Friday, December 7, 2012

7.3 Japan earthquake sparks tsunami warning - A tsunami warning has been issued after the earthquake struck off Japan's eastern coast about 7:18pm (AEDT). The epicentre of the quake was about 245km (150 miles) south-east of Kamiashi at a depth of about 36km.
The US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat to the wider Pacific Ocean but that a tsunami could be generated that was destructive for local coastlines. Warnings of the tsunami height have varied between 50cm and 2m. Any such height would represent a far lower risk of devastation than the 10-11 metre tsunami that struck in 2011. At the moment, the damage appears to be on a limited scale, although even a one-metre tsunami could be a significant event.
Buildings were reported to have swayed violently in Tokyo. At 8:19pm workers at the Fukushima nuclear plant were told to retreat to a fortified building at the plant as a precaution. The Fukushima nuclear plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power, said there were no reports of problems there.
At 8:22pm a reporter who is in Tokyo said that the earthquake came as "quite a shock. It was a big one. We felt the shake in Tokyo here. There have been a couple of aftershocks already." She says residents along the north-east coast face a nervous night amid the tsunami warnings.
"At this stage, it is always difficult when a quake hits to actually access information about the tsunamis and what's going on, because phone networks go down straight away. I was in a shop when this latest quake hit and I found it very difficult to call any members of my family because the mobile phone network becomes chock-a-block straight away and you can't get a call out. At this stage, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is saying all systems are normal. I think you would be like me and saying 'we've heard like that one before'."
8:30pm - According to local police and officials, there have been no injuries reported following the quake.
8:38pm - Japanese officials say the tsunami warning is still in effect more than an hour after the quake struck. They say people in affected areas should remain on higher ground.
A one-metre high tsunami hit Japan's north-east coast at 8:10pm - It was recorded in Ishinomaki, a city in the Miyagi area that was badly hit by the much bigger 10-metre tsunami of March 2011. Evacuations have been ordered in some places. A presenter on Japan national TV station told viewers: "Remember last year's quake and tsunami. Call on your neighbours and flee to higher ground now!"

**It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief
that human history is shaped.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal,
or acts to improve the lot of others,
or strikes out against injustice,
he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other
from a million different centers of energy and daring,
those ripples build a current which can sweep down
the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.**
Robert F. Kennedy

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
7.3 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 459 km (285 miles) NE of TOKYO, Japan.

Yesterday -
12/6/12 -

Great-Earthquake Hot Spots Pinpointed - The world's largest earthquakes occur at subduction zones -- locations where a tectonic plate slips under another. But where along these extended subduction areas are great earthquakes most likely to happen? Scientists have now found that regions where 'scars' on the seafloor, called fracture zones, meet subduction areas are at higher risk of generating powerful earthquakes.
"We find that 87% of the 15 largest (8.6 magnitude or higher) and half of the 50 largest (8.4 magnitude or higher) earthquakes of the past century are associated with intersection regions between oceanic fracture zones and subduction zones." The connection is less striking for smaller earthquakes. Powerful earthquakes related to these intersection regions include the destructive 2011 Tohoku-Oki and 2004 Sumatra events.
"If the association we found were due to a random data distribution, only about 25% of great subduction earthquakes should coincide with these special tectonic environments. Therefore, we can rule out that the link we found is just due to chance." Since earthquake generation is a very complex process, the scientists don't yet have a complete understanding of why great earthquakes prefer the intersection areas. They suggest that it is due to the physical properties of fracture zones, which result in "strong, persistent coupling in the subduction boundaries." This means that the subduction fault area is locked and thus capable of accumulating stress over long periods of time.
"The connection we have uncovered provides critical information for seismologists to, in the long run, pinpoint particular tectonic environments that are statistically more prone to strong seismic coupling and great earthquake supercycles." An area with earthquake supercycles experiences recurring powerful earthquakes every few centuries or millennia. Regions that have long earthquake supercycles are usually not picked up as risk areas by seismic hazard maps as these are constructed mainly using data collected after 1900. An example is the area of the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake, which had no record of large earthquakes over the past century and was not predicted to be of significant risk by previous hazard maps.
"The power of our new method is that it does pick up many of these regions and, hence, could contribute to much-needed improvements of long-term seismic hazard maps. Even though we don't fully understand the physics of long earthquake cycles, any improvements that can be made using statistical data analysis should be considered as they can help reduce earthquake damage and loss of life." (MAP)

