Thursday, May 2, 2013

India - Two people were killed and 70 injured on Wednesday in the Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir when an earthquake shook parts of North India [Kashmir]. The injured include dozens of schoolchildren and four teachers. The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7, was only six miles deep. The tremor was the latest in a series of quakes in the past one month.
The epicentre of the 5.6 magnitude quake was near the border of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, 17 km northeast of Bhadarwah and 23 km south-southeast of Kishtwar. Officials said injuries were reported from schools and other building located close to the epicentre of earthquake, 23 km east of Doda town. Reports of cracks in office and residential buildings and disruption of communication systems were reported from Bhaderwah, Doda and Kishtwar towns in the Jammu region.
A newly constructed hospital and college buildings suffered extensive damage in the Kishtwar area. The quake triggered landslides which led to blocking of Kishtwar-Batote highway. “Rescue teams have been dispatched to the affected areas and they are searching for survivors among dozens of damaged buildings. Rescue work is going on." Habitations in the area are located on steep hills and rough terrain and it will take time to assess the exact damages.

**Experience is that marvellous thing that enables you
to recognize a mistake when you make it again.**
Franklin P. Jones


Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
5/1/13 -

India's officials downplayed their earthquake risks - Two destructive earthquakes within a week of each other, the first with a 7.5 magnitude on the Iran-Pakistan border, on April 16, and the second measuring 5.6 in eastern Afghanistan last Wednesday, were unsettlingly felt over much of north India, but 'were geologically unconnected to India’s seismic anatomy.'
However, the massive tectonic processes intrinsic to the Indian plate, notably in the Himalayan arc and on the western coast, cannot be ignored, says a seismologist with the Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation. The “collision zone” along the Himalayan arc, where the Indian plate crushes continuously into the belly of the Tibetan plate at 20 mm a year, has long been the subject of scientific scrutiny for a professor, who a decade ago in a Science paper warned of a great Himalayan earthquake that could put millions of people at risk in the towns and villages of the Gangetic plains.
A pervading scientific culture that “lacks responsibility and rigour towards public safety... denies society the advantage of information and consequently resilience, against the natural disaster." While high-risk zones remain curiously neglected in scientific literature, scientists who voice concerns about them are sidelined. He and his co-author were effectively “silenced,” he said, when they presented, in a Current Science paper in 2011, the possibility that “the apparent seismic quietness of Jaitapur [where the world’s biggest nuclear power plant has been proposed] does not mean that a severe earthquake cannot occur there.
"Calculations show that there is sufficient accumulated energy now to produce an 8 magnitude earthquake. I cannot say when. It may not happen tomorrow, but it could possibly happen sometime this century, or wait longer to produce a much larger one. The central Himalayas, Uttarakhand in particular, are vulnerable, considering that the last massive earthquake took place there as long ago as 1505. Scientists have fairly reliable figures for the rate of compression in the Himalayas, but the absence of data on earthquake cycles or their recurrence interval means that we cannot accurately quantify or map seismic risk.
In the Himalayas we need to push our records back to 10,000 years in order to understand these cycles and chart at least the last five major seismic events. We need to look far more rigorously at earth archives — buried fossil traces of previous fractures — all along the foothills through trench excavations, and a dense GPS network. Remarkably, little geological research has been done to quantify earthquake risks in vulnerable areas; those that are densely populated or sites of critical facilities such as dams and power stations where an earthquake hazard has a high potential to cascade.
The scientific rationale for locating a borehole earthquake observatory eight-kilometre deep in Koyna, rather than tunnelling or trenching along the Himalayan foothills, is baffling. Why would you spend hundreds of crores to study earthquakes at a site where the strain energy has been largely drained [in the 1967 earthquake] and where another consequential event is unlikely for the foreseeable future? I would go to a place where earthquake genesis is truly fast, such as the central Himalayas.
India’s western coast, a well-recognised zone of potential seismic vulnerabilities, is likely laced with ancient faultlines buried under sediments and waiting to spring back like a piano accordion under continental compression. It is intriguing that Jaitapur [on the Maharashtra coast], the chosen site for the world’s biggest nuclear power plant, should have been declared seismically safe without refuting these possibilities. My concern is that the various geological proxies of faultlines around Jaitapur and their possible implications on the plant and public safety have been neither adequately studied nor communicated. A clear picture of Jaitapur’s vulnerabilities and their quantification, needed in order to calculate the level of safety measures to be incorporated, is missing from the earthquake hazard assessment of the site.
We have every technological possibility to exhaustively investigate the subsurface geology of Jaitapur including high resolution seismic imaging that can be carried out at a fraction of the project cost. Scientists tend to downplay earthquake risks. It is convenient to do so. You keep everybody happy when you maintain status quo. But science only grows by addressing challenges, by considering alternative views and designing incisive experiments to prove or refute conjectures.
.. I am used to being painted as “anti-development” by scientists and engineers. It took decades for scientists to accept my argument that a major earthquake was likely to occur at Tehri dam and that the design should be subjected to a three-dimensional computer test. The test was never done, and instead my pleas were advertised as resistance to building the dam. I despair at approaches to development that privileges engineering prowess and trivialises developmental concerns. Sadly, our scientific culture lacks responsibility and rigour towards public safety, and so denies society the advantage of information, and consequently resilience, against the natural disaster."

