Friday, April 12, 2013

WORLD WAR III: Escalation Towards Armageddon - North Korea States 'Nuclear War Is Unavoidable' As It Declares First Target Will Be Japan; United States Raises Nuclear Alert to DEFCON 3; China Mobilizes And Masses Troops On North Korean Border!

"Japan is always in the cross-hairs of our revolutionary army." - KCNA.

April 12, 2013 - KOREAN PENINSULA
- In a commentary carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the communist country lashed out at Tokyo's standing orders to destroy any missile heading toward Japan, threatening such actions will result in a nuclear attack against the island nation.  If Japan executes its threat to shoot down any North Korean missile, such a “provocative” intervention would see Tokyo — an enormous conurbation of 30 million people — “consumed in nuclear flames”, KCNA warned.  “Japan is always in the cross-hairs of our revolutionary army and if Japan makes a slightest move, the spark of war will touch Japan first,” the report added.  An official at Japan’s defence ministry said that the country “will take every possible measure to respond to any scenario”, while the US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that a North Korean missile launch would be a “huge mistake”.  “The rhetoric that we are hearing from North Korea is simply unacceptable by any standards,” he told a news conference in Seoul alongside South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se.  “The United States, South Korea and the entire international community… are all united in the fact that North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power,” Kerry added.

North Korea States 'Nuclear War Is Unavoidable' As It Declares First Target Will Be Japan.
However, the North has declared it is "confident of final victory" against its enemies.  "The enemies should know that it is the era of the great Marshal Kim Jong Un, leader of the most powerful country and invincible great Paektusan nation," KCNA stated.  "The DPRK has won victories in confrontation with the U.S. in spirit and is waging an all-out action with it, with confidence in final victory."  The torrent of war cries is seen outside Pyongyang as an effort to raise fears and pressure Seoul and Washington into changing their North Korea policies, and to show the North Korean people that their young leader is strong enough to stand up to powerful foes.  South Korea fears Pyongyang could launch now launch multiple missiles after weeks of threats, according to local reports.  Observers believe a launch is most likely in the build-up to Monday’s anniversary of the birth of late founder Kim Il-Sung, for which celebrations are already well under way in Pyongyang.  The Korean Peninsula has "been reduced to the biggest nuclear hotspot in the world", the North said in more fiery rhetoric today, "making the outbreak of a nuclear war on this land unavoidable."  The reclusive state is dedicated to "defending the sovereignty and dignity of the country with its own strike mode and means," it said.  "No force on earth can block the just cause of the army and people of the DPRK," the chilling message concluded. - Express.

US Raises Nuclear Alert to DEFCON 3; China Masses Troops On North Korean Border.
US and Japanese sources reported Friday, April 12, that North Korea has warned Japan that Tokyo would be the first target if Pyongyang decided to launch a nuclear attack. This was in response to Japan’s orders to its armed forces to shoot down any North Korean missile that heads toward its territory. Taking the threat seriously, Japan has deployed Patriot interceptors around its capital.

Japanese defense officials refused to confirm reports about their naval alert saying they do not want to “show their cards” to North Korea. On arrival in Seoul Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “We will stand with South Korea and Japan against these threats. And we will defend ourselves," he said. He rejected the Pentagon's assessment that Pyongyang had probably developed nuclear weapons which could be mounted on ballistic missiles, saying that North Korea had still not developed or fully tested the nuclear capabilities needed for this step.

Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers prepare its missile interceptor.

The White House again insisted Friday that North Korea had not demonstrated a capability to deploy a nuclear-armed missile, evidently intent on having the last word in the debate with the Pentagon on this matter.

debkafile reported earlier Friday: Friday, April 12, the US raised its nuclear alert status to DEFCON 3, Condition Yellow (out of 5 levels), stating “There are currently no imminent nuclear threats against the United States at this time, however the situation is considered fluid and can change rapidly.” Many believe that North Korea will launch their test missile on or about April 15. Japan has instructed its armed forces to shoot down any North Korean missile that heads toward its territory.

