Thursday, March 21, 2013

CONTAGION: Plagues & Pestilences - Experts Sound Global Alert Over Deadly Bat Virus!

March 21, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Experts on infectious diseases Thursday warned people to stay away from bats worldwide after the recent death of an eight-year-old boy bitten in Australia.

The boy last month became the third person in the country to die of Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV), for which there is no effective treatment.

Doctors Joshua Francis and Clare Nourse of Brisbane's Mater Children's Hospital warned an infectious diseases conference that human-to-human transmission of the virus may be possible.

A grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), a native Australian bat, stretches its leathery wings as it flies high over Sydney's Botanical Gardens on 17 August 2005. Experts on infectious diseases Thursday warned people to stay away from bats worldwide after the recent death of an eight-year-old boy bitten in Australia.

Francis said the boy was bitten during a family holiday to Queensland in December 2012, but did not tell his parents.

Three weeks later he began to suffer convulsions, abdominal pain and fever, followed by progressive brain problems.

Doctors frantically tried to establish what was wrong and on day 10 of his admission the lyssavirus was detected.

He fell into a coma and died on February 22.

Francis told the Canberra conference the warning to avoid bats around the world was issued not just because of the danger posed by the animals themselves, but due to the risk, however remote, that the virus could be spread between humans.

"Human to human transmission of lyssaviruses has not been well documented, but it is theoretically possible," he said.

International guidelines recommend post-exposure prophylaxis for anyone who has been exposed to the saliva or neural tissue of an infected person through broken skin or mucous membrane contact.

"ABLV has proved fatal in all cases reported to date. There is a need for increased public awareness of the risk associated with bat contact," Francis said. "In short, people should stay away from bats."

ABLV was first identified in Australian bats and flying foxes and is common in both, though human infection is extremely rare.

Two adult cases were confirmed in 1996 and 1998. One was a woman bitten by a flying fox after wrestling it off a child, the other a carer who looked after the animals.

Other lyssavirus strains circulate in bats in the United States and Europe and the experts said their warning applies to wherever bat or flying fox populations exist. - France24.

WATCH: "Contagion" Trailer - "Contagion" follows the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days. As the fast-moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself. At the same time, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Sinkhole In Louisiana Baffles Officials - "Strange Things Happening"; "Doors Pop Open By Themselves"; "You Can Hear The Cracking"?! UPDATE: Sheriff Ackal Says Lake Peigneur Could Be Worse Than Assumption Sinkhole?!

March 21, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Louisiana officials are grappling with a giant sinkhole that's threatening a neighborhood. A salt mine collapsed last year, creating a series of problems regulators say they've never seen before, including tremors and oil and gas leaks and a sinkhole that now covers 9 acres.  Residents have been evacuated for more than seven months now and are losing patience.  Ernie Boudreaux lives in a trailer on Jambalaya Street in Bayou Corne, La. Strange things have been happening to his home, he says.  "It cracks. You can hear it. The doors pop open by themselves," Boudreaux says.  The front porch is separating from the trailer and sometimes he smells oil — all problems that started after the sinkhole opened less than a half mile from his house. His neighborhood is under a mandatory evacuation, but Boudreaux comes back a few days a week to care for his dog, Diesel.  Houston-based Texas Brine has been mining salt near the Bayou Corne community for more than 40 years. The company is now paying evacuated residents $875 a week to cover temporary housing costs. But Boudreaux, a welder, says he can't find a rental that takes pets the size of Diesel, so he stays with his sister some and then comes home. He wants a more permanent solution.  "That $875 a week is hush-hush money — keep everybody quiet and just let it settle down. I say, I'm not letting this settle down. You talking about land, home that we can't come back to," Boudreaux says. "And if you do, it ain't worth nothing."

After the collapse of a salt mine in south Louisiana last year, a 9-acre sinkhole has flooded the area. It also caused gas and oil leaks, and local residents are fed up.

'Just Like An Experiment' 
From Boudreaux's backyard you can see the entrance to Texas Brine. The firm operates several salt wells here in Assumption Parish, injecting water into an underground salt dome to leach out brine. The sodium chloride is used by the nearby petrochemical industries that line the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. "This is the sinkhole," says Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch. He looks out over what appears to be a lake surrounded by swampland and a fresh earthen levee. It was all swamp before Aug. 3, the morning workers discovered the sinkhole.  One day the area was swamp, he says, and the next "there's nothing, except debris, floating vegetative matter, and as it turned out, there was some liquid hydrocarbon that had risen to the surface."  That was crude oil and natural gas bubbling up from below ground. It was a mystery at first, but now authorities say an abandoned salt cavern collapsed, shifting the rock and salt formations deep below, causing the sinkhole above and unleashing hydrocarbons into the groundwater aquifer up to two miles from the site.  The sinkhole is still growing. Monitoring reveals continuing shifting underground and a possible problem at a second cavern. In Seffner, Fla., on Sunday, demolition crews and firefighters watched as a crane operator worked to bring down the home where a man was sucked into a sinkhole last week.

The Two-Way At Florida Sinkhole, Demolition Continues  The state has ordered Texas Brine to drill 30 of these natural gas wells around Bayou Corne.  Patrick Courreges with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources says the escaping methane poses a danger. "Want to get that out so that you don't have the risk of homes with enclosed spaces having a concentration of gas buildup that could be flammable or explosive," Courreges says. Courreges says Texas Brine had plugged and abandoned this salt mine in 2010 after integrity problems. And state rules at the time did not require any continued monitoring. Now scientists have discovered that the side wall of the salt cavern collapsed, causing tremors, the sinkhole and oil and gas leaks. Courreges says they've yet to find a road map for dealing with this unique set of problems.  "When we started looking around [asking] who else has this happened to, and the answer came — and we're still looking — is nobody," he says.  That makes it hard to predict what will happen next.  "It's just like an experiment," says Wilma Subra, a technical adviser to the Louisiana Environmental Action Network. "But the issue is, it is continuing to degrade. So as long as it's degrading, you can't say we've reached the end of degradation and now we can figure out how to remedy."

