Saturday, April 13, 2013

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 6.6 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Papua New Guinea!

April 13, 2013 - PAPUA NEW GUINEA - A strong 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck off Papua New Guinea on Sunday, the US Geological Survey reported, but a tsunami warning was not issued and no major damage was expected.

The quake hit 105 kilometres (65 miles) west of Panguna, a town on Bougainville Island, at a depth of
64 kilometres, and some 677 kilometres west of the Solomon Islands' capital Honiara, it said.

USGS earthquake map and location.

"A destructive tsunami was not generated based on earthquake and historical tsunami data," said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Quakes of such magnitude are common in impoverished PNG, which sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

Geoscience Australia measured the quake at a depth of 35 kilometres and said people on Bougainville would have felt it.

"It was a fair way out to sea but people would have got a pretty decent shake on the island," Geoscience seismologist Dave Jepsen said.

"We are not expecting much damage. These sorts of quakes are frequent occurances in the region so people tend to be used to them and houses built to withstand them."

In 1998, a giant tsunami triggered by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake killed more than 2,000 people near Aitape, on PNG's northwest coast. - Hindustan Times.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the New Guinea Region and Vicinity.
The Australia-Pacific plate boundary is over 4000 km long on the northern margin, from the Sunda (Java) trench in the west to the Solomon Islands in the east. The eastern section is over 2300 km long, extending west from northeast of the Australian continent and the Coral Sea until it intersects the east coast of Papua New Guinea. The boundary is dominated by the general northward subduction of the Australia plate.

Along the South Solomon trench, the Australia plate converges with the Pacific plate at a rate of approximately 95 mm/yr towards the east-northeast. Seismicity along the trench is dominantly related to subduction tectonics and large earthquakes are common: there have been 13 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded since 1900. On April 1, 2007, a M8.1 interplate megathrust earthquake occurred at the western end of the trench, generating a tsunami and killing at least 40 people. This was the third M8.1 megathrust event associated with this subduction zone in the past century; the other two occurred in 1939 and 1977.

Further east at the New Britain trench, the relative motions of several microplates surrounding the Australia-Pacific boundary, including north-south oriented seafloor spreading in the Woodlark Basin south of the Solomon Islands, maintain the general northward subduction of Australia-affiliated lithosphere beneath Pacific-affiliated lithosphere. Most of the large and great earthquakes east of New Guinea are related to this subduction; such earthquakes are particularly concentrated at the cusp of the trench south of New Ireland. 33 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900, including three shallow thrust fault M8.1 events in 1906, 1919, and 2007.

USGS historic seismicity for the region.

The western end of the Australia-Pacific plate boundary is perhaps the most complex portion of this boundary, extending 2000 km from Indonesia and the Banda Sea to eastern New Guinea. The boundary is dominantly convergent along an arc-continent collision segment spanning the width of New Guinea, but the regions near the edges of the impinging Australia continental margin also include relatively short segments of extensional, strike-slip and convergent deformation. The dominant convergence is accommodated by shortening and uplift across a 250-350 km-wide band of northern New Guinea, as well as by slow southward-verging subduction of the Pacific plate north of New Guinea at the New Guinea trench. Here, the Australia-Pacific plate relative velocity is approximately 110 mm/yr towards the northeast, leading to the 2-8 mm/yr uplift of the New Guinea Highlands.

Whereas the northern band of deformation is relatively diffuse east of the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border, in western New Guinea there are at least two small (less than 100,000 km²) blocks of relatively undeformed lithosphere. The westernmost of these is the Birds Head Peninsula microplate in Indonesia's West Papua province, bounded on the south by the Seram trench. The Seram trench was originally interpreted as an extreme bend in the Sunda subduction zone, but is now thought to represent a southward-verging subduction zone between Birds Head and the Banda Sea.

There have been 22 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded in the New Guinea region since 1900. The dominant earthquake mechanisms are thrust and strike slip, associated with the arc-continent collision and the relative motions between numerous local microplates. The largest earthquake in the region was a M8.2 shallow thrust fault event in the northern Papua province of Indonesia that killed 166 people in 1996.

The western portion of the northern Australia plate boundary extends approximately 4800 km from New Guinea to Sumatra and primarily separates Australia from the Eurasia plate, including the Sunda block. This portion is dominantly convergent and includes subduction at the Sunda (Java) trench, and a young arc-continent collision.

