Wednesday, January 23, 2013

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Melting Of The Andes Glaciers - Shrunk By 30-50% Since The 1970s, Will Probably Completely Disappear Within The Coming Decades?!

January 23, 2013 - SOUTH AMERICA - Glaciers in the tropical Andes have shrunk by 30-50% since the 1970s, according to a study.  The glaciers, which provide fresh water for tens of millions in South America, are retreating at their fastest rate in the past 300 years.  The study included data on about half of all Andean glaciers and blamed the melting on an average temperature rise of 0.7C from 1950-1994.

The tropical glaciers are melting at their fastest rate in 300 years.
Details appear in the academic journal Cryosphere.

The authors report that glaciers are retreating everywhere in the tropical Andes, but the melting is more pronounced for small glaciers at low altitudes.  Glaciers at altitudes below 5,400m have lost about 1.35m in ice thickness per year since the late 1970s, twice the rate of the larger, high-altitude glaciers.  "Because the maximum thickness of these small, low-altitude glaciers rarely exceeds 40 metres, with such an annual loss they will probably completely disappear within the coming decades," said lead author Antoine Rabatel, from the Laboratory for Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics in Grenoble, France.

Water shortages

The researchers also say there was little change in the amount of rainfall in the region over the last few decades and so could not account for changes in glacier retreat.  Without changes in rainfall, the region could face water shortages in the future, the scientists say.  The Santa River valley in Peru could be most affected; its hundreds of thousands of inhabitants rely heavily on glacier water for agriculture, domestic consumption, and hydropower.  Large cities, such as La Paz in Bolivia, could also face problems. "Glaciers provide about 15% of the La Paz water supply throughout the year, increasing to about 27% during the dry season," said co-author Alvaro Soruco from the Institute of Geological and Environmental Investigations in Bolivia.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has pointed to the importance of mountain glaciers as sensitive indicators of climate change.  Globally, glaciers have been retreating since the early 20th Century, with a few exceptions. Himalayan glaciers are relatively poorly studied and there are suggestions that some are actually putting on mass.  Some scientists say the Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia, which used to be the world's highest ski run, has already nearly disappeared. - BBC.

RED DAWN DOOMSDAY: China Plan To Establish Chinese Cities And Special Economic Zones All Over America; And Has Bought Up A Fleet Of Russian Bombers, Perfect For Taking On The US Navy!

January 23, 2013 - CHINA - What in the world is China up to?  Over the past several years, the Chinese government and large Chinese corporations (which are often at least partially owned by the government) have been systematically buying up businesses, homes, farmland, real estate, infrastructure and natural resources all over America.  In some cases, China appears to be attempting to purchase entire communities in one fell swoop.  So why is this happening?  Is this some form of “economic colonization” that is taking place? 

China Plan To Establish Chinese Cities And Special Economic Zones All Over America.
Some have speculated that China may be intending to establish “special economic zones” inside the United States modeled after the very successful Chinese city of Shenzhen.  Back in the 1970s, Shenzhen was just a very small fishing village, but now it is a sprawling metropolis of over 14 million people.  Initially, these “special economic zones” were only established within China, but now the Chinese government has been buying huge tracts of land in foreign countries such as Nigeria and establishing special economic zones in those nations.  So could such a thing actually happen in America?  Well, according to Dr. Jerome Corsi, a plan being pushed by the Chinese Central Bank would set up “development zones” in the United States that would allow China to “establish Chinese-owned businesses and bring in its citizens to the U.S. to work.”  Under the plan, some of the $1.17 trillion that the U.S. owes China would be converted from debt to “equity”.  As a result, “China would own U.S. businesses, U.S. infrastructure and U.S. high-value land, all with a U.S. government guarantee against loss.”  Does all of this sound far-fetched?  Well, it isn’t.  In fact, the economic colonization of America is already far more advanced than most Americans would dare to imagine.

