Wednesday, May 2, 2012

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: 5 Active Volcanoes You Should Keep Your Eye On - They've Been Spewing Plumes of Ash and Dribbling Lava For Decades and Decades!

Italy's Mount Etna and Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano have been huffing and puffing their way into the news recently, spewing plumes of ash and dribbling lava in the latest flare-ups of eruptive activity that have been going on for years in the case of both volcanoes.

Glowing rivulets of lava run down Mount Etna's flanks as dawn begins to break.
While larger eruptions, such as the the Philippines' Pinatubo in 1991 and the 1980 blast of Mount St. Helens in Washington, are more famous for the disruptions they caused, some near-constant eruptions have their own associated hazard, posing threats to nearby communities and potential disruptions to air traffic from ash plumes.
Here are five volcanoes that don't always get a lot of fanfare, but have been quietly (or maybe not so quietly) rumbling and spitting up volcanic material continuously for years — even decades — in order of the number of years they've been erupting.

5. Sangay in Ecuador — 94 years
The modern volcano structure, which reaches a height of 17,158 feet (5,230 meters), dates back about 14,000 years and was built within horseshoe-shaped calderas, or volcanic depressions, of two previous edifices that collapsed and caused avalanches. The earliest report of a historical eruption here was in 1628; then more or less continuous eruptions were reported from 1728 until 1916. The volcano started up again in 1934 and hasn't stopped since.

4. Santa Maria, Guatemala — 101 years
Santa Maria is a 12,375-foot-tall (3,772-meter) stratovolcano that towers over Guatemala's Pacific coastal plain. It erupted catastrophically in 1902, one of the largest eruptions of the 20th century, causing severe damage throughout southwestern Guatemala and carving a crater on the volcano's flank. A lava-dome complex, called Santiaguito, has been forming in the crater since 1922.

3. Stromboli, Italy — 108 years
Stromboli is the tip of a massive underwater volcano that has been erupting nearly continuously for more than 2,000 years. The explosive style of eruption displayed by it and other volcanoes is known as "Strombolian." A 2002 eruption caused a small tsunami and damaged a village on the island, which lies off the coasts of Italy and Sicily.

2. Mount Etna, Italy — 109 years
Dating back to 1500 B.C., the volcano has erupted about 200 times. The mountain is currently around 10,958 feet (3,340 meters) high and is the largest active volcano in Europe. The most violent eruption in the history of Mount Etna occurred in March 1669. The volcano spewed molten rock for days on end; the eruption finally stopped at the end of April that year.
1. Mount Yasur, Vanautu — 111 years This stratovolcano is part of the archipelago nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Yasur has been erupting nearly continuously for over a century, and its eruptions, which often occur several times an hour, are classified as Strombolian or Vulcanian (a relatively low-level type of eruption). - MSNBC.

SIGNS FROM THE HEAVENS: Celestial Convergence - Aquarid Meteor Shower to Coincide With Supermoon!

Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual eta Aquarid meteor shower.

Because the shower's radiant is located below the celestial equator, southern hemisphere observers are favored, but even northerners will be able to see at least a few flecks of Halley-dust disintegrating in the atmosphere when the shower peaks this weekend. The best time to look is during the hours before sunrise on Sunday, May 6th. Bright moonlight will cap the meteor rate at about 30 per hour.
In recent nights, NASA's all-sky meteor network has picked up a number of early eta Aquarid fireballs. This one was bright enough to shine through the glow of sunrise and clouds over Tullahoma, Tennessee, on April 29th.

According to analysts at NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, this particular speck of comet dust hit the atmosphere traveling 62 km/s (139,000 mph) and disintegrated about 84 km (52 mi) above Earth's surface.

The full Moon of May 5-6, 2012, with interfere with the visibility of the eta Aquarid peak. Radar signals, however, penetrate moonlight with ease. Tune into Space Weather Radio for live echoes from eta Aquarids passing over the US Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Texas. - Space Weather.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Earthquake Swarm Strikes Off Vancouver Again - 8 Small Tremor Have Hit in Recent Weeks!

Experts say a "swarm" of small earthquakes off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island are part of the normal seismic activity in the area, and they could continue for several more days.

