Thursday, December 13, 2012

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For December 13 - Tobachik, Bagana, Popocatépetl, Fuego, Reventador, Sakurajima, and Nisyros!

December 13, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

The eruption from Tolbachik volcano in Kamchatka continues with lava fountains at the lower vent feeding very active lava flows, but KVERT noted that tremor levels were fluctuating. This could suggest that the magma supply has become less steady and the eruption might be approaching an end. Ash plumes from the eruption rose to up to 15,000 ft (4.5 km) altitude and are visible on satellite images.

Ash emissions were reported from Bagana volcano on Bougainville island in Papua New Guinea.

Activity of Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico has decreased to only 20 weak emissions with no or little ash content. A moderate steam plume is rising from the volcano.

2 weak explosions and mild strombolian activity was observed at Fuego volcano during the night; the lava flow has decreased to 150 m length.

Moderate activity continues at Reventador volcano in Ecuador. While direct observations are usually impossible due to cloud cover, seismic tremor pulses and explosion signals indicate frequent ash emissions and occasional mild explosions.

In Japan, Sakurajima volcano has been comparably calm as well with only few (about 1 / day average) small to moderate explosions recently.

Earthquakes have been more frequent recently at Nisyros volcano in Greece. 2 more quakes of magnitude 2.1 and 3.1 have occurred today close to the island at depths of about 10 and 20 km, respectively.

EXTREME WEATHER: Cyclone Evan Rips Through Samoan Islands - Kills 2, Widespread Damage, Knocks Out Power For The Entire Country!

December 13, 2012 - SAMOA - The Pacific nation of Samoa faces up to two weeks without electricity, officials said Friday, after a cyclone that killed two people and sent hundreds fleeing to safety destroyed its main power station. Cyclone Evan hit on Thursday afternoon, uprooting trees, tearing roofs off houses and flooding the capital Apia, prompting the Samoan government to declare a disaster and order a massive clean-up operation.

Satellite image of Cyclone Evan over Samoan islands.
However, in a welcome reprieve for the battered nation, forecasters said fears had abated that the storm, described by witnesses as the worst in decades, would return and hit the city for a second time. "Power is off for the whole country... Tanugamanono power plant is completely destroyed and we might not have power for at least two weeks," the Disaster Management Office (DMO) said in a statement. It said hospitals and other essential services were using standby generators, with water supplies also out and most roads cut off by fallen trees and power poles as hundreds of people languished in evacuation centres. A DMO spokeswoman said there had been at least two confirmed deaths, while media reported a number of children were missing after being swept away when Apia's Vaisigano river burst its banks.

Tropical storms are relatively common in Samoa but residents said they had little warning about the ferocity of Cyclone Evan. "This is the biggest one I've been through and I've been through difficult situations in the Pacific (before)," New Zealand's high commissioner in Apia, Nick Hurley, told Radio New Zealand. "The unpredictable nature of this one has made it quite different.

The forecast winds did not give any indication of how strong the impact was going to be." New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the air force was on standby to fly aid to the remote nation if needed, but initial indications were that emergency supplies stockpiled in Samoa would suffice. Apia was braced for a second hit from the cyclone earlier Friday but McCully said forecasters now believed that was unlikely. - The News.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - China Flies Into Japanese Airspace For The First Time In History, Japan Sends Out Fighter Jets After China Air Breach!

December 13, 2012 - JAPAN - Japan scrambled eight fighter jets on Thursday after a Chinese state-owned plane breached its airspace for the first time, over islands at the centre of a dispute between the countries. It was the first incursion by a Chinese state aircraft into Japanese airspace anywhere since Tokyo's military began monitoring in 1958, the defence ministry said. The move marks a ramping-up of what observers suggest is a Chinese campaign to create a "new normal" -- where its forces come and go as they please around islands Beijing calls the Diaoyus, but Tokyo controls as the Senkakus.

A Chinese state-owned plane flies over disputed islands in the East China Sea on December 13, 2012
(Japan Coast Guard/ AFP, Japan Coast Guard).
It also comes as ceremonies mark the sensitive 75th anniversary of the start of the Nanjing Massacre, when Japanese Imperial Army troops embarked on an orgy of violence and killing in the then-Chinese capital. F-15 jets were mobilised after a Chinese Maritime Surveillance twin turbo-prop aircraft ventured over the islands just after 11 am (0200 GMT), Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters. "It was a fixed-wing Y-12 aeroplane belonging to the Chinese State Oceanic Administration. We confirmed that this aeroplane flew in our country's airspace," he said. "It is extremely regrettable. We will continue to resolutely deal with any act violating our country's sovereignty, in accordance with domestic laws and regulations," he said, adding a senior Chinese diplomat had been summoned. Japan mobilised eight F-15 jets and an E2C early-warning aircraft, the Asahi Shimbun reported, citing a defence ministry source. But the incident appeared to have passed off without any direct confrontation.

