Sunday, March 24, 2013

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For March 24, 2013 - Updates On El Hierro, Bagana And Ulawun!

March 24, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Current seismic signal (IGN).

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): The earthquake swarm continues with little changes. Most epicenters have remained in an area at about 15-17 km depth a few km NW off the western tip of the island. Volcanic tremor, suggesting magma movements, is continuous with strong pulses every few hours.
Earthquake count today (only magnitudes greater than 2): 111

A strong pulse of volcanic tremor has started, accompanied by a 3.2 magnitude quake at 15 km depth at 09:40 GMT.

Current tremor amplitude (IGN).

It seems that magma is continuing to move, and the scenario of a possible new eruption is becoming more and more likely... [read more]
SO2 plume from Bagana today (NOAA).

Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea):  A strong SO2 plume today suggests increased activity at the volcano.

Ulawun (New Britain, Papua New Guinea)Increased SO2 emissions from Ulawun and Bagana volcanoes are visible today on satellite data.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 24, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.

WORLD WAR III: Escalation Towards Armageddon - Israel Military Fires Into Syria After Golan Attack On Troops!

March 24, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST - Israel said it fired into Syria on Sunday and destroyed a machine gun position in the Golan Heights from where shots had been fired at Israeli soldiers in a further spillover of the Syrian civil war along a tense front.

It was not immediately clear whether Israel held Syrian troops or rebels responsible for what a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said had been a deliberate attack on Israeli patrols in the occupied territory.

Israeli forces "destroyed a Syrian machine gun nest that fired twice in the last 24 hours on Israeli patrols operating to safeguard the border," the spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, said on his Twitter page.

Shells have fallen several times inside Israeli-controlled territory during Syria's civil war. Some of the incidents have drawn Israeli return fire.

Syria's southern provinces bordering Jordan and Israel have become an increasingly significant battleground as the capital Damascus - in Syria's south - comes into play and President Bashar al-Assad's forces fight hard to prevent rebel advances.

The Israeli military said one of its vehicles was hit late on Saturday by shooting from across the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire line on the Golan Heights, but no one was hurt.

Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, said, "Our understanding is that it wasn't stray fire."

After a second incident on Sunday, Israeli soldiers "responded with accurate fire toward the Syrian post from which they were fired on", the military said.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said in a statement that Israel viewed shooting from Syria "with severity" and would not allow "the Syrian army or any other element to violate Israeli sovereignty by firing at our territory".

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed the strategic plateau in 1981 in a move that has not won international recognition.

"Any ... fire from the Syrian side will be answered immediately by silencing the sources of fire when we identify them," Yaalon said.

Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli Defence Ministry official, said battles between Syrian government forces and Syrian rebels sometimes take place just a short distance from Israeli lines.

"At times, shells or bullets are fired at Israel. Usually the shooting (from Syria) is not deliberate, but it doesn't matter," he told Army Radio.

"Israel should not be the target of any attack, whether intentional or unintentional - because after all, if you accept something that was unintentional, that could lead to something intentional in the end," Gilad said.

Israel has said for months that it expects Assad's government to fall and has voiced concern that its chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas and al Qaeda.

Israeli President Shimon Peres has called for Assad to step down. - Reuters.

WATCH: Israel fires into Syria after Golan attack on troops.

PLANETARY TREMORS: The San Andreas Fault - Statewide Mega-Quake On The San Andreas Now Thought Possible; Study Indicates That Los Angeles 'Big One' Could Come Sooner Than Expected As Progress Stalls In California On Earthquake Warnings!

March 24, 2013 - UNITED STATES - One of the lessons learned from the deadly Japanese earthquake of 2011 is that the San Andreas Fault may be capable of a much more potent quake than previously believed. A new study published in Nature offers evidence that the massive fault that defines the geography of California could snap along its entire length, unleashing a whomper of an earthquake that would hit north and south. Up to now, seismologists have assumed that a portion of the San Andreas in Central California where the Pacific and the North American plates creep past each other fairly smoothly would be immune from a violent snap — and that the so-called "creeping segment" would protect Southern California and Northern California from each other.

Statewide Mega-Quake On The San Andreas Now Thought Possible.
Photo: Elkhorn Scarp on the Carrizo Plain/

From Eryn Brown in the LA Times:
For decades, scientists have assumed the central portion of California's San Andreas fault acts as a barrier that prevents a big quake in the southern part of the state from spreading to the north, and vice versa. As a result, a mega-quake that could be felt from San Diego to San Francisco was widely considered impossible.

But that key fault segment might not serve as a barrier in all cases, researchers wrote Wednesday in the online edition of the journal Nature. Using a combination of laboratory measurements and computer simulations, the two scientists showed how so-called creeping segments in a fault — long thought to be benign because they slip slowly and steadily along as tectonic plates shift — might behave like locked segments, which build up stress over time and then rupture.

Such a snap caused the 9.0-magnitude Tohoku-Oki earthquake that hit Japan in 2011, triggering a tsunami, killing nearly 16,000 people and destroying the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Forecasters had not believed such a large quake was possible there.

A supposedly stable section of fault also ruptured during the 1999 Chi-Chi quake in Taiwan, a 7.6-magnitude temblor that killed more than 2,400 people.
Here's another explainer on how the creeping segment mechanism is thought to work on long faults such as the San Andreas.

Also: Interactive map of the San Andreas Fault

The location of the San Andreas Fault is shown on this map. Its trace is marked by red dots connected by thin red straight lines. The positions were measured from professional geological maps, primarily those of the United States Geological Survey, California Geological Survey, Dibblee maps and geological literature. The red dots are generally on the trace or within about 100 ft of it (true ground distance). Owing to wiggles in the fault line, portions of the thin red lines can be more than 100 ft from the fault.
The idea for this map came from's publisher Dr. Hobart King and Dr. David K. Lynch, author of Field Guide to the San Andreas Fault. Cartographer Bradley Cole created the map.

