Wednesday, April 11, 2012

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report - New Activities and Unrest From April 4th - 10th!

The following constitutes the new activity and unrest report from the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, a cooperative project between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program.

CLEVELAND Chuginadak Island 52.825°N, 169.944°W; summit elev. 1730 m
AVO reported that a small explosion from Cleveland was detected at 0112 on 4 April by distant seismic stations and infrasound arrays. Weather conditions prevented the detection of a possible eruption cloud in satellite images or by visual observation of the summit. Observations the next day revealed a thermal anomaly and that the 70-m-diameter lava dome had been destroyed by the explosion. This was the third lava dome that was erupted and subsequently destroyed by explosive events since the eruption began in July 2011. On 6 April two short-duration explosions occurred at about 1635 and 2126. The resulting eruption clouds were ash poor and did not rise above 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. Elevated surface temperatures were observed using infrared satellite images near the times of the explosions. Satellite observations were obscured by clouds during 8-10 April. No seismic information was available because Cleveland does not have a real-time seismic network. Map.

FUEGO Guatemala 14.473°N, 90.880°W; summit elev. 3763 m
INSIVUMEH reported that during 9-10 April explosions from Fuego produced ash plumes that rose 100-900 m above the crater and drifted 10-15 km E and SE. Explosions produced shock waves detected within 8 km of the volcano. Avalanches descended the flanks. Map.

NEVADO DEL RUIZ Colombia 4.895°N, 75.322°W; summit elev. 5321 m
According to INGEOMINAS, the Observatorio Vulcanológico and Sismológico de Manizales reported that during 4-10 April seismicity at Nevado del Ruiz fluctuated but remained elevated. Sulfur dioxide emissions also remained high; occasionally a sulfur odor was reported in Manizales, about 25 km NW. On 5 April a volcano-tectonic earthquake, M 2.8, occurred below Arenas crater at a depth of 1 km, and was the highest magnitude earthquake recorded since February. During 4-6 April gas-and-steam plumes drifted NW. Gas-and-steam plumes rose 3 km above the crater on 7 April and 1.5 km above the crater on 10 April; the plumes drifted SE both days. The Alert Level remained at II (Orange; "eruption likely within days or weeks"). Map.

SOUFRIERE HILLS Montserrat 16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m
MVO reported that during 30 March-6 April activity at the Soufrière Hills lava dome was generally at a low level and no ash-venting episodes had been detected since 23 March. The average sulfur dioxide emission rate measured during the week was 529 tonnes per day with a minimum of 200 and a maximum of 1,033. Scientists aboard a helicopter overflight on 4 April observed a new vent which had formed on 23 March; it was 30-50 m across and on the W side of the crater floor. The Hazard Level remained at 2. Map.

For the complete list of ongoing volcanic activity and additional geological summary, click HERE or select the specific volcano name below for additional details:

ONGOING ACTIVITY:  Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Kilauea, Hawaii (USA) | Pagan, Mariana Islands | Puyehue-Cordón Caulle, Central Chile | Ranakah, Flores Island (Indonesia) | Santa María, Guatemala | Shiveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Tambora, Sumbawa Island (Indonesia) | Tungurahua, Ecuador

WORLD WAR III: Nuclear Nightmare on the Korean Peninsula - North Korea Fuels Rocket; Japan on High Alert and South Korea Issues Navigation Warnings!

Defiant North Korea fueled up a rocket Wednesday in preparation for what appeared to be an imminent liftoff while the country's young leader strengthened his power with a new title making him the nation's top political official.

Kim Jong Un was named first secretary of the ruling Workers' Party, a new post, while his late father, longtime leader Kim Jong Il, was given the posthumous title of "eternal general secretary" at a special Workers' Party conference, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.  Kim Jong Un's formal ascension, nearly four months after the death of his father, comes during a week of events leading up to celebrations Sunday marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, late President Kim Il Sung.  The centennial is a major milestone in the nation Kim Il Sung founded in 1948, and the streets were awash with new posters, banners and the national flag. Outside the city's war museum and the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium, women in traditional Korean dress gathered in clusters, practicing for this week's events.  North Korea has thrown open its doors to dozens of journalists from around the world to report on the events this week designed not only to honor Kim Il Sung but also to demonstrate unity as Kim Jong Un takes power.

One of the marquee events is a satellite launch poised to take place as early as Thursday that has raised international concern.  Space officials call the launch of the Unha-3 rocket, mounted with an Earth observation satellite, a "gift" to Kim Il Sung. They said Wednesday that the final step of injecting fuel into the three-stage rocket was under way in the coastal hamlet of Tongchang-ri.  "The launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite is the pride of our nation and of our people," Rim Kwang Myong, a mathematics major at Kim Il Sung University, told The Associated Press.  A live feed at the General Command Center in the outskirts of Pyongyang showed the rocket on the launch pad covered with a tarp to protect the satellite from the wind.  Paek Chang Ho, chief of the command center, said the rocket is ready for liftoff as soon as engineers are given the green light. North Korea has informed international aviation, maritime and telecommunications authorities that the launch would take place between Thursday and Monday.  "We are injecting fuel as we speak," Paek told reporters from a viewing platform in front of a large screen showing the live feed. Sixteen scientists in white lab coats worked at computers below him. - FOX News.
WATCH: North Korea fuels rocket.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda arrived his office before 7 o'clock, one hour earlier than usual on Thursday morning to make sure the government is on full alert against Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s satellite launch.
"We would like to call (on DPRK) for restraint until the very end, but we are fully prepared to deal with any contingency," the prime minister told reporters as he arrived for talks with the task force set up on Wednesday for DPRK's rocket launch.  The DPRK announced last month that it would launch an "earth observation" satellite between April 12 and 16 with liftoff taking place between 7 am and noon. The launch has raised strong fears and unease in Japan.  Some believe that the rocket will be launched on the first day of the five-day period as DPRK's official said that workers had put the satellite on the rocket and fuel was being injected on Wednesday. - China Daily.

