Friday, October 26 , 2012

**I am an optimist.
It does not seem too much use being anything else.**
Winston Churchill

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or larger.
Cluster of small quakes in Turkey
Aftershocks continue in Italy

Yesterday -
10/25/12 -
5.0 SOUTHERN ITALY (many continuing aftershocks)

Italy - A man has died of a heart attack after a 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit the southern Italian province of Cosenza. A local hospital was evacuated and buildings in the area were damaged.

Louisiana - Sinkhole tremors expand outside of the evacuation area. An earthquake occurred soon after 9 p.m. Wednesday at the giant Louisiana sinkhole in Assumption Parish, and locals not only in Bayou Corne, but also those in nearby Pierre Part felt the jolt. "The tremor was large enough that the body wave phases could easily be identified." Residents learned that the outer edge of the 1-mile by 3-mile Salt Dome under many of them has collapsed. On the evening of Thursday, Oct. 26, there was still no additional information posted on the Assumption Parish sinkhole website.
The salt dome involved is a 1-mile by 3-mile formation with caverns primarily used by oil and gas industry storage. One of the over 50 underground caverns in that salt dome is leased by Texas Brine LLC, blamed by the state for the disaster due to its failed cavern. Texas Brine has contended that it's cavern failed due loss of integrity elsewhere in the dome due to seismic activity.
Bayou Corne residents were forced from their homes on August third, two months after the bayous started bubbling and thousands of earthquakes occurred. They are still under a mandatory evacuation order, although many remained. Pierre Part residents jolted from the quakes, live only a stone's throw from bubbling methane, but are excluded from the mandatory evacuation area and from funds to flee the area.
Odd earthquakes have been felt as far as 45 miles south of the sinkhole, as reported on Oct. 5 after a swarm occurred with the highest quake registering over 4 on the Richter scale. Tuesday night, Assumption Parish residents learned at a meeting that the Napoleonville Salt Dome outer edge has collapsed in a "frack-out" from pressurized brine. Officials are at a loss on how to rectify the rapidly escalating disaster. The sinkhole is now the size of five football fields and growing. The ground is breaking up in areas far from it. Louisiana state officials have called on experts around the world to offer expertise.
At the meeting, officials said they were installing an early warning system that would detect earthquakes and other events. An official explained it would be more effective than the USGS monitors now in place, recording seismic activities that are occurring regularly. The new devices are very similar to what USGS already has in place but "a step above USGS as they will be embedded, underground, more permanent."
Most of the time, the quakes are not as jolting as the one Wednesday night. They are strong enough, however, to have nearby communities on edge, especially those with no way to flee the expanding disaster area. A citizen petition, signed by 268 individuals from across the nation and beyond, urges the governor to expand the evacuation zone. Only a few hundred people within that zone, that was based on community boundaries instead of areas impacted by the disaster, received aid to relocate.
"This thing is disgusting and killing everything around it. The stench is awful, and can be smelled by people well outside of the evacuation zone." "I passed there in my car with my granddaughter and the smell was so bad. You had to hold your nose it was so bad." "Doctors and toxocologists that responded to the BP oil spill said: 'If you've smelled it, you've been poisoned,' and 'There is no safe level of toxins.'"
The key geologist on the sinkhole disaster team told the crowd that he would not allow his grandchildren to stay there if they lived there.
The Bayou Corne sinkhole is truly a historical event, UNPRECEDENTED GLOBALLY, according to the geologist who addressed the group in Pierre Part at the briefing. "In the history of this type of event, this is very unique." Upset citizens fired one after another question after the officials gave the presentation updating the locals with their latest updates about the disaster.
“Nobody ever dealt with something like this,” said a technical advisor with Shaw Environmental Group that has been contracted by Louisiana Department of Natural Resources to help attempt to manage the monster sinkhole area leaking gases and crude, and earthquakes plaguing nearby communities for over four months. The Department of Natural Resources Commissioner has ordered Texas Brine to present a plan and timetable to the state by November 13. Extra experts are being hired to try to find and implement a solution.
Probably there would not be more sinkholes forming. Instead, if anything, the existing sinkhole would just get bigger, according to the advisor. Even another official, however, questioned that, and tried to obtain more information. “There is no cookbook. There’s not even any decent case studies telling people how to proceed when you’ve had a cavern collapse 5,00 feet below ground, you’ve had to frack out to the surface in the form of a sinkhole, and you have natural gas and crude oil coming in and bubbling up all over. We’ve talked to people all over the world. This is a unique situation. I know people are frustrated."
Emotions were high by the time locals were finally able to ask questions about the detailed technical material presented to them during the first part of the meeting, when questions were not permitted. “Right now, we’ve got to work our way through the problem and we’ve got to do it safe so nobody gets hurt." Many people have not heeded the evacuation order. Many more are excluded from the mandatory evacuation zone that was based purely on the township boundaries, not areas where the human impact is being experienced, including chemicals in the air and seismic activity. Two days ago, a jolt was felt by some people not in the mandatory evacuation zone. "It felt like I was walking on jello."
"Frack-out" - The outer edge of Napoleonville Salt Dome near the failed storage cavern is gone. “There’s a lot of gas venting off at the sinkhole. Where all this leads, we don’t know. We are reasonably confident the gas is coming from below the deeper formations. It probably happened in a matter of seconds."
“The pressure of the brine got so much, essentially you had a fracking out of the brine going all the way up to the surface. That’s why you have a collapse and fracturing all the way to the surface. It went right on the side of the salt dome because that’s where the rocks in the formation are the weakest. The rocks coming down were increasing the pressure in the brine until the frack-out.”
Asked if this is an educated guess, an advisor with 30 years of experience said, “I would have to agree with that.” Officials expect the sinkhole to continue to expand. "There’s a lot of gas venting off at the sinkhole. Where all this leads, we don’t know.”

