Sunday, June 3, 2012

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong Magnitude 6.6 Quake Strikes Off Panama's Pacific Coast!

A 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck on Sunday in the Pacific Ocean south of Panama, but there was no risk of a massive tsunami, US seismologists said. 

The quake struck at 6:45am at a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles), the US Geological Survey said. The epicenter was located 370 kilometers (230 miles) south of the Panamanian city of David.  There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.  The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said "no destructive widespread tsunami threat exists," but warned that quakes of a similar magnitude can "sometimes generate local tsunamis in coastal areas near the epicentre.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), extensive diversity of tectonic regimes characterizes the perimeter of the Caribbean plate, involving no fewer than four major adjacent plates (North America, South America, Nazca, and Cocos). Inclined zones of deep earthquakes (Wadati-Benioff zones), deep ocean trenches, and arcs of volcanoes clearly indicate subduction of oceanic lithosphere along the Central American and Atlantic Ocean margins of the Caribbean plate, while shallow seismicity and focal mechanisms of major shocks in Guatemala, northern Venezuela, and the Cayman Ridge and Cayman Trench indicate transform fault and pull-apart basin tectonics. Along the northern margin of the Caribbean plate, the North America moves west, relative to the Caribbean plate, at approximately 20 mm/yr, resulting in major transcurrent faults and troughs. Farther east, the North America plate subducts beneath the Caribbean plate resulting in surface expression of the deep Puerto Rico Trench and a zone of intermediate focus earthquakes in the subducted slab. The plate boundary curves around Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles where the plate motion vector of the Caribbean plate relative to the North and South America plates is less oblique, resulting in active island-arc tectonics. The North and South America plates subduct beneath the Caribbean plate along the Lesser Antilles Trench at rates of about 20 mm/yr; consequently, there are both intermediate focus earthquakes within the subducted South America plate and a chain of active volcanoes along the island arc.

The southern Caribbean plate boundary along with the South America plate strikes east-west across Trinidad and western Venezuela and is characterized by major strike-slip faults and shallow seismicity, resulting from relative plate motion of about 20 mm/yr. Further to the west, a broad zone of convergent deformation trends southwest across western Venezuela and central Columbia. Plate boundaries are not well defined across northern South America, but there is a transition from Caribbean/South America convergence in the east to Nazca/South America convergence in the west, described in more detail below. The transition zone is characterized by high seismic hazard. The Nazca-Caribbean plate boundary offshore of Columbia is characterized by convergence (Nazca plate subducting under South America plate) at about 65 mm/yr. The 6 January 1906 Mw = 8.5 megathrust subduction earthquake occurred on a shallow-dipping interface of this plate boundary segment. Along the western coast of Central America, the Cocos plate subducts beneath the Caribbean plate at rates of 72?81 mm/yr, resulting in a relatively high seismic hazard and a chain of numerous active volcanoes; here intermediate-focus earthquakes occur within the subducted Cocos plate to depths of nearly 300 km.

Click HERE for additional Details, Summary, Maps and Scientific & Technical information from the USGS.

THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE: Order Out of Chaos - Europe Mulls Major Step Towards "Fiscal Union"!

When Jean-Claude Trichet called last June for the creation of a European finance ministry with power over national budgets, the idea seemed fanciful, a distant dream that would take years or even decades to realize, if it ever came to be.  One year later, with the euro zone's debt crisis threatening to tear the bloc apart, Germany is pushing its partners for precisely the kind of giant leap forward in fiscal integration that the now-departed European Central Bank president had in mind. 

After falling short with her "fiscal compact" on budget discipline, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing for much more ambitious measures, including a central authority to manage euro area finances, and major new powers for the European Commission, European Parliament and European Court of Justice.  She is also seeking a coordinated European approach to reforming labor markets, social security systems and tax policies, German officials say.  Until states agree to these steps and the unprecedented loss of sovereignty they involve, the officials say Berlin will refuse to consider other initiatives like joint euro zone bonds or a "banking union" with cross-border deposit guarantees - steps Berlin says could only come in a second wave. 

