Wednesday, January 2 , 2013

**The only bad publicity is your obituary.**
Harvard Lampoon

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday -
1/1/13 -

12/31/12 -

Volcano Webcams

Eruptive activity is much reduced at San Cristobal volcano (Nicaragua) but seismicity at the volcano, in the form of volcanic tremor and a few volcanic earthquakes, has not yet returned to background level.

Catastrophic eruption is brewing in Japan - One of the most seismically active countries in the world and home to more than 100 active volcanoes, experts say Japan is at risk of a major volcanic eruption that would cause chaos across the nation.
Thin wisps of smoke and ash continue to seep from the vast crater atop Sakurajima, as they have done more or less uninterrupted for nearly half-a-century. Once in a while, a minor eruption will release a small flow of lava and a towering column of debris that is taken by the wind. This is nothing compared to the eruption in January 1914 that shook what was then an island off the southern tip of Kyushu and the city of Kagoshima. The blast was the most powerful eruption in Japan in the 20th century, flows of lava bridged the narrow straits between the island and the mainland and the surrounding countryside and Kagoshima City were covered with a thick layer of ash.
Fortunately, indications that the volcano had emerged from a period of dormancy had been noted and most local residents had been evacuated, but a series of earthquakes in the hours and days leading up to the eruption caused at least 35 deaths. That event was nearly 100 years ago, but a professor of volcanology believes that an eruption on a similar scale is imminent. And a blast with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) reading of four would cause havoc across large areas of this densely populated nation.
"In recent years, we have not had a big eruption, but I have been researching the history of volcanoes in Japan and the evidence suggests that there is an event of VEI four or three every decade or so, but that has not happened for a long time. The last really big eruption was Sakurajima and that was in 1914. I'm very worried about a major event and the possibility that something serious will occur is increasing year by year."
The fear is that vast reserves of magma are building up beneath the craters of a number of volcanoes across the nation and a serious seismic event could trigger an eruption and the release of torrents of lava and pyroclastic material. "After a serious tremor in 1707, Mount Fuji erupted." That event was so serious that it changed the profile of the most famous mountain in Japan and burning cinders fell on towns around the base of the peak. Around 100 km to the east, the city of Edo - modern-day Tokyo - was blanketed in ash.
Ever since, the peak has been slumbering peacefully - although a magnitude 6.2 earthquake was recorded on the southern flanks of the mountain just four days after the Great East Japan Earthquake. A study by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention indicated that the pressure in the magma chamber beneath Mount Fuji could be as much as 1.6 megapascals higher than when it was in 1707. The implications of that study are difficult to quantify as volcanology is a difficult science.
"It has been 300 years since Mount Fuji last erupted, but it is only dormant, not extinct." Should a VEI five event take place, Tokyo would once again be smothered in ash, buildings would collapse under the weight, roads and railways would become impassable and infrastructure would be severely damaged by lava flows. It would take weeks for services to return to normal, and the cost would be huge.
"After last year's earthquake, there was a sudden increase in volcanic quakes, although they were all small in scale. This means that there was some kind of movement in the magma systems beneath the peaks. There are quite a lot of examples from around the world of this happening and it would have been natural to expect a volcanic eruption somewhere in Japan. But it didn't. And that is intriguing. In truth, we do not know the level of danger. We simply do not know enough about volcanoes right now to make precise predictions about what is happening and what will happen in the future."

In the South Indian Ocean -
Tropical Cyclone 07s (Dumile) was located approximately 525 nm north of La Reunion.

Tropical Cyclone 05p (Freda) was located approximately 225 nm northwest of Noumea, New Caledonia. Although the system is dropping below warning threshold, several models indicate the possibility of re-development as it tracks back to the west. This is the final warning on this system. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.

Cyclone Freda weakens over New Caledonia, still significant. The Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre says the cyclone is expected to weaken further as it moves parallel along New Caledonia's west coast over the next few days. People can expect near gale force winds, heavy rain with this cyclone coming near to New Caledonia. The cyclone, the second of the current South Pacific season, is predicted to pass south of New Caledonia and into the Tasman Sea. Cyclone Freda hit the most southern parts of Solomon Islands earlier. The category four cyclone inflicted widespread flooding and landslides throughout the country, as well as damage to houses and crops.
Australia - Two boys, 11, saved by jet ski patrols at Maroochydore as Cyclone Freda whipped waves. A powerful swell generated by Cyclone Freda arrived at the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, sparking warnings from lifesavers and lifeguards. There were a number of rescues needed.

Tropical Cyclone Dumile Ramps Up - Dumile, still a moderate tropical storm on Tuesday, was beginning to veer southward a few hundred miles east of northern Madagascar, and nearly 600 miles north-northwest of Mauritius.