So how in the world did we get to this point?  A few decades ago, the United States was the unchallenged economic powerhouse of the world and China was essentially a third world country. So what happened?
Well, we entered into a whole bunch of extremely unfavorable “free trade” agreements, and countries such as China began to aggressively use “free trade” as an economic weapon against us. Over the past decade, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses and millions of jobs to China.  When the final numbers for 2012 come out, our trade deficit with China for the year will be well over 300 billion dollars, and that will be the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the world. Overall, the U.S. has run a trade deficit with China over the past decade that comes to more than 2.3 trillion dollars.  That 2.3 trillion dollars could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers, and in turn taxes would have been paid on all of that money.  But instead, all of that money went to China. Rather than just sitting on all of that money, China has been lending much of it back to us – at interest.  We now owe China more than a trillion dollars, and our politicians are constantly pleading with China to lend more money to us so that we can finance our exploding debt. Today, the U.S. government pays China approximately 100 million dollars a day in interest on the debt that we owe them.  Those that say that the U.S. debt “does not matter” are being incredibly foolish. So thanks to our massive trade deficit and our exploding national debt, China is systematically getting wealthier and the United States is systematically getting poorer. And now China is starting to use a lot of that wealth to aggressively expand their power and influence around the globe.
But isn’t it more than a bit far-fetched to suggest that China may be planning to establish Chinese cities and special economic zones in America? - Investment Watch.

Click HERE for the full list of companies, equipments, military weapons and commodities that China has bought up recently.

China's Buying A Fleet Of Russian Bombers Perfect For Taking On The US Navy.
Chinese websites are again reporting that Russia has agreed to sell Beijing the production line for the Tupolev Tu-22M3 bomber at a cost of $1.5 billion. Once in service with the Chinese Naval Air Forces the Tu-22M3 will be known as the “H-10″. The deal struck with Russia includes 36 aircraft: a batch of 12 followed by a second batch of 24 additional bombers. The Tu-22 will be employed in the maritime attack role and used to attack targets from low levels to avoid radar detection.

Russian Tu-22M. Via The Aviationist.
The Tu-22 is a Soviet supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber. It was developed during the Cold War and is among the closest things to a modern stealth bomber. However, it will get updated with indigenous systems and an extended range making it a significant threat to many latest generations weapon systems. That's even more true if the deal with Russia includes the Raduga Kh-22 (AS-4 ‘Kitchen’) long-range anti-ship missile, in which case this could be a significant change in the strategic balance of the region. The Tu-22 bombers will give China another tool to pursue the area denial strategy in the South China Sea and the Pacific theatre; a fast platform to launch cruise missiles, conventional or nuclear weapons in various regional war scenarios. In other words, a brand new threat to the U.S. Navy in the region. - Business Insider.

THE AUSTRALIAN WEATHER ANOMALIES: Fire Chief And Premier Warn Victorians Of High Fire Danger As Western Australia Coast Feels Fury Of Cyclone Peta?!

January 23, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Victoria's fire chief has warned today's conditions could come close to those of Black Saturday as authorities brace for a repetition of last week's deadly outbreak.  Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said extreme temperatures and strong winds could force overnight evacuations for some communities as large fires continued to rage in the state's east.  "On Black Saturday it was what we'd now categorise as a Code Red day. So out of 10 you would say it's a six or a seven out of 10 compared to what was Black Saturday," he said.  He urged communities near Maffra and Heyfield to be aware of changing wind conditions as firefighters built containment lines around the mammoth Gippsland fire, 15km south of Licola.  Players from Gippsland Power Football Club were flown to safety after the blaze came within 100m of the team as they hiked on Mt Feathertop.

The high country fire threatens Mt Hotham. Picture: CFA.
Fire Chief And Premier Warn Victorians Of High Fire Danger.
Mr Lapsley said central and western Victoria were critical areas. A total fire ban had been declared for the state's southwest.  Calmer weather conditions last night helped firefighters bracing for today's extreme conditions.  Stable wind and easing temperatures across the Harrietville township allowed emergency services to make solid progress on control lines to the east of the blaze.  Harrietville Feathertop fire incident controller Tony Lovick said the chance to prep the control line would prove key before fire threats increased today and tomorrow. “Today we have experienced quieter fire behaviour particularly in areas which were burnt in 2003 and 2007,” Mr Lovick said.  “The key focus for us continues to be asset protection works and planning for Harrietville, Hotham Heights and Falls Creek.  “We are making use of control lines which were used in the 2003 and 2007 fires, with a team of dozers working to strengthen the lines.  “Aircraft, including the Skycrane from NSW, have been used successfully today on asset protection works near the origin of the fire, and for other high valued infrastructure including communications towers within the fire ground.”