Study Indicates That Los Angeles 'Big One' Could Come Sooner Than Expected.
Although individuals, regulators and the emergency services can prepare, the unpredictable nature of LA's highway grid could hinder relief efforts if the worst should happen.
Photo: Getty.

Over the last 700 years, powerful quakes have struck the region every 45-144 years.  - The last big 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Los Angeles 153 years ago; the next is overdue.  - If the "Big One" strikes, 2,000-50,000 people could lose their lives.  Strong earthquakes along the San Andreas fault in southern California are more frequent than previously thought, so the dreaded "Big One" could be just around the corner, US researchers said Friday in a study.  University of California at Irvine and Arizona State University scientists examined the geological record stretching back 700 years along the fault line 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Los Angeles.  They found that strong earthquakes -- between 6.5 and 7.9 magnitude -- shook the area every 45-144 years, instead of the previously established 250-400 years.  Since the last big 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck southern California in 1857, or 153 years ago, scientists believe the next "Big One" could happen at any time.  The scientists on Friday provided an abstract of their study, which will be published in full in the September 1 issue of the magazine Geology.  "What we know is for the last 700 years, earthquakes on the southern San Andreas fault have been much more frequent than everyone thought," said the study's lead author Sinan Akciz.  "Data presented here contradict previously published reports," he added.  With 37 million people living in southern California, chiefly in the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and Anaheim, a major earthquake could kill between 2,000 and 50,000 people and cause billions of dollars in damage, scientists said.  UCI seismologist Lisa Grant Ludwig, the study's chief investigator, said people in the area should already be taking precautions.  "There are storm clouds gathered on the horizon. Does that mean it's definitely going to rain? No, but when you have that many clouds, you think, I'm going to take my umbrella with me today. That's what this research does: It gives us a chance to prepare," she said.  For individuals, that means having ample water and other supplies on hand, safeguarding possessions in advance, and establishing family emergency plans.  For regulators, Ludwig advocates new policies requiring earthquake risk signs on unsafe buildings and forcing inspectors in home-sale transactions to disclose degrees of risk.  Some things, she added however, remain unpredictable, especially Los Angeles' troublesome highway grid, which in the best of times gets hopelessly choked in traffic.  Ludwig said the new data "puts the exclamation point" on the need for state residents and policymakers to be prepared. - Discovery News.

Progress Stalls In California On Earthquake Warnings.
  Maren Boese, a research fellow at Caltech, demonstrating an earthquake simulation along the San Andreas Fault
Photo: Monica Almeida/The New York Times
Scientists at the Caltech Seismology Laboratory were at their computers last week when a warning popped up on the screen: “Earthquake, earthquake!” The initial magnitude of the quake, 100 miles away, was 5.2, the alert said, and a countdown clock warned that mild shaking would reach here in 40 seconds. “Since I did not expect any damage, I did not dive under the desk,” said Kate Hutton, a staff seismologist. Instead, she sat and waited to feel the rumble beneath her laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, which arrived precisely as predicted. Ms. Hutton was enjoying, as it were, the benefits of an ambitious if unfinished earthquake alert system for California, intended to one day give as much as 60 seconds’ warning of an approaching quake — to hospitals, emergency response workers and anyone near a cellphone or computer — in an attempt to reduce the casualties and the damage that officials have long feared were as inevitable as another huge California earthquake.

But the episode, set off by what proved to be a harmless earthquake in the desert on March 11, instead provided a disquieting reminder of how far California lags behind other earthquake-prone places — notably Japan and Mexico — in completing an effective alert system that is clearly within technological and financial reach. Even as others surge ahead, the network in California — which would be the first in the nation — is a work in progress, a beta system with patchwork software sending alerts to just 100 geologists and selected emergency workers.

Last month, state lawmakers introduced legislation calling for an expedited program to raise the $80 million needed to complete the program, but acknowledged they did not know where the money might come from.
The delay here is, in one sense, testimony to human nature. It has been 19 years since the last significant quake rolled through California — the magnitude 6.7 earthquake in Northridge in a corner of the San Fernando Valley in 1994 — and memories of its damage and psychological trauma (some people moved away) have softened with the passage of time.

“We are in a long period of what I call seismic peace in California,” said Thomas H. Heaton, the director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory at Caltech. “But you can go for a long period when things are calm, and then instantly things are transformed into chaos. When you are in peacetime, it’s hard to get people’s attention and remind them what a big problem it is.” Alex Padilla, a Democratic state senator who studied mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is sponsoring the earthquake alert bill, said the central hurdle was finding a source for the money that university scientists and their partners at the United States Geological Survey say is needed to finish the project. California has been struggling with a financial retrenchment, the federal government is cutting back spending, and private industry is wary of putting so much money into what many people argue is a public responsibility.

“I haven’t come across anybody who thinks we shouldn’t do it,” Mr. Padilla said. “The only question I get is ‘Where is the money going to come from? I don’t think it’s a huge amount of money, particularly when compared to the billions of dollars in damage that we associate with every major earthquake,” Mr. Padilla said, adding, “I really don’t think any state official wants to answer the question ‘Why didn’t we?’ after the Big One hits and we haven’t deployed the system.”

A fully operational system would use a network of sensors — 300 are in place now, but hundreds more are needed — to detect the first signs of a rupture, using the data to project the severity and breadth of the quake, the area most likely to be damaged and the number of seconds until the shaking begins. As demonstrated in Japan, even a 30-second notice was enough to activate computerized programs to slow commuter trains so they did not go off their tracks, stop elevators so passengers were not stranded between floors, flash highway warning signs instructing motorists to slow down and avoid overpasses, and open doors at fire stations so they would not be stuck shut should power be lost.

The warning would go out to home computers and personal cellphones, giving surgeons a moment to withdraw scalpels, workers at Disneyland time to shut down Space Mountain, home cooks an opportunity to turn off the gas and everyone a moment to, as Ms. Hutton at Caltech put it, dive under a desk. “If you are cooking, you can step away from the boiling water,” said Maren Boese, a research fellow at Caltech, as she ran through a demonstration of the alert system. She also said it would help people psychologically, decreasing the surprise that can freeze people in confusion and fear when the ground starts moving, or lead to panicked and dangerous reactions, like running outside a building. “I think you get mentally ready,” she said. “We think it will reduce panic.”

