Friday, June 11, 2010

MORE SINKHOLES - Large sinkholes appeared in some provinces of China last weekend, touching off earthquake rumors that were quickly denied by experts. Craters of different diameters and depths resulted after a build-up of underground water caused the ground to collapse. The giant sinkholes appeared in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Zhejiang Province. In Chengdu, two sinkholes appeared in two different counties, frightening survivors of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake who mistook the cave-ins as warnings of another quake. The monitoring station of geological environment in Chengdu said that the sinkholes were caused by groundwater drainage and drilling. The paper reported that both were normal geological phenomena and not related to earthquakes.
Part of a highway in Zhejing Province sank into the ground last Saturday. The crater, with a diameter of 8.3 meters and depth of six meters, occupied major lanes and caused traffic jams but no accidents. Experts said that the sinkhole was likely caused by deeper karst caves, or dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock underneath, but details needed to be investigated and analyzed.
The ground collapsed in four sinkholes that appeared in Laibin, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Cracks appeared in a local dam, forcing local authorities to release water and avoid possible dangers. Some villagers were also evacuated to safety. "As far as I know, Guangxi in previous months was suffering heavy drought. It's possible that excess water drainage caused the craters."
Early on April 27, Yibin in Sichuan Province witnessed a series of sudden sinkholes, which grew in number to 43 by May 20, the largest crater measuring 60 meters in diameter. The phenomena were later attributed to a sudden drop in the groundwater level.
Excessive groundwater drainage could cause the structure of the earth's crust to give way, along with a sudden shift in the movement of underground rock. "Some experts say that the global crustal plates movement has entered a quite vivid period. In this sense, it is possible for China to be affected. Yet these holes seem to have formed for various reasons."

**I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest.**
Ralph Ellison

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/10/10 -

ITALY - Prosecutors in Italy have opened an investigation into officials who failed to warn of the devastating earthquake which hit the city of L'Aquila last year, killing 308 people. The investigation revolves around a committee of experts who met six days before the quake on April 6, 2009, and concluded that months of low-level tremors did not signal that a major quake was on its way. They stressed that it was impossible to predict earthquakes and that a major tremor was "improbable, although not impossible". The committee analysed data on more than 400 low-magnitude tremors, some of which exceeded 4.0 on the Richter scale, which had shaken the Abruzzo region over the previous four months. Seven officials from the national civil protection agency and the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology could face charges of manslaughter and gross negligence. Prosecutors say they should have at least warned people to leave their homes in the days before the earthquake hit the medieval city and surrounding villages, collapsing houses, churches and office blocks. "Those involved were highly qualified individuals who should have provided the public with different answers." Of the 120,000 people who were affected by the quake, more than 50,000 have yet to return home or move into new housing.


PHILIPPINES gets prepared for volcano eruption. The Philippine Coast Guard has sent 5 teams of divers and rescue swimmers with rubber boats, and medical teams to Batangas province which serves as the Coast Guard 's forward command post, as the alert level on Taal Volcano, about 65 km from Manila, increased. The teams will be deployed primarily to help the Philippine Disaster Coordinating Council and provincial government in the early and voluntary evacuation of said affected families. Officials of Batangas visited the Pulo Taal (Volcano Island) Wednesday and found UNUSUAL BEHAVIOR of the Tail Lake, including the sudden rise of temperature in the water, discoloration of water inside the crater and existence of steam surrounding the crater. There was also a smell of sulfur odor in the area.
More than 5,000 residents living near the Taal volcano were advised to leave their homes due to the recent volcanic activities in the area. An Alert Level II was hoisted on Taal Volcano on Tuesday after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology detected 32 volcanic earthquakes. Taal Volcano, located on the island of Luzon in northern Philippines, is one of the 22 active volcanoes in the country, all part of the Pacific ring of fire. The volcano has erupted violently several times, causing loss of life in the populated areas surrounding the lake. Because of its proximity to populated areas and eruptive history, the volcano has been designated a Decade Volcano worthy of close study to prevent future natural disasters.

ICELAND - Askja Volcano - Another Icelandic eruption could be imminent, raising the prospect of summer holiday flight chaos. A volcano expert has been monitoring a volcano called Askja 180 miles north of Eyjafjallajokull – the volcano that caused a complete shutdown of most of Europe’s airspace in April. It is showing increasing signs of seismic activity. Researchers have noticed changes in the “plumbing system” beneath the mountain. “New magma is accumulating. This is what happens before an eruption, but a critical amount needs to accumulate and we cannot say what that is. We can’t predict when an eruption will occur – it could be next week or next year.” Askja, which is on the same tectonic plate as Eyjafjallajokull, last erupted in 1961. For the past few centuries it has erupted every 40 years or so. In 1875 Askja had a major eruption causing a crater three miles wide and sending ash as far as Scotland and Scandinavia. The researcher doesn’t think the recent Eyjafjallajokull eruptions could be causing activity at Askja. (photo)

ECUADOR - Increased activity for Tungurahua Volcano. Authorities declared an orange alert for zones surrounding the volcano which has had high activity in the past two weeks with a series of explosions and emissions of ash. The volcano is located 135 kilometers to the southeast of Quito. It's been active since 1999 and in July and Aug. of 2006 its eruption left at least four dead as the result of burning clouds, with thousands of evacuees and extensive damage to agriculture.

