Monday, January 28, 2013

Australia - Bundaberg faces a MONSTER FLOOD POWERFUL ENOUGH TO KNOCK OVER HOUSES as Brisbane endures its second major flood in two years. Government expecting major flood damage in Bundaberg with the Burnett River running at 40 knots - so fast that rescue by boat will be very difficult and the force of the water is such that houses could be completely washed away. The Burnett River is expected to peak above 9.15m during late Tuesday or early Wednesday. "These are RECORD FLOODS. We are in uncharted territories."
Queensland's telecommunications blackout is now STATE-WIDE with loss of phone, mobiles, internet and Triple Zero access from Coolangatta to the Cape. Telstra's fibre optic cables have been cut by floods causing IT systems to crash and wreaking havoc on airports, banks and shops in a meltdown likely to take days to fix. The number of lives lost in the deluge from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald has continued to rise, with the death toll standing at three people and hundreds of homes are under water. (photos, map & timeline)

**We must prepare for future Sandys.**
Canada Free Press

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday -
1/27/13 -

4.8 Earthquake rattled northern Italy - A moderately-strong earthquake rattled much of north-central Italy on Friday afternoon, including Milan skyscrapers, but reports indicate there are no injuries or major damage. The epicenter of the tremor was near the Tuscan town of Lucca, or 30 kilometers (13 miles) north of Viareggio, a Tuscan sea resort. The temblor was most strongly felt in the regions of Tuscany and Emiilia Romagna.

Nevada - Quake Swarm Hit Topaz Area. Sixteen small quakes hit an area near Topaz Lake early Thursday, but there have been no reports of damage or injury. The quakes hit an area southwest of the lake between midnight and 5AM. They ranged from 1.1 to 3.7 in magnitude.

Why remains mystery as East Texas town shaken again by quake - The ground moved again Friday morning near an East Texas town plagued and puzzled by earthquakes in the past couple of years. No injuries and only minor structural damage were reported from the preliminary magnitude 4.1 quake that struck about 1 a.m. about two miles Northwest of Timpson,Texas.
“It shook, probably, longer than any of the ones we’ve had, but it wasn’t as intense as the 4.9 we had (in May 2012). The quake was the latest in a string of earthquakes to shake Timpson since summer 2011. Before Friday, the last was a 2.8-magnitude quake Dec. 7.
“I believe this was around No. 10. They’ve ranged from 1.1 or 1.2 (magnitude) to the 4.9 we had.... Everybody’s OK. As far as I know, we’ve had no emergency calls. ... It shook pretty good, but as far as I know we didn’t have any chimneys fall off like we did with the 4.9. In the fire hall, they had a desk that moved around.”
A geologist has been studying the UNUSUAL PHENOMENON this past year and says one or a combination of factors could be to blame. It’s not difficult to find someone who will link the quakes with the hydraulic fracture drilling occurring there in the past few years. “We’ve had natural earthquakes in this area in the past. The Mount Enterprise Faults are close by, and they could be moving. If we are putting fluids into the ground, that could lubricate the faults. We are working on it. Several of us are working on it, and we’re hoping to publish something soon.”
What is known is that the frequency and intensity of the quakes are increasing. “It has increased with human activities. As it’s increased, it’s centered around a particular area where they have activities.” The geologist is trying to obtain a third ground monitor to allow officials to locate the quakes more precisely. A third monitor would make it possible to triangulate locations and pinpoint them using their distance and direction from three known sites.
Reports of Minor Damage - The earthquake struck at around 1:00 AM, shaking doors open, knocking pictures off walls, and causing at least one chimney to reportedly collapse.

