Sunday, November 18, 2012

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Growing Concerns Over Airborne Transmissions of the Ebola Virus!

November 18, 2012 - CANADA - Canadian scientists have shown that the deadliest form of the ebola virus could be transmitted by air between species.  In experiments, they demonstrated that the virus was transmitted from pigs to monkeys without any direct contact between them.  The researchers say they believe that limited airborne transmission might be contributing to the spread of the disease in some parts of Africa.  They are concerned that pigs might be a natural host for the lethal infection.

The infection is thought to get into humans through close contact with bodily fluids.
Ebola viruses cause fatal haemorrhagic fevers in humans and many other species of non human primates.  Details of the research were published in the journal Scientific Reports.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the infection gets into humans through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs and other bodily fluids from a number of species including chimpanzees, gorillas and forest antelope.  The fruit bat has long been considered the natural reservoir of the infection. But a growing body of experimental evidence suggests that pigs, both wild and domestic, could be a hidden source of Ebola Zaire - the most deadly form of the virus. 

Now, researchers from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the country's Public Health Agency have shown that pigs infected with this form of Ebola can pass the disease on to macaques without any direct contact between the species.  In their experiments, the pigs carrying the virus were housed in pens with the monkeys in close proximity but separated by a wire barrier. After eight days, some of the macaques were showing clinical signs typical of ebola and were euthanised.  One possibility is that the monkeys became infected by inhaling large aerosol droplets produced from the respiratory tracts of the pigs. One of the scientists involved is Dr Gary Kobinger from the National Microbiology Laboratory at the Public Health Agency of Canada. He told BBC News this was the most likely route of the infection.  "What we suspect is happening is large droplets - they can stay in the air, but not long, they don't go far," he explained.  "But they can be absorbed in the airway and this is how the infection starts, and this is what we think, because we saw a lot of evidence in the lungs of the non-human primates that the virus got in that way." - BBC.

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

November 16, 2012 - WORLDWIDE UFOs - Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

Davis, California, United States - 2nd of October, 2012.

Rotorua, New Zealand - 8th of November, 2012.

International Space Station - 16th of November, 2012.

San Antonio, Texas, United States - 17th of November, 2012.

Sydney, Australia - 17th of November, 2012.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe Cold Wave Sweeps North Karnatka, India - Lowest Minimum Temperature in the Past 120 Years in the Raichur Region!

November 18, 2012 - INDIA - The districts in the north interior Karnataka were reeling under one of the severest cold wave conditions on Saturday. At the Belgaum airport, 8.9 degree Celsius was recorded, which is the lowest minimum temperature recorded in the past 60 years. 

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) in the State, at 8.30 a.m. on Saturday, Raichur continued to be under severe cold wave spell recording a minimum temperature of 9.8 degree Celsius which was also the lowest minimum temperature recorded in the past 120 years.  Official sources said in Gulbarga on Saturday that severe cold wave conditions prevailed in some parts of south interior Karnataka also.  The minimum temperature of 8.9 degree Celsius recorded at the Belgaum airport was a departure of 8 degree Celsius from the normal temperature recorded in the past during the same period.  Bijapur recorded a minimum temperature of 9 degree Celsius which was also a departure of 10 degree Celsius of the normal temperature recorded during the same period in the past. 

Sources said that the 9.8 degree Celsius minimum temperature recorded in Raichur was a departure of 9 degree Celsius of the normal temperature recorded during the same period in the past.  Gulbarga recorded a minimum temperature of 13 degree Celsius which was a departure of 6 degree Celsius of the normal temperature recorded in the same period in the past.  Sources said that there was a sharp fall in the minimum temperatures recorded in other parts of the north interior Karnataka as well. While Dharwad and Haveri recorded minimum temperature of 11 degree Celsius each, Gadag recorded 12 degree celsius, Koppal and Bidar recorded a minimum temperature of 15 degree Celsius each. In the south interior Karnataka, Agumbe, Kadajji in Davangere district, Chitradurga and Mysore recorded minimum temperature of 11 degree Celsius each, and Chintamani and Madikeri recorded 10 degree Celsius each.  The IMD has issued a warning that cold wave conditions would prevail over parts of interior Karnataka and there would be no significant change in the weather conditions for the next two days in the State. - The Hindu.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Volcano Activity For November 18, 2012 - Little Sitkin, Long Valley Caldera, Pacaya, Popocatepetl, Fuego, Masaya, Concepcion, Ruapehu, Tongariro, White Island, and Nyiragongo!