The network would cover much of the length of California, much like the network of fault lines here, though the geology of Southern California is particularly suited to this kind of early warning system. Much of the San Andreas Fault lies far enough away to permit something of a warning. (That said, many faults run right through the middle of Los Angeles, in which case, the system would be essentially useless.) The existing network needs major investments to bring it to the level of Japan and Mexico: an expansion of the sensor stations and the development of software permitting the warnings to be distributed to the public.

“In order to turn the system into a system that can be used across California, it has to be turned into professional-grade software,” Mr. Heaton said. “It is just completely inappropriate to have software that has bugs and that was not written by software engineers.” Mexico developed its alert system after the Mexico City earthquake of 1985, and Japan after the Kobe earthquake of 1995. “That seems to be the pattern,” said Douglas D. Given, the early earthquake warning project coordinator with the federal Geological Survey. “It is our hope that we can deploy an early warning system before we have a killer earthquake.” - NY Times.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - 12 Million Americans In The Path Of Severe Storms In The Southern States; Traffic Nightmare In Edmonton Morning After Snowstorm Kills Three, Creates 100-Car Pile-Up!

March 24, 2013 - NORTH AMERICA - As a major storm tracks across the Central states, severe weather will continue to erupt from eastern Texas to Florida during this Palm Sunday weekend. Blinding downpours and flooding could disrupt travel and foil outdoor activities during the Palm Sunday weekend. However, there is the potential for more violent weather conditions that could threaten lives and property in part of the Deep South.

12 Million Americans In The Path Of Severe Storms In The Southern States.

The same complex storm system spreading substantial snow from Denver to St. Louis to Indianapolis this weekend will continue to spark powerful thunderstorms from northeastern Texas and Louisiana to southern Georgia and northern Florida through tonight.Many of the thunderstorms have already unleashed hail. That trend will continue, along with more numerous thunderstorms producing damaging winds and blinding downpours. A couple of isolated tornadoes may also touch down and cause destruction. This is the type of situation in which such storms could form or linger after dark, adding to the danger.

Cities that could be in the path of the storms include Lake Charles and New Orleans, La., Jackson and Biloxi, Miss., Montgomery and Mobile, Ala., Pensacola, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Fla., and Albany, Ga.  Early indications are that a wedge of chilly air from the Ohio Valley to the Appalachians and along the central Atlantic coast will deter severe thunderstorms, but that chilly air could bring heavy rain and wintry precipitation to part of the area.  On Sunday, the severe weather threat will be greatest from far-southern South Carolina to the central Florida peninsula. This includes Beaufort, S.C., Savannah, Ga., Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa, Fla.  Also on Sunday, there is a chance that the sun will break out for a time over Alabama, western and southern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. Enough sunshine in this area ahead of an approaching cold front could trigger another round of thunderstorms. Warm, humid air would still be in place and could result in severe weather farther north on this day than what occurs on Saturday, perhaps as far north as middle Tennessee. - AccuWeather.

WATCH: Weekend Winter Storm.

Traffic Nightmare In Edmonton Morning After Snowstorm Kills Three, Creates 100-Car Pile-Up.
As snow continued to fall throughout the night, City of Edmonton spokeswoman Laura McNabb warned commuters to expect longer-than-usual travel times.  "If the snowfall stopped, it would be far better," McNabb told the Edmonton Journal. "It's a lot of snow. Our guys are doing their best to get the snow off the road and lay down abrasives ... and they're just going to keep at it."  McNabb said the entire city fleet, consisting of more than 200 pieces of equipment, would clear the streets but commute times might be approximately doubled.  "There will be delays, that's just to be expected in these conditions," McNabb said, "If you don't have to be on the roads tomorrow, it might be a good day to take a day off."  A 23-year-old woman, a four-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy were killed Thursday morning when the compact car they were in crashed head-on with a truck about 180 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. Three others were seriously injured.  Mounties say it was snowing heavily at the time and visibility was poor.  The driver of the truck, a 46 year-old male, is facing several charges, including dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.  South of Edmonton, road conditions weren't any better. Mounties say just before noon, multiple collisions happened within a half-kilometre of each other. At least 100 vehicles were involved and at least 45 vehicles were damaged, say police.  "And from that collision we ended up getting a chain reaction, so multiple other collisions occurred from there, due to the poor visibility and the icy roads," said Const. Karolina Malik.

Vehicles litter Highway 2 near Leduc, Alta. on Thursday March 21, 2013. A blizzard that has been blasting through the Prairies is being blamed for a multi-vehicle crash south of Edmonton that has injured about 100 people.© Stephanie Williams / The Canadian Press

About 22 people went to area hospitals, including a man with serious injuries. The RCMP said the man was outside his vehicle after being involved in a collision and he was found under a semi-trailer.  Kerry Williamson, with Alberta Health Services, said Thursday that about 80 others were treated at the crash site for minor to moderate injuries.  The crashes involved a large passenger bus and several semi-trucks.  Robert Mitchell was on a Greyhound bus at the time.  "It was like a domino effect - one vehicle after another, just smashing, smashing, smashing until about 60-70 cars," he told CTV Edmonton.  A cattle liner carrying 74 head of cattle was involved in the monstrous crash. Police said late Thursday that the cattle were being transferred to another cattle liner. Two cattle, however, were injured in the crash and had to be put down.  "The cattle have been in this liner since about noon today and finally they've gotten another liner there and they have to get these 60-worked up cattle out and into a new one," said Cpl. Colette Zazalak.

© Stephanie Williams / The Canadian Press.