A swarm of earthquakes struck off Vancouver Island in recent weeks. (U.S. Geological Survey)
A 4.0 magnitude earthquake that struck just after midnight on Tuesday morning was the eighth small quake with a magnitude between 3.8 and 4.7 to strike the region since April 22.  Pacific Geoscience Centre Seismologist Gary Rogers said the activity is focused along a 20-kilometre stretch along an area called the Raveer Delwood Fault, located about 200 kilometres offshore.  "In the very thin crust that we have out there off our west coast of Vancouver Island, it often fractures in a series of small earthquakes, usually about this size being the maximum."  Rogers said more small earthquakes are expected in the area over the next week.  "They often go on for days.

There's been a lot of smaller ones, so eventually they'll wind down, but typically, what we've seen in the past is that most of these swarms last a few days to a week or so."  A similar but more powerful swarm that stuck the same area in August 2008 included a magnitude 5.2 quake.  Experts have been warning a major earthquake hits B.C. every 500 years, and the last one was in 1700. But they said the swarm of small earthquake activity does not indicate a larger earthquake is more likely in the short term.  The last significant quake to rattle the West Coast was a magnitude 6.5 tremor centered that struck about 50 kilometres off the west coast of the island in September of 2011, swaying high-rises as far away as Vancouver, Kelowna and Seattle. - CBC.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mount Asphyxia Volcano Erupts in the South Sandwich Islands!

A plume of volcanic smoke is seen rising from the appropriately-named Mount Asphyxia volcano, located on Zavodovski Island in the southern Atlantic. The image was acquired on April 27 by NASA's Aqua satellite.

© NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team
Zavodovski is part of the South Sandwich Islands, a group of 11 British-owned islands located 217 miles southeast of South Georgia, off the tip of South America. Only 3.1 miles wide, the icy island is dominated by the 1,800-foot-high stratovolcano.

Aptly named, the sulphuric fumes from Asphyxia coupled with the stench of penguin droppings -- the island is a breeding ground for millions of chinstrap penguins -- can be suffocating for human visitors.

The plume is seen here snaking into upper-level winds where it takes a turn to the northwest. The other islands exhibit swirling cloud vortices on their lee sides, created by their disturbance of prevailing winds. - Discovery News.

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - Israel's Mass Mobilization, Calls Up Reserves, Deploying 22 Battalion of Troops to Protect Border!

Instability in Egypt and Syria has led the Israel Defense Forces to call up 6 additional battalions for emergency duty, with 16 others available if needed.

Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, received a request from the IDF to call up the reservists and granted that request based on a 2008 law known as the Reserve Duty Law. “IDF reserve forces are a key component in the IDF’s operation strength, during both routine and emergency situations. Following security assessments, a number of battalions were called up for military service for the second time in a three year period,” the IDF said in a statement to The Algemeiner. Maariv and Russia Today first reported on this story. “Following the August attack along the Sinai border, the area around Route 12 was divided into two distinct military zones, creating the need for additional manpower,” the IDF said.
Israel has walked a delicate line with Egypt as the Arab nation moves towards a Presidential election that has seen more than 10 candidates disqualified.  In early April Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the Sinai – the area controlled by Egypt that shares a border with Israel – is becoming a serious security concern. As the international community attempts to negotiate an end to the violence in Syria that has led to thousands of deaths, and calls intensify for President Bashar al-Assad to step down from power, Israel has remained relatively quiet about it’s neighbor to the north.  Recently however, Israeli leaders have been more outspoken about their concerns over Syria and their desire to see Assad go. “We know our place. It’s not for us to give advice,” a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry said regarding Syria. “We’re not doing anything to make him go. We’re not getting involved or even thinking of any interference.” - Algemeiner.

WATCH: Israel brings out reserve border battalions.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Mysterious Outbreak of Avian Cholera Kills Over 20 Ducks and Geese at Lake Ellis in Marysville?!

The bodies of more than 20 ducks and geese have been found along the shoreline of Lake Ellis in Marysville. Marysville police Corporal Gabrielle Carter blames an outbreak of Avian Cholera for their deaths.