November 18, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the EarthQuake Report Group.

Little Sitkin volcano (Aleutians)appears to be preparing for another round of swarm activity. Earthquake magnitudes and numbers are up again today. (station LSSA)

Seismicity continues to slowly dwindle beneath the South Moat of Long Valley Caldera (CA). Only a few small quakes visible on the most recent seismograms. (station MMX1).
Popocatepetl volcano.
While surface activity is down, volcanic tremor and small earthquakes are visible on the seismic record from Popocatepetl volcano (Mexico) today. Ignore the repeating pattern prior to 17z, it is due to a malfunction of the web software.

Tremor remains relatively continuous and at somewhat higher than normal levels at Pacaya (station PCG) and Fuego (station FG3) volcanoes (Guatemala).

Tremor has run a little higher than normal during the past week at Masaya volcano (station MASN) (Nicaragua) as well. Infrequent small local earthquakes are also visible embedded in the activity.

At nearby Concepcion volcano (station CONN) pulses of volcanic tremor have become slightly stronger, but less frequent.

Low level tremor (and what appear to be small earthquakes) remains on seismograms recorded at Ruapehu volcano (New Zealand) this morning. Small local earthquakes still dot the Tongariro seismogram and continuous tremor hums beneath White Island volcano again today. I have included spectrograms recorded at each of the volcanoes which shows a recent, slight increase in tremor at Ruapehu (also recorded at Tongariro? Or is it weather noise?) in contrast with a strong low-frequency tremor signal at White Island.

Recent satellite imagery shows a relatively weak SO2-rich plume drifting from Popocatepetl (in-step with reduced surface activity at the volcano), and a much more prominent gas plume hovering over, as usual, Nyiragongo volcano (DRC). - EarthQuake Report.

EXTREME WEATHER: Superstorm Hits Australia's East Coast - Over 4,000 Lightning Strikes in One Hour in Brisbane; 6,000 Homes and Businesses Without Power; Mass Evacuations and Displacement!

November 18, 2012 - AUSTRALIA - A damaging storm has turned "day into night'' in Brisbane, as lightning and winds brought down powerlines and left more than 6000 homes and businesses without electricity. Meanwhile, another severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for other parts of the state. The Queensland State Emergency Service was busy cleaning up the Brisbane CBD this afternoon after wild weather ripped through the city around 11am today. In Ipswich, a small grass fire was sparked when lightning struck a crane next to the city's hospital just after 10am but the incoming rain extinguished it, a Department of Community Services spokeswoman told AAP. In Ann Street in the CBD, a hotel roof collapsed under the storm while another 72 calls for assistance were made asking for help with leaking roofs and fallen trees.

Lightning strikes during the storm. Picture: Rajani Manandhar.

"It turned day into night,'' a SES worker said. "It came quickly and then it left.'' A weather alert was posted by the Bureau of Meteorology just minutes before rain smacked the east coast, leaving thousands of people without power. Weatherzone reported more than 4000 lightning strikes within 80km of Brisbane in the space of one hour. Superstorm hits QUT Watch Superstorm hits QUT The Lego Robotics competition is disrupted as a wild storm hits the Kelvin Grove campus of QUT. Play 0:00 / 0:17 Scrubber mute Share Fullscreen A police spokesman said 50 people were evacuated from an inner-city after the storm caused a partial cave-in of the roof of a lodge in the inner suburb of Wilston. He said the storm had also caused a minor fire in Seventeen Mile Rocks, in Brisbane's south-west, after a house was struck by lightning. Police also reported they fallen trees across roads in Milton, Kangaroo Point and the Fortitude Valley area. People in Brisbane, Redlands, North Stradbroke and parts of the Gold Coast. Logan and Moreton Bay have been badly hit with thousands of homes left without power, falshing flooding and partial road closures.

