LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
5.6 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
6.7 GUERRERO, MEXICO
5.8 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN
5.0 EASTERN NEW GUINEA REG., P.N.G.
5.1 PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION
5.0 ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS.
5.1 MOLUCCA SEA 2011-12-09 21:02
5.7 SEA OF OKHOTSK
US forecast of impending mega quake worries Kashmiris - It is like the doomsday prophecy for the Kashmir Valley. Intense debate Saturday followed an American seismologist's predictions of a magnitude-9 earthquake. Local newspapers carried front page stories about the prediction that a major earthquake in Kashmir that could trigger landslides which would dam the Jhelum river and plunge the valley under water. The prediction also said that once released, the waters would cause major floods in Pakistan. "The two nations should develop a cooperative plan to deal with the aftermath of a Kashmir mega quake," the study has advised. New global positioning system (GPS) data readings reveal the gradual movement of rocks in the Zanskar mountains north of the valley, but the earlier estimates of the maximum possible quake in the region were low.
In its typical doomsday forecast, the study warns: "The zone would rupture when a quake eventually happens. The quake would be 200 kilometres wide as against 80 kilometres predicted earlier. The zone would encompass the Kashmir Valley, including the Srinagar city with its 1.5 million strong population. If slippage occurs over a length of 300 kilometres, as is possible, a mega quake of magnitude-9 is likely to occur. Given building codes and population in the region, it could mean a death toll of 300,000 people."
"Earlier we believed that the Kashmir Valley was vulnerable to destruction from quakes generated along the Pir Panchal mountain range. But with availability of the GPS data from the region, it is now evident that the northeastern side of the valley is more vulnerable to earthquake generation than the Pir Panchal range." The average Kashmiri, unable to understand the scientific data, is highly perturbed by the reports. "That would be the end of the world for us if what the US seismologist has said would actually happen." "We can only wait for our destiny to happen as it is ordained. Kashmir has always been devastated by earthquakes in the past."
Whether or not the doomsday forecast comes true, the US seismologist's study has become a topic of hot discussion in Kashmir. Over 40,000 people were killed across the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir and Pakistan-administered parts of Kashmir in an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter Scale in 2005.
Major quake may put held Kashmir under water in three months. Take a hotspot of potential conflict and add a magnitude 9 earthquake. It sounds like a nightmare scenario, but it could play out in the occupied Kashmir. Worse still, such a major quake is likely to trigger landslides that could dam the Jhelum River, which drains from the Indian occupied Kashmir valley into Pakistan. That could put the valley under water within three months - and would also threaten disastrous flooding in Pakistan if the waters were released too quickly. The new estimate of the largest quake possible in Kashmir comes from eight years of readings from GPS sensors placed in areas under both Indian and Pakistani control. The work was made possible only thanks to collaboration with both nations, which are in a tense military stand-off over the contested territory. In this region, the Indian plate is slowly burrowing under the Tibetan plateau. The researcher was looking for where the relative movement of the Tibetan plateau was slowest, as this indicates where compression is building up, and a rupture is eventually likely to occur. He had expected this to be in the Pir Panjal Range, to the south of the Kashmir Valley, but instead it was in the Zanskar Range to the north. What he cannot predict from his GPS results is when such a disaster might happen. Seismologists have been caught out by recent mega quakes, including the magnitude 9 Tohoku quake that hit Japan in March, by basing their estimates on historical patterns, rather than physical measurements. "I think you have to plan for the worst case," he says.
Why the Haiti earthquake may not have been a natural disaster - Deforestation and extreme weather may later cause earthquakes, scientists believe. Their findings suggest that cutting down trees on steep slopes may increase the risk of not only landslides but earthquakes in heavily deforested places such as Haiti, which suffered a devastating magnitude 7 quake in 2010. Geologists have previously discounted the idea that low atmospheric pressure associated with tropical cyclones can influence the timing of earthquakes. But the new study suggests a different mechanism based on changes to the weight of soil and other ground material bearing down on a geological fault under seismic stress.
"Very wet rain events are the trigger. The heavy rain induces thousands of landslides and severe erosion, which removes ground material from the Earth's surface, releasing the stress and encouraging movement along faults. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti occurred... 18 months after the same area was hit by two tropical storms and two hurricanes. It can happen in other mountainous areas affected by cyclones, such as Japan, the Philippines, and maybe Central America."
