Tuesday, April 9, 2013

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For April 09, 2013 - Possibly New Paroxysm As Ash Emissions And Strombolian Activity From New SE Crater At Mount Etna; And 14,000 Feet High Volcanic Ash Cloud Erupts From Karangetang!

April 09, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Relatively strong ash explosions continue to occur from the New SE crater. At the same time, the tremor signal is rising - maybe we're about to witness the start of a new paroxysm?

Explosion from the New SE crater.
Ash emission from Etna's New SE crater yesterday afternoon (INGV webcam).

New activity has started yesterday afternoon from the New SE crater. Several relatively intense explosive ash emissions were observed from the summit vent of the cone. They produced dense ash plumes rising about 200 m. More explosions occurred during the night, separated by intervals varying from 20 minutes to about 2 hours, during which strong degassing continued and the fumarolic area at the crater rim remained incandescent.

Current tremor signal from Etna (ETFI station, INGV Catania).

The tremor showed a light increase during the night, but it is not clear at the moment, if this is already a precursor to yet another paroxysm.

Karangetang (Siau Island, Sangihe Islands, Indonesia): An eruption has occurred this morning. VAAC Darwin signaled a volcanic ash cloud reaching 14,000 ft (4.3 km) altitude and extending 25 nautical miles to the WNW. VSI maintains the volcano on yellow alert (since 2011).

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for April 9, 2013.

Photo of the Day:

Last sunlight on Halema'uma'u Crater in Kilauea Caldera, Big Island, Hawaii (Photo: Janka)

- Volcano Discovery.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Measles In Wales - "No End" To Swansea Epidemic as Cases Reach 620!

April 09, 2013 - WALES - The number of cases in the Swansea measles epidemic has reached 620, with health officials warning there is no sign of the outbreak coming to an end.

The figure released on Tuesday is an increase of 32 on Friday, with up to 20 new cases being confirmed every day.

Public Health Wales said there had been an excellent response to drop-in vaccination clinics at a number of hospitals last weekend.

But it warned that 6,000 children in Swansea have still not had the jab.

Parents across Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend are being urged to get their children vaccinated.

The total number of cases in the Swansea area is now just two short of the total in the outbreak in the north west of England in the year to February 2013. Most of these cases were on Merseyside, in Greater Manchester and west Lancashire.

About 1,700 people were vaccinated at special hospital drop-in clinics at the weekend, which health officials called an "excellent" response.

But they say at least 6,000 children are still unvaccinated in the county of Swansea.

More hospital drop-in clinics will be held in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend on Saturday, targeting children and adolescents who did not have their scheduled MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jabs as babies and toddlers.

Some GP surgeries are also laying on special vaccination sessions, while children will be given the jab at schools in the outbreak area when they return next week after the Easter break.

'Not judging'

Dr Marion Lyons, director of health protection for Public Health Wales, said she believed the outbreak could go on for weeks.

"We cannot be confident that the outbreak will not continue to grow with so many children still at risk from this very contagious and potentially fatal disease," she said.

Some 60 people have been hospitalised since the start of the outbreak.

Sara Hayes, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board's director of public health, said: "Many children who missed the MMR jabs when they were little will be sitting exams once they go back to school.

"We are not in any way judgmental about why their children may have missed the MMR in the past. The important thing is that they get the jab now," she added.

Concerns over the safety of the MMR jab were raised in the late 1990s when a surgeon published a since discredited paper in The Lancet suggesting MMR was linked to an increased risk of autism.

That paper, and subsequent media coverage, led to immunisation rates plummeting.

A Swansea newspaper which joined the anti-MMR campaign at that time has defended itself against claims that it was to blame for the current outbreak.

Jonathan Roberts, editor of the South Wales Evening Post, said the campaign had been hard-hitting but reflected parents' concerns at the time about the safety of the vaccine.

"It is clear that there were genuine concerns in the mid-90s about MMR and the Post gave them full and responsible coverage," he said in Ean article for the paper.

"To judge it honestly and fairly, one has to consider the fear which existed at the time, the fact that medical experts were publicly expressing concerns about the vaccine and the duty of this paper to reflect public opinion."

Mr Roberts hosted a webchat on Tuesday on the paper's website.

He was asked to account for the fact that MMR vaccination rates dropped by about 2% across Wales but by 13% in Swansea.

"When looking back at the content contained within the stories we ran, the message was balanced," he said in response.

"We had a duty to reflect the concerns of our community, we also had a duty to reflect the official view of health professionals. And this we did."

He said he would be looking into republishing online archive stories from the time.

'Serious complications'

Although the epidemic is based in Swansea, cases continue to be reported across Wales.

Most are in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health region, which also includes Neath, Port Talbot and Bridgend.

There are also cases in Powys and in the Hywel Dda Health Board area, which covers Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

Officials have said it is "just a matter of time" before a child is left with serious and permanent complications, such as eye disorders, deafness or brain damage, or even dies.

Typical symptoms of measles include fever, cough, conjunctivitis and a rash. Complications are quite common even in healthy people, and about 20% of reported measles cases experience one or more complication.

These can include ear infections, vomiting and diarrhoea, pneumonia, meningitis and serious eye disorders. - BBC.

 WATCH: Measles - 'No end' to Swansea epidemic as cases reach 620.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Sudden Plunge In Temperature By 55 Degrees in Colorado; 'It's Just Brutal'; 465 Flights Cancelled At Denver International Airport As City Gets Slammed With Spring Storm?!

April 09, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The storm that dumped snow across parts of the Rockies and northern Plains on Tuesday was expected to bring more severe weather on Wednesday.

The central and southern Plains areas were at risk for severe weather, according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center.

