Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ROSAT DECAY UPDATE - The massive ROSAT X-ray space telescope continues to descend toward Earth. Latest estimates place the re-entry around noon Universal Time on Oct. 23rd. Uncertainties exceed 10 hours, which makes it impossible to say exactly where ROSAT will re-enter. Many sky watchers are seeing ROSAT in the night sky shining about as brightly as a 1st magnitude star. ( Satellite Tracker for local flyby times.)

**Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you
as sunshine flows into trees.**
John Muir


LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
6.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 JUJUY, ARGENTINA

Yesterday -
10/17/11 -
5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.3 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 SOUTHEAST OF TAIWAN

NEW ZEALAND - Insurance runaround 'worse than quake mess'. "I can honestly say the worst thing about the quakes down here has not been the quakes but the dealings with insurance companies...How many people are the insurance companies trying this on with and getting away with it? I have heard of people just giving in because they are too stressed out."

VOLCANOES -

CANARY ISLANDS - El Hierro eruption continues, but not likely to form new island. The eruption off the southern coast of El Hierro in the Canary Islands looks to be subsiding and from the sound of it, the focus of the activity is slowly migrating into shallower water. However, so far all the activity has remained submarine, producing an impressive discoloration of the ocean as tephra and volcanic gases are released from the vents. If/when the eruption reaches shallower water, we should expect to see the surface water start to steam, followed by explosions of steam and magma and finally the emergence of an island. There is already dark pumice spotted floating on the surface of the ocean along the southern coast of the island as well.
As for the residents of La Restiga and the southwestern coast of Hierro, the local government allowed them to return to their homes on Saturday, however on Monday, many residents are still wary of returning. It does seem like there is a lot of confusion amongst the residents of exactly what the nature of the eruption will be as many have voiced concerned about returning when the volcano is “about to explode”. This activity is not likely to produce a large, destruction event like the 1902 Pelee pyroclastic flow, but should be more like Surtsey or, when it reaches land, like the 1971 eruption at La Palma (although possibly larger in volume), which were tourist attractions rather than deadly. The activity will be monitored closely, including the installation of hydrophones in the harbor to listen for new explosions on the seafloor if the eruption continues to propagate towards land. However, the eruption, even if it comes closer to land, is not a major hazard to people on the island beyond the potential for bombs/ash to be thrown on land or, if the eruption makes it to land, lava flows. The Spanish government has closed the port at La Restiga due to the volcanic debris and air traffic is restricted over the eruption and there is also concern about how the eruption might effect marine reserves around Hierro. If an new island does emerge from this eruption and has any permanence, there will be the question of exactly whose island it is and what to name it – but the Instituto Vulcanol├│gico de Canarias seems to think that there isn’t enough magma to produce any new island off of El Hierro. One thing that is remarkable about this eruption is how the towns on the south coast of El Hierro are nestled between all these volcanic vents. (photos)

TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical storms.

AUSTRALIA - Disputes with insurance companies are holding up the demolition of cyclone-damaged buildings and residents fear a string of condemned structures will still be standing when Wet hits. Eight months after cyclone Yasi tore through the Cassowary Coast, badly damaged homes, loose sheets of iron and broken windows remain common sights. "The cyclone season hasn’t even started yet and it is already pretty scary. The sooner these types of buildings are brought down, the better." Above average cyclone activity is likely for Far North Queensland this season.
"Many of the owners are still fighting with insurance companies. It’s not on, this close to the Wet." Cassowary Coast Regional Council has issued 161 demolition permits since cyclone Yasi. Many buildings have not been demolished and recently, 48 people were sent show cause notices to explain why they had not even applied for demolition requests. "We have to take this step so that no one is placed at risk from flying debris should there be another active cyclone season."
Australia risks new damage from expected upcoming above-average cyclone season.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

VIETNAM - Death toll from THE WORST FLOODING IN A DECADE jumps to 55 in Vietnam floods, while more than 170,000 homes have been inundated. The worst of the flooding is in the southern Mekong Delta, where 48 people, mostly children, have been killed since late August. More than 80,000 homes there have been flooded. The government said today that seven more deaths have been reported in three central provinces hit by heavy rains, which have also inundated 92,000 homes. Another four people are missing.

THAILAND's cabinet met on Tuesday to discuss the mounting economic cost of floods that have killed 315 people, and residents of Bangkok were told not to drop their guard even if the immediate danger to the capital had passed. The damage from flooding since July could be as high as 1.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and ministers will discuss relief measures and extra government borrowing to pay for it. Spending on reconstruction could amount to more than 100 billion baht ($3.3 billion) after the worst floods in half a century damaged large areas of farmland and closed huge industrial estates. The cost could go far higher if Bangkok, which accounts for 41 percent of GDP, is hit by floods. Monsoon rain, high tides and water flowing down from reservoirs in northern Thailand had threatened the capital at the weekend but its defensive system of dikes and canals held.
However, Bangkok's Governor warned the danger was not completely over and that districts in the north of the capital may still face problems over the next 48 hours. "We don't want to cause any panic among Bangkokians. However, if you want to move valuables or electrical equipment to higher ground for safety reasons, that would be good." Residents have complained about contradictory noises from city and government officials, including an evacuation warning in a northern suburb last week that proved to be a false alarm. There have been conflicting signals over the fate of the Nava Nakorn industrial estate north of Bangkok, which has 270 plants and about 270,000 workers, but the government told firms to halt operations on Monday as floodwater breached its walls. At least six big estates have now closed, most of them in the central province of Ayutthaya.

HEALTH THREATS -

Climate change poses an immediate and serious threat to global health and stability, as floods and droughts destroy people's homes and food supplies and increase mass migration, experts have warned.