Contrary to comments from the White House Thursday, the Pentagon reported that “North Korea probably has nuclear weapons that can be mounted on ballistic missiles.” This is a very significant admission by the United States and a dangerous change to the Korean situation.

China has mobilized its military and is massing near the border with North Korea. This step was taken after North Korea placed a mid-range Musudan missile ready to launch on its east coast and its “dedication of more facilities at the Yongbon complex to nuclear weapons work.”

According to some sources in Washington, the Chinese military mobilization is not directed at deterring Pyongyang but as support for North Korea’s steps.
Late Thursday, Representative Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican, made a disquieting disclosure. He quoted an excerpt from a Defense Intelligence Agency report expressing “moderate confidence” in the finding that North Korea has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles whose “reliability will be low.”
This disclosure raised a furor in the United States, bringing forth a White House response. The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, released a statement saying that the assessment did not represent a consensus of the nation’s intelligence community [16 agencies in all] and that “North Korea has not yet demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for a nuclear armed missile.”

Pentagon press secretary George Little backed him up by saying: “It would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Seoul Friday. After meeting South Korean leaders, he travels next to Beijing and Tokyo.

In his first comment on the Korean crisis, President Barack Obama said Thursday that now is the time for North Korea to end its belligerence. He said the United States will take ‘‘all necessary steps’’ to protect its people. But Obama also says that no one wants to see a conflict on the Korean Peninsula and would explore all diplomatic options for resolving the crisis.

Obama spoke alongside UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the two met in the Oval Office. - DEBKA.

WATCH: Will North Korea Try Launching a Nuclear Warhead?

WATCH: U.S. Believes North Korea Could Fire Nuclear Missile.

WATCH: Obama urges North Korea to end belligerence.

WATCH: US warns North Korea against missile launch.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Disaster Spreads Far And Wide - TEPCO Faces Decision To Dump Radioactive Water In The Pacific Ocean; Nuclear Material May Be Flowing From “Damaged Pipes Or Drains” Into The Pacific; Three Of Seven Fukushima Tanks Leaking Radioactive Water; Water, Rats, Outages Sets Japan's Nuclear Plant In A Precarious State; 35 Square Mile "Mega-Pod" Of Dolphins Related To Sea Lion Deaths In California; At Least 13,000 Fish Found Dead In A River In Shizuoka Prefecture!

April 12, 2013 - JAPAN - Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s discovery of leaks in water storage pits at the wrecked Fukushima atomic station raises the risk the utility will be forced to dump radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean.  Leaks were found in three of seven pits in the past week, reducing the options for moving contaminated water from basements of reactor buildings. Water in the basements is from the months after the earthquake and tsunami disabled the plant two years ago, when disaster teams used hose pipes and pumps to try and cool the reactors.