The goal is for EU leaders to agree to develop a road map to "fiscal union" at a June 28-29 EU summit, where top European officials including European Council President Herman Van Rompuy will present a set of initial proposals.  European countries would then put the meat on the bones of the plan in the second half of 2012, several European sources have told Reuters, including a timetable for overhauling EU treaties, a step Berlin sees as vital for setting closer integration in stone.  "The fundamental question is relatively simple. Do our partners really want more Europe, or do they just want more German money?" a government official in Berlin said.  If European countries go ahead, the steps would represent the most significant policy leap since they agreed to give up their national currencies and cede control over monetary policy 13 years ago. But the hurdles are daunting.  "The world is not coming to an end; rather, it feels as if we are on the doorstep to another major European integration move," said Erik Neilsen, chief economist at Unicredit. "But why do these initiatives only come when we are on the edge of the cliff where the risk of an accident is so much higher?" - Reuters.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Massive Wave of Deaths - Nearly 1,000 Carcasses of Endangered Antelopes Found in Kazakhstan as Mass Death Strikes For Third Year in a Row?!

Scientists have been left baffled after nearly 1,000 rare antelope were found dead in Kazakhstan - marking the species' third mass death in just two years.  At least 12,000 of the country's critically endangered saiga antelope population mysteriously died off in May 2010 and another 450 exactly a year later. 

Men load a trailer with the carcasses of dead saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan.
Now, a year after that, the latest spate of deaths has spawned a range of theories as to what killed the creatures, from bacterial infections to harmful fertilisers and even emissions from spacecraft. The official line from Kazakhstan's Ministry of Agriculture is that the saiga were killed by pasteurellosis, a lung infection caused by bacteria that only harm animals with weakened immune systems.  But, as Scientific American reports, some ecologists in Kazakhstan and neighbouring Russia blame the recent landing of a spacecraft from the International Space Station.In April a Soyuz capsule carrying two Russian astronauts and one American touched down near the village of Sorsha, where at least 120 dead saiga were discovered last month. 

A similar theory suggests a link to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, a launch site in central Kazakhstan from which all of Russia's manned spaceflights take off.  Green campaigner Musagali Duambekov told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty the deaths could be down to chemicals released by rockets flying overhead, though he also suggested the widespread use of fertilisers in the area could have damaged the saiga's immune systems.  Meanwhile, Eleanor Milner-Gulland, chair of the Saiga Conservation Alliance, said the antelope may have eaten too much vegetation tainted by bacteria during the breeding season. The majority of the dead were females who had recently given birth, leaving them weak and unable to feed their fawns, which also died.  The deaths will have alarmed conservationists keen to protect a species already struggling to recover from years of uncontrolled hunting.  Whereas millions roamed Russian grasslands as recently as the 1950s, the saiga came close to extinction amid huge demand for their horns for use in Chinese medicine.  Today only about 85,000 remain in parts of Russia, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, where it is now forbidden to hunt the antelope. - Daily Mail.

THE DELUGE: Flash Floods Wreck Havoc in Eastern Uganda - More Than 1,000 Hectares of Food Crops, as Well as Numerous Houses, Have Been Destroyed!

As the world is set to mark World Environment Day on June 5, farmers in the remote village of Doho in the eastern Ugandan district of Butaleja are paying a heavy price as a result of harsh climate change effects.  Flash floods have left many families homeless, gardens submerged and roads destroyed.  Affected areas include Doho-Kholi and Doho-Habra in Mazimasa sub-county, and Namehere, where more than 1,000 hectares of food crops, mainly rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, maize, as well as numerous houses, have been destroyed.  The floods are as a result of intermittent rains uphill forcing rivers downhill to bust their banks ferociously sweeping away everything a long their way. 

