Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time constraints on Tuesday kept me from getting the update posted.

U.S. Sees Array of New Threats at Japan’s Nuclear Plant - United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis in Japan are warning that the troubled nuclear plant there is facing a wide array of fresh threats that COULD PERSIST INDEFINITELY, and in some cases are expected to INCREASE as a result of the very measures being taken to keep the plant stable. Among the new threats that were cited in the assessment, dated March 26, are the mounting stresses placed on the containment structures as they fill with radioactive cooling water, making them more vulnerable to rupture in one of the aftershocks rattling the site after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11. The document also cites the possibility of explosions inside the containment structures due to the release of hydrogen and oxygen from seawater pumped into the reactors, and offers new details on how semimolten fuel rods and salt buildup are impeding the flow of fresh water meant to cool the nuclear cores.
In recent days, workers have grappled with several side effects of the emergency measures taken to keep nuclear fuel at the plant from overheating, including leaks of radioactive water at the site and radiation burns to workers who step into the water. The assessment, as well as interviews with officials familiar with it, points to a new panoply of complex challenges that water creates for the safety of workers and the recovery and long-term stability of the reactors.
Among other problems, the document raises new questions about whether pouring water on nuclear fuel in the absence of functioning cooling systems can be sustained indefinitely. Experts have said the Japanese need to continue to keep the fuel cool for many months until the plant can be stabilized, but there is growing awareness that the risks of pumping water on the fuel present a whole new category of challenges that the nuclear industry is only beginning to comprehend.
The document also suggests that FRAGMENTS or particles of nuclear fuel from spent fuel pools above the reactors WERE BLOWN "UP TO ONE MILE FROM THE UNITS”, and that pieces of highly radioactive material fell between two units and had to be “bulldozed over,” presumably to protect workers at the site. The ejection of nuclear material, which may have occurred during one of the earlier hydrogen explosions, may indicate more extensive damage to the extremely radioactive pools than previously disclosed.
The welter of problems revealed in the document at three separate reactors makes a successful outcome even more uncertain. “I thought they were, not out of the woods, but at least at the edge of the woods. This paints a very different picture, and suggests that THINGS ARE A LOT WORSE. They could still have more damage in a big way if some of these things don’t work out for them.” Even so, the engineers who prepared the document do not believe that a resumption of criticality is an immediate likelihood.

**The man who fights too long against dragons
becomes a dragon himself.**
Friedrich Nietzsche

This morning -

Yesterday -
4/5/11 -
also a cluster of more than 30 small quakes off Puerto Rico

4/4/11 -

Swedish newlyweds endure six natural disasters on 4-month honeymoon. - They set out on Dec. 6, 2010 and got more than they bargained for: Immediately they were stranded in Munich, Germany, due to one of Europe's worst snowstorms. After that,, they experienced the devastation of a cyclone in Cairns, Australia, and the flooding in Brisbane, and narrowly escaped the bush fires in Perth. "We escaped by the skin of our teeth." They were evacuated in Cairns and were forced to spend 24 hours on a cement floor in a shopping center with 2,500 others. Just before they arrived in New Zealand, the 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch and in Tokyo, they felt Japan's largest temblor since records began. "The trembling was horrible and we saw roof tiles fly off the buildings. It was like the buildings were swaying back and forth." On March 29, they returned to Stockholm after a much calmer visit to their last destination, China. (The groom also survived the devastating tsunami that hit southeast Asia in 2004.)


NEW ZEALAND - Rumblings at Ruapehu spark alert for planes. Increased rumblings under Mt Ruapehu and a warmer-than-usual crater lake have led authorities to raise alert levels for planes flying over the area. A volcanic eruption is not imminent - the alert level remains at one out of five - but volcanologists say there are subtle signs of unrest under Ruapehu, which last erupted in 2007.
An aviation warning level introduced in November has been raised for the first time to yellow - the second-lowest on a four-tier system. The alert is a precaution, as few international flights travel near Ruapehu.
Water temperature in the lake was higher than background levels, at about 39C. "The crater lake is a fairly big puddle and if you can heat that up to 40C, it takes a fair bit of energy." On March 1, it reached 41C, just 1.5C off the highest temperature since the lake was re-established in 2002. As well, GNS observed changes in the lake's chemistry with greater amounts of magnesium detected. This suggests water in the lake has come into contact with fresh surfaces of molten rock.
Higher levels of carbon dioxide measured in the lake also point to molten material under the volcano. The frequency of seismic activity 6km under the volcano has increased since December. 12 small quakes had been detected this year, about three times more than normal. The volcanic warning level would only be raised if there were large shifts in several indicator areas or if small-scale eruptions occurred. "There's no one trigger; it's usually a combination of things such as big changes in deformation, chemistry, heat flow and earthquakes." Ruapehu's 2007 eruption lasted for seven minutes and caused two lahars, one of which spilt into the Whakapapa skifield. It also produced a column of ash and a rockfall which seriously injured one person. It is an active volcano, meaning eruptions can occur with little or no warning. The only other volcano in New Zealand on alert level one is White Island.

Japanese volcano blows its stack
- Geologists monitor latest eruptions at Sakurajima, which is sending large amounts of ash into the air. Japan's Sakurajima volcano, which has been regularly recorded blowing its stack since the 10th century, is at it again. The volcano, located in the south of the country near the city of Kagoshima, is perhaps most famous for a 1914 eruption, which went into the record books as the most powerful of any in 20th century Japan. The latest flare-up recently led the nation's meteorological agency to issue an ash warning for the Sakurajima volcano, now considered to be "very dangerous."

