Monday, October 17, 2011

PLANETARY TREMORS: 700-Plus Quake Swarm in Sierra, California?!

A swarm of more than 700 earthquakes have struck near the small Sierra County, California, community of Sierraville since August, although there’s a good chance few if any of the quakes have been felt.

There have been more than 30 quakes of a magnitude 1 or more in the last week, the largest being about 1.8, said Ken Smith, seismic network manager for the Nevada Seismological Lab. But the quakes are so deep — most are 18 miles below the surface or more — and so minor Smith thinks they have little chance of being felt at the surface. They are centered about 2 miles west of Sierraville and 31 miles west of Reno. Seismologists can’t say with certainty yet what is happening, but appears the quakes are being caused by moving magma. The earth is basically divided into layers of the crust, the mantle and the core with the temperature getting hotter the deeper the depth. Smith said the ground in this area is constantly in motion, moving about 14 millimeters a year. Because of that motion, it appears magma found a way to flow from the mantle, the middle area, to the crust, the upper area.

“The upper mantle in this region has a lot of magma in it,” Smith said. “Sometimes it finds a way to work its way into the lower crust or the crustal-mantle plate. ... As everything is moving around, they have an opportunity to inject magma into places where it can.” These quakes appear similar to the swarm of quakes that struck under Lake Tahoe in 2003, which were later determined likely to be deep magma injection, Smith said. This magma — called lava as soon as it reaches the earth’s surface — is not associated with the Lassen Volcano to the north, he said. While it’s not going to end up as a volcanic eruption, it could deform the earth’s crust and set the stage for an earthquake — but not any time soon. The first quake in this swarm happened Aug. 9. The lab put extra equipment out there to monitor it in the middle of September. The number of quakes increased significantly in the past two weeks, Smith said. “The observations we have now are the result of better observation and better monitoring of these processes,” Smith said. Seismologists may not have been able to detect this swarm as recently as 15 years to 20 years ago, but the equipment is better now, he said. - RGJ.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Russia's Shiveluch Volcano Erupts Violently!

According to Irish Weather Online, an explosive eruption is taking place at Russia’s Shiveluch volcano (sometimes called Sheveluch or Sopka Shiveluch), located in the far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, prompting no fly zones to be imposed in the region. This confirms the latest information coming from The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report from the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program, which indicates that a large ash had risen to altitudes of 6-9 km (19,700-30,000 ft) a.s.l. during 3-5 October, followed by new lava-dome extrusion. The report further states that seismicity indicated that possible ash plumes rose to altitudes of 4.5-5 km (14,800-16,400 ft) a.s.l. during 5-6 October; ground-based observers noted that ash plumes rose to an altitude of 5 km (16,400 ft) a.s.l. on those same days; and satellite imagery showed a large and bright thermal anomaly on the lava dome on 5 October and ash plumes that drifted 100 km northeast on 6 October.  On 8 October an eruption produced a plume that rose to an altitude of 7 km (23,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted east. Subsequent satellite images that day showed that ash was present and then had dissipated. An eruption on 10 October produced a plume that rose to an altitude of 7.3 km (24,000 ft) a.s.l.

Ash plumes have risen to 34,500 ft (10.5 km) while seismic activity is ongoing. The official Itar-Tass news agency reported on Monday that the highest-level warning has been issued for aviation. The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) in Anchorage, Alaska, reported that ash falls are possible at Klyuchi (50 km to the south-west from the volcano); Ust’-Kamchatsk (90 km to the east-southeast from the volcano); and Ust’-Khairyuzovo (280 km to the west-northwest from the volcano). The NOAA-operated VAAC added: “Moderate potential hazards are caused by ash plumes, ash falls, pyroclastic flows, hot avalanches and lahars.

The volcano constitutes a potential hazard to international and local airlines at Kamchatka because its eruptive clouds can rise to a height of 3-20 km ASL and extend for hundreds of kilometers from the volcano.” The Japanese VAAC, managed by the Japan Meteorological Agency, has issued a Red Alert for Shiveluch. Shiveluch, standing 3,283 meters above sea level, began forming about 60,000 to 70,000 years ago, and it has had at least 60 large eruptions during the Holocene. During this era, the most intense period of volcanism — including frequent large and moderate eruptions — occurred around 6500–6400 BC, 2250–2000 BC, and AD 50–650.

