Thursday, September 20, 2012

Turkey - Fault lines point to Istanbul quake? - Istanbul lies 20 kilometers north of the North Anatolian Fault, the intersection of the Eurasian and Anatolian plates. An earthquake of magnitude 7 or greater has struck the city every century for the past 1,500 years. The last one was in 1894, so by some calculations the city is overdue.
Seismologists say earthquakes have historically been moving west along the fault line, slowly creeping toward Istanbul. After the 1999 earthquake in Kocaeli, city officials began to worry. Estimates of Istanbul’s population vary widely, from 12 to 19 million people, an exponential rise from only 2 million 50 years ago. For the past several decades, buildings across Turkey’s largest city have been constructed with little to no regulation. In Zeytinburnu, a district that makes up dozens of neighborhoods, officials estimate that 2,300 buildings, or about 15,000 apartments, would be destroyed in an earthquake. And Zeytinburnu is only one of Istanbul’s 39 districts. In all, civil engineers predict that some 2 million of Istanbul’s 3 million residential buildings are at risk.
During the mass migrations to Istanbul in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the government gave residents free license to expand their homes. Single story residences mushroomed into four or five story buildings on unstable foundations. Following Kocaeli quake, the city solicited engineers and universities to survey buildings and create a plan of what Istanbul could do to withstand an earthquake.
The original plan for Istanbul was known as the “Earthquake Master Plan.” The plan was well done, but when the government tried to implement it, everything stalled. “We tested a neighborhood, and we found that one of the buildings was in a bad situation. So [the government] must tell people that you cannot use that building as a home, you must go somewhere else. So if this is one building, it's okay. But if it's 3,000 buildings like Zeytinburnu … then it s a huge political problem.”
Depending who you speak to, a new disaster law will either save lives or infringe on the human rights of families in neighborhoods across the city. The law states that if the government judges a neighborhood to be at risk for an earthquake, or any other natural disaster, the owners must either rebuild according to new construction standards or sell their building to the government — at a price set by the government. The government has promised residents new, although smaller, apartments in the same neighborhood. The old, unsafe buildings will be bulldozed and the land resold. Activists worry that as the land and housing in high-risk areas increases in value, residents will be priced out to distant suburbs. The government would only need 70 percent of owners to agree to sell in order to secure a building. The law makes it illegal for dissenting owners to challenge the government’s decision in court; they can only battle over price.
“According to geological reports, 92 percent of land in Turkey is under earthquake risk. So, according to law the government can intervene all over Turkey. And opening up cases against implementation is against the law. You can only [argue] for the price, but your house will still be demolished.” This law mayl be used to clear out poor neighborhoods to make way for hotels and towering apartment buildings. Local governments have already begun to smooth the way for contractors to make their proposals.

**By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.**
Benjamin Franklin

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/19/12 -
None 5.0 or higher.

