDONESIA – A report published by the Indonesian Volcanological Survey (VSI) indicates that the intense eruptive phase on 3 Feb caused the collapse of about 1/4 of the volume of the dome, a little more than one million cubic meters. VSI points out that the main hazard zones for pyroclastic flows, if the dome continues to grow, include now also the valleys to the west and south-east, in addition to the open valley to the south (that already was invaded by pyroclastic flows, visible on the recent NASA space image). The situation on the island remains critical. Many villages are now directly in this danger area (Nitunglea, Rokirole, Tuanggeo, Ona, Wolondopo). Significant ash fall may also occur, with the usual consequences (pollution of drinking water supplies, eye, epidermal, respiratory problems etc.)
Mud flow on Mt. Merapi kills one: A volcanic mudflow along the Gendol River that originated on Mount Merapi swept away trucks and their cargoes of sand, killing one truck driver and injuring a worker late Tuesday afternoon in Manggong village, Sleman, Yogyakarta. “The trucks were queuing to leave the river when the mudflow came,” Heru Saptono, the head of the Sleman Disaster Mitigation Agency’s disaster mitigation and prevention division, said on Wednesday. The previous day’s continuous heavy downpours over Mt. Merapi, according to Heru, had triggered the mudflow as layers of volcanic ash from the volcano’s 2010 eruption still covered rivers originating on the slopes of one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
Feb. 13, 2013 — Researchers will conduct a rare — if not unprecedented — large-scale earthquake simulation to determine how vulnerable New York’s unreinforced masonry buildings (row houses) are to temblors.
Designed to imitate the 2011 Virginia quake that rattled the East Coast, the test will occur at 11 a.m. Feb. 19 at the University at Buffalo’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER).
Two 14-foot-tall walls — built with materials such as 100-year-old brick — will replicate turn-of-the-century row houses (often called “brownstones”) found in New York.
Researchers will use an earthquake shake table within UB’s earthquake simulation lab to mimic the Virginia temblor as if its epicenter was under the New York region. They will use the test results to calculate estimates for property loss and potential human casualties.
To see a video preview of the test, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVsAj_S9KSg
February 13, 2013 – SOLOMON ISLANDS – The National Disaster Management Office in Solomon Islands says volcanic activity has increased on an island in Temotu province since the magnitude 8.0 earthquake several days ago. Sipuru Rove says the uninhabited island of Tinakula, which is about 50 kilometers north of Lata, has being making loud and strange sounds. He says help and information is needed from technical experts to assess the risk posed to the local community by the volcano as they are worried an eruption could be near. “The volcanic activity on one of the islands that is off Lata is alarming at the moment. And this will really require scientific special people to assist us in assessing this volcanic activity which is beginning to be abnormal.” Sipuru Rove says there are also significant aftershocks which meant a plane with supplies and medical staff couldn’t land and was forced to return to Honiara.
February 13, 2013 – NEVADA – A magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck western Nevada on Tuesday, close to the California border, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and there was no immediate word of any injuries or significant damage. The Geological Survey said the earthquake had a shallow depth of 4.4 miles and was centered 16 miles south of Tonopah Junction, Nevada, between Reno and Las Vegas. An Esmeralda County Sheriff’s office dispatcher said she was not aware of any injuries or damage from the quake. “We had minimal shakes but nothing damaging,” said the dispatcher, who did not wish to be identified. The 5.1 magnitude earthquake generated more than 13 initial aftershocks.
By Chris Carrington
February 12th, 2013
Michael Thorne a seismologist at the University of Utah uses seismic waves to study what goes on inside volcanoes, he, like hundreds of other scientists is looking for changes deep in the Earth that may point to when an eruption is likely.
Thorne is interested in super volcanoes, such as the massive sleeping giant that lies under Yellowstone National Park.
Super volcanoes are nothing like the volcanoes that we have witnessed erupting so far. A super volcano spews hundreds of times more magma than a regular volcano and their eruptions can last for hundreds of years.
