Friday, January 24, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - the latest earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, wildfires and record-breaking weather.

**If you can't say something kind,
at least be vague.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 1/23/14 -

'Virtual earthquakes' used to forecast Los Angeles quake risk - The simulation predicts that seismic waves from a major quake occurring along the southern San Andreas Fault will get funneled towards Los Angeles.

5 biggest earthquakes to hit British Columbia, Canada - (that we know of). British Columbia has a history as Canada's hub of seismic activity, with fully half of the country's top 10 temblors taking place in that province.

British Isles - Earthquake-hit New Ollerton is currently the 'most seismically active' town in the British Isles. The town has experienced 30 earthquakes in 50 days.

New Zealand - Quake causes hospital leak. Palmerston North Hospital officials are reassuring the public the site is safe after Monday's 6.3 earthquake caused water to leak down the walls.
A metal eagle sculpture with a 45-foot wingspan was sent sprawling to the floor at Wellington Airport in New Zealand after the earthquake hit. Power has been restored to quake homes.
Quakes are part of life in lower North Island. It was a shaky 24 hours in the lower North Island, with hundreds of aftershocks after Monday's quake near Eketahuna. The lower North Island has been warned to to except more aftershocks but it is very unlikely there will be a magnitude 6 or greater earthquake in the next month.
The quake turned chimneys into projectiles.

Volcano risk? Ask the birds. - Tiny birds, bees and butterflies are to be tracked from space from next year to give us advance warnings of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Indonesia - Legislator urges government to declare national disaster status. "It is time for the government to declare the national disaster status in Indonesia, particularly related to Mount Sinabung eruption" that has been ongoing.

Source of Galapagos eruptions is not where models place it - Images gathered by scientists using seismic waves penetrating to a depth of 300 kilometers (almost 200 miles) report the discovery of an anomaly that likely is the volcanic mantle plume of the Galapagos Islands. It's not where geologists and computer modeling had assumed.
The team's experiments put the suspected plume at a depth of 250 kilometers (155 miles), at a location about 150 kilometers (about 100 miles) southeast of Fernandina Island, the westernmost island of the chain, and where generations of geologists and computer-generated mantle convection models have placed the plume. The plume anomaly is consistent with partial melting, melt extraction, and remixing of hot rocks and is spreading north toward the mid-ocean ridge instead of, as projected, eastward with the migrating Nazca plate on which the island chain sits.
The findings "help explain why so many of the volcanoes in the Galapagos are active." The Galapagos chain covers roughly 3,040 square miles of ocean and is centered about 575 miles west of Ecuador. Galapagos volcanic activity has been difficult to understand, because conventional wisdom and modeling say newer eruptions should be moving ahead of the plate, not unlike the long-migrating Yellowstone hotspot. The suspected plume's location is closer to Isabella and Floreana islands. While a dozen volcanoes remain active in the archipelago, the three most volatile are Fernandina's and the Cerro Azul and Sierra Negra volcanoes on the southwest and southeast tips, respectively, of Isabella Island.
The plume's more southern location, adds fuel to his group's findings, at three different sites along the globe encircling mid-ocean ridge (where 85 percent of Earth's volcanic activity occurs), that Earth's internal convection doesn't always adhere to modeling efforts and raises new questions about how ocean plates at the Earth's surface interact with the hotter, more fluid asthenosphere that sits atop the mantle.
"Ocean islands have always been enigmatic. Why out in the middle of the ocean basins do you get these big volcanoes? The Galapagos, Hawaii, Tahiti, Iceland — all the world's great ocean islands – they're mysterious." The Galapagos plume, according to the new paper, extends up into shallower depths and tracks northward and perpendicular to plate motion. Mantle plumes, such as the Galapagos, Yellowstone and Hawaii, generally are believed to bend in the direction of plate migration. In the Galapagos, however, the volcanic plume has decoupled from the plates involved.
"Here's an archipelago of volcanic islands that are broadly active over a large region, and the plume is almost decoupled from the plate motion itself. It is going opposite than expected, and we don't know why." The answer may be in the still unknown rheology of the gooey asthenosphere on which the Earth's plates ride. . In their conclusion, the paper's five co-authors theorize that the plume material is carried to the mid-ocean ridge by a deep return flow centered in the asthenosphere rather than flowing along the base of the lithosphere as in modeling projections

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

No current tropical storms.

New storm wrecks Philippines typhoon victims' shelters - Residents wait for evacuation on the roofs of houses, which are partially submerged by floods brought by tropical depression ‘Agaton’, in Butuan in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on January 20.
The United Nations warned more needed to be done to help millions displaced by the Philippines' deadliest typhoon, after a new cyclone tore down flimsy shelters. More than 1,000 survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan fled to the safety of government buildings in the town of Guiuan on the weekend as a fresh tropical storm flattened tents and ripped the roofing off other temporary shelters.
Guiuan, on Samar island about 600 kilometres (372 miles) southeast of Manila, was the first area to be devastated when Haiyan hit on November 8. It left nearly 8,000 people dead or missing and more than four million others homeless across the central islands. The government is building temporary housing while looking for safe relocation sites for survivors of coastal communities ravaged by giant waves unleashed by Haiyan, warning the rebuilding would take years.
A UN aid appeal for nearly US$800 million last month for Haiyan relief is about 42 per cent funded, but the component for shelters was “only a fifth funded". British aid group Oxfam also warned the temporary shelters given to Haiyan survivors were no match for the extreme weather in the Philippines, which is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, along with frequent earthquakes.
“In one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, it's critical we quickly provide safe homes... for those continuing to live in dangerous and difficult locations." Government officials are working in villages to evacuate residents after floodwaters brought by tropical depression ‘Agaton’ swamped their homes in Kabadbaran, Agusan del Norte, in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on January 19. The government said the new storm had killed at least 40 people on the southern region of Mindanao, outside of the areas devastated by Haiyan. But in Guiuan, which lies close to Mindanao, up to 30 tents collapsed, while standing water also soaked through the floors of others. (photo gallery at link)