A man crosses the street during a winter storm that brought snow and a fast plunge in temperature overnight to downtown Denver on Tuesday.
Brennan Linsley / AP

Swaths of land from New Mexico to Wisconsin were under winter storm warnings,while parts of Utah were under blizzard warnings.

According to the National Weather Service, Oklahoma City and Wichita Falls, Texas, were at risk for tornadoes and possible hailstorms Tuesday night and into Wednesday.

Earlier Tuesday, blizzard warnings were in effect in Colorado, where the temperature plunged more than 50 degrees in less than 24 hours and the wind chill approached zero. Wyoming got more than a foot of snow.

The culprit is a deep dip in the jet stream that swung west and pulled arctic air far into the country. As it collides with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, strong storms and tornadoes are possible in the Great Plains and Texas.

“It’s just brutal to be outside,” said Eric Fisher, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

WATCH: A big storm is moving across the US – on one side of the system it's snowy and windy with temperatures below average. Meanwhile, warm air in parts of the Midwest leaves the region bracing for tornadoes. The East Coast, however, experienced record-highs. Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Seidel reports from Aurora, Colo.

In Denver, the temperature plummeted from 71 degrees at 2 p.m. Monday to 16 degrees at 7 a.m. Tuesday, with a wind chill of 1. More than 250 flights were canceled into and out of Denver on Tuesday alone.

In Wyoming, authorities closed two stretches of interstate more than 100 miles long — I-25 between Cheyenne and Douglas and I-80 between Laramie and Rawlins. More than a foot of snow fell by midmorning in the city of Lander, and one town near the Nebraska state line reported 2-foot snow drifts.

Snow was also falling at midday Tuesday in Colorado, Utah, the Dakotas and Minnesota.

The calendar may say spring, but April is the second-snowiest month of the year in Denver. The city has averaged 9 inches in April since 1882, second only to the 11.5 inches it gets in an average March, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather pattern threatened to bring damaging wind, large hail and perhaps tornadoes to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa, and weaker storms later in the day in the Ohio Valley.

“We’re looking at the gamut today for severe weather,” Weather Channel meteorologist Kevin Roth said.

As the system moves east, severe storms are possible Wednesday across a boomerang-shaped swath of the country from the Texas Gulf Coast north through Indiana and into western Pennsylvania.

Severe storms could move into Georgia, West Virginia and the Carolinas on Thursday. - NBC News.

WATCH: Storm chasers move into Colorado just ahead of wild spring weather as others are fleeing. KUSA's Kevin Torres reports.

465 Flights Cancelled At Denver International Airport As City Gets Slammed With Spring Storm.
A storm that toppled trees, whipped up blinding dust storms and might have spawned some tornadoes brought blizzard conditions to parts of Colorado, where up to 20 inches of snow was possible in the mountains through Tuesday, April 9.

The storm has so far proved less potent than originally predicted in Colorado because a cold front has been lingering to the north. Wyoming has been hit harder, with over a foot falling in Lander.

Up to around 10 inches of snow had fallen in Colorado’s mountains by dawn. Another 5 to 10 inches was possible in some locations but final snowfall amounts would vary quite a bit, National Weather Service forecaster Jim Daniels said.

Up to a foot had been in expected in Denver but forecasters are now calling for around 5 inches.

The storm has canceled 465 flights at Denver International Airport and deicing was causing departing flights to be delayed by as much as a half hour.

Blizzard warnings are also in effect from south of Denver to the New Mexico line and in northwestern Colorado. Winds gusting up to 50 mph were expected there.

As the storm moved in Monday night, April 8, spotters reported two tornadoes near Akron in eastern Colorado.

Northern California was first to feel the lashing blasts of the storm Monday, which spread to the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.

At least a dozen trees came down in San Francisco, police officer John Tozzini told KGO-TV, which reported that more than 20,000 utility customers lost power in the region. A swath of outages occurred across the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the Sacramento Bee reported.

A tree smashed into a Sacramento home where four friends were playing bridge, but they didn’t stop playing their game Monday, according to KCRA.

Gusts topped 80 mph at some places in Southern California. The blustery system was being fueled by a cold front.

“It’s just a cold, really strong upper low,” said Carol Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, Calif.

Whitecaps flecked the Pacific Ocean along the California coast, where gale warnings and small craft advisories were posted. Recreational boaters were warned to stay in port. Wind-driven swells slapped over the tops of breakwaters and turned waves into a churning froth under piers at points such as Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach on the Los Angeles County coast.

The wind turned small wildfires into big problems in some areas, including a blaze in Fillmore about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles that burned two homes and forced the evacuation of 84 homes.

Blowing dust forced the closure of state Route 14 in the high desert Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles due to low visibility. Officer Michael Farrell said motorists who stopped on the road were hit from behind by other cars, but no major injuries were reported.

The power went out for more than 13,000 Southern Californians because of the winds and the weather.

The rush of air had an upside: California’s main power grid manager, the Independent System Operator, reported that turbines spinning within the ISO grid produced a record of 4,196 megawatts Sunday, April 7. The previous record was 3,944 megawatts on March 3.

In Arizona, gusty winds produced by a cold front enveloped Phoenix in a dusty haze and closed 34 miles of Interstate 40 in the northern part of the state for several hours Monday. At least four people were injured in a pileup when two semi-trucks jackknifed in a dust storm on I-10 in southern Arizona. The injuries were not life-threatening. - Lubbock Online.

Pueblo Harley Davidson Store Damaged By High Winds.
High wind literally blew apart the Outpost Harley Davidson store in Pueblo.  The City of Pueblo Fire Department responded to the Outpost at 5001 N. Elizabeth around 07:30 Tuesday morning.  An hour later, firefighters say they saw the front fa├žade wall extending from the second floor through the roof tear away from the building.  Although employees were inside as the initial wind damage occurred, no injuries were reported.  Damage to the front of the structure is extensive. Wind gusts were reported by the National Weather Service station in Pueblo at up to 64 mph overnight and 62 mph at the time of the destruction. Sustained winds were over 40 mph.

