Wednesday, December 12, 2012

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Giant Louisiana Sinkhole Swallows Up More Land!

December 12, 2012 - BAYOU CORNE, LOUISIANA, UNITED STATES - Texas-Brine, the company that owns the cavern that is suspected of being the cause of the sinkhole in Assumption Parish, reports that a small slough-in happened Tuesday night on the Southwest side of the sinkhole.

Source: Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
No exact measurements of the slough-in have been provided. The massive sinkhole plaguing south Louisiana ate a large section of land on October 30, 2012. Officials stated a 20 foot by 80 foot chunk located on the east side of the sinkhole collapsed. About 500 square feet of earth was lost on Oct. 9. An exact measurement of the sinkhole is unknown at this time. About 150 homes have been under an evacuation order since Aug. 3. Officials say a second vent well is "shut-in" over concern about a highly toxic gas. Crews are trying to find the best way to control small amounts of Hydrogen Sulfide gas detected at the well. Officials say vent wells burning off gas trapped in an aquifer in Assumption Parish have removed slightly more than 2.7 million cubic feet of gas since flaring began.

This is at the first vent well site that was shut-in. Scientists believe the gas migrated upward from natural formations along the Napoleonville Dome after a Texas Brine Co. LLC cavern in the salt dome failed this summer and caused the large sinkhole to form. The Department of Health & Hospitals (DHH) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) along with parish officials have scheduled a briefing for Bayou Corne residents specific to health concerns. Information relative to updates of the sinkhole situation will not be presented at the meeting. The meeting will be focused on concerns brought up by residents to DHH & DEQ in past briefings. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 6 p.m. at the Assumption Parish Community Center at 4910 Highway 1 in Napoleonville. - WAFB.

WATCH: Giant sinkhole swallows up more land.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Kamchatka Volcano ‘Flexes Muscles’ in Record Lava Spill - Plosky Tolbachik Spills 1,200 Metric Tons of Lava Every Second!

December 12, 2012 - RUSSIA - The erupting Plosky Tolbachik volcano in Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula is spilling a record 1,200 metric tons of lava every second, local seismologists reported on Tuesday.  The 3,085-meter Plosky Tolbachik, which is part of a volcanic complex located 343 kilometers from the region's capital of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, erupted on November 27 for the first time in 36 years.

Kamchatka Volcano ‘Flexes Muscles’ in Record Lava Spill. © RIA Novosti. Yury Demianchuk.
“This year’s eruption is very powerful. During the Great Tolbachik Fissure Eruption in 1975, the volcano spilled on average 40 cubic meters of magma per second while at present its ‘productivity’ is about 400 cubic meters or 1,200 tons per second,” said Gennady Karpov, a deputy director of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology under the Russian Academy of Sciences.  The volcano has been spewing lava from two fissures along its southern slope, with upper flow descending 6,000 meters and lower flow – 13,600 meters.  The flow from the upper fissure has almost stopped but could resume at any moment as the volcano continues to produce magma, Karpov said at a meeting with local officials. 

“If the activity at the upper fissure resumes, we will face a real danger,” he said, adding that the eruption had been already assigned a Red Code status.  Lava flows spewing from the volcano earlier caused a forest fire and destroyed buildings at two research bases located six miles from the mountain. Volcanic ash fell in nearby communities forcing local residents to take shelter in their homes.  The Plosky Tolbachik erupted 10 times since records began in 1740, with the most notable eruption in 1975, commonly known as The Great Tolbachik Fissure Eruption. Soviet scientists successfully predicted the eruption because it was preceded by a series of earthquakes.  The 1975 eruption dramatically changed the local landscape and became an ecological disaster as the volume of lava and ashes emitted by the Plosky Tolbachik was the largest in recorded history of Kamchatka.  There are more than 150 volcanoes on Kamchatka, 30 of them active. - RIANOVOSTI.

HIGH STRANGENESS: New South Wales Firefighters Baffled By Eternal Flame At Lake Woytchugga - Underground Fire Rages On Despite Flooding Of The Area?!

December 12, 2012 - AUSTRALIA - An underground fire beneath a dry lake bed in the Australian Outback has been burning on and off for months and has firefighters stumped.