RUSSIA - The eruption of Kamchatka volcano Kizimen poses a major hazard to aviation. This was reported on April 4. According to geophysicists, the volcano has already released several pillars of ash into the atmosphere. The height of the largest of them reaches more than five kilometres. If the ash gets into airplane engines, it can cause a plane crash. Therefore, the geophysicists have assigned the code orange threat to aviation to volcano Kizimen. The air travel routes over Kamchatka now need to bypass the risk area. However, the volcano does not pose a threat to human settlements.
The Kizimen volcano eruption began early this year. A high column of ash about one kilometre high drifted eventually toward Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. In some city districts, the thickness of ash was up to one millimetre. The most damaging and most extensive effects of volcanic ash may occur in cars, trucks, and buses.

Small Volcanic Eruptions Can Add Hazardous Sediment to Rivers - Small volcanic eruptions in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest present a significant hazard to life and property along river valleys there, according to a new study published by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey. The study focuses on the considerable rise and fall in riverbed height in the Sandy River during the last eruption of lava from Mt. Hood from 1781 to 1793, which if repeated again could cause flooding and property damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure in the river valley. Mt. Hood is 50 miles east of Portland, Oregon.
“Many Cascade volcanoes are still active and are capable of producing dangerously large quantities of sediment in future small eruptions. They present a continuous hazard for human life and property in the region." The Sandy River rose as much as 75 feet, as far as 40-50 miles downstream of the volcano during the volcano’s last major eruption. The Sandy River flows from the base of Mt. Hood to the Columbia River, and is confined to a narrow, deeply eroded river valley, as are most other rivers draining volcanoes in the Cascades. Narrow valleys prevent the spread of volcanic sediment over broad areas, and instead, the sediment builds up the riverbed heights.
It took more than half a century for the river to cut back down to near its pre-eruption level. Such a slow recovery, where riverbeds remain elevated for decades, would prolong the risk of flooding and property damage in areas downstream of Cascade Range volcanoes. Riverbed response to future eruptions could pose a potential threat to a number of areas in the Pacific Northwest that are experiencing vigorous residential and commercial development.


AUSTRALIA - Cyclone alert cancelled for Western Australia. "It is now unlikely to develop into a tropical cyclone. If it does intensify it is unlikely to have a significant impact on coastal communities."


U.S. - RECORD-BREAKING STORM SYSTEM roared across US. The powerful storm system that swept through the Plains on Sunday and to the East Coast Tuesday, killing at least seven people in the Deep South, spawned over 1,500 reports of severe weather since Sunday, including a record-breaking 1,200-plus reports during one 24-hour period.
The hardest hit regions were the Tennessee Valley, Mississippi Valley and the Southeast, where the majority of the reports piled up from early Monday through early Tuesday. During the 24 hours, more preliminary severe weather reports -- large hail, wind damage and tornadoes - were tallied than in any other 24-hour period since comparable records began in 2000. The Monday and Monday night reports include 23 tornadoes, the bulk of which occurred in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. More severe weather broke out Tuesday. No tornadoes were reported; most of the action came from strong winds. No tornadoes were reported Sunday and Sunday night, either, which is when the storm began to intensify in the Midwest and Plains. However, there were 324 reports of large hail and wind damage, with the bulk of the damage from southern Wisconsin southwestward to eastern Kansas.
The severe weather season has started quickly this year, with 209 preliminary reports of tornadoes since Jan. 1. This number - although subject to change - exceeds the number of confirmed reports from January through the entire month of April of last year, when there were 197 confirmed tornadoes. This week's powerful spring storm system was fueled, in part, by a dramatic temperature contrast between unseasonably warm and humid air in advance of the storm and colder-than-normal air following it. For example, temperatures climbed into the record-breaking 80s in Denver on Saturday, but fell into the 20s with snow by Sunday night. Dramatic temperature shifts followed the storm system eastward. Temperatures Tuesday afternoon were in the upper 30s in Pittsburgh after topping out above 70 on Monday, and temperatures along the mid-Atlantic Coast this afternoon dropped 25 to 35 degrees from Monday's highs.

- A tropical storm that tore through parts of Bangladesh has killed 13 people and injured about 100.


AUSTRALIA - Rain looks set to be on its way after the city sweltered through ONE OF ITS LONGEST EVER DRY SPELLS. Perth metropolitan is now into its 63rd day of no rain, after a small shower on February 1 brought 0.4mm of relief to parched garden beds. The longest ever recorded dry spell was 83 days between December 15, 1974, to March 7, 1975. But relief is in sight with showers forecast for Thursday.
It has been a sunnier than usual start to autumn after Perth recorded 57 days of more than 32 degrees, the longest hot spell since records began in 1897. It also smashed the average number of hot days of 33.9. The previous record for days over 32 degrees through January to March was in 1978, when there was a 47 day spell. It has also meant longer days during the month of March, with an average of 11 hours of sunshine per day – 1.5 hours more than the month's average.
In contradiction to the south of the state, WA's north has experienced a cool start to April. Monsoon-like conditions in the Kimberley over the weekend has meant Kalumburu and Wyndham have experienced maximum temperatures below 30 degrees for the first time in 10 and 12 years of record respectively.


Two more asteroids discovered - both will pass close by earth today. One at half the distance to the moon - 2011 GW9, 10 meters in size. One at a fifth of the distance to the moon - 2011 GP28, 6 meters in size.