A bus passenger tweeted a photo of the mayhem, calling it a massive pileup, but adding that everyone on the bus was all right.  "Hitchhiking my way to Edmonton via Wetaskiwin on country roads," Derek Fildebrandt wrote in another tweet. "Found a Tim Hortons. There is a God."  Paramedics, EMS crews and firefighters trudged through the snow, going from vehicle to vehicle, to check on those inside, Williamson said.  They commandeered three Greyhound buses on the highway and used them as triage centres, he said. Police also escorted four Edmonton transit buses to the scene to provide shelter to motorists who were stranded.  STARS air ambulance had to turn down requests to ferry patients because of the bad weather, said spokesman Cam Heke. The helicopters simply couldn't get in the air.  RCMP closed a 60-kilometre stretch of Highway 2 - the main road between Edmonton and Calgary - and redirected traffic away from the scene. The highway was reopened in both directions just before midnight MDT, about 12 hours after the crashes.

A pickup truck is sandwiched between two vehicles as more than 300 people have been injured following a multi-vehicle crash in snowy conditions on Highway 2 south of Edmonton. © Derek Fildebrandt / The Canadian Press

Several roads inside of Edmonton including the city wide Anthony Henday Drive were shut down but subsequently reopened.  Police said "treacherous" road conditions remained on the QE II south of Edmonton, all the way to Red Deer.  "Unless travel is absolutely critical, police request the public stay off all area highways," police said.  Mounties in Saskatchewan also issued travel warnings and closed highways due to heavy snow, winds and icy conditions.  "There has been instances of people driving past these warnings getting stranded, even cases of barricades being moved and then continuing on past road closed signs," said RCMP Regina Sgt. Doug Coleman.  "This storm is of such severity that it makes it difficult to impossible even for emergency personnel to be on the roads."  Coleman said in a news release that people were stranded on the Trans-Canada Highway overnight Wednesday, and officers couldn't get out to get them until Thursday morning.  Police said numerous motorists were stranded on Highway 17 north of Lloydminster on the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary.  Traffic in both directions was at a standstill because of a snowdrift 100 metres long and more than half a metre deep.  Highway crews attempted to remove the drift, but blowing snow just drifted over the road again. - National Post.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 6.0 Earthquake Strikes Northwest Of Ceva-i-Ra, Fiji, Vanuatu Region!

March 24, 2013 - FIJI - A shallow 6.0 magnitude earthquake has struck the region of the Fiji Islands at 08:13:44 UTC. The earthquake was 10.0km (6.2miles) in depth.

USGS earthquake map and location.

The epicenter of the earthquake was 162km (101miles) northwest of Ceva-i-Ra, Fiji; 631km (392miles) southeast of Port-Vila, Vanuatu and 639km (397miles) east of We, New Caledonia. 

There was no immediate tsunami warning or reports of damage.

USGS earthquake intensity shakemap.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics Of The Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate.
The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand.

Since 1900 there have been 15 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded near New Zealand. Nine of these, and the four largest, occurred along or near the Macquarie Ridge, including the 1989 M8.2 event on the ridge itself, and the 2004 M8.1 event 200 km to the west of the plate boundary, reflecting intraplate deformation. The largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand itself was the 1931 M7.8 Hawke's Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people. The last M7.5+ earthquake along the Alpine Fault was 170 years ago; studies of the faults' strain accumulation suggest that similar events are likely to occur again.

North of New Zealand, the Australia-Pacific boundary stretches east of Tonga and Fiji to 250 km south of Samoa. For 2,200 km the trench is approximately linear, and includes two segments where old (>120 Myr) Pacific oceanic lithosphere rapidly subducts westward (Kermadec and Tonga). At the northern end of the Tonga trench, the boundary curves sharply westward and changes along a 700 km-long segment from trench-normal subduction, to oblique subduction, to a left lateral transform-like structure.

USGS historic seismicity.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 60 mm/yr at the southern Kermadec trench to 90 mm/yr at the northern Tonga trench; however, significant back arc extension (or equivalently, slab rollback) causes the consumption rate of subducting Pacific lithosphere to be much faster. The spreading rate in the Havre trough, west of the Kermadec trench, increases northward from 8 to 20 mm/yr. The southern tip of this spreading center is propagating into the North Island of New Zealand, rifting it apart. In the southern Lau Basin, west of the Tonga trench, the spreading rate increases northward from 60 to 90 mm/yr, and in the northern Lau Basin, multiple spreading centers result in an extension rate as high as 160 mm/yr. The overall subduction velocity of the Pacific plate is the vector sum of Australia-Pacific velocity and back arc spreading velocity: thus it increases northward along the Kermadec trench from 70 to 100 mm/yr, and along the Tonga trench from 150 to 240 mm/yr.

The Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone generates many large earthquakes on the interface between the descending Pacific and overriding Australia plates, within the two plates themselves and, less frequently, near the outer rise of the Pacific plate east of the trench. Since 1900, 40 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded, mostly north of 30°S. However, it is unclear whether any of the few historic M8+ events that have occurred close to the plate boundary were underthrusting events on the plate interface, or were intraplate earthquakes. On September 29, 2009, one of the largest normal fault (outer rise) earthquakes ever recorded (M8.1) occurred south of Samoa, 40 km east of the Tonga trench, generating a tsunami that killed at least 180 people.

Across the North Fiji Basin and to the west of the Vanuatu Islands, the Australia plate again subducts eastwards beneath the Pacific, at the North New Hebrides trench. At the southern end of this trench, east of the Loyalty Islands, the plate boundary curves east into an oceanic transform-like structure analogous to the one north of Tonga.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 80 to 90 mm/yr along the North New Hebrides trench, but the Australia plate consumption rate is increased by extension in the back arc and in the North Fiji Basin. Back arc spreading occurs at a rate of 50 mm/yr along most of the subduction zone, except near ~15°S, where the D'Entrecasteaux ridge intersects the trench and causes localized compression of 50 mm/yr in the back arc. Therefore, the Australia plate subduction velocity ranges from 120 mm/yr at the southern end of the North New Hebrides trench, to 40 mm/yr at the D'Entrecasteaux ridge-trench intersection, to 170 mm/yr at the northern end of the trench.

