Friday, April 22, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?**
E. M. Forster

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 4/23/15 -

4/22/15 -

4/21/15 -

4/20/15 -

New Zealand - 'Buildings sway' as 'severe' 6.2 quake strikes top of South Island. Dozens of people have reported feeling a magnitude 6.2 earthquake which hit near Kaikoura in the South Island this afternoon. The quake struck at a depth of 50km, 35km south- east of St Arnaud, at 3.36pm. It was classified as "severe" by GeoNet, the highest intensity available.
More than 4500 "felt reports" have been recorded on GeoNet, however more than 90% of them listed the quake as "light". There could be aftershocks up to a magnitude 5 over the coming days or weeks. GNS received one report describing the intensity as "damaging" and more than 20 saying the intensity was "strong". Spark said its mobile phone network is congested following the quake, and that congestion is now affecting other parts of the country.
It felt like two quakes back to back, the first not so bad and the second felt like a "big jolt". The council building was evacuated but did not appear to be damaged. There were no reports of damage elsewhere, but people would be sent out to check. Southern Ambulance Communications said it received no call outs. Near the epicentre, a Department of Conservation worker said it was a "big ol' wobble and shudder", saying it was the worst he's felt since he moved to the region.
A Saint Arnaud resident described it as the most severe earthquake they had felt in 11 years living in the area. The woman described it as a "violent jolt" that lasted for around 40 seconds. A spokesperson for the Rainbow Ski Field, in the Saint Arnaud Range, said it was a "very scary earthquake! Mountain was roaring with rock falls." The ski field is assessing access roads for rock fall. Hanmer Springs Animal Park said the quake "freaked the animals out" and a few customers were preparing to run too. The park cares for ponies, donkeys, llamas, alpacas and more.
At the Alpine Lodge in St Arnaud the quake felt "very heavy". The lodge had a few glasses and bottles fall from a chiller but otherwise everything was ok and all guests are safe. A worker at the Kaikoura New World supermarket said produce had fallen off the store's shelves. The supermarket was evacuated as a precautionary measure but New World staff are now back in their building. (video at link)

More than 143 million people in the U. S. Lower 48 states, nearly half the population, now live on shaky ground, earthquake scientists say. That's because more people have moved into the quake-prone West Coast and some quake zones were recently expanded, according to researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey.
The research didn't include Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, but scientists using older data estimated that nearly half of Americans — or 150 million people — live in earthquake regions. About 28 million people face the highest threat, mostly along the West Coast where the San Andrea Fault cuts through California and a huge undersea fault lurks off the Pacific Northwest.
The latest calculations by the USGS, Federal Emergency Management Agency and California Geological Survey were reported Wednesday. There have been a few previous attempts to figure out how many people live in quake-prone areas. A federal estimate two decades ago found that 75 million people in 39 states were at risk of shaking.
The USGS last year updated its national earthquake maps that increased the quake danger for one-third of the country. While the Pacific coast remains a seismic hotspot, other regions as the Rockies, Midwest, New England and parts of the Southeast also face an elevated risk. "The distribution of earthquake risk is much broader and wider beyond the West Coast."
The new work focused on the Lower 48 states because scientists don't yet have updated maps for the whole country. Researchers didn't take into account regions where small earthquakes have been caused by oil and gas drilling. If those were included, the number of people exposed to shaking would be higher.
The team also calculated potential economic losses from damaged buildings such as homes, hospitals, schools and fire stations. The average loss amounted to $4.5 billion with the greatest financial hit to California, Oregon and Washington. "We've always been told that we should be prepared. But this study puts some teeth into the recommendation."
Government scientists have been testing a West Coast seismic alert system designed to detect the initial shock waves from a large jolt, calculate the strength and give a few seconds of warning before the arrival of slower, damaging waves. Supporters say an early warning system would allow trains to stop, companies to shut off gas lines and people to duck under a table until the shaking stops. Only select scientists and companies currently receive the alerts.