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity of January 26

New Zealand - Rock fracturing causing volcano quakes. Hybrid earthquakes recorded at White Island in recent days are thought to be the result of some kind of rock fracturing, and are often attributed to magma movement within a volcanic system.
"The really high levels of tremor that we've seen over the last couple of weeks, and then coupled with these new hybrid earthquakes means that our concern right now is quite high." Yesterday afternoon the aviation colour code at White Island was raised to orange, the third-highest of four codes. It indicates heightened unrest at the volcano with increased likelihood of an eruption.
Visitors to the island are now at the highest level of risk since the start of eruptions last August. Hazards could include the health effects of volcanic gas exposure, including respiratory issues, and skin and eye sensitivity to acidic gases. "Explosive eruptions can occur at any time with little or no warning. We advise a high level of caution should be taken, if visiting the island."
Hybrid earthquakes are so-called because they have a mixture of different frequencies, with very high frequency at the start – a kind of impulsive start – and a kind of wobble afterwards. "It's a bit like striking a bell. The initial impulse is high frequency and then you have the resonance of the bell."
It is hard to tell what might happen in the next few weeks, but it is possible White Island could become more active if a significant batch of new magma came up through the volcano. Geysers at a crater lake could get more vigorous, and there could be more volcanic explosive activity such as the venting which happened in August, or it could perhaps be even more vigorous.
Between 1976 and 2000 some of the larger explosions ejected blocks of magma on to the crater floor, with some even reaching the sea. "But with all volcanoes there is a lot of uncertainty, a bit like trying to forecast the weather with your eyes closed because you can't actually specifically see what's happening under the surface. They often look like they're building up to something and then nothing happens at all."
If the amount of gas measured over the volcano went up it could indicate more magma was coming up into the system. If there were a lot more earthquakes it would suggest something was pushing from below, probably magma being forced into the near subsurface in the volcano. More heat in the system could also indicate a new batch of magma coming close to the surface.
White Island had been active between 1976 and 2000, with regular ash venting, small explosions, and larger explosions throwing blocks out about every three to four months on average. Since 2000 it has been relatively quiet, with no surface activity. The most-recent episode started last July, when scientists were alerted by a rapid change in the lake at the crater, with the level moving by five to seven metres over one night.
Then in early August there were some weak eruptions of ash, which was found to be new magma. It was the first ash erupted on White Island since 2001. A mass of material was extruded producing a lava dome, probably in late November. No huge changes had been found in regular gas measurements at the volcano, suggesting that even if there was new magma the volume was not large.
Then in late December and early January White Island appeared to be quiet. "We actually sat down and met in here on January 14 and were reasonably comfortable that the hazard had decreased. Within 24 hours of meeting the volcano decided to do something different and it started to ramp up."
Volcanic tremor, a vibration in the volcanic system, increased and small explosions were seen in the remains of the lake at the crater. "Now, we know there's magma very close to the surface because we have the fresh magma erupted in August and then the dome extruded in November. What we think is actually happening is that the dome extruded and that's almost like a plug on that part of the hydrothermal system. So there may well be heat still coming up through with the magma. That's effectively expanding the steam zone around the dome, and that might be what's increasing the tremor and producing this geysering at the lakelet which is some distance away from the dome."
Nearly all eruptions on White Island only affected the island itself. Rocks had been ejected up to a few hundred metres offshore in the past. Depending on the wind direction, a light ashfall was possible on the mainland in a larger scale eruption, but it was unlikely to have a big impact.
Where GNS staff used to spend an entire day on the volcano doing their routine monitoring, they are now there for about an hour. “And when we are going out there we are wearing our full protective gear, helmets, gas masks and protective clothing. We would also do a fly around the volcano before we land, just to check that nothing significant is happening, and we would check the seismic records before we go to check there is no escalation in activity.” (photos)

Ecuadoran Volcano Update - El Reventador Producing Lava Flows and Ash. There have been some small earthquakes centered under the volcano, but right now there is only a wispy steam plume coming from Tungurahua. However, even when Tungurahua isn't erupting, it can be hazardous.