There is good evidence of super volcano activity in the ancient past. The Siberian Traps show prove a massive and centuries long eruption occurred at the time of the Permian extinction event.
The Deccan Traps in India located on the Deccan Plateau cover an area of 500,000 square km, they formed some 60 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period.
Thorne thinks another super volcano may be rising from the superheated mantle at the center of the Earth. He has discovered two areas of magma, one of them the size of Florida, with other smaller pools around it.
These huge magma lakes are moving around. They currently lie under the Pacific plate in the Samoa area. Another slightly smaller one has been found under Africa.
The eruption of a super volcano is an extinction level event and its impossible to avoid all of its effects regardless of how far from it you are.
The tremendous amount of gases and ash pumped into the atmosphere during the eruption would lower global temperatures for decades.
Crop growing would be challenging if not impossible and the majority of livestock would die from inhaling volcanic ash, which in reality contains enough silica to make it akin to breathing in tiny shards of glass.
The ash sets like concrete in the lungs and effectively kills by suffocation.
With the huge increase we have seen in earthquake and volcanic activity recently Thornes’ research should be taken seriously.’
Long term survival preparations would be crucial to those who survived the initial blast from a super volcano.
Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
February 12, 2013 – RING OF FIRE – Bad news, everyone – you have another near-certain world-ending catastrophe to look forward to. Scientists have confirmed that two continent-sized chemical blobs of partially melted rock are converging in the Pacific, and look set to create a massive new volcano, which could prove cataclysmic to life on Earth. Geologist Michael Thorne at the University of Utah reports in Earth and Planetary Science that the collision is slowly happening 1,800 miles beneath the ocean. He says that the collision could lead in two possible directions – both of which are bad, and would wipe out millions of species. One is just a massive single eruption, which would kill us all, the other is a thousand-year flood basalt eruption, which would also kill us. The problem is that two enormous “thermochemical piles” of molten rock about 3,000 miles across are moving towards each other at the bottom of the Earth’s mantle. The piles have been known about for decades, but it was originally thought they were static. But after extensive study with seismic waves, Thorne is convinced they’re in fact moving together. The result is a massive, molten blob that will one day be created beneath the ocean, creating a huge amount of pressure that will eventually blow up in our face. “What we may be detecting is the start of one of these large eruptive events that – if it ever happens – could cause very massive destruction on Earth,” said Thorne. Luckily the process is slow – it shouldn’t happen for another 100 million years or so.
Trouble in the Pacific: But in the 1990s, geophysicists found evidence for the continent-size thermochemical piles beneath Africa and the Pacific. These are known technically as LLSVPs, or “large low shear velocity provinces,” because seismic shear waves passing through them move 5 percent slower that through surrounding mantle rock. That suggests they have a different composition and-or temperature than the surrounding mantle. Previous studies also have observed smaller blobs of rock, measuring perhaps 60-by-60 miles on the edges of the continent-sized masses. Seismic shear waves move as much as 45 percent slower through these blobs – known technically as ULVZs or “ultra low velocity zones” – indicating they may be spongy and partly molten. Thorne says his analysis of seismic waves passing through the core-mantle boundary reveals the Pacific pile really represents two or more continent-sized piles slowly sliding atop the core and colliding so that partly molten blobs on their edges are merging into the largest such blob or ULVZ ever observed – roughly the size of Florida. “My study might be the first to show actual seismic evidence that the piles are moving,” he says. “People who have done previous simulations have suggested this. They are sitting atop the core and getting pushed around by overlying mantle forces like subduction. They move around on the core somewhat like continental plates drift at Earth’s surface.”