TEPCO Faces Decision To Dump Radioactive Water In Pacific Ocean.
While the company has since built a makeshift sealed cooling system, underground water is breaching basement walls at a rate of about 400 tons a day and becoming contaminated, according to Tepco’s estimate. With Japan’s rainy season approaching, contaminated water levels are likely to increase at the plant 220 kilometers (137 miles) northeast of Tokyo.  Reducing radiation levels in the water and pouring it into the sea is one of two options the utility has, said Kazuhiko Kudo, a research professor of nuclear engineering at Kyushu University. The other option is “to keep building above-ground storage tanks,” said Kudo. That’s a fight Tepco can’t win without stopping the underground water pouring into the basements, Kudo said.  “It is like a well. No matter how much water you draw from a well, underground water keeps seeping into the well,” said Kudo, who also served on a safety advisory board for the Fukushima plant after the disaster for the now defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. Officials at the utility known as Tepco, including President Naomi Hirose, have said the company won’t “easily” release radiated water into the ocean, indicating it’s not ruling out the possibility if it runs out of storage. The utility plans to have 450,000 tons of above-ground tank capacity by the end of September and 700,000 tons by mid-2015, Japan’s trade ministry said in a statement today. “It’s obvious Tepco cannot keep storing water forever as it increases by 400 tons a day,” said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the antinuclear group Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center. That’s why the company won’t rule out discharge into the sea, Ban said in a telephone interview.  Tepco has had leaks of radioactive water at the plant before. In April last year, it said as much as 12 tons of radioactive water had leaked from a pipe and may have poured into the sea. That followed a leak at the same pipeline 11 days earlier.  Radiation Amount? Yesterday, Tepco reported another leak of radiated water, this time from a pipe. Reports differ on how much radiation escaped from the Fukushima plant, with Tepco in May last year estimating it was about 17 percent of that released from the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl. In October 2011, the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal estimated the radiation released at about 42 percent of Chernobyl and that most of it fell into the North Pacific Ocean. In the same month, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, which is funded by the French government, said the Fukushima plant was responsible for the biggest discharge of radioactive material into the ocean in history. Next month, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, or UNSCEAR, is expected to issue the first global and independent assessment of the Fukushima nuclear accident, including how much radiation was released and where it went, according to its website.

Naomi Hirose, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), center, and the company's employees, wearing protective suits and masks, inspect an underground water storage pit at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in Fukushima, Japan in this handout photograph taken on April 10, 2013.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. via Bloomberg

Human exposure to radiation at moderate to high levels can lead to cancers, such as leukemia, according to UNSCEAR. Pacific bluefin tuna caught off San Diego in August 2011 was found to contain radioactive cesium 10 times higher than fish seized in previous years, researchers including Daniel Madigan and Nicholas Fisher said last May. The radiation levels, which the group said don’t pose a danger to public health, are expected to decline over time, they said in a study at the time. Fishermen fear more people would hesitate to buy fish and shellfish caught off Fukushima if Tepco again releases radioactive water into the ocean, said Kenji Nakada, an official at the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co- operative Associations. “We are against the release of water even if Tepco cleans contaminated water” by removing radioactive substances, Nakada said in an phone interview. “Any release of water that has been used for cooling is not acceptable.”  On March 30, Tepco started test runs of equipment that the operator says can remove 62 kinds of radioactive substances. Still, the purification system called ALPS can’t remove tritium, a hydrogen isotope. The water processing system has also had problems and was temporarily halted last week because of incorrect operation. The government will set up a special committee to discuss measures to help Tepco deal with radioactive water at Dai-Ichi, the trade and industry ministry said in a statement today.  An extended period of time may be needed to come up with measures to stop the influx of underground water and remove radioactive tritium, Yojiro Hatakeyama, director of the trade ministry’s nuclear energy policy planning division, told reporters in Tokyo today. “When we reach a stage where the water contains no radioactive substances after removing tritium, we will properly handle it,” Hatakeyama said. “We haven’t decided whether the water will be released into the sea after that.”

Currently, about 280,000 tons of highly radioactive water is stored at the Fukushima plant, according to Tepco’s latest data. That’s enough to fill about 112 Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to Bloomberg. To store the water, Tepco dug underground pits lined with three layers of waterproof sheet to prevent seepage into the surrounding soil, according to the utility. The same method is used in industrial waste disposal, said Koji Kumagai, a geotechnical engineering professor at the Hachinohe Institute of Technology. A design flaw is unlikely to have caused the leaks as the method is used around the world, Kumagai said in an phone interview. “The question is whether Tepco properly inspected equipment and carried out tests before pouring radioactive water into the pits.” Tepco is still investigating the cause of leaks, President Hirose told reporters on April 10. The operator plans to keep using one of the underground pits that is leaking as it doesn’t have enough additional space, he said. More above-ground storage tanks are scheduled to be built by the end of next month to transfer radioactive water from the leaking pits before Japan’s rainy season begins, Hirose said. The rainy season, which typically runs from June to July in Japan, would cause an increase in underground water flowing into the basements of plant buildings, he said. “Regardless of whether we had the leaks, we will properly manage the issue and never easily discharge contaminated water into the sea,” Hirose said. “We will employ all available means to manage it.” - Bloomberg.