Lightning strikes near a plane in Queensland.
An Energex spokeswoman said many homes and businesses had been left without power, particularly on Brisbane's southside. "It's widespread at the moment. We can see there are about 6000 or 7000 homes and businesses around our network without power," she said. Supercell thunderstorms with the potential to create tornadoes are threatening to smash NSW and Queensland this weekend. Considered the most dangerous storms, supercells develop where wind shear is present through a very unstable atmosphere. "Supercell thunderstorms are likely to produce severe weather," said Tom Saunders, Senior Meteorologist at The Weather Channel. He said such extreme weather events were "likely across northeast New South Wales and southeast Queensland this weekend and have the potential to cause flash flooding, damaging winds and large hail". "The wind shear leads to rotation within the storm and a longer lifespan," he said. "Supercells often cause very heavy rain and flash flooding, large hail, damaging winds gusts and occasionally tornadoes. The more intense thunderstorms this weekend have the potential to bring around 50mm of rain, but most of northeast New South Wales and southeast Queensland are expected to receive at least 20mm. Weather Bureau senior forecaster Jonty Hall said thunderstorms were expected to develop in west Queensland about midday and move towards the coast in the afternoon. "With the warm humid conditions and the help of an upper level trough, that’s going to lead to reasonably unstable conditions as well," he said. - Herald Sun.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Spectacular Rare Occurrence in Australia - Monster Waterspout Seen at Batemans Bay!

November 18, 2012 - AUSTRALIA - It may have looked like something out of a disaster movie - but the Jeep driver passing through was probably under no illusions to the very real threat posed by this gigantic waterspout. The amazing natural phenomenon, which is created when tornadoes form above the sea, was spotted earlier today along the shoreline near Batemans Bay, which is 140 miles (225km) south of Sydney. Also known as 'water twisters', they form when layers of cool air blowing over the water cause warm, moist air to sweep up from underneath, which then creates a swirling column of condensation.

In deep water: A car races on ahead as this waterspout appeared close to the shoreline at
Batemans Bay, 140 miles south of Sydney.
They can move as fast as 80 miles an hour and inside winds can spiral from 60 to 120 miles an hour. Out on the water, they can cause considerable damage to coral reefs and marine life and pose a very real threat to boats, aircraft and swimmers. Although rare in Australia, four colossal waterspouts swirled off the coast of Sydney at Avoca Beach in May 2011. Meanwhile, the weather conditions in the Florida Keys are just right for the formation of at least 500 waterspouts each year. In June, a waterspout formed off America's east coast and swept through Hampton, Virginia, damaging boasts and causing debris to fly through the air. Even the British Isles are not immune to this natural phenomenon, where around 15 water twisters are sighted each year around the coastline. The Batemans Bay waterspout appeared as the Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued a gale warning and forecast rough seas for the coastal region. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: Amazing footage shows waterspout as it happened.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: New Zealand's Ruapehu Volcano at Risk of Eruption - "Mount Doom" is Now Off-Limits as Pressure Builds, Volcano Activity at Tongariro May Not be Linked!

November 18,  2012 - NEW ZEALAND - Scientists do not believe that volcanic activity at Tongariro and Ruapehu this year are related but are not excluding the idea.  GNS Science announced on Friday that pressure was building up inside Ruapehu's Crater Lake and there was an increased likelihood of an eruption.  Tongariro, which is located near Ruapehu, erupted in August, the first time in more than 100 years.  White Island, off the coast of the Bay of Plenty, erupted the same month. 

The ash cloud produced by the Ruapehu eruption of 2005.

While the White Island eruption could not have been related to the volcanic activity at Ruapehu and Tongariro, scientists were not ruling out a link between the latter, GNS volcanologist Nico Fournier said.  "We don't have evidence at the moment that the activity of the two volcanoes are related," Fournier said. "But we can't exclude it entirely."  The fact the two volcanoes had experienced increase activity within a few months of each other was a point of interest among his colleagues, Fournier said.  But GNS vulcanologists were focussing their research more on the connection between slow earthquakes and volcanic activity. Earthquakes rattled the ground below Tongariro in the weeks leading up to the August eruption.  Earthquakes have also been occurring below Ruapehu.  Ruapehu hasn't shown any increase in activity over the weekend but scientists are hoping samples they plan to gather this week will provide more clues as to what is happening inside the volcano, Fournier said.  The temperature deep below the Crater Lake was about 800 degrees Celsius, a few hundred degrees higher than what it was a few months before, he said.  The Crater Lake, however, was cool, which indicated something was blocking it, and meant pressure was building up beneath the surface.  Scientists hoped to gather more samples by air from the lake on Wednesday or Thursday and have the results by next week, Fournier said.  It was likely that sulphur had caused a clay-like layer which was blocking the heat from rising.  "What worries us is the combination of the temperature and that heat is getting trapped and those gases are becoming trapped under the lake."  Pressure build-up was thought to have caused the 2007 eruption and a smaller eruption in 2006.  - Stuff.