South Korea
will issue navigation warnings to ships operating in its territorial waters to protect them as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) readies itself for a controversial rocket launch, the government said Tuesday.
Alert announcements will be made every two hours starting Wednesday through Sunday, with the country's 15 maritime traffic control centers on alert, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said.  It said the first stage of the rocket is expected to fall into waters some 170 kilometers west of the western port city of Gunsan.  The DPRK plans to launch a rocket-mounted satellite sometime between April 12-16 to mark the birth centennial on April 15 of the country's founding father Kim il-sung.  South Korea and the United States, among others, call the launch a disguised long-range ballistic missile test that breaches a United Nations ban.  South Korea and Japan have said they will shoot down the rocket if it strays into their territories, while the DPRK warned of "merciless punishment" for such attempts. - China Daily.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Springtime Disappears in the UK - What the Hail Happened; April Showers, and the Possibilities of Tornadoes?!

Britain was last night warned to prepare for April showers and high winds that could even turn into tornadoes. Much-needed rain is set to fall across the whole country today, but could develop into thunderstorms, lightning and hail in some parts.Cold winds passing over hot air rising from the ground is causing the unsettled weather that is going to last until after the weekend. 
What a difference a week makes: Charlotte Robertson plays in the snow in a park in Aboyne, Scotland on
April 4, 2012. Just a week before she was pictured in the same park when the temperature was 26 degrees warmer.
George Goodfellow, a Met Office forecaster, said: 'The rain could get quite heavy and thundery on Thursday and Friday with the chance of funnel clouds.'It is not going to be a complete wash-out, but the showers look likely to be particularly widespread and cannot be ruled out in any part of the country.'Funnel clouds are violent rotating columns of air formed when warm and cool airstreams collide - and can become tornadoes when they touch the ground.Forecasters would not predict whether this might happen.Temperatures are set to reach around 13c (55F), which is typical for this time of year, with a low just about freezing at night.Around 50mm of rain is forecast to fall by Sunday, which is the same as the total rainfall expected for the whole month.But forecasters warned that much more rain would be needed to relieve the drought in the South and East.Weather experts said that areas affected by drought need more than 400mm of rain to get back to normal levels.In Scotland, ski resorts have been told that they may be able to reopen thanks to a chance of snowfall.It's all a stark contrast to last April - which was the hottest since 1910, with temperatures regularly topping 25 degrees - and comes just weeks after a March heatwave that sent scores of Brits to the beach. Mr Goodfellow said: 'We're going to need an awful lot of rain over a great deal of time to solve the droughtproblem. Anything is going to help, but it does not look like what we're going to see over the next few days will be sustainable.

'The Environment Agency yesterday warned that the drought conditions gripping swathes of England could increase the risk of flash flooding.Dry, compacted soils mean that rainfall is less easily absorbed into the ground, increasing the likelihood of flooding if the country is hit by storms.The Environment Agency said a dry winter and spring in 2007 contributed in some areas to the devastating floods in the summer of that year, which hit the West Country, Midlands and Yorkshire.Parts of the country had similar conditions as those currently seen in drought-afflicted areas, before the heavy rain hit in June and July 2007. The forecast looks bleak for those heading to Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.Steady rain is forecast in the Liverpool area over the next few days and conditions on the course are expected to be the muddiest and most difficult since the famous mudbath of 2001, when Richard Guest splashed to victory riding Red Marauder.Clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch expects the ground to be 'soft' - but expects the race to go ahead, regardless how muddy it gets.He said: 'We've had at least 13mm of steady drizzle and, looking at the radar, there should be more to come on Tuesday with further possible showers on Wednesday and Thursday.''The grass is in excellent condition, partly as a result of the warm winter we had, and that makes a difference, as it will help soak up a lot of the moisture,' he told the Guardian.'But the going is already soft in most places on the National course and we're definitely looking at conditions being on the slow side. We've been aiming to get something between good and good to soft.'And things are set to get worse. The Environment Agency warns we could soon find ourselves paying the price for the dry start to 2012.Dought afficted areas, like much of southern of England, are at higher risk of flash flooding - as witnessed in 2007, when a dry winter and spring was followed by devastating floods. - Daily Mail.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Horse Deaths in Western Australia Baffle Veterinarians?

Veterinarians say they are baffled as to what caused the death of four horses on a property in WA's south-west.

Veterinarians believe a new type of disease could be responsible for the deaths of four horses in
Margaret River last week.
The horses died unexpectedly over a six-day period in Margaret River last week.  Samples of hay, mineral mixers and other food sources which the horses had access to are being tested.  Vet surgeon, Rupert Mothersole, says two of the horses were found dead and another had to be euthanised hours after becoming ill. 

"We're looking for horses which are either found dead or horses which are showing profound depression, sweating, respiratory distress, muscles tremors, things like that," Dr Mothersole said.  "Some of those signs are quite consistent with a snake bite so they're the type of signs that a horse owner would be making contact with their vet very rapidly anyway." - ABC News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Significant Magnitude 5.9 Earthquake Hits Off Oregon Coast!