The building is expected to be closed until repairs can be made. The 5000 block of North Elizabeth Street is also closed Tuesday morning between the La Quinta Inn and Kohl's department store.  The northbound and southbound lanes are closed due to debris flying from the building.Debris from the building is flying eastbound.  9NEWS partner KOAA says Pueblo Police Colorado State Patrol are monitoring the situation. The closure of I-25 is a possibility if the situation gets worse. - 9NEWS.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: H7N9 Virus - H7N9 Bird Flu Cases In China Rise To 28, Deaths To 9!

April 09, 2013 - CHINA - China's number of confirmed human infections with H7N9 influenza grew to 28 today, as two new cases each from Zhejiang province and Shanghai were added, according to media reports citing official sources.

Two more H7N9 deaths were reported, both in previously confirmed cases, raising the fatality total to nine. The newest reported cases appear to fit a general pattern that has emerged so far: middle-aged and older adults from areas of eastern China that reported earlier cases.

Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported that the patients died this afternoon. One is a 35-year-old woman from Anhui province whose infection was first announced 10 days ago, one of the first three reported, and the other was an 83-year-old man from Jiangsu province whose case was initially reported 7 days ago.

The newest confirmed cases include two patients from Zhejiang province, a 51-year-old woman who is in stable condition and a 79-year-old man who is in critical condition, according to the Xinhua report, which did not include illness-onset dates for the patients. Zhejiang province is about 125 miles southwest of Shanghai and has already reported three H7N9 cases, two of them fatal.

The other two confirmed H7N9 patients are from Shanghai, a 62-year-old man a 77-year-old man who are both in stable condition, according to Xinhua, which said the older man started having symptoms on Apr 3, which is the latest illness-onset date known so far.

The developments push the number of cases in Shanghai to 12, of which 4 were fatal. Detection of the first human H7N9 cases there sparked testing in the city's poultry and agricultural market, which revealed the virus in a small number of pigeons, chickens, and environmental samples.

An update from the World Health Organization (WHO) today, which added three new cases reported by China yesterday, included some new details. It noted that the 25-year-old woman from Jiangsu province is pregnant and is in critical condition. She got sick on Mar 30.

The WHO said close monitoring is under way for more than 600 close contacts of confirmed patients. An investigation is still ongoing into a symptomatic contact of one of Jiangsu province's previously reported cases.

So far there is no evidence of human-to-human spread, the WHO said.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) today issued an epidemiologic update on the new virus, which said no epidemiological links have been found among any of the patients so far, based on China's total from yesterday. It said a small family cluster of illnesses had been reported in the first patient confirmed with the illness—an 87-year-old man from Shanghai who died—but lab testing has not confirmed additional infections.

Beijing holds a drill on Apirl 9, 2013 to make medical staff fully prepared to H7N9 bird flu cases.

More sporadic cases in China are likely to be reported, and given no evidence of human-to-human spread of the virus, the ECDC said it considers the risk in Europe to be low, though it couldn't rule out the possibility of individual cases coming from China.

As human cases mount, intensive efforts continue in China to identify the source of the infections. Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman, said today that tests have not yielded H7N9 in samples from Chinese pigs so far, Xinhua reported today.

In a separate report, the news organization said that among 738 samples collected from three poultry markets in Shanghai, 20 were positive for the virus: 10 from chickens, 3 from pigeons, and 7 from the environment.

Meanwhile, authorities are taking a variety of response measures to limit the possible exposure to and spread of H7N9. Sanitation workers were reportedly seen destroying bird nests on the Shanghai Jiaotong University campus, the China Internet Information Center, a Web portal authorized by China's government, reported yesterday.

A photo of workers reportedly removing the nests appeared on Sina Weibo, a Chinese social media site. An official from the Shanghai Disease Control and Prevention Center said there is no evidence that the birds are infected with H7N9 and pose a threat to the campus, and there is no need to destroy the nests. So far authorities have found no evidence of the new virus in wild birds in China.

Also, a pigeon racing association has cancelled its upcoming events and is asking owners to keep their birds caged for the next 2 months to prevent infection with the new virus, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. The Hangzhou Carrier Pigeon Association also said it would vaccinate up to 90,000 birds to protect them from influenza, though a specific vaccine against the new strain hasn't been developed yet.

The pigeons that tested positive for the new virus at two agricultural markets in Shanghai were birds raised for consumption. Avian flu experts have said pigeons appear to be less suitable hosts for avian influenza viruses, compared with other bird species. - CIDRAP.

Ninth H7N9 Death Raises Concerns.
Mr. Han, female, 35-year-old, Chuzhou South Qiao District residents, the onset of March 15, March 20 into the treatment of Jiangsu Nanjing , March 31 was officially confirmed human cases of infection with the H7N9 avian flu. 14:30 today, patients Mr. Han died after rescue invalid

The above translation describes the death of the third confirmed H7N9 case (35F – A/Anhui/1/2013) who was in critical condition when announced. The death increases the total to 9. Earlier today 4 additional confirmed cases were announced, increasing that total to 28. WHO issued an update today which tallied 24 cases and 7 deaths. Media reports had indicated one case (4M) had recovered. That was was previously characterized as mild. The recovery would be the first for a confirmed case and would lower the case fatality rate to 90%.