Buyouts At Bayou Corne 
Bayou Corne resident Nick Romero is losing his patience.  "I didn't do anything. I didn't cause this," Romero says.  In his front yard, Romero watches gas bubbles seep up slowly through the cypress-studded swamp. "I'm being driven from the thing that I love the most," he says.  He's a retired postal worker and his wife, Brenda, is a nature artist. They've been here more than 20 years.  "The damage is done," Brenda says. "Our property is worth zero."  Nick Romero says after seven months, nothing is getting better. He wants Texas Brine to ante up.  "Man has played around and stuck his hands where he shouldn't have and mother nature says It's time for y'all to leave," he says. "They're responsible for causing it, so it's time for them to pay up."  Cranch of Texas Brine says the company will work with individual families to reach a fair settlement. "We want resolution of this. We really, truly appreciate the emotional stress this has caused for so many of these people in the Bayou Corne area," Cranch says.  Some residents have sued Texas Brine. And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is demanding damages for all of the 350 residents near the sinkhole. He also says the company owes the state more than $8 million for its response to the crisis.  "They're the ones that are the responsible party. They caused this damage, and certainly we'll be aggressive in making sure that they pay their bills — whether it's to the state, local government or the folks they buy out," Jindal said.  Back on Jambalaya Street, Boudreaux wants the buyout but isn't sure where he'll to go from Bayou Corne.  "We born and raised here. Ain't like I'm going to say I'm moving to Baton Rouge because I'm not a city person," he says. "I'm born in the swamp and bayous. They ain't got a bayou I'm outta place. I can't go to no city. But where you gonna go? That's the thing." - NPR.

Sheriff Ackal Says Lake Peigneur Could Be Worse Than Assumption Sinkhole.
"If we have a collapse there, it would be a hell of a catastrophe and it worries me, it has worried me for many years. Seeing it first hand, I know what could happen," said Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal.  He vividly remembers the Jefferson Island Salt Mine Collapse in 1980 and is now asking Governor Bobby Jindal to stop AGL Resources from expanding its natural gas storage caverns at Lake Peigneur.  So far, Governor Jindal hasn't responded to the sheriff's letter. Ackal says the sinkhole in Assumption Parish would be a mud puddle compared to what he thinks could happen at the Lake.  November 20, 1980 is a day Sheriff Louis Ackal will never forget. He was Captain of Louisiana State Police Troop-I when a miscalculation sent an oil rig's drill directly into the salt mine instead of under the lake, collapsing the Jefferson Salt Mine.  "There was just swirls of mud, giant oak trees were being sucked down like a hand pulling them into the mud," said Ackal. 

He believes the salt domes under Lake Peigneur that AGL Resources wants to expand are fragile. He wants more testing and studies.  "I'm not a scientist, I'm not an environmental wacko, I'm a sheriff who is concerned about the people and the homes around there."  Ackal is urging Governor Bobby Jindal to intervene. He wants proof the dome is safe, and wants answers to why bubbling happens sporadically.  "Whatever monies it is paying the State of Louisiana to use that dome is not worth a damn penny of it if it's going to endanger the lives and property of the people that live out there," said Ackal.  The sheriff hopes the governor or legislature will step in and condemn the mine and any expansion of it.  About two weeks ago, the Department of Natural Resources approved one of the permits AGL needs to dredge and lay pipe, but it comes with a stipulation. AGL first needs a permit to expand and create more caverns. So, right now the project is at a standstill.  AGL remains committed to this expansion of what they call a safe project that has been in operation for more than 15 years. - KATC.

WATCH: Sheriff Ackal says Lake Peigneur Could be Worse than Assumption Sinkhole.

AGE OF OBAMA: The End Of The United States Corporation - Arizona Could Soon Approve Gold, Silver As Legal Tender; Texas May Start To Hoard Gold; Department Of Defense Says Sequester Will Cut Military Spending In Every State; Workers Lose Jobs As Pink Slips Go Out Due To Sequestration; One In Three U.S. Counties Is Dying Off As Aging Populations And Weak Local Economies Drive Away Young People; Detroit Emergency Manager Warns Against Bankruptcy!

March 21, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Arizona could soon become the second U.S. state to recognize gold and silver as legal tender if the Arizona House approves SB 1439. The bill has already won the approval of Arizona’s State Senate and the Arizona House Financial Institutions Committee which voted the legislation out of committee on a 4-2 vote Monday. The measure now goes to a vote of the Arizona House.

Arizona Could Soon Approve Gold, Silver As Legal Tender.
Thus far, only the State of Utah has officially recognized gold and silver as legal tender, (See: Gold, silver coins now officially legal tender in Utah) although the issue has been under consideration this year in four states including Arizona. The Arizona bill defines legal tender as a mode of paying debts and taxes. The measure also states that any coin or bullion that has gold or silver content and is issued by the United States Government can be defined as legal tender. However, no one can be compelled to accept coin or bullion containing gold or silver. The measure would also mandate that coin or bullion containing gold or silver issued by the U.S. Government cannot be taxed as property since it is to be considered money.

 If the Arizona Legislature enacts SC 1439 and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signs the measure into law, gold and silver would go into effect as legal tender in the state in 2014.  However, House Joint Resolution No. 590 --which would have established a joint subcommittee to study whether the Commonwealth of Virginia should adopt a rule recognizing gold or silver billion or gold or silver coin authorized by the U.S. Government as legal currency—died in the Virginia General Assembly’s State Senate last month.  In January the South Dakota Legislature rejected House Bill 1100 which would have made U.S. Government-minted gold and silver coins legal tender that could be used to pay state taxes at their market value.  Meanwhile, Senate Bill 99, Indiana’s version of recognizing U.S.-issued gold and silver coins as legal tender, appears to be buried in the Indiana State Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy. - Mineweb.

Meanwhile, James G. Rickards, author of "Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis" and renowned American lawyer, economist and investment banker, discusses plans for a Texas Depository run by Texas that holds gold and will protect it from Federal confiscation under the 10th Amendment.

WATCH: Why Texas May Start to Hoard Gold.

Department Of Defense Says Sequester Will Cut Military Spending In Every State.
Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brow.
Department of Defense officials told state lieutenant governors Thursday to plan for possible base closures and cutbacks in civilian work forces as sequestration budget cuts begin affecting every state. Frank DiGiovanni, the Defense Department training readiness and strategy director, told National Lieutenant Governors Association attendees that states need strategies to brace for military spending cuts, including base personnel and contractors. Military cuts also will affect spending by civilian and uniformed personnel at businesses near military bases in every state, no matter how big the military industry, he said.

“There is a lot to be done coordinating at the state level," DiGiovanni told the lieutenant governors. He cited Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) for assembling a group that helped prepare for potential military base cuts in the past, and for having a plan to lobby federal officials to protect military installations in his state. DiGiovanni told the lieutenant governors they also should prepare for overseas military cuts, which will shift more activity to U.S. installations. With 200,000 military personnel returning from full time duty overseas, there will be more training at bases, he said. Those personel will contribute to the local economy, but they may spark increased complaints from base neighbors about noise and traffic.

