Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sorry, I was a bit under the weather yesterday, and I didn't manage to post an update for Monday.

The mystery 'hum' - A village in Durham, England, is the latest place to report a strange vibrating noise - known as "the hum". According to sufferers, it is as if someone has parked next to your house and left the engine running. The Hum is a mystery low frequency noise, a phenomenon that has been reported across Britain, North America and Australia in the past four decades. There are a range of theories from farm or factory machinery to conspiracy theories such as flying saucers. And yet, 'the hum' remains an unsolved case.
Woodland, a village in county Durham, is the latest place to fall victim to the noise. Some residents have reported hearing a buzzing noise like electricity or a car engine that won't go away. "It sounds like an overhead power line with this constant humming buzz." Despite research, no-one has conclusively proved the source of The Hum. Not everyone appears to be able to hear it. Recording equipment is sometimes unable to pick it up.
"The hum" is an international phenomenon. The beach front neighbourhood of Bondi in Sydney was afflicted by it two years ago. One local resident told Australia's Sunday Telegraph at the time: "It sends people around here crazy, all you can do is put music on to block it out. Some people leave fans on.'' One case that was partially solved was in Kokomo, Indiana. The source of "the hum" was located to a fan and a compressor on an industrial site, and yet even after these were turned off some people complained the noise had not stopped.
The Largs Hum in Scotland and Bristol's mystery noise in the 1970s are two of Britain's most famous cases. Often the source of the noise is never found but disappears unexpectedly.
"The hum" is sometimes heard in cities but is more likely to be audible in the countryside and at night, when there is less background noise. Most complainants are people aged 50-60. The most plausible causes are industrial compressors and fans or farm machinery. In the 1970s the News of the World had a campaign to discover the mystery behind "the hum". They received 800 letters from readers complaining of the phenomenon - some of them citing UFOs. But no specific explanations emerged.
In 2009, the head of audiology at Addenbrooke's Hospital told the BBC that in about two thirds of cases no external noise could be found. He believed that sufferers' hearing had become over-sensitive. "It becomes a vicious cycle. The more people focus on the noise, the more anxious and fearful they get, the more the body responds by amplifying the sound, and that causes even more upset and distress." In the end, the solution for sufferers may be to adopt a more accepting mindset. "It's a question of whether you tense up to the noise or are relaxed about it." As for the source of "the hum", don't expect a breakthrough anytime soon. "It's been a mystery for 40 years so it may well remain one for a lot longer."

**With an enemy, pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.**
Sun Tzu


LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
5.4 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
5.2 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA

Yesterday -
6/13/11 -
5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.2 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
6.4 MOLUCCA SEA
5.4 FIJI REGION
6.0 SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
5.0 SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND

6/12/11 -
5.6 ERITREA - ETHIOPIA REGION
5.3 ERITREA - ETHIOPIA REGION
5.0 ERITREA - ETHIOPIA REGION
5.0 ERITREA - ETHIOPIA REGION
5.0 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN
5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.1 KOMANDORSKIYE OSTROVA REGION
5.0 NEW GUINEA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA
5.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.3 VANUATU REGION

NEW ZEALAND - Strong aftershocks rattled New Zealand's quake-devastated city of Christchurch again Monday, toppling one of the few buildings still standing downtown and sinking thousands of homes into darkness. Bricks crashed down in the cordoned-off city center, where only workers have tread since it was devastated in February's major earthquake. About 200 people were there when the quakes struck Monday, and two were briefly trapped in a church. More than 40 people have been taken to hospitals with minor injuries from falling debris. "We are being enveloped with dust," Christchurch Mayor told New Zealand's National Radio. "It is very, very scary." All across the city, people fled buildings in panic when a 5.2-magnitude quake struck during lunchtime; just over an hour later, a 6.0 hit. Smaller quakes were also recorded. Several buildings were damaged in the central city and suburbs. "All the shops have fallen down," said a worker at a Domino's Pizza in a suburb. "Half of the roof has fallen in (but) they have not fully collapsed."
Thousands of aftershocks have followed the 6.3-magnitude quake that killed 181 people on Feb. 22. That tremor and its aftershocks have been very shallow, which along with proximity to the city, have made them very destructive. Monday's temblors were six miles (10 kilometers) deep. About 47,000 homes in the city's eastern suburbs were without power Monday night, when temperatures were expected to approach freezing. Rocks tumbled down hills in the area, which was among the hardest hit in February, and silt bubbled from the earth - a process known as liquefaction that sometimes happens during a quake.After the February quake, 300,000 tons of silt had to be scraped away, and the silt alone made thousands of homes uninhabitable.
On one road Monday, an SUV tipped front-first into a sinkhole that opened in the asphalt. A police car sank into another. The extra damage to the city center means some buildings that had been salvageable "are now seriously damaged and will have to be brought down." The group's demolition manager "was driving (during the 6.0 quake), and there were buildings coming down in front of him, coming down behind him. He's very lucky to be alive." New Zealand's earthquake monitoring service GNS Science said Monday's quakes were within a predicted range but are likely to trigger new aftershocks themselves.

