Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Zealand's White Island activity could lead to large eruption - Volcanic activity at White Island is the MOST "VIGOROUS" IN YEARS and could mean a large explosive eruption is imminent, GNS Science says. The volcano, off the Bay of Plenty coast, is the country's most active and showed heightened signs of unrest last year.
But it is the increased hydrothermal activity in the last three weeks which is of "significant concern." A GNS vulcanologist says, "I don't think I've seen anything this strong since the late 90s and 2000s." The activity then led to a large eruption in July, 2000.
"The hydrothermal activity is some of the most vigorous I have seen at White Island for many years. This type of activity usually leads to stronger volcanic activity and is a significant concern. Increases in hydrothermal activity often leads to explosive eruptions and that can be quite dangerous for visitors."
The activity may mean an eruption is imminent, but there is also a chance it could cease. The volcano poses no threat to the mainland, however, as it is 48 kilometres from shore. But White Island is a popular tourist attraction, with boat and flight tours heading there daily. If it does explode, ash may reach the mainland and Bay of Plenty locals might smell gas.
Hydrothermal activity in the small 'hot lake' has increased, large amounts of sediment have surfaced and vivid white steam and gas are flashing from the base. This is the sort of activity that had been increasing since late 2012 and is now semi-continuous. The lava dome that was first observed in late November has not changed since earlier this month. There were elevated levels of volcanic tremors, likely generated by the hydrothermal activity.
Scientists warn of another Mount Tongariro eruption - Scientists are warning Mount Tongariro may erupt again. GNS Science say emissions of steam and a gas plume have been a continuous feature of the mountain since the August 2012 eruption.
The volcano is still in an "active" state and will emit steam, gas for several years. "Therefore we have to be prepared there will be other events like that without any warning." The risk of another eruption is causing concern for the Department of Conservation as it prepares to reopen the northern section of the Tongariro Crossing which was damaged in the August eruption.
The eruption had not dampened the popularity of the 19.4 kilometre walking track. DOC was forced to close an access way to the track shortly before Christmas when tourists began flocking to the area. "It's become a destination so in the end total anarchy broke out with cars and buses. There were wing mirrors being knocked off and cars damaged as well as people trying to park in incredibly stupid places."
GNS Scientists are also concerned neighbouring Mt Ruapehu may be due to erupt. Gas samples show there could be a blockage underneath the volcano's surface. The blockage could burst and erupt without warning. Tourism on Mt Ruaphu and Mt Tongariro is reliant on the findings of GNS scientists. "We can't do anything until the scientists scratch their heads and reckon it's all safe to go up." DOC has closed the area within 2km of the centre of crater lake at the summit of Mt Ruapehu.

**Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter.**
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday -
1/21/13 -

Indonesia - A strong, shallow earthquake has rocked parts of western Indonesia, reportedly killing a young girl. The quake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 hit Aceh province around dawn local time on Tuesday.
Local media said it was felt strongly in the capital Banda Aceh and surrounding districts. Several people were injured. Aceh on the western tip of Sumatra Island is often rocked by earthquakes. In 2004, the monster temblor off its shores triggered the tsunami that killed 230,000 people across Asia. Most of the deaths were in Aceh.

SW Indiana's mysterious booms subside with no answers - Authorities who investigated a series of mysterious late-night booms reported in two southwestern Indiana counties say the noises have subsided without any clear evidence emerging that could explain what caused them.

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity of January 20

In the Indian Ocean -
- Tropical Cyclone Garry was located approximately 140 nm north of Pago Pago, American Samoa. .

- Tropical Cyclone Oswald was located approximately 155 nm east-northeast of Mornington Island, Australia. The final warning has been issued on this system. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration. Oswald was forecast to strike Australia at about 06:00 GMT on 21 January.

Cyclone alert for Samoa - Warnings of storms and strong winds are in place for Samoa, with tropical cyclone Garry passing nearby. The storm was 125 nautical miles north-east of the capital, Apia, earlier on Tuesday. The category one cyclone was expected to intensify. The cyclone is heading toward Samoa just over a month after Cyclone Evan struck the Pacific nation, killing 14 people.
Samoa has avoided a direct hit, but remains on alert this morning as a cyclone tracks north of the country.