Large earthquakes are common along the North New Hebrides trench and have mechanisms associated with subduction tectonics, though occasional strike slip earthquakes occur near the subduction of the D'Entrecasteaux ridge. Within the subduction zone 34 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900. On October 7, 2009, a large interplate thrust fault earthquake (M7.6) in the northern North New Hebrides subduction zone was followed 15 minutes later by an even larger interplate event (M7.8) 60 km to the north. It is likely that the first event triggered the second of the so-called earthquake "doublet". - USGS.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Major Solar System Disturbance - Green Fireball Blazes Over Alberta, Canada; And Bright Green Fireball Trails Over Florida!

March 24, 2013 - NORTH AMERICA - Here are the latest reports from the Lunar Meteorite Hunters about sightings of green fireballs seen in two different locations on the North American continent this week.

Bright Green Fireball Trails Over Florida - March 21, 2013.
© LunarMeteoriteHunter / Google Earth.
21 March 2013 - Amanda, Miami, FL, USA 22:15 EST
About 2-3 seconds duration. Southeast direction. Blue/green color. Very bright like a firework. It was traveling southeast, continuing in that direction.
21 March 2013 - Kara Rhoden, Starke, FL USA 22:00
5 seconds duration. East to West direction, I was facing North. Bright green fireball with a trail. No sound, it was as bright as the moon. Fragments fell off the tail. Never seen anything like it...very fascinating.
21 March 2013 - Steve Holvik, Smyrna Beach, FL, USA 10pm EST
I saw an object like a shooting star but much closer and with a bright greenish tail that burned out as it came towards the ground...?
21 March 2013 - Nicki B., West Delray Beach FL, USA
It looked like a green flare falling from the sky but it didn't float like a flare. It came down on a solid diagonal line with a small tail. The color was not quite lime, not quite crayon-green. It was large in size like no shooting star I've ever seen. I feel like I'm crazy.

Green Fireball Blazes Over Alberta, Canada - 21 March 2013.
© LunarMeteoriteHunter / Google Earth.

21 March 2013 - Brittney Rattray, Calgary, Alberta @ 21:31 MST
3 seconds duration. I was Northwest facing. Green colour. Very bright falling star. Bigger than I've ever seen.
21 March 2013 - H.C., Calgary, Alberta 21:20
2 seconds duration. I was facing North. It travelled from top to bottom with a slight decline to the left. Bright whitish green colour, with a fairly bright tail. It was big and quick.
21 March 2013 - Stephany Cartwright, Drayton Valley, Alberta Canada 21:20
6 seconds duration. Northwest direction. Purple/blue/silver colour. As bright as the sun. There was a long tail.

DISASTER IMPACT: Australian Weather Anomalies - Clean Up After "Devastating" Tornado Hits Australia, Injuring at Least 25!

March 24, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - The results of the tornado which ravaged north-east Victoria are emerging, with countless homes damaged and hidden debris in the surrounding waters posing a safety risk to swimmers and boat users.  Most of the damage occurred in the towns of Yarrawonga, Bundalong, Mulwala, Koonoomoo and Cobram, where at least 25 people were injured. The SES is warning all recreational boat users and swimmers to be cautious when using the Lower Ovens River, the Murray River or Lake Mulwala.

Denison County Caravan Park Mulwala. Photo: David Thorpe.

State Emergency Service spokesman Toby Borella said floating and submerged debris can pose a risk to navigation and swimmer safety, and particularly cautioned people who use high speed recreational boats such as ski boats and personal water craft to be careful. Mr Borella said the service had received over 1000 requests for help on Thursday, and an additional 158 requests since.  He identified Bundalong as so far the worst affected, with 33 properties sustaining considerable damage, and an additonal seven deemed not fit to live in.  Koonoomoo and Rutherglen were also severely damaged, with 17 houses between the two towns considered totally wrecked.  Premier Denis Napthine said the impact of the tornadoes had been "absolutely devastating". 

He said he would travel to Yarrawonga on Sunday to meet residents and "make sure that those who have been affected are properly looked after."  In conjunction with the federal government, the state is providing emergency financial assistance for those affected.  But Dr Napthine has not ruled out offering further support, if necessary.  "We’ll be having discussions with those people affected, and with local councils, to see what further assistance may be required," he said on Saturday.  "It's very fortunate that no lives were lost. When you see pictures of the damage, it was significant damage, it was an absolutely devastating tornado.  "Our hearts go out to those who have been affected, particularly those who have lost their principal residents and those who have had massive damage to their homes." - The Age.

 WATCH: Tornadoes tear through trailers in Australia.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Military Deployed On The Streets Of Kiev As Record Snowfall Turns Ukraine Into Chaos And State Of Emergency; Hungary Sends Tanks To Rescue Thousands Of People From Snow Trap!

March 24, 2013 - EUROPE - A state of emergency has been declared in Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on Saturday as the city is paralyzed by heavy snowfall and blizzard totally abnormal for March.

"Due to the deterioration of weather conditions [heavy snowfall, blizzards, snow-banks] a state of emergency is declared in the capital," the statement by the Kiev State Administration said.

Military Deployed On The Streets Of Kiev As Record Snowfall Turns Ukraine Into Chaos And State Of Emergency.
 The situation in the city is so dire that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has signed a special decree urging all government agencies to provide maximum assistance to victims of the snowstorm.  The military is also involved in rescuing the city from its snowbound condition as 550 servicemen are deployed to the capital to aid the community services.  Besides 253 snow-cleaning vehicles, 13 armored fighting vehicles are being used to tow stranded cars, with 270 trucks, 540 cars, 83 buses and 15 trolleybuses already removed from snow banks.  The government has created a crisis center to tackle the snowfalls, which is being personally overseen by Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov.

 The military is also involved in rescuing the city from its snowbound condition.
© RIA Novosti / Alexei Furman

"In these difficult conditions, the government calls on everybody to show orderliness, self-restraint, cooperativeness, humanity and, if possible, to join the clean-up efforts in the aftermath of the bad weather, to help each other in tough situations," the government's statement said. In just one day Kiev saw over 50 millimeters of snowfall - while the entire monthly norm is 47 millimeters. Community services are ordered to work around the clock, with priority given to cleaning the approaches to the Metro stations and subway stairs, as well entrances to hospitals and grocery stores. Dozens of flights in Kiev's biggest airport, Boryspil, are delayed or cancelled, with the city's second aerial port, Zhuliany, halting operations altogether.

