Friday, February 15, 2013

Meteorite crash in Russia - UFO fears spark panic in the Urals. A series of explosions in the skies of Russia’s Urals region, reportedly caused by a meteorite shower, has sparked panic in three major cities. Witnesses said that houses shuddered, windows were blown out and cellphones have stopped working.
According to unconfirmed reports, the meteorite was intercepted by an air defense unit at the Urzhumka settlement near Chelyabinsk. A missile salvo reportedly blew the meteorite to pieces at an altitude of 20 kilometers. A bright flash was seen in the Chelyabinsk, Tyumen and Sverdlovsk regions, Russia’s Republic of Bashkiria and in northern Kazakhstan. At least one piece of the fallen object caused damage on the ground in Chelyabinsk. According to preliminary reports, it crashed into a wall near a zinc factory, disrupting the city's Internet and mobile service.
Witnesses said the explosion was so loud that it seemed like an earthquake and thunder had struck at the same time, and that there were huge trails of smoke across the sky. Others reported seeing burning objects fall to earth. Police in the Chelyabinsk region are reportedly on high alert, and have begun ‘Operation Fortress’ in order to protect vital infrastructure. Office buildings in downtown Chelyabinsk are being evacuated. Injuries were reported at one of the city’s secondary schools, supposedly from smashed windows. No other injuries have been reported so far.
An emergency message published on the website of the Chelyabinsk regional authority urged residents to pick up their children from school and remain at home if possible. The regional Emergency Ministry said the phenomenon was a meteorite shower, but locals have speculated that it was a military fighter jet crash or a missile explosion. The ministry also said that no local power stations or civil aircraft were damaged by the meteorite shower, and that “all flights proceed according to schedule.”
Residents of the town of Emanzhilinsk, some 50 kilometers from Chelyabinsk, said they saw a flying object that suddenly burst into flames, broke apart and fell to earth, and that a black cloud had been seen hanging above the town. Witnesses in Chelyabinsk said the city’s air smells like gunpowder. Many locals reported that the explosion rattled their houses and smashed windows. “This explosion, my ears popped, windows were smashed… phone doesn’t work.” “My window smashed, I am all shaking! Everybody says that a plane crashed." “My windows were not smashed, but I first thought that my house is being dismantled, then I thought it was a UFO, and my eventual thought was an earthquake.”
The incident in Chelyabinsk bears a strong resemblance to the 1908 Tunguska event – an exceptionally powerful explosion in Siberia believed to have been caused by a fragment of a comet or meteor. According to estimates, the energy of the Tunguska blast may have been as high as 50 megatons of TNT, equal to a nuclear explosion. Some 80 million trees were leveled over a 2,000-square-kilometer area. The Tunguska blast remains one of the most mysterious events in history, prompting a wide array of hypotheses on its cause, including a black hole passing through Earth and the wreck of an alien spacecraft. It is believed that if the Tunguska event had happened 4 hours later, due to the rotation of the Earth it would have completely destroyed the city of Vyborg and significantly damaged St. Petersburg.
When a similar, though less powerful, unexplained explosion happened in Brazil in 1930, it was named the ‘Brazilian Tunguska.’ The Tunguska event also prompted debate and research into preventing or mitigating asteroid impacts. It is believed that the new incident may be connected to asteroid 2012 DA14, which measures 45 to 95 meters in diameter and will be passing by Earth tonight at around 19:25 GMT at the record close range of 27,000 kilometers. (PHOTOS - incoming meteorite plus building damage & video & map!)
Meteorite falls in Russia's Chelyabinsk region - Russian officials say at least one meteorite has fallen in the Chelyabinsk region some 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow. The meteor shower caused explosions in the lower atmosphere above central Russia and the Urals region on Friday, blowing out windows and causing injuries. "There was a meteor shower, without fragments falling to the ground. A meteorite exploded above the Chelyabinsk region (of the Urals). The shock wave blew out windows in several places," an emergencies ministry spokesman said. Some people were injured by flying glass at a school in Chelyabinsk.

**If something is going to happen to me, I want to be there.**
Albert Camus

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
2/14/13 -

Russia - 6.6-magnitude quake struck northeastern Siberia on Thursday. The quake had a depth of six miles and hit Sakha, Russia. The quake hit a sparsley populated region. There were no reports of damage or injuries from the quake, whose epicentre was recorded 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of the village of Ust-Nera. The quake struck 10 kilometres (six miles) below ground at 5:13 Moscow time.

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity on February 14 - No significant changes at the six erupting Russian Kamchatkan volcanoes: Tolbachik, Bezymianny, Kliuchevskoi, Sheveluch, Kizimen, and Karymsky. The very strong earthquake in Siberia has no relation with the Kamchatkan volcanoes.

Russia - Officials Deny Lava Threatens Volcano Scientists. Emergencies Ministry officials on Thursday dismissed a scientist's claim that lava flowing from the ongoing eruption at the Plosky Tolbachik volcano in Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula might threaten a nearby research site.
A scientist based at the Tolud volcanologists' research site next to the volcano reported on Wednesday to the Kamchatka volcano observatory that the lava flow had closed to within 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) of the site. “The lava keeps on moving,” the observatory, located some 60 kilometers (36 miles) from the foot of the volcano, said in a report. The regional branch of the Emergencies Ministry dismissed the report on Thursday and said the moving lava poses no threat to scientists monitoring the volcanic eruption.
“The lava flow is not a hazard to the research site as it is located on the other side of the brook flowing into the Tolud River. Due to the specifics of the terrain, if the tongue of lava reaches that brook, it will follow it downstream, bypassing the site." The Plosky Tolbachik volcano, located 343 kilometers (217 miles) from the region's capital of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, began erupting on November 27 for the first time in 36 years. Kamchatka is one of the most volcanically-active areas in the world with 29 active volcanoes. (photo)

New Zealand - Further eruptions at Tongariro may occur with "little or no warning", according to a GNS vulcanologist. Activity at Tongariro remains low, but steam and gas plumes from the Te Maari area are always present.