The heavy rains according to environmental experts are a result of the now unpredictable rainy seasons which they attribute to climate change.  Isaac Malinga, who has been a farmer for over two decades, told Xinhua that he is back to square one as the floods have destroyed all his crops.  He said what makes it had is he can now not afford to pay tuition fees for his children who are now back at school following the opening of a new school term. “This season is a loss and we are now planning for the next. Previously around this time of the year we would be harvesting but at the moment there is almost nothing. We have now resorted to buying everything including food,” he as he pondered the next move.  For Abu Walubusya another farmer on the same village as Malinga, the floods have struck him to the bare.  As he spoken to Xinhua in his flood cassava and rice gardens, he wondered how he is going to take care of the 20 children in his household. “The floods have affected me so much. The water has destroyed all my crops yet I have many children to look after; they now sleep hungry. We urgently need help so that this water can be diverted away from our gardens,” he said. “My children are hungry, I have come here to find food but see all crops have been destroyed yet I have got many other responsibilities like school fees. It is here that I earn a living but all is gone,” he added. 

According to the villagers here, they used not to have such floods but now each and every year the situation gets worse.  In 2010, floods affected the district, destroying houses, and crop fields, and displacing people.  The worst hit area was Bunyole, where all ten sub-counties and two town councils were flooded for days.  Roads were submerged, cutting the area and its residents off from markets, schools, hospitals and other services.  As a result of the onset of the rainy season that has seen rivers bursting their banks and flooding occurring, there has been an outbreak of Cholera, not only here in Butaleja but also other parts of the East African country.  Ministry of health statistics released recently put the death toll of Cholera cases at 73 although other reports say about 100 people have succumbed to the disease.  The number of people affected has increased to 3,111 from 2,200 in March in 13 districts of northern, eastern and western Uganda. 

Cholera is spread as a result of eating food that is contaminated with fecal material.  Water from flooded pit latrines sometimes finds its way to the water sources that the communities use for domestic consumption.  What’s more, floods and deforestation can cause new disasters such as landslides. In 2010, in Bududa district a landslide sparked off by days of heavy rains left over 200 people dead and scores homeless.  Environmental experts are now warning of a similar incident after a crack measuring over 40km on Mount Elgon is said to be expanding.  The cracks develop as a result of the villagers cutting down trees on the slopes.  The trees are meant to hold the soil together but when they are removed, rain water easily seeps into the soil sparking off landslides.  As a measure to mitigate the increasing deforestation, government on May 24 announced that next month each family in the country will be encouraged to plant at least six trees.  Climate change is a real concern, planting trees will help mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Muruli Mukasa, minister in charge of the presidency. - Coast Week.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe Drought Conditions Hit Most of Colorado - State is Abnormally Dry; Outlook For Improvement is Bleak!

Most of Colorado is in a moderate to extreme drought, and the outlook for June offers little hope for improvement.  The U.S. Drought Monitor says severe drought conditions covered about a quarter of Colorado at the end of May, encompassing nearly every place north and west of Salida. A pocket of that area is even worse, with severe drought conditions. 

The rest of the state is either abnormally dry or in a moderate drought.  Since January, Longmont has had 3.23 inches of precipitation, according to Times-Call weather consultant Dave Larison. The average for that five-month span is 6.38 inches.  With the exception of February, each month has fallen below the average precipitation. February had 1.02 inches, more than double that month's average of .38 inches.  March, which had only .01 inches of precipitation, was the driest in the city's weather history, a record that dates back 102 years.  "March really brought the average down," Larison said.  April saw .64 inches, and May ended with 1.41 inches.  "It's just a drier weather pattern that we have this year, and it seems to be continuing," Larison said.  Larison noted that the three-month outlook for the summer shows higher-than-usual temperatures and average precipitation.  The Drought Monitor says a severe drought means crop or pasture losses are possible and water shortages are common. An extreme drought means major crop and pasture losses are possible and water shortages could become widespread. 

The National Weather Service predicts June temperatures will be above normal and rainfall will be below normal statewide.  March through May was the driest spring on record in Boulder, with 3.01 inches of moisture. The average is 7.85 inches.  "It was a dismally dry spring," meteorologist Matt Kelsch said.  Boulder Creek was flowing at a rate of 100 cubic feet per second Thursday. The creek's average flow this time of year is 400 to 500 cfs.  The Boulder County Sheriff's Office has imposed a fire ban for a large portion of western unincorporated Boulder County.  Grand Junction recorded 0.58 inch of moisture March through May, the second-lowest on record.  Steamboat Springs recorded 0.68 inch of precipitation in May. The May average is 2.08 inches.  The drought prompted officials in Routt County, which includes Steamboat Springs, to enact fire restrictions in unincorporated areas. Campfires still are allowed at designated campgrounds and recreational sites, but recreational fires at homes are not.  "We haven't seen it quite like this since the 2002 season, which was a big wildfire season," National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Ramey said. - Times Call.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: The Streptococcus and Staphylococcus Aureus - 5th Victim Has Emergency Surgery as Flesh-Eating Bacteria Strikes Again!