Western Australia port prepares for possible cyclone. The Port Hedland harbour is being evacuated for closure ahead of a weather system that could become a tropical cyclone on Wednesday. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) estimated late morning WST that a tropical low was 160km northeast of Port Hedland and 340km east northeast of Karratha, and moving west southwest at 12km/h.
The low may develop into a tropical cyclone on Wednesday as it moves to the west southwest, just off the Pilbara coastline. If the system does reach cyclone intensity, gales with wind gusts to 100km/h could develop between Pardoo and Dampier during Wednesday, possibly extending west to Onslow late in the day. Meanwhile, the last vessel will set sail from Port Hedland's inner harbour at 1530 WST on Tuesday. The port is Australia's main iron ore export hub.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has issued a blue alert for people in or near communities between Pardoo and Mardie, including Port Hedland.
Tropical low brings torrential rain to Queensland - expected to become a category-one cyclone about 4pm today before hitting the coast near Kowanyama about 10pm. It is expected to cross Cape York as a low before veering south towards Cooktown.
Ex-tropical cyclone makes landfall in Queensland - Queensland police have warned motorists to drive carefully as the ex-tropical cyclone continues to cause damaging winds and heavy rain across the state's far north. The cyclone warning has been cancelled.
Cyclone Oswald cuts off Cape York Aboriginal community - A far north Queensland Aboriginal community is cut off after Cyclone Oswald severely damaged the runway it relies on during the wet season. Floodwaters cut road access to Kowanyama, on Cape York Peninsula's west coast, a few days ago.


Australia - Flooded west Queensland town now hit with drought. Less than a year after record flooding, residents of St George in western Queensland are now experiencing drought.


Gamma-ray burst hit Earth in 8th Century - A gamma ray burst is the most powerful explosion known in the Universe. In 2012 researchers found evidence that our planet had been struck by a blast of radiation during the Middle Ages, but there was debate over what kind of cosmic event could have caused this.
Now a study suggests it was the result of two black holes or neutron stars merging in our galaxy. This collision would have hurled out vast amounts of energy. Last year, a team of researchers found that some ancient cedar trees in Japan had an unusual level of a radioactive type of carbon known as carbon-14. In Antarctica, too, there was a spike in levels of a form of beryllium - beryllium-10 - in the ice. These isotopes are created when intense radiation hits the atoms in the upper atmosphere, suggesting that a blast of energy had once hit our planet from space.
Using tree rings and ice-core data, researchers were able to pinpoint that this would have occurred between the years AD 774 and AD 775, but the cause of the event was a puzzle. The possibility of a supernova - an exploding star - was put forward, but then ruled out because the debris from such an event would still be visible in telescopes today.
Another team of US physicists recently published a paper suggesting that an unusually large solar flare from the Sun could have caused the pulse of energy. However some others in the scientific community disagree because they do not think that the energy produced would tally with the levels of carbon-14 and beryllium-10 found. So now German researchers have offered up another explanation: a massive explosion that took place within the Milky Way.
Enormous emissions of energy occur when black holes, neutron stars or white dwarfs collide - the galactic mergers take just seconds, but they send out a vast wave of radiation. "Gamma-ray bursts are very, very explosive and energetic events, and so we considered from the energy what would be the distance given the energy observed...Our conclusion was it was 3,000 to 12,000 light-years away - and this is within our galaxy."
Although the event sounds dramatic, our medieval ancestors might not have noticed much. If the gamma-ray burst happened at this distance, the radiation would have been absorbed by our atmosphere, only leaving a trace in the isotopes that eventually found their way into our trees and the ice. The researchers do not think it even emitted any visible light.
Observations of deep space suggest that gamma ray-bursts are rare. They are thought to happen at the most every 10,000 years per galaxy, and at the least every million years per galaxy. It is unlikely Planet Earth would see another one soon, but if we did, this time it could make more of an impact. If a cosmic explosion happened at the same distance as the 8th Century event, it could knock out our satellites. But if it occurred even closer - just a few hundred light-years away - it would destroy our ozone layer, with devastating effects for life on Earth. However, this is "extremely unlikely".