"My concern is that the disease spreads between the ducks and geese," said Carter after finding 17 dead birds Saturday and another 5 on Friday. "It's traumatizing to the children to have to see the dead ducks."  Marysville police officers are tasked with patrolling the lake once an hour to search for sick birds.  "We need to retrieve any of the deceased ducks so that their mates won't continue having physical contact with them and become infected as well," said Carter. 

The disease isn't known to affect humans, but Marysville police are still warning people to stay away from the birds.  "My concern is that children would come up to pet them thinking they are tame when in fact, they're really sick," Carter said.  Fish and Wildlife service officials have yet to report the exact cause of the outbreak, but they suspect that water shortages could be to blame. When water is scarce, migrating birds are forced to congregate in small spaces - helping to spread the often fatal disease. - News10.
WATCH: Outbreak kills over 20 Ducks and Geese at Lake Ellis.

EXTREME WEATHER: Heavy Rains and Hailstorms Affect Nearly 800,000 in Central China!

Heavy rain and hailstorms in central China's Hunan Province have affected the lives of nearly 800,000 people, local authorities said Tuesday.

According to a statement issued by the Department of Civil Affairs of Hunan, rain and hail have battered parts of the province since April 28, affecting 758,000 people in Yueyang, Yiyang, Zhangjiajie and Yongzhou.  Massive rainfall triggered mountain torrents, landslides and floods in those areas, where 47,500 residents had been evacuated.  Some 32,600 hectares of farmland have been damaged, and 5,780 hectares of crops would bear no harvest. 

Nearly 15,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed by the extreme weather. It was estimated that direct economic losses would add up to 464 million yuan (73.8 million U.S. dollars), according to the statement.  The department dispatched working groups to the worst-hit cities to deliver blankets to residents and conduct other rescue efforts. - Xinhuanet.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL & UFO MEMES: National UFO Alert - Four American States Report 197 April UFO Sighting Cases!

The National UFO ALERT Rating System has been updated May 1, 2012, with California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida moving to a UFO Alert 3 as the highest reporting states during the month of April 2012, filed with the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).

California was the leading high-reporting state in April with 77 cases, up from 71 cases filed in March. Those states in a UFO Alert 4 category with 13 or more reports include: Michigan, Ohio, Arizona, New York, Tennessee, New Jersey, Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia and Missouri. All other states move to a UFO Alert 5 category with lower numbers of UFO activity. The Watch States - with 10 or more cases - are Oklahoma, Maryland, Indiana and Illinois. MUFON released April statistics May 1, where the total number of reported UFO sightings is listed by state. The UFO Examiner uses these statistics to rate states. The entire country was moved back to the lowest alert level - UFO Alert 5.
California takes the lead with 77 cases; Texas, 44; Pennsylvania, 40 cases; and Florida, 36 cases. Those states with 13 or more reports, the next reporting tier level, are a UFO Alert 4 status: Michigan, 21 cases; Ohio, 19 cases; Arizona, 18 cases; New York, 18 cases; Tennessee, 17 cases; New Jersey, 15 cases; Colorado, 15 cases; North Carolina, 15 cases; Georgia, 14 cases; and Missouri, 13 cases. Our Watch States this month are - with 10 reports or more: Oklahoma, 12 cases; Maryland, 11 cases; Indiana, 11 cases; and Illinois, 10 cases. The sphere remains the most-reported UFO shape with 164 April reports. Other shape reports include: star-like, 121; circle, 104; disc, 81; other, 65; unknown, 61; oval, 59; triangle, 55; fireball, 50; square/rectangular, 33; flash, 28; cylinder, 24; cigar, 19; boomerang, 17; bullet-missile, 15; diamond, 13; blimp, 10; cone, 7; egg, 7; Saturn-like, 6; chevron, 5; teardrop, 4; and cross, 1. The object's distance from the witness includes: Less than 100 feet, 53 cases; 101 to 500 feet, 69 cases; 501 feet to one mile, 160 cases; over one mile, 147 cases; unknown, 205; and no value stated, 12. In addition, there were "14 landings, hovering, or takeoffs reported and 0 entities observed." The most interesting UFO reports do not necessarily come from high reporting states - but those states with higher numbers do account for some of the most interesting evidence to study. While UFO sightings seem to pop up randomly around the country, this list is meant to offer a small insight into where Americans are filing reports. - Roger Marsh/National UFO Examiner.