Australia - Victoria is set to experience some of its worst fire conditions since Black Saturday, with most of the state expecting temperatures above 40C on Friday, as well as fresh northerly winds. In Victoria's northwest, Mildura is tipped to have six days in a row above 40C.
Abundant growth in the dry grasslands and drying forests mean there will be a very high fire danger. Conditions will be extreme in the southwest and very high in other areas. "It is certainly one of the higher fire danger days I have seen since Black Saturday, no doubt. We have had a couple of quiet fire seasons and reasonably damp summer last year, a good winter, abundant growth, especially in the grasslands. There is a lot of fuel out there. So then you add that into the hot, dry weather we are experiencing at the moment; that brings together all the elements that bring about severe and extreme fire conditions."
It was likely there would be total fire bans but it was not expected that a code red day would be declared. Melbourne is tipped to reach 39C on Friday, with many suburbs likely to hit 40C. Mildura's six-day hot spell will begin on Thursday and peak with a 45C day on Tuesday. In the state's northeast Yarrawonga is expected to have five days above 40C.


Prolonged Exposure to Galactic Radiation Speeds Up Alzheimer's Development - Radiation called high-mass, high-charged particles (HZE) are capable of penetrating a spacecraft and causing the early onset of Alzheimer's disease. A new study shows that extended exposure to cosmic radiation in space can negatively affect astronauts' brains.
NASA and other researchers have studied the effects of long-term space travel on astronauts for years, and found that galactic cosmic radiation caused cancer, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular diseases. However, this is the first study to show effects on the brain in regards to neurodegeneration.
HZE particles are propelled through space at very high speeds thanks to exploding stars, and come in a variety of forms. In this particular study, the researchers looked at iron particles because they, like HZE particles, have a mass and speed that allow them to enter solid objects. The researchers then used particle accelerators to reproduce radioactive particles located in space. From there, animal models with Alzheimer's disease were exposed to different doses of the radiation. They even used levels comparable to a mission to Mars.
According to the results, the brains of the mice exposed to the radiation had vascular alterations and an abnormal accumulation of beta amyloid, which is a sign of Alzheimer's disease. Also, the mice exposed to radiation were more likely to fail memory tests more often and earlier than mice who were not.
"Galactic cosmic radiation poses a significant threat to future astronauts. The possibility that radiation exposure in space may give rise to health problems such as cancer has long been recognized. However, this study shows for the first time that exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease."


A few extra pounds may cut risk of early death - People who are overweight may have a lower risk of early death than those at a normal weight. In a review of almost 100 past studies covering nearly three million people, researchers found that being overweight or slightly obese was linked to about a 6 percent lower risk of dying, compared to people considered "normal weight."
Being severely obese, however, was still tied to an almost 30 percent higher risk of death. The idea that being somewhat overweight could be linked to better health has been dubbed the obesity paradox, even though actual obesity is generally not associated with the apparent "benefit." The paradox is based on past findings that suggest overweight and obese people - even those with additional health problems - live longer than their thinner counterparts.
Some have argued that the pattern is a statistical one only because being thin, especially in old age, is often a sign or a result of serious illness - so the thinner people seem to have higher mortality. The study results certainly do not give people permission to pack on extra pounds as the difference in mortality between overweight and normal weight people is probably very small. "That's actually a very small number. It's probably only statistically significant because of the large number she had in her study."
Also, there are concerns that body mass index (BMI) - a measurement of weight in relation to height - is not an accurate measure of someone's health risks. For example, a soldier may be considered overweight but still be healthy, because he or she has more muscle mass. "It's not a good marker for body fat or health risk." There is also confusion around what BMI should be considered "normal."
Past studies looking at the link between BMI and death used varying ranges to describe normal weight, overweight and obesity. "There seems to be a lot of confusion about this whole area, and part of the confusion is that people are using a bunch of different categories." The researchers considered a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 normal weight, between 25 and 29.9 overweight, and 30 or above obese. They further subdivide the obese category, though - with a BMI between 30 and 34.9 designated grade-1 obesity, and anything above 35 grades 2 or 3.
Being obese - in general - was linked to an 18 percent greater risk of death, compared to being normal weight. Being severely obese - grades 2 and 3 - was linked to a 29 percent greater risk of death. However, being merely overweight was linked to a 6 percent decreased risk of death compared to a normal weight person, while being slightly (grade 1) obese was linked to a 5 percent lower risk. The study cannot say why there seems to be a link between being overweight or slightly obese and a lower risk of death.
On the other hand, important markers of health, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, do respond to minor changes in weight. "So gaining that extra 10 or 20 pounds can put you into a dangerous category, and it's important to find out if you're one of those people."


- Procesadora de Productos Marinos Delifish S.A. has issued a recall of cold smoked salmon products potentially containing Listeria monocytogenes.