No current tropical cyclones.

GUATEMALA - Food Security Alert - On May 29, a low pressure system that was stationary off the coast of southern Guatemala became the first tropical storm of the East Pacific hurricane season. Tropical Storm Agatha produced high winds and torrential rains, though the storm weakened as it moved inland, dissipating by the morning of May 30. Nevertheless, the storm system produced up to 600 mm of rainfall over six days (May 25 to 30), particularly in the department of Suchitepéquez and along the border with El Salvador.
Most of the country received significant amounts of rainfall, nearly 200% ABOVE THE MAY AVERAGE, causing flooding, landslides, and infrastructure damage. Preliminary government reports, which are changing daily, estimate that the storm has caused 156 deaths, affected more than 135,000 people, and displaced 76,000 people. There are concerns about the impact of the storm on food security in affected areas, given the potentially significant loss of the maize harvest expected to begin in August, as well as associated labor opportunities. Such losses would have the most impact on the western highlands, where the harvest is not expected until November.
Given the extent of damage from the storm, nearly all livelihood zones were affected. Most of the poorest households within the affected zones are highly dependent on unskilled labor. While damage to cash crops such as coffee, sugar cane, and cardamom could increase labor opportunities for rehabilitation activities in the short term, this could also result in decreased income due to reduced labor opportunities around the cash crop harvest in October, because of a poorer harvest. In addition, severe damage to bridges and roads are likely to hinder physical access to food and markets. Reduced access to food in isolated areas will heighten immediate food insecurity for these households.
The Food Security Outlook through September 2010 anticipated high levels of food insecurity in the highlands due to crop losses last year and the lack of reserves, and damage caused by Tropical Storm Agatha is expected to worsen this situation. The impacts of the storm have been compounded by the violent eruption of the Pacaya volcano on May 27, which expelled large quantities of volcanic sand/ash in the departments of Guatemala, Escuintla, and Sacatepéquez. Food security in this area might be affected by the loss of crops and small animals. Government institutions are in the process of search and rescue for missing persons, and have yet to evaluate the impacts of the volcano or the storm on agriculture. (photo)

The death toll from RARE and powerful Cyclone Phet reached 21 in Oman and at least 12 in Pakistan. The storm formed over the Arabian Sea, then triggered disastrous flooding and wind damage in Oman, where damage estimates reached near $1 billion. Before Phet's arrival, Omani authorities evacuated hotels along the east coast and airlifted the residents of Masirah island to the mainland. (satellite photo)

Tropical cyclone activity for the South China and Korea/Japan regions could be above normal in 2010.


As much as 40,000-plus barrels of oil per day are pouring from BP's ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico, a US official said, more than doubling the previous government estimate. "The lowest estimate that we're seeing that the scientists think is credible is probably about 20,000 barrels, and the highest that we're seeing is probably a little over 40,000." The figures - which estimate the flow rate PRIOR to BP cutting a busted riser pipe on June 3 in order to attach a containment device - are more than double the previous estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day.
There were fears before the pipe was cut that the operation could increase the flow by up to 20 per cent although it was probably between four and five per cent.
With each new look by scientists, the oil spill just keeps looking worse. The new figures for the blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, which show the amount of oil spewing may have been up to twice as much as previously thought, would mean that 42 million gallons to more than 100 million gallons of oil have already fouled the Gulf's fragile waters. It is the third -- and perhaps not the last -- time the U.S. government has had to increase its estimate of how much oil is gushing. All the new spill estimates are worse than earlier ones. Most of Thursday's estimates had MORE OIL FLOWING IN AN HOUR THAN WHAT OFFICIALS ONCE SAID WAS SPILLING IN AN ENTIRE DAY. "This is a nightmare that keeps getting worse every week."
As the crude continues to foul the water, Louisiana leaders are rushing to the defense of the oil-and-gas industry and pleading with Washington to immediately bring back offshore drilling. Though angry at BP over the disaster, state officials warn that the Obama administration's six-month halt to new permits for deep-sea oil drilling has sent Louisiana's most lucrative industry into a death spiral. They contend that drilling is safe overall and the moratorium is a knee-jerk reaction. They worry that it comes at a time when another major Louisiana industry -- fishing -- has been brought to a standstill by the Gulf mess. The oil-and-gas brings in billions of dollars in revenue for Louisiana and accounts for nearly one-third of America's domestic crude production.


Three countries report growing flu activity - Some parts of India and Colombia are reporting increases in pandemic flu activity, along with some deaths, while New Zealand, which is beginning its regular flu season, is reporting a rise in flu-like illnesses, particularly in young children. India's health ministry said nine pandemic H1N1 flu fatalities have been reported so far in June. New Zealand's health ministry said that flu-like illnesses have increased slowly over the past 2 weeks, with general practitioners seeing more illness in young children. recently reported a rise in upper-respiratory infections, but said most of it was from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). So far South Africa, where World Cup soccer competition begins tomorrow, has reported no increased flu activity, though it has warned travelers to be vaccinated. The World Health Organization in its past several weekly global flu surveillance reports has said it expects to see hot spots of infections rise and fall, though activity is low in most parts of the world.