February 11, 2013 – GEOLOGY – Every few million years or so, the Earth burps up a gargantuan volcano. These aren’t like volcanoes in our lifetimes; these “super volcanoes” can erupt continuously for thousands of years. While they might be rare, you’d best look out when one hits. The ash and volcanic gases from these volcanoes can wipe out most living things over large parts of the planet. Michael Thorne, a seismologist at the University of Utah, has some clues about what causes these big eruptions. thorne uses seismic waves to get a picture of what’s going on about 1,800 miles beneath the Earth’s surface, where the planet’s core meets the outer mantle. Think of the Earth as an avocado, and the pit is the core. The stuff you make guacamole with is the outer mantle. Thorne has been watching two enormous piles of rock that sit on the boundary between the core and the mantle. One pile is underneath the Pacific Ocean; the other under Africa. Scientists have known about them for 20 years, but Thorne saw something different. “I think this is the first study that might point to evidence that these piles are moving around,” Thorne says. Moving perhaps, but slowly and the piles are maybe 3,000 miles across. Thorne thinks, in fact, that the pile under the Pacific is actually two piles crushing up against each other. And where they meet, there’s a blob. “We call it a blob of partially molten material,” he says. “I mean it’s big … this one that we found is an order of magnitude, maybe 10 times larger, than any of the ones we’ve observed before.” The blob is the size of Florida, and there are other, smaller blobs around the edges of the piles, too. So these great rock piles are being squished together and squeezing this huge molten blob at the middle of it like some kind of balloon, and it is going on right underneath us- rr at least, under Samoa. So should we care about these blobs? “A possibility is that these blobs might represent sort of a deep-seated root, to where plumes arise all the way to the surface, giving rise to hot-spot volcanism,” Thorne says. One example is the Yellowstone super volcano, which has blown its top three times in the past 2 million years.
Feb. 8, 2013 — When the newest Landsat spacecraft trains its state-of-the-art sensors on Earth’s surface, it will provide images of our ever-changing planet in unparalleled clarity.
Launched by NASA in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) will add a new chapter to an enduring program. Since 1972, Landsat has enabled people around the globe to observe our planet’s land masses. The enhanced images that will be provided by improved Landsat data come at a time when such information is vitally important.
“With increasing population, and with advances in technology, our land cover and land use are currently changing at a rate unprecedented in human history,” said Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
LDCM will be lofted into orbit aboard a two-stage United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The five-year mission will begin with a launch from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Once in orbit, after three months of extensive testing, the LDCM satellite will be renamed Landsat 8 and operational control will then be transferred to USGS.
Six Landsat satellites have successfully launched since the first made its debut in 1972. Jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, the Landsat program has provided continuous views of Earth’s surface for more than four decades. Landsat 7, the most recent in the series, launched in April 1999.
By Chris Carrington
February 8, 2013
Contributed by The Daily Sheeple
We have always known that tsunamis wreck lives and infrastructure.
They devastate crops and economy but generally it was considered that the areas recovered, they rebuilt and moved on.
Then, on March 11th 2011 all that changed. A massive earthquake and tsunami overtopped sea defenses leading to the flooding of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
A group of scientists have published a study in Natural Hazards Journal that identifies the areas of the world most at risk from a major tsunami.
Based on that data it has been possible to identify 23 nuclear power plants in high tsunami risk areas. In total these 23 plants have 74 reactors. Four of the plants are currently expanding to house a total of nine more reactors.
Jose Manuel Rodriguez-Llanes, co-author of the study, and a researcher at the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) said:
“We are dealing with the first vision of the global distribution of civil nuclear power plants situated on the coast and exposed to tsunamis”
The geographical risk factors mean that almost the entire west coast of the USA, the Spanish/Portuguese Atlantic coast, the Eastern Mediterranean area, the southern part of Oceania and Southeast Asia have added risk due to the presence of nuclear power stations.
There are currently 64 nuclear power plants under construction, 27 of them in China and 19 of thaose 27 are being built in areas that are considered to be geologically dangerous.
South Korea, Pakistan and India are also currently in the building phase and all the plants have been identified as being in at risk areas.
Lead author of the study and researcher at the Geodynamics and Paleontology Department of the University of Huelva said:
“The location of nuclear power plants does not only have implications for the host countries but also for the areas which could be affected by radioactive leaks”
Some researchers believe the damage caused by the Fukishima disaster has been underestimated, in particular the increase in cancer mortality rates as time goes on.
More can be read about reassessment of the health implications of Fukishima at: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/01/reassessing-health-effects-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-accident
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!