A New Zealand volcano that featured as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is in danger of erupting.  Officials say Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand's largest active volcano, is experiencing a build-up of pressure in a subterranean vent.  New Zealand's department of conservation (DOC) has warned hikers to avoid the summit, saying temperature readings by scientists indicate there is an increased risk of eruption.  "The current situation can't continue, Ruapehu is so active that the temperatures have been going up and down a lot," DOC volcanic risk manager Harry Keys told Radio New Zealand.  "They generally haven't gone up as we've expected for some weeks now and sooner or later that situation will be rectified, either in a small, relatively passive way, or with a significant eruption."  Official monitoring body GNS Science says the temperature a few hundred metres below a lake in the crater of the North Island mountain is estimated to be 800 degrees Celsius, but the temperature at the lake itself is just 20 degrees.  It said this indicated a vent was partially blocked, leading to increased pressure that made eruptions more likely "over the next weeks to months".  The 2,797-metre mountain last erupted in 2007, sending a lahar - a fast-moving stream of mud and debris - down the mountain, but causing no injuries.  In 1953, a massive lahar from the mountain caused New Zealand's worst rail disaster when it washed away a bridge at Tangiwai and a passenger train plunged into the Whangaehu River, claiming 151 lives.  Director Peter Jackson used Mount Ruapehu and the neighbouring Mount Ngauruhoe to depict Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies.  Another nearby volcano, Mount Tongariro, erupted in August this year, sending a plume of ash 6,100 metres into the atmosphere, showering the North Island and disrupting domestic air travel. - ABC News Australia.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Ice Age Now - Autumn Snow Extent Has Increased by 25% Since Records Began!

November 18, 2012 - NORTHERN HEMISPHERE - Week 44 northern hemisphere snow extent has increased by 25% since the start of the satellite era in 1979, and this year has the second highest snow extent during that period. Russia and Canada are almost completely covered with snow.

Rutgers University Climate Lab - Global Snow Lab

2012 also set the record for the greatest Antarctic sea ice cover ever measured. [Yet] climate experts tell us that declining snow and ice cover is an essential ingredient of global warming. -  Real Science.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Fireball Brighter Than the Full Moon Lights Up New Mexico!

November 18, 2012 - NEW MEXICO - A fireball that blazed brighter than the full moon as it streaked across New Mexico's sky on 9 November may be related to Comet Encke and perhaps to the object that exploded over Tunguska in 1908, flattening more than 2,000 sq km of Siberian forest.

The Leonids meteor shower peaks on Saturday but is likely to fall well short of stunning
displays it gave a few years ago. Photograph: Mike Riddell/AP.
Every October and November bring a flurry of fireballs from a pair of meteor showers whose meteors diverge from radiant points in our E evening sky. Called the Northern and Southern Taurids after the constellation Taurus, their meteors are relatively slow at 27-29km per second but few in number, rarely more than five per hour even under ideal dark skies. They do, though, include a good proportion of fireballs which we can define as a meteor that rivals or surpasses Venus in brightness. There seem to have been more fireballs than usual this year.

Taurids follow similar solar orbits to Comet Encke, though it is not clear whether their material comes from that comet or an earlier and larger predecessor. One theory for the origin of the Tunguska object is that it, too, was a fragment of Comet Encke or its predecessor.

Another meteor shower, the Leonids, peaks on Saturday but is likely to fall well short of the stunning displays it gave a few years ago. Its very swift (72km per second) meteors stream away from a radiant in the Sickle of Leo which climbs from low in the ENE at 23:00 to high on the meridian by dawn. Peak rates may touch 15 per hour but should already be declining as the radiant rises that night. - The Guardian.