Australia - The wild weather on Queensland's southeast coast has whipped up more than the swell, with layers of ocean foam blanketing some roads and parks on the Gold and Sunshine coasts.
The white froth has come up the foreshore at Burleigh Heads and is covering pedestrian paths and picnic areas. In some places the suds are up to one metre high. "It's like a snowstorm. The kids are up to their shoulders basically ... I've never seen anything like it."
The suds have been whipped up by "huge" surf overnight. Extraordinary video footage shows a car emerging from beneath a thick blanket of foam, startling traffic police who are forced to leap from its path. The footage was posted on YouTube and police have confirmed it was filmed on the Sunshine Coast.
The coastal froth is formed during storms when powerful waves force air into the water and produce foam. The Sunshine and Gold coasts have been pummelled by the low pressure system that was tropical cyclone Oswald in recent days, with six-metre swells reported in some areas. (photo)

In the Indian Ocean -
- Tropical Cyclone Garry was located approximately 550 nm southwest of Bora Bora, Society Islands. The final warning has been issued on this system. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.

- Tropical Cyclone Thirteen was located approximately 550 nm north-northeast of La Reunion, heading towards Madagascar.

Australia flooding situation - continually updated throughout the day. (photo gallery)

Australia - New South Wales floods worsen, residents evacuated from towns in northern NSW as floodwaters isolate communities, while severe weather drenches Sydney with more on the way. Sydneysiders have been warned to prepare for torrential rain and destructive winds expected to hit the city on Monday night as ex-tropical cyclone Oswald slowly moves down the NSW coast after battering Queensland and northern NSW.
Ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald batters Australia's east coast - Much of Australia's east coast has taken a battering from an ex-tropical cyclone over the past days. It's not over yet, with rivers throughout the region still rising. Homes have been inundated in the cities of Bundaberg and Gladstone.


Britain - Canoeist dies as thaw brings flooding. More than 80 flood warnings and nearly 300 alerts are in place across Britain as thawing snow and heavy rain push river levels higher. Forecasters are warning of more rain this week, with south-west England particularly at risk from flooding.
In North Yorkshire, a canoeist, believed to be in his 30s, has died after he was pulled from the swollen Arkle Beck, near Reeth. A rescue operation was launched after he became trapped in debris. A baby boy was rescued by fishermen and a marina dock master in Somerset after his pushchair was blown into the water by a gust of wind. Firefighters used boats to try to rescue 12 sheep in the River Severn near a travellers' site at Welshpool, but only two could be saved. Eleven people were injured after a four-car crash on the M4 in south Wales shortly after a hailstorm.
The Environment Agency said rain falling on already saturated ground was likely to lead to more disruption on the roads this week. It also warned that properties could flood, particularly in the south-west of England on Tuesday. It said some river levels were yet to peak.
"Emergency teams from the Environment Agency have been out in force this weekend shoring up flood defences, monitoring river levels and clearing blockages from watercourses, and they will continue their work on the ground to reduce the risk of flooding throughout the week." In England and Wales, there are 81 flood warnings - meaning flooding is expected with "immediate action required" - and 288 flood alerts, which mean flooding "is possible - be prepared". There are no flood warnings in Scotland, although there are 13 flood alerts.
The thaw of snow had continued on Sunday with a mixture of sunshine and showers and river levels had risen throughout the day. Some heavy showers, as well as hail and gusty wind, would continue overnight, particularly in the southern counties of England and north-west Scotland. The Met Office has a issued yellow "be aware" warning - for Monday afternoon and evening - for heavy rain in south-west England. A further yellow warning for heavy rain has been issued for the whole of Tuesday for south-west England and parts of Wales.

Indonesia landslides - Landslides triggered by heavy rains killed at least 11 people and left 19 others missing on Indonesia's Sumatra island.
In Agam district, in West Sumatra province, 15 houses were buried beneath mud and rocks, killing seven. Hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes on the mountainside. In the neighbouring province of Jambi, heavy rain triggered a landslide in a drilling field owned by a state-run energy company. Four of its workers died, one remained missing and five had been injured. Sixty workers survived the landslide.
Flash-floods and landslides are common in Indonesia, triggered by seasonal downpours. Many in the chain of 17,000 islands live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains. Heavy rain in the capital Jakarta this month caused 32 deaths and, at its peak, forced nearly 46,000 people to flee their inundated homes.