9/18/12 -

Volcano Webcams

Indonesia - Alert Levels Rising Along With Smoke and Ash From Marapi Volcano. With several volcanoes already displaying increasing activity, another one in West Sumatra belched thick ash and smoke on Tuesday as the government heightened its alert on possible eruptions.
The MOUNT MARAPI volcano in West Sumatra has been producing smoke and thick ash since last month, residents living near the volcano said. The smoke rose to nearly 200 meters above the crater at around 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday. However, that fog and low hanging clouds largely masked the crater and the rising column of smoke. Another resident from the same village said that “the smoke spewed by the mountain was black and white but was not clearly noticeable because of the fog.”
Since Aug. 3, 2011, the volcano has been repeatedly belching smoke and sulfur-smelling volcanic ash, sometimes up to 1,000 meters into the sky. Ash carried by the winds was reported to have fallen over several districts in the area, including Tanah Datar, Padang Pariaman and Padang Panjang. The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency has raised the status of the volcano to the caution level, or the first alert level above normal.
Marapi is one of several active volcanoes in West Sumatra. The volcano has shown increased activity in the past year, with occasional eruptions. Early this year, authorities established a three-kilometer exclusion zone around the crater after the alert status for the volcano was raised. Marapi, which should not be confused with Mount Merapi in Central Java, straddles the West Sumatran districts of Agam and Tanah Datar.
On Monday local people reported that MOUNT MERAPI in Central Java also showed increasing activity, with rumblings in the past week. Merapi last erupted in October 2010, spewing enormous amounts of ash. Pyroclastic flows, fast-moving currents of superheated gas and rock, killed more than 300 people along the heavily populated slopes and forced 350,000 to evacuate.
Meanwhile, with a small eruption still taking place on MOUNT LOKON in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, authorities there are maintaining alert status for the volcano and have banned all human activities within a 2.5-kilometer radius of the crater. The mountain erupted after dusk on Saturday, spewing superheated volcanic material up to 600 meters and ash up to 1,500 meters into the atmosphere.
MOUNT SOPUTAN, in North Sulawesi’s South Minahasa district, and Mount Karangetang in the Sitaro Islands district, across from the northernmost tip of Sulawesi, remained on a government-ordered standby alert status, just one rung below the most severe alert.
The volcanology office also announced on Monday that it had raised the alert level for MOUNT GAMALAMA, on Ternate Island in North Maluku province, to standby. Gamalama last erupted in December 2011, destroying more than 100 houses and leaving farmers devastated after blankets of ash smothered fruit trees and crops. Four villagers were confirmed dead in that eruption.
Indonesia - Eruption at Mount Soputan. As per reports, it has been revealed that Mount Soputan, which is in Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, erupted on Tuessday . It is considered to be one of the most active volcanoes of Indonesia. The eruption of the volcano has led to ash and smoke ejected up in the sky by nearly one and half kilometers.
A state volcanology official was of the view that the eruption took place on Tuesday. He further affirmed that nearby villages are safe, so they have not been thinking of taking the step of evacuating people from nearby villages. Local residents were of the view that they have seen that there was eruption going on the next day as well. One of the residents was of the view, “In the evenings, there are rumblings that are accompanied by the ground shaking”. Until now, no public information has been revealed by the authorities.
In July 2011 Mount Soputan last erupted and there were no casualties.
Indonesia - Lokon volcano eruption update. The volcano calmed down Monday after its strong eruption on Saturday, but small explosions, probably phreatic in nature, were still going on at Lokon's Tompaluan crater. "We recorded about 35 phreatic eruptions in the crater of Mount Lokon." Phreatic eruptions began on the morning of 16 Sep and ejected water, steam and small amounts of ash to a height of 350-400 m above the crater.
After the eruption on Saturday (15/9) at 18:53 pm, seismicity recorded from the crater of Mount Lokon has continued to be dominated by a large number (hundreds) ofshallow volcanic earthquakes. There is a "high potential of shallow volcanic explosions that produce ash and the presence of the quakes is evidence of energy (magma) supply." Lokon remains at warming level 3 (out of 4).

New Zealand - Tongariro remains restless. The Te Maari crater on Mt Tongariro is still restless, but no further volcanic activity has occurred since it erupted for the first time in more than 100 years. That eruption, on August 6, widened and deepened the crater, and reactivated vents which had been covered up in the 116 years since it last erupted in 1896.
Hot steam and adverse weather has prevented scientists from being able to get close to the crater to properly assess it, but they have recently been able to retrieve a GPS receiver, which was buried beneath 30 centimetres of ash and debris. They are hoping the receiver will be able to provide data on last month's eruption. The weeks leading up to the eruption were marked by a series of earthquakes in the area, but the Te Maari crater erupted with generally no warning on August 6, forcing people to evacuate their homes, and coated surrounding areas in ash.
Seismic activity has remained low in the six weeks since, but some small earthquakes have been recorded in the area. Gas levels have fluctuated, but indicate that the volcano is in a continuing state of unrest. Sulphur dioxide levels taken on September 13 and 18 were 980 and 540 tonnes per day respectively, compared to the 2100 tonnes recorded on August 9. Gas composition, in general, has reverted back to concentrations similar to those recorded prior to the onset of unrest in mid July.
GNS scientists have re assessed the three possible scenarios for the next month. The most likely scenario is that there would be no further eruptions, next most likely is that a similar eruption to the one last month would occur, and the scenario considered least likely is that a larger eruption would occur. Any further eruptions could occur with little or no warning.

