Thursday, August 1, 2013

**Is it right?
Then do it.**
Walter J. Hickel

Live Seismograms - Worldwide

This morning -

Yesterday, 7/31/13 -

New Zealand - Another earthquake hits Wellington. A 4.9 magnitude earthquake has rocked central New Zealand, shaking buildings in Wellington. It's the largest tremor to hit the area since a 5.4 magnitude earthquake shook the area at 1am local time on Monday.
Hundreds of aftershocks have rolled in since a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Cook Strait on July 21, damaging Wellington buildings and leaving about 25 people with minor injuries. Thursday's 4.9 magnitude tremor, which GeoNet classified as strong, hit 30km east of Seddon at a depth of 16km. Almost 2000 people have registered on the GeoNet website that they felt the shaking. There have been more than 2,000 tremors since the earthquakes started on July 19.

Japan - Giant rooftop pendulums to cut quake shaking in Tokyo. The Big One is due in Tokyo, but 300-ton pendulums on rooftops of tall buildings could cut shaking by 60 percent. While the pendulums probably won't save lives, swaying can cause injury and damage to tall buildings.
Tokyo seems overdue for a major quake. The last one was 90 years ago, when the Great Kanto Earthquake killed more than 100,000 people, and scientists say a big one may strike soon. Buildings are better made today, yet over 6,000 people died in the Great Hanshin Earthquake that hit Kobe in 1995. Now, two Japanese companies want to install giant pendulums on skyscraper rooftops to reduce the swaying caused by major earthquakes.
They have developed a 300-ton pendulum that will act as a counterweight to long-period seismic waves. It's a variation of tuned mass damper technology, used in many towers, bridges, and buildings to reduce seismic vibration amplitudes. The companies plan to spend about $51 million installing six such pendulums atop the Shinjuku Mitsui Building, a 55-story skyscraper in Tokyo completed in 1974. The building swayed as much as 6 feet during the magnitude-9.0 quake that centered on northeast Japan in March 2011.
Japan's first skyscraper was erected in 1968, and since then various vibration-dampening technologies have been used. Pendulum know-how has been used in newer high-rises, but the Mitsui-Kajima device could be retrofitted to older structures just by installing it on roofs.

Volcano Webcams

A subterranean “highway from hell” enables some volcanoes to erupt at super-speed, a discovery that also throws up options for predicting the peril.
Volcanoes disgorge molten rock generated within the mantle, the layer sandwiched between Earth’s crust and fiery core. The magma gathers in a chamber beneath the volcano, progressively rising until the pressure — detectable over time by rumblings at the surface — becomes too great and an eruption occurs. Conventional wisdom has it that the mantle magma creeps upwards before it reaches the chamber, lingering for long periods in a kind of halfway house several kilometres beneath the volcano.
But the new research suggests there are channels that run directly through the crust from the mantle to the magma chamber itself. As a result, a volcano can be recharged and primed for action in a matter of months — a blink of an eye in geological terms, and and a clear danger to humans living nearby. The evidence comes from traces of an eruption between 1963 and 1965 of Irazu, a Costa Rican stratovolcano located on the notorious Pacific Ring of Fire.
Buried in crystals of the volcanic mineral olivine are spikes of nickel, which is a trace element in the mantle. The spikes were a telltale sign of an extraordinarily fast ascent — a slower rise would have meant that the nickel would have melted and diffused through the crystals. The magma charged 35 kilometres (20 miles) through the crust in just months. There has to be a conduit from the mantle to the magma chamber. We like to call it the highway from hell.”
Olivine with the signature nickel spikes has also been found in volcanoes in Mexico, Siberia and northwestern America, proving that this is not a local phenomenon. The findings may explain why seismologists have sometimes detected mysterious earthquakes occurring at great depths — 20 to 30 kilometres (12-18 miles) — several months before great eruptions. These may herald mantle magma blasting its way through the hidden channels.
These examples include the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines — an event that disgorged so much ash into the atmosphere that it temporarily cooled the planet — and the 2010 blowout of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull, causing the famous ash cloud that resulted in widespread flight cancellations.
Vulcanologists, says the paper, should try to look for signs of deep quakes in the lower and middle crust. Giving a warning several months before an eruption, rather than days or weeks, would save lives and limit destruction to property. But, say the authors, volcano prediction is still a tricky business. Scientists still have to learn what to look for and to translate the signals into a useable date of when the eruption will occur.

