Thursday, September 26, 2013

Global Disaster Watch on Facebook

**Happiness is nothing more than good health
and a bad memory.**
Albert Schweitzer

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 9/25/13 -

+ Peru 7.0 quake - An offshore earthquake with a reported magnitude of 7.0 shook much of Peru on Wednesday but only minor damage and no injuries were reported in the sparsely populated southwestern coastal area near the epicenter. The quake broke windows and opened fissures in the walls of some adobe dwellings in the nearest sizeable town, Acari.
Sand shaken loose by the quake partially blocked a 1-mile (2-kilometer) section of the Panamerican Highway. The quake was felt mildly in Lima, 310 miles (500 kilometers) away and caused swaying in Arequipa, about 170 miles away (300 kilometers). A tsunami warning was not issued. "Most people felt it, not everyone. It lasted a little bit. It wasn't a big shake, just a release, like the movement of a hammock."
Contrary to what was initially expected, the earthquake was more powerful than expected. Local press is reporting a number of collapsed houses in Arequipa, in the Caraveli area and especially in Acari region. More houses have some damage, schools were evacuated. Several landslides occurred, blocking and damaging roads. Also the Pan Americana is affected.
There is no reason to expect major damage because this part of the country has regular very strong subduction earthquakes. A powerful earthquake like this lasts normally more than 20 seconds and is perceived as very strong, even if it is not dangerous for damage. This part of the coastal area is luckily sparsely populated. No people are living within a radius of 10 km from the epicenter. Less than 100 people are living in between 10 and 20 km. Only 6800 people are living within a 50 km radius. Only those houses within a radius of 20 km would be expected to have slight damage like cracks in walls, fallen roof tiles and plaster etc.
Despite the 'NO TSUNAMI ' report from the PWTC, the local coast could have still had strong currents and local tsunamis could have been generated. People certainly needed to keep away from the coastline.