Tropical Depression Agaton - From low pressure area (LPA) to tropical depression to LPA - to tropical depression again? Or even stronger? Weathermen on Tuesday raised the possibility that Tropical Depression Agaton, which has weakened into an LPA, might morph back with the same name and threaten communities anew in eastern parts of the Visayas and Mindanao.
Forecasters said the LPA had a 50-50 chance of turning into a tropical cyclone a second time. Agaton, which claimed at least 60 lives and displaced some 20,000 families in Mindanao since it struck on Friday before it was downgraded back to an LPA, was almost stationary at 465 kilometers east of Davao City as of mid-Tuesday. It was being influenced by two high pressure areas in the Pacific Ocean. “It remains strong because it is still over the sea.”
Pagasa maintained its warning of flash floods and landslides, possibly triggered by the LPA in Eastern Visayas, Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental. In Agusan del Sur province, the rain was no longer as heavy on Tuesday as in the past days, but landslides and flash floods caused by a swelling Agusan River sent thousands more residents fleeing to safety. The number of evacuees had risen to 16,796 families from 10,000 the day before. They are staying in at least 75 temporary shelters.
The Agusan River breached the critical level of 4.55 meters, prompting authorities to order residents to leave their houses along the river and in landslide-prone villages. “There’s an ongoing forced rescue operation in all riverside villages in the city.” Floodwater remained in waist- and chest-deep levels in 83 villages of Butuan where hundreds of houses were submerged. The number of fatalities was pegged at 26 persons, with five missing and 65,649 families (310,594 persons) displaced throughout the five-province region.
Commercial flights in and out of Butuan, the regional capital, were canceled. In Manila, at least 32 flights to Butuan, Surigao and Cagayan de Oro cities in Northern Mindanao were canceled at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) on Tuesday. Many were worried about their families back home due to reports of floods and landslides in the city and other parts of Misamis Oriental. Some 2,810 shipping passengers were also stranded in ports due to bad weather.
In Davao del Norte province, the Saug River overflowed after days of heavy rain, flooding half of the town of Asuncion. The provincial board of Compostela Valley on Tuesday declared the province under a state of calamity. Two days before, municipal officials of Compostela Valley, Monkayo, Montevista and New Bataan made similar proclamations as bad weather damaged crops and infrastructure facilities.

New Zealand - Rare seabird washes up in Christchurch. It's thought to have been blown thousands of kilometres off course by Cyclone Ian, which wreaked havoc on Tonga recently.


Floods inundated France and Italy this January.


The Food and Drug Administration is conducting new studies of the safety of caramel coloring in soft drinks and other foods, even though previous research has shown no identifiable health risk. The agency's announcement comes in response to a study by Consumer Reports that shows varying levels of 4-methylimidazole — an impurity formed in some caramel coloring at low levels during the manufacturing process — in 12 brands of soda from five manufacturers.
The FDA says it has already studied the use of caramel as a flavour and colour additive for decades and it has no reason to believe the coloring used is unsafe. The agency said it is also reviewing new data on the safety of 4-methylimidazole but did not say what that data is. There are no federal limits on the amount of 4-methylimidazole, which the FDA says can also form in trace amounts when coffee beans are roasted or some meats are grilled.
The Consumer Reports study urged the agency to set a maximum level of the substance when it is artificially added to foods or soda, to require labeling when it is added and to bar products from carrying the "natural" label if they contain caramel colours. "There is no reason why consumers need to be exposed to this avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food and beverages brown." Though studies have not been conclusive about whether 4-methylimidazole is a carcinogen, California includes it on the state list of carcinogens and a state law mandates a cancer warning label on products that have a certain level of the substance. In reaction to that law, Coke, Pepsi and other soft drink makers have directed their caramel-colour suppliers to reduce the levels of 4-methylimidazole. It is not found in all caramel colorings.
Over an eight-month period, the study found that single servings of two products purchased in California, Pepsi One and the beverage Malta Goya, exceeded the 29 micrograms of 4-methylimidazole that are the threshold in California but carried no warning. Consumer Reports has asked the California attorney general's office to investigate. A PepsiCo spokeswoman said the company is "extremely concerned" about the study and believes it is factually incorrect. She said the average amount of soda consumed daily by those who drink it is less than a 12-ounce can, so the samples actually do not exceed the limit of 29 micrograms a day. "All of Pepsi's products are below the threshold set in California and all are in full compliance with the law."
The drinks tested were Sprite, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, Dr Pepper, Dr. Snap, Brisk Iced Tea, A&W Root Beer, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi One and Goya Malta. Consumer Reports said there was no significant level found in Sprite, and consistently low levels were found in Coke products.

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