An elderly man walks near snow covered cars during a heavy storm in the Ukraine capital Kiev on March 23, 2013.© AFP Photo/Sergei Supinsky

Meanwhile, bloggers report that some of the city's residents managed to find joy in the tempest as some daredevils was seen snowboarding in the streets. The weather conditions remain difficult in other parts of Ukraine as well, which led to electricity shortages in almost 400 settlements in the Kiev, Vinnytsia and Poltava Regions.  The highway services are fighting with snow 24/7 in the north of the country, while the southern regions are suffering from heavy rains.

A convoy of snow clearing vehicles work along a main road after a heavy snowfall in Kiev, March 23, 2013. © Reuters

The snow front is moving eastward and is expected to hit Moscow on Saturday evening or Sunday, lasting until almost the end of March. A gale warning is announced in Russia's capital and the Moscow Region. The synoptic service say that the current March may become the coldest in Moscow in the last 33 years as they forecast temperatures of around minus 9 or 10 degrees Celsius, which is around nine degrees below average.

A woman removes snow from her car during a storm in the Ukraine capital Kiev on March 23, 2013. © Reuters

A man cleans his snow covered car after a heavy snow storm in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on March 23, 2013. © RIA Novosti / Alexei Furman

Heavy snowfalls are already in full swing in Russia's Tula and Lipetsk Regions, with snow-clearing vehicles taking to the streets, while the city of Kursk, the administrative center of Kursk Region, which borders Ukraine, was forced to declare the state of emergency, like Kiev.  Subzero temperatures and snow mixed with rain are causing problems to residents of continental Europe and the British Isles as well, where the current March became the coldest in 50 years.  Russia's national football team was to play a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland in Belfast on Friday. The match was initially rescheduled to Saturday, but subsequently canceled, with stadium employees failing to remove the ice crust from the pitch. - Russia Today.

Hungary Sends Tanks To Rescue Thousands Of People From Snow Trap.
Thousands of people in Hungary found themselves trapped in heavy snow after a sudden cold snap and high winds swept over Eastern Europe. Budapest has deployed tanks to reach motorists trapped by the conditions.  The heavy dump has trapped people in cars, buses and trains as dozens of major roads across the country were blocked by the snowfall.  Tanks and other military vehicles with caterpillar tracks have been dispatched to rescue motorists as trucks jackknifed causing huge traffic jams on the main motorway that links Budapest and Vienna.

A police car arrives at the site of an accident involving a truck and cars at the E71 motorway, nearby the Croatian, Slovenian and Hungarian borders on March 15, 2013 a day after a heavy snow storm hit the area © AFP Photo / Szilard Gergely

A member of the Hungarian rescue team walks on top of the snow at the M1 highway, 80 km west of Budapest, March 15, 2013
© Reuters / Laszlo Balogh

"The situation is most critical on the M1 motorway where hundreds of cars are stranded in the snow, most of them for 18-20 hours now," Reuters cites Marton Hajdu, spokesman for the National Directorate for Disaster Management.  Thousands of people have been forced to spend the night in their cars or roadside buildings after a snowstorm paralyzed traffic on the major Hungarian highway.  A Reuters photographer travelling with a rescue convoy said high winds had caused snowdrifts on the motorway up to a meter (3 feet) high.  Those who happened to be waiting out the snowstorm at home were left shivering as the electricity and heating went off. In total up to 100,000 of Hungarians have been suffering from cold in their apartments.

© AFP Photo / Katasztrofavedelem.

© AFP Photo / Katasztrofavedelem.

The weather conditions also forced the government and several opposition parties to cancel outdoor festivities and events planned for Friday's national holiday commemorating Hungary's 1848 revolution against the Habsburgs.  Neighboring Slovakia along with Bulgaria and parts of Serbia and Bosnia have also been facing foul weather.  In eastern Slovakia, some 40 trucks were trapped in snow on a highway in the High Tatras region. The army ordered the deployment of hundreds of soldiers to help out. Local authorities are warning citizens not to use cars.

A member of the Hungarian rescue team removes snow from a car at the M1 highway, 80 km west of Budapest, March 15, 2013© Reuters / Laszlo Balogh

A handout photo released by the Hungarian rescuers Katasztrofavedelem shows destroyed cars and trucks stucked after an accident on the E75 motorway, near Szabadbattyan about 70 km west from Hungarian capital Budapest on March 14, 2013 as thirty cars, eight vans and nine trucks collided after a heavy snow storm hit the area© AFP Photo / Katasztrofavedelem

To avoid traffic jams in Poland authorities banned heavy trucks from entering the city of Rzeszow, fearing they could get stuck and gridlock roads.  In Bulgaria, a woman was killed when scaffolding collapsed in high winds in the central town of Gabrovo. In the southern town of Krichim a school was evacuated when wind tore off the roof.  Snow has caused travel chaos in other parts of Europe too, leaving scores of passengers stranded at airports, railway stations, and at sea. Frankfurt Airport - Europe's third busiest- has cancelled and delayed up to 100 flights of a scheduled 1,200 after the city saw about 12cm of snow. Travellers going to France have also faced inconvenience with a quarter of flights out of Paris cancelled by the city's two main airports - Charles de Gaulle and Orly.  Some 80,000 homes in the north and northwest of France were without power, following snowfalls of up to 60cm.  The unseasonable snowfall comes little more than a week before spring officially starts in Europe. - Russia Today.

WATCH: Record Snowfall Turns Ukraine/Russia Into Chaos.

SOLAR WATCH: Farside Of The Sun Erupts - Hurls Bright Coronal Mass Ejection Into Space, Expected To Deliver Glancing Impact To Planet Venus!