Nuclear Material May Be Flowing From “Damaged Pipes Or Drains” Into The Pacific.
Some experts say that contaminated water has continued to reach the Pacific. Jota Kanda, an oceanographer at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, said last month in a discussion paper posted on the Web site of the journal Biogeosciences that Tepco’s own readings of radiation levels in waters off the plant suggest a continued leak of radioactive cesium into the ocean. “This suggests that water might be leaking out from the plant through damaged pipes or drains or other routes,” he said. - NY Times.

Another radioactive leak was detected at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Thursday while workers were pumping out contaminated water from one of the troubled underground tanks, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. This time about 22 liters of radioactive water has leaked from a junction of the piping. The liquid has seeped into the soil, according to TEPCO... - Kyodo News.

Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has sprung yet another leak of radioactive water, its operator said on Thursday, the latest in an increasingly long line of mishaps to rattle public confidence. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said around 22 litres (six US gallons) of highly radioactive waste water leaked from a pipe as work crews were trying to empty a reservoir that itself had already sprung leaks... - AFP.

Three Of Seven Fukushima Tanks Leaking Radioactive Water.
AFP Photo / Pool / Issei Kato.
Another toxic water tank at the Fukushima Daichii power plant is likely leaking, the national atomic energy agency says, bringing the total defective tanks to three of a total seven. The tanks were built to store contaminated water.  The new leak was detected in pool No.1 while water from the leaking pool No.2 was being transported, according to the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The water transfer has been halted.  The plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) indicated they were "losing faith" in temporary storage pits for the radioactive water, but did not have anywhere else to put it.  "We can't move all the contaminated water to above ground [tanks] if we opt not to use the underground reservoirs. There isn't enough capacity and we need to use what is available," Tepco general manager Masayuki Ono explained at a news conference.  Meanwhile, the nuclear watchdog IAEA has announced its experts are set to come to Fukushima to inspect the situation at the nuclear plant.  A day earlier, the operator admitted that they are running out of space to store radioactive water from the facility.  The company is still dealing with the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, as it attempts to keep reactors and spent fuel pools in a safe state known as ‘cold shutdown.’  On Saturday, as much as 120 tons of contaminated water seeped from an underground tank; a new leak was spotted on Sunday. The cooling system for the plant has also failed twice over the past three weeks. - RT.

Water, Rats, Outages Sets Japan's Nuclear Plant In A Precarious State.

A rat causing a power outage by short-circuiting a temporary switchboard. Another blackout occurring as workers install anti-rat nets. Holes in the linings of huge underground tanks leaking radioactive water.  Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has run into multiple problems recently that highlight its precarious state more than two years after its reactors melted down in the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami.  A makeshift system of pipes, tanks and power cables meant to carry cooling water into the melted reactors and spent fuel pools inside shattered buildings remains highly vulnerable, Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka acknowledged Wednesday.  "Fukushima Dai-ichi is still in an extremely unstable condition, there is no mistake about that," Tanaka said at a weekly meeting of the regulatory body's leaders. "We cannot rule out the possibility that similar problems might occur again. Whenever a problem occurs, it halts the plant's operations and delays the primary goal of decommissioning the plant."  The problems have raised doubts about whether the plant can stay intact through a decommissioning process that could take 40 years, prompting officials to compile risk-reduction measures and revise decommissioning plans. The regulatory watchdog said Wednesday that it was increasing the number of inspectors from eight to nine to better oversee the plant.