In the east, this boundary extends from the Kai Islands to Sumba along the Timor trough, offset from the Sunda trench by 250 km south of Sumba. Contrary to earlier tectonic models in which this trough was interpreted as a subduction feature continuous with the Sunda subduction zone, it is now thought to represent a subsiding deformational feature related to the collision of the Australia plate continental margin and the volcanic arc of the Eurasia plate, initiating in the last 5-8 Myr. Before collision began, the Sunda subduction zone extended eastward to at least the Kai Islands, evidenced by the presence of a northward-dipping zone of seismicity beneath Timor Leste. A more detailed examination of the seismic zone along it's eastern segment reveals a gap in intermediate depth seismicity under Timor and seismic mechanisms that indicate an eastward propagating tear in the descending slab as the negatively buoyant oceanic lithosphere detaches from positively buoyant continental lithosphere. On the surface, GPS measurements indicate that the region around Timor is currently no longer connected to the Eurasia plate, but instead is moving at nearly the same velocity as the Australia plate, another consequence of collision.

Large earthquakes in eastern Indonesia occur frequently but interplate megathrust events related to subduction are rare; this is likely due to the disconnection of the descending oceanic slab from the continental margin. There have been 9 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded from the Kai Islands to Sumba since 1900. The largest was the great Banda Sea earthquake of 1938 (M8.5) an intermediate depth thrust faulting event that did not cause significant loss of life. - USGS.

SOLAR WATCH: Geomagnetic Storm Watch - Incoming Solar Storm, Coronal Mass Ejection Expected To Hit Earth Today!

April 13, 2013 - THE SUN - A coronal mass ejection (CME) is heading for Earth, due to arrive on April 13th. NOAA forecasters estimate a a 60% chance of polar geomagnetic storms, so high-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

The geomagnetic storm could be dazzling. Forecasters at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center say there is a good chance of a disturbance in the Earth's magnetic field, this weekend after the solar flare that erupted on the sun Thursday morning. Thursday's solar flare was the biggest yet in 2013, strong enough to cause a brief radio blackout NASA said. 

This is the CME, leaving the sun at 600 miles per second on April 11th.

The CME was propelled into space by an M6-class eruption in the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR1719. SOHO photographed the expanding cloud using an onboard coronagraph. Speckles near the end of the movie are caused by energetic solar protons hitting the coronagraph's CCD detector.

Note that although the CME appears to hit Mars and Venus, there is no actual physical contact. The cloud is merely passing in front of the two planets. 

A minor C-Class flare was detected around a new sunspot region located in the southeast quadrant. Sunspots 1718 and 1719 are both stable. There will remain a chance for an isolated M-Class event.

A moderate solar flare was observed around Sunspot 1718 at 20:38 UTC Friday afternoon.
No substantial CME was associated with this event.

Attached is a brand new image showing Sunspots 1718 and 1719 on Saturday morning.
Both regions are currently stable.

Sunspots AR1718, AR1719, and AR1721 all have 'beta-gamma' magnetic fields that harbor energy
for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

New sunspot seen early Saturday by the SDO.
Credit: SDO/HMI

A geomagnetic storm watch has been issued by the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center for this weekend as a CME generated by a M6 solar flare event on Thursday morning is expected to sweep past Earth. Moderate G2 level with a chance for strong G3 level storm  will be possible at high latitudes. Sky watchers should be alert for visible aurora once the cloud arrives.

A geomagnetic storm watch is in effect for the next 24-48 hours as the expected CME past Earth. The passage is expected at anytime, however it could be closer to evening UTC time (21:00). The ACE EPAM (Electron, Proton, and Alpha-particle Monitor) flux data continues to show a gradual rise, and this could be indicative of the approaching plasma cloud. The solar wind is currently near 400 km/s.

The northern lights in Abisko, Swedish Lapland, in March 2012. A geomagnetic storm could make auroras more visible in parts of the U.S. this weekend (Francois Campredon / AFP/Getty Images).

The solar flare itself won't be responsible for the geomagnetic storm. Instead, it is a coronal mass ejection, or CME, a mass of plasma and charged particles the sun expelled immediately after the solar flare, that could interact with Earth's magnetosphere and cause the storm. Enhanced auroras may be visible as far south as New Jersey and Oregon late Saturday evening and into Sunday. Forecasters said the CME will pass Earth late Saturday evening, bringing moderate geomagnetic storm conditions, but most of the disturbance is expected to fall over into Sunday.

SOURCES: Space Weather | Solar Ham.

FIRE IN THE SKY: 2013, The Year Of The Comet - Comet ISON Update!

April 13, 2013 - SPACE - In November 2013, Comet ISON could become one of the brightest and most active comets in years when it races through the hot atmosphere of the sun.

Right now, though, it is just a dim speck in the deep-freeze of space near the orbit of Jupiter.

