Monday, December 17, 2012

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mt. Lokon Volcano in Indonesia Spews Volcanic Ash 10,000 Feet High - 800th Eruption Since July!

December 17, 2012 - INDONESIA - Mount Lokon spews volcanic ash during an eruption in Tomohon in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province December 17, 2012.

 Indonesia's Mount Lokon, which has erupted 800 times since July, erupted to spew hot lava and volcanic ash as high as 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) in the north of Sulawesi island, a government official said on Monday. - Yahoo.

Mount Lokon spews volcanic ash during an eruption in Tomohon in Indonesia's
North Sulawesi province on December 17, 2012.
Mount Lokon in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, erupted at around 12 p.m. local time on Monday following escalating volcanic activity.  "Ashes from the eruption rose to 3,000 meters. Local residents have been asked to take precautions," the chief of the Lokon and Mahawu monitoring station, Farid Ruskanda Bima, in Tomohon on Monday, as quoted by Antara news agency.  Mount Lokon has shown an increase in volcanic activity since early December. The Lokon and Mahawu monitoring station recorded eruptions on Dec. 3, Dec. 5 and Dec. 8, spouting volcanic dust up to 3,500 meters into the sky.  The volcano had also erupted several times in October and September. - Jakarta Post.

Mount Lokon erupted a little earlier today. People living near the volcano were surprised by a loud bang at 12:12 PM local time. The explosion was followed by hot ash-rich eruption clouds climbing to a height of 9000 fr or 3000 meters. The volcano is in “standby or Siaga” status (second highest alert) since many months as the feeder basis remains open to fuel new eruptions. Ni special precautions have been taken at the moment. Since longer time, there is a 2.5 km NO-GO zone around the crater. Tomohon a nearby village escaped merely to the ash fall today because of a favourable wind direction. The image below is the VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory) map as reported by VAAC for 13:30 UTC . Ash concentrations are alerted up to 10,000 ft. Air traffic is requested to respect the alerts given by VAAC. The volcano is active since a longer time, but eruptions like today’s are only happening now and then. - Earthquake Report.

DISASTER IMPACT: Cyclone Evan Leaves Huge Trail of Damage Over Fiji - Destroying Homes, Flooding Rivers, Stranding Tourists and Causing Mass Displacements!

December 17, 2012 - FIJI - Tropical Cyclone Evan has left a trail of destruction across Fiji after battering the island for more than 12 hours, destroying homes, flooding rivers and stranding thousands of tourists.

The storm has now been downgraded to a category three as it heads out to sea [Reuters].
Officials say, there were no reported deaths on Tuesday as the storm headed out to sea and was downgraded a notch to category three. Western parts of the main island of Viti Levu bore the brunt of the cyclone's fury overnight, with the Fiji Times describing the township of Lautoka as a "war zone". The information ministry said bridges were submerged by swollen rivers, high winds toppled power lines and roads were closed by landslides and debris. Almost 8,500 locals sheltered from the cyclone in evacuation centres, while thousands of tourists, many relocated from outlying islands for their own safety, rode out the storm in Viti Levu's resorts.

Cyclone Evan, however did not cause the same damage as Cyclone Kina, which killed 23 people when it swept through Fiji in 1993, largely due to extensive planning as the storm advanced. Neighbouring Samoa had no advance notice when Evan pummelled it late last week and officials there said Tuesday the official death toll had risen to five, with up to 10 people still missing. Samoa's Disaster Management Office (DMO) said almost 5,000 people were still in evacuation centres and power remained off in much of the country. Filomena Nelson, a DMO spokesperson, said the damage caused by the storm, estimated by the government to cost $130 million, was more extensive than when a tsunami hit the country in 2009, killing 143 people. "While the cost in lives has been less, the destruction is greater than the tsunami because it's affected a far larger area," said Nelson. - Al Jazeera.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Plosky Tolbachik Spews Clouds of Ash 3,000 Meters High - Russian Volcano Eruption Sparks "Apocalypse" Fears!