DELUGE: Orange Alert in Costa del Sol, Spain - Heavy Rains, Flash Flooding and Thunderstorms Wreck Havoc in Malaga Province!

November 18, 2012 - SPAIN - Severe weather warnings remain in place across the Malaga province after a weekend of heavy rain and thunderstorms.  The alert affects the Costa del Sol, the Guadalhorce Valley and the Axarquia.
Flooding in Malaga city, Spain on November 17, 2012.
Malaga city centre was hit particularly hard on Saturday with many flooded streets around the El Corte Ingles department store. Many traffic lights were out of order causing major delays on some roads.  The 112 emergency service reported that they attended over three hundred incidents in Malaga in a five-hour period, mainly in the capital, due to the downpour.  Flooding of houses, garages, and basements and problems on the road network were the main reason for alerting the emergency services.  So far some 30 families have had to be evacuated from their homes in the province.  There have been no reports of personal injury. - The Olive Press.

WATCH: Flooding in Malaga Province.

DISASTER IMPACT: Floodwaters Recede in Nigeria's Worst Flooding in 50 Years - 363 Dead, Affected 7 Million, 2.1 Million Displaced and Hungry, Food Prices Skyrocketing!

November 18, 2012 - NIGERIA - Efforts to repair infrastructure and restore livelihoods destroyed by Nigeria's recent flooding - the worst in five decades - require urgent funding and will take six months or longer, say aid agencies. Flooding between July and October affected 7 million people, displaced 2.1 million and killed 363, according to the National Emergency Management Authority (Nema).

Nigerians move along a flooded road in Okpe, Nigeria. Heavy rains for weeks flooded most of the
oil rich Niger delta region.  © George Esiri/EPA.
"Never before has there been a disaster of this scale or magnitude," said Oxfam's deputy regional humanitarian co-ordinator in Nigeria, Dierdre McArdle. "Finding partners who have the capacity to deal with it is challenging."  President Goodluck Jonathan is channelling $110m (£70m) to the 33 affected states. He set up a committee on flood relief and rehabilitation, and held a fundraising event on Monday. But he was late to declare a state of emergency, which many observers and some aid agencies say slowed the response and hampered co-ordination.  "Assessments were delayed. The scale of it is enormous ... We had a lack of data, so no one has known how many were affected until now ... There is a lack of technical knowledge on emergency response here," said McArdle.

Olusoji Adebowale Adeniyi, of the UN Children's Fund (Unicef), told IRIN the scale of the disaster caught everyone off-guard. "It is because it is so vast that it could not be addressed quickly," he said, adding that the government has a disaster preparedness plan in place, but that it addresses the needs of 500,000 people rather than 2.1 million... A joint Nema, UN and Oxfam emergency response conducted across 14 states called for $38m to address education, health, water, sanitation, food security and protection needs.  63% of those displaced in the 14 states are staying with family and friends; the rest are camping in temporary sites or public buildings such as schools. Over half the schools in these states are unusable because of damage.  Agencies are particularly worried about food insecurity, which is estimated to be "severe or very severe" in 82% of the communities visited, said Ocha. People in most camps are receiving food rations, but these are irregular and do not meet international norms.  Food prices in many flood-hit zones have risen by 30-70%, said survivors in Warri, a town in Delta State. A trader in Warri, Angela Ikede, told IRIN a bag of rice now sells for $70, up from $57, and a bag of gari, or tapioca flour, costs $44, up from $25... The extent of the damage to this year's harvest is not yet known, but Friends of the Earth in Bayelsa State called the impact "catastrophic to crops". Nema's southern co-ordinator, Emenike Umesi, said a post-disaster assessment on agriculture will be conducted with partners as the floodwaters recede. - The Guardian.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Landslide Shuts Down Trans-Canada Highway in Eastern Newfoundland!

