Wednesday, November 2, 2011

**Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough
to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots.**
Frank Howard Clark

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
11/1/11 -

CALIFORNIA - Berkeley quakes put city on edge, but don't herald a major temblor. Many Berkeley residents opened an alarming email following the rash of small quakes shaking the city at all hours since Oct. 20. It warned of a 30 percent chance of a major quake striking within the next two or three weeks, credited to scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey who allegedly met with Berkeley city officials. It's bogus, said the deputy director of the USGS Earthquake Science Center in Menlo Park. "I don't know of any scientific organization that would make a statement like that. We didn't." City Hall also debunked the email. But its rapid spread underscores how jittery the quakes have made some people.
Since Oct. 20, four earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater have hit the region. Three were centered near Berkeley along the Hayward fault, and one near Danville along a different fault. On Monday morning, two smaller Hayward fault quakes, magnitudes 2.4 and 1.7, shook the on-edge city. Nothing unusual about a spate of shaking in earthquake country though. "They're pretty characteristic of what happens on the Hayward fault, although maybe just slightly bigger and a little more energetic." Small quakes sometimes precede large ones, but not always. After analyzing the cluster, the USGS is sticking to its prediction that there's a 30 percent chance the Hayward fault could rupture in the next 30 years, unleashing a magnitude 6.7 or higher quake.
The Berkeley area has had similar clusters in the past decade. In December 2003, three 3.0-plus temblors struck on the same day. In September 2006, four of at least magnitude 3.0 jolted the city. "And there was no earthquake after those. This earthquake activity is very normal." Seismologists support one aspect of the bogus email - always be ready for the Big One. "Far be it for me to dissuade people from being prepared. We wholeheartedly endorse that."
Due to the recent earthquake activity and predicitons, REI has seen an increase in sales of emergency supplies. As earthquakes continued to shake Berkeley and residents became increasingly anxious, fears have been intensified by several unverified predictions of an imminent major quake that have been circulating online.
Over the last few days,'s site owner had been posting predictions — which he said in an email are based on kinetic frictional heating, the seismic gap theory and electromagnetic radiation — on his website and Twitter account, claiming that an earthquake of at least magnitude 5.0 will likely hit in the Berkeley, Mill Valley and San Carlos area by around 11 a.m. Tuesday. Though it is unclear whether Thomas has any credentials in seismology or related fields, his predictions have elicited a strong reaction in the Berkeley community. Tweets about his predictions have been retweeted by hundreds of people in the past week. “I don’t feel very prepared. (The warnings) make me nervous, and I think not many people would know what to do in a natural disaster or emergency situation.”
To add to the hysteria, a San Francisco State University Professor sent an email Friday claiming that Berkeley City Hall had been briefed by U.S.G.S. geologists on a possible magnitude-6.0 quake in the next two to three weeks. According to city officials who said they heard nothing of the sort, the information in the email — which has since gone viral — was false. “There has been no briefing of the City Council or staff on when the next earthquake is going to be." Alarmed residents have been making phone calls and sending emails to their council members. The misinformation was discovered to be an exaggeration on the part of the professor, who said in a follow-up email Monday that her only intent was to pass on a message about the importance of being prepared. “Modern technology is really fast at spreading news, and an explosive story that a major earthquake is going to happen in the next couple of weeks is really scary and alarming to people." A senior earthquake geologist at U.S.G.S. encouraged people to be prepared but warned against the danger of making exaggerated assumptions. “Anyone has the ability to go online and make some prediction."
There is no definite way to predict earthquakes. “Yes, the probability that there will be an earthquake along the (Hayward) fault is pretty big. But in all likelihood, it will be small.” Nonetheless, in light of these unverified predictions coupled with the recent series of earthquakes in Berkeley, residents are still preparing themselves for the possibility of the “Big One.” At the REI store in West Berkeley, sales for emergency supplies have risen since Oct. 20, when a magnitude-4.0 quake hit Berkeley. “People are buying propane gas, dehydrated camping foods that’ll last a while, emergency blankets that insulate you from the elements. They’re buying basic supplies like food and shelter, emergency radios and hand-cranked flashlights that don’t require batteries.” Large water containers, first aid supplies and emergency kits — premade bundles of food and basic necessities — have been increasingly popular. “Whenever there’s a jolt like the big 4.0 one that we had, we have a big increase in sales the day after. Everyone comes in. It happens all the time.”