Drivers have reported seeing smoke along the bed of Lake Woytchugga, near Wilcannia in far-western NSW, and firefighters, who put the fire out on an almost-weekly basis, are fed up with the eternal flame.

"We thought we had it out about a month ago and just in the last couple of days, with some wind, it's popped back up," incident controller Chris Favelle said.

Mr Favelle says he suspects organic material is fuelling the fire.

"There's a little bit of water way out in the middle, but it's basically dry, and along the edge, which would have once been the shore 1000 years ago, there's a build-up of organic matter, like sticks and leaves, a bit like peat."

The peat-like matter can burn for a long time, but what's baffling the Rural Fire Service is the way the fire dodges all attempts at snuffing it out.

"They get called once a day to put this fire out and they get there and there's nothing," Mr Favelle said.

"We've tried all sorts of things. We've tried flooding the area, we've tried digging it up, we've tried putting trenches around it, all to no avail. It keeps sneaking around our attempts to stop it."

He said there is no threat to the community from the fire, which is in a bare area.

Firefighters estimate it might cover a hectare underground, but say they have no real way of knowing the exact size of the fire. - News Australia.

FIRE IN THE SKY: "It Was Like Armageddon" - Large Glowing Mysterious Blue Light Ball Over Sweden, Orange-Coloured Orb Smashed Into The Ground?!

December 12, 2012 - SWEDEN - Frightened residents in western Sweden reported seeing a bright, blue light racing across the night sky on Tuesday before an orange-coloured orb smashed into the ground in a mysterious phenomenon that has yet to be explained.

"It lit up the sky and flew over us, then we heard an explosion," witness Jessica Berg told the Aftonbladet newspaper. "It was very weird. Uncomfortably weird." Another witness, 24-year-old Sandra, thought the light may have been due to fireworks, but began to wonder when she never heard an accompanying pop.

"Then I thought it was a comet because it looked a little like an orb. It was red with a yellow sheen that surrounded and followed it," she told the paper. "It looked like something was falling from the sky like in a film, like Armageddon or something. I've never seen anything like it."

Aviation authorities were quick to rule out initial theories that a plane had crashed somewhere deep in the forests of Värmland County. They, as well as police, suspect the mysterious night light and thunderous blast that prompted a flood of calls from concerned residents may have been caused by a meteorite.

"We don't know, but it could have been a part of the meteor shower people have been talking about," duty officer Leif Svensson of the Värmland County police told the TT news agency. The first calls to emergency service SOS came around 10.25pm from Forshaga, a town about 25 kilometres north of Karlstad.

More calls came from Stöllet, Ekshärad and Karlstad, and on Facebook, police in Sunne reported a rumbling reminiscent of an earthquake. "And we've also received information that people on the west coast and even in Finland made observations," Svensson told TT.

Neither police or other authorities have plans to investigate the strange sound and light phenomena. According to TT, Svensson chuckled when asked if uniformed officers would be sent out to comb a wide area of remote woodland in search what might be a rock from outer space before answering decisively "no". - The Local.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Scientists Warn Of Unrest Along New Zealand's North Island Volcano Belt!

December 12, 2012 - NEW ZEALAND - New Zealand's central North Island looks set for a period of volcanic activity after warnings issued on three volcanoes over the last two days.  On Wednesday, scientists at the government's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS Science) announced they had noticed a "spiny lava dome" that had grown in a crater on White Island, a volcanic island off the east of the North Island, after an eruption on August 5.  GNS Science raised the volcanic alert level to level two, indicating minor eruptive activity, and the aviation color code to orange, warning pilots that an eruption was underway with little or no ash emissions. 