At the same time, DiGiovanni did note that there has been a greater culture of the different military services working together with the budget cuts, including at bases around the country. He said that state leaders can continue to see that going forward. “Sequestration and this whole fiscal environment is going to require the services to work together to accomplish the mission," he said. "The resources they’ve had won’t be there anymore.”

Kansas is a role model in protecting the military economy, said Patrick O'Brien, director of the Defense Department Office of Economic Adjustment,. O'Brien said lieutenant governors in the past have headed state planning groups to study the impact of military bases and industries on the state economy and how to have state government serve their needs. The lieutenant governors association has long advocated the flexible nature of state lieutenant governors' offices as a way for the officials to be involved in a variety of areas of policy, including those impacting the military and economic development. - Huffington Post.

U.S. Workers Lose Jobs As Pink Slips Go Out Due To Sequestration.
As Republican politicians insist that the Obama administration has "exaggerated" the effects of sequestration, people around the country are beginning to see for themselves what the results of the $85 billion in budget cuts are: They're losing their jobs.

WATCH: Obama Warns Sequester Will Cause Job Losses.

Thousands of federal employees are facing unpaid time off as agencies determine that they will have to furlough workers to absorb the cuts. But other workers -- including some in the private sector -- are losing their jobs altogether, underscoring just how much daily life for many people is tied to a functioning government. Some examples:
  • On Monday, 250 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state received pink slips, while another 2,500 others found out they're facing furloughs. Approximately 9,000 people work at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site, and the Associated Press reports that "cleanup is likely to be slowed" because of the budget cuts.
  • Continental Maritime, a contractor that repairs U.S. Navy ships, expects to lay off 185 employees, effective April 12. Other contractors have issued conditional layoff notices -- meaning that jobs are safe if Congress restores some funding to the Defense Department -- to thousands of employees.
  • Four-hundred eighteen contract workers tied to the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania are losing their jobs due to sequestration. Two-hundred sixteen people will be dismissed on April 15 and 107 on April 30, the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., reports. The paper noted that the Tobyhanna Army Depot is losing 35 percent -- $309 million -- of its government funding through the end of the fiscal year, and that more than 5,100 of the people who work there are being forced to take 22 furlough days.
  • At least eight municipal employees in Monterey County, Calif., are losing their jobs as a result of a decrease in the number of military contracts.
  • In early March, 23 people who work with the parks and recreation and maintenance departments in Tooele County, Utah, were laid off in order to grapple with the federal budget cuts. "I have four kids. This is my livelihood,” said Scott Chance, a 12-year employee. "It pays my health insurance. It gives me my house."
  • Engineering Services Network is an engineering and technology company and one of the top Latino-owned companies in Virginia. President and CEO Raymond Lopez Jr. told NBC Latino that he has "lost about 20 employees through sequestration."
  • The Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, announced in February that it was cutting 414 jobs -- about 10 percent of its workforce. "I don't know how we're going to make it," Raymond Wyrick, whose last day was scheduled to be March 9, told CNN Money.
While people around the country deal with these furloughs, job losses and a reduction in government services like unemployment benefits and funding for domestic violence prevention, much of the debate in Washington continues to center around the fact that the White House is no longer offering tours and the Easter Egg Roll could be called off.

Congress is now working on a continuing resolution to keep the government running when the current funding runs out on March 27. It's expected to keep in place the $85 billion in sequestration cuts -- meaning workers may still face furloughs -- although federal agencies will likely get more flexibility in how to absorb those cuts. - Huffington Post.

One In Three U.S. Counties Is Dying Off As Aging Populations And Weak Local Economies Drive Away Young People.
A record number of U.S. counties - more than 1 in 3 - are now dying off, hit by an aging population and weakened local economies that are spurring young adults to seek jobs and build families elsewhere.  New 2012 census estimates released Thursday highlight the population shifts as the U.S. encounters its most sluggish growth levels since the Great Depression.  The findings also reflect the increasing economic importance of foreign-born residents as the U.S. ponders an overhaul of a major 1965 federal immigration law. Without new immigrants, many metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and St. Louis would have posted flat or negative population growth in the last year.
Dying off: A record number of U.S. counties are now dying
off, hit by an aging population and weakened local economies.

'Immigrants are innovators, entrepreneurs, they're making things happen. They create jobs,' said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, at an immigration conference in his state last week. Saying Michigan should be a top destination for legal immigrants to come and boost Detroit and other struggling areas, Snyder made a special appeal: 'Please come here.'  The growing attention on immigrants is coming mostly from areas of the Midwest and Northeast, which are seeing many of their residents leave after years of staying put during the downturn. With a slowly improving U.S. economy, young adults are now back on the move, departing traditional big cities to test the job market mostly in the South and West, which had sustained the biggest hits in the housing bust.  Census data show that 1,135 of the nation's 3,143 counties are now experiencing 'natural decrease,' where deaths exceed births. That's up from roughly 880 U.S. counties, or 1 in 4, in 2009. Already apparent in Japan and many European nations, natural decrease is now increasingly evident in large swaths of the U.S., much of it rural.

Moving out: A vacant, boarded up house is seen in Detroit's once thriving
Brush Park neighborhood. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is trying to attract
immigrants to the state to boost population.
Despite increasing deaths, the U.S. population as a whole continues to grow, boosted by immigration from abroad and relatively higher births among the mostly younger migrants from Mexico, Latin America and Asia.  'These counties are in a pretty steep downward spiral,' said Kenneth Johnson, a senior demographer and sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire, who researched the findings. 'The young people leave and the older adults stay in place and age. Unless something dramatic changes — for instance, new development such as a meatpacking plant to attract young Hispanics — these areas are likely to have more and more natural decrease.'  The areas of natural decrease stretch from industrial areas near Pittsburgh and Cleveland to the vineyards outside San Francisco to the rural areas of east Texas and the Great Plains. A common theme is a waning local economy, such as farming, mining or industrial areas of the Rust Belt. They also include some retirement communities in Florida, although many are cushioned by a steady flow of new retirees each year. 