India - Educational institutions in quake hit areas to remain closed on Thursday. Authorities in the earthquake hit Doda and Kathua districts on Wednesday ordered closure of all educational institutions, keeping in view apprehension of aftershocks.

Volcano Webcams


In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical Cyclone Zane was located approximately 270 nm north-northwest of Cairns, Australia. The final warning has been issued on this system.

Cyclone Zane, which is about 400km east of Cape Melville and moving northeast towards Lockhart River, strengthened into a category two storm on Tuesday. Zane is expected to hit far northern Queensland tonight or early tomorrow bringing a dangerous storm tide, heavy rain and winds up to 160km/h. But the weather bureau has cancelled a cyclone warning for parts of Queensland's Cape York after Tropical Cyclone Zane weakened rapidly overnight into a tropical low. "It deteriorated very quickly overnight. It will continue as a trough system across the gulf but it's nothing too significant now."
Tropical Cyclone Zane formed in the Coral Sea to the northeast of Queensland on Monday and quickly strengthened during the next 24 hours. The last time a tropical cyclone crossed the Peninsula was in April 2006 when Severe Tropical Cyclone Monica crossed just south of Lockhart River as a category three system.


H7N9 bird flu is a 'serious threat' - researchers warn. The outbreak of a new type of bird flu in China poses a "serious threat" to human health, but it is still too soon to predict how far it will spread. H7N9 is the 'NASTIEST VIRUS IN HUMANS IN YEARS.'
Of the 126 people known to be infected so far, 24 have died, with many more still severely ill in hospital. The H7N9 virus has not, however, yet proved able to spread between people - which limits its global threat. The threat should be "treated calmly, but seriously", researchers advised.
There is concern over both the pace and severity of the outbreak. There has been a relatively high number of known infections since the first case was detected in April. "It is UNUSUAL TO GET THESE NUMBERS." How the virus spreads is key. As long as it can spread only from a bird to a person through direct contact it posses a relatively small risk globally - particularly in richer countries where such contact is rare. If it can spread from one person to another then the threat becomes much more potent. This has not yet happened and it is impossible to tell whether it will happen tomorrow or never.
Of those infected, a fifth died, a fifth recovered and the rest are still ill. The infection results in severe pneumonia and even blood poisoning and organ failure. "The WHO considers this a serious threat, but we don't know at this stage whether this is going to spread from human to human." So far nearly all cases have been traced back to contact with poultry. If the virus adapts to spread readily between people it will pose a much greater threat and scientists warn that the virus is mutating rapidly.
The last major bird flu, H5N1, made the jump to people in 1997 and killed more than three hundred people - yet, it is still unable to spread between humans. Predicting which viruses will become deadly on a global scale is impossible.
"Whenever an influenza virus jumps across from its normal host in bird populations into humans it is a cause for concern." Often in pandemics older people have some immunity as they have lived longer and have been exposed to similar viruses before. However, in this outbreak the ages of those infected ranges from two to 81. "That suggests there truly is no immunity across all ages, and that as humans we have not seen this virus before. "The response has been calm and measured, but it cannot be taken lightly."
A studysuggests that H7N9 influenza is a mix of at least four viruses with origins in ducks and chickens. Unlike the previous H5N1 outbreak, it is not deadly to poultry. It means it is much harder to track the spread of the virus. A highly controversial piece of research in 2012 showed that it would take five mutations to transform H5N1 into a pandemic. "H7N9 might be one step closer to being able to become a pandemic than H5 is in nature at the moment." It already has one of the five mutations when it is infecting birds. "In people who have caught the H7 virus so far we can see [another] one of the important mutations occurring in those people in a matter of days."
US labs progress with H7N9 studies as CDC urges readiness - As labs in the United States study how the H7N9 virus behaves in humans and animals, state and local health officials should dust off their pandemic preparedness plans in case the virus becomes a bigger threat, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
Second case from Hunan raises H7N9 total to 128 - The new H7N9 avian flu virus has been detected in one more patient in China, a finding that edges the number of cases in the outbreak to 128, which includes 24 deaths.

- Krinos Foods, LLC. of Long Island City, New York is recalling its TAHINI sesame paste, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
- Prime Food USA, Brooklyn, NY, is recalling Latis Brand Herring Fillet “Antalja” in Oil and Latis Brand Herring Fillet in Oil with Spices due to contamination with listeria monocytogenes.