White Island (Geonet).
"The dome is probably 20 to 30 meters across and has spines sticking up. In more than 30 years I've never seen anything like it while visiting White Island," GNS Science volcanologist Brad Scott said in a statement.  If you imagine a volcano is like a tube of toothpaste then a lava dome is like the congealed, dried toothpaste that has come out of the tube. It doesn't move like a lava flow, but grows from the inside as new magma comes up and pushes the already cooled magma upwards and outwards," said Scott.  Lava domes were common at some volcanoes, but had never been seen before at White Island, where magma last reached the surface in 2000 during an explosive eruption that threw up molten rocks called volcanic bombs, rather than forming a dome.  "Our concern is that lava dome growth can be accompanied by explosive eruptions and could impact people on the island. We need to see if the dome is continuing to grow. If it's not growing, then we will be less concerned," GNS Science head volcanologist Gill Jolly said in the statement. 

GNS Science would continue to closely monitor White Island.  Also Wednesday, GNS Science volcanologists warned they still believed Mount Ruapehu, in the central North Island, remained at a heightened level of unrest and that an eruption was more likely than normal.  "Our analysis is still showing higher than normal temperatures beneath the crater lake. We think this reflects a partially sealed zone a few hundred meters beneath the lake, which might be causing a pressure build up behind it. That pressure would make an eruption more likely than normal," Jolly said in a statement.  "It doesn't mean that an eruption is inevitable," said Jolly.  "If the sealed zone fails suddenly an eruption could occur, probably with little or no warning. If it fails more gradually then the pressure would probably be released more slowly and the likelihood of an eruption would revert to normal."  The crater lake was quiet and its temperature had remained relatively low at 20 to 25 degrees centigrade since March.  Eruptions at Ruapehu in 1988, 2006 and 2007 were believed to have occurred as a result of sudden failure of a seal beneath the crater lake.  Small earthquakes 3 to 5 km beneath the crater lake in late October and early November had stopped, but it was unclear whether they were related to the high temperatures estimated a few hundred meters beneath the lake.  The volcanic alert level for Ruapehu remained at level one, indicating a departure from typical background surface activity, and the aviation color code at yellow, indicating signs of elevated unrest above known background levels. 

On Tuesday, GNS Science warned that neighboring Mount Tongariro was still showing a substantial possibility of further eruptions after an eruption in August and two more last month.  "After the second eruption in November we now have to consider the possibility that Tongariro might have entered an eruptive episode and this unrest could continue for several months," Scott said in a statement.  "Within an episode Tongariro might quietly discharge steam most of the time, but occasionally have small eruptions with little or no warning. There was a similar episode of activity in the 1890s."  Tongariro had seen only minor seismic activity since November 21, but there had been a very noticeable gas discharge in recent days.  It was on volcanic alert level one and aviation color code yellow.  The 80,000-hectare Tongariro National Park has more than 1 million visitors a year.  Last month's eruption resulted in videos of panicked hikers fleeing from the plume of ash and steam.  Tongariro's eruption on Aug. 6 was the first since 1897. - Global Times.

ICE AGE NOW: Heavy Snow Keeps the Balkans and Ukraine in Deep Freeze - State of Emergency Declared in Kyiv!

December 12, 2012 - UKRAINE - Oleksandr Popov, head of Kyiv City State Administration, has declared a state of emergency in the capital.  Popov's statement published on the official website of the Kyiv city administration says:
"Because of a potential threat to the economy and the life of the city as a result of the impact of heavy snowfall Kyiv is now officially in the state of emergency. This will allow the capital to engage forces not subordinate to the city authorities."
A man attempts to dig his car out of heavy snow in Kyiv.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior Affairs have mobilized construction companies and industrial enterprises to help in snow removal.  Also, the Ministry of Education and Science, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Defense and Interior schools and Security Service has asked students to aid in snow removal.  Head of the capital urged motorists to abstain from traveling unnecessarily and not to violate the parking rules in order to minimize obstructions for road services during the intensive cleaning of the road network from the snow.  Thus, in the next days the city will mobilize all available human and technical resources to combat the effects of the weather. - Censor.