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit off the Oregon coast Wednesday afternoon. Officials with the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami concern.  The 9-mile-deep earthquake hit 271 miles to the southwest of Portland at 3:42 p.m. Wednesday. It's just one of more than 100 earthquakes the Pacific Northwest sees each year. 
Recent Oregon coastal quakes, as measured by NOAA.
For example, earlier this week a small quake was recorded 18 miles west of Walla Walla, Wash. That was Monday night.  The National Earthquake Information Center recorded it as a magnitude 3.5 earthquake, at a depth of about eight miles. By late Monday night, the center's website had received only one report from a resident who felt the quake.  Doug Gibbons of the U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake is not related to two massive earthquakes in Indonesia on Wednesday.     Are you prepared?  As it so happens, Oregon is recognizing April as "Earthquake and Tsunami Awareness Month." Throughout the month, schools are practicing mandated drop-cover-and-hold drills.  And experts we talked to say that's a good thing.  On Wednesday alone, a earthquake hit Mexico -- causing tall buildings to sway and people to be evacuated. The two earthquakes in Indonesia measured more than 8 in magnitude and led to massive evacuations across southeast Asia. At least one hotel guest was slightly hurt when he jumped out of a window, but no deadly waves nor serious damage was reported.  Scientists say, at some point, it will be Oregon. 

From violent shaking on Portland-area faults, to "the big one" waiting to happen just off the coast, scientists estimate anywhere from a 10 to 25 percent chance of an 8-point or higher earthquake in the next 50 years.  "The question is not if we're going to have an earthquake," James Roddey with the Oregon Department of Geology told KOIN. "It is when it's going to happen." 
There's a 700-mile-long earthquake fault about 75 miles off the Oregon coast.  "If it's a magnitude 8.8 earthquake, it doesn't matter where it occurs along the Cascadia subduction zone," said one expert. "It's still going to shake the he** out of the state."  The shaking could go on for as long as three minutes, and could wipe out portions of the Interstate-5 corridor, said a Portland State University geologist.  After a Portland-area spring earthquake in 1993, which hit 40 miles south of Portland, building codes changed to account for earthquakes. Still -- in the big one -- scientists say older brick and mortar buildings will be destroyed and tall buildings downtown will sway back and forth.  "In fact, with so much shaking, windows are expected to rain down from buildings -- along with their outside facades -- creating piles of rubble here several feet deep."  "There's the potential for you not to be able to drive anywhere," said the Portland State University geologist in a 2011 interview with KOIN.

"There's the potential for not having power or water for weeks."  There are also three major earthquake faults that run shallow through Portland -- with the potential of a 6.5 quake.  The East Bank fault is on the east side of the Willamette River. The Oakfield fault is on the other side of the west hills from Portland. The Portland Hills fault runs along Highway 30 and into downtown Portland.  "A crustal earthquake, if it happens on the Portland Hills fault, is going to be hard, violent shaking," the geologist said.  The shaking could go on for 10 to 20 seconds. On Columbia Boulevard and the airport, shaking soil can become like quick sand. Other areas in the Pacific Northwest are built on ancient river rock accumulations, providing resilience in the face of a quake.  Portland's east hills, the area around the Oregon Zoo and Washington Park are areas reportedly created by old landslides.  "If it's moved once, it has a high chance of moving again."  Bottom line, local scientists say recent earthquakes throughout the world are a reminder to have an emergency plan and to prepare here at home.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake Rocks and Shakes Michoacan, Mexico!

According to Reuters, a strong earthquake hit Mexico on Wednesday at 22:55:16 UTC, shaking buildings and sending people running out of offices onto the streets of the capital Mexico City.  The U.S. Geological Survey said the 7.0-magnitude quake was centered on Mexico's Pacific coast.

The tremor was located at 18.390°N, 102.652°W with a depth of 65.6 km (40.8 miles). The epicentre was at distance of 51 km (32 miles) southwest (231°) from La Mira, Michoacán, Mexico; 61 km (38 miles) northwest (312°) from Las Guacamayas, Michoacán, Mexico; 64 km (40 miles) northwest (316°) from La Orilla, Michoacán, Mexico; 130 km (81 miles) southwest (208°) from Uruapan, Michoacán, Mexico; and 336 km (209 miles) northwest (301°) from Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico.

On Tuesday, the 20th of March 20, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake also hit Mexico. The earthquake's epicentre was about 15 miles (25 km) east of Ometepec, Guerrero and its depth was about 11 miles (17 km). At least 30,000 homes in the southern state of Guerrero, and 2,000 in Oaxaca in the southern coastal state was damaged. 800 collapsed in the town of Igualapa. There were 2 deaths and nearly 100 injuries reported in Oaxaca.  The earthquake – with its epicentre south of the Pacific resort of Acapulco – was the most powerful to hit the country since one in 1985, which destroyed entire neighborhoods of the capital and killed thousands. More than 40 aftershocks, some of up to 5.0 magnitude, shook the Mexican capital and southern areas.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Experts and Major Politicians Warn of a Possible Mega-Quake in Salt Lake City, Utah - Up to 2,300 People Could Die and 30,000 Buildings Destroyed!

Some of Utah's most prominent politicians are urging people along the Wasatch Front to get ready for a major earthquake. Seismic experts have been warning people for years that Utah is overdue. Monday they’re trying to warn those who need to know it most.

Seismic Profile near Salt Lake, Base map courtesy of
F. Ashland, Utah Geological Survey
"It's about the only issue that I worry about when I wake up in the middle of the night," said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.  Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Utah State Representative Greg Hughes said people in the Wasatch Front can't ignore the threat of earthquakes in Utah.  "Let's start the education process. Let's begin smart ways to address these issues," said Rep. Greg Hughes, (R) Draper.  What's the problem? Earthquake experts said over the next 50 years there's 25% chance the Wasatch Front could suffer a 7.0 quake, up to 2,300 people would die, and in Salt Lake alone, 30,000 old brick homes and masonry buildings would likely crumble and fall.  "Those buildings have a history in the United States and throughout the world of being absolutely the worst performers in earthquakes," said Structural Engineer Barry Welliver.