In the South Indian Ocean -
- Tropical Cyclone Gino was located approximately 1275 nm south-southeast of Diego Garcia.


Australia's crop farmers are gearing up for a better than average harvest despite a summer of scorching heat, bushfires and widespread flooding. The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences forecast total summer crop production to be about 4.8 million tonnes.
This is down 13 per cent on last year's record crop, but that's not surprising when factoring in the heatwaves and below average rainfall across the major cropping regions throughout summer. The massive rains in late January should benefit late sown summer crops, but came too late for those planted earlier. Some cropping regions were spared the worst, with the floods only causing minor damage.
Production of grain sorghum, cotton lint and seed fell, but rice is forecast to rise by 15 per cent to around 1.1 million tonnes. Most farmers managed to complete harvesting their winter crops before the natural disasters of summer set in. Winter crop production is estimated to have fallen in 2012-2013, but was still better than what was expected in late 2012.
Storms a mixed blessing for Victoria fire crews - Rain has helped firefighters with Victoria's biggest bushfires, but lightning has also sparked some small fires.


Asteroid 2012 DA14 set for record-breaking Earth pass - The asteroid as large as an Olympic swimming pool will race past the Earth toay at a distance of just 27,700km (17,200mi) - the closest ever predicted for an object of that size. It will pass closer even than the geosynchronous satellites that orbit the Earth, but there is no risk of impacts or collisions. [!]
Its closest approach will be 19:25 GMT. For regions in darkness around that time, it will be visible using good binoculars or a telescope. The asteroid orbits the Sun in 368 days - a period similar to Earth's year - but it does not orbit in the same plane as the Earth. As it passes - at a blistering 7.8km/s (17,450 mi/hr) - it will come from "under" the Earth and return back toward the Sun from "above". As it does, it will pass over the eastern Indian Ocean, making for the best viewing in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia.
But keen viewers anywhere can find one of several live streams of the event on the internet, including a feed from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Nasa, available from 19:00 GMT. 2012 DA14 was first spotted in February 2012. Today's near-miss will be the closest the object comes for at least 30 years.
Today's Flyby May Trigger 'Asteroid-Quake' on Space Rock - The close flyby of Earth by asteroid 2012 DA14 could trigger a quake on the space rock, scientists say. "We are going to be looking closely for evidence of seismic activity on 2014 DA14 as it passes by. This is the first case of an object coming close enough to experience quakes and where we have enough notice to plan observations."
During the unprecedented close approach, 2012 DA14, which is about half the size of a football field, will cruise within 17,200 miles (27,700 kilometers) of the planet. It poses no threat to Earth, but the flyby marks the first time scientists have had the chance to observe such a big space rock this close-up. Many near-Earth asteroids likely get shaken up when they fly too closely to our planet's gravitational field, which could help explain why some space rocks seem to shed a worn-looking outer coating caused by "space weathering."
"As asteroids move through space, they slowly turn dark red. This phenomenon, called space weathering, is caused by long exposure to cosmic rays and solar radiation. For decades, however, we have known about a handful of small asteroids that looked [light and fresh]; they were not space-weathered." The orbits of those squeaky-clean asteroids was calculated and what they all had in common was close encounters with Earth in the past million years.
"Gravitational forces during the flybys can stretch, rattle and torque these asteroids, causing dark, space-weathered material on the surface to be overturned, revealing the fresh stuff underneath." Compared to quakes on Earth, asteroid-quakes would look quite minor. An astronaut floating next to an asteroid during a tremor might notice its surface sway by a few centimeters or spot "gentle avalanches" on the space rock's steepest crater slopes.
"These asteroids experience [seismic activity] in the milli- to micro-g range. That might not sound like much, but remember these are small bodies. Gravity is not very strong, so just a little shaking or stretching goes a long way." Scientists will be looking for changes in the color, spin, shape and reflectivity of asteroid 2012 DA14 as it passes by.
An asteroid the size of 2012 DA14 would make a crater up to one kilometre wide if it hit Earth. Research into past asteroid impacts is essential in the face of potential future asteroid encounters so we know what the fall out is. The most recent discover is a massive asteroid impact site in the East Warburton Basin in northeast South Australia.
That site contains evidence thought to be caused by an asteroid 10 to 20 kilometres in diameter that hit Earth more than 298 million years ago. "The size of the shock metamorphic terrain, larger than 200 kilometres in diameter, makes it the third-largest discovered to date on Earth." Shock metamorphic terrain is formed when an asteroid hits, shocking and melting minerals instantly. It leaves signs that are different from any other geological event on Earth.
The East Warburton site dates back to the late Devonian period - 360 million years ago - a time of major mass extinction. There is likely a link between this site and three or four other large strike zones about the same time around Australia. "Asteroids come in clusters of two or more." That happens when there are internal collisions in an asteroid belt that send a few hurtling out to ultimately fall on other planets. Scientists hope to confirm another another big site with a study in the next few months at West Warburton, which has very similar geophysical anomalies. "We can always hope. It is a 50-50 chance that it could be a twin."


Psychiatric drugs prevalent in water, changing fish behavior - Psychiatric medicines that are excreted by humans and find their way into waterways can change the behavior of fish in rivers and streams, scientists report in a new study. The flushed pharmaceuticals are fueling fearless fish.