Children play in the snow in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. Heavy snowfall in blizzards have closed roads, disrupted power supplies and shut down an airport in Montenegro, amid a winter freeze that has killed several people and created travel chaos in the Balkans since last weekend. © AP Photo/Risto Bozovic.
Heavy Snowfall In The Balkans.
MONTENEGRO - Blizzards blocked roads, stranded villages, disrupted power supplies and temporarily shut down an airport in the Balkans on Tuesday, the fourth straight day of tough winter weather in the region of southeastern Europe.  In one of the worst-hit areas, snowdrifts and avalanches blocked roads in hilly northern Montenegro, where about a meter (3 feet) of snow fell overnight, officials said.  Across the border in southwestern Serbia, heavy snowfall blocked roads to more than a dozen villages, with some left without electricity and schools being closed for the rest of the week, officials said.  "We have got heavy machinery out and we are doing all we can," said emergency official Samir Bakic. "The wind is making the effort more difficult."  At least nine deaths across the region have been blamed on the snow and deep freeze, with temperatures as low as minus-15 Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit).  Elsewhere in Serbia, where snow began to fall Saturday, officials said road crews were still struggling to clear even the central squares of some cities. Authorities banned heavy trucks from Serbia's roads, saying they want to prevent them from skidding and blocking passages.  Predrag Maric, Serbia's top emergency official, apologized Tuesday for failing to clear roads over the weekend, when hundreds of people were stranded in buses and cars.  To the south, in Kosovo, heavy snow blocked villages in the west, toward the border with Albania, where classes in local schools were suspended. Traffic was snarled elsewhere too, authorities in Kosovo said.  The milder climates of Montenegro's capital, Podgorica, and the nation's Adriatic coast usually escape tough winter weather, but snow is blanketing Podgorica, too, and closed its airport for much of the day Tuesday.  In Bosnia, some areas were left without electricity. And in Croatia, doctors warned the elderly and sick to stay indoors as hospitals reported dozens of cases of broken limbs from falls on the ice and snow. - Yahoo.

FIRE IN THE SKY: 120 Foot Wide Asteroid XE54 Passes Just 226,000km From The Earth - Only TWO DAYS After First Notice!

December 12, 2012 - SPACE - As Earth prepares for a double flyby of asteroids in the next day, astronomers have created this unique view of the earth - from an asteroid as it passes close by.  This animation shows the Sun and the Earth as observed from the asteroid 2012 XE54, which alongside a long-studied giant space rock named Toutatis will pass close to Earth later today.  Luckily, there is no danger of either hitting Earth - but scientists say the unique occurrence could help them learn a lot about asteroids.

Animation via Pasquale Tricarico.
Asteroid 2012 XE54 was only recently discovered, and will safely pass between the Earth and the Moon’s orbit at a distance of about 226,000 km (141,000 miles) or about .6 lunar distances. However, it will have a unique path. 'A close analysis of the trajectory of this asteroid reveals that it will likely cross the Earth's shadow, causing a partial eclipse of the asteroid a few hours before reaching its minimum distance with the Earth,' said Pasquale Tricarico of the Planetary Science Institute, who created the animation above.  Asteroids eclipsing during an Earth flyby are relatively rare, with the first known case of asteroid 2008 TC3 which was totally eclipsed just one hour before entering Earth's atmosphere over Sudan in 2008, and asteroid 2012 KT42 experiencing both an eclipse and a transit during the same Earth flyby in 2012.

Four computer generated views of Asteroid Toutatis based on radar images from Nasa's Goldstone probe.
 The asteroid is one of two set to pass by Earth.  4179 Toutatis, with a shape that has been described as a 'malformed potato' will pass 6.9 million kilometers (4.3 million miles) away from Earth, or more than 18 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.  At 4.46 kilometers (2.7 miles) long and 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) wide, astronomers say it is considered a potentially hazardous asteroid because it makes repeated passes by the Earth, about every four years.  In comparison, the asteroid that is thought to have destroyed the dinosaurs was approximately 10 km (6 miles) wide.  It's passing will be streamed online by the Slooh Space Camera  At its maximum brightness, experts say Toutatis might be barely visible through binoculars. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: Computer generated views of Asteroid Toutatis

DISASTER IMPACT: Christchurch Earthquake Cost $13 Billion And Rising!

December 12, 2012 - NEW ZEALAND - The Christchurch earthquake is going to cost the Government more than $13 billion, Parliament has been told.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee explained the latest figures today, saying huge resources have been committed to rebuilding the city.