In the last year, Maine joined West Virginia as the only two entire states where deaths exceed births, which have dropped precipitously after the recent recession. As a nation, the U.S. population grew by just 0.75 percent last year, stuck at historically low levels not seen since 1937.   Johnson said the number of dying counties is rising not only because of fewer births but also increasing mortality as 70 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 move into their older years. 'I expect natural decrease to remain high in the future,' he said.   Among the 20 fastest-growing large metropolitan areas last year, 16 grew faster than in 2011 and most of them are located in previously growing parts of the Sun Belt or Mountain West. Among the slowest-growing or declining metropolitan areas, most are now doing worse than in 2011 and they are all located in the Northeast and Midwest.   New York ranks at the top in new immigrants among large metro areas, but also ranks at the top for young residents moving away.   In contrast, the Texas metropolitan areas of Dallas, Houston and Austin continued to be big draws for young adults, ranking first, second and fourth among large metro areas in domestic migration due to diversified economies that include oil and gas production. Phoenix, Las Vegas and Orlando also saw gains. By region, growth in the Northeast slowed last year to 0.3 percent, the lowest since 2007; in the Midwest, growth dipped to 0.25 percent, the lowest in at least a decade. In the South and West, growth rates ticked up to 1.1 percent and 1.04 percent, respectively.   'The brakes that were put on migration during the Great Recession appear to be easing up,' said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who analyzed the migration data. 'Native migrants are becoming more 'footloose' — following the geographic ups and downs of the labor market — than are immigrants, who have tended to locate in established ethnic communities in big cities.'   'Immigration levels are not where they were a decade ago, but their recent uptick demonstrates the important safety valve they can be for areas with stagnating populations,' he said.   Mark Mather, an associate vice president at the Population Reference Bureau, noted that political efforts to downsize government and reduce federal spending could also have a significant impact on future population winners and losers.   Since 2010, many of the fastest-growing U.S. metro areas have also been those that historically received a lot of federal dollars, including Fort Stewart, Ga., Jacksonville, N.C., Crestview, Fla., and Charleston-North Charleston, S.C., all home to military bases. Per-capita federal spending rose from about $5,300 among the fastest-growing metros from 2000 to 2010, to about $8,200 among the fastest-growing metros from 2011 to 2012. 'Federal funding has helped many cities weather the decline in private sector jobs,' Mather said.

Other findings:
- Roughly 46 percent of rural counties just beyond the edge of metropolitan areas experienced natural decrease, compared to 17 percent of urban counties.
- As a whole, the population of non-metropolitan areas last year declined by 0.1 percent, compared with growth of 1 percent for large metro areas and 0.7 percent for small metropolitan areas.
- In the last year, four metro areas reached population milestones: Los Angeles hit 13 million, Philadelphia reached 6 million, Las Vegas crossed 2 million and Grand Rapids, Mich., passed 1 million.
- Chattahoochee County, Ga., home to Fort Benning, was the nation's fastest-growing county, increasing 10.1 percent in the last year.

The census estimates are based on local records of births and deaths, Internal Revenue Service records of people moving within the United States and census statistics on immigrants. - Daily Mail.

Detroit Emergency Manager Warns Against Bankruptcy.
The turnaround expert who represented Chrysler during its successful restructuring is taking on one of the toughest fiscal tasks anywhere in the country: Fixing Detroit.  Kevyn Orr brings expertise from work his work at one of the world's largest law firms _ plus the threat of Chapter 9 bankruptcy _ to his new role as Detroit's emergency manager.  The state hired Orr on Thursday; he will be paid $275,000 annually. His appointment makes Detroit the largest city in the country to fall under state oversight.  Orr will have sweeping powers to make fiscal decisions but says he would rather solve Detroit's $327 million budget deficit and billions in debt through consensual resolution with unions, creditors and others instead of going through bankruptcy court.  He starts work in Detroit March 25. - Las Vegas Sun.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For March 21, 2013 - Updates On Stromboli, El Hierro, Tolbachik, Sheveluch, Kizimen, Karymski, Klyuchevskoi, White Island, Kilauea, Popocatépetl, Fuego, Telica, Nevado del Ruiz, Reventador, Tungurahua And Soufriere Hills!

March 21, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Thermal webcam image of the crater area of Stromboli (INGV).

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): Magma levels inside the conduit of the NE vent remain very high, shown by frequent small overspills. Tremor is elevated and mixed with small to moderate explosion signals.

Seismic signal from El Hierro today (IGN).

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): A second, but weaker pulse of earthquakes combined with harmonic tremor started today. The quakes were located in the same area as the last quakes from the first swarm, i.e. at around 17 km depth just north of the western tip of the island below the El Golfo valley. At the moment, it seems that this pulse also is ending.

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): KVERT reports no significant changes, but apparently the tremor amplitude has risen again a bit (by about 20% compared to previous days). Lava flows continue to be fed from the active vent on the southern fissure.

For the other volcanoes in Kamchatka, there is not much new is to report: Moderate seismicity accompanies ongoing lava extrusion and dome building at Sheveluch and Kizimen. Low seismic activity was reported from Karymski and Klyuchevskoi volcano remains currently calm at green level... [read more]

Current seismic signal from White Island (GeoNet).

White Island (New Zealand): The strong tremor has suddenly dropped. A possible explanation might be that the conduit below the vent area has "dried out", with less water entering the system to produce the previous "loud" tremor and possible deep-seated phreatic explosions.

Kilauea (Hawai'i): Activity has remained essentially unchanged and stable. At the summit, the Halema'uma'u lava lake is very active, and rises and falls during alternating inflation and deflation cycles.
On the east rift zone, activity continues from the Pu'u O'o vent where 4 hornitos are active from time to time (less than some weaks ago). Most lava is being diverted into lava tubes feeding two main flow fields: The most recent (Kahauale'a) is spreading from the northeast base of Pu'u O'o and currently covering the flows from 1983 to 1986 (i.e. the oldest of this eruption). Its most advanced lobe is 4 km from its source... [read more]

Popocatépetl today.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Not much has changed overall. Emissions decreased again somewhat (about 2 per hour yesterday), and seismic activity has been weaker today as well.

Today's seismic signal from Fuego (FG3 station, INSIVUMEH).

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity has calmed down a bit again. INSIVUMEH reported 18 explosions (10 weak and 8 moderate) with ash plumes reaching 600-1200 m above the crater and drifting S and SE. The lava flow that emerged on 19 March had split into two lobes towards the Ceniza and Taniluya canyons and advanced to a total length of 1500 m. It was still weakly active this morning and had produced weak to moderate avalanches.

Telica seismogram this morning (TELN station INETER).

Telica (Nicaragua): The seismic swarm continues to increase in intensity. The earthquakes are still small (below magnitude 3), but some already show up on INETERS country-wide earthquake list, and are mostly located 5-10 km east of the volcano.

No updates about unusal activity have been posted by INETER, so it is likely that this is (so far) only an intrusion at some depth with no significant surface activity.

