Wednesday, December 8, 2010

**Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth
are never alone or weary of life.**
Rachel Carson

This morning -

Yesterday -
12/7/10 -

NEW ZEALAND - Huge energy of shake puzzles scientists. Scientists are puzzled why the Canterbury earthquake released MORE THAN 10 TIMES THE ENERGY a quake of its size normally would. The United States Geological Survey has calculated the waves travelling from the focus of the September 4 quake had an energy magnitude of between 7.4 and 7.8. While the quake's actual size remains 7.1, the energy magnitude was actually what would be expected from a much larger earthquake. Those "extremely high" figures left the problem of why the recently revealed Greendale Fault and others moved the way they did that morning. It also meant it was an extremely complicated event. The shear stress released was 10 to 20 times more than expected. "It took a lot of stress to make that fault move. For its magnitude, this earthquake was UNUSUALLY efficient at generating seismic waves. Compare that to the Dusky Sound earthquake last year. That was magnitude 7.8, but had an energy magnitude of 7.6. So it was very inefficient for its magnitude in generating seismic waves."
A "spaghetti junction" of faults beneath the Canterbury Plains and through the foothills had been known about for many years. Others were gradually forming under the Plains. "They're basically all pointing at one place, Christchurch. It was always a matter of if, not when, these would start to arrive in our neck of the woods. We've known for quite a long time that there's stirrings under a placid surface." The earthquake was the country's most important in almost 80 years.


INDONESIA - Merapi Volcano Threat Downgraded, Cold Lava Still a Worry. The status of Mount Merapi Volcano was downgraded from alert to standby. "Based on instrumental and visual observations, the activity of the mountain shows a tendency to decrease and was reduced to standby status...People should not be complacent even though the status of Mount Merapi has been reduced. … Hot and cold lava flows are still a threat."
The community should remain cautious of the threat from hot clouds and cold lava flows emptying into several rivers in the upper peak of Mount Merapi, especially during the current rainy season. "Therefore, in the river early flood warning devices are being fitted into the cold lava that can detect if there is flooding." The early warning tool is capable of sending SMS warning messages. "However, the short message will only be sent to stakeholders including Merapi disaster response officials and mayors." The secondary danger posed by the possibility of cold lava floods is no less severe than the original eruptions. The volcano produced about 5.3 billion cubic feet of volcanic material. Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most active volcano, began erupting on Oct. 26 spewing ash, gas, and lava.

ECUADOR - Eruptive Activity at Tungurahua Volcano Decreases. The eruptive activity of the Ecuadorian Tungurahua volcano, located in the Tungurahua province, reduced its intensity while maintaining a constant column of ash. The emission column, with a moderate to high contents of ash, reached about two miles above the crater and headed towards the east, although experts believe that it has reduced the danger to surrounding areas. Incandescent blocks associated to the activity of the volcano of 1.029 meters of altitude roll down the flanks of the volcano. As of Saturday afternoon, a decline of the intensity has been registered in the activity of this volcano which had earlier forced to declare a red alert and the evacuation of residents and tourists of nearby areas. The Tungurahua, located south of Quito, has been active since 1999.

PHILIPPINES - Mt. Bulusan relatively quiet. Phivolcs said "seismic quiescence" prevailed over Bulusan Volcano as no volcanic earthquake was detected by seismic network during the observation period, but they did not brush off the possibility of more steam and ash explosions in the coming days. Bulusan only recorded one volcanic earthquake last Monday, while its recent ash spew was last November 24. Phivolcs said steaming activity at the crater and known thermal vents was not observed due to thick rain clouds that covered the entire summit during the past 24 hours. But Phivolcs maintained the alert level around the volcano to Level 1, meaning the volcano's activity remains "abnormal."

ETHIOPIA - Scientists were visiting the Afar Rift in Ethiopia in November when a volcano in the region began erupting – the first time that scientists have witnessed such an occurrence there. This was the latest event in a long process that may ultimately lead to the birth of a new ocean. Erta Ale is a remote volcano in the north of Afar – one of five volcanoes within the Erta Ale magmatic segment, which forms a land continuation of a rift in the Red Sea. The volcano hosts a long-lived lava lake, one of only five known lava lakes in the world. This lake usually sits within a deep pit around 30 metres below the level of the main crater, but on 21 November, the lava lake erupted, spilling lava into the main crater. ‘Just before the eruption, an earthquake swarm was recorded in the Gulf of Aden. One of the questions we’re now investigating is whether there is a connection between the two events.’ (photos)

No current tropical cyclones.

INDIA - Cyclone threat looms large over crop lands. Farmers have already suffered loss due to heavy rains caused by cyclone Laila and Jal during the last few months. Now, another storm is looming large over the Bay of Bengal in coastal districts. Krishna district recorded 27 mm average rainfall from Sunday night to Monday morning as rains were recorded in many mandals. Farmers are drying harvested paddy in the farms. In case of heavy rains, the paddy heaps will be soaked causing heavy loss to them. Farmers are concerned that the wet paddy will lose its colour and quality. Stagnation of rainwater would cause germination and the crop will lose its colour. Another 40 per cent crop is yet to be harvested. If the rainwater stagnates in the farms, the crop will be ruined. Cotton farmers will also suffer heavy loss due to rains. Cotton is cultivated in 48,000 hectares of land in Krishna district. The crop will be discoloured if soaked in rain. Fishermen will also face hardships due to the cyclone. They can’t venture into sea to earn their livelihood. Several thousands of families are eking out livelihood by fishing in the sea in the coastal mandals of Krishna.


AUSTRALIA - WORST SUMMER FLOODS IN YEARS have claimed a woman's life. Heavy rains and severe thunderstorms continue to wreak havoc across southern and eastern regions while emergency services warn the deluge is getting worse. Police in NSW are attempting to formally identify a woman found dead in waters about 500m from her abandoned vehicle in Avondale Lane, Goonumbla. The death came as thousands of people were evacuating their homes across South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and western NSW amid rising river levels. The cotton farming town of Wee Waa in northern NSW is on red alert, with the Namoi River expected to burst its banks early today, potentially isolating the town for days.
The Murrumbidgee River peaked at 9.67m on Monday afternoon - about 13cm shy of the levee's rim. NSW farmers hopeful of a bumper crop this season are now contemplating flooded fields and ruined crops. Estimates have the total losses in NSW somewhere about the $1 billion mark. In Victoria, residents have been warned to prepare for a three-day deluge which threatens to wreak havoc similar to September's devastating floods.
Moderate to major flooding is predicted with up to 100mm of rain expected to fall. Emergency services have been stretched by the crisis. In South Australia, several people left clinging to their cars were rescued after floodwaters swept vehicles from a road east of Adelaide as severe storms lashed many parts of the state.
Another burst of storms and heavy rain is predicted to hit the state over the next 72 hours, adding to the plight of flooded mines, rivers raging over closed highways, lost crops and danger for motorists. Police don't know how many people were in a car swept away in floodwaters in central Queensland. Conditions were being monitored for a possible evacuation of Darlington Point, downstream of Wagga Wagga. About 130 residents of Smiths Road, on the ACT border, also remain cut off, following the closure of access roads due to damaged bridges and causeways.
GEELONG is braced for another downpour of rain today, with A MONTH'S WORTH OF RAIN EXPECTED IN JUST ONE DAY. Geelong could expect about 40mm of rain to fall today, starting about dawn and getting heavier this afternoon. "Most of the state will get the rain, but the northeast ranges will get around 100mm." Llast Friday's downpour saw 30mm dumped in some areas in the space of 30 minutes. Geelong water storages were yesterday 73.7 per cent full, more than twice as full as this time last year.