Alberto Quijano Vodniza photographed the barely-visible comet on April 7th from his private observatory in Pasto, Narino, Colombia.

Comet ISON may look underwhelming, but that is only because it is so far away, more than 400 million miles from the sun.

In fact, it is already an active comet with considerable promise. Recent measurements by NASA's Swift spacecraft shows that the comet's nucleus is spewing more than 112,000 pounds (51,000 kg) of dust, or about two-thirds the mass of an unfueled space shuttle, every minute.

To produce so much dust, the comet's nucleus is probably about 5 km wide.

For comparison, the nucleus of bright sungrazing Comet Lovejoy, which wowed observers in 2011, was only about one-tenth as large.

Comet ISON could put on quite a show when it approaches the sun later this year. - Space Weather.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Is The UK Heading For ANOTHER Arctic Winter, English Met Office Calls Emergency Meeting To Discuss If Melting Ice Is Causing Britain To Freeze; Early American Spring Storm Breaks Denver Cold Temperature Records; Russian Spring Is Shifted By A Month By Polar Cyclone; Russian Academy Of Sciences Experts Warn Of Imminent Cold Period, Says "Global Warming Is A Marketing Trick"!

April 13, 2013 - EARTH - Britain's winters are getting colder because of melting Artic ice changing global weather patterns, the Met Office has claimed.  Forecasters are concerned that high levels of ice melt in the Arctic in recent years could be behind Britain's increasingly bitter and longer winters.  The organisation's leading climate change expert, Dr Julia Slingo, is to convene experts from around the world to establish whether this explains why Britain has been experiencing the coldest temperatures for almost 100 years.

The Met Office is organising an urgent meeting of climate change experts to discuss whether melting Arctic ice is changing Britain's weather.
© Paul Lewis

UK Heading For ANOTHER Arctic Winter, Met Office Calls Emergency Meeting To Discuss If Melting Ice Is Causing Britain To Freeze.
Figures released yesterday revealed that the temperature in Aberdeenshire fell to -11.2 degrees Celsius on April 2 - this is the lowest recorded April temperature for almost 100 years. The news comes just after it was revealed that Britain also experienced the coldest March since 1962. Dr Slingo is concerned that shrinking sea ice in the Arctic could be responsible. 'If this is how climate change could manifest itself, then we need to understand that as a matter of urgency,' she told ITV News. There are a number of theories as to how melting Arctic ice could affect British weather.

This winter, the jet stream split in two - part of the belt was at the bottom of the Mediterranean, and the other part was sitting at the north of the UK. This caused the prolonged period of very cold weather.

Britain experienced the coldest March since 1962 with temperatures across the country failing to reach average figures.
© Met Office

One view is that the warming of the Arctic has the effect of reducing the jet stream - the fast-moving river of warm air which controls our weather patterns - and that this could cause Britain to be subjected to longer periods of unmoving weather, such as the cold weather that has recently affected the country.  'If this is how climate change could manifest itself, then we need to understand that as a matter of urgency,' she told ITV News.If the Arctic experiences rapid ice melt then a large amount of very cold water is released into the ocean. 

Springtime in London: April snow showers in Kensington Gardens come amid Met Office claims that high levels of ice melt in the Arctic in recent years could be responsible for Britain's bitter winters

This cold water can disrupt the normal path of the jet stream which usually keeps Britain much warmer than its latitude suggests it should be.  As a result, we can be subjected to much colder weather than normal.  Dr Jennifer Francis, a research professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, told ITV News that the UK's geographical position makes it particularly vulnerable to changes in the Arctic. - Daily Mail.

Early Spring Storm Breaks Denver Cold Temperature Records.

While April may normally be associated with rain showers, Mother Nature sometimes throws us a curveball. Such was the case with the bitter cold temperatures she delivered that broke records over the past 24 hours, two dating back more than 50 years ago.  Denver’s official temperature as measured at Denver International Airport dropped to 9 degrees just before midnight last night. This sets a new record low temperature for April 9, easily besting the previous record of 12 degrees set in 1959.  Additionally, a new record low maximum temperature was recorded yesterday as well. The ‘high’ temperature was 22 degrees, recorded shortly after midnight. The previous record low maximum for April 9 was 27 degrees set in 1973.  As the cold front moved out, the chilly temperatures lingered into the morning of April 10. The mercury at DIA dropped to 6 degrees thus setting a new record low temperature for the date. The previous record was 7 degrees set in 1959.  It is interesting to note that these are the first daily cold weather related records Denver has set in more than two years and the first record low temperatures in three and a half years.  While we have seen plenty of high temperature records, we have to go all the way back to February 8, 2011 when we tied a record low maximum temperature to find one related to the cold. The last time we had a record low temperature was October 10, 2009. - Examiner.