A predictive map of Salt Lake City shows the areas of town most vulnerable to destruction during an earthquake, including homes around the Utah State Capitol, the lower Avenues, and everything east of Highland Drive.  Experts said during a major quake the walls would be too heavy, and the mortar wouldn't hold the bricks together. So how do you fix the bricks? Experts said each of those homes needs to be reinforced with steel.  "We take steel elements like bolts or straps and we bolt them into the wood framing of the floor," said Welliver.  Leaders reinforced the Salt Lake City and County Building back in 1989. And now they're pleading for homeowners across the Wasatch Front to do the same thing.  If you live in a brick home built before 1970, and would like to learn how to reinforce your house with steel, just on the link embedded in this story labeled Utah Seismic Safety Commission. - ABC4.
WATCH: Earthquake warnings for Utah.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Solar System Disturbances - NASA Confirms Consistent Increase in Number of Fireballs Entering Earth's Atmosphere?!

A great ball of fire streaked across the Texas sky during the daytime last week, much to the surprise of thousands of people who witnessed it. So bright that it looked "like a little piece of the sun falling," as one San Antonio resident told the local news station, the rare daytime meteor event was yet another example of the scientific mystery known as spring fireball season.

According to NASA, 30 years of observations show that there's a consistent uptick in the number of fireballs - meteors that glow brighter than the planets as they scorch through Earth's atmosphere - during the spring compared with other times of the year. "There are two peaks: one around February and the other at the end of March and early April," said Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "And this remains a mystery."  The Texas event was bright enough to have corresponded to the atmospheric burnup of a space rock at least a yard across, Cooke told Life's Little Mysteries. But no one knows why springtime meteors are 10 to 30 percent more common. "I can tell you a lot of the bright and slow fireballs appear to be coming from the direction opposite the sun, but they have not much in common other than that," he said. "You see a lot more ordinary meteors in the fall, but the spring seems to have the big slow movers - the ones that are really impressive."  To tackle the mystery, Cooke and his NASA colleagues have set up a network of "smart meteor cameras" around the United States that they use to triangulate the trajectories of meteors, pinning down their positions to within the area of a football field as they enter the atmosphere. This has enabled the scientists to map the origins of falling space rocks from different parts of the sky.

The approximately 1,800 meteor events recorded by the camera network so far indicate that the spring fireballs probably originate from asteroids, while fall meteors come from comets. "The [spring fireballs'] orbits indicate they come from the main asteroid belt. A lot of the smaller meteors in the fall come from comets, which are made of icy bits of dust, and they don't last long in the atmosphere. Those ones are generally not big enough to make fireballs." Once sufficient data has been collected, the scientists expect a pattern to emerge that will reveal the reason for spring fireball season, or the fact that Earth seems to encounter more asteroidal material in the spring. "It appears that a lot of the stuff out there in the asteroid belt is clumping up in the springtime more than other times of the year," he said. The other hope is that the network's precision will improve to the point that a fireball's trajectory can be calculated accurately enough to locate and retrieve a meteorite on the ground after it has fallen. That would allow scientists to study what the chunk of asteroidal material is made of, and to trace it back to the asteroid from which it came. - Live Science.
WATCH: Fireball over San Antonio.

SEISMIC MYSTERY: Rollback Subduction Zones and Tectonic Plates - What's Happening Under Gibraltar?

The ground beneath Portugal, Spain and northern Morocco shook violently on Nov. 1, 1755, during what came to be known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake. With an estimated magnitude of 8.5 to 9.0, the temblor nearly destroyed the city of Lisbon and its lavish palaces, libraries and cathedrals. What wasn't leveled by the quake was mostly demolished in the ensuing tsunami and fires that raged for days. Altogether, at least 40,000 people were killed.

The Strait of Gibraltar, which lies between the southern coast of Spain and the northern coast of Morocco,
is the only place where water from the Atlantic Ocean mixes with water from the Mediterranean Sea.
More than 250 years later, geologists are still piecing together the tectonic story behind that powerful earthquake. A unique subduction zone beneath Gibraltar, the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, now seems to be culprit. Subduction zones are the spots where one of Earth's tectonic plates dives beneath another, often producing some of the world's strongest earthquakes.  "At a global scale, subduction is the only process that produces magnitude-8 or -9 earthquakes," said Marc-Andre Gutscher, a geologist at the University of Brest in France. "If subduction occurred, and is still occurring here, then it's highly relevant to understanding the region's seismic hazards." Gutscher's work, discussed in the March 27 issue of the journal Eos, has shown that sunken ocean lithosphere - a layer that comprises Earth's crust and upper mantle - lies beneath Gibraltar, and that it's still attached to the northern part of the African Plate. Other teams have found crumpled ocean crust and active mud volcanoes in the Gulf of Cadiz, where water within the buried lithosphere mixes with sediments and boils up to the surface.  Altogether, these lines of evidence make a pretty convincing case for subduction, Gutscher said. But unlike the textbook examples of huge subduction zones found at the Mariana Trench or under Alaska's Aleutian Islands, this subduction zone is comparatively tiny.  "Its very small size and ultra-slow motion make the Gibraltar subduction zone unique," Gutscher told OurAmazingPlanet. "It's probably the narrowest subduction zone in the world - about 200 kilometers [120 miles] wide at most - and it's moving at far less than a centimeter per year."

