Friday, November 4, 2011

EARTHQUAKES claimed more than 780,000 lives in the past decade, accounting for nearly 60% of all disaster-related deaths. "In addition to these deaths, earthquakes have directly affected another two billion people in this period." The deadliest quake was the January 12, 2010 7.0-magnitude event in Haiti which killed 316,000 people. This was followed by the December 26 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, generated by a 9.1-magnitude tremor, in which 227,000 people died. Third-ranked was the May 12 2008 7.9-magnitude quake in south-western China's Sichuan province, which inflicted a death toll of 87,500.
"Massive earthquakes can result in casualty rates ranging from 1% - 8% of the at-risk population. The reported ratios of death-to-injury vary, but across many studies seems to be about 1-to-3."
The death toll unfurls in waves, starting with immediate fatalities from falling buildings, which is followed several hours later as people die from catastrophic injuries to internal organs. A third wave occurs in the days to weeks afterwards among people with sepsis and multiple organ failure. Among survivors, the main injuries are crush-related damage to the kidneys, liver and spleen, followed by spinal damage, bone fractures and lacerations. Children are the most vulnerable group, accounting for between 25 and 53 per cent of earthquake patients. Beyond immediate search-and-rescue operations, care workers must deal with problems of infectious disease in crowded shelters. Contrary to popular perception, cadavers are not a risk unless there is an outbreak of cholera. In the longer term, earthquakes also exert a heavy impact on mental health, with high prevalence of depression.
The threat from earthquakes is set to intensify as the world's population grows and cities expand in vulnerable zones. Cities in seismic regions include Tokyo (32 million inhabitants), Mexico City (20 million), Los Angeles (15 million) and Istanbul (nine million).

**Into each life some rain must fall.**
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This morning -

Yesterday -
11/3/11 -

Dozens of miners have been trapped in a coal mine in China after a "rock burst". The rock burst - an explosion caused by the sudden release of built-up pressure - happened shortly after an earthquake. Four miners were killed and 57 are still missing after the accident, which happened late on Thursday in the city of Sanmenxia in Henan province. Hundreds of Chinese miners die every year in pit accidents. The industry is one of the most dangerous in the world, and is notorious for its lax safety standards.

VIRGINIA - More than 600 aftershocks have hit since August quake. There have been more than 600 aftershocks in Virginia since the rare East Coast earthquake that struck on Aug. 23. “What we might be looking at is either a new fault or a previously undiscovered one deep within the geologic formations here." There have been some 40 or more temblors of magnitude 2.0 or higher. “This earthquake was felt from Florida to Ontario in Canada, and as far west as the Mississippi River.
The quake was the strongest in Virginia in 114 years, and left behind more than $100 million in damage, including to the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral in D.C. A school in Mineral, near the epicenter, was seriously damaged and the nearby North Anna Nuclear Power Plant remains offline as workers check for damage. The Virginia quake is significant due to the East Coast’s lack of preparedness for such events, and because the shaking can be felt – and cause damage -- for such long distances.
“Earthquakes in the East are different. Underneath us is the middle of a tectonic plate, so it's been very quiet. Our geology is very smooth and unfractured, so there's nothing to stop an earthquake from spreading.” Despite the damage, and the unnerving aftershocks, it could have been much worse. “I'll leave you with a reminder that we really did dodge a bullet here. The fact that there were no casualties is amazing.”


Vigil at North Korea's Mount Doom - In recent months, Chinese researchers have observed geophysical anomalies, including elevated temperatures of hot springs and deflation of the caldera rim of Mount Paektu. But most concur that there is no evidence of magma rising toward the surface, which would signal an imminent eruption. Historical records and ash layers indicate that Mount Paektu, a volcano that straddles the border between North Korea and China, explodes to life every 100 years or so, the last time in 1903. (Two-thirds of the mountain is in China, where it is called Changbai.) Around 1000 years ago, the volcano rained tephra — pumice and ash — across 33,000 square kilometers of northeast China and Korea, dumping 5 centimeters of ash as far away as Japan. Scientists are keeping a wary vigil. Sincee Changbai's silica-rich magma is viscous and gassy, allowing pressure to build, the next eruption should be explosive, researchers say.

No current tropical storms.


Massive Antarctic crack could break apart - The massive crack is growing wider in the Antarctic ice sheet and could break apart in coming months, forming a gigantic iceberg, NASA scientists warn. The crack in western Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier stretches for at least 30km and runs 50m deep.
The rift is widening at a rate of two meters per day. When the ice breaks apart, it will produce an iceberg more than 880 sq km. But the process is not a result of global warming. "We expect that later this year or early next year year there will be a pretty large iceberg forming as part of a natural cycle. These are cyclical events that occur every few years. The last big calving event occurred in 2001, so in general people have been expecting something to happen like that very soon. For us it is very exciting to actually see this while it is happening."


X-FLARE - Big sunspot AR1339 unleashed an X2-class solar flare on Nov. 3rd at 20:27 UT. A movie from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the extreme ultaviolet flash. The flare created waves of ionization in Earth's upper atmosphere, altering the normal progagation of radio waves over Europe and the Americas.
AR1339 is ONE OF THE LARGEST SUNSPOTS IN YEARS and is rotating over the sun's northeastern limb. Measuring some 40,000 km wide and at least twice that in length, the sprawling sunspot group is an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. Two or three of the sunspot's dark cores are wider than Earth itself. Naturally, such a large sunspot has potential for strong flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 75% chance of M-class solar flares during the next 24 hours. One such eruption has already occured: An M4-flare at 2200 UT on Nov. 2nd produced a bright flash of extreme UV radiation and hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. The CME is not heading our way. Future CMEs could have greater effect as AR1339 turns toward Earth in the days ahead.