Russian Spring Is Shifted By A Month By Polar Cyclone.
Who is to blame for the fact that March of this year in the European part of Russia was not a spring, but a typical winter month? Does it have anything to do with the unusually warm spring in the south of Siberia? Scientists suggest that this "weather mess" was caused by a circumpolar stratospheric cyclone in late winter that closely approached our continent.  A very atypical spring with heavy snowfall and cool temperatures in the European part of Russia and warm weather in Siberia again led to speculation that the Earth's climate has finally and irreversibly deteriorated. Some blame global warming (which seems to have turned into a planetary scapegoat), others blame the oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that supposedly "broke" the Gulf Stream, and others - an inversion of the magnetic poles of the Earth. In short, terrified people again began expecting the next end of the world. But is it really that scary? What do scientists have to say? As expected, scientists once again urge not to rush into conclusions and panic. In fact, absolutely nothing terrible has happened. Indeed, if you look at satellite maps of the Gulf Stream regularly published by NASA on its website, you can see that the most powerful Atlantic warm current has not changed. As for global warming and the inversion of the magnetic poles, the researchers once again remind us that this is a very long and slow process, whose effect will be noticeable only in a few decades (or even hundreds of years). Incidentally, these processes are not irreversible.

In addition, people's tendency to quickly forget played its role in the overall panicky attitude. Otherwise everyone would have noticed that there are no specific anomalies, but irregularly recurring phenomena. For example, in 1996 and 2003, heavy snowfall was observed in Moscow in early April.  Perhaps many have forgotten that similarly warm spring in Siberia was observed not that long ago, in 2012. As for the low temperatures in March, in 1888 and 1917 the average temperature this month in the central regions of Russia was -10.5C degrees. A record minimum temperature was observed in March of 1913 when for a few days the temperature did not rise above -32. 4C degrees. In March of this year the average temperature was -3.8C degrees.  it is obvious that talks about anomalies are not quite justified. It should be remembered that Russia is a northern country, located near the Arctic. It often presents such surprises, regardless of the time of year. The current non-standard weather is most likely also its handiwork. More precisely, it is caused by a stratospheric circumpolar cyclone, which, as its name implies, is raging in the upper atmosphere directly above the pole.  Although the first such natural phenomenon was recorded in 1952, scientists still do not know much about it. It is believed to be formed and developed to the extent that the atmosphere loses heat to space during the long polar night at altitudes of 30 to 50 kilometers. Although it is quite high, this cyclone may affect the movement of air masses in the lower levels of our air envelope and change the movement on a whim.

At the beginning of this century, it was observed that the phenomenon of sudden stratospheric warming (a significant and sudden increase in temperature in the polar and sub-polar stratosphere in winter - sometimes up to 50 ° or more, which lasts about 10 days), can split this cyclone into two parts. On average, this happens about once every two years, and 2013 is one of them. It is difficult to say what causes the warming, but scientists have been regularly recording them since 1988 and can say for sure that it is a recurrent and quite normal phenomenon. Most often this warming occurs in February, but sometimes it happens in December and January.  Now, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States (NOAA), the sudden stratospheric warming of this year was the worst in a decade. Perhaps this was due to the positive temperature anomalies on the surface of the oceans and active phases of the solar cycle, as this year the sun is very active. In addition, there were significant positive temperature anomalies in the north Indian Ocean and the northwest Pacific Ocean. As a result, as expected, the stratospheric cyclone was split into two parts that started pushing away from each other and shifted from the poles to the mainland.  And then, as suggested by specialists from the Russian meteorological service, one of them approached Eurasia and "pulled" cold air from the Arctic. However, spring has already begun, and warm air masses from the North Atlantic moved towards Russia (the same air masses provided for the warm end of February). However, a sudden whirlwind of Arctic air pushed them east, and brought over a cold air mass that covered all European Russia with snow (Ukraine was not spared either). The staggering stratospheric cyclone "canceled" the beginning of spring and extended winter in these regions by another month. - Pravda.

Russian Academy Of Sciences Experts Warn Of Imminent Cold Period, Says "Global Warming Is A Marketing Trick".

The European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) here links to an article published by Stimme Russlands (Voice of Russia). The article is titled: Die Welt vor einer Eiszeit, in English: The World On The Verge Of An Ice Age.

Reports of global cooling are becoming more frequent. FLASHBACK: 30 experts predict cooling.