Sputtering Popocatepetl volcano under constant, wary watch by team of Mexican technicians. Monitors indicate that "Don Goyo" is breathing normally, even as he spews hot rock, steam and ash.
That kind of activity isn't unusual for the volcano, Mexico's second-highest, whose formal name is Popocatepetl, or "Smoking Mountain". But this volcano is in the middle of two metro areas, where his every spurt can put 20 million people on edge. Mexico's National Disaster Prevention Center laboratory keeps a round-the-clock watch on Popocatepetl, with anywhere from six to 15 technicians analyzing data for signs of a full-scale eruption, which they can never fully anticipate.
Though lava or glowing rock would only travel so far, an explosion could be deadly for 11,000 people in three farming villages within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of the base because of landslides and hot gas. A spectacular plume of ash could also wreak havoc on one of the world's largest metro areas, much as it did in 2003, when the sky over Mexico City more than 40 miles (65 kilometers) away nearly went dark in the middle of the afternoon. The neighboring city of Puebla on the other side of the volcano from the capital would also be clouded over. "The volcano is like a patient, and we observe the different aspects. Here we receive over 60 indicators in real time."
The data helps set the "volcano stoplight," a three-color system in which green means little activity, yellow means warning and red starts the evacuation process - something that has occurred only twice since 1994, when the volcano awoke again after sitting dormant for seven decades. "It's one of the most advanced laboratories of its kind in the world, and the scientists in charge are using the best methods. It is very difficult to predict the behavior of a volcano that has not had an eruption in recent history."
Earlier this month, Popocatepetl released ash that grounded plane flights and dusted cars, but it quieted down enough last week for the warning to drop from yellow-3 to yellow-2. The Mexican government has designated evacuation routes and shelter locations in the case of a bigger explosion. Mexico's disaster prevention center says Popo has been active for at least 500,000 years and has had at least three eruptions as large as Mount St. Helens, the most recent 23,000 years ago.
Unlike Hawaiian volcanos and their rivers of lava, the biggest dangers for those nearby are mudslides and swift-moving clouds of gas. For those farther away, it's the ash, which can ruin motors, stall airplanes, cover roofs with material heavy enough to make buildings collapse and cause respiratory diseases.
"Considering the number of people who would be affected, it could be considered among the most dangerous volcanos in the world." The trick is monitoring the crater, where it's too hot for instruments, and that's where the seismographs offer clues. Some tremors indicate an internal buildup of magma, while others result from expulsions of rock and ash. At times the only way to really see what's going on inside is to fly over the crater, something Mexican officials do regularly, feeding the laboratory more data.
The technicians are especially watchful of lava domes that can form inside the crater in hours, days or weeks, creating a pressurized cap. The domes usually grow and then collapse. But they could also harden into a sort of bottle-stopper, allowing pressure to build until the volcano violently dislodges the cap in an explosion. What seems to be happening with Popo is lava settling inside, bringing the crater floor closer and closer to the rim.
"The volcano becomes more dangerous as the crater fills with lava, and the domes that form are closer in elevation to the crater rim. Explosions can more easily throw red hot lava fragments over the rim and onto the volcano flanks." In 2000, Popo's floor was 150 yards (meters) below the rim of the crater, compared to 50 yards (meters) today. "It's a very important relationship that we've established. We take care of this volcano."


In the Eastern Pacific -
Tropical storm Gil is located about 985 mi (1585 km) SW of the southern tip of Baja, California. Gil could become a hurricane by Thursday. Not yet a threat to Hawaii. (maps)

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Jebi is located approximately 567 nm southeastward of Hanoi, Vietnam. (maps)

Tropical Storm Jebi unlikely to threaten Taiwan - The tropical storm that formed in the South China Sea on Wednesday may not affect Taiwan directly.


Australia - Waste water set to 'drought proof' Perth. Treated waste water from toilets, showers and washing machines will be pumped back into Western Australia's water system following a three-year trial.
The state took another step towards becoming the first in Australia to rely on recycled waste water for drinking, after the trial at a $50 million treatment plant was successfully completed. Officials are satisfied the treated water is safe for human consumption - with every one of the 62,300 water samples passing strict health and safety guidelines. They have now revealed progression to the next stage, where seven billion litres of treated water will be returned to the system via ground aquifers.
The recycled water will start flowing in 2016. The Water Minister countered the "yuck factor" by confirming it will be about 30 years before the water is actually being consumed. "The water is actually pure before we put it back in the aquifers for naturalisation - it will be there for potentially up to 30 years before it will flow out of taps again. By the time the water is extracted, it will be the same as any other groundwater."
Since 1992, concerns over Perth's future water supply have become increasingly urgent, with increased water consumption coupled with a drastic reduction in the flows into dams. Desalination plants have bridged some gaps, but by 2060 it is feared Perth's water usage will overtake supply by a massive 365 gigalitres. So the state government, the CSIRO and water bosses embarked on the ambitious trial, which treated 2533 megalitres of water through micro filtration, reverse osmosis and ultra-violet disinfection to produce high quality recycled water. As much as 28 billion litres a year could be recycled from the Craigie facility if the scheme is given the full green light.