In Beijing, China's foreign ministry said the flight had been routine. "China's maritime surveillance plane flying over the Diaoyu islands is completely normal," said spokesman Hong Lei. "China requires the Japanese side to stop illegal activities in the waters and airspace of the Diaoyu islands," Hong said, adding they were "China's inherent territory since ancient times". The incident came as Japan's coastguard chief told reporters he was digging in for a protracted dispute. "As China has publicly said it will make this a permanent situation, we are preparing to be better equipped for this long, drawn-out contest," Takashi Kitamura, the commandant of Japan Coast Guard, told a news conference. "Because we have various other responsibilities other than patrolling for border security, we are asking government to consider building up our capacity," he said. Chinese government ships have moved in and out of waters around the islands for more than two months -- four vessels were there for several hours on Thursday. Such confrontations have become commonplace since Japan nationalised the East China Sea islands in September, a move it insisted amounted to nothing more than a change of ownership of what was already Japanese territory. - AFP.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL NARRATIVE: "Water is Life" - Vast 250-Mile "Nile River Discovered on Saturn's Moon Titan, First River on Another Planet!

December 13, 2012 - NASA - A 250 mile-long river valley flowing with liquid hydrocarbons has been spotted on Titan by scientists using NASA's Cassini space probe.  It is the first time a river system this vast has been seen anywhere other than Earth, and Nasa are saying it appears like a miniature, extraterrestrial likeness of the our own planet's Nile River.  The river valley crosses Titan's north polar region and runs north into Ligeia Mare, one of the three great seas in the moon's high northern latitudes.

Titan's Nile: The radar image on the bottom taken by the Cassini space probe shows the vast river system
as it flows north into the moon's Ligeia Mare sea. The top is a satellite image of the real Nile in Egypt.
IMAGE: NASA/JPL and MODIS Land Rapid Response.
There are some short, local meanders, but the its relative straightness suggests it follows the trace of at least one fault, similar to other rivers running into the southern margin of Ligeia Mare.  Such faults may lead to the opening of basins and perhaps to the formation of the giant seas themselves. Scientists believe the river is filled with liquid hydrocarbons as it looks dark along its entire length in the radar image, indicating a smooth surface.  Titan is Saturn's largest moon, roughly 80 per cent more massive than our own Moon, and the only satellite known to have a dense atmosphere.  It is the only other world we know of that has stable liquid on its surface, but while Earth's hydrologic cycle relies on water, Titan's equivalent cycle involves hydrocarbons such as ethane and methane.  In Titan's equatorial regions, photos taken in late 2010 by Cassini's visible-light cameras revealed regions that darkened due to recent rainfall.  Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer confirmed liquid ethane at a lake in Titan's southern hemisphere known as Ontario Lacus in 2008.  

'Titan is the only place we've found besides Earth that has a liquid in continuous movement on its surface,' said Steve Wall, the radar deputy team lead, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.  'This picture gives us a snapshot of a world in motion. Rain falls, and rivers move that rain to lakes and seas, where evaporation starts the cycle all over again.  'On Earth, the liquid is water; on Titan, it's methane; but on both it affects most everything that happens.'  The radar image taken on September 26 and published by NASA yesterday shows where the river valley flows into Kraken Mare, a sea that is, in terms of size, between the Caspian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.  'Though there are some short, local meanders, the relative straightness of the river valley suggests it follows the trace of at least one fault,'said Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini radar team associate at Brigham Young University, Utah.  She added: 'Such faults - fractures in Titan's bedrock - may not imply plate tectonics, like on Earth, but still lead to the opening of basins and perhaps to the formation of the giant seas themselves.'  The real Nile River stretches about 4,100 miles. The processes that led to the formation of Earth's Nile are complex, but involve faulting in some regions. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: The canyons of Titan as seen by Cassini.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Global Seismic Uptick - Town In Chile Struck By 170 Earthquakes in 5 Weeks?!

December 13, 2012 - CHILE - More than 170 tremors have been felt in the coastal town of Navidad in quake-prone Chile in just five weeks.  The strongest - of 5.9 magnitude - struck during a funeral and sent panicked mourners fleeing into the street.  The town, with a population of 5,500, has become one of the shakiest spots on Earth. 