Damage Reported in One of Two Earthquakes in China - Authorities in China say at least 50 homes were destroyed by a moderate earthquake that struck the northwestern part of the country early Tuesday. The US Geological Survey says a 5.4 magnitude quake struck Xinjiang province between the border areas of Yining and Gongliu counties, at a depth of 27 kilometers. The quake was initially measured at 6.0 magnitude. Emergency crews have been dispatched to the area to assess the damage. So far, there are no reports of casualties.
A separate earthquake measuring 5.5 magnitude struck Tuesday morning in China's southwestern Sichuan region. Sichuan was devastated by a powerful 7.9-magnitude earthquake in 2008, killing nearly 90,000 people. There are no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties from the Sichuan quake.


Underwater earthquake releases magma in Canary Islands waters - A volcano on the Atlantic sea floor released smoky magma into the sea off the Canary Islands' smallest member El Hierro, Spanish media reported Tuesday. The release came after an earthquake measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale shook the island late Monday night. Monday's seismic movements continued into Tuesday morning, during which 30 minor earthquakes emanated from El Hierro's centre. No injuries were reported.
A marine biologist said that underwater volcanic eruptions had led to a change in water oxygen levels, resulting in the disappearance of fish normally found in the sea area Mar de las Calmas. The as-yet unnamed underwater volcano emerged three weeks ago, when a tear in the seabed some 300 metres below sea level opened up and began spewing magma. Since July, about 10,000 minor earthquakes have been measured on the island. El Hierro, population circa 10,000, measures 270 square kilometres.
El Hierro volcano: seismic activity beneath El Golfo intensifies, possibility of a new eruption. The seismic activity off the NW coast of El Hierro under the El Golfo area is intensifying and near the same levels immediately before the ongoing submarine eruption south of the island. Monday alone 153 quakes were measured with magnitudes of up to 3.9. Most quakes are still at a safe 20 km depth and are not related to the opening of eruptive vents on the sea floor. At the same time volcanic tremor (a low-frequency seismic wave component typical of magma movements) has been slightly increasing and there is now little doubt that magma is moving beneath the island. At this stage, it seems not unlikely that if a new intrusion makes its way to the seafloor, it will start a new submarine eruption from a second vent in the near future. A video on youtube was reported to show green water discoloration in the area and there are voices that an eruption could already have started. This seems unlikely and could not be confirmed. Such water discoloration is probably caused by drifting currents carrying mud coming from the ongoing submarine eruption south of the island.

COSTA RICA - Rains Cause Of Landslide In Wall Of IrazĂș Volcano. The IrazĂș volcano suffered from the rains that haunted the country for weeks, as one of its walls collapsed causing a landslide into the lagoon. "When there is heavy rainfall, it generate water saturation on the walls and if the slopes are steep a slide occurs." An expert said when there is a lot of rain it generates an accumulation of water. The landslide may have occurred due to an earthquake, however, there have been no movements registered in the area of the volcano. "There was no warning, if it had been a tremor, we have seen an abrupt change in the registers." Two years ago, a similar situation occurred on the south wall that time, when the waters of the lagoon changed from light blue to brown. The expert stated that the collapse did not cause any effect, but that a group of experts will tour and fly over the volcano for a new inspection.

BOLIVIA - Uturuncu volcano - Magma is rising in the Bolivian volcano that last erupted 300,000 years ago, a U.S. research team monitoring the mountain says. Researchers say the magma is uplifting rapidly. "Uturuncu - a volcano in the Bolivian Andes Mountains - was thought to be inactive. The region is populated by 'supervolcanoes' that erupted between 1 (million) and 10 million years ago. Now the Uturuncu magma is accumulating in the crust and we're observing whether it is moving upward toward the surface. Right now, we have no reason to think that an eruption is imminent. The area at Uturuncu has had hundreds of shallow earthquakes per year, but the rate of earthquakes increased briefly due to last year's tremors in Chile. These characteristics are UNUSUAL for a volcano that has not erupted in 300,000 years."