Just over the past three weeks, there have been at least eight accidents or problems at the plant, the nuclear watchdog said.  The first was March 18, when a rat sneaked into an outdoor switchboard — which was sitting on a pickup truck — powering the jury-rigged cooling system and several other key parts of the plant, causing a short-circuit and blackout that lasted 30 hours in some areas of the plant. Four storage pools for fuel rods lost cooling during the outage, causing Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant's operator, to acknowledge that it had added backup power only to the reactors, despite repeated concerns raised over a pool meltdown.  The cause of the outage wasn't clear at the time, but TEPCO later released a photo of the electrocuted rat, which had fallen on the bottom of the switchboard outhouse. The most extensive outage since the crisis started after the March 2011 disasters caused some Fukushima residents to even consider evacuation.  Two weeks later, a new water processing machine designed to remove most radioactive elements temporarily stopped after a worker pushed a wrong button. The next day, one of the fuel storage pools lost power again for several hours when part of a wire short-circuited a switchboard while an operator installed anti-rat nets. TEPCO reported three other minor glitches on the same day, including overheating of equipment related to boron injection to the melted reactors.  Regulatory officials acknowledge that rats and snakes are abundant at the plant, and TEPCO has started to take steps to protect pipes and cables from rat gnawing. Replacement of parts and equipment to those of higher quality and long-term use is in progress.  In the latest development, three of the plant's seven underground tanks are leaking. TEPCO reported the first leak early Saturday, hours after the plant's second power outage. Within days, the damage spread to three tanks, paralyzing the plant's storage plans for contaminated water.

35 Square Mile "Mega-Pod" Of Dolphins Related To Sea Lion Deaths In California.
“In our 42 years, we have never seen anything like this,” [Pacific Marine Mammal Center development director Melissa Sciacca] says... This unusual wave of sea lion beaching comes at the same time as a rash of equally remarkable marine mammal events have caused a sensation over the past few months. Back in mid-February, a mega-pod of feeding dolphins that was estimated to number in the tens of thousands and to cover 35 square miles astonished residents near San Diego, while the largest pods of grey and killer whales ever spotted also delighted tourists at the same time as they perplexed scientists. Researchers at NOAA are cautious in their proposals as to what is behind the growing number of incapacitated sea lion pups, points out Beth Pratt, California director of the National Wildlife Federation. But, she adds, it’s hard for the average person watching these events not to think they’re connected somehow. “It seems pretty obvious to the average viewer that there is something going on in our oceans or environments that is driving such extraordinary changes in marine mammal behavior,” she says... - CS Monitor.

At Least 13,000 Fish Found Dead In A River In Shizuoka Prefecture.
Japan media reported that Tong Chuan recently emerging Shizuoka Prefecture days of dead fish on April 1 and 2nd there were 12,000 qianduotiao, yesterday appeared more than 1,000. Authorities found after testing, near the scene of the hydrogen ion concentration on the high side, but not the reasons for the large number of dead fish. Because of the river has not been detected in toxic substances such as chlorine and cyanide, dead fish causes are still under investigation. - Guhantai. [Translated]

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Bird Flu Virus - Deaths From New Bird Flu Underscores Grim Global Fears As Death Toll Reaches 11 With 43 Others Infected! UPDATE: Nearly 5,000 Birds Die From H5N1 Bird Flu Virus In Vietnam!

April 12, 2013 - ASIA - A new report on three of the first patients in China to contract a novel strain of bird flu has U.S. officials worried about a grim scenario that includes severe illness with pneumonia, septic shock, brain damage and multi-organ failure.

All three of the patients died, according to a Thursday report by a group of Chinese scientists in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“It is possible that these severely ill patients represent the tip of the iceberg,” wrote Dr. Timothy Uyeki and Dr. Nancy Cox, both of the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a perspective piece accompanying the article.

Deaths mount and fears grow as bird flu H7N9 spreads.

The reports chronicle the early days of an outbreak of a new influenza A virus, H7N9, which has never before been seen in humans. So far, it has infected at least 43 people in four Chinese provinces and killed 11 in the past two months, Chinese authorities said.