More than 100 firefighters - flanked by five bulldozers and five aircrafts including water-bombing helicopters - were deployed to the fire zone yesterday, bolstering crews already on the ground.  Despite the smoother conditions, a Watch and Act message remains for the townships of Harrietville, Hotham Heights and Falls Creek, while an Advice message applies to the townships of Germantown, Freeburgh, Mount Beauty, Smoko, Tawonga, Tawonga South, Wandiligong, Bright and Dinner Plain.  Mr Lovick said no property damage had been reported, and that a flight over the fire ground yesterday confirmed that several historic huts in the surrounding area were yet to be impacted by the fire which has already roared through more than 900ha.  National Park is closed east of Harrietville, west of the Kiewa River West Branch, and to the north west of Mount Feathertop. Surrounding areas of State Forest are also closed. Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu said last week's conditions, which led to the destruction of homes and the death of Seaton grandfather Stan Hayhurst, would be mimicked today and tomorrow.  "We find ourselves today in almost exactly the same situation as we were last week. Thursday will be a hot day; tomorrow night will be a hot night," Mr Baillieu said.  More than 60,000ha has already been lost to the Gippsland fires, and Mr Lapsley urged Victorians to brace for more hardship.  "We've still got potentially the worst of the fire season to come." - Herald Sun.

WATCH: Dire Warning For Victoria.

Western Australia Coast Feels Fury Of Cyclone Peta.
West Australia's Pilbara Coast has felt the force of category one Tropical Cyclone Peta, which was expected to weaken late on Wednesday. The major export operations at Port Hedland were to resume on Wednesday after temporarily closing when Peta hit to the east of Point Samson.  Port Hedland Port Authority said conditions had improved, with the swell and wind reducing enough to allow shipping operations to restart from 4pm (WST).  The Bureau of Meteorology's alert just before 3pm (WST) said a cyclone warning continued in coastal areas from Port Hedland to Dampier, including Karratha.  Gales with gusts to 100km/h are expected close to the cyclone centre over the next few hours, the bureau said.  Squally thunderstorms are expected while locally heavy rainfall is possible, prompting a flood watch for the Pilbara.  Mining giant Rio Tinto closed its Cape Lambert facility at Port Walcott and Dampier port on Tuesday as it prepared for the wild weather and expects most of its coastal operations will resume on Thursday morning.  The resumption of ship loading will depend on prevailing sea conditions, however.  Although the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Peta could move back off the west Pilbara coast later in the week, it was not expected to redevelop into a tropical cyclone. - Herald Sun.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Magmatic Origin - Earthquake Swarm At The Bardabunga Volcano In Iceland!

January 23, 2013 - ICELAND - An earthquake swarm at depths between 2-10 km about 8 km NE of Bardabunga volcano under the Vatnajökull icecap has started.

Map of rencent quakes under Bardabunga volcano.
The swarm appears to contain relatively large quakes, including a magnitude 3.8 quake, which, if magmatic origin, could mean a shallow intrusion, that potentially could lead to an eruption. - Volcano Discovery.

Time and depth of rencent quakes under Bardabunga volcano.
Bardabunga is an Icelandic stratovolcano located under the ice cap of Vatnajökull glacier, rising to 2,009 metres (6,591 ft) above sea level, making it the second highest mountain in Iceland, just about 101 metres (331 ft) lower than Hvannadalshnjúkur.  Bardabunga is a large and powerful stratovolcano, it is also Iceland's largest volcanic system, considered to be close to 200 kilometres (120 mi) long and up to 25 kilometres (16 mi) wide.  The Bardabunga caldera is about 70 square kilometres, up to 10 kilometres (6 mi) wide and about 700 metres (2,300 ft) deep. The surrounding edges rise up to 1850 metres but the base is on average close to 1100 metres. The volcano is covered in ice, hiding the glacier-filled crater.  Bardabunga was a little known volcano in Iceland because of its remote location, far away from settlement, and infrequent eruptions. Bardabunga's highest point is 2,009 metres (6,591 ft) high and is the second highest mountain in Iceland.  Many tephra layers originally thought to belong to other volcanoes have in the recent studies proved to be from Bardabunga. The Gjálp fissure eruption in 1996 revealed that an interaction may exist between Bardabunga and Grímsvötn. A strong earthquake in Bardabunga, about 5 on the Richter scale, is believed to have started the eruption in Gjálp.  Sustained seismic activity has been occurring in Bardabunga for some years without an eruption, thus the volcano is still active.  There is frequent volcanic activity outside the glacier to the southwest in the highlands between Vatnajökull and Mýrdalsjökull, also to the northeast toward Dyngjufjöll. - Wikipedia.