What's happening under Gibraltar is an example of something called rollback subduction: As the sliver of lithosphere sinks into the mantle, the line where it's still "hinged" to the African Plate rolls back further and further, stretching the crust above it.  If subduction under Gibraltar is a thing of the past, there's little danger of future earthquakes. But that's not true if it is still happening - as Gutscher and many others believe to be the case.  That's because subduction has already created a tiny tectonic block, or microplate, between the African and Eurasian Plates. Researchers using GPS have shown that this microplate is still moving a few millimeters westward every year, thanks to ongoing rollback subduction.  The boundaries of this microplate lie in southern Spain and northern Morocco. Like California's San Andreas Fault, they're strike-slip boundaries (but smaller and slower-moving), so they're capable of generating earthquakes every now and then, Gutscher said. For example, a magnitude-6.3 quake struck the city of Al Hoceima, Morocco, in February 2004, killing nearly 600 people.  But as far as another Great Lisbon Earthquake, residents of this region can breathe easy - at least for another millennium or so.  "Given the very slow motion of the faults in the area, you need many centuries to build up enough slip to generate such a great earthquake," Gutscher explained. "A magnitude-8.5 or -9 earthquake is probably pretty much out of the question, since the last such tremendous event was only 250 years ago." - Our Amazing Planet.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Series of 3.2 Earthquakes Rattle San Diego County and Swarm of Small Earthquakes Hit Tahoe Area - As New Scientific Study Reveals Baja Earthquake Shook Up View of Southern California Faults!

A new scientific study reveals that fault networks near the Salton Sea are even more complex than previously known — but what that may mean for earthquake potential in the region remains uncertain.

Source: U.S. Geological Survey, California Geological Survey.
The U.S. Geological Survey and California Geological Survey released a study last month that found the Easter Day quake in northern Baja California on April 4, 2010 — the biggest quake to shake the Coachella Valley in recent years — triggered surface movement on many faults in the Imperial and Coachella valleys.  The magnitude-7.2 quake revealed faults southwest of the Salton Sea that were not previously known to scientists, and confirmed that other known faults were active, the new research shows.  It's not a finding that will quickly lead to the development of a reliable earthquake warning system, a primary goal of scientists. But it advances knowledge and will direct future research on one of the most intricate and studied fault zones on Earth, scientists said.  The Baja earthquake “has provided a geological treasure trove to our understanding of what is happening tectonically in this expansive region of northern Mexico and Southern California,” said state geologist John Parrish in a statement about the study.

The 2010 Easter Day quake, dubbed the El Mayor-Cucapah quake by scientists, killed four people and injured more than 100 in Mexico and caused an estimated $440 million in damage in the Mexicali Valley of Baja California and $90 million in damage in the Imperial Valley.  The movements the quake caused on Southern California faults occurred at the surface and were very small, only centimeters. Similar fault movements were also observed after a magnitude-5.7 aftershock on June 14, 2010.  The discoveries show earth scientists that “the transfer of strain among the various faults in this region is not as simple as we thought before,” said Jerry Treiman, a geologist with the California Geological Survey and co-author of the study.  Earthquakes like the El Mayor-Cucapah quake involve the sudden release of built-up energy from two of the Earth's tectonic plates moving against each other as one of the plates slips past the other. The quake was the largest in the northern Baja region in the past 120 years. - My Desert.
Eleven minor or moderate quakes have rattled Ocotillo, a small scattering of homes just east of the San Diego-Imperial county line, in the overnight hours.
A pair of magnitude-3.2 earthquakes was recorded six seconds apart at about 11 p.m. Saturday. A 3.2 magnitude quake was also recorded at 1:15 a.m. by the U.S. Geological Survey.  The epicenters were on the U.S.-Mexico border in the Jacumba Wilderness, a jumble of rocks southeast of Ocotillo.  There were no reports of damage or injury.  Coincidentally, the quakes are rattling the same area that was rocked by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake, centered just to the south in Mexico, on Easter Sunday in 2010. - 10 News.
A series of small earthquakes over the weekend in the area between Mt. Rose and Incline Village is nothing out of the norm, a seismologist for the University of Nevada, Reno said Monday. 
More than a dozen small tremors registering between 1.0 and 1.9 on the Richter scale were recorded on Sunday, most taking place about 6 miles north of Incline Village. The quakes were so small, and at a depth that they likely weren’t felt.  “I wouldn’t consider this unusual,” said Diane Depolo, a seismologist with the UNR Seismological Lab. “These are pretty small, and depth-wise, they’re what we’d consider normal depth for that area.”  The quakes were about 8 to 12 kilometers deep. Depolo said it would normally take a quake of 2.5 to 3 to be felt at that depth.  Depolo said this cluster of quakes is different from those that affected the Verdi-Mogul area in past years because the Verdi-Mogul quakes were much shallower.  A 1.1 quake was registered in the Mt. Rose area on Monday morning. - RGJ.
WATCH: Joe Brandt's 1937 dream of a coming California Mega-quake.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreading Far and Wide - California Beware, Extremely Dangerous Radioactive Wave Headed Towards the US!

A radioactive wave is headed toward the West Coast of the United States courtesy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster? So with nuclear power still wreaking havoc on the environment - why are the Japanese about to flip on more of their nuclear reactors? - RT.
WATCH: Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, joins Thom Hartmann to discuss radioactive waste hitting California.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Tracking Worldwide Volcanic Activities - From The Volcano Discovery Reports!

The following constitutes the new activity and unrest report from the Volcano Discovery.

Recent explosions at Mount Etna.
Santorini, Greece - Small earthquake swarm .
A small earthquake swarm has been occurring at the western margin of the caldera during the past few days. The swarm consists of about 10 quakes of 1-2 magnitude at 7-8 km depth.

