Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When the pain is great enough, we will let anyone be doctor.
Mignon McLaughlin

This morning -

Yesterday -
4/12/10 -


ICELAND - The latest volcanic eruption is coming to an end, scientists said Monday. Last month, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano began erupting after almost 200 years of silence, threatening floods and earthquakes but drawing thousands of adventurous tourists to the site where ash and red-hot lava spewed from a crater between two glaciers. "The volcanic activity has essentially stopped. I believe the eruption has ended." A University of Iceland geologist said activity at the volcano had declined steeply in the last couple of days, although "it's too early to write its death certificate."
Iceland is well accustomed to natural disasters and seismic drama. The island sits on a volcanic hot spot in the Atlantic's mid-oceanic ridge, and eruptions have occurred frequently throughout the country's history, triggered when the Earth's plates move and when magma from deep underground pushes its way to the surface. The Eyjafjallajokull eruption is the country's first since 2004, and the most dramatic since Hekla, Iceland's most active volcano, blew its top in 2000. Scientists say history has shown that when Eyjafjallajokull erupts, the much bigger Katla volcano nearby often follows within days or months. Katla is located under the vast Myrdalsjokull icecap, and an eruption could cause widespread flooding. The last major eruption took place in 1918, and vulcanologists say a new blast is overdue.
"A large eruption of Katla could disrupt aviation seriously in the North Atlantic. It has the potential to cause a lot of damage and disruption. But there is very little seismic activity near Katla. I see no reason to expect Katla to do anything in the near future."

No current tropical cyclones.


ITALY - At least 9 people were killed and scores more injured after a landslide in northern Italy knocked a train off its tracks and left one carriage balanced precariously over a river. The derailment occurred in a gorge near the winter sports town of Merano, close to the Austrian border. The front carriage was left hanging over a river and rescuers had to use cables to prevent the whole train from dropping into the River Adige below. Amazingly the train was stopped from going over the edge by two pine trees that had been dragged down by the landslide. Authorities said that 28 people had been injured. One of the train's three carriages was filled with mud from the landslide, and rescuers were digging frantically to reach the victims. The death toll, which was revised down from 11 because of an error, was not final, since there could still be someone buried in the mud. "It has a high possibility that there will be other victims. The situation is very difficult, it is a horrific scene with one carriage balanced on the edge over the River Adige." The landslide was caused by an irrigation pipe that burst open, sending rocks, debris and water down on to the oncoming train.

On Saturday, April 11th, a coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field. The impact caused a G2-class geomagnetic storm and, for the first time this year, ignited auroras over the continental United States. "The lights were bright enough to produce a reflection from the surface of Lake Superior." Northern Lights were also spotted in Maine, Vermont, Wisonsin and Minnesota. Mostly the lights were dim to the naked eye and required a photographic exposure of some tens of seconds for full effect. "Lower 48" sightings of auroras are a sign: The deep solar minimum of 2008-2009 has come to an end and a new solar cycle is gaining strength. If forecasters are correct, Solar Max is just two to three years away. (photos)


Experts urge world not to forget other flu threats - Infectious disease experts warned against complacency in fighting influenza and other illnesses. A Dutch virologist said he worried that complacency due to the mild nature of the pandemic virus could hamper efforts to control the more lethal H5N1 avian influenza. Experts warned governments to expect stronger seasonal flu outbreaks in the wake of the pandemic.