February 8, 2013 – SANTA CRUZ, ISLS – The deadly 8.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit the Solomon Islands days ago, struck along a subduction zone, the same geologic setting responsible for the world’s most powerful earthquakes. In a subduction zone, two of Earth’s tectonic plates meet and one slides beneath the other into the mantle, the deeper layer beneath the crust. The Solomon Islands sits above the collision between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of the magnitude-8.0 earthquake, the Australia plates dives beneath the Pacific plate toward the east-northeast at a geologically speedy 3.7 inches (94 millimeters) per year, according to the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS). The earthquake hit at a depth of 17.8 miles (28.7 kilometers) and was the second largest earthquake in the Solomon Islands region in almost 40 years, IRIS said in a statement. Several aftershocks followed; the largest measuring magnitude 6.6, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The tsunami generated by the quake, reported as 3 feet (0.9 meters) in height, hit villages on Santa Cruz Island, destroying structures and homes, according to news reports. A tsunami watch was issued for Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand, but not for the rest of the Pacific, according to the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. Subduction zone quakes shove the seafloor in one sudden movement, which may generate a tsunami by pushing the ocean water above. However, depending on the depth and size of the earthquake, the actual seafloor surface may not move a significant amount, so a big earthquake doesn’t always produce a massive wave. For example, a magnitude-7.6 subduction zone earthquake in the Philippines in August 2012, which started deep in Earth’s crust, did not trigger a tsunami. There were dozens of earthquakes around the Solomon Islands in the month leading up to the massive 8.0 earthquake, the USGS reported. More than 40 magnitude-4.5 quakes shook the islands in the past week alone, and seven of those temblors were larger than a magnitude-6.0, the USGS said.
The Extinction Protocol, pp. 166,167,172 (2009)
Planet in crisis: “We are entering an era of increased planetary instability, brought on by a significant rise in the geothermal gradient, and subsequent magmatic fluid expansion within the planet’s interior. It will be a time, in which, we will see catastrophic and exponential increases in the number of natural disasters- most notably: earthquakes, storms, and volcanic eruptions. Yet, it is not the number of earthquakes that will strike the planet in the future that should most concern us. It will be the cluster eruption of mega-quakes, and their resonate aftermath, which will signal the planet has entered an intensified cataclysmic period of transition…these quakes will signal the secondary stage of Earth’s thermal acceleration, and should come to be viewed as signs of increasing disorder. Some of the quakes will strike as singular events; others will erupt in clusters, and some will strike some of the world’s most dangerous faults…this time will be marked by increased tectonic plate agitation, and an increase in the outbreak of the most powerful and destructive type of earthquakes, known as mega-thrust earthquakes.”
Feb. 7, 2013 — The 11 March 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake (Mw9.0) produced the largest slip ever recorded in an earthquake, over 50 meters. Such huge fault movement on the shallow portion of the megathrust boundary came as a surprise to seismologists because this portion of the subduction zone was not thought to be accumulating stress prior to the earthquake. In a recently published study, scientists from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) shed light on the stress state on the fault that controls the very large slip. The unexpectedly large fault displacements resulted in the devastating tsunamis that caused tremendous damage and loss of lives along the coast of Japan.
“The study investigated the stress change associated with the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake and tested the hypothesis by determining the in-situ stress state of the frontal prism from the drilled holes,” says a lead author Weiren Lin of Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). “We have established a new framework that the large slips in this region are an indication of coseismic fault zone and nearly the total stress accumulated was released during the earthquake.”
JFAST was designed and undertaken by the international scientific community to better understand the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake. The expedition was carried out aboard the scientific drilling vessel Chikyu from April to July 2012. JFAST drill sites were located approximately 220 km from the eastern coast of Honshu, Japan, in nearly 7000 m of water.
“The project is looking at the stress and physical properties of the fault zone soon after a large earthquake,” co-author James Mori of Kyoto University, Co-Chief Scientist who led the JFAST expedition explains.