March 24, 2013 - THE SUN - This weekend, none of the sunspots on the Earthside of the sun is actively flaring. NOAA forecasters put the odds of a significant eruption at no more than 5%.

FARSIDE NOT QUIET: The Earthside of the sun is quiet, but the farside is not. On March 23rd around 1300 UT, an active region in the sun's far-southern hemisphere erupted, hurling a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) over the sun's limb. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory photographed the expanding cloud:

Update: Our earlier report that Mercury is in the path of the CME was incorrect. Newly-computed 3D models based on data from SOHO, STEREO-A and STEREO-B indicate that the CME will miss Mercury and hit Venus instead. A glancing impact is expected on March 25th. Because Venus has no global magnetic field to protect it from CMEs, the impact will likely strip a small amount of atmosphere from the planet’s cloudtops. No worries, though, because Venus has plenty of atmosphere to spare.

SUNSPOTS & CORONAL HOLES: With all of the active regions rotating out of direct Earth view, the Farside of the Sun will be where most of the action is over the next week or so. The image below by STEREO Ahead EUVI 195 shows at least 7 active regions currently transiting the other side of the Sun.

With the exception of perhaps 2 or 3 active regions on the Earth facing side of the Sun, quiet times may be in store. Of course with the Sun, you never do know for certain what lays ahead. You can visit the SolarHam Farside Tracker to monitor all of these regions.

A new sunspot is emerging at the circled location. Credit: SDO/HMI.

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on March 29-30. Credit: SDO/AIA.

FOUR HOURS IN A FEW MINUTES: On March 17th, St. Patrick's Day, a CME hit Earth's magnetic field, sparking shamrock-green auroras around the Arctic Circle. Many photographers were exhausted from staying up all night to record the display. Göran Strand of Frösön, Sweden, kept working, though. "I've spent the last five days processing the images I recorded. The time lapse consists of 2464 raw images totaling 30 gigabytes," he says. "The photo of the Sun in the movie is a hydrogen-alpha mosaic I made from ten images captured on March 16th, the day before the storm. That one was 10 gigabytes. So, all in all, this movie contains over 40 gigabytes of data." A similar display tonight is unlikely. No CMEs are en route to Earth, and the solar wind is calm. NOAA forecasters estimate a scant 5% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on March 24th.

WATCH: Aurora Borealis - March 17, 2013.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 6.1 Magnitude Quake Strikes Off Far East Of Russia!

March 24, 2013 - RUSSIA - A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of far-eastern Russia early Sunday, the US Geological Survey reported.

The quake, which hit at 0418 GMT at a depth of 9.7 kilometres (six miles), was centred 269 kilometres from the eastern Russian city of Ozernovsky, on the southern tip of the Kamchatka peninsula.

USGS earthquake map and location.

The USGS said an underground formation there called the Kuril-Kamchatka arc is considered one of the most seismically active regions in the world.

USGS earthquake intensity shakemap.

Since 1900, seven powerful earthquakes of magnitude 8.3 or greater have occurred along the arc, the USGS said. - Channel News Asia.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics Of The Kuril-Kamchatka Arc.
The Kuril-Kamchatka arc extends approximately 2,100 km from Hokkaido, Japan, along the Kuril Islands and the Pacific coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula to its intersection with the Aleutian arc near the Commander Islands, Russia. It marks the region where the Pacific plate subducts into the mantle beneath the Okhotsk microplate, part of the larger North America plate. This subduction is responsible for the generation of the Kuril Islands chain, active volcanoes located along the entire arc, and the deep offshore Kuril-Kamchatka trench. Relative to a fixed North America plate, the Pacific plate is moving towards the northwest at a rate that increases from 75 mm/year near the northern end of the arc to 83 mm/year in the south.

Plate motion is predominantly convergent along the Kuril-Kamchatka arc with obliquity increasing towards the southern section of the arc. The subducting Pacific plate is relatively old, particularly adjacent to Kamchatka where its age is greater than 100 Ma. Consequently, the Wadati-Benioff zone is well defined to depths of approximately 650 km. The central section of the arc is comprised of an oceanic island arc system, which differs from the continental arc systems of the northern and southern sections. Oblique convergence in the southern Kuril arc results in the partitioning of stresses into both trench-normal thrust earthquakes and trench-parallel strike-slip earthquakes, and the westward translation of the Kuril forearc. This westward migration of the Kuril forearc currently results in collision between the Kuril arc in the north and the Japan arc in the south, resulting in the deformation and uplift of the Hidaka Mountains in central Hokkaido.

Historic seismicity of the region.

The Kuril-Kamchatka arc is considered one of the most seismically active regions in the world. Deformation of the overriding North America plate generates shallow crustal earthquakes, whereas slip at the subduction zone interface between the Pacific and North America plates generates interplate earthquakes that extend from near the base of the trench to depths of 40 to 60 km. At greater depths, Kuril-Kamchatka arc earthquakes occur within the subducting Pacific plate and can reach depths of approximately 650 km.

This region has frequently experienced large (Magnitude greater than 7) earthquakes over the past century. Since 1900, seven great earthquakes (M8.3 or larger) have also occurred along the arc, with mechanisms that include interplate thrust faulting, and intraplate faulting. Damaging tsunamis followed several of the large interplate megathrust earthquakes. These events include the February 3, 1923 M8.4 Kamchatka, the November 6,1958 M8.4 Etorofu, and the September 25, 2003 M8.3 Hokkaido earthquakes. A large M8.5 megathrust earthquake occurred on October 13, 1963 off the coast of Urup, an island along the southern Kuril arc, which generated a large tsunami in the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk, and caused run-up wave heights of up to 4-5 m along the Kuril arc. The largest megathrust earthquake to occur along the entire Kurile-Kamchatka arc in the 20th century was the November 4, 1952 M9.0 event. This earthquake was followed by a devastating tsunami with run-up wave heights as high as 12 m along the coast of Paramushir, a small island immediately south of Kamchatka, causing significant damage to the city of Severo-Kurilsk.

