Friday, May 4, 2012

**Anthropology demands the open-mindedness
with which one must look and listen,
record in astonishment and wonder
that which one would not have been able to guess.
Margaret Mead

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.
(aftershocks continue in WESTERN TURKEY)

Yesterday -
5/3/12 -
(75 moderate quakes in WESTERN TURKEY)

Moderate quake jolts western Iran, injures 8 - The magnitude 5.5 quake hit the sparsely populated area near the town of Mourmouri, about 300 miles (480 kilometers) southwest of the capital Tehran, at 2:39 pm. The quake sent people rushing out into the streets.

5.1-magnitude quake hits western Turkey - The quake occurred at 6:20 pm local time with its epicenter in Tokat village of Hiharcik town in Kutahya. The epicenter, with a depth of 3.1 km, was felt in some towns near Hiharcik and many citizens ran out of their houses in the province with panic.

China - Magnitude-5.4 quake hits Gansu, Inner Mongolia border. An earthquake measuring 5.4 today jolted the border region between China's northwestern Gansu province and northern Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Tremors were felt in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, a major site for launching Chinese spacecraft in Ejin Banner. Details of any damage to the facility are not yet known. No casualties have been reported so far. Residents in the Gansu province cities of Jiuquan and Jiayuguan also felt the tremor. The quake lasted about a minute.

The Ecological Effects of 2010 Chile Earthquake - Long-forgotten coastal habitats reappeared, species unseen for years returned. The reappearance of long-forgotten habitats and the resurgence of species unseen for years were not among the expected effects of a natural disaster. Yet that's exactly what researchers found in a study of the sandy beaches of south central Chile, after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami in 2010. Their study also revealed a preview of the problems wrought by sea level rise. The study is said to be the first-ever quantification of earthquake and tsunami effects on sandy beach ecosystems along a tectonically active coastal zone. "So often you think of earthquakes as causing total devastation, and adding a tsunami on top of that is a major catastrophe for coastal ecosystems. As expected, we saw high mortality of intertidal life on beaches and rocky shores, but the ecological recovery at some of our sandy beach sites was remarkable. Plants are coming back in places where there haven't been plants, as far as we know, for a very long time. The earthquake created sandy beach habitat where it had been lost. This is not the initial ecological response you might expect from a major earthquake and tsunami." The magnitude and direction of land-level change resulting from the earthquake and exacerbated by the tsunami brought great effects, namely the drowning, widening and flattening of beaches. The drowned beach areas suffered mortality of intertidal life; the widened beaches quickly saw the return of biota that had vanished due to the effects of coastal armoring. "With the study in California and Chile, we knew that building coastal defense structures, such as seawalls, decreases beach area, and that a seawall results in the decline of intertidal diversity. But after the earthquake, where significant continental uplift occurred, the beach area that had been lost due to coastal armoring has now been restored. And the re-colonization of the mobile beach fauna was underway just weeks afterward." The findings show that the interactions of extreme events with armored beaches can produce surprising ecological outcomes. They also suggest that landscape alteration, including armoring, can leave lasting footprints in coastal ecosystems. "When someone builds a seawall, beach habitat is covered up with the wall itself, and over time sand is lost in front of the wall until the beach eventually drowns. The semi-dry and damp sand zones of the upper and mid-intertidal are lost first, leaving only the wet lower beach zones. This causes the beach to lose diversity, including birds, and to lose ecological function." Sandy beaches represent about 80 percent of the open coastlines globally. "Beaches are very good barriers against sea level rise. They're important for recreation -- and for conservation."