The Christchurch quake will cost the Government $13 billion.
Fixing road and rail networks will cost about $2.5 billion, with $500 million already spent, and paying out 5212 red zone homeowners has cost more than $1 billion.

The Earthquake Commission has paid out more than $4 billion and the total will reach more than $12 billion, with $7 billion of it coming from the Government.

"The final cost is not yet known," Mr Brownlee said.

"We know it will cost the Government somewhere in excess of $13 billion but the total economic cost is likely to be about $30 billion." - 3NEWS.

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

December 12, 2012 - WORLDWIDE UFOs - Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

Worldwide - 2012.

Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico - 1st of December, 2012.

San Francisco, California, United States - 8th of December, 2012.

Pic de Bugarach, France - 8th of December, 2012.

Chiguayante, Chile - 8th of December, 2012.

North South Wales, Australia - 10th of December, 2012.

2012: Apocalypse or Golden Age - Serbia's Mystic Mountain Targeted by Mayan Doomsday Believers!

December 12, 2012 - SERBIA - Hotel owners around the pyramid-shaped Mount Rtanj, in the east of the Balkan country, say that bookings are flooding in, with believers in the prophecy hoping that its purported mysterious powers will save them from the apocalypse. 

The 5,100ft-high mountain, part of the Carpathian range.
Adherents of the end-of-the-world scenario think the 5,100ft-high mountain, part of the Carpathian range, conceals a pyramidal building inside, left behind by alien visitors thousands of years ago.  Arthur C Clarke, the British science fiction writer, reportedly identified the peak as a place of "special energy" and called it "the navel of the world".  "In one day we had 500 people trying to book rooms. People want to bring their whole families," said Obrad Blecic, a hotel manager.  Predictions of an apocalypse are linked to the fact that the 5,125-year-old calendar of the ancient Mayans, who dominated large stretches of southern Mexico and Central America centuries ago, comes to an end on Dec 21. 

The doomsday scenario has inspired hundreds of books, websites and television programmes but scholars of the Mayan civilisation, and Mayans themselves, say people have wrongly interpreted the meaning of the calendar and that it will not herald the world's obliteration.  But that has not stopped fears that the end of the world from spreading panic among the credulous across the world.  Panic-buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, and in the United States the sale of survival shelters is booming.  A mountain in the French Pyrenees that cultists claim will be the only place still standing is to be closed to visitors to avoid chaos and overcrowding on its peak. - Telegraph.

WATCH:  Mayan apocalypse believer camps out at French peak.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Spectacular Geminid Meteor Shower 2012 Peak - December 13th and 14th!

December 12, 2012 - SPACE - The Geminid meteor shower 2012, the final major meteor shower of every year and likely to be the best, peaks overnight December 13 and Dec. 14, and you may be able to see a great show on either side of those dates.

Meteor Taurid 11-9-2012. Image: Dale Forrest Boone, NC.
If you liked the Perseids meteor shower 2012 in August, you should love this show. NASA reports that the Geminids are a relatively young meteor shower, with the first reports occuring in the 1830's citing rates of about 20 per hour. Over the decades the rates have increased, regularly spawning between 80 and 120 per hour at its peak on a clear evening. How spectacular is it? Just take a look at this video of the Geminid meteor shower. You can also look at some spectacular photos of the Geminids. reports the Geminids peak might be around 2 a.m. local time on December 13 and 14, because that’s when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky as seen around the world.

"With no moon to ruin the show, 2012 presents a most favorable year for watching the grand finale of the meteor showers," Earthsky reports. "Best viewing of the Geminids will probably be from about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on December 14." The Geminid meteor shower is named after the constellation Gemini, which is located in roughly the same point of the night sky where the Geminid meteor shower appears to originate. Geminids are pieces of debris from 3200 Phaethon, basically a rocky skeleton of a comet that lost most of its outer covering of ice after too many close encounters with the sun.

Most important: a dark sky. To watch meteors, you need a dark sky. So, if you care to join thousands across the nation in viewing the shower, park yourself at a good viewing spot, like Marion's Thomas Park, and enjoy the show.
Know your dates and times. Best viewing of the Geminids will probably be from about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on December 14.