This high rate strongly suggests that testing is largely limited to severe cases and contacts of confirmed cases. All four public H7N9 human sequences are now from fatal cases, and all three PB2 sequences from these cases (A/Shanghai/1/2013, A/Shanghai/2/2013 and A/Anhui/1/2013) have E627K. In contrast, the three avian H7N9 sequences from a pigeon, chicken, and environmental sample (A/Pigeon/Shanghai/S1069/2013, A/Chicken/Shanghai/S1053/2013, and A/Environment/Shanghai/S1088/2013) from wet markets near the first two confirmed cases in the Minghang District (see map).

The number of confirmed avian cases has been low, raising the possibility that the avian positives reflect transmission from humans to birds, since all avian isolates have Q226L, and the E at position 627 was acquired through recombination or reassortment with other avian isolates, since E at position 627 is virtually universally detected in H7 or H9N2 isolates. Moreover prior to this outbreak Q226L had not been reported in any H5N1 or H7 bird flu.

The high human case fatality rate continues to signal sustain human transmission via undected or unreported milder cases, WHO and CDC denials notwithstanding. - Recombinomics.

WATCH: H7N9 Outbreak in China - Truth More Serious Than Released Information?

WATCH: Bird Flu spreads to second Chinese city.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 6.3 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Near Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Facility - 37 People Have Been Killed, 850 Injured, Two Villages Totally Destroyed, 23 Villages Affected, 700 Homes Partially Or Completely Destroyed!

April 09, 2013 - IRAN - Thirty-seven people have been killed after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck near Bushehr in Iran. Around 850 people have been injured, according to Iranian media. The area is home to the Bushehr nuclear power plant. "Based on the most recent figures on the impact of the earthquake, 37 people have been killed and 850 injured," said deputy governor of Bushehr province, Shahpour Rostami, as quoted by Fars news agency.

Iran has announced a three day mourning period for those killed in the earthquake, according to Interfax. The quake's epicenter was 89 kilometers (55 miles) away from the nuclear plant, just outside the town of Kaki. Eighty to 100 per cent of the town's homes have been destroyed, Itar-Tass reported.

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake has struck in south-west Iran, not far from the country's only nuclear power station, the US Geological Survey (USGS) says.

The depth of the quake was 10 km (6.2miles). It was followed by 21 aftershocks within three hours. Twelve of those measured above 4 on the Richter scale. "We could clearly feel the earthquake," a local resident told Reuters. "The windows and chandeliers all shook."

The villages of Shanbe and Sana have been heavily damaged, according to a Red Cross official. Reports on Twitter say that 23 villages have been affected in total. More than 700 homes have been completely or partially destroyed, Mehr news agency reported. Many houses in rural parts of the province are made of mud brick, which can easily crumble in an earthquake.

Damaged houses are seen in the earthquake stricken town of Bushehr in Iran April 9, 2013. (Reuters)

Damaged houses are seen in the earthquake stricken town of Bushehr in Iran April 9, 2013. (Reuters)

The Bushehr nuclear plant, which is located just 11 miles southeast of the city, remains unaffected. "The earthquake in no way affected the normal situation at the reactor, personnel continue to work in the normal regime and radiation levels are fully within the norm," an official with Atomstroyexport, the Russian company which built the facility, told RIA Novosti.

The governor of the province has also confirmed that the plant is undamaged. The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that Iran told it that the earthquake caused no damage to the facility. "Iran has informed (the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre) of the event, reporting that there has been no damage to the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant and no radioactive release from the installation," the agency said in a statement, as quoted by Reuters.

A picture shows the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran (AFP Photo)

Based on this information and the IAEA's own seismic analysis of the earthquake's magnitude, location and other factors, the agency "is not currently seeking additional information from Iran," the statement added. People on social media reported feeling the quake as far as in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Gulf Arab countries and Western experts have voiced concerns about the Bushehr plant, which is built in a highly seismic area. Iran has repeatedly denied allegations that it could be unsafe.

The IAEA said during a 2012 visit to the facility that it was indeed safe. "I, as the head of the [inspection] team, assure the Iranian society that Iran's installations are safe," Head of the IAEA's Nuclear Safety and Security Department, Olena Mykolaichuk, said in a statement.

The port city of Bushehr, which is home to around 160,000 people, is located on Iran's southwestern coastal region. Iran extends across several major faults in the earth's crust, and is prone to frequent earthquakes. In August 2012, two quakes in the north-west of the country claimed the lives of 306 people and injured more than 4,500 others.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

Nuclear tensions

Earlier Tuesday, Iranian state TV announced that the country has begun operations at two uranium extraction mines and a new uranium production facility.

The announcement comes amidst a heated international row surrounding Tehran's nuclear intentions.

The US and its allies claim that Iran is using the program as a cover to secretly build a nuclear weapon. Tehran denies the allegations, stating that its nuclear endeavors are for purely civilian purposes. The Islamic Republic says its nuclear program is necessary to produce energy, as well as isotopes for research and medical devices. - RT.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Middle East and Vicinity.
No fewer than four major tectonic plates (Arabia, Eurasia, India, and Africa) and one smaller tectonic block (Anatolia) are responsible for seismicity and tectonics in the Middle East and surrounding region. Geologic development of the region is a consequence of a number of first-order plate tectonic processes that include subduction, large-scale transform faulting, compressional mountain building and crustal extension.

Mountain building in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan is the result of compressional tectonics associated with collision of the India plate moving northwards at a rate of 40 mm/yr with respect to the Eurasia plate. Continental thickening of the northern and western edge of the India subcontinent has produced the highest mountains in the world, including the Himalayan, Karakoram, Pamir and Hindu Kush ranges. Earthquake activity and faulting found in this region, as well as adjacent parts of Afghanistan and India, are due to collisional plate tectonics.

