Friday, May 20, 2011

The release of radon gases three days PRIOR to the May 11 Japan earthquake triggered changes in the atmosphere over Japan. It's early but this may be a warning signal to predict future quakes, says not-yet-published research by California scientists. The atmosphere above the epicenter of the March 11 earthquake in Japan underwent UNUSUAL CHANGES in the days leading up to the disaster, according to preliminary data.
The theory, which could move us forward in predicting quakes, is called "Lithosphere-Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling mechanism." Right before an earthquake, the stressed fault releases more gases, especially the colorless, odorless radon gas. Once in the upper-atmosphere ionosphere, the radon gas strips air molecules of their electrons, splitting them into negatively charged particles (the free electrons) and positively charged particles. These charged particles, called ions, attract condensed water in a process that releases heat. And scientists can detect this heat in the form of infrared radiation.
Using satellite data, researchers looked at what the atmosphere was doing in the days before the Japanese quake. They found that the concentration of electrons in the ionosphere increased in the days before the earthquake, as did infrared radiation. March 8, three days before the quake, was the most anomalous day. The researchers have crunched data for more than 100 quakes in Asia and Taiwan, and have found similar correlations for earthquakes with magnitudes bigger than 5.5 and depths less than 31 miles (50 kilometers). The team is now working to involve researchers in Japan and worldwide, as ambitious atmosphere monitoring will take international effort. Nonetheless, the success of earthquake forecasting is far from guaranteed. No one has ever predicted an earthquake from atmospheric data, and plenty of supposed earthquake precursors, from weird animal behavior to groundwater flowing the wrong way, have proven hit-or-miss.
To iron out the usefulness of the atmospheric approach, you'd need to look at lots of earthquakes over time to make sure the phenomena is statistically linked with fault ruptures. You'd also want to know how often these atmospheric anomalies show up without an associated quake. Earthquake scientists have been "burned enough times in the past" and so have learned not to get excited about every potential prediction method. But plans are underway to put together a workshop between earth scientists and atmospheric scientists this summer to discuss the research on the ionosphere changes. "

**It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye...
then it becomes a scavenger hunt.**

This morning -
Piles of moderate Turkey aftershocks.

Yesterday -
5/19/11 -

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake has rocked western Turkey, shattering windows, damaging old buildings in one town and killing two people. The quake in Kutahya province occurred at 11.15pm (6.15am AEST today) and was centred in the town of Simav. One person died in Simav after jumping out of a window in panic. An elderly woman also died of an heart attack in another town. There were no reports of serious damage.
About two-dozen people have been injured, mostly suffering from injuries from broken glass or jumping off balconies. The quake was followed by about 50 aftershocks, the strongest - with a preliminary magnitude of 4.6 - shook Kutahya. They warned of more aftershocks in the coming days. Most of the town of Simav was without electricity and telephone lines were down. At least one empty building collapsed in Simav and some other old buildings were also slightly damaged.
The quake was felt as far as the Aegean city of Izmir, the northwestern city of Bursa, Istanbul and the city of Edirne, close to the Greek and Bulgarian borders. Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, which is crossed by fault lines. In March 2010, a 6.0-magnitude quake knocked down houses in five villages in eastern Turkey, killing 51 people. In 2003, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake killed 177 people in the south-eastern city of Bingol, including 84 children whose school dormitory collapsed. In 1999, two earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 7 struck north-western Turkey, killing about 18,000 people.

Scientists underestimated the seismic complexity of Japan's earthquake-prone area, and thus failed to predict the size and impact of the recent megaquake that hit the country, new research suggests. Of three related studies, one also warns that the recent quake could have altered the underground stresses in a way that HEIGHTENS THE RISK of another big quake occurring 200 kilometers east of Tokyo. The 9.0-magnitude Tohoku-Oki quake was the fourth-most-powerful temblor ever recorded, and the largest to strike Japan since modern recordkeeping began 130 years ago.


Nicaraguan volcano spews out ash cloud - Telica volcano, in western Nicaragua, spewed a huge cloud of gas and ash reaching almost one mile into the air. Volcanic ash was scattered over nearby houses and farming communities close to the volcano. The volcano, which is one of the most active in the country, also generated a series of small earthquakes last week. (video)

No current tropical storms.


U.S. - Vermont's RECORD-BREAKING WET SPRING record-breaking wet spring has left farmers in the lurch, delaying the planting of vegetables and feed crops for cows, making an already short season even shorter.


Another late-season storm heads for California - Another winter-like storm was bearing down on California with up to 2 feet of snow expected in the southern Sierra Nevada, and more rain and cold forecast for Southern California through Wednesday. Heavy snow and strong winds were expected to begin Tuesday night in the mountains from Yosemite to southern Tulare County. The first storm swept down from the Gulf of Alaska on Monday, and scattered showers continued into Tuesday morning in Southern California. Numerous fender-bender accidents were reported. The storm brought light rain Monday with winter-like temperatures. RECORD LOWS in the 40s were recorded at Camarillo, UCLA, Long Beach Airport and Lancaster. Sandberg in the Antelope Valley had a record low of 32. Big Bear's record low was 25.
RAINFALL RECORDS WERE ALSO BROKEN in several areas. Los Angeles International Airport saw 0.23 inch of rain, breaking a record of 0.12 inch set in 1949. Long Beach Airport received 0.25 inch of rain, breaking a record of trace rainfall set in 2004. In Ventura County, Camarillo had 0.19 inch of rain. The previous record was 0.12 inch set in 1994. Together, the late-season storms could bring up to an inch of rain. The region usually gets only a quarter-inch for the entire month of May.


Solar storms may wreak havoc on Earth in 2013. - The intensity of solar storms is expected to peak in 2013 and may devastate critical infrastructure like satellite communications, navigation systems and electrical transmission equipment, a top scientist has warned. The assistant secretary of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said countries should prepare for "potentially devastating effects" from solar storms which are caused by massive explosions on the sun. "It is not a question of if, but really a matter of when a major solar event could hit our planet". She is not the only expert to issue a warning about the threat posed by solar storms. In February, astronomers warned that mankind is now more vulnerable to such an event than at any time in history - and that the planet should PREPARE FOR A GLOBAL HURRICANE KATRINA-STYLE DISASTER.
A massive solar eruption, they said, would send waves of radiation and charged particles to Earth, damaging satellite systems used for synchronising computers, airline navigation and phone networks. If the storm is powerful enough it could even crash stock markets and cause power cuts that last weeks or months. The chances of a disruption from space are getting stronger because the sun is entering the most active period of its 11 to 12-year natural cycle. The world got a taster of the sun's explosive power in February when the strongest solar eruption in five years sent a torrent of charged plasma hurtling towards the world at 580 miles per second. The storm created spectacular aurorae and disrupted radio communications.
Space storms are not new. The first major solar flare was recorded by British astronomer Richard Carrington in 1859. Other solar geomagnetic storms have been observed in recent decades. According to NASA, one huge solar flare in 1972 cut off long-distance telephone communication in the mid-western state of Illinois. Another similar flare in 1989 'provoked geomagnetic storms that disrupted electric power transmission' and caused blackouts across the Canadian province of Quebec.