Mount Etna, Italy - New strombolian activity at the new southeast crater.
A new paroxysm could be in the making! The tremor signal is showing its typical steep increase, visible observations are difficult at the moment.  Strombolian activity has resumed at the New SE crater of Etna and was first observed last night (11 April) at around 20h00 local time. Until midnight, explosions were weak and infrequent, but increased in size for a while at around 1 am. Some of them threw incandescent lava until the base of the cone.At the moment, bad weather is preventing visual observations. The tremor signal is still at low levels (although a rise that could mean a temporary peak is visible right now). Judging from the past events, a new paroxysm is likely to occur during the next days.

Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia - Red Alert declared.
The Colombian authorities have declared a red alert for the area around the volcano Nevado del Ruiz and warn the population against the feared mud flows (lahars) that are to be expected in an eruption of the volcano. The status of the volcano itself is described as eruption likely in the coming days or weeks. The reason is a steady increase in seismic activity and gas emissions from the summit crater. In recent days, more and more, usually small earthquakes have been occurring at shallow depths under the volcano, some of them felt. A steam nd gas plume is rising from the crater to 1.5 km and sulfur smell can be noticed in nearby villages and towns. 430,000 inhabitants from the valleys of the Río Chinchina, Manizales and four other rivers have been warned of mud flows and possible floods, which could be triggered especially during heavy rains, even when there is no eruption.

Tungurahua, Ecuador - Increasing activity with constant ash emission.
Tungurahua volcano's activity is again increasing. Starting at 07:10 local time on 9 April, a continuous tremor signal of high energy was detected and the volcano started to erupt a continous column of ash, which rose within few minutes to 2 km height and drifted to the south, and later increased to about 3 km height above the crater. Constant rumbling noises, similar to turbines were reported. Explosions occurred at 07:20 and 07:26 local time, with cannon-shot sounds and rumblings of blocks tumbling down the flanks of the volcano. At 09:15 local time, black ash fall was noted in the southeastern sectors of the volcano such as in Palitahua, Capil and Toctes. At the moment, the activity is mostly hidden in clouds and seems to continue at slightly lower intensity.

Krakatau, Sunda Strait, Indonesia: New ash venting.
It appears that a new vent has opened at the new lava dome of Anak Krakatau volcano and started to emit ash, as Øystein Lund Andersen reports from a recent visit:  "The crater was illuminated by lava (dome) in the night, the location of the light is the southern part of the crater. On the morning of the 7th April 2012 Anak Krakatau started to produce small eruptions from the southern part of the crater. The location of the eruption was on the same side of the crater, that of the growing lava dome, which several sources have reported about during the last few weeks. This might suggest a collapse of the Lava dome due to the eruptions that now are being seen? The eruption clouds only reached a height of 100-150meters and contained small amounts of ash and only a little rock fall. The eruptions were not of an explosive character. The rest of the crater and its fumaroles are producing a continuous white cloud of steam/gas, rising to greater heights than the eruption clouds from the southern part of the crater. Additionally the southern/southwestern part of the upper flank does now have fields where steam can be seen rising, these fields did not emit steam during the last visit, an indication that magma is now located under this part of the cone."

TERMINATOR NOW: Robocops and the Rise of the Machines - Robots on the Streets of America Could Soon Become a Reality, Says US Defence Agency!

The chance of modern day Robocops being called in to help with American crimes is seeming more likely, with US police forces being told they can request battlefield robots produced by the Defence Logistics Agency (DLA) over the last decade.

Defence Agency delegates told a conference in Washington last week that any police or homeland security department with a counter-terrorism or anti-drug mission may be eligible to get its very own robot.  Dan Arnold, a regional manager of the agency’s Disposition Office, says that 'hundreds' of war-hardened robots will be donated to police departments.  The likeliest robotic police recruits are ground robots, used for tactical surveillance or for explosives-handling.  The robots most likely to be used are those such as the Throwbot, a small robot which can be thrown by troops around corners to expand their fields of vision.  Robots such as the PackBot and Talon machines, which have become central to bomb disposal in Afghanistan and other war zones, may also come into use by security departments. 

The Defence Logistics Agency says it is not sure yet which robots it will be donating to which forces, because it will depend, in part, on a surplus of particular robots in military depots.  'At this time, DLA Disposition Services does not know which robots in particular will be deemed excess as that decision is being made by the Army,' said Lieutenant colonel Melinda Morgan, a Defence Department spokeswoman.  'The item manager for these robots, located at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, will determine which models can be declared excess based on operational requirements and sufficient numbers of newer models presently in stock,' she says.  Miami-Dade police already fly a 14-pound (6.3 kg) spy robot developed for the Pentagon.  The pilotless aircraft is small enough to fit in a backpack and can be launched at a moment's notice, making it a key tool in tight situations.  Developed by aircraft manufacturers Honeywell, the drone is a solution to deal with siege incidents when hostage-takers barricade themselves in a building.  The U.S. Navy's Naval Research Laboratory has recently been testing Octavia, a fire fighting robot designed to work alongside a human team.  The Navy says the robot is built for 'shoulder-to-shoulder' damage control, but still needs 'some fine tuning'.  - Daily Mail.

THE AGE OF OBAMA: The Coming Race War in America - Black Mob Strips and Robs White Tourist as Onlookers Laugh in Baltimore!

Caught on camera-- a white tourist being beaten in downtown Baltimore and instead of helping him, a black crowd laughs and steals his belongings.  The video shows a man being punched in the face in Downtown Baltimore.