SO2 plume from Nevado del Ruiz (NOAA).

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): An impressive SO2 plume was visible on the latest NOAA satellite image, suggesting that degassing activity has remained elevated.

Current seismic signal from Reventador (CONE station, IG).

Reventador (Ecuador): Strong steaming was observed during a window of clear weather. The seismic activity remains moderately high, with numerous moderate long period earthquakes, harmonic tremor pulses and signs of moderate explosions.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Activity has remained relatively low. IG reported small explosions seen during the night 19-20 March and emissions of steam and minor ash amounts rising up to about 1 km.

Soufriere Hills (Montserrat, West Indies (UK)): MVO reported that during 8-15 March activity at the Soufrière Hills lava dome was at a low level. During a helicopter overflight on 8 March, scientists observed a large fissure in the cliff on the E side of the lava dome, part of which had existed since 2007.

This fissure was the result of slow cooling and erosion of the dome. It was parallel to the cliff face and estimated to be 2 m wide, suggesting that a large slab was slowing moving away from the dome. The Hazard Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-5). (Smithsonian / USGS weekly update).

Photo of the Day:

Strombolian eruption from the NW vent on Stromboli's crater terrace, 2nd January 2013. Note the ornage red glow above the NE hornito (middle right) as well as from the lava in the NE vent (lower right). (Photo: Ingrid)

BIG BROTHER NOW: The Dawn Of The Global Police State - United States Homeland Security To "Officially" Scan And Monitor Private Emails And Monitor Internet Traffic!

March 21, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The U.S. government is expanding a cybersecurity program that scans Internet traffic headed into and out of defense contractors to include far more of the country's private, civilian-run infrastructure.

As a result, more private sector employees than ever before, including those at big banks, utilities and key transportation companies, will have their emails and Web surfing scanned as a precaution against cyber attacks.

Under last month's White House executive order on cybersecurity, the scans will be driven by classified information provided by U.S. intelligence agencies — including data from the National Security Agency (NSA) — on new or especially serious espionage threats and other hacking attempts. U.S. spy chiefs said on March 12 that cyber attacks have supplanted terrorism as the top threat to the country.

The Department of Homeland Security will gather the secret data and pass it to a small group of telecommunication companies and cyber security providers that have employees holding security clearances, government and industry officials said.

Those companies will then offer to process email and other Internet transmissions for critical infrastructure customers that choose to participate in the program.

DHS as the middleman
By using DHS as the middleman, the Obama administration hopes to bring the formidable overseas intelligence-gathering of the NSA closer to ordinary U.S. residents without triggering an outcry from privacy advocates who have long been leery of the spy agency's eavesdropping.

The telecom companies will not report back to the government on what they see, except in aggregate statistics, a senior DHS official said in an interview granted on condition he not be identified.

"That allows us to provide more sensitive information," the official said. "We will provide the information to the security service providers that they need to perform this function." Procedures are to be established within six months of the order.

The administration is separately seeking legislation that would give incentives to private companies, including communications carriers, to disclose more to the government. NSA Director General Keith Alexander said last week that NSA did not want personal data but Internet service providers could inform the government about malicious software they find and the Internet Protocol addresses they were sent to and from.

"There is a way to do this that ensures civil liberties and privacy and does ensure the protection of the country," Alexander told a congressional hearing.

Fears grow of destructive attack
In the past, Internet traffic-scanning efforts were mainly limited to government networks and Defense Department contractors, which have long been targets of foreign espionage.

But as fears grow of a destructive cyber attack on core, non-military assets, and more sweeping security legislation remained stalled, the Obama administration opted to widen the program.

Last month's presidential order calls for commercial providers of "enhanced cybersecurity services" to extend their offerings to critical infrastructure companies. What constitutes critical infrastructure is still being refined, but it would include utilities, banks and transportation such as trains and highways.

Under the program, critical infrastructure companies will pay the providers, which will use the classified information to block attacks before they reach the customers. The classified information involves suspect Web addresses, strings of characters, email sender names and the like.

Not all the cybersecurity providers will be telecom companies, though AT&T is one. Raytheon said this month it had agreed with DHS to become a provider, and a spokesman said that customers could route their traffic to Raytheon after receiving it from their communications company.

As the new set-up takes shape, DHS officials and industry executives said some security equipment makers were working on hardware that could take classified rules about blocking traffic and act on them without the operator being able to reverse-engineer the codes. That way, people wouldn't need a security clearance to use the equipment.

Civil liberties implications
The issue of scanning everything headed to a utility or a bank still has civil liberties implications, even if each company is a voluntary participant.

Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that the executive order did not weaken existing privacy laws, but any time a machine acting on classified information is processing private communications, it raises questions about the possibility of secret extra functions that are unlikely to be answered definitively.

"You have to wonder what else that box does," Tien said.

One technique for examining email and other electronic packets en route, called deep packet inspection, has stirred controversy for years, and some cybersecurity providers said they would not be using that. In deep packet inspection, communication companies or others with network access can examine all the elements of a transmission, including the content of emails.

"The signatures provided by DHS do not require deep packet inspection," said Steve Hawkins, vice president at Raytheon's Intelligence and Information Systems division, referring further questions to DHS.

The DHS official said the government is still in conversations with the telecom operators on the issue.

The official said the government had no plans to roll out any such form of government-guided close examination of Internet traffic into the communications companies serving the general public. - NBC News.

WATCH: US plan calls for more scanning of private Web traffic, email.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Incredible Picture Of Lightning And Lava From The Sakurajima Volcano In Japan - Scientists Can't Explain The Phenomenon!

March 21, 2013 - JAPAN - Streaks of crimson lava soar hundreds of feet into the air as an erupting volcano puts on the most spectacular of light shows.

But Mother Nature isn’t quite finished yet.

The Sakurajima volcano in southern Japan, as captured by Martin Rietze.

She throws in blinding flashes of forked lightning, which crack the red-hot sky and show just the sort of fireworks she has at her command.

This awesome display of natural power was captured by German photographer Martin Rietze, who waits patiently for days in remote locations for exactly the right explosive moment.

Scientists can’t quite explain how the phenomenon of volcano lightning occurs. They believe electrically-charged particles of ash disgorged during the eruption somehow react with the atmosphere to create the forks of clear white light.

Mr Rietze, 45, spends his life in the world’s volcano hotspots – travelling from Costa Rica to Italy – to capture the grandeur of an erupting firestorm.

This stunning photo of volcanic lightning striking an erupting crater was taken last month at the Sakurajima volcano near the southern tip of Japan.