MYSTERY: Symbols of an Alien Sky, Man-Made or Natural Phenomena - The Latest UFO Sightings And Aerial Anomalies Around the World?!

Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

Tiwanaku, Bolivia - 28th of April, 2012.

Gumi, South Korea - 30th of April, 2012.

Tijuana, Mexico - 24th of April, 2012.

Sydney, Australia - 2nd of May, 2012.

Oregon, United States - 28th of April, 2012.

Matteson, Illinois, United States - 22nd of April, 2012.

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - Iranian Naval Exercise Follows on Israel's Northern Border Drill!

Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak offered the view this week that the next round of Six-Power talks with Iran taking place on May 23 in Baghdad would lead nowhere, throwing cold water on the current optimism. As for US media reports of a lessening in war tensions over Iran because of the internal debate in Israel over an independent attack,  they were soon overtaken by significant military steps embarked on Tuesday, May 1, by the US, Israel and Iran.

The large-scale Israel Defense Forces war game on the borders of Syria (Golan) and Lebanon was quickly followed by naval drills along Iran’s southern Persian Gulf coast by its border guards. Tehran was making good on the policy agreed with Syrian and Hizballah allies in early 2011 to counter any Western or Israel military movement in the region with a comparable response. Israeli army spokesmen were cagey about the scale and nature of the exercise beyond preparing people living in the north for heavy military traffic on regional highways and the sounds of gunshots and explosions. debkafile’s military sources disclose that the IDF drilled a strengthened, proactive presence in the North to meet al Qaeda’s looming presence and expanding operations next door, especially in Syria, and the threat of the Syrian civil war spilling over into Lebanon. Monday, Israel started building a defensive wall 10-meter high, 2 kilometer-long along its border with Lebanon to protect the Israeli population and highways in northern Galilee from sniper fire coming from the Lebanese village of Kfar Kila in the Hizballah-dominated south. According to intelligence received, the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah plans to lash out against Israel in the hope of recovering its waning popular support as a result of its tight bonds with the hated Bashar Assad. Snipers are to pick off Israelis in cross-border fire and so provoke a major firestorm that will take the world’s attention away from the savagery in Syria. Just as Israel estimates that the Galilee Panhandle and Golan could become flashpoints for exchanges of cross-border fire, so too Iran is taking into account that an operation to destroy its nuclear facilities may also entail landings on its southern coast by American and Israel special forces, and maybe others too.

Gen. Hossein Zolfaqari, Commander of the Iranian Border Guards, was more forthcoming about the exercise he is leading than Israel’s army spokesmen. He announced that the naval maneuver codenamed “Fajr” would exercise the latest tactics in border protection with the participation of the border guard units of the provinces of Bushehr (site of Iran’s only nuclear reactor and parts of its uranium enrichment facilities), the Persian Gulf Kish Island (where big Revolutionary Guards bases at situated),  Hormozgan (near the Revolutionary Guards main headquarters at Bandar Abbas) as well as Khuzestan and  Sistan and Balochestan, Iran’s biggest oil regions.
Very much on the offensive, Tehran Monday claimed to have developed the technological expertise for “redirecting enemy missiles to a target which we will determine,” in the words of Brig. Farzad Ismaili, commander of the Khatam-ol-Anbiya (Last of the Prophets) Air Base. “This is the capability of electronic warfare in which it is we who program the enemy missile,” he boasted. There was also an outpouring of comment from Tehran about last week’s deployment of US F-22 Raptors in the UAE’s Al Dhafra Air Base opposite Iran’s southern shores. One spokesman said they posed no danger to Iran and had been moved in for “psychological warfare;” another that they “threatened regional security” and Gulf nations should not allow foreign armies to take up position on their shores. A week after the F-22 squadron was deployed in the Gulf, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, special assistant to President Obama and senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council, disclosed Monday that the completion of the initial phase of the US-backed missile network in Europe would be announced at the NATO summit meeting in Chicago on May 20. She added that additional work is underway in the next phase of the network, designed for protecting Europe and the Middle East from Iranian ballistic missile attack. The chronology is significant: The announcement that the US-led missile shield has gone operational will be made three days before the Six Powers and Iran resume nuclear negotiations in Baghdad.  Far from reducing war tensions over Iran, America has tossed the military ball into the Iranian court. - DEBKA.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Scientific Study - Yellowstone Supervolcano Eruptions More Frequent Than Thought!