SOLAR WATCH: Filament Liftoff & Large Prominence On The Eastern Quadrant Of The Sun!

January 23, 2013 - THE SUN - According to Space Weather, none of the current sunspots are actively flaring and solar activity is expected to be low. However, a filament liftoff and eruption was seen on the eastern side of the stellar object.

SLIM CHANCE OF FLARES: NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% chance of M-class solar flares and a mere 1% chance of X-flares today. The probable source would be sunspot AR1660, which is almost directly facing Earth.

SOUTHERN CORONAL HOLE: A hole in the sun's atmosphere--a "coronal hole"--has opened up in the sun's southern hemisphere, and it is spewing a stream of solar wind into space. Extreme UV cameras onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the dark gap during the early hours of Jan. 23rd:

Coronal holes are places in the sun's atmosphere where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. A stream of solar wind flowing from this particular coronal hole should reach Earth's orbit on Jan. 26-27. Whether it will actually hit our planet is unknown. Because of the coronal hole's high southern latitude, the solar wind it emits might miss our planet, sailing high over our own South Pole. High-latitude sky watchers should nevertheless remain alert for auroras. - Space Weather.

NORTHEAST QUANDRANT FILAMENT ERUPTION: Below is a great new video by SDO showing a filament channel eruption in the northeast quadrant that took place on Wednesday morning. Keep an eye on the center of the screen where a plasma filled filament becomes unstable and then proceeds to liftoff, resulting in an eruption. A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is now visible in the latest STEREO Ahead COR2 imagery. - Solar Ham.

WATCH: Filament Liftoff and Eruption - January 23, 2013.

LARGE PROMINENCE ERUPTION: Another day, another large prominence eruption. A big prominence that was located off the southern limb, lifted off very early on Wednesday morning. A blob of plasma was hurled into Space, however it was directed to the south and away from Earth. Images from SDO/AIA and Lasco C2. - Solar Ham.

WATCH: Eruption - January 22, 2013.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Seismic Swarm Increases The Likelihood Of New Eruptions At The Copahue Volcano In Chile!

January 23, 2013 - CHILE/ARGENTINA - Seismic activity increased significantly during 22 Jan, SERNAGEEOMIN reported in two special bulletins. No eruptive activity at the surface has occurred so far, and the official alert level of the volcano remains at "Yellow", but with "Special Attention" (corresponding to "orange" in our classification).

A woman takes a picture with her mobile phone of the Copahue volcano spewing ash on Dec. 22, in
Caviahue, Neuquen province, Argentina. Antonio Huglich / AFP - Getty Images.
Until 09:56 local time (12:56 GMT) on 22 Jan, seismic activity had remained at low levels, both in occurrence of earthquakes, the energy released and the signal intensity of tremor associated with fluid movements inside the volcano.

Then, at that time, there was a significant long-period (LP) earthquake and 3 hours later, shallow lower amplitude events started to occur.  At 13:20 local time, another LP earthquake of relatively strong intensity occurred and was followed by a seismic swarm with mostly long period events that continued for 20 minutes.

No surface changes, no glow, and no thermal hot spot on MODIS data accompany this process for the time being, but there is an elevated possibility of new eruptions, expected to be of small phreatic size and similar to the ones in the past months. Monitoring of the volcano will be increased, Sernageomin announced. - Volcano Discovery.