You'll notice that this Voice of Russia report is more than a month old, and so one wonders why it was never picked up by the western mainstream media.

The article writes that Russian scientists are predicting that "a little ice age will begin in 2014". The article adds:
They reject the claim of global warming and call it a marketing trick."
Wow! That's heavy.

When it comes to warming and the man-made CO2 greenhouse gas effect, the Voice of Russia writes that "Russian scientist Vladimir Bashkin is categorically in disagreement. He claims that the climatic changes are characterized by cycles and have nothing to do in any way with the activities of man."

The Voice of Russia continues:
Together with his colleague Rauf Galiullin from the Institute for Fundamental Problems of Biology of the Russian Academy Of Science, he demonstrates that the current warming is a reverberation of the planet coming out of the 'Little Ice Age' and that in the near future, of course measured on geological timescales, we are at the threshold of an ice age."
The Voice of Russia quotes Bashkin:
The periods of a cooling and a warming follow each other at 30-40 year intervals. In Russia for example there was a warming in the 1930s, a time when seafaring at the Northern Sea Route was possible, then a cooling followed during the wartime years, and then warming followed in the 1970s, etc.. The current warming period ended at the end of the millennium."
Note here that the Russian scientists confirm that the Arctic sea ice extent was also low in the 1930s. This tells us that nothing is really so unusual in the Arctic today.

The Voice of Russia then explains that the cooling is related to "a change in solar activity" and that this "also has an impact on our climate". Bashkin adds:
The scientific research of the climate of the past geological epoch causes us to doubt the motives behind the demands of the IPCC. [...] "The greenhouse effect that is connected with the anthropogenic factor is about 4 or 5 percent of that from natural emissions. The eruption of a volcano produces more. A real contribution to the greenhouse effect is made by normal water vapor. Thank God nobody has gotten the idea that this too needs to be regulated."
The Voice of Russia continues: "The world's oceans contain 60 times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere. When the temperature of the planet rises, it begins to be quickly released. This leads to an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration, and not vice versa. A global warming that so many are talking about is not so much a scientific problem, rather it is much more a marketing trick. [...] We do not have global warming ahead of us, rather we have global cooling, the Russian scientist claims. However, we do not need to fear the cooling because it will take place gradually and won't be noticeable until the middle of the 21st century."

The scientists add that part of the motive behind the "marketing trick" is to manipulate the market for fossil fuels. - NTZ.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Enormous Copper Mine Landslide In Utah - Couple Thousand Feet Wide And Tall, Roads And Buildings Smashed, Two-Thirds Of The Pit Base Buried!

April 13, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The world's largest man-made excavation - a US copper mine - has been shut down by an enormous landslide that smashed roads and buildings and left two-thirds of the pit base buried.

Nobody was hurt in the collapse at the massive open-cast Bingham Canyon Mine, run by Rio Tinto-owned Kennecott Utah Copper - largely because workers had been evacuated amid several weeks of warning signs the ground was going to shift.

"We started noticing movement in that part of the mine in February," said Rio Tinto-Kennecott spokesman Kyle Bennett, according to The Salt Lake City Tribune.

This photo shows the Kennecott Utah Copper Bingham Canyon Mine after a landslide
Thursday in Bingham Canyon, Utah.

He said that indications were that the mine’s wall was slipping a millimetre or so each day. The mine monitors for movement at all times.

But, by Wednesday morning (local time) mine engineers started seeing movement of up to 5cm per day and moved out the 37 workers at the bottom of the vast open mine. The company also warned residents nearby that a slide was possible any day.

"At 11am yesterday we moved everyone out, including those who were working in the bottom of the mine," Bennett said. "All of our employees are safe and accounted for."

Mining operations have been suspended indefinitely as geologists assess the stability
of the step walls in the Brigham Canyon Mine pit.

Bingham Canyon Mine is the largest man-made excavation in the world. It has been in production since 1906, and features a pit almost one kilometre deep and 4km wide.

"This is something that we had anticipated," Bennett told Deseret News.

"We knew the slide was imminent. We had relocated machinery, we had rerouted roads, we had rerouted utilities, we had rerouted buildings."

Kennecott Utah Copper has suspended mining inside one of the world’s deepest open pits as
geologists assess a landslide the company says it anticipated for months.

Ted Himebaugh, Kennecott's general manager of operation readiness, said he had seen nothing like it in his 36 years with the company.

"Our primary goal now is to determine how we can safely resume operations and provide not only the jobs for the people but money to the state of Utah and economy," Himebaugh told Deseret News.