The coastal town suffered a tsunami during Chile's devastating 2010 quake.
Seismologists cannot say whether the recent quakes have been aftershocks from Chile's devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake two years ago - or warnings of another huge disaster to come.  The town's residents, though, have learned to take the quakes in their stride.  Navidad means Christmas in Spanish - and with the festive season in full swing Navidenos have been taking extra precautions to ensure the celebrations pass as smoothly as possible.  Families have taken to decorating their Christmas trees with quakes in mind, wiring ornaments to the branches or taking extra efforts to secure the base.  Some restaurant owners have even switched from bottled beer to cans.  Children at public schools have been practicing drills every day and everyone has been equipped with a 'quake bag' comprising flashlights and food. 

"We were born, grew up and were raised with earthquakes," acting Mayor Rodrigo Soto said.  "It seems like the world for the first time has discovered Navidad. Everyone asks us if we're scared and all we can say is that we need to be prepared."  The town has an inadequate tsunami alert system - a siren that sounds like a car alarm and lacks the volume needed to reach all the townspeople. But after so many tremors, he said Navidenos know in their bones when to run.  "People are afraid because in the past weeks it shook so much," said 18-year-old waitress Karen Contreras.  "It's still trembling, but at least people know where to evacuate if it's strong," she added.  The February 2010 quake hit central Chile, killing hundreds of people and wrecking 220,000 homes.  The country suffered 150 strong aftershocks in the immediate days following the disaster, and it was also reported that the initial tremor was so powerful, it may have shifted the Earth's axis and made days slightly shorter.  No-one was killed by the huge quake in Navidad, but some 200 homes were lost or severely damaged, and most households had no power or water for a month. - SKY News.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Meteorite Lights Up, Falls Into The Black Sea Off Northern Turkish Coast!

December 13, 2012 - TURKEY - The region where the camera is is about 5 kilometers away from the actual event came to an end on the Black Sea.

During the incident, which occurred around 22:00 hours on the 11th Dec 2012, a man working as a security guard, Hakan Cesur, said that he felt a little jolt out of the face of the sky at the time.

"It was a ball of fire coming down from heaven into the sea, I was just staring at the TV to see if there was anything going on in Turkey, he said." A slight vibration was felt in the district as a result of a falling meteor, which was recorded by security cameras. The meteorite fell into the sea during the night. A flash of light and an explosion were heard. Some citizens panicked. - Trthaber.

Meteorite has fallen on the territory of Turkish city Ordu. According to Turkish media, the fall of the meteorite last night caused panic among the city's population. Ordu Mayor Orhan Duzgun said that he learned the fall of the meteorite only in the morning. "The fall of the meteorite was captured by an observation camera of one of the institutions of the city. Now its place is being specified. Thousands of meteorites fall every year on various parts of the earth. There is no reason to panic. According to preliminary data, the meteorite was small and fell to the coastal area of the city," said the mayor. - RSOE EDIS.

WATCH: Meteorite hits Turkish City Ordu.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise of the Machines - U.S. Spies See Superhuman Cyborgs and Instant Cities by 2030!

December 13, 2012 - UNITED STATES - 3-D printed organs. Brain chips providing superhuman abilities. Megacities, built from scratch. The U.S. intelligence community is taking a look at the world of 2030. And it is very, very sci-fi. Every four or five years, the futurists at the National Intelligence Council take a stab at forecasting what the globe will be like two decades hence; the idea is to give some long-term, strategic guidance to the folks shaping America’s security and economic policies. (Full disclosure: I was once brought in as a consultant to evaluate one of the NIC’s interim reports.) On Monday, the Council released its newest findings, Global Trends 2030. Many of the prognostications are rather unsurprising: rising tides, a bigger data cloud, an aging population, and, of course, more drones. But tucked into the predictable predictions are some rather eye-opening assertions. Especially in the medical realm.

We’ve seen experimental prosthetics in recent years that are connected to the human neurological system. The Council says the link between man and machine is about to get way more cyborg-like. “As replacement limb technology advances, people may choose to enhance their physical selves as they do with cosmetic surgery today. Future retinal eye implants could enable night vision, and neuro-enhancements could provide superior memory recall or speed of thought,” the Council writes. “Brain-machine interfaces could provide ‘superhuman’ abilities, enhancing strength and speed, as well as providing functions not previously available.” And if the machines can’t be embedded into the person, the person may embed himself in the robot. “Augmented reality systems can provide enhanced experiences of real-world situations. Combined with advances in robotics, avatars could provide feedback in the form of sensors providing touch and smell as well as aural and visual information to the operator,” the report adds. There’s no word about whether you’ll have to paint yourself blue to enjoy the benefits of this tech.
Artificial limbs like these could be only the
beginning of man-machine interfaces, the
National Intelligence Council predicts. Photo: DoD.