Thousands evacuated after volcano eruption in Chile - The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile has erupted for the first time in more than four decades, sending a plume of smoke and ash several kilometres high. Emergency services declared a red alert and about 1,500 people were evacuated from the nearby town of Ensenada as a precaution. Calbuco is near the tourist town of Puerto Varas, about 1,000km (625 miles) south of the capital Santiago.
Among Chile's most active volcanoes in the past, it last erupted in 1972. Authorities said no hot rocks or lava had been seen so far, only ash. The eruption came as a surprise. Chile's National Emergency Office ordered an evacuation in a 20km radius and flights over the volcano were suspended.
"There are a lot of people out in the streets, many heading to the gas stations to fill up." Chile has the second largest chain of volcanoes in the world after Indonesia, with around 500 that are potentially active. It is southern Chile's second volcano eruption in as many months. In March, the Villarrica volcano erupted in the early hours of the morning, spewing ash and lava into the sky.
Fears of a third eruption - Southern Chile covered in ash after volcano erupts twice. Southern Chile dug itself out from under a thick layer of gray ash Friday while keeping a wary eye on the Calbuco volcano after it spectacularly erupted for the first time in half a century.
The volcano, which unexpectedly burst into life with two eruptions Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, forcing 4,500 people to evacuate, caused alarm again early Friday when it emitted a large puff of smoke. The head of the National Geology and Mines Service said the volcano was still in "crisis phase," though initial warnings of a possible third eruption have not materialized so far.
The ash cloud meanwhile continued to drift, disrupting flights across a large swath of South America, including one plane from Sydney to Santiago that was forced to turn back after five hours. In Buenos Aires, on the other side of the continent, American Airlines, United, Delta and Air France all cancelled flights to and from Europe and the United States. Chilean authorities have declared a state of emergency, sent in the army and evacuated a 20-kilometer radius around Calbuco, which is located in Los Lagos, a region popular with tourists for its beautiful mountain landscapes dotted with volcanoes and lakes with black-sand beaches.
Scores of evacuated residents gathered at the police barricade outside the town of La Ensenada, anxious to check on their homes and feed their pets. On the other side of the security perimeter, the evacuation area was turned into a scattering of ghost towns blanketed with ash up to one meter (three feet) thick. In La Ensenada, a town of 1,500 people that was the first to be evacuated, workers used heavy trucks to plow the roads clear as a handful of residents ignored the evacuation order to shovel the ash and debris off their rooftops. The weight of the ash caused some roofs to collapse.
Authorities said that if the current conditions held, residents would be allowed to return home for a few hours in the afternoon to retrieve some belongings, after fleeing with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Ash particles spread over southern Uruguay and a broad belt across central Argentina, though the national weather services said they were at high altitude and did not impair visibility.
Experts cautioned that a third eruption could still follow. "We're still in what is considered the crisis phase," said the head of the National Geology and Mines Service. "We cannot rule out a new eruption."The situation remained "unpredictable." There have been no reports of injuries so far, but officials warned the ash could be harmful for people, animals, crops and infrastructure. Authorities handed out protective masks in affected towns in both Chile and Argentina. Officials have also warned of the risk of flooding from hot lava melting snow and ice high in the mountains.
The first eruption, which lasted about 90 minutes, spewed a giant mushroom cloud of ash into the sky, which turned hues of pink and yellow as the sun set over the area. Seven hours later, the volcano shot red and orange plumes of lava into the sky, as bluish-white bolts of lightning sliced through the billowing ash cloud. Until minutes before the first blast, volcano monitoring systems had picked up nothing.
"It was so silent, it didn't give any warning. The smoke just shot straight up into the sky and formed a giant mushroom. It was really impressive. It was a spectacular landscape." The volcano had last erupted in 1961 and showed light activity in 1972. The latest eruptions had opened up four new craters, giving Calbuco six in all.
It is the second eruption in Chile since March 3, when the Villarrica volcano emitted a brief but fiery burst of ash and lava. Chile has about 90 active volcanoes. The long, thin country has been hit by a series of natural disasters in recent months, from flooding in its usually arid north, home to the world's driest desert, to wildfires in its drought-hit southern forests.
Timelapse video of the eruption .