What to bring. You can comfortably watch meteors from many places, assuming you have a dark sky: your back yard or deck, the hood of your car, the side of a road. Consider a blanket or reclining lawn chair, a thermos with a hot drink, binoculars for gazing along the pathway of the Milky Way. Be sure to dress warmly enough.

Are the predictions reliable? Although astronomers have tried to publish exact predictions in recent years, meteor showers remain notoriously unpredictable. Your best bet is to go outside at the suggested time. - Patch.

WATCH: NASA  - Spectacular Geminid Meteor Shower.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Increased Seismicity Along the Balkan Peninsula - 3.4 Earthquake Shakes Romania's Vrancea Near Bulgaria!

December 12, 2012 - BULGARIA - An earthquake with a 3.4 magnitude on the Richter scale has been registered in Romania's region of Vrancea, some 380 km northeast of Bulgaria's capital Sofia.

A 3.4-magnitude earthquake rattled Vrancea County in Romania. Map by Wikipedia.
According to Romanian media, the quake was registered at 6:24 am Wednesday by the country's National Geophysics Institute. The epicenter is at a depth of over 80 kilometers.

There are no reports of casualties, injuries or material damage unlike the 7.6-magnitude Vrancea earthquake from March 1977 that killed 1 600 persons in Romania and Bulgaria, and damaged 8 500 buildings. The Bulgarian casualties in the town of Svishtov were 120.

There have been a number of reports recently about tremors in Vrancea, fueling fears the region is becoming active again. - Novinite.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: White Island Volcanic Alert Level Raised!

December 12, 2012 - NEW ZEALAND - The volcanic alert level at White Island has been raised to 2 and the aviation colour code to orange.  GNS Science volcanologists have noticed a spiny lava dome at White Island in an existing small crater formed as a result of eruptions in August.

White Island, off the coast of the Bay of Plenty. Photo / Bob Harding.
 "On Monday we were able to see a spiny lava dome that has grown in a crater formed by an eruption on August 5. We were really lucky the steam was not too thick and got great views. The dome is probably 20 - 30 metres across and has spines sticking up. In more than 30 years visiting White Island I've never seen anything like it," said GNS Science volcanologist Brad Scott.  "If you imagine a volcano is like a tube of toothpaste then a lava dome is like the congealed, dried toothpaste that has come out of the tube. It doesn't move like a lava flow but grows from the inside as new magma comes up and pushes the already cooled magma upwards and outwards," said Mr Scott.  Comments from tour operators at White Island suggest the dome may have been visible for two weeks, but not as clearly as Monday. How long the dome has been growing is unknown, but possibly since the ash eruption in early August.

Lava domes are usually formed by magma that has lost most of its gases so that it is very sticky. This causes the magma to pile up over the volcanic event and form a dome. Lava domes are common at some volcanoes, but have never been seen before at White Island. "Our concern is that lava dome growth can be accompanied by explosive eruptions and could impact people on the island. We need to see if the dome is continuing to grow. If it's not growing then we will be less concerned," said GNS Science head volcanologist Gill Jolly. GNS Science continues to closely monitor White Island through the GeoNet project. - NZ Herald.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Methane Is Popping Up All Over Boston!