A South Carolina  grandmother has become the fifth victim of the flesh-eating bacteria that has sparked terror across Georgia.  Louise Thompson underwent emergency surgery to remove infected flesh from her leg and was in a coma for five days. 

Until being diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis she had never even heard of the bacteria, which attacks soft tissue and muscle.   Thompson had gone to a Simpsonville doctor reporting a pain in her leg that she said felt ‘like pins sticking in my skin’ but no visible signs of infection.  She ended up in hospital undergoing surgery to remove ‘a place the size of a regular football’, reported.  Thompson is now recovering at the Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital in Greenville and on Friday stood up for the first time in months. She said she hopes the next step will be getting home.  'I won't ever ignore something that's sore anymore,' she told the news channel. ‘I just really thought that I wasn't  going to live.'  Four other victims are recovering in hospitals after picking up the rare and serious disease in Georgia after picking up the bacteria from cuts and wounds.   Doctors say the cases are unrelated and that the bacteria is not contagious.  

The aggressive disease first made headlines when it struck Aimee Copeland, a 24-year-old graduate student from Little Tallapoosa River, who cut her leg when she fell from a homemade zip-wire.  Doctors were forced to amputate her leg, her foot and both her hands as the necrotizing fasciitis spread rapidly through her body.    The second victim of the flesh-eating disease, Lana Kuykendall, 36, noticed the infection on the back of her leg just hours after being released from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where she gave birth to twins.  She has had seven surgeries to remove the infected flesh and remains in critical condition at Greenville Memorial Hospital in South Carolina, near her home.   Bobby Vaughn, 33, was the third victim. He has been upgraded to good condition after doctors removed two pounds of flesh from his groin.   He became infected after he cut his thigh while cutting weeds in Cartersville.   Paul Bales of Lake Sinclair became victim number four after he cut his leg while installing a new dock at the lake on May 1.  It was a very small cut that didn’t stop the grandfather playing golf the next day but within four days the cut had swelled and he was forced to have his leg amputated.   Despite the bizarre outbreak of the disease, Dr Mike Green, of Macon, said people shouldn't over-react and become paranoid about becoming infected.  It remains very rare, he said. - Daily Mail.
WATCH: Flesh-eating bacteria strikes again.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Sweden Shivers From Coldest June Day in Decades - Temperatures Drop as Low as -6C, Lowest Since 1962!

As several record low temperatures for the month of June were recorded across Sweden the last couple of days, the Met Office now says the blustery, rainy weather is here to stay until at least next weekend.

On Friday morning, the town of Börtnan in northern Sweden had survived night temperatures of minus 6 degrees Celcius - the coldest June temperature in Sweden for the past two decades.

The town Östersund had its coolest June night since 1962.

On Friday, temperatures crept below zero even in the south - Hagshult in county Småland recorded a nighttime temperature of 0.6 degrees Celcius.

The cool weather will persist throughout the coming week, say the state meteorologists.

The Met Office also issued a storm warning for the Baltic Sea on Saturday. - Radio Sweden.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: "The Attack of the Tarantulas" - Unknown Venomous Spiders Invade Indian Village in Swarms - Killing Two in "Highly Aggressive" Fashion, Leaving Villagers and Authorities in Panic!

A town in India is living in fear of a swarm of venomous spiders, which last month left two people dead after being bitten.  It may sound like a B-grade horror movie, but residents of the town of Sadiya, in Assam state, say that on the evening of May 8 as they were celebrating a Hindu festival swarms of spiders suddenly appeared and attacked them, The Times of India reported.