November 18, 2012 - CANADA - A three-kilometre portion of the Trans Canada Highway east of Clarenville will remain closed to traffic for at least few days in order to ensure safety, according to Transportation and Works Minister Paul Davis. 
Trans-Canada rock slide. Photo courtesy of Daphne Stanley.
Davis said geotechnical staff assessed the rock face and determined more work is necessary to ensure public safety. That work may entail blasting, he said.  A cause for the landslide has not been determined according to the minister, who said it has been over 20 years since the department last worked on the rock face in question.  Work crews have been removing debris from the area since the landslide occurred Saturday. Davis said in some cases large chunks of rock were too big to remove, making it necessary to break them down further.  Motorists are being diverted from the highway to a 3.6-kilometre roadway with a reduced speed limit in comparison to the TCH.

Crews clear debris on the Trans Canada Highway near Clarenville Sunday. An avalanche Saturday has
forced the closure of the highway until rock is cleared away. — Photo by Glen Whiffen/The Telegram.
Blasting has been deemed necessary in order to ensure public safety in an area where a landslide has forced the closure of a section of the Trans Canada Highway.  Geotechnical staff from the Department of Transportation and Works made the assessment while considering the structural integrity of the rock in an area located east of Clarenville.  Traffic has been diverted from a section of the highway between the intersection of Northwest Brook and Route 204. Road crews have worked to clear debris since Saturday’s landslide. - The Weekend Telegram.

MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Apocalyptic War Zone Expands - The Syrian Civil War Spillover Draws Israeli Fire, Netanyahu Pledges "Significant Expansion" of Attacks as Civilian Death Toll Mounts!

November 18, 2012 - GAZA - The Israeli military struck two buildings used by journalists in Gaza early Sunday during the fifth day of a campaign against militants in the Palestinian enclave. Hours later, artillery rounds landed in southern Israeli cities and the country’s missile defense system intercepted a powerful long-range rocket over Tel Aviv, the second such incident in as many days. Sunday’s strikes in Gaza suggested Israel is continuing to expand its range of targets after hitting almost exclusively military sites during the first few days of the operation, dubbed Pillar of Defense.

Gaza Strip conflict escalates: Israel carries out a series of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip against Hamas
in retaliation for rocket attacks; Hamas vows revenge and fires more rockets.
On Saturday, an Israeli bomb demolished the office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The crossfire dimmed hopes for a ceasefire as Arab leaders led by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi were set to convene in Cairo on Sunday to discuss a negotiated end to the conflict. “We are extracting a heavy price from Hamas and the terror organizations,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday during the opening session of the weekly cabinet meeting. “The army is prepared to significantly expand the operation.” The sites hit in Gaza early Sunday included buildings used by Britain’s Sky News channel and the Dubai-based pan-Arab broadcaster al-Arabiya, the news organizations reported. At least six journalists were wounded, according to a health ministry spokesman in Gaza quoted by wire services. - Washington Post.

WATCH: Israel ready to 'significantly expand' Gaza operation.

WATCH: Massive explosion as Israel airstrikes Gaza.

Israel Shoots At Syrian Soldiers After Gunfire Spills Into Golan Heights
Israel's military says soldiers shot at Syrian fighters after gunfire from the Syrian civil war spilled over to the Israel-controlled Golan Heights. A military spokesman said soldiers deployed artillery toward the source of fire late Saturday night. Speaking on condition of anonymity according to protocol, the spokesman said it identified a hit. He did not know if they were Syrian rebels or forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. Syrian shells have exploded inside the Golan Heights several times in recent weeks damaging apple orchards, sparking fires and spreading panic but causing no injuries. Israel is worried that if Assad is toppled, Syria could fall into the hands of Islamic extremists or descend into sectarian warfare. - Huffington Post.

WATCH: Russia Today's Live Stream From Gaza.

SOLAR WATCH: Fast-Growing Sunspot 1619 - Large Active Region Three Times as Wide as Earth!

November 18, 2012 - SUN - Following the "HUMONGOUS ERUPTION" off its eastern limb on November 16, the Sun seems to be gearing up for high levels of activity with the massive expansion of Sunspot 1619.

FAST-GROWING SUNSPOT: Barely visible when the weekend began, sunspot AR1619 has blossomed into a large active region more than three times as wide as Earth.

24 hour movie recorded by NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.
So far the growing sunspot has not produced any significant flares, but the quiet is unlikely to continue if its expansion continues apace. Fast-changing magnetic fields on the sun have a tendency to reconnect and erupt. NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of M-class solar flares during the next 24 hours. - Spaceweather.