Beneath the Pamir-Hindu Kush Mountains of northern Afghanistan, earthquakes occur to depths as great as 200 km as a result of remnant lithospheric subduction. Shallower crustal earthquakes in the Pamir-Hindu Mountains occur primarily along the Main Pamir Thrust and other active Quaternary faults, which accommodate much of the region's crustal shortening. The western and eastern margins of the Main Pamir Thrust display a combination of thrust and strike-slip mechanisms.

USGS historic seismicity for the region.

Along the western margin of the Tibetan Plateau, in the vicinity of southeastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, the India plate translates obliquely relative to the Eurasia plate, resulting in a complex fold-and-thrust belt known as the Sulaiman Range. Faulting in this region includes strike-slip, reverse-slip and oblique-slip motion and often results in shallow, destructive earthquakes. The relatively fast moving left-lateral, strike-slip Chaman Fault system in southeastern Afghanistan accommodates translational motion between the India and Eurasia plates. In 1505, a segment of the Chaman Fault system near Kabul, Afghanistan ruptured causing widespread destruction of Kabul and surrounding villages. In the same region, the more recent 30 May 1935, M7.6 Quetta, Pakistan earthquake, occurred within the Sulaiman Range, killing between 30,000 and 60,000 people.

Off the south coast of Pakistan and southeast coast of Iran, the Makran trench is the present-day surface expression of active subduction of the Arabia plate beneath the continental Eurasia plate, which converge at a rate of approximately 20 mm/yr. Although the Makran subduction zone has a relatively slow convergence rate, it has produced large devastating earthquakes and tsunamis. For example, the November 27, 1945 M8.0 mega-thrust earthquake produced a tsunami within the Gulf of Oman and Arabia Sea, killing over 4,000 people. Northwest of this active subduction zone, collision of the Arabia and Eurasia plates forms the approximately 1,500-km-long fold and thrust belt of the Zagros Mountains, which crosses the whole of western Iran and extends into northeastern Iraq. Collision of the Arabia and Eurasia plates also causes crustal shortening in the Alborz Mountains and Kopet Dag in northern Iran. Eastern Iran experiences destructive earthquakes that originate on both strike-slip and reverse faults. For example, the 16 September 1978 M7.8 earthquake, along the southwest edge of the Dasht-e-Lut Basin killed at least 15,000 people.

Along the eastern margin of the Mediterranean region there is complex interaction between the Africa, Arabia and Eurasia plates. The Red Sea Rift is a spreading center between the Africa and Arabia plates, with a spreading rate of approximately 10mm/yr near its northern end, and 16mm/yr near its southern end (Chu, D. and Gordon, R. G., 1998). Seismicity rate and size of earthquakes has been relatively small along the spreading center, but the rifting process has produced a series of volcanic systems across western Saudi Arabia.

Further north, the Red Sea Rift terminates at the southern boundary of the Dead Sea Transform Fault. The Dead Sea Transform is a strike-slip fault that accommodates differential motion between the Africa and Arabia plates. Though both the Africa plate, to the west, and the Arabia plate, to the east, are moving in a NNE direction, the Arabia plate is moving slightly faster, resulting in the left-lateral, strike-slip motion along this segment of the plate boundary. Historically, earthquake activity along the Dead Sea Transform has been a significant hazard in the densely populated Levant region (eastern Mediterranean). For example, the November 1759 Near East earthquake is thought to have killed somewhere between 2,000-20,000 people. The northern termination of the Dead Sea Transform occurs within a complex tectonic region of southeast Turkey, where interaction of the Africa and Arabia plates and the Anatolia block occurs. This involves translational motion of the Anatolia Block westwards, with a speed of approximately 25mm/yr with respect to Eurasia, in order to accommodate closure of the Mediterranean basin.

The right-lateral, strike-slip North Anatolia Fault, in northern Turkey, accommodates much of the westwards motion between the Anatolia Block and Eurasia Plate. Between 1939 and 1999, a series of devastating M7.0+ strike-slip earthquakes propagated westwards along the North Anatolia Fault system. The westernmost of these earthquakes was the 17th August 1999, M7.6 Izmit earthquake, near the Sea of Marmara, killed approximately 17,000 people.

At the southern edge of the Anatolia Block lies the east-west trending Cyprian Arc with associated levels of moderate seismicity. The Cyprian Arc represents the convergent boundary between the Anatolia Block to the north and the Africa Plate to the south. The boundary is thought to join the East Anatolia Fault zone in eastern Turkey; however no certain geometry or sense of relative motion along the entire boundary is widely accepted. - USGS.

WORLD WAR III: Escalation Towards Armageddon - U.S. Navy Deploying Laser Weapon Prototype Near Iran; Iran Lines Up Behind North Korea And Warns The United States Of "Great Losses"; Japan Deploys Patriot Missiles As North Korea Warns Foreigners To Leave South! UPDATE: Alert - North Korea "To Launch Missile Tomorrow"!

April 09, 2013 - WORLD WAR III - The Navy is going to sea for the first time with a laser attack weapon that has been shown in tests to disable patrol boats and blind or destroy surveillance drones. A prototype shipboard laser will be deployed on a converted amphibious transport and docking ship in the Persian Gulf, where Iranian fast-attack boats have harassed American warships and where the government in Tehran is building remotely piloted aircraft carrying surveillance pods and, someday potentially, rockets.

Navy Deploying Laser Weapon Prototype Near Iran.

The laser will not be operational until next year, but the announcement on Monday by Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, the chief of naval operations, seemed meant as a warning to Iran not to step up activity in the gulf in the next few months if tensions increase because of sanctions and the impasse in negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program. The Navy released video and still images of the laser weapon burning through a drone during a test firing.

The laser is designed to carry out a graduated scale of missions, from burning through a fast-attack boat or a drone to producing a nonlethal burst to “dazzle” an adversary’s sensors and render them useless without causing any other physical damage.

