Tuesday, February 12, 2013

North Korea - Shallow 5.0 quake detected at North Korea's nuclear test site. North Korea says it has successfully carried out its third underground nuclear test.
The test involved a "miniaturised" nuclear device and was carried out in a "safe and perfect manner". The confirmation came three hours after the test. The UN Secretary General has condemned the test as a "clear and grave violation" of UN resolutions. The UN Security Council had warned of "significant consequences" if the nuclear test went ahead. The UN is planning to hold an emergency meeting at 14:00 GMT on Tuesday in New York.
North Korea previously conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. Monitoring agencies from several nations had detected seismic activity at the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site at 11:57 (02:57 GMT). North Korea's move could be 'deeply destabilising.' The “miniaturized” nuclear weapon tested a technology that could theoretically be paired with a long-range missile to threaten the United States.

**Millions yearn for immortality
who don't know what to do with themselves
on a rainy Sunday afternoon.**
Susan Ertz

There will be no update on Wednesday this week.

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A Massive New Volcano May Be Forming In The Pacific - A scientist from the University of Utah has confirmed that two continent-sized "thermochemical piles" are slowly converging at the bottom of Earth's mantle about 1,800 miles (2,900 km) beneath the Pacific Ocean. This process could eventually lead to a cataclysmic eruption that could "cause very massive destruction on Earth." But don't panic quite yet. His research suggests that this super-volcano-in-the-making may not erupt for another 100 to 200 million years.
The new study suggests that the collision of the two piles is creating a massive reservoir of partly molten rock that could eventually lead to one of two different kinds of super-eruptions in the far future. The first scenario is a "hotspot plume," the kind of large scale geological event that happened about 2 million years ago at Wyoming's Yellowstone caldera - an eruption that covered North America in blanket of volcanic ash.
The second possibility is a flood basalt eruption — a more protracted event similar to what happened in India's Deccan Traps about 65 million years ago. In this scenario, a large and volatile volcanic region spews lava to the surface over an extended period of time — continuous eruptions that can last thousands of years, resulting in large igneous provinces. A similar thing happened in the Pacific Northwest's Columbia River region about 17 million years ago. Needless to say, these eruptions are extremely disruptive to ecosystems, and may be tied to some extinction events.
The two massive piles were discovered in the 1990s. Initially, geologists assumed that these continent-sized regions were static. But high-resolution seismic images showed they are in fact colliding — and that they're gradually creating a "spongy blob" of partly molten rock that's growing to the size of Florida. The two piles rest on the boundary between the core and the mantle, one is located underneath the Pacific Ocean in the South Pacific near the Samoan region and one is under Africa (we're talking really deep under Africa). Each of them are approximately 3,000 miles (4,830 km) across. "I mean it's big...this one that we found is an order of magnitude, maybe 10 times larger, than any of the ones we've observed before." As for the theoretical potential for the region to trigger a massive plume eruption, which is by no means guaranteed, but if it were to happen, it would take place no earlier than 100 million years from now.

2011 Japan Earthquake Unleashed Surprising Torrent of Energy - The devastating earthquake that struck Japan in 2011 may may have unexpectedly released nearly all of the energy that had built up near the source of the resulting tsunami, new research suggests.
The magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki quakewas the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan and the fifth-most powerful quake ever recorded, generating a tsunami that killed thousands and triggered a nuclear crisis. Research revealed the seafloor moved nearly 165 feet (50 meters) during the temblor. Earthquakes are caused by stress that builds up on faults in the Earth's surface. Usually, earthquakes are thought to release only a portion of this stress on the fault, but thecatastrophic level of activity seen with the 2011 temblor suggested that this quake may have relieved significantly more energy in that area — a boundary region where the tectonic plates that make up Earth's surface meet.
To explore this possibility, researcher s set out aboard the scientific drilling vessel to about 60 miles (93 kilometers) from the epicenter of the quake about a year after the disaster. The expedition analyzed rock as they drilled boreholes 2,790 feet(850 meters) into the seafloor about 22,600 feet (6,890 m) underwater. The researchers found the present amount of stress on the fault is nearly zero, revealing the earthquake released nearly all the stress there.
"It is very surprising that this can occur. Studies over the past 30 or 40 years have shown that it's very hard to slide rock against rock due to the amount of friction involved, and studies have shown that in conventional earthquakes and smaller faults, only 10 percent or some other small fraction of the stress is released when these blocks of rock slip past each other. However, increasingly, it's becoming clear that these plate boundary faults are weak. It's as if there's much lower friction than one would expect, and they can release a substantial amount of their total stress."
"We're measuring the temperature across the fault zone after the earthquake. The higher the stress in an area, the more frictional heat is generated, so measuring temperature is another way at getting at the question of how much stress was relieved and the strength of the fault during the rupture."

In the South Indian Ocean -
- Tropical Cyclone Gino was located approximately 650 nm southeast of Diego Garcia.


Drought to trim India's 2013-14 sugar output below consumption - India's sugar production for the 2013-14 season is set to fall below consumption for the first time in four years.

U.S. drought - While it's hard to predict if the drought will continue this year, one expert says the probability is very high that U.S. grain production in 2013 will be below normal.
Many U.S. ethanol plants have halted production over the past year, mostly because the drought has made it difficult to get locally produced corn. Most plan to restart, but it may not be until the 2013 corn crop is harvested.


Cutting Salt Slowly Could Prolong Half a Million Lives - As many as a half a million American lives could be saved if we all ate a fraction of a teaspoon of salt less every day, a new study suggests.