Greek Island Santorini Sitting on Huge Inflating Volcanic Magma Ball - Santorini, the Greek island which receives thousands of tourists every summer, is sitting on a giant 'balloon of magma' which continues to inflate, according to a new study. Geologists discovered that the chamber of molten rock, which has been resting peacefully for the last 60 years beneath the volcanic island, has expanded from 10 to 20 million cubic metres between January 2011 to April 2012, and is now 15 times the size of London's Olympic Stadium.
The expansion has forced the island upwards by 14cm (5.5in) and caused several small earthquakes, sparking fears among the local population of a possible eruption. Most of Santorini's 10,000 inhabitants had already noticed something was going on beneath their foot. "During my field visits to Santorini in 2011, it became apparent that many of the locals were aware of a change in the behaviour of their volcano. The tour guides, who visit the volcano several times a day, would update me on changes in the amount of strong smelling gas being released from the summit, or changes in the colour of the water in some of the bays around the islands. On one particular day in April 2011, two guides told me they had felt an earthquake while they were on the volcano and that the motion of the ground had actually made them jump. Locals working in restaurants on the main island of Thera became aware of the increase in earthquake activity due to the vibration and clinking of glasses in their bars."
Santorini's volcano last erupted in 1950, while the last seismic activity was recorded in the archipelago 25 years ago. Its volcano was the site of one of the largest eruptions ever recorded in history, when the island was buried under several metres of pumice by the so-called Minoan eruption 3600 years ago. The eruption was so big that historians believe it could have led to the collapse of the ancient Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110km (68 miles) south of Santorini which was hit by a massive tsunami. Another theory suggests the eruption led to the myth of the sunken island of Atlantis.
However scientists said that the recent movements do not mean an eruption is about to happen - in fact the rate of earthquake activity has dropped off in the past few months.

Azerbaijan researches relation between activation of mud volcanoes and quakes - The Republican Seismological Service Center of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan is conducting work on installation of seismic telemetry stations in the Caspian Sea. It will allow identifying in what areas of the Caspian Sea an earthquake should be expected.
" We are also conducting research on how to define the relationship between the activation of mud volcanoes and earthquakes. Today, there is no precise definition whether a mud volcano causes an earthquake, or vice versa, but it is natural that mud volcanoes are also dangerous in their own way. In recent years, sharp activation of mud volcanoes has not been observed, but eruption was recorded on the Absheron Peninsula." Speaking of earthquakes, which have increased in recent days and years, an expert noted that the risk of earthquakes in Azerbaijan is not expected. "However, the subject of earthquakes is very unpredictable, and it all depends on the dynamics of the processes taking place in the bowels of the earth."

In the Atlantic -
- Tropical storm Nadine was located about 160 mi...255 km S of Flores in the Azores. A tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Azores Islands. Little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Nadine could become a Post-tropical cyclone during the next couple of days.


Western and central Africa flooding from July through September. Flooding had affected tens of thousands of people in western and central Africa by mid-September 2012. Flood conditions extended from Senegal eastward to Chad, and the affected region includes northern Cameroon. On September 17, CNN reported that heavy rainfall had persisted in this area FOR ALMOST A MONTH. Floods have claimed nearly 30 lives, and the death toll was expected to rise.
Images show Cameroon’s Far North Region in between Nigeria and Chad. The area pictured is just south of Lake Chad. One image shows flooded conditions on September 17, 2012. For compariosn, another image shows the same area a year earlier, on September 18, 2011. In September 2011, Lake Maga was the only significant body of water in the region. A year later, that lake was nearly engulfed in a much larger floodwater lake that spread across the border into Chad.
Flooding in northern Cameroon has displaced more than 4,000 people, and affected more than 26,000 residents in some way. Authorities worry about the spread of diseases such as cholera and malaria in the wake of the flooding. On September 16, authorities in northeastern Nigeria had recovered 25 corpses from the Benue River, and suspected the bodies had been carried to that region from severely flooded areas in Cameroon.