You can hear his head hit the pavement near the entrance to Courthouse East.  Instead of helping, people laugh.  Then, the crowd strips him naked and takes his car keys, watch, money and iPhone.  It happened St. Patrick's Day. Police say the victim was out partying and woke up the next day at his hotel, cut and bruised with no idea why.  "He had every right to leave wherever he was and get back to where he needed to be safely. Their behavior was just criminal," Det. Nicole Monroe of the Baltimore City Police Department said.  "Not only was he relieved of his property after he was assaulted, but there were a lot of other things done to him that are disturbing to look at, and we want to bring these people to justice," Det. Monroe said.  Those who've seen the video are outraged.

"Oh, my god! Where's the police?" Antonio Richardson of Baltimore said after seeing the video. "It gives us a bad name, Baltimore. And people don't want to, you know, trust us to come down here."  "It's surprising, but it's dangerous," another person said.  "It's awful, obviously. You just have to be really careful on those days. You can't just be wandering around the streets," Diego Tapia said.  Police say they've gotten leads but made no arrests.  "The public is going to be helpful in this case, and they have been helpful thus far," Det. Monroe said.  Those who filmed it for fun and posted it for the world to see unwittingly provided cops and prosecutors with the key evidence in this vicious attack.  The victim didn't even know that such a video existed until a relative watched it online and told him.  After the attack, people bragged about it on camera. Tens of thousands of people have seen the video online. - CBS Baltimore.
WATCH: Scenes from the mob attack.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Arizona Earthquake Numbers Saw a Large Increase in 2011!

According to the Arizona Geological Survey, 131 earthquakes were detected in 2011 compared with 53 in 2010. That was twice as many as in 2009 and about a third more than in 2008. Most of the earthquakes were in the northwestern part of the state. The Yuma area was also shaken by earthquakes associated with the Gulf of California Rift Zone.

Many of these earthquakes (magnitude ca. 1.6) occurred near Lake Mead. These are attributed to mining and quarrying, and also to crustal adjustments to water going into and out of the lake. The strongest earthquakes (magnitude ca. 3.6) occurred near Clarkdale in the central part of the state. The Survey says that these events are consistent with past behavior: “a propensity for deeper seismicity to occur in two pockets, the northwestern Utah-Arizona border and well within the Colorado Plateau in the northeast corner of the state” and “the highest concentration of energy release correlates well with the pattern of established Quaternary faulting, indicating that this portion of the crust continues to be an active area of strain release and of particular interest for hazard studies in Arizona.” The strain is due to on-going crustal extension.

Read more here. The Arizona Geological Survey provides several videos dealing with earthquakes and geothermal energy on its Youtube Channel. Give it a look. Also take a look at the new issue of Arizona Geology Magazine.
- Tucson Citizen.
WATCH: Arizona earthquakes from 1852 through 2011.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe Tornadoes and Softball-Sized Hail Pounds Northwestern Oklahoma!

At least two tornadoes have touched down and hail the size of softballs pounded northwestern Oklahoma, injuring two people and damaging a county jail and numerous vehicles.

The National Weather Service says one tornado was spotted about 3 miles south-southwest of Woodward about 5:30 p.m. Monday. Another tornado was spotted east of Sharon. In Woodward, hail up to 4.25 inches broke vehicle windows and damaged roofs.     

Woodward County Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer says an infant was cut by glass when hail knocked out windows in its parents' vehicle. Lehenbauer says he didn't believe the baby was seriously hurt. Sheriff Gary Stanley says hail broke every skylight in the jail and one hail stone cut an inmate on the back.  Stanley says the hail damage caused the roof to leak. - ABC News.
WATCH: Tornadoes and hail pounds northwestern Oklahoma.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreading Far and Wide - Fukushima's Radioactivity Found in California Kelp; 250-Fold Higher Than Previous Levels!

Kelp off Southern California was contaminated with short-lived radioisotopes a month after Japan's Fukushima accident, a sign that the spilled radiation reached the state's urban coastline, according to a new scientific study.  Scientists from California State University, Long Beach tested giant kelp collected in the ocean off Orange County and other locations after the March, 2011 accident, and detected radioactive iodine, which was released from the damaged nuclear reactor.

Some radioactive material probably accumulated in fish that eat California's giant kelp – including señorita,
pictured above. There is no data  on what iodine 131, which has a half life of only eight days, might do to fish.
The largest concentration was about 250-fold higher than levels found in kelp before the accident.  "Basically we saw it in all the California kelp blades we sampled," said Steven Manley, a Cal State Long Beach biology professor who specializes in kelp.  The radioactivity had no known effects on the giant kelp, or on fish and other marine life, and it was undetectable a month later.  Iodine 131 "has an eight-day half life so it's pretty much all gone," Manley said. "But this shows what happens half a world away does effect what happens here. I don't think these levels are harmful but it's better if we don't have it at all."  A year ago, Manley watched coverage of the tsunami and Fukushima accident and wondered what impact it might have on California's marine life, particularly his favorite subject matter - kelp.  Spread in large, dense, brown forests across the ocean off California, Macrocystis pyrifera, known as giant kelp, is the largest of all algae and grows faster than virtually any other life on Earth. It accumulates iodine so Manley realized it would be a useful dosimeter to check how far radioactive material spreads.  "Kelp forests are some of the most productive ecosystems on Earth," he said. "I thought this would be an opportunity because one thing about macrocystis is it has a large surface canopy," which means it is continually exposed to the air - and whatever contaminants are in it.  In addition, giant kelp concentrates radioactive iodine 10,000-fold - for every one molecule in the water there would be 10,000 in its tissues.  Kelp was collected at three sites off Orange County, as well as Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County, Santa Barbara, Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz. The highest concentration of iodine 131 was found in the kelp off Corona del Mar, which receives runoff from a large portion of Orange County. Its kelp was collected on April 15 of last year and tested five days later.