Volcano Webcams

Japan has unveiled a robot prototype that can monitor a volcano's crater during an eruption.

In the Atlantic -
- Category 1 Hurricane Sandy was located about about 145 mi [235 km] ESE of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the northwestern Bahamas except Andros Island. Some additional weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Sandy is expected to remain a hurricane for the next couple of days. Sandy is expected to grow in size during the next couple of days.
Sandy is expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches across Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches possible.These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
- Post-Tropical storm Tony was located about 615 mi [990 km] SW of the Azores. No watches or warnings. The final advisory has been issued on this system.

In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical storm 24w (Son-Tinh) was located approximately 500 nm east of Hue, Vietnam. Son-Tinh is forecasted to make landfall along the northern coast of Vietnam, just south of Hanoi early Sunday. Afterwards, it may loop around overland and back out to sea near where it came in. ( Forecast path)

In the North Arabian Sea -
- Tropical cyclone Murjan was located approximately 140 nm south-southwest of Cape Guardafui, Somalia. Murjan has made landfall and is rapidly dissipating. The last advisory has been issued on this system.

Hurricane Sandy, having blown through Haiti and Cuba on Thursday, continues to barrel north. As it made its way across the Caribbean, Sandy was blamed for at least four deaths in Haiti and Jamaica. The 18th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season hit the Bahamas after cutting across Cuba, where it killed 11, tore roofs off homes and damaged fragile coffee and tomato crops.
US forecasters are predicting a "frankenstorm", a monster combination of high wind, heavy rain, extreme tides and maybe snow that could cause havoc along the East Coast just before Halloween. A wintry storm is chugging across from the west. And frigid air is streaming south from Canada. And if they meet on Tuesday morning around New York or New Jersey, as forecasters predict, they could create a big wet mess that settles over the nation's most heavily populated corridor, reaching as far inland as Ohio.
With experts expecting at least $US1 billion ($A970.45 million) in damage, the people who will have to clean it up are not waiting. Utilities are lining up out-of-state work crews and cancelling employees' days off. From county disaster chiefs to the federal government, emergency officials are warning the public to be prepared. "It's looking like a very serious storm that could be historic."
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecaster said: "We DON'T HAVE MANY MODERN PRECEDENTS FOR WHAT THE MODELS ARE SUGGESTING." Government forecasters said there was a 90% chance - up from 60% two days earlier - that the east would get pounded from Sunday to Wednesday. Things are expected to get messier once Sandy, a late hurricane in what has been a remarkably quiet season, comes ashore, probably in New Jersey.
Coastal areas from Florida to Maine will feel some effects, but the storm is expected to vent the worst of its fury on New Jersey and the New York City area, which could see around 12 centimetres of rain and gale-force winds close to 65km/h. Eastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania, western Virginia and the Shenandoah Mountains could get snow. Some have compared the tempest to the so-called perfect storm that struck off the coast of New England in 1991, but that one didn't hit as populated an area. Nor is this one like last year's Halloween storm, which was merely an early snowfall. "The perfect storm only did $200 million of damage and I'm thinking a BILLION. Yeah, it will be worse."
Video of hurricane cleanup in Cuba


Australia - Queensland authorities are still battling more than 40 fires across the state, as high temperatures and strong winds return.