‘You have very few chances to catch lightning close to an erupting volcano because it involves being very patient and waiting for many days,’ Mr Rietze said.

‘I waited around four days for Sakurajima. Knowing that very few people have ever experienced something so beautiful gives a very special feeling.

I will never ever forget those moments surrounded by poisonous gas, feeling the heat of the flowing and bubbling lava and hearing noises louder than a plane taking off. Sometimes your body can feel the shockwaves and the ground is shaking.’

He shrugs off the dangers of being so close to molten lava. ‘It’s great fun, and so unique. I have had fewer mishaps chasing eruptions than when mountain climbing,’ he said.

A volcano is essentially an opening or vent in the Earth’s crust.

When gas and magma – the hot fluid under the surface – build up they erupt through this gap, spewing hot rocks, ash and lava reaching 1,200C (2,192F).

But when lightning follows, it is a different type from that seen in thunderstorms. Dr Sue Loughlin, head of volcanology at British Geological Survey, explained volcanic lightning is still a natural mystery.

‘Lightning typically forms as ash particles are charged through friction during eruption and dispersion in the atmosphere,’ she said.

‘Ice particles in the atmosphere are also involved. But scientists are unclear about the exact mechanisms.’ - News Australia.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: The New Normal - From Heat Wave To Snowstorms, March Goes To Extremes!

March 21, 2013 - UNITED STATES - What a difference a year makes. Last March, the U.S. was basking in a heat wave that drove temperatures into the 70s all the way to the Canadian border, as winter snows rapidly retreated and flowers bloomed. Unaware of the devastating drought to follow, the warmth prompted farmers all across the nation to plant their crops several weeks early, and a record corn harvest was predicted.

Forecast sea level pressure departures from average from the GFS computer model. This shows the large area of unusually high atmospheric pressure over Greenland.

Fast forward to March 2013 and millions of Americans are shivering as an unrelenting string of winter storms have brought heavy snow from the Midwest to the Northeast, and colder-than-average temperatures to much of the East since February.

The past two days have provided the perfect example of that weather. On Tuesday, heavy snow fell across much of New England, bringing a foot or more of snow. That after Monday's nasty wintry mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain pelted New Yorkers.

To put that weather in context, consider that by March 19, 2012, more than 2,200 warm-temperature records had been set or tied across the U.S. That is about 1,000 more than had been set or tied so far this March.

Perhaps no other location best illustrates the whiplash between March 2012 and March 2013 than International Falls, Minn., known as the “Icebox” of the nation. On March 18, 2012, International Falls recorded a high temperature of 79ºF, which was a monthly all-time high.

And what was the high temperature in International Falls on Monday? A chilly 28°F, with a low of 14°F. It was even colder on Tuesday, with the forecast high temperature of just 16°F.

A similar reversal is occurring in Chicago, where the first day of spring last year brought a high temperature of 85°F, which was a monthly record. This year? Try 60-degrees cooler, with a forecast high on Wednesday of just 25°F.

The weather pattern that is responsible for this year's cold weather is unusual, even though it is not yielding extremely cold temperatures across the U.S. In fact, March is running near average for the lower 48 states. Still, after last year's nonexistent winter and downright summer-like spring, any cold and snow in March may seem like a shock to the system.

The weather map across the Northern Hemisphere features a sprawling and unusually strong area of High pressure over Greenland that is serving as an atmospheric stop sign, slowing weather systems as they move from west to east, and allowing storms to deepen off the eastern seaboard and tap into more cold air than they otherwise might have.

That is not your typical fair weather area of High pressure, either. Some computer models have been projecting that, sometime during the next couple of days, the Greenland High could come close to setting the mark for the highest atmospheric pressure ever recorded.

The blocking pattern has helped direct cold air into the lower 48 states as well as parts of Europe, while the Arctic has been experiencing dramatically warmer-than-average conditions, particularly along the west coast of Greenland and in northeastern Canada. Blocking patterns are often associated with extreme weather events, from heat waves like the one that occurred last March, to historic cold air outbreaks and blizzards.

A similar blocking pattern was in place at precisely the wrong time in October 2012, as Hurricane Sandy made its way northward from the Caribbean. The convoluted jet stream pulled Sandy westward into New Jersey, with devastating results. Some researchers have hypothesized that this blocking pattern was related to Arctic climate change.

One way to view the blocking pattern is through the lens of the Arctic Oscillation, or AO, which is a large-scale variation in surface air pressure between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes. When the AO is in a negative phase, the average surface air pressure is above average in the Arctic and below average in the mid-latitudes.

This sets up opposing temperature patterns, with warmer-than-average conditions in parts of the Arctic, and cooler-than-average conditions in parts of North America and Europe. Right now the AO index is at its lowest reading of anytime during the 2012-2013 winter.

Arctic climate change fingerprints?

Recent research suggests that rapid Arctic climate change, namely the loss of sea ice cover, may be contributing to blocking patterns like we're seeing right now. That rapid decline in Arctic sea ice since the beginning of the satellite record in 1979 may be altering weather patterns both in the Far North and across the U.S..

Some studies have shown that sea ice loss favors atmospheric blocking patterns such as the pattern currently in place, while others have not shown statistically significant changes in blocking patterns across the Northern Hemisphere, at least not yet. Arctic sea ice extent declined to a record low during the 2012 melt season.

A study published in 2012 showed that by changing the temperature balance between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, rapid Arctic warming is altering the course of the jet stream, which steers weather systems from west to east around the northern hemisphere.

The Arctic has been warming about twice as fast as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, due to a combination of human emissions of greenhouse gases and unique feedbacks built into the Arctic climate system. The jet stream, the study said, is becoming “wavier,” with steeper troughs and higher ridges.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters shows that reduced sea ice cover can favor colder and stormier winters in the northern midlatitudes.

As sea ice melts, it exposes darker ocean water, which absorbs more of the sun’s heat, causing the water temperatures to increase. During the fall, the heat that was added to the oceans gets released into the atmosphere as sea ice reforms, and this added heat is bound to change weather patterns somehow (this is a process known as "Arctic Amplification"). The “how” part is what’s open to debate.

Researchers examining the possible links between Arctic warming and the weather in the U.S., Europe, and other areas must contend with the large amount of natural variability that affects winter weather patterns, and the very short observational record of how the atmosphere responded to extreme losses of sea ice. In addition, climate models actually show a reduction in blocking patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, rather than the increase that one would expect given a warming planet with less Arctic sea ice. However, the models may not be capturing blocking well at the present time, let alone the future. - Climate Central.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe Storms, Tornado And Hail Leave 24 Dead In Guangdong, China - 272 Injured; 215,000 Displaced; 1.5 Million Affected!