The patients included two men, ages 87 and 27, both from Shanghai, and a 35-year-old woman from Anhui. All had preexisting health conditions and two had been exposed to chickens at live poultry markets in the previous week. They became ill between Feb. 18 and March 13 and died between March 4 and April 9 of severe complications, the report said.

The virus, which has been traced to a reassortment of genes from wild birds in east Asia and chickens in east China, “raises many urgent questions and global public health concerns,” the U.S. researchers wrote.

It’s particularly concerning because the virus clearly has the potential to cause severe disease, it has genetic characteristics that suggest that it might be better adapted than other bird flu strains to infect mammals -- including humans -- and people have no resistance to it, the U.S. scientists reported.

The virus doesn’t make birds sick, so it may spread widely and remain undetected until people become ill.

In addition, previous vaccines developed to fight other H7 strains did not invoke strong immune responses in humans, the U.S. scientists wrote. Even so, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they received an isolate of the virus from China on Thursday and were continuing to rush efforts to create a vaccine, a process that could take several months.

Scientists are expected to start growing more of the virus to share for use in several ways, including not only developing a vaccine, but also creating a blood test that can detect previous human immune system protection against the virus, and testing to see whether the virus remains susceptible to antiviral drugs.

CDC officials also will use it to create a diagnostic test that could be used to detect infection in travelers who return to the U.S. from China with symptoms of flu, or those who’ve been in contact with someone who’s been sick.

Officials with CDC and the Food and Drug Administration are working to quickly expedite approval and manufacture of the kits, said Mike Shaw, associate director of laboratory science for the CDC's flu division. About 400 diagnostic kits, which each can perform 1,000 tests, may be complete by Monday, he said. They could be shipped as early as next week to public health labs across the country.

The CDC has urged local public health officials to watch for signs of sick travelers from China. So far, about 10 people who recently traveled from China to the U.S. have been tested for the H7N9 virus because of suspicious symptoms, officials said.

"So far, everyone that has been tested in the U.S. has been negative," Shaw told NBC News.

The virus remains contained to China and there is no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission, both good signs, scientists said.

But as the U.S. researchers concluded, vigilance remains high.

“We cannot rest our guard,” they wrote. - NBC News.

WATCH: Dr. Eric Toner from the Center for Biosecurity, discusses the most recent developments in the H7N9 epidemic in China and their implications.

Nearly 5,000 Birds Die From H5N1 Bird Flu Virus In Vietnam.
Thousands of swifts at a southern Vietnam farm have died of H5N1 bird flu virus, reports say.
Nearly 5000 swifts, whose nests are collected for sale as a luxury health food, have died in southern Vietnam after contracting the H5N1 bird flu virus, say news reports.

The birds, half the population of a facility in Phan Rang Thap Cham City, died between March 28 and April 11, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported on Friday.

The city has many so-called bird houses, where the swifts are encouraged to build their nests, which are then collected for sale.

The nests, made largely of the birds' saliva, are a sought-after ingredient for soup and other delicacies.

Many bird house owners expressed concern about contagion.

"My experiences show if swifts contract H5N1, it would be very difficult to control because most of the birds fly all over the place and only come back to the house in the evening," owner Nguyen Van Khoi was quoted as saying.

"All our investments will go up in the air if the disease takes hold on a large scale."

Vietnam on Tuesday confirmed a four-year-old boy died of the bird flu strain H5N1 in the Mekong Delta, the country's first fatality from the virus this year.In China, ten people have died from a new strain of the virus, H7N9, which has only been reported in and around Shanghai since it first appeared in March. - Yahoo.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For April 11-12, 2013 - Updates On Stromboli, Etna, El Hierro, Colima, Copahue, Tolbachik And Lascar!

April 12, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Thermal webcam image of the crater area of Stromboli with .an eruption from the NW vent (INGV)

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): Activity remains elevated. Lava continues to overspill from the lips of the NE crater, showing that the magma column stands high inside the conduit. Frequent strombolian explosions are reaching heights of 2-300 m and the tremor signal is strong again today.

