Sunday, April 8, 2012

Middle America Is Experiencing a Massive Increase in 3.0+ Earthquakes - A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an "UNPRECEDENTED" and "almost certainly manmade" increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That's six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century. While the changes in the area's seismicity began in 2001, the trend has really accelerated since 2009. That happens to coincide with increased oil and gas production using new extraction techniques in some parts of the area.
In some regions, the increase in earthquakes is even greater than six fold. For example, in Oklahoma over the past half-century, there were an average of 1.2 quakes of greater than 3.0 magnitude per year. Since 2009, there have been more than 25 per year. "A naturally-occurring rate change of this magnitude is UNPRECEDENTED outside of volcanic settings or in the absence of a main shock, of which there were neither in this region." The conclusion that at least one environmental group has drawn from this data is that fracking, in one way or another, has caused these earthquakes. More than 400,000 wells were drilled between 2001 and 2010, a 65% increase over the previous ten-year period. New extraction techniques require vast amounts of water to be injected into the ground: major producer Chesapeake estimates that it uses about 5 million gallons of water per well. Lots of wells plus lots of water injected underground could change the subterranean conditions and lead to more earthquakes. "If you are doing deep well injection, you are altering the stress on the underlying rocks and at some point, the stress will be relieved by generating an earthquake. The events are generally small, but there is no way to predict how the injection process has altered stresses on the fault system in the area, and thus, no way to predict how large the events may get."
The USGS scientists aren't willing to draw the causal connection between fracking and earthquakes. "While the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly manmade, it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production." But if it is not fracking, then ... what is it? At the moment, we don't have a whole lot of other hypotheses, just a lot of unexplained earthquakes in places where they don't normally strike.


No update on Monday, April 9.

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
4/7/12 -

4/6/12 -

Effects of March earthquake in Mexico register in Nevada - Ripples from the 7.4-magnitude quake, which struck Oaxaca on March 20, were recorded at Devil’s Hole, a part of Death Valley National Park in the Amargosa Valley, about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. According to a release from the National Park Service, the effects became noticeable in a subterranean cave at the park about 10 minutes after the quake initially struck Oaxaca, and continued for about 20 minutes. In a video posted online, waves can be seen in the subterranean pool as the water was rocked back and forth by the seismic activity. Devil’s Hole is home to the endangered Devil’s Hole pupfish, but park officials said it’s unlikely the earthquake damaged the habitat.
At least two people were killed in the initial quake and thousands of homes were destroyed in Oaxaca, which is in the southwest part of Mexico, 1,700 miles from Las Vegas. Seismic activity at the Nevada portion of Death Valley National Park is RARE, but the effects of another earthquake in September 1999 that also originated in Oaxaca were recorded there.


Pennsylvania -3/30/12 - Big boom still has Poconos buzzing. A loud boom, heard by Pocono residents and others throughout northeastern Pennsylvania the night of March 30, remains a mystery. The boom, heard at about 10:10 pm, shook cars and houses from Long Pond to Bushkill. Pocono Record readers at the time speculated it was a tanker wreck on Interstates 80 or 380, a bunch of semi-trucks rolling down a quiet street or an exploding meth lab. Some residents reported a bright flash in the sky that didn't appear to be lightning just before the blast. But most readers agreed the sound was no routine thunder.
One thing it probably wasn't was an earthquake. The U.S. Geological Survey noted five reportable earthquakes worldwide between 10:02 and 10:22 p.m. The closest to the Poconos was a 1.6 magnitude quake in Seeley, Calif., more than 2,800 miles from northeastern Pennsylvania. An Ohio meteorologist said the sonic boom was probably due to thunderstorms. "A similar boom was heard in Honesdale, which rules out a local explosion of some kind. Acoustic 'shock waves' triggered by a lightning flash trapped in a cold surface can be uncommonly and frighteningly loud." Temperature readings that night were in the low 40s. Thunder has been known to crack wood and shatter windows in extreme circumstances. The sound waves are refracted or trapped in the lowest layers of the atmosphere just above us. "The timing with storms present, a preceding flash and sonic boom reports separated by 45 miles fit with scattered thunderstorms along a warm front overrunning cold air near the ground." An astronomer said there was a remote chance that a fragmenting meteoroid could have been responsible for a sonic boom as it passed through a thicker atmosphere closer to the surface. "This would be a rare situation, and almost certainly would have left some magnetized fragments locally for such a large explosion to occur, and simultaneously during a thunderstorm. However, this would likely not account for the sonic boom around Honesdale."
The Poconos are not alone in unexplained noises. A small New England community has been beleaguered by mysterious blasts for more than 300 years, baffling scientists and residents. The town, Moodus, Connecticut, is about 30 miles outside of Hartford with a 2010 population of 1,413. The town's name was derived from the Indian word meaning "place of noises." For hundreds of years, residents spoke of unexplained underground thumps and thunders. They are reported to occur in a particular place about a mile deep and a few hundred yards wide. The Wangunk tribe believed the booms were made by a spirit angered by the European colonists settling in the area. The settlers blamed the noises on the battle sounds of good and evil witches fighting for their puritanical souls. Investigators have been unable to explain the noises, which could disappear for a decade at a time. Geophysicists blamed "microquakes," which occur periodically, but that didn't really explain why they would make noises that sound like distant thunder or cannon fire.