The idea the weather can play a role in triggering earthquakes is controversial. But an analysis of the timing of earthquakes and cyclones in Taiwan over the past 60 years has demonstrated a statistical correlation, with a significant number of quakes bigger than 6 occurring within four years of major cyclones. Rapid soil erosion on steep slopes caused by tropical cyclones changed the stress on the geological fault over a period of months or years, which can trigger an earthquake. "Statistical analysis showed that the timing of the earthquake is above the expected. It is way above background. If it was a random process and there was no relation between earthquakes and cyclones... there was less than 1 per cent probability of this occurring. It is not that it happens during a cyclone but that there is a delay, and the delay of between three months and three years is due to the ground erosion. The delays can be due to the time it takes for the erosion to wash the material to the ocean." An independent analysis of ground movements caused by summer monsoons in the Himalayas also suggested a link between extreme weather and earthquakes. A study in California found that earthquakes were more likely to occur in dry winter months after the monsoon period.
MYSTERY BOOMS / SKYQUAKES -
NORTH CAROLINA - 12/8/11 - Bright lights, baffling booms leave Brunswick County residents puzzled. Hearing mysterious loud booms, or Seneca guns, is nothing new in the area, but they normally aren't accompanied by lights in the sky. Lots of perplexed folks posted on WECT's Facebook page about both the booms and lights Thursday night. "It kind of sounded like a jet breaking the sound barrier," a resident said. He stepped outside to see if he could tell what it was, and saw something strange overhead: two bright lights that flashed off and on. He's seen flares before -- and he's sure that's not what he saw this time. "There was no tracers…no glow around them and each time they appeared, they were the same distance apart in the sky."
Just 20 miles from his house in Shallotte, another man saw the lights in Boiling Spring Lakes. "The lights, I've never seen them before. They started at like…somebody was lighting some type of special firework that was silent, and it just got bigger real quick and it faded out…" He figures the lights could be manmade…but then again, perhaps not. "It was probably something out of this world, or military. Who knows what it could have been. It was definitely something that you hardly ever see." As quickly as the mysterious lights appeared in the sky, they were gone. "I come running outside again, of course, and scouted out the sky for six or seven minutes. Then, I didn't see any more lights at that time." For now, the lights over Brunswick County remain a mystery -- and are sure to leave room for debate. None of the nearby military officials WECT spoke to claim responsibility for the loud booms or the lights in the sky. (video)
SOUTH CAROLINA - 12/8/11 - Mystery boom felt, heard on the North Strand. Several people living in the Little River and surrounding areas reported multiple rumbles and booms late Thursday night. Some thought it was an explosion and others thought it might be an earthquake. WMBF News took the story and dug into it and didn't find an answer. None of the authorities are claiming knowledge of the booms and there's no reports of earthquake seismic activity from the U.S. Geological Survey. A small magnitude 2.2 earthquake hit North Charleston early Wednesday.
JAPAN - Mt. Sakurajima breaks record with 897th explosive eruption. Mt. Sakurajima, an active volcano in Kagoshima Prefecture, explosively erupted late Thursday for the 897th time this year, BREAKING ITS ANNUAL RECORD FOR THE THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR. The volcano has had a record number of explosive eruptions each year since 2009, when it erupted 548 times, beating the previous record of 474 set in 1985. In 2010, there were 896 eruptions. Observation of the volcano began in 1955. The latest eruption was observed at the 800-meter-high Showa crater. It has been a frequent site of activity since 2008, after erupting in June 2006 for the first time in 58 years. The volcano could become extremely active in January or February, as eruptions since 2009 have tended to increase before New Year, and a NEW MONTHLY RECORD of 141 explosions was marked in September.
Rise of underground water temperature causes Myanmar mud volcano eruptions - An earthquake in Rakhine State has caused underground water temperatures to rise, setting off volcano eruptions of mud and small amounts of lava. Volcanos in the Kyaukphyu Township area on Ramree Island were set off along a fault line. More volcano mud eruptions might occur, but there is no danger or need for mass evacuations. “When there is earth crust movement in these fault lines, there will be underground water circulation and more water will move up to the surface as hot springs, but they are not like real volcanoes. They do not pose a danger to people." The highest number of underground hot spring fault lines is in Kyaukphyu Township. The hot spring fault line runs through Magwe Region.
A mud volcano erupted on November 26 on a small hill one mile west of Bawyabaya village, about 32 miles from Kyaukphyu. The eruption sent magma and lava 15-feet into the air, and about 5 acres of nearby land was covered by magma. By evening, the eruptions had subsided. Past eruptions in the area occurred in 1990 and 2000. On November 21, an earthquake occurred with an epicenter 32 kilometres northeast of Homlin in Sagaing Region measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale. It probably triggered the mud eruptions. “The underground hot water in the fault line was pushed up to the surface and the eruptions took place."