March 21, 2013 - CHINA - At least 24 people have died and 272 more have been injured after a tornado carrying egg-sized hailstones hit southern China's Guangdong province.

A collapsed shed is seen in Daoxian County, central China's Hunan Province, March 20, 2013. 24 people were killed and 272 others were injured by a tornado that struck the county before dawn on Wednesday. The local meteorological observatory said the wind speed of the tornado reached 30.7 meters per second, a record for the observatory. (Xinhua/Guo Guoquan)

Chinese residents inspect damaged houses after a tornado swept through Yongzhou, Hunan province, on March 20, 2013. At least 24 people have died and scores were injured. (AFP)

Chinese media reported a ferry had capsized in Fujian province which left 11 people dead and a further four missing.

In the city of Dongguan several people were reported to have been killed after buildings collapsed.

Chinese web portal showed images of a car windscreen which had been smashed by golfball sized hailstones.

Rescuers clear wind-torn billboards in Daoxian County, central China's Hunan Province, March 20, 2013. 24 people were killed and 272 others were injured by a tornado that struck the county before dawn on Wednesday. The local meteorological observatory said the wind speed of the tornado reached 30.7 meters per second, a record for the observatory. (Xinhua/Guo Guoquan)

Locals salvage articles near a collapsed shed in Daoxian County, central China's Hunan Province, March 20, 2013. 24 people were killed and 272 others were injured by a tornado that struck the county before dawn on Wednesday. The local meteorological observatory said the wind speed of the tornado reached 30.7 meters per second, a record for the observatory. (Xinhua/Guo Guoquan)

Other areas affected by storms and torrential rain were nearby Jiangxi and Hunan provinces in central China and Guizhou in the southwest.

Around 1.5 million residents have been affected by the severe weather and 215,000 people have been forced to relocate, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Rescuers clear wind-torn billboards in Daoxian County, central China's Hunan Province, March 20, 2013. 24 people were killed and 272 others were injured by a tornado that struck the county before dawn on Wednesday. The local meteorological observatory said the wind speed of the tornado reached 30.7 meters per second, a record for the observatory. (Xinhua/Guo Guoquan)

Chinese residents inspect damaged houses after a tornado swept through Yongzhou, Hunan province, on March 20, 2013. At least 24 people have died and scores were injured. (AFP).

Southwest China is still recovering from thunder and hail storms which swept Guizhou province seven days ago. Some 24 counties and cities were hit by the storms which damaged houses and 8,700 hectares of farmland. - SKY News.

WATCH: Tornado And Hailstorms Leave 24 Dead In China.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Major Solar System Disturbance - Bright Blue Fireball Reported Across Several American States, With Loud Boom Above New York; Loud Boom And Flash Of light Reported In Smithtown, New York; Unexplained Boom In Illinois Baffles Experts And Residents?!

March 21, 2013 - SKY - The mystery of the “loud boom” heard in parts of the region over the weekend may go unsolved as efforts to find the source of the boom proved a bust Monday.

Hundreds of people in at least four counties — Franklin, Hamilton, Saline and Williamson — flocked to social media to report hearing a windows-rattling, earth-shaking boom between 1 and 2 p.m. Saturday.

No damages or injuries were reported as a result of the boom.

Unexplained Boom In Illinois Baffles Experts And Residents.
“I have no way of knowing exactly what occurred but it was not likely an earthquake,” geophysicist Don Blakeman of the National Earthquake Information Center said. “There is nothing on our lists, only the last one on the 11th (near Benton).”

Some earthquakes are heard as well as felt, he said, but if it was so widespread as to be heard in four counties, “We would be able to locate it as an earthquake,” he said. “Typically, when loud booms are heard it turns out to be a sonic boom, although I’m not saying that’s what it was in this instance.”

However, if the boom was sonic in nature, it wasn’t caused by military action. Neither Scott Air Force Base nor the North American Aerospace Defense Command reported activity taking place in the region Saturday.

“We were not in that area with any of our assets,” a NORAD spokesman said.

A Scott Air Force spokeswoman confirmed no Scott or military-related activities or exercises took place in Southern Illinois over the weekend.

The boom was not weather-related, according to meteorologist Robin Smith of the National Weather Service in Paducah said.

Nor was it related to any coal mining activity, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Office of Mines and Minerals said.

The swarm of social media postings caused Franklin County Emergency Management Agency Director Ryan Buckingham to make his own post on the agency’s Facebook page.

“Residents in Franklin County are reporting what was described as a ‘ground-shaking loud boom’ during the day on Saturday 3/16/2013. USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) has not reported any earthquake activity in our area during that time, leaving the cause of these reports as somewhat of a mystery,” Buckingham wrote.

The mystery was not cleared up by Monday, he said.

“We picked it up first on social media. A lot of people heard it but didn’t have a source for it,” Buckingham said. “I put a feeler out on Facebook because if there is a threat to public safety, that’s something we need to know about it, but no one had any idea what caused it.”

While the source of the boom has yet to be traced, Buckingham said it should serve as a reminder for residents to have a plan in place in case of emergency. - The Southern.

Loud Boom And Flash Of light Reported In Smithtown, New York.
Emergency officials are looking into what could have caused a loud boom and flash of light around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday night. The mysterious event caused a flurry of comments on social media, including on the Facebook page. calls into Suffolk police and other emergency officials all resulted in the same answer: no one is sure but the thought is the noise was a really loud clap of thunder with an associated lightning strike.

At 9:46 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a Special Weather Statement regarding a snow squall moving onshore near Northport. The squall - which is a quick-forming, storm cell much like a summertime pop-up thunderstorm - was expected to impact shoreline communities stretching eastward towards Port Jefferson Station. has received listener comments indicating the noise was heard from Kings Park to Nesconset and into Centereach.

Meteorologist Mike Leona, who is the Long Island Weather Examiner for, posted on his Facebook page that he thought the mysterious noise was likely thunder - but he too could not say fore sure. In his post, he said lightning detectors at Sikorsky Airport in Bridgeport and Republic Airport in Farmingdale both detected activity in the area of the squall line. - Smithtown Radio.

Bright Blue Fireball Reported Across Several States, Including Loud Boom Above New York.