+ The death toll from the devastating earthquake in western Pakistan has risen to 327. The greatest damage occurred in Awaran, Baluchistan’s poorest district, which is near the deep-sea port of Gwadar. The remoteness of the area was impeding relief efforts. “It was a big quake, and the damage is extensive."
Baluchistan is Pakistan’s largest but poorest province, troubled by many conflicts. In addition, the province is prone to earthquakes and recently dealt with a crippling drought. Baluchistan was also badly hit by devastating floods that swept Pakistan in 2010, inundating about one-fifth of the country and affecting about 20 million people. About 2,000 people died in that disaster. “We are seriously lacking medical facilities, and there is no space to treat injured people in the local hospitals.”
More than 300,000 people have been affected over a total of six districts - Awaran, Kech, Gwadar, Panjgur, Chaghi and Khuzdar - in Balochistan. The death toll currently stands at 328 - 160 in Awaran town, 125 in other areas of Awaran district and 43 in Kech. It is feared the death toll could rise once other areas are reached. The number of wounded is reportedly more than 440. It was the biggest earthquake in Pakistan since 2005.
In Awaran, about 90% of houses in the district have been destroyed. Entire villages in Awaran are reported to have been flattened. Some 250 houses collapsed in the village of Dalbedi and villagers were clawing through debris for possessions. "We have lost everything, even our food is now buried under mud and water from underground channels is now undrinkable because of excessive mud in it due to the earthquake." [maps & photos]
Pakistan island formed from a mud volcano? - As a result of the 7.7-magnitude earthquake shook western Pakistan early on Tuesday, residents of Gwadar saw a solitary island rise from the sea. Older residents of the coastal town said the land emergence was déjà vu — an earthquake in 1968 produced an island that stayed for one year and then vanished.
Seismologists suspect the island is a temporary formation resulting from a "mud volcano," a jet of mud, sand and water that gushed to the surface as the temblor churned and pressurized that slurry under the ocean floor. "Sandy layers underground are shaken, and sand grains jiggle and become more compact." The shifting sand layers are compacted and pressurize the water, which gushed upwards, carrying mud and sand along with it.
This "liquefaction" of sand and mud layers take place after any earthquake, but these sudden islands are usually spotted after strong earthquakes, at least 7- or 8-magnitude events. The distance of the island from the epicenter of the quake is "a little bit surprising," granted that "the sediments are quite soft and susceptible to this."
Back in the 1940s, a sizable island rose from the sea in the area, but it didn't last long. After an earthquake near Karachi struck, the British Indian Geological survey recorded a new island "big enough that people could land a boat and walk on it. Within days, weeks" — they weren't sure how long — "it washed away."
Researchers at the United States Geological Survey are investigating the new formation, but have yet to get independent confirmation of it. It is clear that "the islands are not created because the ground was ... pushed up by the earthquake" but more likely it was a secondary effect of shifting sediments. The formation appears to have been caused by a mud volcano, but they don't need an earthquake to set them off. There are "mud volcanoes in Yellowstone that have not been triggered by earthquakes."
While mud volcanoes are typical of watery, loose sediments layers off the coast of Baluchistan, more substantial instant islands — or "land uprisings" — do suddenly appear in other parts of the world. They're typically seen along fault lines where one tectonic plate slides under another, like the hungry subduction zone under New Zealand. Fault lines like the San Andreas, at which the Pacific Plate and the North American plates slide past each other sideways, are less likely to see such upcrops.
It also takes a pretty sizable earthquake to push up an entirely new land feature. "You wouldn't expect to see it in a 3- or 4-magnitude [quake]." It would take a stronger temblor of 7 or 8 magnitude to change the landscape.
+ Pakistan quake island 'emits flammable gas' - Barely half an hour after they were jolted by a major earthquake on Tuesday, people of the Pakistani coastal town of Gwadar had another shock when they saw a new island emerge in the sea, just over a kilometre from the shore. "It's an oval shaped island which is about 250ft to 300ft (76-91m) in length, and about 60 to 70ft above the water."It has a rough surface, much of which is muddy and some parts are mostly made up of fine-to-coarse-grained sand. One part of it is solid rock.
"There were dead fish on the surface. And on one side we could hear the hissing sound of the escaping gas." Though they couldn't smell methane, explorers did put a match to the fissures from where the gas was oozing, and set it on fire. "We put the fire out in the end, but it was quite a hassle. Not even the water could kill it, unless one poured buckets over it."
The story now doing the rounds in Gwadar is that a similar hill had jutted out of the sea 60 or 70 years ago, and that the elders had then named it the Zalzala Koh, or the quake hill. They say Tuesday's earthquake has brought it back. Their story is not entirely incorrect. However the quake hill that appeared in 1945 was not near Gwadar, but over 100km to the east, although it was along the same coastline, which is called the Makran coast. The island that popped up near Gwadar is the fourth in this region since 1945, and the third during the last 15 years.
About 700km from east to west, the Makran coast is characterised by high seismic activity, and is home to several hills called mud volcanoes, having craters at the top from which methane gas seeps. These volcanoes are located inland, and have been there for a long time. But similar formations that emerge offshore are usually washed away by the sea. Geologists say it is part of the continuing process of continental drift, or the drift of land mass across the oceans that brought the Indian sub-continent to collide with Eurasia and created the fault-lines, some of which run through the Makran coast.
The energy released by the seismic movements of these fault-lines activates inflammable gases in the seabed. "The seabed near the Makran coast has vast deposits of gas hydrates, or frozen gas having a large methane content. These deposits lay compressed under a sediment bed that is 300m-800m thick. When the plates along the fault-lines move, they create heat and the expanding gas blasts through the fissures in the earth's crust, propelling the entire sea floor to the surface."
In 1999, and again in 2010, islands appeared within 1km of the coast of Ormara, just below the delta of the Hingol river. One of the best known mud volcanoes of the region, the Chandragup, is located just inland from this location, a little way off the Hingol river. The seismic activity in the coastal seabed has caused the gases to make conduits inland, leading to the formation of Chandragup and other mud volcanoes. But while these inland volcanoes have sat along the Makran coast for centuries, the islands appearing in the sea hardly last more than a few months.
"One reason is that over a period of time, the pressure that propelled the sea floor to the surface eases up, causing the islands to subside. Another reason is that the fine-grained muddy material of the sedimentary seabed soon starts to erode due to sea action. In seven or eight months, the island is gone, and only its signature remains on the seabed." [Photos at link]

Nicaragua on alert after volcano blast - Telica volcano in Nicaragua has erupted with a mighty blast and a column of ash, then quieted down again. No one was hurt but villagers near the volcano in the northwest of the Central American nation were told to remain on alert. The morning blast spewed ash 50m into the air. After the single blast, civil defence staff remained on site to gather information. Villagers were put on alert and told to protect their water and food sources.