Swarms of spiders suddenly descended from nowhere and started biting the
people around Sadiya town in Upper Assam.
Over the next few days two people -- a man, Purnakanta Buragohain, and an unnamed school boy -- died after being bitten by the spiders. Scores more turned up at the town's hospital with spider bites.  District authorities are panicking and are considering spraying the town with the insecticide DDT.  Locals say the most terrifying aspect is that spiders appear in swarms and their behavior is highly aggressive.  "It leaps at anything that comes close. Some of the victims claimed the spider latched on to them after biting. If that is so, it needs to be dealt with carefully. The chelicerae and fangs of this critter are quite powerful," head of the department of life sciences at Dibrugarh University Dr L.R. Saikia said. 

Teams of Indian arachnid experts have flocked to the town, hoping to identify the species, but so far they have drawn a blank.  They say it could be a tarantula, a black wishbone or even a funnel-web spider -- or it could be a whole new species.  One thing they agree on is that it is not native to the area as there is no record of venomous spiders in Assam. The black wishbone and funnel-web are native to Australia.  Researchers are also still running tests to find out the toxicity of the spiders' venom.  Dr Anil Phatowali, superintendent of the town's hospital, said they had not administered antivenin as they could not be certain the spider was venomous at all.  He also pointed out other factors may have contributed to the two reported fatalities.  "All the bite patients first went to witch doctors, who cut open their wounds with razors, drained out blood and burnt it. That could have also made them sick," Dr Phatowali said. - News Australia.

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - Israel Has Deployed Nuclear Weapons on German-Built Submarines; as Iran's Supreme Leader Promises a Thunderous Response, if Attacked!

Germany is helping Israel to develop its military nuclear capabilities, SPIEGEL has learned. According to extensive research carried out by the magazine, Israel is equipping submarines that were built in the northern German city of Kiel and largely paid for by the German government with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The missiles can be launched using a previously secret hydraulic ejection system.

The Dolphin class submarines are built for Israel in a shipyard in Kiel (March 2012 photo).
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told SPIEGEL that Germans should be "proud" that they have secured the existence of the state of Israel "for many years." In the past, the German government has always stuck to the position that it is unaware of nuclear weapons being deployed on the vessels. Now, however, former high-ranking officials from the German Defense Ministry, including former State Secretary Lothar Rühl and former chief of the planning staff Hans Rühle, have told SPIEGEL that they had always assumed that Israel would deploy nuclear weapons on the submarines. Rühl had even discussed the issue with the military in Tel Aviv. Israel has a policy of not commenting officially on its nuclear weapons program. Documents from the archives of the German Foreign Ministry make it clear, however, that the German government has known about the program since 1961. The last discussion for which there is evidence took place in 1977, when then-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt spoke to then-Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan about the issue. The submarines are built by the German shipyard HDW in Kiel. Three submarines have already been delivered to Israel, and three more will be delivered by 2017. In addition, Israel is considering ordering its seventh, eighth and ninth submarines from Germany. - Spiegel.
Meanwhile, Iran's Supreme Leader has threatened a "thunder" response on Israel if the Jewish nation attacks Tehran.

Any attack by Israel on Iran will blow back on the Jewish state “like thunder,” Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Sunday. Khamenei also said that the international community’s suspicion that Iran was seeking nuclear weapons is based on a “lie” and he insisted that sanctions imposed on his country were ineffective and only strengthened its resolve. His speech, broadcast on state television to mark the 1989 death of his predecessor and founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, contained no sign Iran was prepared to make any concessions on its disputed nuclear programme. Instead, it was infused with defiance and Khamenei’s customary contempt for Iran’s arch-foes Israel and the United States. If the Israelis “make any misstep or wrong action, it will fall on their heads like thunder,” Khamenei said. The Jewish state, he added, was feeling “vulnerable” and “terrified” after losing deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak as an ally. Allegations that Iran was trying to develop atomic bombs were false, Khamenei also said. “International political circles and media talk about the danger of a nuclear Iran, that a nuclear Iran is dangerous. I say that they lie. They are deceiving,” Khamenei said. “What they are afraid of — and should be afraid of — is not a nuclear, but an Islamic Iran.” - Gulf News.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Geological Upheaval - American West Coast Beach Towns Are Eyeing Retreat From Sea?!