EXTREME WEATHER: Jamaica's Seasonal Dry Spell Turns Into Exceptional Drought - Government Approves $3 BILLION Package To Fight Drought Conditions!

January 23, 2013 - JAMAICA - Water, Land and Climate Change Minister Robert 'Bobby' Pickersgill yesterday warned that Jamaicans will have to brace for severe drought conditions in the coming months. In a statement to the House of Representatives, Minister Pickersgill said recent showers, though welcome, did not constitute a breaking of the drought.

"We are now experiencing a meteorological drought in a number of parishes, which is currently impacting on our access to this precious resource, and will continue to do so in the very near future," the climate change minister said. He said the water ministry, in the face of the current situation, could not "fail to carry out the drought mitigation measures being put in place". The minister said already the drought has affected the water supplies of both the parish councils and the National Water Commission (NWC), with areas most affected being those in western Jamaica and small systems in rural parts of the country. Yesterday, Pickersgill said assessments conducted between October and December last year in the parishes of Hanover, Clarendon, St Mary, and St Thomas showed that they were all experiencing drought conditions.

"The outlook for January through to March is a worsening situation, with normal to below normal activity with a greater likelihood for below normal rainfall. Realisation of this prediction will only exacerbate the existing drought conditions," Pickersgill said. In the meantime, Minister Pickersgill said the National Water Commission was embarking on a major programme to replace or rehabilitate a number of its 445 tanks islandwide to restore them at a cost of $3 billion. He said, too, that over the next three months $100 million will be spent on bushing, inspection, assessment and minor repairs on these facilities. An additional $1 million will be spent for emergency works on tanks in areas affected by the drought. The minister said it will cost the Administration some $7 million to repair 70 wayside tanks which had formed a part of the now defunct Rapid Response Unit. "We realise that given the current drought conditions these tanks need to be rehabilitated and put back into service, and my ministry will be moving expeditiously to undertake the necessary repairs," Pickersgill told Parliament. He said although the major storage facilities serving Kingston (the Mona Reservoir and the Hermitage Dam) were presently at near 100 per cent capacity, storage levels were expected to decline during a prolonged dry season. "It is therefore imperative that the public conserve on its use of water over the next three to four months until the other expected period of precipitation in May," said Pickersgill. - Jamaica Observer.

WATCH: Severe drought conditions in Jamaica.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Widespread Heatwave - Australia Set A New Record For The Highest Temperature Across The Nation In January!

January 23, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - January 2013 brought record-setting heat to Australia; not just for days, but for weeks. Temperatures regularly eclipsed 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in multiple locations across the continent. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Australia set a new record for the highest temperature averaged across the entire nation: 40.33°C (104.59°F) on January 7. The national average reached 40.11°C (104.20°F) the following day. The overnight minimum temperature for January 7–8 also set new a record—32.36°C (90.25°F)—contributing to the hottest two-day period in Australia’s recorded history.

Acquired January 1 - 8, 2013. NASA Earth Observatory.
Each of the first eight days of 2013 were among the 20 hottest days on record. The scorching weather continued a trend of four consecutive months (September to December 2012) where temperatures were the highest on record. The persistent heat mirrors a similar pattern that developed in the continental United States in 2012. The map above shows land surface temperature (LST) anomalies for Australia from January 1–8, 2013. LST anomalies are not absolute temperatures; instead, they show how much temperatures were above or below the average. The darkest reds show areas that were as much as 15°C (27°F) above the norm; blues show areas that were below normal; and grays depicts areas with incomplete data (often due to cloud cover). The map was built from data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite, and the 2013 data is compared to the average for the same week as observed from 2005–2012.