Thermal image of the New SE crater (INGV Catania).

Etna (Sicily, Italy)
: A new paroxysm, the 10th such eruption in 2013, occurred today at Etna's New SE crater, after a several days-long phase of increasingly strong strombolian explosions. It culminated with lava flows and lava fountains and a tall ash plume. Lava flows were erupted from the "saddle" area between the two Southeast Crater cones, toward the south and then southeast, from the summit vent of the New Southeast Crater itself toward southeast, and from vents on the northeast side of the cone. The eruptive activity started on the afternoon of 8 April with small strombolian explosions and gradually increased on 11 April. By the evening of yesterday, explosive activity had been almost continuous and produced powerful explosions and loud detonations that continued throughout the night and this morning, before finally merging into lava fountains this afternoon.

Webcam image from the NE (etnaweb).

The style of this latest eruption was distinctively different from the preceding ones and suggests that Etna is in a period of change: - Two "waves" of lava flow emissions were observed, one at the end of the night and one at noon. - Two pyroclastic flows were reported as well, a smaller one at about 10:35 and a bigger one shortly before 11:00 today. They were likely caused by the partial collapse of parts of the crater wall of the New SE crater, which was destabilized during the second wave of lava flow emission at that time. - Volcanic tremor already peaked around midnight, then dropped a bit and remained unsteady but high. During previous paroxysms, the peak of tremor coincided with the peak phase (lava fountains) of the activity itself. Not this time - tremor decreased, although remained elevated, but the activity itself continued to increase and peaked much later.

Location of this afternoon's M4.1 quake.

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): A relatively strong earthquake of magnitude 4.1 occurred at 5:26 GMT this afternoon, west of the island at 19 km depth. So far, it has been an isolated event.

The growing new lava dome and the lava flow overspilling onto the western flank (Photo: Robin des Volcans).

Colima (Western Mexico): The new lava dome continues to grow inside the crater that had formed during the eruptions in January and has by now been completely filled by the new lava. The dome overspills the old crater rims to the southerns and western sides and produces glowing avalanches as well as small ash explosions several times per hour.

A recent field report describes the dome as a blocky mass of lava, that is slightly darker than the rest of the volcano, composed of blocks of many meters in size. Part of the dome continues as a thick tongue of viscous lava stretching about 100 m down on the upper western flank. The balance between the rate of alimentation of the flow and the loss of mass during avalanches will determine how long this lava flow will reach... [read more]

Copahue (Chile/Argentina): A pilot reported the emission of steam, gas and minor amounts of volcanic ash from the volcano today (VAAC Buenos Aires). SERNAGEOMIN has not reported unusual activity and maintains alert level yellow.

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): The eruption continues with little changes. Strong seismicity of the volcano, although slowly declining, is being registered and accompanies ongoing effusion of lava flows and strong degassing from the southern fissure. No changes in seismic-visual activity have been reported for the other volcanoes currently active in Kamchata (Kizimen, Sheveluch, Bezymianny: actively growing lava domes associated with occasional avalanches and explosions, Karymski: occasional strombolian-vulcanian explosions, Gorely: strong degassing/hydrothermal activity).

Lascar (Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina): Chilean volcanologists were able to make make a helicopter overfly the day before yesterday and could not find evidence of recent lava in the summit crater. However, as the likely source of the recently observed incandescence, very hot gas emissions were observed. The airborne temperature measurements gave maximum values of 600° C for the gasses, and SERNAGEOMIN thinks that the presence of magma at shallow depth is causing it. The alert level remains at yellow.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for April 12, 2013

- Volcano Discovery.

EXTREME WEATHER: Powerful Storms And Tornadoes Rip Through The American Midwest, South - Leaving Rain, Snow And At Least Three Deaths!