The Pentagon has a long history of grossly inflating claims for its experimental weapons, but a nonpartisan study for Congress said the weapon offered the Navy historic opportunities.

“Equipping Navy surface ships with lasers could lead to changes in naval tactics, ship design and procurement plans for ship-based weapons, bringing about a technological shift for the Navy — a ‘game changer’ — comparable to the advent of shipboard missiles in the 1950s,” said the assessment, by the Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress.

The study found that the new high-energy laser “could provide Navy surface ships with a more cost-effective means of countering certain surface, air and ballistic missile targets.”

Among the limitations, according to the research service, is that lasers are not effective in bad weather because the beam can be disturbed or scattered by water vapor, as well as by smoke, sand and dust. It is also a “line of sight” weapon, meaning that the target has to be visible, so it cannot handle threats over the horizon. And enemies can take countermeasures like coating vessels and drones with reflective surfaces.

Navy officials acknowledge that the first prototype weapon to be deployed is not powerful enough to take on jet fighters or missiles on their approach. That capability is a goal of researchers.

Among the advantages cited in the study for Congress was the low cost — less than $1 per sustained pulse — of using a high-energy laser against certain targets. By comparison, current short-range air-defense interceptor missiles cost up to $1.4 million each.

The laser weapon also has a limitless supply of ammunition — pulses of high energy — so long as the ship can generate electricity. The beam can reach its target at the speed of light and can track fast-moving targets.

Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, the chief of naval research, said the high-energy laser system was developed as part of the Navy’s search for “new, innovative, disruptive technologies.” In essence, the Navy is trying to harness technological advances in battling adversaries that are thinking of inventive ways to counter American power.

Admiral Klunder said the weapon had destroyed targets in all 12 of its field tests.

The laser prototype cost just under $32 million, officials said. But if the weapon proves itself during its sea trials, and the order is given to buy the laser system for service across the fleet, the price per unit is expected to drop.

Rear Adm. Thomas J. Eccles, the deputy commander for naval systems engineering, said the first laser device would be deployed on the Ponce, which serves as a floating base for military operations and humanitarian assistance in the waters of the Middle East and southwestern Asia.

Iran has two navies: a traditional force of large older ships and a rival one run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that consists of fast-attack speedboats with high-powered machine guns and crews that employ guerrilla tactics, including swarming perilously close to American warships.

A significant confrontation between the United States and the Revolutionary Guards occurred in 2008, when five of Iran’s armed speedboats made aggressive maneuvers as they approached three American warships in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz. Pentagon officials said the commander of a Navy destroyer was on the verge of issuing an order to fire when the speedboats pulled away; no shots were fired. - NY Times.

WATCH: Laser Weapon System.

WATCH: Navy Laser Shoots Down Drone.

Iran Lines Up Behind North Korea, Warns The United States Of "Great Losses".
Kim Jong-Un with his generals.
Tehran’s intercession in the Korean crisis on the side of its ally in Pyongyang was predictable, even though the US preferrs to ignore the close interrelations between the two allies.   And so, on Friday, April 5, Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Masoud Jazayeri stepped forward to point the finger at Washington:  [“The presence of the Americans in [South] Korea has been the root cause of tensions in this sensitive region in the past and present. The US and its allies will suffer great losses if a war breaks out in this region,” he said, adding for good measure: “Independent countries will not submit to the US mischief. The time for Washington’s bullying and extortion is long past.”  debkafile’s Iranian sources: The second part of the statement was a perfect fit for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s flat refusal to accept US demands on Iran’s nuclear program. The Korean crisis gave the Iranians the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. As Kim Jong-Un moved two intermediate missiles to the east coast of North Korea, Gen. Jazayeri’s rhetoric landed on the latest round of talks the six powers were holding with Iran in Amaty, Kazhakstan for a diplomatic resolution of Iran’s nuclear challenge.  Washington hoped to spread some cheer over a diplomatic process that had long past proven futile by planting advance reports that Khamenei had ordered a slowdown of Iran’s nuclear program up to the June presidential election to avoid crossing a red line that would trigger a military response. But when the parties came to the table, Iran’s senior negotiator Saeed Jalili refused outright to respond to the proposals put before Tehran in the previous session. He seemed to have taken his cue from Kim Jong-Un, who too has stuck to his father’s rejectionism in the face of every American proposal for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program. debkafile: The inevitable convergence of the Korean and Iranian crises confronts America’s three top officials, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, with their most challenging international test.  Kerry would be well advised to take a break from his Sisyphean efforts to crack the latest of umpteen Israel-Palestinian disputes, call off his weekend appointments with Israeli and Palestinians leaders and instead fly to Moscow and Beijing. There, he could start bargaining with Russian and Chinese rulers for preliminary understandings with Washington on Iran and Syria that would make it worth their while to use their leverage for bringing the out-of-control North Korean firebrand to heel.  So long as the Obama administration sticks to its current separate policies on Syria and Iran, Iran and Korea, Moscow and Beijing won’t lift a finger to apply the brakes to Kim Jong-Un before he drives the world to catastrophe. - DEBKA.