Observed by satellites uniformly across the entire globe, land surface temperatures are a measure of the amount of infrared energy (thermal radiance) emitted by Earth’s surface as it is heated by daylight and cooled in the dark of night. LSTs are sometimes referred to as land “skin” temperatures, and indeed they are a reflection of how hot a surface would feel to the touch. Five scientists from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology wrote an analysis of the heatwave for The Conversation:
“Australia has always experienced heat waves, and they are a normal part of most summers. However, the current event affecting much of inland Australia has definitely not been typical. The most significant thing about the recent heat has been its coverage across the continent, and its persistence. It is very unusual to have such widespread extreme temperatures—and have them persist for so long. On those two metrics alone, spatial extent and duration, the last two weeks surpasses the only previous analogue in the historical record (since 1910)—a two-week country-wide hot spell during the summer of 1972-1973.”
During a January 2013 meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Hobart, Tasmania, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri noted that the heatwave fit the patterns of global warming: “If you look at the trend then I think that's pretty unmistakeable,” Pachauri said, “and any proper analysis would tell you that we are heading in that direction.” - NASA Earth Observatory.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - 11 New Bubble Sites Found Southwest Of Sinkhole, As Seismic Activity Increases!

January 23, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Eleven new bubble sites have been found in inundated swampland west of an 8.5-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish, including a frothing spot dubbed the “mother of all bubble sites,” officials said Tuesday.  The sites are roughly in a row west of an unnamed oilfield access road extending south from La. 70 South through the wooded swamp, a parish map shows.  The sites bring to 34 the number of known bubble sites in the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou areas in the vicinity of the sinkhole on Texas Brine Co. LLC’s leased property. 

This screen shot of an Assumption Parish Police Jury video taken Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, shows a bubble site west of an 8.5-acre sinkhole between Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou. The frothing bubble site, one of 11 newly discovered in inundated swampland, has been dubbed the "mother of all bubble sites." The site is suspected to be over an old well that is providing a conduit for gas trapped under the Bayou Corne area. The video was made public Tuesday.
11 New Bubble Site Found Southwest Of Sinkhole.
Scientists think the Houston-based company’s salt cavern in the Napoleonville Dome failed deep underground, causing the sinkhole and unleashing oil and natural gas from formations along the salt dome face. That free gas is thought to be surfacing through many bubble sites and the sinkhole.  Parish officials added Tuesday that the discovery has led to speculation that the row of bubbles marks the edge of a suspected subsidence zone around the outer rim of the sinkhole and also prompted officials to shift the location of a 1,000-foot-deep well that Texas Brine had been directed to drill at the end of the access road.  The well will be moved to the front of the road, officials said.  John Boudreaux, director of the parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Inc. recommended the change to avoid the possibility that the well, which will be used to collect seismic data, would be compromised in the future.  “They don’t want to make that critical mistake,” he said.  Shaw is the agent for the Louisiana Office of Conservation, which regulates salt caverns and is leading the response to the sinkhole and its side effects. Conservation Commissioner Jim Welsh ordered the well to be drilled as part of an agreement with Texas Brine earlier this month that ended the company’s lawsuit over response plans.  Boudreaux said Tuesday a representative of the landowner found the bubble sites late last week while checking the property from an airboat. He said the representative gave the frothing site the “mother of all bubble sites” moniker.  Boudreaux said the site was given the name, not for its size, but the intensity of its bubbling.  What is coming out of the new sites has not been determined yet, but Boudreaux said it can be assumed venting natural gas is causing the bubbles to emerge.

Boudreaux said Shaw and a contractor for Texas Brine collected samples from the frothing site Tuesday morning. Parish officials collected samples from another sizeable site on Sunday, Boudreaux said.  He said the other nine new bubbling sites are smaller and less intense than the other two.  The samples will undergo isotopic tests to identify the sites’ source and other tests that will show what kinds of gas are being released, such as methane or butane.  Boudreaux said the frothing site, which is about 1,100 feet west of the sinkhole, is in an area regularly covered with water, although the water depth has increased recently to about 5 feet.  He said officials said that the most-active of the bubbling sites is suspected to be arising from an old, submerged well that is serving as a conduit for the suspected gas venting. Boudreaux said soundings taken Tuesday in the bubble site hit cement.  Some bubble sites in the area preceded the formation of the sinkhole by several months but more have been discovered over time.  The first bubble sites were found in bayous in the area, under which, geologists have said, are sands that allowed for the quick transport of the “free” gas believed let loose under the Bayou Corne area.  A few bubbling sites have been found on land, sometimes when floodwaters cover previously dry ground.  Sites closest to the sinkhole have been determined to originate from this underground “formation” gas.  Sites farthest from the sinkhole have been determined to be releasing so-called “swamp gas,” which results from the decay of organic matter. Still other sites have been shown to be producing a blend of both kinds of gas. - The Advocate.