December 17, 2012 - RUSSIA - An erupting volcano in Russia's Far East has become a sightseeing hotspot for crowds of thrill-seeking tourists eager to see flows of lava and clouds of ash. Others, however, saw in the natural phenomenon an omen heralding the end of the world.  ­Plosky Tolbachik on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, dormant since its most notable recent eruption in 1975, is spilling up to 1,200 metric tons of lava every second – a record amount – and spewing clouds of ash nearly 3,000 meters into the air, local seismologists estimated.   The road to the 3,085-meter Plosky Tolbachik runs through the frozen Studenka River.

The Plosky Tolbachik Volcano erupts on the Kamchatka Peninsula. (RIA Novosti / Alexander Sokorenko).
Despite the risky route, up to a hundred cars full of tourists brave the crossing every day to get to the nearby mountain.  The tourists – who ignore warning signs and the dangers of leaking lava, hot falling rocks and clouds of ash – pay top prices and take a 10-hour car ride to see the volcano. The trip reportedly costs 20,000 rubles (about $650) for locals and close to $1000 for Moscow tourists, nearly equal to the average monthly wage in the capital. The inrush of tourists forced rescue teams to set up a camp at the foot of a hill from which people can take pictures.  Some tourists approach the flows of lava close enough to risk melting their boots. Fossilized lava looks just like stone, but its internal temperature can reach up to 300 degrees Celsius. Though the volcano is 10 kilometers away from the tourist spot, the heat still reaches the area – visitors could easily wear summer clothes. 

The Plosky Tolbachik Volcano erupts on the Kamchatka Peninsula. (RIA Novosti / Alexander Sokorenko).
Other groups have organized outings with off-road vehicles delivering tourists to the base of fresh ash and rock deposits from the eruption.  However, some did not appreciate the eruption, seeing it as an ill omen for the end of the world. There have been media reports suggesting that various apocalypses will begin with the eruption of different volcanoes around the world, including those on Kamchatka. Scientists have rejected such prognoses, saying that rumors about the huge volumes of lave and possibilities that it can annihilate mankind are exaggerated. 

"Typical, predictable and nowadays sufficiently studied activity of the most active volcanoes in Kamchatka – Shiveluch,  Kluchevsky, Bezymyanny ('Nameless') and others – does not exceed in their activity the peak of activity recorded in the past,” leading volcanologist and seismologist Aleksey Ozerov told RIA Novosti.  Plosky Tolbachik has been erupting since November 27, sparking a forest fire and destroying buildings at two research bases located close to the mountain. Local residents have been warned not to leave their houses.  In total, the volcano has erupted 10 times since records began in 1740, most dramatically in 1975 when the volume of lava and ashes became the largest in the recorded history of Kamchatka. - RT.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Growing Risks of Mega-Quake in Nepal - Great Nepalese Quake of 1255 Points to Himalayan Risk!

December 17, 2012 - NEPAL -  A mega-quake in 1255 that wrecked the Nepalese capital, wiped out a third of the population of Kathmandu Valley and killed the country's monarch, King Abhaya Malla, was of a kind that may return to the Himalayas, seismologists reported on Sunday. 

Experts from Nepal, France and Singapore mapped deposits of river sediment displaced along part of the fault line where the Indian subcontinent slams into the Asia tectonic plate at up to 50 millimetres (1.97 inches) per year.  With the help of carbon dating, they found that the soil movement in one place was caused by a huge quake that coincided with the great event of July 7 1255.  More than six centuries later, there was another surface-breaking event, correlating to a magnitude 8.2-event in 1934. 

The finding is important because until now there had been no evidence of surface ruptures from the collision of these plates. Surface ruptures are not only extremely violent -- they also tend to release most or all of the accumulated strain. "Blind" quakes are ones that do not break the surface, and tend to be more frequent.  The study says it takes probably takes centuries for the strain to accumulate before another bust occurs, if the evidence of the surface turnover is a guide. 