North Korea Warns Foreigners To Leave South.
North Korean soldiers look to the South as they patrol at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone separating the North from South Korea in Paju, about 55 km (34 miles) north of Seoul March 19, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won
North Korea intensified threats of an imminent conflict against the United States and the South on Tuesday, warning foreigners to evacuate South Korea to avoid being dragged into a "merciless, sacred, retaliatory war".  The North's latest antagonistic message belied an atmosphere free of anxiety in the South Korean capital, where the city center was bustling with traffic and offices operated normally.    Pyongyang has shown no sign of preparing its 1.2 million-strong army for war, indicating the threat could be partly intended to bolster Kim Jong-un, 30, the third in his family to lead the reclusive country.  None of the embassies in Seoul appeared to have issued any directives to their nationals after the warning and airlines reported no changes in their schedules. Schools catering to foreign pupils worked without interruption.  The warning, read out on North Korea's state television in a bulletin that interrupted normal programming, was the latest threat in weeks of high tension following U.N. sanctions slapped on Pyongyang for its latest nuclear arms test.  It followed the North's suspension of activity at the Kaesong joint industrial park just inside North Korea, all but closing down the last remnant of cooperation between the neighbors. North Korean workers failed to turn up on Tuesday.  North Korea had said South Korea was trying to turn the Kaesong complex into a "hotbed of war".  The warning to foreigners, reported by the KCNA news agency said once war broke out "it will be an all-out war, a merciless, sacred, retaliatory war to be waged by (North Korea).  "It does not want to see foreigners in South Korea fall victim to the war," the agency quoted the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee as saying.  "The committee informs all foreign institutions and enterprises and foreigners, including tourists...that they are requested to take measures for shelter and evacuation in advance for their safety."  Last week, North Korean authorities advised embassies in Pyongyang to consider pulling out in case of war, though none appeared to have taken any such action.
South Korean soldiers check vehicles heading towards the South's CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) located just south of the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, on the Grand Unification Bridge in Paju, north of Seoul, early April 8, 2013. REUTERS/Lim Byong-sik/Yonhap

South Korean businessmen, workers and drivers hoping to enter North Korea's Kaesong Industrial Complex wait before heading to the South's CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) located just south of the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, on the Grand Unification Bridge in Paju, north of Seoul, early April 8, 2013.
REUTERS/Lim Byong-sik/Yonhap


Speculation has grown that the North would launch some sort of provocative action this week -- perhaps a missile launch or a fresh nuclear weapons test.  A government source in Seoul said a North Korean medium-range missile, reported to have been shunted to the east coast, had been tracked and was believed to be ready for launch.  "Technically, they can launch it as early as tomorrow," the source said.  But a U.S. embassy official in Seoul said a directive issued last week saying there was no imminent threat to Americans in South Korea remained valid. "Our workers are in all our offices today," he said. "We have not evacuated anyone."  A Philippine foreign ministry spokesman quoted diplomats at its Seoul embassy as saying the situation "remains normal and calm".  Stocks, which had fallen 4 percent over the past four days, edged higher on Tuesday despite the warning to foreigners. The won currency moved little, dipping slightly after the North Korean statement.  Employers at the Kaesong complex faced uncertainty as the 53,000-strong North Korean workforce stayed away. A spokesman for textile company Taekwang Industrial and at least two other firms said production had stopped.  About 475 South Korean workers and factory managers remain in Kaesong, which generates $2 billion in trade for the impoverished North. The Seoul government said 77 would return on Tuesday.  North Korean workers at the park have appeared increasingly agitated in recent days, refusing to talk to their colleagues.  Many Southerners connected with the park bedded down at budget hotels in a nearby South Korean town in the hope that an order would come from the North to re-open.  "I have been feeling anxious now and then. Now it's really preposterous facing this," said Shing Dong-chul, 55, a South Korean worker who transports wire made in Kaesong.  "North Korean workers didn't talk a lot, but they appeared to have complaints about Kaesong being closed. They worried whether they would be working or not."  Addressing a cabinet meeting, South Korean President Park Geun-hye described the suspension of Kaesong as "very disappointing" and said investors would now shun the North.  Few experts had expected Pyongyang to jeopardize Kaesong, which employs more than 50,000 North Koreans making household goods for 123 South Korean firms.

South Korean soldiers patrol along the military fences near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating North Korea from South Korea in Paju, north of Seoul April 7, 2013.

A North Korean military dog bites a dummy of South Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin during a military drill in an unknown location in this picture taken on April 6, 2013 and released by North Korea's official KCNA news agency in Pyongyang on April 7, 2013.

The zone is practically the last vestige of the "Sunshine Policy" of rapprochement between the two Koreas and a powerful symbol that the divided country could one day reunify.  South Korean companies are estimated to have invested around $500 million in the park since 2004.  World leaders have expressed alarm at the crisis and the prospect of a conflict involving a country claiming to be developing nuclear weapons.  China, the North's sole diplomatic and financial ally, issued a new call for calm and restraint, though Beijing's leaders have shown increasing impatience with Pyongyang.  "We ask all the relevant sides to bear in mind regional peace and stability and earnestly protect the legal rights and safety of citizens," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a briefing.  A Russian foreign ministry spokesman, in a statement on the ministry's website, said Moscow was in solidarity with all G8 industrialized countries "as regards the rejection of Pyongyang's current provocative and bellicose line of conduct".  The North is also angry at weeks of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises off the coast of the peninsula, with B-2 stealth bombers dispatched from their U.S. bases.  But the United States announced the postponement last weekend of a long-planned missile launch, a move officials said was aimed at easing tensions on the peninsula.  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits Seoul this week and the North holds celebrations, and possibly military demonstrations, next Monday to mark the birth date of its founder, Kim Il-Sung - the current leader's grandfather.  In Washington, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter urged China to use its influence with the North and said Moscow wanted similar action from Beijing.  But Chinese criticism of North Korea is unlikely to mean tough new action against Pyongyang because China would see any collapse of its troublesome neighbor as a disaster. - Reuters.

WATCH: Pyongyang warns foreigners to evacuate S. Korea, Japan deploys Patriot missiles.