Seismic Activity Increase Near Louisiana Sinkhole.
Assumption Parish officials say scientists have noticed a recent increase in seismic activity near the huge sinkhole at Bayou Corne, La., and worry that it might grow again.  Parish emergency preparedness director John Boudreaux tells The Advocate that the increase was first noticed about two weeks ago.  He says scientists noticed more than 80 such events on Friday, but activity dropped after the sinkhole “burped” crude oil, debris and hydrocarbon to the surface on Saturday morning.  Boudreaux says officials worry that something may be shifting in salt deposits just east of the failed Texas Brine cavern that scientists believe caused the sinkhole.  Company spokesman Sonny Cranch tells The Associated Press that company officials don’t know of any seismic activity since Saturday. - Claims Journal.

DELUGE: Tropical Cyclone Oswald Dumps Tons Of Rain On Queensland - Widespread Flooding, Uprooted Trees, Power Outages!

January 23, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Flooding has cut roads and forced the closure of the train line between Townsville and Cairns after torrential rain across north Queensland.  Hundreds of millimetres of rain has fallen as a result of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald and central Queensland communities are now preparing for flooding as the system moves south.  The ex-cyclone is now about 85 kilometres west of Cape Tribulation and is moving slowly south, bringing damaging winds and heavy rain.  Senior Forecaster Ken Nato warns the big rain is heading south of Townsville. 

Authorities are warning north Queensland residents of potential flooding after heavy rains from a former cyclone continue to fall.  Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) says the downpours are expected to continue for
several days as far south as Rockhampton.
"Today and tomorrow we are expecting towns like Bowen and Townsville which is already starting to see some of the weather, down to Mackay and even down to St Lawrence by tomorrow," he said.  Queensland Rail (QR) has been forced to close the Townsville to Cairns rail line because of water over the tracks at a number of places, including Tully, Bilyana, Aloomba, and Deeral.  Crews will assess damage when flooding subsides.  A QR spokeswoman says passengers will have to wait in the cities because they cannot arrange alternative transport due to road closures.  About 130 millimetres of rain has been dumped on Ingham, north of Townsville, in the past three hours.  Residents there are being urged to stock up on supplies as the Herbert River continues to rise and is expected to peak at 11 metres later today.  Tully has recorded more than 600 millimetres of rain in 48 hours, and almost 200mm has been recorded at Mission Beach and near Cairns.  Further north, Weipa has recorded 300 millimetres of rain since 9:00am (AEST) yesterday. 

Senior forecaster David Grant says more heavy falls are likely and warnings are in place.  "There'll be intense rainfall around in the vicinity of the ex-tropical cyclone, however, in the general area right across north Queensland in association with the monsoon trough we will see some heavy rainfall right across the region," he said.  "As a result we do have a severe weather warning for heavy rainfall and flash flooding."  Road cuts  The Bruce Highway at Seymour River is closed due to flooding and Townsville and Cairns residents have been warned to reconsider travel between the cities.  Police are warning drivers to avoid travelling through Tully until further notice.  The Bruce Highway has been closed at the Dean Road and Banyan Creek crossing, East Feluga Road at Mission Beach and the Mission Beach Road at Banyan Creek.  In the Innisfail area, there is about a metre of water over the road at the Wangan road works and the intersection of Henderson Drive and South Johnstone Road.  The weather bureau says the system is moving south and possibly out to the Coral Sea.  Severe weather conditions are also expected to affect the Mackay region today.  A flood warning has been issued for rivers and streams between Cooktown and Mackay, and wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres an hour are likely.  Forecaster Janine Yuasa says parts of the Central Highlands and Coalfields will also experience wet and windy conditions.  "It's going to be mostly north of Moranbah today and probably much of tomorrow as well, but that will eventually spread south to maybe about Emerald on Friday, Saturday," she said. "And they can expect some moderate to heavy falls in there as well." - Yahoo Australia.

WATCH: Oswald rain swamps Queensland tropics.