Magma intrusion is likely source of Columbia-Ecuador border quake swarms - The "seismic crisis" around the region of the Chiles and Cerro Negro de Mayasquer volcanoes near the Columbia-Ecuador border is likely caused by intruding magma, according to a report by the Servicio Geológico Colombiano. The intruding magma appears to be interacting with the regional tectonics to spawn micro-earthquakes, which at their peak of activity numbered thousands of micro-earthquakes each day.
Most of the earthquakes were less than magnitude 3, although the largest quake to date was magnitude 5.6 that took place in October 2014. When the earthquake swarms began in 2013, the Colombian Servicio Geológico Colombiano and the Ecuadoran Instituto Geofísico of the Escuela Politécnica Nacional collaborated to set up a monitoring system to observe the swarms and judge the risk of volcanic eruption for the surrounding population.
The largest perceived threat of eruption came in the fall of 2014, when the activity level was changed from yellow to orange, meaning a probable occurrence of eruption in days to weeks. Due to the occurrence of a magnitude 5.6 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, some houses in the area were damaged and local residents decided to sleep in tents to feel safe.
Data collected by the new monitoring stations suggest that most of the earthquakes in the area are of a type of volcano-tectonic quakes, which occur when the movement of magma - and the fluids and gases it releases - creates pressure changes in the rocks above. Based on the seismic activity in the area, the researchers infer that millions of cubic meters of magma have moved into the area deep under the Chile and Cerro Negro volcanoes. However, both volcanoes appear to have been dormant for at least 10,000 years, and the tectonic stress in the region is compressive — both of which may be holding the magma back from erupting to the surface.
So far, there have been no signs of ground swelling or outgassing at the surface, and the rate of earthquakes has slowed considerably this year from its peak of 7000 - 8000 micro-quakes per day in the fall of 2014.

Titanic Blob of Magma Found Beneath Yellowstone Supervolcano - A giant blob-shaped reservoir of searing-hot rock has been discovered far below the supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park — one that could fill the Grand Canyon more than 11 times over, researchers say.
The discovery doesn't raise the risk of future eruptions at Yellowstone. However, a better understanding of the Yellowstone supervolcano's plumbing could shed light on any hazards it might pose. The newfound blob-shaped magma reservoir lies in the lower crust. The molten rock extends from about 12 to 28 miles (19 to 45 kilometers) deep, and measures about 30 miles (48 km) long northwest to southeast and 44 miles (70 km) long southwest to northeast. This magma reservoir is about 11,200 cubic miles (46,700 cubic km) in size.
Previous studies had identified an oddly shaped magma chamber closer to the surface of the Yellowstone supervolcano, one 2,500 cubic miles (10,420 cubic km) in size, enough to fill the Grand Canyon about 2.5 times. This chamber looks like a gigantic frying pan, with a "handle" rising to the northeast, measuring about 19 miles (30 km) long from northwest to southeast and 55 miles (90 km) long southwest to northeast. This chamber lies about 3 to 9 miles (5 to 14 km) beneath the surface of Yellowstone National Park.
Scientists think the "frying pan" magma chamber is filled with both melted rock, or magma, and hot crystals — a mixture similar to a syrupy, shaved-ice dessert. However, the shallow magma chamber discovered previously was too small to account for the amount of material ejected by past Yellowstone eruptions. Scientists also could not explain the very high levels of carbon dioxide escaping from the area.
Earlier studies also detected a mushroom-shaped plume of hot rock rising from the Earth's mantle underneath the magma chamber. This mantle plume surges upward from a depth of at least 440 miles (710 km) in the Earth's mantle, and some researchers suspect it originates 1,800 miles (2,900 km) deep near the Earth's core. The plume is roughly 50 miles (80 km) wide as it rises through the Earth's mantle, spreading out like a pancake after it hits the uppermost mantle, at a depth of about 40 miles (65 km).
Scientists said the newly found magma chamber connects the smaller reservoir above it to the mantle plume below it. "For the first time, we have imaged the continuous volcanic plumbing system under Yellowstone."
Supervolcanoes are capable of eruptions surpassing anything ever recorded by humanity. There are roughly a dozen supervolcanoes on Earth today, and one of the largest encompasses Yellowstone National Park. The park is a caldera, or giant crater, that is about 40 by 25 miles (65 by 40 kilometers) in size. Each of three cataclysmic supervolcano eruptions at Yellowstone pelted much of North America with volcanic ash.
The Yellowstone supervolcano's last cataclysmic eruption took place about 640,000 years ago, although lava seeped onto the surface in the area as recently as 70,000 years ago. A supervolcano eruption today would be cataclysmic, but the chance for one at Yellowstone is maybe one in 700,000 every year.
The researchers emphasized that the Yellowstone supervolcano is no closer to erupting than before. "This finding does not change the volcano hazard evaluation of Yellowstone that has already been assessed. These findings do not tell us if a future eruption of Yellowstone is more or less likely."
By understanding how supervolcano plumbing works, scientists can now develop new models to better estimate the hazards they pose. "Our study opens up many new directions and future opportunities in volcano research. For example, it will be interesting to see if the existence of the lower crustal magma reservoir is a common feature for all the volcanic systems around the globe."