Sakurajima volcano (Kyushu, Japan) - Activity remains at high levels with near-constant ash venting and frequent and often large vulcanian explosions (ash plumes rising to 10,000 ft / 3 km altitude).

Klyuchevskoy volcano (Kamchatka) - eruption continues. Strombolian activity, strong degassing, and the effusion of a lava flow on the upper flank continue.


* In the Western Pacific -
Typhoon Pabuk is located approximately 275 nm south-southeast of Yokosuka, Japan.
Philippines - State weather forecasters are now tracking a new potential cyclone off Mindoro Oriental province, even as they warned of possible floods and landslides over Mindoro and Palawan. The potential cyclone, a low-pressure area, was estimated at 320 km west of Oriental Mindoro as of 10 a.m. But they could not yet determine when it may intensify into a cyclone at this time, saying they are still observing it. Should the LPA become a cyclone while inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility, it will be locally codenamed Paolo.
In the meantime, PAGASA said the LPA and the southwest monsoon may bring "cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and thunderstorms over the western section of southern Luzon and Western Visayas." The rain may be moderate to occasionally heavy over Mindoro provinces and northern Palawan including Coron island, "which may trigger flash floods and landslides. Residents in these areas are advised to take all the necessary precautionary measures."

Tropics quiet again with two months remaining in the Atlantic hurricane season - The tropics are quiet again, as a system that threatened to strengthen on Mexico's Gulf coast lost organization Monday.


Australia - Wild weather lashed Victoria. Stormy conditions caused trees to be uprooted, train stations flooded and power cut to homes overnight and on Thursday morning. About 2500 homes in Ballarat and Colac remained without power after 11,000 homes were hit by power outages across the state overnight.
Commuters faced big delays on some rail lines. A metal sheet was blown off a building and found near the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Wind gusts exceeded 100km/h in some parts of the city, reaching 102km/h at Avalon. Essendon recorded speeds up to 92km/h. Severe weather warnings remain in place for the state, however winds were expected to die down on Thursday afternoon.


Australia - Emergency services across New South Wales have had their hands full with hundreds of incidents as high winds spark fires and uproot trees across the state. Fire crews are working to contain a bushfire south of Taree, which has blocked the Pacific Highway in both directions. The blaze has been classified as a Watch and Act but there are no immediate threats to homes in the area.
Fire and Rescue NSW are dealing with more than 100 smaller bush and grass fires, mostly in western Sydney. Earlier, motorists were forced to navigate through smoke as a grassfire burned next to the M7 in Hinchinbrook. The SES dealt with more than 200 wind-related calls, 100 of which were for within the Sydney metro area. Falling trees cut off electricity to about 4000 homes in Sydney shortly after 2pm (AEST).
Residents across NSW and the ACT were told to prepare for wild damaging winds on Thursday with a cold front moving across the region. As of midday winds had hit 96km/h at Sydney's Kurnell, 93/km at Moss Vale and 87km/h at Sydney airport. Goulburn experienced winds of 102km/h and Wollongong reached a top of 95km/h. The highest reading in the state was on the south coast at Montague Island, off Narooma, where gusts reached 119km/h.
Conditions were forecast to ease over the afternoon but crews expected the calls to continue regardless. "As people come home from work they might find that a couple of things have been blown around or damaged on their property." The SES has urged residents to tie down lose outdoor items and move vehicles inside and away from trees. A total fire ban remains in place through NSW.


On Wednesday, experts reaffirmed their earlier finding that MERS is not a global health emergency.