Towering Colombia volcano showing new activity - Authorities in Colombia say Nevado del Ruiz volcano is showing renewed activity and could erupt in weeks or days. The Nevado del Ruiz volcano spewed fumes near Herveo, Colombia, Friday April 6. Colombia's Geology and Mines Institute has been keeping a close watch on the Nevado del Ruiz volcano since its activity began to increase in February and gas and vapor have been rising periodically . Authorities in central Colombia said Friday they are completely calm and highly prepared in the face of a potential eruption. A 24-hour patrol and alarm system is in place. The most tragic eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz took place in 1985 when 25000 were killed.

Alaska's Cleveland Volcano remains active, continues low-level eruptions. The Alaska Volcano Observatory said Friday that low-level eruptions continue to occur inside the volcano located on a remote, uninhabited island 940 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Unexplained Melting at the Askja Crater Lake in Iceland - A few news reports (in Icelandic) have been talking about the crater lake on Askja caldera having mysteriously become ice-free over the last month while lakes around it that aren’t on volcanoes and at lower elevations are still ice-covered – not to mention that normally the lake isn’t ice-free until June or July. This has lead to a lot of speculation about what exactly is going on at Askja, but thanks to its remote location almost in the middle of Iceland, few people have been out there to see what is going on.
Askja is a very complex volcano made up of three calderas. At Askja, it appears that the calderas are formed more violently due to explosive eruptions out of the ring fractures bounding the calderas. The youngest caldera formed only 137 years ago (in 1875). The most recent activity at Askja was in 1961 that produced lava flows near Öskjuvatn – a pattern of eruption that was seen in numerous times since the eruption in 1875. That caldera-forming eruption in 1875 was large enough that ash and tephra fell as far away as Norway and Sweden. Much like the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, the explosivity of the eruption was likely aided by the meltwater that is readily available at Askja. If you go back to the rhyolite eruption in ~8910 B.C., that ash from that caldera-forming event is found over much of Europe.
Three images show the lake becoming more-and-more ice-free between February 23 and March 23. The most recent imageshows Öskjuvatn nearly ice-free. Now, why is it melting? It could be volcanic or meteorologic. The volcano rationale is easy – hot springs and fumaroles at the bottom of the lake are heating the water, causing the ice to melt. The meteorologic involves specific wind patterns that have happened this winter, along with the ABNORMALLY warm winter in Iceland. Seismicity around Askja has been increasing over the last few years, suggesting magma rising under the volcano, but right now, seismicity is relatively quiet.
Scientists from the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the University of Iceland were trekking to Askja this weekend to take measurements and set up instruments to help solve this mystery of the melting ice. In the meantime, the Icelandic government has declared the volcano “off-limits” to tourists on concerns of “the possibility of toxic gases”. Until we have more information, we can only guess what might be going on at Askja right now. (photos)

No current tropical storms.


April snowstorm hits Moscow, Russia - Muscovites Thursday woke up to a blanket of snow covering the Russian capital after a powerful cyclone brought a winter storm in the middle of spring. "A small but powerful cyclonic whirl hit the capital at a speed of 50 kilometres per hour bringing with it copious snowfall. Frequent weather changes are fairly typical in the country in April, but the snowstorm comes as a major test of patience for Muscovites who have endured an UNUSUALLY COLD and long winter lasting five months. Russians consider that spring begins on March 1.

At least 130 Pakistani soldiers were missing early Saturday after an avalanche near Skarduon on the border of India and Pakistan. The avalanche occurred Friday night and military personnel were working to rescue their colleagues, who were feared buried. The soldiers were buried near the Siachen glacier. The incident occurred about 180 miles (290km) northeast of the capital, Islamabad.


Elevated fire danger issued in Minnesota - Fire danger high to extreme across the state due to low humidity and high winds. The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for roughly the western third of Minnesota on Friday. Fires burning in heavy slash or in conifer stands may be unmanageable while the extreme burning condition lasts. Under these conditions, the only effective and safe control action is on the flanks until the weather changes or the fuel supply lessens.

Stutsman County was categorized as “extreme” in North Dakota. - Extreme Fire Danger means the county's burn ban is in full effect. The National Weather Service assigned the county a red flag warning.


The Hartz Mountain Corporation, located in Secaucus, N.J. is recalling product from four specific lots of Wardley Advanced Nutrition Perfect Protein Tropical Flake Fish Food 1 oz. size due to concerns that one or more containers within the specified lots may have been potentially contaminated with Salmonella.