Kennecott is the second largest copper producer in the US, supplying about a quarter of the country's copper, the company's website states. - News Australia.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Major Solar System Disturbance - "Flaming Tennis Ball" Slides Across Adelaide Skies In Australia!

April 13, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Stargazers say a meteor that floated across Adelaide skies overnight looked like a flaming tennis ball before it disappeared from view.

The object appeared in the sky about 9:30pm, with people from around Birdwood, Norwood, Mannum and Balhannah reporting sightings to ABC Local Radio.

File illustration.

One listener, Barry from Murbko on the River Murray, said he was watching television when he saw the object through his window.

"I saw this ball of flame, it would have been about the size of the moon just above the tree tops," he said.

"It was a flaming ball and it went across the the tree tops at a very low altitude and it wasn't travelling that fast like a shooting star.

"This just took my breath away. It was that incredible I just sat there for ten minutes and couldn't believe what I just saw.

"This was just like a ball of flame, like somebody lit up a tennis ball and hit it with a tennis racquet."

Paul Curnow from the University of South Australia's Adelaide Planetarium said the object was probably a meteoroid that ignited as it entered the atmosphere.

"We have these pieces of rock, the small ones we call meteoroids, the really large ones we refer to as asteroids in the case of the one in Russia for example," he said.

"When it's floating in space we call it a meteoroid. When it comes into the atmosphere and we see it we call it a meteor. When it actually hits the ground we call it a meteorite.

"These fragments of rock fall into the earth's atmosphere and as they fall into the atmosphere they form a pressure wave in front of the falling object which heats up the rock and we see that as a fireball or a shooting star.

"There are about 19,000 objects from space [that] come in every day and hit the Earth's atmosphere.

"The case in Russia just recently, that fell over a populated area and in 1908 in Tunguska in Russia there was a fairly large hunk of rock come in and it actually did a similar thing.

"It airburst over a forest and it blackened about 2000 square kilometres of forest. If that had gone off over a large city, the casualty rate would have been extremely high." - ABC Australia.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Hundreds Of Dead Salmon Found In Elwha River, Washington State, America?!

April 13, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Piles of dead year-old chinook salmon, numbering at least in the hundreds, were found along the Elwha River's lower banks and mouth after hatchery smolts were released last week.

State Fish and Wildlife Department officials will consider alternatives for future releases of fish, said Mike Gross, Fish and Wildlife fish biologist for Clallam County and West Jefferson County, who called the release “a mistake.”

Sediment from the river clogged the gills of most he examined, said Mike McHenry, a fish biologist and habitat manager for the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, who saw the dead fish at the river's mouth and on sandbars Monday and Tuesday.

 The habitat manager for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe took this photo of dead chinook
salmon near the mouth of the Elwha River.
Photo: Mike McHenry

Staff at the department's Elwha Channel hatchery released 196,575 juvenile fish, ranging from 4 inches to 8 inches in length April 5, about 3½ miles from the mouth of the river, said Randy Aho, hatchery operations manager for the Fish and Wildlife region that stretches from the Long Beach Peninsula to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

“We feel that these” — the dead fish — “are fish released from our facility,” Aho said.

Silt in the river increased rapidly after the fish were released, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.

The cause of death had not been confirmed as of Thursday, though Gross said he suspected the fish died of suffocation.

“Suffocation from the inability to uptake oxygen would be the expected diagnosis for the cause of death,” Gross said.

McHenry, after finding dirt in the fish gills, said he expected few smolts made it out of the river and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

“I'm guessing the survival for this release is going to be very low,” McHenry said.

The smolts were released in accordance with the hatchery's release schedule, Aho said.

The amount of sediment in the water, or turbidity, doubled shortly after the fish were released, USGS measurements showed.

The river's turbidity, measured in formazin nephelometric units (FNU), was at about 800 FNU the evening of April 4 and peaked later in the day April 5 at about 1,600 FNUs.

Hatchery staff checked turbidity levels the evening of April 4 and the morning of April 5 at about 7 a.m. before beginning the release, Aho said.

“[Staff] took some visual observations of the river [Friday morning] and didn't see anything that made [them] suspicious of the turbidity levels,” Aho said.

“Later in the day, [staff] checked turbidity levels, and they had increased, but by then, the fish were already moving out.”

The sediment coursing down the Elwha has been freed by the removal process for the once-towering Elwha dams, part of a $325 million river restoration project still under way.

The cost of the fish is difficult to estimate, Aho said.

The smolts ate roughly $29,000 worth of food while they were being reared, according to numbers provided by Aho, though staff time is not broken down per hatchery duty, such as feeding specific groups of fish.