Mt. Baekdu eruption's impact on NE Asia - Mt. Baekdu has been carefully observed since 1999 when a volcanic observatory was built in China, and since 2002, there have been some symptoms of an eruption. The two Koreas remain at odds in everything. But they are one in voicing how to counter the possible volcanic explosion of the highest mountain in the Korean Peninsula. Inter-Korean anxiety is mounting, with growing apocalyptic predictions on the dormant volcano. A South Korean geological expert has warned that the volcano could erupt sometime around 2014 and 2015. If a volcano, located on the border between North Korea and China erupts, damage could be 10 to 100 times greater than that caused by the April 2010 eruptions in Iceland. Experts predict that the ashes would not only hit the neighboring area but damage agriculture and cause serious disruptions in industrial activities and air flights. The Korean Peninsula, China, Japan and Russia would be severely damaged. Fears of a Mt. Baekdu eruption loom large with ensuing warnings based on a series of geological studies from experts. A growing number of scholars have not ruled out the possibility of another eruption, linking the collapse of Korea’s ancient kingdom, Balhae, with the previous one in the 10th century. The eruption of the 2,744 meter-high mountain was billed as the largest in the history of mankind and was about 50 times stronger than that of Mt. Vesuvius of Italy in 79 A.D. which led to the burying and destruction of the Roman city Pompeii. The massive explosion was believed to have created a tremendous amount of volcanic ash, damaging agriculture and even societal integrity. The Khitans were believed to have taken advantage of this natural disaster in putting the volcano-stricken Balhae under their complete control. The eruption might have prevented Balhae survivors from rebuilding their nation in consideration of the catastrophe. A variety of indicators, suggested by geologists and Balhae dynasty researchers who have monitored the change of Baekdu’s geographical features, are backing a scenario of the recurrence of the Mt. Baekdu eruption. Some experts say that an eruption is imminent. According to historical records, major activity on the mountain in the 940s created a caldera on its peak, whose circumference is nearly 14 kilometers with an average depth of 213 meters and a maximum of 384 meters. Atop the mountain is Cheonji, the largest caldera in the world. Volcanic ash from Mt. Baekdu eruption has been found as far away as the southern part of Hokkaido, Japan. Geologists predict the occurrence of great Mt. Baekdu eruptions every 1,000 years and that of minor ones every 200 to 300 years. Minor eruptions were recorded in 1413, 1597, 1668 and 1702 with the last activity being recorded in 1903. Among other indicators backing the scenario of a future eruption is the height of Mt. Baekdu, which has grown nearly 10 centimeters since 2002. Experts say an expanding magma pool, a precondition for an eruption, is gradually pushing up the height of the mountain as well as the temperature on the surface. On Oct. 1, 2006, a Russian satellite found the surface temperature of the mountain notably higher than before. The finding came just days after North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test in its northern territory, which could have been a catalyst reactivating magma flows, according to analysts. Mt. Baekdu has been carefully observed since 1999 when a volcanic observatory was built in China, and since 2002, there have been some symptoms of an eruption. Seismic activity near the mountain has increased dramatically, and the concentration of hydrogen and helium emissions, both of which are volcanic gases have risen 10-fold. And there’s ample possibility that Mt. Baekdu may erupt in the near future. If Mt. Baekdu erupts, it would no doubt bring about grave consequences for the two Koreas as well as the surrounding states, including China, Japan and Russia. The biggest immediate threat is the 2 billion tons of water in the lake on top of the crater. An eruption would likely cause severe flood damage, engulfing roads and homes within a 30-kilometer radius in just 3 hours and 20 minutes. The greatest victim of a Mt. Baekdu explosion may be North Korea, especially Yanggang and Hamgyeong Provinces. The two regions, located on the tip of the Korean Peninsula, may be covered with ash in just two hours. In about eight hours, ash may reach Ulleungdo and Dokdo, two far eastern islands of South Korea, and in 12 hours, land on Tottori Prefecture, Japan. After 18 hours, volcanic ash would likely spread beyond Japan. The National Institute for Disaster Prevention conducted a simulation in 2010 to test how far volcanic ash can spread if Mt. Baekdu erupts. According to the results, the effects can be different depending on the timing. If it happens in winter, Japan is expected to be more affected due to the northwest monsoon. On the other hand, a summer eruption would affect South Korea more. Mt. Baekdu’s caldera has nearly two billion tons of water. If volcanic heat evaporates the water and is mixed suddenly with volcanic ashes, it would be strong enough to engulf even Vladivostok in Russia and Hokkaido in northern Japan, according to experts. The construction of nuclear power plants by North Korea and China in the neighborhood may certainly pose a grave threat to all Northeast Asians, with the view that Mt. Baekdu’s explosion would for sure cause subsequent nuclear catastrophes, as seen in Japan’s 2011 tsunami disaster. A volcanic explosion is the most terrible natural disaster which cannot be easily avoided by human wisdom and knowledge. With unrelenting outbreaks of record-breaking natural disasters around the world and especially in the wake of Japan’s massive earthquake, the world’s eyes are drawn to Mt. Baekdu. Multinational and regional cooperative monitoring systems are needed beyond ideological barriers to take preemptive measures against a possible eruption. By all indications, Mt. Baekdu is a real danger and it’s not clear how long it will stay inactive. A Mt. Baekdu eruption, if it takes place, will not be a matter for a certain country but a global concern to determine the future of Northeast Asian civilization.