The Council’s futurists are less definitive about 3-D printing and other direct digital manufacturing processes. On one hand, they say that any changes brought about by these new ways of making things could be “relatively slow.” On the other, they rip a page out of Wired, comparing the emerging era of digital manufacturing to the “early days of personal computers and the internet.” Today, the machines may only be able to make simple objects. Tomorrow, that won’t be the case. And that shift will change not only manufacturing and electronics — but people, as well. “By 2030, manufacturers may be able to combine some electrical components (such as electrical circuits, antennae, batteries, and memory) with structural components in one build, but integration with printed electronics manufacturing equipment will be necessary,” the Council writes. “Though printing of arteries or simple organs may be possible by 2030, bioprinting of complex organs will require significant technological breakthroughs.” But not all of these biological developments will be good things, the Council notes. “Advances in synthetic biology also have the potential to be a double-edged sword and become a source of lethal weaponry accessible to do-it-yourself biologists or biohackers,” according to the report. Biology is becoming more and more like the open source software community, with “open-access repository of standardized and interchangeable building block or ‘biobrick’ biological parts that researchers can use” — for good or for bad.  ”This will be particularly true as technology becomes more accessible on a global basis and, as a result, makes it harder to track, regulate, or mitigate bioterror if not ‘bioerror.’”

Some of the Council’s predictions may give a few of Washington’s more sensitive politicians a rash. Although the Council does allow for the possibility of a “decisive re-assertion of U.S. power,” the futurists seem pretty well convinced that America is, relatively speaking, on the decline and that China is on the ascent. In fact, the Council believes nation-states in general are losing their oomph, in favor of “megacities [that will] flourish and take the lead in confronting global challenges.” And we’re not necessarily talking New York or Beijing here; some of these megacities could be somehow “built from scratch.” Unlike some Congressmen, the Council takes climate change as a given. Unlike many in the environmental movement, the futurists believe that the discovery of cheap ways to harvest natural gas are going to relegate renewables to bit-player status in the energy game. But most of the findings are apolitical bets on which tech will leap out the furthest over the next 17 years. People can check back in 2030 to see if the intelligence agencies are right — that is, if you still call the biomodded cyborgs roaming the planet people. - WIRED.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Novovirius Winter Vomiting Virus Spreads - Cases Hit 750,000, Forcing Wards to Close in Britain; Christmas Cruise Turns Into 'Plague Ship' After Norovirus Outbreak!

December 13, 2012 - BRITAIN - Hundreds of hospital wards have been forced to close due to the spread of the winter vomiting bug, as fears grow that this winter's outbreak could prove to be the worst on record.  New figures released yesterday by the Health Protection Agency revealed cases of the bug are at a five-year high - with more than two-thirds as many people struck down this year as during the same period in 2011.  In the past week, schools from Plymouth to Fife have been forced to close after soaring numbers of children have fallen victim to the highly contagious norovirus. 
The dotted line representing 2012/13 shows how, in the latter part of 2012, cases of norovirus have rocketed.
Despite a recent dip, the number of cases is still high.
A total of 335 hospital wards in England and Wales have been closed to new visitors since the start of this year's outbreak - with 43 shut down in the past fortnight alone.  And as well as norovirus, there are numerous other vicious bugs going around. On Tuesday, 140 of the 639 pupils at Wimbledon Chase Primary School in south west London, were off sick. Staff said the number was unprecedented.  The huge early outbreak is thought to represent the worst start to the norovirus season on record, with some experts blaming particularly frigid November temperatures for the staggering numbers of cases.  The new HPA figures show there have been 2,630 confirmed cases - where samples have been checked in the lab - since July.  
Experts say the virus has arrived earlier than usual this year and caught the NHS 'unawares'.
This is 72 per cent higher than the same period in the last season when there were 1,533 cases reported.   But this figure is likely to be only a fraction of the true total as most sufferers do not see their GP. Officials at the HPA estimate that for every confirmed case there are another 288 in the community.  This means that 757,440 people could be affected by the stomach bug.  There has been a slight dip in cases in the last week or two but an HPA spokesperson said this was no indication the virus was tapering off, particularly as the vast majority of cases in the community go unreported.