Years of ferocious storms have threatened to gnaw away the western tip of a popular beachfront park two hours drive north of Los Angeles. Instead of building a 500-foot-long wooden defense next to the pier to tame the tide, the latest thinking is to flee.  Work is under way to gauge the toll of ripping up parking lots on the highly eroded west end of Goleta Beach County Park and moving a scenic bike path and buried utility lines inland away from lapping waves. 

In this photo from Thursday, May 24, 2012, the parking lot at Ocean Beach is shown in San Francisco. In San Francisco,
officials are mulling a significant retreat on its western flank, where the Great Highway is under assault from the Pacific
Ocean. Right now, a beach parking lot that abuts the highway is crumbing into the sea just across the highway from the
San Francisco Zoo.
Up and down the California coast, some communities are deciding it's not worth trying to wall off the encroaching ocean. Until recently, the thought of bowing to nature was almost unheard of.  But after futile attempts to curb coastal erosion - a problem expected to grow worse with rising seas fueled by global warming - there is growing acknowledgment that the sea is relentless and any line drawn in the sand is likely to eventually wash over.  "I like to think of it as getting out of the way gracefully," said David Revell, a senior coastal scientist at ESA PWA, a San Francisco-based environmental consulting firm involved in Goleta and other planned retreat projects.  The issue of whether to stay or flee is being confronted around the globe. Places experimenting with retreat have adopted various strategies. In Britain, for example, several sites along the Essex coast have deliberately breached seawalls to create salt marshes, which act as a natural barrier to flooding.  In the U.S., the starkest example can be found in Alaska, where entire villages have been forced to move to higher ground or are thinking about it in the face of melting sea ice. Hawaii's famous beaches are slowly shrinking and some scientists think it's a matter of time before the state has to explore whether to move back development. 

Several states along the Atlantic coast have adopted policies meant to keep a distance from the ocean. They include no-build zones, setbacks or rolling easements that allow development but with a caveat. As the sea advances, homeowners promise not to build seawalls and must either shift inland or let go.  Over the past half-century, the weapon of choice against a shrinking shoreline has been building a seawall or other defense. Roughly 10 percent of California's 1,100-mile coast is armored. In Southern California, where development is sometimes built steps from the ocean, a third of the shore is dotted with man-made barriers.  While such buffers may protect the base of cliffs, and the land and property behind them, they often exacerbate the problem by scouring beaches, making them narrower or even causing them to disappear.  This is one reason state coastal regulators in 2009 turned down a proposal by Santa Barbara County to fortify an eroding section of Goleta Beach park lashed by periodic storms. A rock wall was built as a temporary stopgap, but a long-term solution was needed. After the state rejected the construction of another hard structure, park officials, working with environmentalists, came up with a Plan B: Move gas, water and sewer lines out of the risk zone. Relocate a bike path to higher ground. Demolish 150 parking spaces and allow the acre of asphalt to be reclaimed by the beach.  Last month, the county Board of Supervisors gave the go-ahead for an environmental review. Work could begin next year if the $4 million plan passes other regulatory hurdles.  Around California, relocation of coastal infrastructure and development is being pushed by the Surfrider Foundation and other environmental groups.

But the efforts also are being driven by increased awareness of climate change. Sea level has risen by 7 inches over the last century in California. By 2050, it's projected to rise between 12 to 18 inches.  San Francisco is mulling a significant retreat on its western flank where the scenic Great Highway is under assault from the Pacific. Erosion has inched closer to the roadway each year, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues girding segments with broken-up rock, a costly temporary fix that has had limited success.  The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association favors mixing retreat with coastal armoring. City, state and federal agencies are considering the group's plan, which calls for moving segments of the Great Highway inland and allowing sand dunes to reclaim some of the paved-over space. The group also wants a temporary seawall to protect a sewer tunnel that's part of a multi-billion dollar sewage and storm water system expected to be affected by sea level rise while money is raised to relocate it in about 50 years.  South of San Francisco, the beach town of Pacifica has been an early adopter of planned retreat as it battles constant erosion. The city in 2002 purchased some homes that were at risk of falling into the sea and demolished them. 