Event 1 - approx. 10:08 p.m. EST

19 March 2013 - Chelsea, Louisville, Kentucky, USA 10:15 p.m. EST
About 5-8 seconds duration. Northwest direction. Moved to my left. The color was ELECTRIC BABY BLUE. It appeared to almost weave in and out like a sewing needle through fabric, which could have appeared that way because of a cloud or something. It was fast but slower than a shooting star and more "blob" like in motion. I'd say it was as bright as the moon. Areas of the sky surrounding this appeared brighter, and it produced a sound like a passing F-117 nighthawk.
19 March 2013 - Malissa, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA 10:08pm EST
2-3 seconds duration. It moved form my right to left. It had a blue tint and was brighter than the moon. It was bright white with a blueish trail, bigger then a star.
19 March 2013 - Acamill, Bridgeville, Pennsylvannia, USA 22:08 EASTERN
4-5 seconds duration. North-Southeast direction. I was was facing West, it moved from my left to right. White color, as bright as Venus. The tail seemed to sparkle out a very long tail. and it was bright so the tail lasted.
Event 2 - approx. 21:05:00

19 March 2013 - Igor Fradlis, Woodmere, NY, USA 21:05
1 second flash, from West to East. I was facing North. White flash, then a boom after 10 seconds. Same brightness as the Sun. The boom was loud enough to be heard inside a car.
- Lunar Meteorite Hunters.

MASS CRUSTACEAN DIE-OFF: "I Never Saw A Disaster Of This Magnitude" - Wave Of Prawn And Crab Deaths Baffles Chilean City Of Coronel?!

March 21, 2013 - CHILE - Thousands of dead prawns have washed up on a beach in Chile, sparking an investigation.

Hundreds of dead crabs were also washed ashore in Coronel city, about 530km (330 miles) from the capital, Santiago.

Authorities are still collecting evidence to find an explanation for the red tide.

Fishermen suggested the deaths may have been caused by local power stations that use seawater as a cooling agent. The power firms have not commented.

Experts are looking into water temperature and oxygen levels and other details to explain the deaths.

"We're investigating the Coronel Bay to establish the physical parameters of temperature, electric conductivity and, above all, the oxygen," said local environment official Victor Casanova.

Local fishermen blamed nearby power generation plants Bocamina 1 and 2 and Colbun.

"I'm 69 years old and started fishing when I was nine, but as a fisherman, I never saw a disaster of this magnitude,'' Gregorio Ortega told local Radio Bio Bio.

Hundreds of dead crabs were washed ashore on the weekend.

While some blame pollution, others say the death of the crustaceans could be a consequence of the El Nino phenomenon, which warms the waters of the Pacific.

Marisol Ortega, a spokeswoman for the fishermen, said she feared the deaths would affect the livelihood of their community.

"The way everything is being destroyed here, come the high season in November, we're already thinking we won't have anything to take from the sea," she said. - BBC.

WATCH: Wave Of Prawn And Crab Deaths Baffles Chilean City Of Coronel.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: "Code 3" Maximum State Of Alert At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Area Grows 3 Acres Last Week, Now Reaches 12 Acres, As Rainbow Oil Sheen Covers Much Of It?! [NEW FLYOVER VIDEOS + PHOTOS] UPDATE: Geologist Indicates That The Giant Sinkhole Is Now 13 Acres - Subsidence Zone Is More Than 20 Acres!

March 21, 2013 - UNITED STATES - On Wings Of Care's (OWOC) fifth flyover of the Assumption Parish sinkhole near Bayou Corne, Louisiana left us hardly optimistic that the good people of those communities will be heading home anytime soon. Their community meeting this evening isn't likely to bring good news from Governor Jindal or Texas Brine, unless good news is that they can expect to have their homes and land purchased. The sinkhole has grown, and rainbow sheen covers much of it. Flares are burning, to vent gas from the area. What was at first amusing is now depressing -- the large open storage tank at the northeast corner of the sinkhole is painted with bold blue lettering that says "Responsible Care: Our Commitment to Sustainability."

See more pictures HERE.

Here are three videos taken today, as we circled the sinkhole a few times. More photos follow the videos. We'll let these all speak for themselves. High-resolution versions of any of the photos are available for purposes that benefit the public, just contact us at

WATCH: OWOC Flyer videos.


WATCH: New Corne Bayou Collapse Images.

Governor Jindal Meets For First Time With Assumption Sinkhole Victims.
Governor Bobby Jindal met for the first time Tuesday with families displaced by a massive sinkhole in Assumption Parish.  Scientists say the sinkhole in Bayou Corne formed after the collapse of an underground salt cavern.  Some of the residents seemed reassured after meeting with the governor, while others were visibly frustrated. Most are just hoping that buyout offers from Texas Brine will be fair.  They’re all trying to protect a picturesque bayou.  “It’s time for this to come to an end and let people go on with their lives,” said Alvin Gros, a Bayou Corne resident. “It’s time. They’ve destroyed enough people’s lives.”  Gov. Jindal met with his cabinet members and then with some residents behind closed doors, before holding a press conference. 

“I know they had to suspend some of the skimming operations due to seismic testing. I do think it’s important that as soon as they can, they go out and start skimming some of that material again,” said Jindal. “You can see a sheen on top of the sinkhole.”  The governor announced more plans for Texas Brine to buy out residents who want to move on. So far 56 have signed up to meet with the company.  “The governor is going to stay with us,” said Sheriff Mike Waguespack. “He’s a little late getting here and I promise if he does that again we’re going to make him swim that sinkhole.”  The sinkhole continues to grow and has grown three acres since last week. It is an estimated 12 acres in size. About 350 people remain evacuated from the area. - WWLTV.

WATCH: Giant sinkhole continues to grow.

Meanwhile, Gary Hecox, the geologist working on the sinkhole issue for the State of Louisiana declares that the situation has now reached a most critical state: 

You can see how the seismic events increased dramatically on the 13th of March this year.  That’s when we went into what we call a code 3, or maximum state of alert.

LISTEN: Seismic Events Escalates Dramatically on March 13 - Maximum State of Alert Issued.

UPDATE:  Geologist Indicates That The Giant Sinkhole Is Now 13 Acres - Subsidence Zone Is More Than 20 Acres!
In the following video, Hecox reveals that the sinkhole has now grown to 13 acres: 

It’s about 1,000 feet across here now, 600-700 feet across here.  It was 12 acres when this was done, with settlement over 20 acres, but the recent sloughing in that you heard about was in this area this weekend.  And John estimated another acre went into the sinkhole so now it’s probably on the order 13 acres in the sinkhole, with settlement over a larger area.

WATCH: Public Briefing Video - March 19, 2013.

Watch all of the briefing videos HERE.