John Harris, an expert in norovirus at the HPA, said: 'Our figures show a small drop in the number of confirmed cases over the last couple of weeks.  'We cannot read too much into this at present as this is typical of the norovirus season, where we see a series of sharp rises and falls in activity between October and April with the bulk of cases usually occurring between January and March.'  Some experts say the highly contagious virus has arrived early this year and caught the NHS 'unawares'.  Infections tend to peak in January and February. But this year's early outbreak could go on to see this norovirus season become the worst on record. - Daily Mail.

Outbreak: Passengers on board the P&O cruise liner
have been struck down by the winter vomiting bug.
Christmas Cruise Turns Into 'Plague Ship' After Norovirus Outbreak.
A dream Christmas cruise has turned into the holiday from hell, according to passengers who claim as many as 400 travellers have been struck down with the norovirus winter vomiting bug.  One traveller aboard the P&O liner Oriana, which is on a 10-night Baltic cruise out of Southampton visiting Christmas markets, said people felt like they were sailing on a "plague ship".  P&O's parent company Carnival said there had been "an incidence of a mild gastrointestinal illness" among the passengers. 

The spokeswoman added that, as of Thursday, out of 1,843 passengers "the number of passengers with active symptoms is six".  One passenger, Paul Gilman, 62, told the Daily Mail: "It has been outrageous from start to finish. People were falling like flies, yet the crew were trying to insist everything was fine.  "Everyone is saying this is a plague ship. It's a living nightmare."  Another passenger, Brian Weston, 67, from the Isle of Wight, said: "It's been a shambles from start to finish. Passengers became ill almost immediately we set sail and the outbreak swept like wildfire through the ship.  "At one stage there were dozens and dozens of people falling ill, though the ship's senior officers were trying to play it down."  His wife, Denise, 60, said: "A viral specialist who is a passenger told us the ship should not have set sail for 48 hours and should have gone through a deep clean."  The UK's Health Protection Agency has reported a 72% increase in the vomiting bug so far this season. - Guardian.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Widespread Reports of Spectacular Multi-Colored Fireballs in the Skies Over the Ontario, Maryland and Virginia!

December 13, 2012 - SKY - Here are several initial eye-witness reports courtesy of the Lunar Meteor Hunters of spectacular multi-colored fireballs from Ontario in Canada and the states of Maryland and Virginia in the United States.

Two separate fireballs, arriving 1.5 hours apart, fragment over Ontario, Canada - 12th December, 2012.

Glen, London, Ontario, Canada 23:50 EST
4 seconds duration - Straight down, looking east. Bright green large firework, slight fragmentation, like an upside down firework.
Yvonne MacInnis, TORONTO, Canada 1130PM
2-3 seconds duration - E-W, N-S. Bright orange with white blue tail, as bright as the sun/moon. Travelling southeast at Redpath and Eglinton. Brilliant!!
Vafa, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 22:30:00
2.5 seconds duration - NE-SW, facing North. Bright white, yellow, orange. Same brightness as the Sun. Explosion large enough to suspect fragments. Bright ribbon across the sky, then explosion into fireball the shape of a pumpkin.
Craig, Toronto, ON, Canada 22:27 EST
1-2 seconds duration - Facing north, north east. It streaked northwards. Fireball was orange and red (didn't hear sound). Bright burning orange/red colour. The mass appeared to break up explosively into several fragments. This was a large meteor.

Fireball lights up early morning sky over Maryland and Virginia - 13th of December, 2012.

Millie Schaefer, Hunt Valley, MD, USA 06:35 AM EST
3 seconds duration - W-E (right to left), I was facing south. It was green, orange, white. As bright as the moon. Looked like a ball of fire.
Michael Esposito, Washington, DC USA 0635 EST
2 seconds duration - SSE - Right to Left - I was facing south. White, blue, orange colour. Much brighter than Venus - like a comet. Largest I've ever seen.
Robert Odom, Ft. Meade, MD 0635 / EST
3 seconds duration - SW to SE. Bright white. Moon brightness. It lit up the sky and clouds.
Wanda, Pamplin VA USA 6:23:00
15 seconds duration - NE. Green/Blue colour. Very bright. At first I thought it was some type of fireworks, I was on my way to work.
Mike Riviello Charles Town, WV, USA 6.35
3 - 4 seconds duration - Right to left, facing South/Southeast. Bright white with purple/orange plume. Brighter than the full moon. Completely unexpected. Very cool to see.
- Lunar Meteor Hunters.