The Yellowstone supervolcano—which underlies much of the national park and beyond—may erupt more frequently than thought, a new study says. If so, those "super eruptions" may be slightly less super than suspected—but still strong enough to destroy all of Yellowstone and more, researchers say.

Great Fountain Geyser, fueled by vast magma stores below Yellowstone National Park.
Much of Yellowstone National Park—which covers parts of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming—lies in a roughly 40-mile-wide (70-kilometer-wide) crater formed by the collapse of a massive volcanic cone in a giant eruption some 640,000 years ago. Since then, Yellowstone has seen two more such super-eruptions. But that first, biggest blast—long thought to have spewed 88 million cubic feet (2,500 cubic kilometers) of lava—may have actually been two eruptions, the new study says.  Among geologists, it's no secret that the two-million-year-old lava deposit has three layers. "That got us thinking whether these things were representing different magma batches [from a single eruption] or different events," said study leader Ben Ellis, a volcanologist and postdoctoral researcher at Washington State University. Ellis's team examined rock samples from all three layers using the latest isotope dating techniques, which rely on the known rates of decay of certain elements to date objects. It turns out that the uppermost lava layer—about 12 percent of the roughly two-million-year-old deposit—was laid down 6,000 years later than the other two layers, according to the study.

Supervolcano Eruption Still "Definitely Big"
Though the findings suggest that Yellowstone cataclysms are weaker than previously thought, Ellis is quick to point out that even the 12 percent layer represents a blast for the ages. "We just recognized an eruption 300 times the size of Mount St. Helens'," said Ellis, referring to the Washington State volcano's 1980 eruption.  The findings also raise the question of whether the other two layers represent separate eruptions—currently an unsolvable mystery, since even the latest dating techniques have fairly wide margins of error. "Right now, plus or minus 4,000 years is about as good as we can do on rock of this age," Ellis said. If the two younger layers are from separate events, the blasts were still huge. And if seen as the products of a single event, the two layers represent the fourth largest eruption known to science. "It's definitely big," Ellis said. "We're not taking that away." If something like that blast were to happen today, he added, all of Yellowstone National Park would probably be devastated. What's more, "the ashfall would likely be all over the continental U.S.," he said. One thing's for sure: Yellowstone—rising on a bulging magma pocket, constantly seething with volcanically heated geysers and hot springs—is still very much alive. - National Geographic.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: 32 Finless Porpoises Have Been Found Mysteriously Dead in China - Wildlife Experts Worry About Possibilities of Extinction?!

More than 32 Yangtze finless porpoises have been found dead in the Dongting and Poyang lakes in China in the last two months, leading wildlife experts to worry whether the rare animals are being pushed closer to extinction, the World Wildlife Fund has reported.

A finless porpoise at the Miyajima Aquarium, Japan.
Yangtze finless porpoises live mainly in the freshwater Yangtze River and the two lakes, where the bodies of more than 32 of them have been found since March 3. One of the porpoises was pregnant, according to the blog Save Yangtze Finless Porpoise.  "This tragedy shows that Yangtze finless porpoise is facing enormous challenges," said Lei Gang, head of WWF China's Central Yangtze program, in a statement. "The porpoise deaths illustrate that without effective measures to fundamentally reverse the trend of ecological deterioration, [the] future of the incredible creature is far from certain."  After examining the dead porpoises, scientists were left with a long list of possible culprits, including electro-fishing, strikes by boat-engine propellers, food shortages and pollution. In electro-fishing, which is illegal, people use storage batteries to fire huge electric charges into the Yangtze and then collect the dead fish that float to the surface, according to an EDGE blog entry by Sam Turvey, who has studied wildlife along the Yangtze, including the Yangtze dolphin or baiji.