Two mud volcanoes in Sai Chong village east of Kyaukphyu erupted in January 2008. Lava and magma shot up to 300-feet high and a small amount of lava covered about 200 feet in the nearby area, the New Light of Myanmar reported on January 8. A similar volcano mud eruption took place near Sai Chong village in 2006, and an eruption in 1996 damaged more than 40 acres of farmland in the same area.
Volcanoes: Disturbing forecast for 2012 - The underwater volcano situated to the south off El Hierro island (the Canary Islands) has been bothering the local residents with its activity since September 2011. The volcano has entered the third phase of its eruption. Scientists registered a giant whirlpool above the crater of the underwater volcano. The diameter of the whirlpool was 50 meters, and the water inside was warmer than on the outside. Many people living in the southern part of the island have to leave their homes because of the unbearable smell of sulphur. The content of CO2 in the air has tripled, which means that the volcano is not going to calm down. The center of the eruption has been getting closer to the surface, which means that a new island will soon appear near El Hierro. Will the volcano continue its eruption when it comes out of the water?
In Iceland in November, scientists registered over 500 quakes in the area of Katla's caldera. All the quakes were weak, but they mean that the magma in the cavity underneath Katla has started moving. There is a glacier on the slope of the volcano - Myrdalsjokull. If Katla erupts, the glacier will melt and trigger a catastrophic flood on the entire south-eastern coast of the island.
It is worthy of note that there is a geological connection between Katla and the volcano near El Hierro. They both belong to the system of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The whole of Iceland is a part of this ridge too - it just rose above the water surface. Therefore, the whole Atlantic may wake up after the "ring of fire" in the Pacific.
TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical storms.
HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -
AUSTRALIA - Queensland's RECORD-BREAKING COLD START TO SUMMER has eased and "almost normal" summer conditions were expected on Saturday. The cold snap - following hard on the heels of Brisbane's driest and warmest spring in two years - saw records broken from the city south to the Gold Coast and Stanthorpe and west to St George. Much of the state was warming up after almost a week of surprisingly cold conditions, with Brisbane and Amberley hitting 25C, Coolangatta 24C and Toowoomba 20C on Thursday. Coolangatta made 19.7C at 9am, beating the previous low maximum set in 1965 of 20.4C. Brisbane had an equal low maximum of 19.9C, the same as 1963.
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES / CLIMATE CHANGE -
Greeland rose as ice melted - A 2010 spike in the melting of ice cover in Greenland caused a large part of the island's bedrock to lift almost an inch, a US researcher says. A network of 50 GPS stations measured the uplift as the ice loss was accelerated in southern Greenland by 100 billion tons. A rise of 0.79 inches was recorded over just a five-month period. The findings have implications for climate change.
"Pulses of extra melting and uplift imply that we'll experience pulses of extra sea level rise. The process is not really a steady process." The researcher is sure the 2010 uplift was due to the extreme ice loss detected that year. "Really, there is no other explanation. The uplift anomaly correlates with maps of the 2010 melting day anomaly. In locations where there were many extra days of melting in 2010, the uplift anomaly is highest."
TAIWAN - The abnormality of the recent weather in northern Taiwan peaked as the highest temperature during the day reached over 30 degrees Celsius in northern Taipei on Wednesday. The RECORD-BREAKING TEMPERATURE appeared at the Banqiao weather station — NEVER BEFORE had the station seen 31.2 degrees Celsius in December.
HEALTH THREATS -
Alarm after Dutch lab mutates killer virus - World health ministers say they are being vigilant after a Dutch laboratory developed a mutant version of the deadly bird flu virus that is for the first time contagious among humans. The H5N1 strain of bird flu is fatal in 60% of human cases but only 350 people have so far died from the disease largely because it cannot, yet, be transmitted between humans.
The Dutch announcement led to fears the mutant virus could find its way into nature or that the publication of the research on how the virus was mutated could be used by terrorists. The EU Health Commissioner says he had received assurances from Dutch authorities that the virus was secure. "The Dutch authorities confirmed that the virus itself is stored in a very secured way and that the necessary permits were given and that the researchers are bound by a code of conduct. One of the issues ... is to ensure that any information coming from this research is well controlled and without sensitive details about mutation being given." The Dutch team had discovered that transmission of the virus was possible between humans "and can be carried out more easily than we thought. In a laboratory, it was possible to change the H5N1 into a virus ... that can easily be spread through the air. This process (mutation) could also happen naturally."