“We pay our staff to be there for a month, so it's really difficult to break out,” Aho said.

The Fish and Wildlife hatchery has an annual budget of $303,367, according to the facility's hatchery and genetic management plan.

McHenry said he saw dead fish on the sand banks in the body of the river stretching from the mouth to the Fish and Wildlife hatchery, which is about 3½ miles upstream from the mouth of the river.

Numerous kinds of predatory birds and some mammals, including otters, could be seen feasting on the salmon carcasses as they washed onto the Elwha banks and sandbars, McHenry said.

“[There was] lot of predator activity between the sea gulls, mergansers [ducks] and eagles.”

Gross said the predation seen over the past few days will make it difficult to judge how many fish died and how many made it alive into the Strait.

No dead fish were observed along the Elwha mouth or on the banks roughly 1,500 feet upstream late Wednesday afternoon.

Aho said Wednesday he heard reports of hundreds of dead fish seen, though those counts could not be confirmed.

Aho said the dead fish are “absolutely a worry” for Fish and Wildlife, adding that potential alternative release methods will be discussed before roughly 900,000 salmon, less than a year old, are released from the hatchery this June.

“That's something we will discuss prior to release,” Aho said.

“I'm not saying we'll make definite plans, but we'll definitely discuss it.”

Alternative release methods include transporting the young salmon to the Strait using specially designed trucks, Aho added.

Gross agreed that different release methods likely will be discussed because of heavy sediment loads, though he could not predict what specific techniques might be used.

“If we can figure out ways to avoid mortality, we'll pursue them undoubtedly,” Gross said.

“We'll try not to make the same mistake.”

The timing of the release was to make room for younger salmon and to ensure the yearlings could find their way out into the salt water of the Strait, Aho explained.

“[The salmon] want to leave,” Aho said.

“And if you hold on to them too much longer, you can take out that migration response, and that would just kill them for sure.”

This release strategy also allows the fish to slowly get used to the salt water as they swim downstream rather than be deposited directly into the Strait, which Aho said could cause health issues.

Aho said staff don't monitor mortality rates of the hatchery-raised fish once they are released, adding that the fish are left to fend for themselves once they leave the facility.

“We generally don't know survival rates until that release population returns to the river system and hatchery,” Aho said.

Aho said Fish and Wildlife hatchery staff released 212,900 year-old chinook and about $1.5 million fish younger than 1 in 2012, adding that staff generally see a couple thousand adults return to spawn each year. - Peninsula Daily News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For April 13, 2013 - Updates On Popocatépetl, Galeras, Ruapehu, Nevado del Ruiz, And Etna!

April 13, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Webcam image of the New SE crataer with the suspected new vent (bluish degassing) at its base

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Following yesterday's paroxysm, it seems that a new effusive vent has opened at the SE base of the New SE crater.

Ruapehu (North Island): GNS reported that "the temperature of Crater Lake has started to rise and has now reached 30°C. It has been accompanied by some minor volcanic tremor. The chemistry data from our last sampling trip confirms the decline of temperature in the deep geothermal system.

Volcanologist Brad Scott said these data indicate the Crater Lake is returning to a more typical state, where heat and gas flow from depth is entering the lake. The anomaly of higher heat at depth and cooler temperatures in the lake appears to have passed. However the volcano remains in unrest and eruptions could still occur with no warning."

Current webcam image of Popocatépetl seen from the south (CENAPRED).

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): A phase of stronger, continuous emissions has started short time ago, accompanied by strong tremor.

Ash emission from Galeras on 11 March 2013 (INGEOMINAS).
Current seismic signal from Popocatépetl.

Over the past days, the volcano had been relatively calm, with 1-2 weak gas-steam-ash explosions per hour.

Galeras (Colombia)
: Small ash explosions continue to occur almost each day.

Steam plume rising from Ruiz yesterday (INGEOMINAS).

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): A (probably shallow) seismic swarm is in progress at the volcano. As INGEOMINAS mentioned in its latest report yesterday, a weak continuous tremor signal continues to be recorded, associated with elevated steaming and light ash venting, creating a plume rising about 1600 m above the volcano.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for April 13, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.

EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT: Scientists Express Alarm Over Vanishing Frogs In The Caribbean - Very High Possibility Of Massive Die-Offs Within 15 Years, Entire Species Could Be Totally Lost!

April 13, 2013 - THE CARIBBEAN - A curtain of sound envelops the two researchers as they make their way along the side of a mountain in darkness, occasionally hacking their way with a machete to reach the mouth of a small cave.