An autopsy report released April 17 by the Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences suggests two of the finless porpoises were killed due to electro-fishing and boat-engine propellers. Some experts have noted that climate change has lowered water levels in the Yangtze and its lakes, making it more difficult for porpoises to find food, but the researchers have yet to find any evidence that lack of food is resulting in porpoise deaths. A 2006 IHB survey found about 1,800 Yangtze finless porpoises in the Yangtze River and connected lakes, but that number has been decreasing. From 2006 to 2010, the number of Yangtze finless porpoises in just the Dongting Lake decreased to 198. Rather than relocate the porpoises, local government officials, along with cetacean experts with the WWF, are considering conservation measures in the Dongting Lake. In addition, the local government plans to implement a ban on illegal fishing (including electro-fishing), regulate sand dredging and limit boat speeds, according to the WWF. - Live Science.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Indonesia’s Mt. Merapi Volcano Preparing to Erupt - High Volcanic Activity Detected by Research Team!

A team of researchers has detected high volcanic activity on Mount Merapi, which is located on the border of Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces.  Following months of observation, the Indonesian-Japanese joint research team has found increasing levels of magma leading to the volcano’s summit reservoir, known as “inflation”.

Volcanic activity: Mt. Merapi spews ash in a violent eruption as seen from Glagah Harjo,
Cangkringan, in Yogyakarta’s regency of Sleman, in this November 2010 photo
“After its eruption in 2010, we detected that Merapi inflated again very quickly. This means that Merapi is a very active volcano,” Masato Iguchi, a researcher from the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University, said in Jakarta on Tuesday.  Iguchi made the announcement while presenting a report titled “Multi-Disciplinary Hazard Reduction from Earthquakes and Volcanoes in Indonesia”.  To detect volcanic activity and ground deformation, the Japanese volcanologist said, global positioning system (GPS) devices were installed on three Indonesian volcanoes, namely Mt. Guntur (West Java), Mt. Sinabung (North Sumatra) and Mt. Merapi.  The last eruption of Mt. Merapi took place in 2010. Before that, Merapi had erupted in 2001 and 2006.  This indicated that there were some periods in which the volcano had no deformation until it inflated and then erupted.  The report of the team’s findings is part of a three-year project funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Science and Technology (JST).  The project, which is led by Hery Harjono, an earthquake researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), will end later this year.  During their observation work, Iguchi said, the joint team witnessed drastic changes in the chemical deposits on Mt. Merapi between October and November 2011.  “More work is needed to predict possible eruption scenarios, volcano monitoring as well as countermeasures to mitigate potential volcanic disasters,” said Iguchi. 

Tomoyuki Tada, a senior representative with the JICA, said the “Multi-Disciplinary Hazard Reduction from Earthquakes and Volcanoes in Indonesia” was the first time the JICA and the JST had collaborated in Indonesia.  “This is a very important project as Indonesia and Japan are well-known for natural disasters,” he said.  During the project, which began in 2009, three significant natural disasters occurred: the Merapi volcanic eruption in 2010, the tsunami in Mentawai Islands regency, West Sumatra and the quake-triggered tsunami in eastern Japan.  So powerful was the Merapi eruption in 2010 that the number of people killed totaled more than 270, according to local authority data.  The Mentawai tsunami, meanwhile, claimed more than 370 lives with hundreds other reported missing.  “At that time, we used our network of researchers working on this project. This strengthened our cooperation in disaster management and post-disaster response,” said Tada.  Citing an example, he said the JICA sent a Japanese disaster rescue team to Indonesia following the Merapi eruption and Mentawai tsunami.  While after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, workshops and seminars were held in Japan utilizing the network established through this project.  Surono, the National Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG), said the possibility of an eruption remains unknown. “We don’t know yet whether it [the eruption] will occur during its two-year-period or within its four-year-period,” said Surono. - The Jakarta Post.