No current tropical storms.


House washed away in Australia storm - Video. Mobile phone footage shows a house being washed away by floodwater in Dungog in New South Wales during a fierce storm. The weather was expected to worsen before easing on Wednesday.
Australia storms - Heavy rain and strong winds have continued to batter New South Wales in Australia. The storm has caused millions of dollars worth of damage. Three people have died trapped in their home by floodwaters and three others are missing after their cars were washed away. A cruise ship that was stuck at sea during the storm, with thousands of people on board, has now docked in Sydney. The authorities there have urged people to avoid all unnecessary travel.
Some of the most powerful storms for years have pummelled New South Wales destroying homes, cutting power and downing trees. Described by the premier of New South Wales as "wreaking havoc", the storms brought the HIGHEST RAINFALL TOTAL SINCE RECORDS BEGAN in 1897, to Dungog, a town north of Sydney. Wind speeds topped 135 km/h during the storms.
Clean-up begins after storms lash New South Wales - Cyclonic winds and flooding have caused devastation in some areas of the state. A clean-up operation has begun in New South Wales in the wake of violent storms that battered the Australian state. Police have confirmed the deaths of four people. Three were killed in Dungog, where homes have been washed away by flooding.
An 86-year-old woman died in the Central Hunter region when her car was swept into floodwaters. Emergency services have declared 12 communities natural disaster areas. The fierce weather WAs expected to ease later on Thursday. All severe weather warnings have been cancelled across NSW. The storm has left some areas devastated, with roads flooded, homes swept away and power poles snapped.
Emergency Services said that it would be some time before the full cost of the disaster is known. "There are cells still active off the coast of New South Wales, and indeed the fact that the flood waters may well still increase, means that we won't know the entire cost of this particular disaster for many days to come." Som 190,000 homes in the state are still without power but state-owned supplier Ausgrid said that electricity had been restored to 30,000 properties.
During the days of stormy weather, parts of NSW experienced more than 30cm (one foot) of rainfall, wind gusts of more than 100km/h (60mph) and WAVES REACHING RECORD HEIGHTS of 15m (50ft). The debris of houses destroyed by cyclonic winds are seen on April 22, 2015 in Dungog, Australia. Earlier, rising river levels also threatened more than 200 homes in south-western districts of Sydney and forced residents to evacuate. The Insurance Council of Australia has said that it has received 19,500 claims, with losses estimated at US $100 million.


Giant Waves Quickly Destroy Arctic Ocean Ice and Ecosystems - The biggest waves seen in northern sea ice show how this vital cover can be crushed much faster than expected. The chance encounter of a Norwegian research vessel with the LARGEST WAVES EVER RECORDED AMID FLOATING PACKS OF ARCTIC ICE shows how such rollers could reroute shipping, damage oil platforms and threaten coastal communities with erosion. Large waves can penetrate more deeply into ice cover and break it up faster and more completely than anyone had suspected.
It turned out that although the ice damped incoming waves, it also contributed to its own destruction. Ice near the outer edge of the pack absorbed some energy from arriving waves but also focused the remaining energy into pulses that could strike deeper into the pack, lifting it as the waves rolled beneath. The rise and fall strained ice to the breaking point. Once broken, the smaller ice chunks allowed the largest waves to pass almost unhindered and attack solid ice farther in. The ice went from blocking almost all the wave energy to none at all within just one hour. The process happened so fast, in fact, that they calculated waves were destroying the pack at a rate of over 16 kilometers of ice an hour.
Scientists had never imagined that Arctic waves could break up pack ice so quickly. Historically, the region’s extensive ice cover left no large expanses of open water needed by storms to whip up really big rollers. But climate change has brought milder winters, warmer sea temperatures and bigger storms, which create a vicious cycle that promises less sea ice and more wind and open water to generate ice-crushing waves.
The waves’ unexpected speed and ferocity makes them impossible to predict with current low- resolution computer models, based on ice observations that are typically updated only daily. That could spell disaster for mariners, oil companies and native communities who are unprepared for large waves or rely on sea ice to protect them. And that is to say nothing of wildlife like polar bears and walruses that rely on abundant sea ice to survive.
They do not expect the record waves of 2010 to stand for long. As the ice-breaking feedback loop accelerates in years to come, more and more towering waves are likely to batter the shrinking ice cap. For the Arctic Ocean, there are stormy times ahead.