Arizona - 12/4/12 - Mysterious booms rock Verde Valley. "It was a whole series of booms. Up to six or seven. It was fast, it went loud. We were quiet and then my daughter down the hall screams really loud, ‘Did you hear that?' I sat there for a second and I heard another set."
Residents in communities in and around Verde Valley and as far as Flagstaff called 911 or their police and fire departments to report the strange booming sounds. "It sounded like thunder, but underground. Like muffled thunder. And all the dogs in the neighborhood, all of them that were outside all started barking at once."
News first received reports of the explosion-like noises shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday and began checking with law enforcement and government sources. The U.S. Geological Survey reports no significant earthquake activity in Arizona that could have created the booms. The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office had deputies in the area who either heard it or tried to respond to resident calls. They found nothing. The Sedona Fire District dispatched a crew to check a report of a strange odor, but that was unfounded and may not be related to the sounds.
The Camp Verde Marshal also received a number of phone calls about the booms. Officers found no evidence of any explosions. But the Verde Valley contains large expanses of uninhabited land. "It was just, ‘boom-boom-boom-boom-boom all over the Verde Valley."
Big Bang Theories: Mysterious noises heard across the valley. Just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, a loud boom, followed by a second blast that shook windows from Cornville to Jerome, rocked the Verde Valley. By Wednesday, the noises, whatever they were, were all the buzz.
"There was a boom and I thought, thunder. But as I was looking around for clouds I heard a second one that sounded like it came from Mingus Mountain. Then I went to see if the spring on my garage door opener had broke." A resident who thought it was an earthquake said, "It had that similar sound but nothing was shaking and the ground wasn't moving. It was interesting for sure." At the Camp Verde Library the noise actually "shook stuff off the shelf." Their curiosity eventually drove them outside the building, believing something had hit the roof, but they found nothing there.
The Chief of the Clarkdale Fire District heard it, too, and reported that it sounded just like dynamite. Whatever it was, it did not appear to be isolated to the Verde Valley. A drilling company, core drilling at the Bagdad copper mine, reported hearing a similar noise two hours earlier. "He said that around 3 p.m. his crew heard two loud booms. They thought there was an earthquake at the mine."
Employees at offices in Yuma reported hearing two loud booms and went outside believing a vehicle had blown a couple of tires on the roadway in front of the building. Many who heard the noise speculated it was a sonic boom. However, Luke Air Force Base said that the base had no aircraft in Verde Valley air space at the time the noise was reported. One conspiracy theorist speculated it was an explosion in an alien landing strip located beneath the Clarkdale cement plant. Another said perhaps it was connected with similar explosions that took place in California back in 2003 or 2004, which turned out to be someone detonating explosives in rubberized barrels while attempting to blow up some bridges.
And yet another speculated it was an experiment somehow connected with the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), a Gakona, Alaska, based project that studies ionospheric physics by reportedly blowing things up in the upper atmosphere.

Volcano Webcams

Hawaii - Kilauea Volcano. For the first time in nearly a year, lava is flowing into the ocean from Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's big island. The lava is cascading off 40 foot cliffs into the water below. Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983.

In the Western Pacific -
Typhoon Bopha was located approximately 320 nm west of Manila, Philippines.

In the South Indian Ocean -
Tropical Cyclone Three was located approximately 465 nm south-southeast of Diego Garcia. [heading south]

Bopha Heads to China, Vietnam as Philippine Death Toll Rises - Bopha, known locally as Pablo, triggered landslides and damaged thousands of homes in coastal and mining towns in the southern island of Mindanao, the region that was battered a year ago by the deadliest cyclone since 2008. The number of missing people rose to 380. “If Bopha continues with its north-northwest path, it appears headed to southern China or Vietnam." The storm may gain strength as it crosses the South China Sea.
The Philippine government has faced criticism of its response to tropical storms that form over the Pacific Ocean and lash the nation around the same time each year. In December 2011, Storm Washi, another off-season storm that hit south of the usual Philippine typhoon belt, killed more than 1,200 people, mostly in Mindanao. In September 2009, Storm Ketsana flooded Manila and parts of Luzon, killing more than 400 people, while monsoon rains flooded half of the Manila region in August.
Only 73 of the people killed in the storm have been identified. The civil defense chief said before Bopha hit, that the nation was “very prepared,” having warned residents in the storm’s path five days in advance. Bopha packed winds of 175 kilometers (109 miles) per hour and gusts of 210 kilometers per hour when it reached the Philippines on Dec. 4.
More than 306,000 people are in evacuation centers as 15,850 homes were damaged. The storm caused 4 billion pesos ($98 million) of damage, mostly to agriculture. Several bridges and roads aren’t passable, while some parts of Mindanao are still without electricity and water. Farm damage was initially estimated at 800 million pesos, with coconut and banana plantations the hardest hit. Damage to rice and corn crops was minimal because they had just been planted.

Philippine camps overflow after typhoon - Hundreds of thousands of survivors of the deadly typhoon have crammed into overcrowded shelters, braving the stench of corpses, as the government vowed action to prevent storm disasters.
Typhoon Bopha, which smashed into the country's south on Tuesday leaving at least 484 people dead and 383 missing, was the deadliest natural disaster this year in a region that is regularly hit with quakes, floods and volcanic eruptions. The southern island of Mindanao bore the brunt of Tuesday's storm. The town of New Bataan, of 48,000 people, was mostly obliterated by the storm. Among the 306,000 left homeless by the storm were 2000 people huddled in a basketball gym in New Bataan, one of only a few buildings left standing in the town which is a centre for the country's banana and gold mining industries.
The concrete floor of the crowded gym was caked with mud, and part of its roof was blown away by the cyclone, exposing the newly homeless to heavy rain that began pouring again. Families took turns to sleep on benches around the walls, and the 2000 occupants had to share the building's two toilet stalls. The government has appealed for immediate international aid for food, tents, water purification systems and medicine, and warned that the homeless face months in evacuation centres before safe places can be found for new homes.
More rescue workers, equipment and canine units, capable of sniffing out any people still alive beneath the rubble, were being fielded in the worst-hit areas. The government is also investigating why so many people were killed even when advance warnings were given ahead of the typhoon. Many of the mining areas which are a magnet for the country's poor had been declared unsafe for habitation due to frequent deadly landslides. "They should not have built houses there."