No current tropical storms.


As Floods Drag on in Thailand, Displaced Grow Restless. In Thailand, local aid groups are calling on authorities to better manage and support local communities that are struggling to cope after spending weeks under a meter or more of water. As the flood waters overtake more communities in urban areas of the country, there are many who are deciding to stay home and protect their belongings from thieves.
Many people are resisting even forced evacuations, braving the increasingly stagnant and polluted flood waters to stay near home. The government needs to reach out to these people to help disperse aid and help the stranded. "The relief effort is being undertaken without sufficient involvement of the victims of the affected communities. We believe that, although not all but many of those affected communities do have the capacity to help themselves. They would need some external support, but many of them have demonstrated a certain capacity in the province of trying to tackle this flood situation."
Two thirds of Thailand's provinces have been hit by floods, but central Thailand has been a key venue for many evacuated flood victims. In Lop Buri province, which is 150 kilometers north of Bangkok and now one of the hardest hit regions, up to 30,000 people are in evacuation centers in the province. The crowded conditions are raising health concerns, especially among the physically vulnerable. Thailand’s wet monsoon season is now ending with the weather changing to the cooler dry season of the northern winter. “The people are getting more and more restless and they want to go home no matter what. Then, especially in areas where the thieves are, where’s there theft, yeah, we’re going to have real problems and I don‘t think anybody is prepared for this." While the government says the flood conditions around Bangkok may ease over the next week, other analysts say it will be weeks before the floods fully recede.


U.S. - A state-by-state look at some of the effects of the late October storm that shocked the Northeast during the weekend with up to 32 inches of snow.


Uranus Bright Spot Intrigues Scientists - It seems astronomers have detected that an enormous bright spot may be an UNPRECEDENTED eruption of methane ice high in the atmosphere. The "ice giant" tends to not get as much attention as closer planets since it orbits the sun an average distance of 1.8 billion miles. However, this new activity is so intense it has amateur astronomers turning to the often-overlooked part of the solar system. Professional images taken using the 8.1-metre Gemini Telescope North on Hawaii have recorded a region said to be ten times brighter than the planetary background. The spot also happens to sit at an unusually low latitude. Previous bright spots on the planet have been observed much further north.
The observations are particularly important because they provide unique insight into the planet's weather, which is mysterious due to its cold nature. Uranus is a puzzle to astronomers because it is a cold planet that emits very little energy of its own, unlike Jupiter and Saturn which pump out heat as they contract. There also appears to be no large-scale convection in its atmosphere and the Voyager probes detected little weather as they flew by in the early 1980s. Uranus's weather patterns are so bizarre that the northern hemisphere sees 42 years of sunlight at a time, while the southern hemisphere plunges into 42 years of darkness. Earlier this month, a new report shed some light on how Uranus may have obtained its odd position. It seems two giant collisions may have set the planet on its side, titling the planet onto its recognizable axis.

On November 8th a sizable asteroid will pass Earth within the moon's orbit - The asteroid, designated 2005 YU55, will pass Earth at a distance of about 325,000 kilometers, just inside the orbit of the moon. Asteroids come that close frequently, but 2005 YU55 is notable for its dimensions: 400 meters in diameter. NASA says the asteroid is the size of an aircraft carrier, but it's actually even larger. The last time an asteroid this big came this close to Earth was 1976, and it looks like it won't happen again until 2028. So astronomers are taking the rare opportunity to study a hefty asteroid without having to send a craft into deep space. Scientists will use two of the largest radio telescopes on the planet, one in California and one in Puerto Rico, to make radar images of the asteroid. Comets and asteroids preserve the building blocks of the planets. And studying them up close provides clues to how planet Earth came to be. So visitors such as 2005 YU55 are welcome — as long as they keep their distance.