Bees may get hooked on nicotine-linked pesticides - Bees may be getting hooked on nectar laced with widely used nicotine-related chemicals in pesticides they cannot even taste, in the same way humans are addicted to cigarettes, new research has found. Adding to evidence of potential harm from the chemicals, another field-scale study published on Wednesday also found that exposure to so-called neonicotinoids affects reproduction and colony growth in some bee species.
Europe has placed restrictions on three such pesticides, citing concerns for bees, but debate continues about the impact of low doses on these and other non-target insects. Supporters of neonicotinoids - made by companies including Bayer and Syngenta - say they have a major benefit because they destroy pests and boost crop yields. Critics, however, fear they contribute to a decline in bees, which are crucial for crop pollination.
Honeybees and bumblebees drank more from pesticide-containing solutions, implying that naturally foraging bees would do likewise. "There's a conundrum that they are attracted to the stuff that actually is having a negative impact on their motor function and their ability to collect food and forage." The most likely reason lies in the similarity of the chemicals to nicotine, which itself is produced by tobacco plants to prevent against attacks by insects. In large amounts it is toxic, but a little bit acts as a drug.
"As soon as it gets into their blood they are getting a little buzz, as it were, and they are responding to that." Separately, a team of Swedish researchers found that oilseed rape sown from seeds coated in neonicotinoids reduced wild bee density, solitary bee nesting and bumblebee colony growth. Neonicotinoid exposure did not significantly impact honeybee colonies, possibly because they have larger colonies with more workers and are better equipped to deal with damage, but scientists said the evidence against the chemicals was growing.
"At this point in time it is no longer credible to argue that agricultural use of neonicotinoids does not harm wild bees."


Risk low for human infection from US strains of bird flu - The strain of avian flu that has been identified in 12 U.S. states and led to the extermination of more than 7 million birds is different from the H5N1 bird flu virus that has spread from birds to humans in the past. There have been nearly 650 cases of H5N1 human infections, reported from 15 different countries, since 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Two different strains have been discovered in the United States this year. The H5N2 strain is in Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. It has also been identified on farms in Ontario, Canada. The H5N8 strain has been identified in California and also in Idaho, U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows.
There have been no cases of the highly infectious disease in humans since the outbreak started in the United States at the beginning of the year. This is the most widespread bird flu outbreak in North America in more than three decades. In the cases involving human infection outside the United States, illness from the H5N1 virus occurred only among people who had direct contact with infected birds.
Warmer weather should help lower the number of infections in birds and curtail the virus' spread. "As we get into spring and summer, sunshine comes and ultraviolet light will kill influenza virus."

The olive oil you're buying is probably a rip off - Good olives are supposed to be green, but many used for olive oil have rotted.The olive oil you're buying probably isn't as healthy as you think. About 70% of the olive oil Americans buy isn't extra virgin.
"Since olive oil became so popular there isn't enough of the good stuff to go around. Even if there were, many consumers aren't willing to pay for it. As a result, the majority of olive oil Americans buy isn't from Italy or extra virgin as advertised. "Americans are addicted to cheap products. But people should know the risks of consuming subpar olive oil."
Extra virgin olive oil is made by crushing olives and extracting the juice and has no additives or other ingredients. Nutrition experts rave that extra virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidants, such as the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal and asoleuropein, which is linked to healthy cholesterol. But many cheaper oils don't have these benefits, and can even be harmful.
Costco recently started buying Greek olive oil to ensure better quality. Make sure only one country is listed as the source. If the label says "product of Italy" or "imported from Greece," it means that the olives used were probably fresh. If multiple countries are listed, chances are the olives were imported and might have rotted.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a 17 oz. bottle of olive oil is cheaper than $10, it's probably not good quality. Trust your instincts. Tasting olive oil is important. If the olive oils tastes grassy, bitter, or peppery, go with another brand the next time you buy.
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