This coincides with the peak of activity in other Kamchatka volcanoes. Intermittent explosive eruptions began in the 1990s from a new lava dome that began growing in 1980. The largest historical eruptions from Shiveluch occurred in 1854 and 1964. Meanwhile, the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) has warned that activity of the nearby Kizimen volcano is gradually decreasing but strong ash explosions up to 32,800 ft (10 km) ASL could occur at any time. Ongoing activity could affect international and low-flying aircraft. KVERT says explosive activity of the Karymsky volcano also is continuing and that ash explosions up to 19,700 ft (6 km) ASL could occur at any time.
Read more HERE.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Chile’s Puyehue-Cordon Caulle Volcanic Ash Cloud Forces Buenos Aires Airports in Argentina to Cancel Flights!

Two airports here suspended all or part of their flights on Sunday due to the volcanic ash cloud generated by Chile’s Puyehue volcano.

Argentine Transportation Minister Juan Pablo Schiavi confirmed that all flights had been canceled at the Jorge Newbery Airport, which provides domestic and regional services. “All the companies which operate in the airport have canceled their operations. We hope that the ash cloud would disappear from the sky,” Schiavi told local television. As to the city’s other airport, Ezeiza International Airport, Schiavi said that although it remains open, most airlines have decided to cancel or delay their flights until the ash cloud disappears. The Ezeiza airport said that the air companies that have suspended their departures include American Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Air Canada, while Lufthansa, Aeromexico and South African Airways have announced delays.

In neighboring Uruguay, more than a dozen international flights were also canceled at the Carrasco International Airport in Montevideo, most of which were flights to Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Air traffic was also affected in Brazil, where airways Gol and Tam announced that their flights on Sunday to Buenos Aires and Montevideo were also canceled. Since the Chilean volcano erupted in June and began spewing ash from time to time, flights over South America have been subject to frequent disturbances. Volcanic ash is a serious hazard to aircraft, because it could cause engine failures should it be sucked into the engines. Last year, the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjoll volcano led to the greatest shutdown of air space in Europe since World War II, which affected some 8 million passengers.
- Borneo Post Online.
Earlier this year, in June, flames reach up to the heavens when lightning flashes criss-crossed the sky, as the volcano erupted for the first time in 50 years. Ash had been thrown six miles up into the sky and authorities in  South America had to order the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Winds fanned the ash toward neighbouring Argentina, darkening the sky in the ski resort city of San Carlos de Bariloche, in the centre of the country, and its airport has also been closed. The eruption in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain, about 575 miles south of the capital, Santiago, also prompted authorities to close a busy border crossing into Argentina. It was not immediately clear which of the chain's four volcanoes had erupted because of ash cover and weather conditions. The chain last saw a major eruption in 1960. Local media said the smell of sulphur hung in the air and there was constant seismic activity. 'The Cordon Caulle (volcanic range) has entered an eruptive process, with an explosion resulting in a 10-kilometre-high gas column,' the state emergency office ONEMI said. As a precaution, the government said it was evacuating 3,500 people from the surrounding area. This development is the latest volcanic activity to affect the country.

Three years ago, Chile's Chaiten volcano erupted spectacularly for the first time in thousands of years, spewing molten rock and a vast cloud of ash that reached the stratosphere and was visible from space. It also drifted over neighbouring Argentina, coating towns. Chile's Llaima volcano, one of South America's most active, also erupted that year and again in 2009. Chile's chain of about 2,000 volcanoes is the world's second largest after Indonesia. Some 50 to 60 are on record as having erupted, and 500 are potentially active. It was the latest in a series of volcanic eruptions in Chile in recent years. Chile's Chaiten volcano erupted spectacularly in 2008 for the first time in thousands of years, spewing molten rock and a vast cloud of ash that reached the stratosphere. The ash also swelled a nearby river and ravaged a nearby town of the same name. The ash cloud from Chaiten coated towns in Argentina and was visible from space. Chile's Llaima volcano, one of South America's most active, erupted in 2008 and 2009. Chile's chain of about 2,000 volcanoes is the world's second largest after Indonesia. Some 50 to 60 are on record as having erupted, and 500 are potentially active.
- Daily Mail.
WATCH: Raw Video of Chilean volcano sparks lightning.