On October 4,1994, a large (M8.3) intraplate event occurred within the subducted oceanic lithosphere off the coast of Shikotan Island causing intense ground shaking, landslides, and a tsunami with run-up heights of up to 10 m on the island.

The most recent megathrust earthquake in the region was the November 15, 2006 M8.3 Kuril Island event, located in the central section of the arc. Prior to this rupture, this part of the subduction zone had been recognized as a seismic gap spanning from the northeastern end of the 1963 rupture zone to the southwestern end of the 1952 rupture. Two months after the 2006 event, a great (M8.1) normal faulting earthquake occurred on January 13, 2007 in the adjacent outer rise region of the Pacific plate. It has been suggested that the 2007 event may have been caused by the stresses generated from the 2006 earthquake. - USGS.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For March 23, 2013 - Updates On Stromboli, El Hierro, Tolbachik, Sheveluch, Kizimen, Gorely, Bezymianny, Karymski, Telica, Klyuchevskoi, Batu Tara, Colima, And Popocatépetl!

March 24, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Webcam image of the crater area of Stromboli with dust from rockfalls on the Sciara (INGV).

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): An increase in activity has occurred today. Lava overspills wide area of the rims of the NE crater, causing lava overflows and numerous rockfalls descending down the Sciara del Fuoco. Tremor and explosion signals have increased in strength.

Map of recent earthquakes at El Hierro (IGN).

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): The scenario of an eruption in the near future is becoming increasingly likely: - Volcanic tremor continues, suggesting magma is still moving although mostly laterally for the time being to an area just north off the western tip of the island.The seismic swarm continues with even increasing intensity, as to both the average magnitude and frequency of earthquakes, as well as amplitude of harmonic volcanic tremor which is oscillating between higher and lower phases. This might correspond to some sort of "stop and go" behavior of magma moving its way through new cracks in the lower crust beneath the island. The location of the epicenters of quakes, the presumed location of the current magma intrusions, is now about 5 km NW of the western tip of the island, and at depths between 10-17 km. No strong upwards trend is yet visible, but this could change quickly... [read more]

Satellite image of the active flow fields of Tolbachik (NASA satellite image data, processed by volcanodetect).

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): Activity continues essentially unchanged: strombolian explosions accompany the effusion of fluid lava flows from the southern fissure of Tolbachinsky Dol. The flows spread into 2 distinct fields to the west and the east and are well visible on satellite data. KVERT reports that the tremor amplitude remains oscillating between medium to high levels, at about 1/3 of their level during the start of the eruption.

Other volcanoes in Kamchatka:

No significant changes in activity have been reported from any of the volcanoes in Kamchatka: Moderate seismicity was reported from Sheveluch and Kizimen (ongoing lava dome growth), and Gorely which has no eruption at the moment, but shows strong degassing and internal unrest.

The strong seismicity from Tolbachik obscures the signals from Bezymianny, which also continues to slowly build a lava dome.

No seismic data were available from Karymski and Klyuchevskoi volcano seems to have remained quiet.

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): For several days in a row, ash plumes have been spotted at 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude. The volcano, in near-continuous strombolian activity since 2006, has apparently stepped up the frequency of larger explosions although perhaps part of this might be explained by better meteorologic conditions allowing to detect ash plumes.

Current seismic recording from Colima volcano (Soma station, Univ. Colima).

Colima (Western Mexico): Small explosions from the growing dome, associated rockfalls and volcanic earthquakes have continued to increase in amplitude and frequency during the past days and weeks.

MODIS hot spot at the summit of Popocatépetl.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): No big changes in activity have occurred. Emissions of gas-steam-sometimes small amounts of ash have remained less than 1 per hour on average (yesterday).

The today's seismogram shows tiny volcano-tectonic earthquakes and what seems to be a phase of slightly elevated tremor. A hot spot is visible on recent MODIS satellite imagery, corresponding to the growing lava dome, which continues to produce visible glow at night as well.

Telica seismogram this morning (TELN station INETER).

Telica (Nicaragua): The seismic swarm continues with no changes. Hundreds of tiny quakes up to magnitudes around 2 have been occurring for the past days, but no reports have become available (so far).

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for the 23rd of March.

Photo of the Day:

Lightning in eruption column from an explosion of Sakurajima volcano, Japan (2013).

- Volcano Discovery.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: 100 Pelicans Mysteriously Found Dead In Brevard County, Florida - Cause Unknown; Birds Emaciated, Filled With Parasites!

March 24, 2013 - UNITED STATES - About 100 brown pelicans have been found dead in Brevard County in the past two months and officials are not sure why, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.

flickr | Dallas Krentzel.

The birds are found emaciated and filled with parasites.

"The pelicans are emaciated and have heavy parasite counts, and, to our knowledge, other bird species have not been affected," said FWC researcher Dan Wolf in a press release.

Researchers are assessing the birds to figure out what is going on. They sent samples to the National Wildlife Health Center for testing but have not yet heard back.

Additional testing will tell researchers whether botulism is the cause. According to officials, botulism is sometimes the cause of die-offs like this.

But botulism usually kills birds too quickly for them to become emaciated.

People should report any dead or sick pelicans online at or by calling the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. - WESH.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Unexplained Huge Crack Forming On The Navajo Nation - Is The Next Grand Canyon Forming?!

March 24, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Is the next Grand canyon forming....

© The Navajo Post.

Luepp, Arizona - It's not something you see every day on the Navajo Nation, but a crack in the earth has been forming for a long time now and no one seems to have a clear answer. It just sits east of Flagstaff on Luepp Rd and about one mile west of Leupp gas station.

It's gotten so big that they had to fenced it in.

WATCH: Unexplained crack on the Navajo Nation.

According to the U.S. geological survey, they say earthquakes come and go in the northern parts of Arizona, which also covers the reservation, it's not big enough to rattle down buildings but with the recent collapse of highway 89 near Page, some local residences wonder what mother nature has in mind for the vast reservation.

On March 18, we reached out to the Navajo Nation land and geology department, they did not have a particular person to give us an answer, so no one was readily available to explain what that huge gash was in the earth. - Navajo Post.