This long timespan is worrying as the previous event may be undocumented or poorly understood because it is so ancient.  The scientists do not rule out the possibility that other potential monsters could be lurking elsewhere on the fault, as no-one has looked for the evidence for them.  "Two great earthquakes 679 years apart contributed to the frontal uplift of young river terraces in eastern Nepal," says the paper, published in the journal Nature Geoscience.  "The rare surface expression of these earthquakes implies that surface ruptures of other reputedly blind great Himalayan events might exist." - Space Daily.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Strong Gale-Force Winds and Unusually High Tides Cause Major Damage Across Eastern Scotland - Up to £500,000 Damage to North Berwick Harbour, Wrecks Sea Walls That Have Stood For 150-Odd Years!

December 17, 2012 - SCOTLAND - Gale-force winds and unusually high tides have caused damage across areas of eastern and northern Scotland.  Huge waves caused up to £500,000 damage to North Berwick harbour in East Lothian, as sea defences were swept away.  A 15m section of the harbour wall collapsed in Lossiemouth in Moray.  And residents of a sheltered housing complex were evacuated after coastal flooding hit parts of Aberdeenshire.  Gerry Hughes, chairman of the North Berwick Harbour Trust Association, said he believed the storm that hit the town overnight between Friday and Saturday was the worst in more than 100 years.

Part of the wall at Balintore harbour was destroyed after being battered by huge waves.
He added: "This was a massive storm causing damage to sea walls that have stood for 150-odd years.  "The wind strength wasn't all that high, but the sea was absolutely beyond understanding. In the harbour you have a 40ft sea container that was washed approximately 200m, took away some fencing, and went straight into the harbour.  "There were also sea defence boulders weighing up to 200 kilos washed 150m along the esplanade, so that gives you the size and some sort of scale of the energy of the whole thing."  High tides and severe weather led to 25 people being taken from sheltered complexes at Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire.  They were taken to St Bridget's Hall in the town, where a rest centre was set up. Further north at Peterhead, about 30 people were evacuated from properties in the Roanheads area. 

A large sea container was swept into
the harbour at North Berwick.

Some went to stay with friends while others were given accommodation at a hotel, according to Aberdeenshire Council.  The town's RNLI lifeboat launched in what were described as "horrendous" conditions at 02:30 to rescue three people marooned on the east side of Peterhead harbour. People at a care home in Huntly, which sits inland at the River Deveron, were told to prepare to leave but later given the all clear.  A spokeswoman for Aberdeenshire Council said the high tide again reached Stonehaven at about 14:30 on Saturday, causing further coastal flooding.  People evacuated from affected properties earlier in the day remained out of their homes, with most having been collected by friends or family and alternative accommodation has been found for others, including at the new Edenholme care village in Stonehaven.  However, the spokeswoman said the second bout of flooding was not expected to be as serious as the morning had been.
Stonehaven was battered by huge waves.

It was also not expected to affect any properties which had not already been affected, although the situation was being closely monitored.  A flooding advice centre will be set up at Aberdeenshire Council's housing office on Allardice Street in Stonehaven on Monday from 11:00 until 16:30.  Elsewhere, a 15m section of the harbour wall collapsed in Lossiemouth. Police and council staff were at the scene and warned some flooding was possible at high tide. They also urged people to stay away from the area until it was made safe.  The village of Kingston in Moray was said to have been completely cut off after its sea defences were breached.  In Wick, on the far north coast, roads were closed and fishing boats were damaged in high winds.  About 12 cars were moved from a car park when a strong surge breached a river bank, police said, and several roads were closed by debris thrown up by the waves. In the town The Shore, Harbour Quay and South Quay were closed.  Huge waves caused part of the harbour wall at Balintore, near Tain in Ross-shire, to collapse, with two boys aged 12 and 14 suffering minor cuts after being thrown to the ground by the force of the water.  Resident George Wood, 52, said: "I've lived in Balintore all my life and I've never seen it this bad before. It's devastation. The wall should have been repaired long ago." 
Lorries were deluged by water in Wick
Harbour during the heavy weather.