UPDATE: North Korea "To Launch Missile Tomorrow"!
The worrying warning came as speculation heightened that North Korea is planning to pull its ambassador out of the UK after a shipping container was pictured outside the London embassy.  Boxes were seen being loaded onto a large lorry parked outside the pariah state's embassy - an ordinary home in Ealing, west London.Seoul revealed today that foreign nationals in South Korea were told by the North to evacuate in case of a "merciless" war.  "We do not wish harm on foreigners in South Korea should there be a war," said the KCNA news agency, citing its Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.  "The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermo-nuclear war," said the statement.  "Once a war is ignited on the peninsula, it will be an all-out war, a merciless, sacred, retaliatory war waged by the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)," it went on to say.  The remarks come as the communist country has repeatedly said it will turn Seoul and Washington into a "sea of fire" and launch pre-emptive nuclear attacks against its enemies.  South Korean forces have been on high alert for an imminent missile launch by the communist nation, which was seen moving two Musudan missiles to its east coast last week and mounting them on mobile launchers.  Speculation had been building that North Korea could carry out a missile test as early as this week after dictator Kim Jong-un warned he could not "guarantee the safety of foreigners" after April 10.

Speculation had been building that North Korea could carry out a missile test this week.

Japan today deployed missile-defense systems at three sites around Tokyo ahead of the possible missile launch, officials confirmed.  The country's defense minister has also reportedly put destroyers with missile interception systems on alert in the Sea of Japan.  "As North Korea keeps making provocative comments, Japan, co-operating with relevant countries, will do what we have to do," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said today.  "The government is making utmost efforts to protect our people’s lives and ensure their safety," he added.  Japan’s armed forces are authorised to shoot down any North Korean missile headed towards its territory, a defence ministry spokesman said.  "We are doing all we can to protect the safety of our nation," chief Cabinet spokesman Yoshihide Suga said, though he and Ministry of Defense officials refused to confirm reports of a naval alert, saying they do not want to "show their cards" to North Korea. Tensions have escalated further after North Korean authorities told embassies in Pyongyang they could not guarantee their safety from Wednesday - after saying conflict was inevitable amid joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises due to last until the end of the month.  However, no diplomats appear to have left the North Korean capital, despite a North Korean general reprotedly warning diplomats at the weekend that the situation remained "grave".  Earlier today, North Korean labourers failed to turn up for work at a factory complex operated with South Korea, effectively shutting down the last major symbol of cooperation between the hostile neighbours.  Soaring tensions on the peninsula have been fuelled by North Korean anger over the imposition of U.N. sanctions after its last nuclear arms test in February, creating one of the worst crises since the end of the Korean War in 1953. - Express.

MONUMENTAL GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Russian City Of Samara Being "Eaten Alive", Disappearing Into The Earth - Cars, Buses, And Trucks Constantly Swallowed Up By Monster Sinkholes!

April 09, 2013 - RUSSIA - They may look like stills from an apocalyptic horror film, but these images have become a daily reality for residents in a Russian city.

Citizens of Samara, in south east Russia, live in fear of the ground literally disappearing beneath them after huge sinkholes have started to appear all over their city, leaving devastation in their wake.

The yawning underground caverns are all believed to have sprung up in recent weeks swallowing cars, buses and claiming at least one life.

The city of Samara in Russia appears to be sinking into the earth, as massive sinkholes open up swallowing cars and wreaking havoc.

The sinkholes, some large enough to swallow an entire truck, are believed to have opened up as the Russian winter subsides.

There has reportedly been at least one fatality as a result of the sinkholes in the city, Russia's sixth largest.

The sinkholes, some large enough to swallow an entire truck, are believed to have been caused by ground subsidence. 

It is thought the holes have been caused as ice thaws and melts into the ground, with the excess water causing soil decay underneath Samara's roads.

The massive craters have appeared in car parks, busy intersections, by the sides of roads, and on major and minor thoroughfares.

The gaping craters have baffled residents who now live in daily fear of the ground literally swallowing them.

The city of Samara in Russia appears to be sinking into the earth, as massive sinkholes open up swallowing cars and wreaking havoc.

Dozens of the massive craters, have appeared at random in recent weeks, reportedly as the winter thaws leaving the ground soaked with water.

These pictures are all believed to have been taken in recent weeks as the ground decays beneath the city's infrastructure.

Sinkholes are common hazards in mining regions, plaguing areas where miners have burrowed into layers of soluble minerals and accidental floods have followed.

It is believed at least one person has lost their life as a result of one of the crashes caused by the sinkholes.

The citizens of the city have now signed a petition urging authorities to find a solution.

Sinkholes are common hazards in mining regions, plaguing areas where miners have burrowed into layers of soluble minerals and accidental floods have followed.

But natural sinkholes can take thousands of years to form and vary in size.

They are usually the result of what are known as Karst processes, which occur when a layer of rock such as limestone underneath the ground is dissolved by acidic water.

Typically rainfall seeps through the soil, absorbing carbon dioxide and reacting with decaying vegetation. As a result, the water that reaches the soluble rock is acidic.

The problem is thought to be causing carnage across the city. Now residents have organised a petition to urge authorities to find a solution.

The collapse of the surface above a sinkhole can happen suddenly or over a few hours. Heavy rainfall or poor drainage systems can trigger a collapse.

The acidic water then erodes the soluble rock layers beneath the surface creating cavernous spaces.

Then, when it is no longer supported because of the cavity below, the soil or sand over the limestone collapses into a sinkhole.

The collapse of the surface can happen suddenly or over a few hours. Heavy rainfall or poor drainage systems can trigger a collapse.

Citizens in Berezniki, Russia, have also been plagued by sinkholes.

Census data, though, shows that about 12,000 people left the town between 2005 and 2010, after a number of holes opened up.

They are also common in Florida, America. Jeff Bush, 37, was swallowed into a sinkhole and killed while he slept in his bed in February in theTampa Bay area of Florida. - Daily Mail.