JAPAN - 90,000 in shelters; most debris still uncleared 3 months on. More than 90000 people are still living in shelters three months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and only a fraction of the debris dumped by the ensuing tsunami has been removed, according to official figures.

VOLCANOES -

Major Eruption Of Nabro Volcano In Eritrea - The Anabro (Nabro) volcano in the Northern Red Sea Region of Eritrea has erupted sending an ash plume more than 13.5 kilometres into the sky and disrupting air traffic across eastern Africa. Part of the Afar Triangle, the stratovolcano is one of many volcanic caldera complexes in the north easternmost part of the East African Rift valley region. Nabro is located in the Danakil Depression, close to Eritrea’s border with Ethiopia and north of Djibouti, and has not erupted in at least 150 years. It is the most prominent of 3 large volcanoes (Nabro, Dubbi, Mallahle) in the region, each containing a large summit caldera.
The volcano erupted at 2103 GMT Sunday evening. The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) said Monday that the volcano has resulted in a large ash plume of up to 13.5 kilometres (8 miles) high. The scale of the eruption, compared to the ongoing eruption in Chile and 2010′s eruption at Eyjafjallaj√∂kull in Iceland, remains unclear.
The eruption was preceded by seven moderate earthquakes Sunday afternoon. A 5.6 magnitude quake at 21.03 GMT signalled the start of the eruption. The quake was centred 48 km south of the town of Edd (pop 11,259) and 199 km southwest of the city of Al-h’udaydah (pop 617,871). A 4.6 magnitude quake followed less than 35 minutes later. On Monday afternoon officials in Ethiopia warned citizens to protect themselves from the ash and smoke coming from the volcanic eruption. Ash is falling on the northern Ethiopian town of Mekele. Asamara, the capital city of Eritrea, is also said to be affected by ash from the erupting volcano. Meanwhile, the latest ash advisory issued by the VAAC is predicting that the Ash plume will spread towards the Middle East Monday night. By 6am Tuesday the ash plume is expected get caught in a west-to-east jet stream and spread to the skies over parts of Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Israel, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The Jerusalem Post reported Monday evening that the ash plume may cause disruption to air traffic in Israel, Egypt, Jordan.
The US Geological Survey said it remained unclear if the series of earthquakes and the eruption were related were related as both originate from the same continental rift zone. The ash cloud has extended over 1,000km westwards over Sudan. “The eruption happened in Nabro, a stratovolcano that HAS NOT ERUPTED IN HISTORIC TIMES. Some early reports mention Dubbi or Dubbo to the north but satellite imagery confirms the source as Nabro. Potentially, there could be impacts on visibility and optics over at least parts of southern Europe, east and west Africa, and the Middle East … but there would be no direct impacts on Ireland from present information.” The largest known historical eruption in Africa occurred on May 1861 when the Dubbi volcano, also located in Eritrea, showered maritime traffic in the Red Sea with pumice and plunged coastal settlements into darkness. (photos, ash advisory map, videos)
First news from the Eritrean government - Press release:
"Volcanic Eruption Witnessed In The Tip Of Southern Red Sea Region. June 13 - A volcanic eruption was witnessed in the tip of the Southern Red Sea region at 9 p.m. yesterday. Reports indicated that THE ERUPTION TOOK PLACE IN 4 DIFFERENT AREAS around Afambo, Nebro and Sireru causing a 5.7 rector scale earth tremor. The ensuing dust is covering hundreds of kilometers in the area, and that the quake has been heard in the greater portion of the region as a whole, according to reports. The Southern regional Administration disclosed that the Government has moved the inhabitants in the area to a safe place, in addition to providing them with the necessary care. No damage has so far been inflicted to human life. Although similar earthquake incidents were witnessed from time to time in previous years, yesterday’s tremor was of higher scale that led to volcanic eruption."

'Some very recent lava flows were erupted from NNW-trending fissures transverse to the trend of the Nabro volcanic range’, so the current activity from the Nabro complex does not necessarily represent the surprise re-awakening of the volcano after millennia of dormancy.
The eruption pattern became totally different around 18:44 UTC. The eruption is still going on but seemed to decrease forcefully. The ash plume has a decreased considerably in length. Quite strange is also the current patchwork (ash clouds are not continuous anymore). (links to video)