And storm force winds continued to batter Shetland throughout Saturday, with the road through Sandsayre in Sandwick flooded.  The force of the waves combined with the high tide ripped up part of the beach and lifted some of the boats onto the road, and the nearby boat museum was flooded.  The Scottish government has convened its Resilience Room in response to the storms.  Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "Local emergency services moved quickly to deal with the aftermath of the flooding, which was caused by unusually high tides and high winds, in Stonehaven and Peterhead.  "Emergency staff are also monitoring the situation at Lossiemouth. They have all demonstrated the utmost professionalism in the face of very challenging weather conditions.  "Local residents affected by the floods have been moved to safety and offered support. I want to express my sympathy for their ordeal."  Mr Wheelhouse also passed on his condolences to the family of a crewman killed when an oil support vessel was hit by severe gales.  "These are tragic circumstances and my thoughts are with his loved ones at this difficult time," he said. - BBC.

EXTREME WEATHER ALERT: Blizzard, Rain And Wind Slam The American Northwest As Potent Storm Approaches Western Washington!

December 17, 2012 - UNITED STATES - While some parts of the country wonder where the snow is, Old Man Winter has certainly found his way to the Northwest.  A dangerous storm that slammed into the coast of Washington Monday morning has already begun to batter the region.  Interstate 90's Snoqualmie Pass shut down Sunday afternoon as heavy snow and blizzard conditions set in.  There were several collisions at the summit area as strong winds and blowing snow brought visibilities down to near zero.

Blizzard, Rain And Wind Slam The Northwest.
The pass has since reopened, but heavy snow continues and authorities will only let vehicles with chains or all-wheel drive make the journey.  Blinding snow and white-out conditions extend down the length of the Washington and Oregon Cascades.  They also include the Olympic Mountains in northwestern Washington and the Blue Mountains of northwestern Oregon.  Over a foot of snow, with some places getting over two feet, will fall across all of these areas. Snow drifts will reach 4-6 feet in spots and travel will be extremely dangerous at best.  As Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski points out, the wild winter weather is not only limited to the mountains.  According to Kristina, "Up to a half of a foot of snow will turn Wenatchee, Wash., into a winter wonderland Sunday night into Monday with 2-4 inches whitening Spokane, Wash."  The snow will then spread to the mountainous areas of California, Idaho and Utah through Monday evening.  The highest elevations across these areas will see 6-12 inches of new snowfall.  The combination of the new snowfall and strong winds will even produce the risk for avalanches. Further south and east, the snow turns to rain in places such as Seattle, Portland and Medford.  With 1-2 inches of rain falling Sunday and Sunday night, another 1-2 inches is likely today.  This kind of rain will lead to excessive ponding of water on roadways and quick rises on area creeks, streams and rivers.  Check back often at for the latest up-to-the-minute information on this storm. - AccuWeather.