April 12, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A powerful storm that swept across the country this week was on its way to the North Atlantic on Friday, leaving rain, snow and at least three deaths in its wake.

At one point, the line of storms stretched from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. It dumped snow in the north-central and northeastern United States and torrential rain in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, and brought tornadoes in the Deep South.

Three people were killed in separate incidents in Missouri, Mississippi and Nebraska.

A woman froze to death after her car broke down near Berea, Nebraska, when a blizzard struck Monday, state police said. Her son survived, but suffered frostbite and hypothermia, and was at a local hospital.

An employee for Ameren Missouri was electrocuted Thursday while attempting to restore power after storms, the company said.

In Mississippi, one person died when a tornado destroyed a steel building along a highway in Kemper County, on the Alabama border, on Thursday, the National Weather Service said. It rated the storm an EF3, meaning the tornado had winds of between 136 and 165 mph and was capable of severe damage.

Five people were hurt across Mississippi, state emergency management agency said. At least seven counties in Mississippi and four in Alabama suffered damage, officials said.

Georgia's emergency management agency reported trees down in several counties Thursday night.

A weak tornado snapped large limbs and caused power outages around Slidell on Louisiana's Gulf coast, according to the National Weather Service.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency after storms pummeled the St. Louis area and other parts of the state Wednesday night. The National Weather Service said an EF2 tornado, with winds of between 111 and 135 mph, was responsible for damage to more than 100 homes, according to the governor's website.

Arkansas also was hard hit, prompting Gov. Mike Beebe to declare 15 counties state disaster areas. - CNN.

WATCH: Giant tornado sweeps across Mississippi.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong Magnitude 6.0 Earthquake Strikes Northwest Of Sumoto, Japan!

April 12, 2013 - JAPAN - The US Geological Survey revealed today that an earthquake measuring a 6.0 magnitude occurred in the central region of Japan at 20:33:16 UTC, the quake hit roughly 9 kilometres (6 miles) northwest of Sumoto.

USGS earthquake map and location.

The tremor had a depth of 5.3 kilometres (3.3 miles).

There have been no reports of damages or injuries at this point, and most fortunately the Japan Meteorological Agency didn’t need to issue a tsunami warning, with the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency also confirming there was little chance of dangerous ocean waves. 

Japan, which lies along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," is one of the world's most seismically active countries.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of Japan and Vicinity
Japan and the surrounding islands straddle four major tectonic plates: Pacific plate; North America plate; Eurasia plate; and Philippine Sea plate. The Pacific plate is subducted into the mantle, beneath Hokkaido and northern Honshu, along the eastern margin of the Okhotsk microplate, a proposed subdivision of the North America plate. Farther south, the Pacific plate is subducted beneath volcanic islands along the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea plate. This 2,200 km-long zone of subduction of the Pacific plate is responsible for the creation of the deep offshore Ogasawara and Japan trenches as well as parallel chains of islands and volcanoes, typical of Circumpacific island arcs. Similarly, the Philippine Sea plate is itself subducting under the Eurasia plate along a zone, extending from Taiwan to southern Honshu that comprises the Ryukyu Islands and the Nansei-Shoto trench.

USGS historic seismicity for the region.

Subduction zones at the Japanese island arcs are geologically complex and produce numerous earthquakes from multiple sources. Deformation of the overriding plates generates shallow crustal earthquakes, whereas slip at the interface of the plates generates interplate earthquakes that extend from near the base of the trench to depths of 40 to 60 km. At greater depths, Japanese arc earthquakes occur within the subducting Pacific and Philippine Sea plates and can reach depths of nearly 700 km. Since 1900, three great earthquakes occurred off Japan and three north of Hokkaido. They are the M8.4 1933 Sanriku-oki earthquake, the M8.3 2003 Tokachi-oki earthquake, the M9.0 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the M8.4 1958 Etorofu earthquake, the M8.5 1963 Kuril earthquake, and the M8.3 1994 Shikotan earthquake. - USGS.