DISASTER IMPACT: New Virginia 2011 Earthquake Map Reveals Significant Amount of Damage - 7 Homes Destroyed, 120 Suffered Major Damage, Was Felt by Nearly a Third of the U.S. Population, Largest Area Ever Recorded, Causing Landslides up to 150 Miles Away!

November 18, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Last year's 5.8-magnitude earthquake that hit eastern Virginia caused a significant amount of damage to homes in the area, much of which was overlooked because it happened in a sparsely populated region. Researchers have created a new map showing the extent of the damage, presented earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Charlotte, N.C.

A fallen chimney in Louisa County, Va., caused by the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that hit eastern Virginia
on Aug. 23, 2011. (Photo: Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy).
The earthquake destroyed up to seven houses and caused major damage to 120, said Matthew Heller, of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. Major damage is defined as damage to the structural integrity of the house, such as the foundation, often requiring the house to be rebuilt. Luckily, the quake didn't cause any major injuries or fatalities, and struck the least populated area of Louisa County, which isn't highly populated, Heller said. The new damage map was compiled from reports by inspectors from the county and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as reports from homeowners. Heller also visited many of the homes in the region to see the damage firsthand. The most common type of damage was destroyed chimneys, he said.

The quake also cracked foundations, crumbled walls and broke water lines that led to minor flooding, he added. At first, the map of property damage didn't match the estimated epicenter, which was thought to be several miles to the east. But revised calculations, also presented at the meeting by a separate group of researchers, put the quake's epicenter about 4 miles (6 kilometers) to the southwest of the original location, which agrees well with Heller's map. "It all seems to be matching up now," he told OurAmazingPlanet. "Most of the damage was to the west of the epicenter, because the earth moved up and to the west," he said. The quake was also felt by nearly a third of the U.S. population and shook the largest area ever recorded, causing landslides up to 150 miles (245 km) away. The nature of the crust under eastern North America determines how far an earthquake is felt. In the East, the crust is older, more consolidated and less broken up by faults than the crust under western portions of the continent. These characteristics mean that the energy from an earthquake travels more easily through the crust in the East. - MNN.

DISASTER ALERT: U.S. Geological Survey Study - American East Coast Faces a Variety of Tsunami Threats!

November 18, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Although the risk is small, tsunamis are possible on the East Coast of the United States from a variety of sources, according to new research.  And as Hurricane Sandy showed, the region is completely unprepared for a major influx of water, said U.S. Geological Survey researcher Uri ten Brink.  The most likely source for an East Coast tsunami would be an underwater avalanche along the continental slope, according to research presented by ten Brink and others earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Charlotte, N.C. Ten Brink also outlined several other possible sources of tsunamis, including earthquakes and even collapsing volcanoes. 

The most likely source for an East Coast tsunami would be an underwater avalanche along the continental slope.
An offshore earthquake of magnitude 4.5 or above could cause submarine avalanches and create dangerous
tsunamis with waves higher than 26 feet. (Photo: epugachev/flickr).
Underwater Avalanches 
An offshore earthquake of magnitude 4.5 or above could cause submarine avalanches and create dangerous tsunamis with waves higher than 26 feet (8 meters), ten Brink told OurAmazingPlanet. Underwater canyons and bays could focus these waves and make them even bigger.  A 7.2-magnitude earthquake off the southern coast of Newfoundland in 1929 caused a large underwater landslide, creating a large wave that rushed ashore and killed 28 people on the island, ten Brink said. The waves were up to 26 feet high until some reached narrow inlets, where they grew to 43 feet (13 m), he said.  While the tsunami was catastrophic for Newfoundland, it created only small waves for most of the U.S. coast and didn't cause any fatalities there. That's typical of tsunamis from submarine landslides: They tend to be large for nearby areas but quickly taper off, ten Brink said.  While this is the only example of a tsunami near the East Coast in recorded history, there are plenty of areas along the continental slope - where the North American continent ends and drops into the Atlantic Ocean basin - at risk for these landslides, ten Brink said.  Ten Brink and his colleagues are currently taking core samples of sediment from the submarine canyons along the continental slope, to find evidence of past landslides and how often landslides occur, he said. His team has been working for more than five years to map these submarine canyons with sonar to highlight areas most at risk of landslides, he added.