U.S. - Parts of the East Coast experienced strong storms Tuesday. The weather system bringing the winds and rain.was UNUSUAL FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR. The system affected a large area, stretching from the Carolinas up into New England, and extending west into the Appalachians.
The system was produced in part by an UNUSUAL CONFIGURATION OF THE JET STREAM, which formed a dip or trough across the middle of the country, allowing Gulf of Mexico moisture to ferry up the East Coast "like a conveyor belt." The system was also characterized by strong surface winds, with even stronger winds at higher altitudes. This arrangement is known to produce tornadoes.


Australian Outback bushfire spawns amazing fire tornado - The most extreme example of a fire tornado occurred following the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake in Japan. Fires burning north of Tokyo in Yokohama as a result of the temblor converged to create what was described as a 300 foot tall fire tornado.

'Planetary emergency' due to Arctic melt, experts warn - Experts warned of a "planetary emergency" due to the unforeseen global consequences of Arctic ice melt, including methane gas released from permafrost regions currently under ice.
Columbia University and the environmental activist group Greenpeace held separate events Wednesday to discuss US government data showing that the Arctic sea ice has shrunk to its smallest surface area since record-keeping began in 1979. Satellite images show the Arctic ice cap melted to 1.32 million square miles (3.4 million square kilometers) as of September 16, the predicted lowest point for the year. "Between 1979 and 2012, we have a decline of 13 percent per decade in the sea ice, accelerating from six percent between 1979 and 2000. If this trend continues we will not have sea ice by the end of this decade."
While these figures are worse than the early estimates they come as no surprise to scientists. "We are in a planetary emergency". There is a "gap between what is understood by scientific community and what is known by the public." Scientists say the earth's climate has been warming because carbon dioxide and other human-produced gases hinder the planet's reflection of the sun's heat back into space, creating a greenhouse effect. Environmentalists warn that a string of recent extreme weather events around the globe, including deadly typhoons, devastating floods and severe droughts, show urgent action on emission cuts is needed. The extreme weather include the drought and heat waves that struck the United States in the summer.
One consequence of the melt is the slow but continuous rise in the ocean level that threatens coastal areas. Another result is the likely release of large amounts of methane -- a greenhouse gas -- trapped in the permafrost under Greenland's ice cap, the remains of the region's organic plant and animal life that were trapped in sediment and later covered by ice sheets in the last Ice Age. Methane is 25 times more efficient at trapping solar heat than carbon dioxide, and the released gases could in turn add to global warming, which in turn would free up more locked-up carbon. "The implications are enormous and also mysterious."
The impact of the polar ice cap melt is hard to determine because "the Arctic is likely to respond rapidly and more severely than other part of the Earth. "The effects of human induced global change are more and more visible and larger impacts are expected for the future." Some see the Arctic melt as a business opportunity -- a chance to reach the oil and gas riches under the seabed, and a path for ships to shorten the distance between ports and saving time and fuel. Within the Arctic Circle there are some 90 million barrels of oil -- 13 percent of the planet's undiscovered oil reserves and 30 percent of its undiscovered natural gas. The new shipping lanes are dangerous to use because there are plenty of ice floes and little infrastructure for help in case of an accident -- which in turn increases the insurance costs.
Another consequence of global warming is that, as the oceans warm, more cold-water fish move north, "which means more fish will be taken out of their ecosystem." Indigenous communities depend on Arctic fishing and hunting for survival. "My people rely on that ocean and we're seeing dramatic changes. It's scary to think about our food supply."
Video story on RECORD LOW Arctic sea ice.

Arctic Cyclone Breaks Up Sea Ice - YouTube video. Watch how the winds of a large Arctic cyclone broke up the thinning sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean in early August 2012. The storm likely contributed to the ice cap's shrinking to the smallest recorded extent in the past three decades.