Chilean Volcanic Ash Causes Flight Disruptions in Australia - The volcano in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle chain in Chile has been erupting for the past week, throwing air travel in South America into chaos, as it spewed ash high into the atmosphere. June 12 the volcanic ash cloud from Chile left thousands of travelers stranded for a second day in Australia and New Zealand. Strong winds have carried the ash more than half way around the world since Chile's Puyehue volcano erupted more than a week ago.
The cloud of volcanic ash has been blown 10,000 kilometers across the Atlantic and Indian oceans, and has drifted over parts of southern Australia and New Zealand causing travel chaos for thousands of travelers.
The main concentration passed over New Zealand yesterday and into the Pacific Ocean, but there are still small parts of the cloud which have broken off and that’s affecting airlines in Australia. Scores of flights have been canceled over the past two days. Services between New Zealand and Australia have been disrupted, along with many domestic routes in both countries. Qantas said all flights in and out of the southern island of Tasmania, and those to New Zealand were grounded Monday. Other carriers have, however, decided to resume flights. Virgin Australia said it believed it was safe to fly to Melbourne, Tasmania and New Zealand, adding its planes would fly around or under the ash. Air New Zealand has kept its passengers services in the air by rerouting flights and flying at lower altitudes “to completely avoid the ash”. The airline said it was monitoring developments closely.
A professor of geology at the Australian National University, believes the ash cloud will soon be blown back towards South America. “You can see the ash coming. It has come all the way around the Atlantic and across the Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean and is almost going to do a loop on itself. It is heading back towards South America. So it will take a few days for that to disperse. The question of course for travelers is - what is the density of particles per cubic meter, that's the thing the airlines worry about."
In neighboring Argentina the cindery cloud has closed roads, blanketed grazing pastures and a ski resort. Local and international flight schedules have been severely disrupted. Last year the volcano in Iceland sent vast plumes of ash over parts of Europe, grounding more than 100,000 planes as authorities were concerned over potential damage from the razor-sharp ash particles to jet engines. In November eruptions of Indonesia's Mount Merapi caused the cancellation of dozens of flights.

TROPICAL STORMS -
There are no active Tropical Warnings in the Northwest Pacific, North Indian Ocean, Central Pacific, Eastern Pacific, or Southern Hemisphere.

5th storm to enter Philippine territory Thursday - A Low Pressure Area may quickly strengthen into a tropical depression. It will be named "Egay". The PAGASA forecaster, meanwhile, said that the tropical depression may not hit the Philippines directly and it may go straight up to Japan.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

U.S. - A levee on the flood-swollen Missouri River near Hamburg, Iowa failed on Monday, sending water into low-lying farmland and prompting a flash flood watch for the town of 1,200. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the fight against the rising waters, which is expected to drag on for weeks, would be complicated in the coming days by thunderstorms, some expected to drop as much as 5 inches of rain in places.
Monday's breach in the levee built in the late 1940's was initially described as 50-feet wide but is now 300 feet wide, the Corps said in an afternoon statement. The workers who were on the levee were evacuated safely.
In addition to Hamburg, areas threatened with flooding as a result of Monday's levee break include parts of Interstate 29 and the rural residences and county roads located between the Missouri River and Hamburg.
"It was surreal to see the river take the levee out. I think it was a sand boil. The water was shooting out of the ground straight up and it just cut the levee out.... Farmers lost their entire crop out there on this one."
Downtown Hamburg, located about 5 miles away from the breach, remained dry six hours after the levee failed but vulnerable because of its low-land topography. Workers scrambled on Monday to build up a temporary levee at Hamburg by another three feet to provide extra insurance. But city officials were warning those who stay behind that within 24 hours the waters would reach the secondary berm hastily built in recent days to protect the city, and that power was likely to be quickly lost when they did. "Things are going to happen fast, I think."
The Missouri River basin forms the northwest portion of the Mississippi River basin that stretches from Montana to western New York and funnels water south into the Gulf of Mexico. Heavy winter snowmelt feeding the river's headwaters in the Rocky Mountains, as well as heavy spring rains, have forced the Corps to release water from stressed reservoirs and dams up and down the river. The flooding along the Missouri has already displaced thousands of people in South Dakota and threatens to add to the misery downstream in the Mississippi Valley, where record floods this spring caused billions of dollars in damage. Last week, the Corps said the flooding on the Missouri would not cause additional on the Mississippi "without another significant rain event." But on Monday, the Corps said a series of storms between now and the weekend would dump between 2 and 4 inches of rain in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois -- and as much as 5 inches of rain in some parts of the Missouri. Ultimately, the Corps plans water releases to peak at a rate of 150,000 cubic feet per second from the five reservoirs in the Dakotas by about mid-June, more than twice the previous record pace, and hold at least through mid-August. The river is expected to reach up to seven feet above flood stage at Sioux City, Omaha and Kansas City when the maximum release rate is reached.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES / CLIMATE CHANGE -

Thousands of Arizona wildfire evacuees return home despite smoke and soot. The towns of Eagar and Springerville are no longer threatened, but officials say residents should stay away because of hazardous particles in the smoke.

HEALTH THREATS -

JAPAN - Tea From Shizuoka Exceeds Radioactive Standard After Quake. Tea from Japan's Shizuoka prefecture had above-standard radioactive cesium levels three months after an earthquake led to radiation leaks at a nuclear plant about 360 kilometers (224 miles) from the area. The contamination was found in leaves from the prefecture’s Warashina area, while tea produced in all 18 other areas had safe levels, based on tests conducted by tea farmers. Shizuoka, which accounts for about 40 percent of the nation’s tea output and lies southwest of Tokyo, asked the farmers that produced the contaminated leaves to recall those products and halt shipments.