It is the first time that “rapid-response drilling” (within 13 months after the earthquake) has been attempted to measure the temperature across a subduction fault zone. The fast mobilization is necessary to observe time sensitive data, such as the temperature signal. JAMSTEC successfully mobilized a research expedition for IODP to investigate the large displacement by drilling from the ocean floor to the plate boundary, reaching a maximum depth of more than 850 m below seafloor (mbsf).
“Understanding the stress conditions that control the very large slip of this shallow portion of the megathrust may be the most important seismological issue for this earthquake.” Mori says.
The research published this week determined the stress field from breakouts observed in a borehole around 820 mbsf, in a region thought to contain the main slip zone of the 2011 earthquake. Lin and his co-authors analyzed a suite of borehole-logging data collected while drilling with Logging-While-Drilling (LWD) tools during IODP Expedition 343. Local compressive failures (borehole breakouts) are formed in the borehole wall during the drilling and are imaged with the LWD tools. The orientation and size of the breakouts are used to infer the present direction and magnitudes of the stress field. An important finding of the paper is that the present shear stress on the fault is nearly zero, indicating that there was a nearly complete stress change during the earthquake. Usually, earthquakes are thought to release only a portion of the stress on the fault.
Feb. 6, 2013 — The perceived risk of having a volcanic eruption needs to match the actual risk, detected through combined technologies including remote sensing of volcanic gasses, before dire consequences can be prevented.
Just like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions are extremely difficult to accurately predict. Yet, the eruption of the Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador was predicted a few days before it happened on 1st October 2005. “On the last day of September [the authorities] evacuated 200 people from the slopes of the volcano, and the next day, at ten o ‘clock the volcano exploded,” remembers Bo Galle, an atmospheric scientist at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. His team was involved in raising the alarm of the risk of eruption.
At the time, Galle was the chosen coordinator of EU funded NOVAC project designed “to find out if [volcanic gasses] remote sensing was useful for [eruption] risk assessment.” This approach relies on a technology called spectroscopic remote-sensing, traditionally used to detect gasses produced by agriculture, pollution, or natural sources, such as peat mosses. The efficiency of the system was dramatically demonstrated on the first day of the project. Indeed, monitoring had started more than a month before the official EU research project contract was signed. The team took the hint from local researchers detecting a sudden and dramatic ten-fold increase of gas emission during the end of September that year.
February 6, 2013 – SOLOMON ISLANDS – Several people were killed when tsunami waves generated by a major earthquake slammed into the Solomon Islands, damaging villages, as warnings were triggered across the Pacific. At least five people died after the 8.0 magnitude quake struck near the remote Santa Cruz Islands in the Solomons at a depth of 28.7km. Two powerful aftershocks of 6.4 and 6.6 magnitude were also recorded. “We can report five dead and three injured. One of the dead was a male child, three were elderly women and one an elderly man,” said Chris Rogers, a registered nurse at Lata Hospital in the Santa Cruz Islands. Local officials reported two 1.5-metre waves hit the western side of Santa Cruz Island, damaging between 60 and 70 homes in at least four villages, said George Herming, a spokesman for the prime minister. “At this stage, authorities are still trying to establish the exact number and extent of damage. Communication to Santa Cruz Island is difficult due to the remoteness of the island,” he said. It was not immediately apparent whether all the victims died in the tsunami. Two of the four villages on Santa Cruz suffered severe damage, said Solomon Islands Police Commissioner John Lansley. Other areas of the Solomons did not appear to have been seriously affected. Solomon Islands Red Cross secretary general Joanne Zoleveke said she had been told at least three villages were hit. “In the Solomon Islands when we talk about villages there can be anything from 10 to 30 houses,” she said. “We have received a lot of information about houses washed away but we haven’t heard about any deaths as yet. That is what we are waiting for.” Earthquake monitoring agencies earlier said a wave measuring about a metre had been recorded at Lata on Santa Cruz, the main island in the eastern Temotu province, which has a population of about 10,000. Vanuatu and New Caledonia also reported rising sea levels, before a region-wide tsunami alert was lifted. Locals in the Solomons capital Honiara, 580 