Tuesday, June 1, 2010

To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting.
Stanislaus I

This morning -

Yesterday -
5/31/10 -
5/30/10 -

PHILIPPINES - A strong quake was felt in a wide area in Mindanao early Monday evening, but Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said it had yet to receive reports of damages caused by the tremor. "It's quite strong that normally can cause some damage to old structures, but it was so deep that we don't expect it to cause any damage. We don't expect it to generate any tsunami."

CHINA - A landslide happened at about 10 a.m. Saturday in Suoqiao Village. More than 10,000 cubic meters of rocks and mud blocked the No. 213 National Highway, a vital lifeline for the reconstruction of Wenchuan, the epicenter of the magnitude-8 Sichuan earthquake in 2008. A passage has been dug through the earth deposited from the landslide on the highway, but the road remained closed. The four-meter-wide single-lane passage, completed around 8 p.m. Sunday, has not opened to traffic because of concerns about the stability of the mountain. More than 2,000 vehicles are stranded in Wenchuan unable to leave the county. The national highway was originally suspended on May 12, 2008 due to the earthquake and on July 25, 2009 due to a rockfall.

CHINA - The death toll from the earthquake that rocked a remote part of China in April has risen to almost 2700.


Volcanic eruptions in Vanuatu and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands - A giant plume of volcanic ash is disrupting flights in the Pacific and threatening villagers in Vanuatu, echoing similar problems which caused air traffic chaos in Europe. Forecasters in New Zealand say the cloud, spewing from Vanuatu's Mount Yasur volcano, was about 18-hundred metres high, covering an area of about 200 square kilometres. Tourists have been urged to stay away from the volcano on Tanna island, which has disrupted domestic flights in neighbouring New Caledonia.

Meanwhile, an underwater volcanic eruption has led to a state of disaster being declared across the entire Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. The governor declared the state of disaster following a loud explosion at the active submarine volcano on the island of Sarigan, located about 175 kilometres north of Saipan. A huge smoke plume was seen over the island on the weekend. As a result sea and air traffic has been severely affected.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife has evacuated 16 people - mostly its scientists - from the Northern Islands Sunday afternoon following the eruption of the active submarine volcano south of Sarigan Friday noon. The Alaska Volcanic Observatory and the National Weather Service Guam will continue to assist with their own assets to monitor the area. The governor declared Sarigan unsafe for human habitation and restricted all travel to the island, with the exception of scientific expeditions.
Continuing volcanic activity is on-going in the area south of Sarigan, based on seismic activity and visual observations, “presenting a continuing threat of adverse impact in the waters and air space south of Sarigan island.” Sarigan, an island 175 kilometers (109 miles) north of Saipan, is a stratovolcano with NO KNOWN HISTORIC ERUPTIONS. It is currently uninhabited.
Volcanic activity observed on Thursday, May 27, south of Sarigan Island has increased, and the Guam Weather Forecast Office reported that recent satellite images indicate that the affected area is about twice the size of Sarigan Island. It quoted an observer that overflew and photographed an elongated patch of discolored ocean water and possible light-colored floating debris about 6-7 miles south of Sarigan on Thursday. At that time, the area of discoloration and debris extended over about a mile. Successive satellite images indicate that this is a point-source that has dramatically expanded in breadth. The activity appears to be centered about 6-7 miles south of Sarigan, probably on the southern extension of the submarine ridge upon which Sarigan is constructed. “Submarine eruptions are not uncommon in the Marianas Islands; mariners in the area should remain alert for floating debris and avoid areas of strongly discolored or disturbed water. Near-sea level eruptions can be dangerous producing ash laden explosions, ash and ballistic fallout, and water waves. AVO maintains no monitoring equipment on these submarine volcanoes and therefore warning of eruptive activity is not possible,” the USGS said.

Cyclone 03A was 557 nmi WSW of Bombay, India and 575 nmi SSW of Karachi, Pakistan.

Cyclone Three is forecast to strike Pakistan as a severe cyclonic storm at about 18:00 GMT on 4 June.

AGATHA - Flooding and landslides from the season's first tropical storm which swept away homes and destroyed roads have killed at least 145 people and made thousands homeless in Central America. Dozens of people were missing and emergency crews struggled to reach isolated communities cut off by washed-out roads and collapsed bridges caused by Tropical Storm Agatha. In hardest-hit Guatemala, officials reported 120 dead and at least 53 missing. In the department of Chimaltenango - a province west of Guatemala City - landslides buried dozens of rural Indian communities. "The department has collapsed. There are a lot of dead people. The roads are blocked. The shelters are overflowing" In the tiny village of Parajbei, a slide smothered three homes and killed 11 people. In all some 110,000 people were evacuated in Guatemala.
Thousands more fled their homes in neighboring Honduras, where the death toll rose to 15 while meteorologists predicted three more days of rain. In El Salvador, 11,000 people were evacuated. The death toll rose to 10 and two others were missing. About 95 percent of the country's roads were affected by landslides, but most remained open. 179 bridges had been wrecked. The Lempa River, which flows to the Pacific, topped its banks and flooded at least 20 villages, affecting some 6,000 people. The rising death toll is reminding nervous residents of Hurricane Mitch, which hovered over Central America for days in 1998, causing flooding and mudslides that killed nearly 11,000 people and left more than 8,000 missing and unaccounted for. Rescue efforts in Guatemala have been complicated by a volcanic eruption Thursday near the capital that blanketed parts of the area with ash.


A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field, and NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance of geomagnetic activity during the next 24 hours.
On May 31st, around 2100 UT, a magnetic filament erupted on the sun. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the action. Magnetic filaments on the sun are a bit like rubber bands. They store energy when they are twisted. Eventually they reach their fill and untwist explosively. (video)


BP said in permit applications for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that it was prepared to handle an oil spill more than ten times larger than the one now spewing crude into the waters off the southern United States. “Proper execution of the procedures detailed in this manual will help to limit environmental and ecological damage to sensitive areas as well as minimizing loss or damage to BP facilities in the event of a petroleum release,” the company said in its oil-spill response plan in 2008. The company listed as its worst-case scenario a blowout in an exploratory well 57 miles west of the disaster, in a valley on the seafloor known as Mississippi Canyon. It’s about 33 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Such a blowout could have spewed 250,000 barrels a day.
The representations show that BP overestimated its ability to control an oil spill in waters where it’s the biggest player in a Gulf energy extraction industry worth $52 billion a year. “BP has obviously overpromised and underdelivered. They told us they had a plan that could deal with the consequences of a worst-case scenario. They don’t.”
The chance of oil reaching the shoreline within 30 days was estimated at 3 percent or less for most coastal areas, except Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish, which the company said had a 21 percent chance of seeing oil onshore within 30 days. The spill has cost BP a total of $760 million, or about $22 million a day, the company said May 24. BP’s average daily profit last year was $45 million a day.