Drought Affecting Bulgarian Beekeepers - Beekeepers from different parts of Bulgaria have complained that after the heavy winter they were hit by the drought.

Less meat consumed, prices rising amid disease, drought - Meat-eaters worldwide consumed less protein last year, due in part to disease outbreaks and drought that have shrunk livestock herds. The average human ate 93.3 pounds of meat last year, down from 93.7 pounds in 2010 after a decades-long upswing.


RARE, enormous gas storm detected on Saturn - The aftermath of a massive storm on Saturn let out an "UNPRECEDENTED BELCH OF ENERGY." The storm also led to a drastic change in the ringed planet. Not only was the size of the storm UNUSUAL, but what the storm was made of left scientists puzzled. The source of the cosmic burp, which rapidly changed the atmosphere's temperature, was ethylene gas, an odorless, colorless gas that has RARELY been observed on Saturn.
"This temperature spike is SO EXTREME IT'S ALMOST UNBELIEVABLE. To get a temperature change of the same scale on Earth, you'd be going from the depths of winter in Fairbanks, Alaska, to the height of summer in the Mojave Desert." Scientists still haven't figured out where the ethylene gas came from.
By comparison, a storm of similar size on Earth would cover North America from top to bottom and wrap the planet many times. The Cassini spacecraft first detected the disruption on December 5, 2010, and has been following it since, but researchers said the ethylene gas disruption that followed the storm was unexpected. A storm this size happens once every 30 years, or once every Saturn year. (photo)


Fukushima fish still contaminated from nuclear accident - Levels of radioactive contamination in fish caught off the east coast of Japan remain raised, official data shows. It is a sign that the Dai-ichi power plant continues to be a source of pollution more than a year after the nuclear accident. About 40% of fish caught close to Fukushima itself are regarded as unfit for humans under Japanese regulations.
There are probably two sources of lingering contamination. "There is the on-going leakage into the ocean of polluted ground water from under Fukushima, and there is the contamination that's already in the sediments just offshore. It all points to this issue being long-term and one that will need monitoring for decades into the future."
Caesium-134 and 137 isotopes can be traced directly to releases from the crippled power station. The caesium does not normally stay in the tissues of saltwater fish for very long; a few percent per day on average should flow back into the ocean water. So, the fact that these animals continue to display elevated contamination STRONGLY SUGGESTS THE POLLUTION SOURCE HAS NOT YET BEEN COMPLETELY SHUT OFF.
Although caesium levels in any fish type and on any day can be highly variable, it is the bottom-dwelling species off Fukushima that consistently show the highest caesium counts. This points to the seafloor being a major reservoir for the caesium pollution. "It looks to me like the bottom fish, the fish that are eating, you know, crabs and shellfish, the kinds of things that are particle feeders - they seem to be increasing their accumulation of the caesium isotopes because of their habitat on the seafloor."
However, the vast majority of fish caught off the northeast coast of Japan are fit for human consumption. And while the 40% figure for unsafe catch in the Fukushima prefecture may sound alarming, the bald number is slightly misleading. Last April, the Japanese authorities tried to instil greater market confidence by lowering the maximum permitted concentration of radioactivity in fish and fish products from 500 becquerels per kilogram of wet weight to 100 Bq/kg wet. This tightening of the threshold immediately re-classified fish previously deemed fit as unfit, even though their actual contamination count had not changed.
It is also worth comparing the Japanese limit with international standards. In the US, for example, the threshold is set at 1,200 Bq/kg wet - significantly more lenient than even the pre-April Japanese requirement. Some naturally occurring radionuclides, such as potassium-40, appear in fish at similar or even higher levels than the radioactive caesium.
Nonetheless, the contamination question is a pertinent one in the Asian nation simply because its people consume far more fish per head than in most other countries. "At one level, there shouldn't be any surprises here but on another, people need to come to grips with the fact that for some species and for some areas this is going to be a long-term issue; and with these results it's hard to predict for how long some fisheries might have to be closed."