The Puerto Rico Trench 
The movement of tectonic plates beneath the ocean can create waves that travel much farther than those caused by submarine landslides, because they involve the movement of a much larger volume of water, with longer waves that don't quickly dissipate, ten Brink said. The most dangerous earthquakes are those at subduction zones, where one plate dives beneath another.  While the most infamous subduction zones are found around the Pacific Ring of Fire - such as the one that set off the massive 2011 Japan tsunami - there is indeed a subduction zone capable of creating tsunamis near the East Coast. In the northeast Caribbean, the area called the Puerto Rico trench features a subduction zone.  When the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit, ten Brinks' group received funding from the U.S. government to study the tsunami potential of the Puerto Rico trench. Although its work is still ongoing, his group has found that much of the fault doesn't appear capable of creating an earthquake and tsunami large enough to cause big problems for the East Coast. But a tsunami originating there could cause significant destruction in the Caribbean.  University of Puerto Rico researcher Zamara Fuentes, who isn't involved in ten Brinks' research, said one quake in this region in 1918 created a tsunami that killed 116 people on Puerto Rico. Fuentes studies sediment cores around the Caribbean to look for evidence of past tsunamis. Based on historical records, the USGS says 27 tsunamis in the Caribbean have caused fatalities and extensive damage since the 16th century.

Risks across the Atlantic 
Another possible source for East Coast tsunamis is the Azores-Gibraltar Transform Fault, off the coast of Portugal. One massive earthquake along this fault in 1755 destroyed most of Lisbon and created a tsunami recorded as far away as Brazil. It was barely noticed on the East Coast, however, ten Brink said. His group has created computer models that suggest underwater mountains west of Portugal helped reduce the impact of this tsunami by slowing the waves and disrupting their movement - and they could do the same thing in the future.  The nearby Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco, also present a possible hazard. One large volcano on the island of La Palma, called Cumbre Vieja, could erupt, collapse and create a large tsunami capable of reaching the East Coast. A 2001 study suggested this series of events could send a 70-foot (21 m) wave crashing into the East Coast. But ten Brink said that study hasn't held up to subsequent review, and that the wave would be unlikely to exceed several feet in height by the time it reached North America. "I don't see it as a credible threat," he said.  The last possible tsunami source is a slow-moving fault north of Cuba, which has caused earthquakes in the past and possibly could create a tsunami that affected Florida and the Gulf Coast. Due to the current political situation, neither Cuban nor American researchers can conduct research in the area, he said.  To get a good idea of how often tsunamis from this or any source are likely to strike the East Coast in the future, ten Brink and others are trying to peer back in time - but much remains to be discovered. "There are more questions than answers at this point," ten Brink said. - MNN.

UFO SIGHTINGS: Stunning Giant UFO Spotted Exiting Mexico's Popocateptl Volcano - Secret Alien Base Under the Mountain?!

November 18, 2012 - MEXICO - Footage has emerged online of a one kilometer-long UFO flying rocket out of a volcano in Mexico. Your mind will be blown by this video. It might forever change the way you think about the paranormal.

Locals have been monitoring the volcano in Popocateptl, Mexico for some time, because they are convinced there is a secret alien base under the mountain. Don't laugh. Anything is possible in this crazy universe. Because of the openings at the top, the natural wonders make ideal locations for underground extraterrestrial bases. Massive flying saucer activity has also been reported for years around the Sakurajima volcano, on an island at the southern tip of Japan.

There is a live cam streaming at Popocateptl, and amazingly, it picked up imagery Thursday of an elongated UFO zooming out of the tip of the volcano at an incomprehensible rate of speed. The craft is estimated to be nearly one kilometer long, equal to a whopping eleven football fields! UFO encounters have been increasing south of the border lately, perhaps because people are nervous about the Mayan calendar prophecy, and are more attuned to the paranormal. Popocateptl has always played a big role in Mayan and Aztec lore, so maybe this is the place where the apocalypse will commence. - Gather.

WATCH: UFO exits Popocateptl volcano.