No current tropical storms.

Greenland glaciers may be melting slower - A decade-long study of Greenland's glaciers suggests they may not be melting as quickly as thought, leading to a slower sea-level rise than worst-case predictions. How fast glaciers melt depends in large part on how fast they move, and the research shows the glaciers may lead to a sea level rise of 0.8 metres by 2100, not two metres as some have estimated previously. Scientists pored over satellite data from Canada, Germany and Japan spanning from 2000 to 2011, and found that Greenland's largest glaciers, which end on land, move rather slowly, between nine to 100m per year. Glaciers that end in ice shelves move more quickly, from 305m to 1.6km per year. "So far, on average we're seeing about a 30 per cent speed-up in 10 years." Previous estimates of Greenland's glacier melt speed varied widely - from adding 10 to 48cm to the rising sea level by 2100. "We don't have a really good handle on it and we need to have that if we're going to understand the effects of climate change." However, while the study gave researchers a clearer picture of how glaciers currently move and melt at varying speeds, many questions still remain about how that may impact sea-level rise in the decades to come. There's the caveat that this 10-year time series is too short to really understand long-term behaviour. So there still may be future events - tipping points - that could cause large increases in glacier speed to continue. Or perhaps some of the big glaciers in the north of Greenland that haven't yet exhibited any changes may begin to speed up, which would greatly increase the rate of sea level rise." The research was funded by the US space agency NASA and the National Science Foundation.


A "super-moon" will be a novelty for New Zealanders on Sunday, but for the 12,000 people of Tuvalu it is a foreboding practice for a future where rising seas make their homeland uninhabitable. On Monday and Tuesday super-moon king tides will leave much of the capital atoll of Funafuti virtually below sea-level. On Sunday night the Moon will be 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than any other full moon this year. Known as a "perigee moon", it occurs when the moon reaches its closest point to Earth. The full moon will occur at 3.35pm on Sunday, New Zealand time, but will not be visible there until moonrise over New Zealand at 5.23pm. NASA says the super moon has a reputation for trouble, causing high tides, making dogs howl and keeping people awake. The space agency says the best time to look at it is when the moon is near the horizon. "For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, low-hanging moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects. This moon illusion will amplify a full moon that's extra-big to begin with. The swollen orb rising in the east at sunset should seem super indeed." Super perigee moons are fairly common, with the moon becoming full within a few hours of its closest approach to Earth about once a year on average. The last such event occurred on March 19 last year, producing a full moon that was almost 400km closer than this one. Pacific tide charts show that the moon will produce two big 3.15 metre tides in Tuvalu - a real problem for a nation that at its highest point is only five metres above sea-level. This time of year is king tide season for Tuvalu which sometimes, in an apocalyptic kind of way, results in waves crashing over the reef, but this year was insidious with sea-water seeping out of the ground. No one was swept away but sea-water flooded the compost pits in which people have been growing their root crops for centuries. For visitors to Tuvalu, already startled by how small and low lying it is, spring tides are decidedly uneasy times. The moon will produce spring tides around New Zealand, with a 3.6 metre high tide at 7.51am on Monday in Auckland. It could affect the morning commute in Auckland with the high tide flooding some lanes on the North Western Motorway.