WATCH: Lightning and ash as Chile volcano erupts.

WATCH: Lightning inside Chile Puyehue volcano ash cloud.

THE GREAT DELUGE: Floods Kills 66 in Central America!

Authorities in Central America said on Sunday that at least 66 people had died in six days of heavy rains that caused landslides, floods and bridge failures throughout the region. Officials ordered evacuations as the rain was expected to continue.

El Salvador's director of civil protection, Jorge Melendez, said in a news conference that at least 24 people had died in the country, most of them buried in their houses by landslides. The country is in a state of alert and preparing for "major disasters," Melendez said. Authorities were evacuating people from the area around a volcano near the capital of San Salvador, where hundreds died in landslides in 1982. Melendez said flooding had closed a major highway in the country's west and destroyed a bridge. In the eastern state of San Miguel, water overflowed from the Rio Grande river and had inundated large expanses of farmlands.

He said Sunday morning that the rain was expected to remain heavy for 24 hours and possibly continue until Wednesday. He said El Salvador had seen 7.9 inches (200 millimeters) of rain in the previous 12 hours. Guatemalan officials confirmed 28 deaths in their country, adding that two more people were missing and that rain was expected for two more days. Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom declared a state of emergency that would be sent for approval to the congress Monday. In Honduras, officials tallied at least nine deaths and the damaging of 2,500 homes, eight bridges and 29 roads. "The worst is yet to come," said Rodolfo Funez, deputy director of the country's emergency commission. - Huffington Post.
WATCH: Heavy rains flood Central America.

NEW MADRID SEISMIC ZONE ALERT: USGS Media Advisory - Scientists to Explore Quake Zone Southwest of the New Madrid Seismic Zone?!

I just came across the following release from the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Newsroom, that scientists will be exploring an earthquake zone southwest of the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). This should be monitored and tracked closely, given the profilic nature of this fault line, the potential for the production of mega-earthquakes in the future, and the past usage of exercises as a cover for the operational executions of disasters and so-called acts of terrorism.

It must be remembered that on the morning of the alleged terrorist strike on America on September 11, 2001 (9/11); there were at least six training exercises in operation by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, such as: Operation Northern Vigilance, Operation Vigilant Guardian and the Biowarfare Exercise Tripod.

It should also be noted that over the last year or so, FEMA has been simulating the catastrophic nature of a major earthquake in the central United States region of the NMSZ, as National Level Exercises or NLEs. With 2011 being the bicentennial anniversary of the 1811 New Madrid earthquake, where a magnitude 7.2 to 8.2 tremor resulted in major damage to several states in the southern and midwestern United States such as Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi; and was felt as far as New York and  Massachusetts.

USGS Media Release:
Between Little Rock, Ark., and Memphis, Tenn., scientists have found evidence of an earthquake source capable of magnitude 7 or greater earthquakes located at the southwestern end of the ancient Reelfoot Rift. This is the same geologic structure that hosts the New Madrid seismic zone which is responsible for the major earthquakes that occurred in the midcontinent almost 200 years ago.  

The geologic proof includes large, visible sand blows formed by strong ground shaking, and subsurface geophysical imaging of faulting nearby. Field observations and radiocarbon dating suggest that the sand blows formed as the result of two to four earthquakes between 4,800 and 10,000 years ago.

As part of the Eastern Section of the Seismological Society of America meeting in Little Rock, Oct. 17-18, scientists from around the world will examine this evidence of the prehistoric earthquakes exposed in a trench that was excavated across one of the prominent sand blows. Geological techniques used to map sand blows, feeder dikes, and related ground failure to characterize faulting will also be shared.

When:     Sunday, Oct. 16, 12 p.m.

Who:     Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and other earthquake experts from around the world.

Where:      Lee Road 232, Marianna, Ark., GPS coordinates 34.705229,-90.801787: a site of large and weathered sand blows that formed between 4.8 and 10 thousand years ago in the Marianna area. The site is approximately 1.5 hours from Memphis and 2 from Little Rock. Please contact Heidi Koontz at for exact directions.

Why:      Major earthquakes have occurred in the New Madrid area for centuries. Scientists are studying geologic and geophysical clues to better understand what has occurred prior to the historic record of earthquakes in order to better understand what is likely to occur in the future.