Weather Warnings Issued As Potent Storm Approaches Western Washington.
A powerful storm packing strong winds, heavy rain and mountain snow is expected to hit Sunday night and Monday in Western Washington, ushering in a period of cooler weather that could include snowfall in the lowlands by Monday night or Tuesday.  The National Weather Service in Seattle issued a barrage of warnings for much of the region, including a rare blizzard warning for the Olympic and Cascade mountains from 6 p.m. Sunday through 6 p.m. Monday.  A high wind warning was issued for the central Washington coast and a high wind watch for the Puget Sound area from midnight Sunday through 10 a.m. Monday.  Gusts could reach as high as 65 mph on the coast and up to 55 mph in the inland areas, and power outages are possible due to falling limbs and trees. Storm-force winds were expected over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and gale-force winds are forecast over the waters of the Puget Sound.  A coastal flood advisory was issued for high tides and big waves that could produce tidal overflow and flooding near the beaches. The heaviest impact will be on the Washington coast, where 30-foot swells are possible. Tidal overflow and localized flooding also are possible along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound.  In the Olympics and the Cascades, heavy snowfall and high winds are expected to produce blizzard conditions. Up to 3 feet of snow is expected to fall between Sunday evening and Monday evening. Winds could gust up to 60 mph in the passes and from 70 to 90 mph on exposed ridges between Sunday night and Monday evening. Whiteout conditions are expected in the passes.  An avalanche warning also was issued for some areas of the Olympics and Cascades.  National Weather Service meteorologists said the storm will develop rapidly late Sunday as it approaches Western Washington from the North Pacific. - KOMO News.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Sinkhole Threatens To Swallow Up Lake Mary Home In Orlando, Florida - Sinkhole Measures 25 Feet Wide By 30 Feet Deep, The Fourth Sinkhole In Five Months!

December 17, 2012 - FLORIDA - A massive sinkhole opened up Wednesday in the backyard of a Lake Mary home whose owners were forced out several months ago because of sinkholes.

The new sinkhole is estimated at about 25 feet wide and possibly 30 feet deep, according to a next-door neighbor.

Photo by Chase Cain @ChaseCainTV.
Neighbors told Fox 35's Chase Cain that crews were at the Lake Como Drive home earlier Wednesday, working to fix and fill the three existing sinkholes that opened up in August. The largest of those was about 7 feet wide and 4 feet deep.

In August, three sinkholes damaged the home and its foundation. Cracks creeped up the walls.

"The house cracks every day. There are new cracks everywhere," homeowner Debbie Coffman said then.

Engineers told her at time that the holes needed to be pumped with concrete. They planned to try to go under home and add support to parts of the foundation to stabilize the home.

Crews are expected out today to assess the new sinkhole. - WOGX.

WATCH: Massive sinkhole opens up in Florida.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.1 Magnitude Quake Strikes Off The Coast Of Sulawesi, Indonesia!

December 17, 2012 - INDONESIA - A strong 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of central Indonesia Monday, the US Geological Survey said, sending panicked people rushing into the streets but there was no tsunami alert. The quake struck at 0916 GMT more than 160 kilometers (99 miles) south-southeast of Gorontalo in central Indonesia's Sulawesi Island at a depth of 18 kilometers. The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics agency (BMKG) measured it at 6.0 at a depth of 10 kilometers.

“The epicenter was in the sea but it doesn't have the potential to trigger a tsunami,” BMKG official Agung Utomo told AFP. “We haven't received any report of damage so far.” The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said the ground shook for several seconds. “The quake was quite strong and all the guests here -- about 30 people -- panicked and ran out into the street,” said Rudi Gowarno, manager of Ramayana hotel in the town of Luwuk. Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. A deep 6.0 magnitude also earthquake struck the New Britain region of Papua New Guinea on December 15th. - Times of India.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the New Guinea Region and Vicinity.
The Australia-Pacific plate boundary is over 4000 km long on the northern margin, from the Sunda (Java) trench in the west to the Solomon Islands in the east. The eastern section is over 2300 km long, extending west from northeast of the Australian continent and the Coral Sea until it intersects the east coast of Papua New Guinea. The boundary is dominated by the general northward subduction of the Australia plate. The western end of the Australia-Pacific plate boundary is perhaps the most complex portion of this boundary, extending 2000 km from Indonesia and the Banda Sea to eastern New Guinea. The boundary is dominantly convergent along an arc-continent collision segment spanning the width of New Guinea, but the regions near the edges of the impinging Australia continental margin also include relatively short segments of extensional, strike-slip and convergent deformation. The dominant convergence is accommodated by shortening and uplift across a 250-350 km-wide band of northern New Guinea, as well as by slow southward-verging subduction of the Pacific plate north of New Guinea at the New Guinea trench. Here, the Australia-Pacific plate relative velocity is approximately 110 mm/yr towards the northeast, leading to the 2-8 mm/yr uplift of the New Guinea Highlands.