This summer, the city of Ventura is pressing ahead with its $4.5 million retreat. Last year, crews removed a disintegrating oceanfront bike path at Surfer's Point, a popular surfing spot, and built a new one farther inland. The beach was widened and cobblestone was put down.  Mark Gold, associate director at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, commended local efforts but thinks a large-scale approach is needed.  "It's definitely something that needs to be taken a lot more seriously," Gold said.  So far, most of the scaling back in California has occurred on public land. It's a harder sell for private property owners to take the same action unless beachfront homes are on the verge of being submerged. The state, however, has a built-in retreat: People who want to build new oceanside construction agree not to build a seawall if their homes become threatened in the future.  Charles Lester, executive director of the California Coastal Commission, said planned retreat is an attractive option in theory, but it's hard to execute in densely populated coastlines where there may not be room to move back. Still, he said it's a tool worth using where possible.  Just don't call it surrender.  "I don't think it's giving up. It's about making a smart, sustainable decision," said Gary Griggs, who studies coastal erosion at University of California, Santa Cruz. - Xfinity.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Land Subsidence Continues in China - Xixiangtang Sinkhole Forces 844 People to Evacuate!

A sinkhole in Southern China has caused 844 people to evacuate their homes, which have been deemed unsafe. 

The Huffington Post reports that the sinkhole, which is about 1.5 meters (5 feet) deep and 2.5 meters (8 feet) wide, has already caused one building to collapse, It has also caused six buildings to tilt and one to crack, although no injuries have been reported.  The Xinhua News Agency, the official news, reported that the sinkhole occurred on Saturday near a middle school in Nanning city's Xixiangtang district after the school dug a well in hopes of easing a water shortage in the area.  According to The Washington Post, more than 800 villagers had to be evacuate in China's Guangxi province. Sinkholes have been fairly commong in china in recent years, which is known for its karst topography.

The sinkholes and land cracks have been common because of intense construction and mining activities in the past years, along with insufficient geological regulation.  The last documented sinkhole in China opened in the middle of a street in April of this year, and a girl, who was walking along the street while talking on her phone, walked into it. Gawker reports that the girl fell into a sinkhole which was about 6 meters deep in China's Xi'an city.  A cab driver who was passing by and saw the collapse helped rescue here, climbing down the hold using a loose cable, which was hanging beneath the walkway. Firefighters showed up, bringing a ladder with them, and helped her out.  According to Gawker, cabbie Wang Wei recalled: "The ladder kept moving about, it's a little flimsy and the girl kept screaming out of fear. So I told her to go first and I'll be right behind her. Finally we managed to get out." - Inquisitr.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Guatemala's Santiaguito and Fuego Volcano Erupts Violently - Ejecting Columns of Ash on Nearby Villages!

Both Santiaguito and Fuego volcanoes rain ash on nearby villages.

Santiaguito volcano (aka Santa Maria volcano) erupted on Friday, ejecting columns of ash high into the sky and covering much of the city of Quetzaltenango.  According to the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology, “the ash fell on cars and roofs of houses and streets were light gray.”  Santiaguito volcano, located 122 miles (206 km) west of the capital, stands 1½ (2,500 meters) high.

The National Institute of Volcanology of Guatemala (Insivumeh) reported Friday that the Fuego volcano, located 36 miles (60 km) south of Guatemala City, increased its eruptive activity and emitted ash plumes that reached a mile (1500 meters) high, “with the possibility of falling into the Sangre de Cristo communities, Morelia, Santa Sofía and Panimaché I and II.”  Authorities also reported increases of lava flows between 200 and 500 meters long toward the cliffs of Las Lajas, El Jute, Taniluya and Ashes.  Last week, the Conrad recommended to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation that air traffic avoid flying near the fire between Escuintla, Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango.  Fuego (the Fire), which stands 3,763 meters high, is one of the largest and most active volcanoes in Central America. - Ice Age Now.
WATCH: Guatemalan authorities on standby as the famed Fuego volcano spews lava and ash.