kilometres from the epicentre, said earlier the quake was not felt there but some villages had been destroyed, according to a hospital director. “The information we are getting is that some villages west and south of Lata along the coast have been destroyed, although we cannot confirm this yet,” the director at Lata Hospital said. Richard Dapo, a school principal on an island near Santa Cruz, said he lives inland but has been fielding calls from families on the coast whose homes have been damaged by the waves. “I try to tell the people living on the coastline, ‘Move inland, find a higher place. Make sure to keep away from the sea. Watch out for waves,”’ he said. He said he’d heard the waves had swamped some smaller islands, although he was not aware of any deaths or serious injuries at this point. He said it was difficult to contact people because cell phone coverage is patchy in the region. In the Solomons capital of Honiara, tsunami warnings prompted residents to flee for higher ground, while ships also moved to open water to avoid potential waves. “People are still standing on the hills outside of Honiara just looking out over the water, trying to observe if there is a wave coming in,” Mr Herming said earlier. The tsunami warnings prompted warnings in nations as far away as Fiji for residents to evacuate to higher ground. Sirens were heard in Fiji while the alert remained in place, locals said. “Chaos in the streets of Suva as everyone tries to avoid the tsunami!!” tweeted Ratu Nemani Tebana from the Fiji capital Suva. The tsunami warning was initially issued for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, and Wallis and Futuna. New Zealand was also on guard but monitors said there was no threat to Australia. The tsunami warnings were later cancelled.
February 6, 2013 – SOLOMON ISLANDS – An earthquake measuring 6.3 magnitude struck southeast of the Solomon Islands on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The shallow quake was only 15 km (nine miles) deep and the epicenter was 330 km east-southeast of Kira Kira in the Solomon Islands. There was no immediate tsunami warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii. The earthquake was followed by a 5.3 magnitude earthquake. Today’s earthquake is the sixth major earthquake to strike the region since January 31, 2013.
Feb. 6, 2013 — A University of Utah seismologist analyzed seismic waves that bombarded Earth’s core, and believes he got a look at the earliest roots of Earth’s most cataclysmic kind of volcanic eruption. But don’t worry. He says it won’t happen for perhaps 200 million years.
“What we may be detecting is the start of one of these large eruptive events that — if it ever happens — could cause very massive destruction on Earth,” says seismologist Michael Thorne, the study’s principal author and an assistant professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah.
But disaster is “not imminent,” he adds, “This is the type of mechanism that may generate massive plume eruptions, but on the timescale of 100 million to 200 million years from now. So don’t cancel your cruises.”
The new study, set for publication this week in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, indicates that two or more continent-sized “piles” of rock are colliding as they move at the bottom of Earth’s thick mantle and atop the thicker core some 1,800 miles beneath the Pacific. That is creating a Florida-sized zone of partly molten rock that may be the root of either of two kinds of massive eruptions far in the future:
Feb. 5, 2013 — Anyone who has seen the movie “Impossible” or watched footage from the Japanese tsunami has learned the terror that can strike with little warning. In those cases, when there is no time to flee, there may still be time to reach higher ground, called vertical evacuation.
But as you race to the third floor, how do you know if the building will hold up? Walls of water are not the only danger. Another potentially lethal challenge is water-driven debris — such as 60,000-pound fully loaded cargo containers — transformed into projectiles. Often pulled behind semi-trucks on highways, these containers that line port areas well exceed the telephone-pole-size 1,000-pound default log assumed by most U.S. building-design guidelines.
A multi-university team lead by Ronald Riggs, a structural engineer at the University of Hawaii, has determined just what the impact could be and will present findings at an international conference in June. The goal is to supply structural engineers with information to design buildings in areas vulnerable to tsunamis.
Currently there are no scientifically tested guidelines. And, as those who survived the Japanese tsunami that swept thousands to their deaths can attest, no one had planned for such force.
“Most structural systems are designed to defy gravity, not a side kick from a shipping container,” Riggs says. “An engineer can build what it takes to withstand the karate chop, but first the engineer has to know what forces to expect.”
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