Whereas the northern band of deformation is relatively diffuse east of the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border, in western New Guinea there are at least two small (less than 100,000 km²) blocks of relatively undeformed lithosphere. The westernmost of these is the Birds Head Peninsula microplate in Indonesia's West Papua province, bounded on the south by the Seram trench. The Seram trench was originally interpreted as an extreme bend in the Sunda subduction zone, but is now thought to represent a southward-verging subduction zone between Birds Head and the Banda Sea. There have been 22 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded in the New Guinea region since 1900. The dominant earthquake mechanisms are thrust and strike slip, associated with the arc-continent collision and the relative motions between numerous local microplates. The largest earthquake in the region was a M8.2 shallow thrust fault event in the northern Papua province of Indonesia that killed 166 people in 1996. Large earthquakes in eastern Indonesia occur frequently but interplate megathrust events related to subduction are rare; this is likely due to the disconnection of the descending oceanic slab from the continental margin. There have been 9 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded from the Kai Islands to Sumba since 1900. The largest was the great Banda Sea earthquake of 1938 (M8.5) an intermediate depth thrust faulting event that did not cause significant loss of life. - USGS.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For December 15-17 - Tungurahua, Fuego, Lokon, Karangetang, Paluweh, Tobachik, Popocatépetl, Reventador, Sakurajima, Ambrym, and Nyiragongo!

December 17, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Explosion with pyroclastic flows down at 05:53 (local time) on 16 December. Source M. Yepez (IGEPN).
Following the first explosion on Friday, Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador has entered a new violent phase of activity. Numerous explosions have occurred with ash rising up to 8 km above the crater. So far small pyroclastic flows have descended the flanks and partly heavy ash fall has been affecting nearby areas. Combined with rainfall the fresh ash deposits have a dangerous potential to generate lahars in drainages surrounding the volcano.

Mild activity, mainly steam emission and probably occasional small ash explosions continue at nearby Reventador volcano.

Activity of Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico continues to be slightly elevated compared to a week ago, with now almost 3 gas and steam, sometimes ash emissions per hour. A steam plume rises about 1 km above the crater and glow can be seen at night.

Activity at Fuego volcano has remained relatively low with only very few weak explosions and the continuing small active lava flow on its upper flank.

Santiaguito produces viscous lava flows descending the lava dome, often producing incandescent rock falls.

The eruption of Plosky Tolbachik volcano in Kamchatka continues with increased intensity: vigorous lava emission and a strong tremor, that has almost doubled in value, were reported by KVERT.

WATCH: Fire, Lava and Smoke - Stunning video of erupting Russian volcano.

In Indonesia, another strong explosion occurred this morning at Lokon volcano in North Sulawesi. The eruption produced an ash plume about 3 km high and the loud sound of the explosion caused some panic in nearby villages.

To the north, Karangetang volcano on Api Siau island has had some explosive activity yesterday. An ash plume was detected at 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude on satellite images.

To the south in the Flores Sea, ash clouds from the still active new dome of Paluweh volcano continue to be detected on satellite images, but have been smaller than previously. Plumes were observed rising to 5,000 ft (1.5 km) altitude over the past days.

Large SO2 plumes are visible on the latest NOAA satellite images from Ambrym volcano on Vanuatu and Nyiragongo volcano in the DR Congo. No doubt, the lava lakes at both volcanoes remain quite active.

Sakurajima volcano in Japan has been having an average of 2-3 small to moderate explosions with ash reaching 5-8,000 ft (1.5-2.4 km) altitude over the past days. - Volcano Discovery.