The level of radioactive iodine found there - 2.5 becquerel per gram of dry weight -- was "well above" levels sampled in kelps prior to the Fukushima release, according to the paper, published online earlier this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.  It was about 250 times higher than the concentration found in giant kelp off British Columbia before Fukushima.  When kelp from the same California sites was re-sampled a month later, in May of 2011, it contained no detectable amounts of radioactive iodine.  The scientists estimated that the entire kelp tissue on the surface at Corona del Mar contained about one millicurie.  "In terms of overall exposure to the kelp bed itself, it's not a huge amount," said Manley. It would not have harmed the kelp, a species that grows from northern Baja to southeast Alaska, he said.  Some radioactive material probably accumulated in fish that eat the kelp - opaleye, halfmoon and senorita.  "If they were feeding on it, they definitely got dosed. We just don't know if it was harmful. It's probably not good for them. But no one knows," Manley said. "In the marine environment it was significant, but probably not harmful at the levels we detected it, except it may have affected certain fish's thyroid systems, the ones that fed on the kelp."  There is no published research on what iodine 131 might do to fish at the levels found in the kelp.  "That is a good question and one we don't really know the answer to as yet," said Christopher Lowe, a biology professor and director of Cal State Long Beach's Sharklab, which studies sharks and game fish. Lowe was co-author of the kelp study.  "Without actually measuring this, my guess is that the effects on fish thyroids from this limited exposure are probably negligible. However, that may not be the case for herbivorous fish species exposed closer to the release site" in Japan, Lowe said.  One toxicologist who works with fish said fish thyroids are sensitive to radioactive iodine but there is no data on its effects. High levels might cause thyroid tumors in the exposed fish or alter their cells' genetic material. - Environmental Health News.
WATCH: Radiation dangers in California.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Massive 8.7 Magnitude Quake Rocks Indonesia's Sumatra Island - Tsunami Warning Across the Indian Ocean! UPDATE: 6.0 & 8.2 Magnitude Aftershocks Rattles Banda Aceh!

A massive earthquake has struck off Indonesia's Sumatra island, US and Indonesian monitors report, prompting a tsunami alert across the Indian Ocean.  The quake's magnitude was 8.7, according to a revised measurement from the US Geological Survey, and it struck 431 kilometres off the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh, on the island of Sumatra, on Wednesday at 2.38pm (1838 AEST) and at a depth of 33 kilometres.

The US Geological Survey initially reported it as an 8.9-magnitude quake. Indonesian authorities measured the tremor at 8.5.  The latest tremor was felt as far afield as Thailand and southern India.  According to the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre, there was no tsunami threat to the Australian mainland, islands or territories.  There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, said Prihyadi, an official at the Indonesian Meteorology, Geophysics and Climatology Agency.  "We have issued tsunami warnings for Aceh, North Sumatra and West Sumatra," said Prihyadi, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.  But residents across Sumatra fled their homes in panic, local media reported.  Residents in Banda Aceh reported the ground shaking violently.  "People are in a panic, and there are traffic jams everywhere in Banda Aceh," local Metro TV reported.  "There is potential for a tsunami to hit five provinces in the region - Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Bengkulu and Lampung," said Marzuki, an analyst at Indonesia's Geophysics and Meteorology agency.  A tsunami watch was issued for India, the Seychelles, Somalia, Oman and South Africa as well. 

The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service issued a red high-level warning for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and also put out lower alerts for the coasts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states in the southeast of the country.  Sri Lanka issues tsunami warning across the island.  Thailand's disaster centre on Wednesday put provinces along the Andaman coastline on watch for a possible tsunami.  "We are still monitoring the situation but we've told the Andaman provinces to be on alert," the director of the National Disaster Centre, Somsak Kaosuwan, told Thai TV.  Smith Dhamasoroja, of the National Disaster Warning Foundation, predicted that the earthquake was of such a magnitude that it would create a tsunami that will "definitely" reach Thailand.  "Earthquakes of this size have the potential to generate a widespread destructive tsunami that can affect coastlines across the entire Indian Ocean basin," the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.  The tsunami warning centre said it had not yet ascertained whether a tidal wave had been generated but that one was likely given the strength of the temblor, and advised local authorities to take "appropriate action".  On December 26, 2004 a 9.2-magnitude earthquake off Sumatra generated a catastrophic tsunami that wrought devastation across southern Asia, killing an estimated 220,000 people.  Last year, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, killing about 19,000 people. - 9 News.
WATCH: Earthquake hits West Coast of Northern Sumatra.

UPDATE: 6.0 and 8.2 Magnitude Aftershocks Rattles Banda Aceh!

The USGS has just reported that a 6.0 and 8.2 magnitude aftershocks struck off the West coast of Northern Sumatra. The 6.0 hit at 09:27:56 UTC and was located at 1.281°N, 91.731°E, with a depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles). The epicentre was 619 km (384 miles) southwest of Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia; 740 km (459 miles) southwest of Lhokseumawe, Sumatra, Indonesia; 1128 km (700 miles) west of KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia; and 1870 km (1161 miles) northwest of Jakarta, Java, Indonesia. The 8.2 quake hit at 10:43:09 UTC and was located at 0.773°N, 92.452°E with a depth of 16.4 km (10.2 miles). The epicentre was at a distance of 615 km (382 miles) southwest (211°) from Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia; and 1061 km (659 miles) southwest (256°) from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

WATCH:  Early analysis of the tsunami threat.