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - U.S. Airplane-Mounted Laser Weapon Project May Be Resurrected to Defend Against North Korea!

Like one of those James Bond villains that just won’t die, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s missile hunting laser weapon is once again battling its way back from the boneyard thanks to the “emerging” missile threat on the Korean peninsula. The House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces panel is asking for roughly $75 million in next year’s Pentagon budget to keep the Airborne Laser program intact just in case North Korea turns out to have an intercontinental ballistic missile that works.

The Airborne Laser, or ABL in mil-speak, is a hulking Boeing 747 equipped with a massive laser cannon, dreamed up by the missile defense agency to blast boosting missiles out of the sky. It served as a symbol for the bleeding edge of missile defense and weapons technology for a time, but it also came to represent everything that’s wrong with Pentagon weapons development. Over budget and behind schedule, it barely dodged the fiscal axe on a few occasions. After a brief flirtation with success in 2010, the ABL failed to knock a missile out of the sky during its second test. Then it failed again. Sixteen years and several billion dollars into the program, the MDA had an aircraft that didn’t work most of the time (and still cost nearly $100,000 an hour to fly even when it was failing). In February, facing mounting pressure to slash wasteful military spending programs, the MDA announced that the ABL had flown its final test flight.

The Congressional plug had finally been pulled. Or so it seemed. Danger Room reports that in a markup of next year’s DoD budget the Strategic Forces subcommittee is once again directing the MDA to evaluate the cost of “returning the ABL to operational status”--odd wording, considering the ABL was never reliably operational. The markup specifically cites the “rapidly developing threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” This, of course, piles further absurdity on top of the idea that the ABL would be a potent defense against missile threats. For its part, the DPRK seems to be getting worse at building rockets--its latest rocket test failed at an even earlier stage than its botched 2009 launch. If the Strategic Forces subcommittee lands the funds it has asked for and resurrects the ABL (again), the U.S. may end up hunting missiles that don’t function with an airborne laser cannon that doesn’t work. - POPSCI.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Nicaragua Closes the Masaya Volcano National Park - Blast of Ashes and Hot Stones Result in Fire!

After a fire due to a blast of ashes and hot stones, Nicaraguan authorities decided today the temporary closure of the Masaya Volcano National Park, located about 20 kilometers south of Managua.

The director of the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies (INETER), Jorge Castro, told reporters that the seismic activity decreased in the last hours, but they forbade the entrance of the public to the resort as a precaution.  Both INETER and the National System for Prevention, Mitigation and Attention to Disasters (SINAPRED) continue monitoring although seismic activity does not reveal the volcano will enter a greater-magnitude stage, Castro said.

According to authorities, there is no reason to issue any specific warning related to the population residing in the vicinity of Masaya Volcano, because the nearest settlements are about 10 kilometers away, stated Castro.  Regarding the fire, Lieutenant Colonel Abel Zapata, of the Civil Defense, reported that the fumes, ashes and stones caused the fire that affect 10.5 hectares, which were covered with dry grass.  National Park Ranger, with the support of the Fire Brigades of Nindir√≠ and Masaya, were able to control the fire, confirmed Zapata. - Prensa Latina.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Land Subsidence Continues in China - Landslide Forces Over 1,000 Tourists to Evacuate Resort in Hubei Province!

More than 1,000 tourists were evacuated early Wednesday after being stranded for nearly two days on a central China highway by rain-triggered landslides, local authorities said.

The tourists were stranded at about 2 p.m. Monday after a massive landslide occurred on State Highway 209 near the Shennongjia forestry resort in Hubei province, the resort's administrators said in a press release.  Another landslide hit the same location on Tuesday afternoon, cutting traffic on a highway that runs from Hohhot, capital of north China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, to Beihai in the southern Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, the document said. 

The press release said no casualties have been reported.  Most of the tourists took shelter at the Shennongjia forestry resort and were given food and water while road workers cleared the rubble and fixed the road.  Road work was completed at around 3 a.m. Wednesday and all the tourists were evacuated.  Shennongjia, a major tourist attraction, is also the supposed home of the "yeren," an elusive Bigfoot-like creature.
- People's Daily Online.