December 12, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Natural gas has been hailed by some as a crucial bridge fuel to a cleaner energy future. But how much cleaner is burning natural gas than burning oil or coal?  Concern over water contamination from fracking for natural gas aside, some argue that the much-advertised climate advantage of natural gas may be all but offset by the steady release of methane during its long journey from the well to the 65 million American households that depend on natural gas. Molecule per molecule, methane has more than 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Methane leaks mapped as 3,356 spikes along 785 miles of road in Boston. The yellow ones indicate
methane concentrations exceeding 2.5 parts per million.
Now researchers in Boston have given skeptics of the at-least-natural-gas-is-better- than- coal argument some additional ammunition.In Boston and many other aging cities in the Northeast, a maze of underground low-pressure natural gas pipelines are riddled with leaks. The research team, led by Nathan Phillips, an associate professor of earth and environment at Boston University, measured atmospheric methane concentrations along all 785 miles of road within Boston’s city limits with a highly sensitive device known as a cavity-ring-down mobile CH4 analyzer. They discovered 3,356 leaks of methane whose isotopic characteristics indicated that they originated in fossil fuel rather than microbial sources. Some leaks clocked in at more than 15 times the global background methane level, the researchers write in the journal Environmental Pollution. “There are two ways to get a sense of the leak rate of methane,” Dr. Phillips said. “You can go out to the leaks on the ground and put chambers over them and measure how much is coming out, but that is incredibly tedious with over three thousand leaks in the city. Or, you can use the integrating power of the atmosphere itself.” With the data, the team has created the first comprehensive and publicly available map of leaks in any city. “We know there’s a lot of leaks in Boston and outside of Boston, too, and we know that there is a good chunk of industry-reported lost and unaccounted-for gas,” Dr. Phillips said. “What we don’t know, and what we, and a bunch of other people are trying to get a handle on, is how much methane is coming out of all of these leaks. What is the rate of flow? Is some of it just metering problems, or accounting issues?” 11:01 a.m. | Updated Here’s Andrew C. Revkin’s take on the subject at the Dot Earth blog; check out the video about the research, too.)

Methane leaks around the Bunker Hill Monument in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston,
measured in parts per million. 
Many of the pipes in Boston are more than a century old and are made of cast iron or in some cases even wood. While they are slowly being replaced by modern plastic pipes, only time will tell if these are truly more durable: many are designed to last only 50 years.  Replacing just one mile of pipeline costs around $1 million. And in the event of a rupture, newly paved roads may have to be dug up to repair a pipeline.  In addition to being a potent greenhouse gas, methane leaks kill trees, causing $133 million in property damage nationally each year. Methane also contributes to ozone formation, and natural gas explosions cause an average of 17 deaths and 68 injuries from year to year in the United States.  According to the Energy Information Administration, an average of $3.1 billion worth of natural gas is lost or unaccounted for nationally each year. Generally it is the consumer ratepayers, not the producers, who pay the penalty for the lost gas. “The consumers are bearing the cost of the inefficiencies in the system, and that needs to be shifted to give the operators and owners of the pipelines real incentives to fix those leaks,” Dr. Phillips said. As for resolving the question of whether natural gas or coal generates more greenhouse gas emissions, Robert Jackson, a professor of biology at Duke University who was part of the research team, said that scientists need to study emissions from the production stage “all the way through the compressor stations to the end use. We will continue to do this sort of mapping in other cities, but it’s not just a question of more geography,” he said. “We also need to get a better picture of every stage of natural gas production and distribution.” - NY Times.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking the Louisiana Sinkhole - Shocking Video of Methane Bubbling Near Sinkhole!

December 12, 2012 - LOUISIANA, UNITED STATES - The Observation Well remains shut in. Various options are under consideration to ensure any hydrogen sulfide in the natural gas or liquid hydrocarbon coming from  this well is safely managed and flared. No additional hydrocarbon displacement will occur until  then.

Bubbling in the center of the sinkhole was observed again today.  After a rain delay, clean-up  of the relatively small amount of debris and liquid hydrocarbon that remains on the sinkhole  surface within the containment boom was resumed. A tree, located about 20 feet south of the mat  road, fell into the sinkhole over the weekend. No other changes to the shape or size of the  sinkhole were detected. The temporary geophone will be installed in the 480-foot-deep geophone well this week.

The data  recorded by the geophone will be used to design a broader, permanent geophone system array.  The shallow aquifer Relief Well #1 was closed in at 9:00 a.m. this morning in order to remove  water that had accumulated in the well casing. Flaring was resumed at approximately 1:15 pm with  the vent flow returning to a rate of approximately 63,000 cubic feet per day. Flaring will continue  24 hours/day. 5. - Texas Brine.

WATCH: Shocking Video Of Methane Gas Bubbling In Bayou Corne Near Sinkhole.

The latest flyover footage from the Assumption Parish officials, of the giant sinkhole shows oil surfacing in a new area, surrounding land now inundated. See all of the videos HERE.