Peeps, tweets and staccato whistles fill the air, a pulsing undercurrent in the tropical night. To the untrained ear, it's just a mishmash of noise. To experts tracking a decline in amphibians with growing alarm, it's like a symphony in which some of the players haven't been showing up.

In parts of Puerto Rico, for example, there are places where researchers used to hear four species at once and they are now hearing one or two, a subtle but important change.

"You are not hearing what you were before," said Alberto Lopez, part of a husband-and-wife team of biologists trying to gauge the health of frogs on the island.

Scientists report that many types of amphibians, especially frogs, are in a steep global decline likely caused by a mix of habitat loss, climate change, pollution and a virulent fungus. The downward spiral is striking particularly hard in the Caribbean, where a majority of species are now losing a fragile hold in the ecosystem.

Without new conservation measures, there could be a massive die-off of Caribbean frogs within 15 years, warned Adrell Nunez, an amphibian expert with the Santo Domingo Zoo in the Dominican Republic. "There are species that we literally know nothing about" that could be lost, he said.

Researchers such as Lopez and his wife, Ana Longo Berrios, have been fanning out across the Caribbean and returning with new and troubling evidence of the decline. In some places, especially in Haiti, where severe deforestation is added to the mix of problems, extinctions are possible.

It is part of a grim picture overall. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has found that 32 percent of the world's amphibian species are threatened or extinct, including more than 200 alone in both Mexico and Colombia.

"Everywhere we are seeing declines and it's severe," said Jan Zegarra, a biologist based in Puerto Rico for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Frogs may be less charismatic than some other troubled species, but their role in the environment is important. They are consumed by birds and snakes and they in turn are major predators of mosquitoes. Their absence could lead to a rise in malaria and dengue, not to mention discomfort.

There are also less tangible reasons for protection. The coqui, the common name for a genus that includes 17 species in Puerto Rico, including three believed to be already extinct, is important to the cultural heritage of the island; it's considered a symbol of the island, seen in everything from indigenous petroglyphs to coffee mugs sold to tourists at the airport. Frogs, which breathe and process toxins through their skin, are considered a promising area for pharmaceutical research and a bio-indicator that can tell scientists about what's going on in the environment.

"We are just starting to understand the ripple down effects and the repercussions of losing amphibians," said Jamie Voyles, a biologist at New Mexico Tech in Albuquerque and one of the principal investigators of Project Atelopus, an effort to study and protect frogs of an endangered genus in Panama.

Rafael Joglar, a biologist at the University of Puerto Rico, has noted the diminishing nighttime calls in decades of research on the island and not just from the three species believe to have gone extinct. "Many of the other species that were common when I was a younger student ... are now disappearing and are actually very rare."

In percentage terms, the worst situation for frogs is the Caribbean, where more than 80 percent of species are threatened or extinct in the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Jamaica and more than 90 percent in Haiti, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In Puerto Rico, it's around 70 percent.

"The frogs in the Caribbean are in very bad shape," Joglar said.

One major reason the Caribbean is so vulnerable is that many species are found only within a small habitat on just one island. Take, for example, the coqui guajon, or rock frog, which was the focus of attention by Lopez and Longo on a recent night. About the size of a golf ball, it is what's known as a habitat specialist, found only in caves of a certain kind of volcanic rock along streams in southeastern Puerto Rico.

There are 17 known spots designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as critical habitat for the rock frog, all of them on private land. Longo and Lopez, working for a research and public education initiative called Proyecto Coqui, have been trying to determine the health of the populations on those isolated patches.

"That's why it's such a vulnerable species," Lopez said. "If something happens to the habitat, people can't just grab them and put them in another place on the island because this habitat is only found on the southeast of the island."

In densely populated Haiti, the degradation of the environment has been so severe that only a handful of species are known for certain to still be viable in the country and even they are in trouble, said S. Blair Hedges, a biology professor at Pennsylvania State University who has studied frogs in the Caribbean since the 1980s.

"I'm really certain that some species are going over the edge, are disappearing," Hedges said.

Frogs have been under siege around the world from a fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, known for short as "Bd," which has been known to be weakening and killing amphibians since the late 1990s though much about it remains under scientific study, Voyles said. Its effects, however, are dramatic.

"When I first went to Panama the sounds at night were incredible and now it's just silent," she said. "It's hard to communicate the absence of that incredible cacophony of beautiful sounds. It's very striking how much we have lost."

Among research efforts on the fungus is one by Lopez and Longo, who have been catching frogs in the forest, checking them for Bd and ticks, and then releasing them back into the night. They have started finding the fungus in the coqui guajon and are still trying to determine how it will affect the population.

After three weeks on the winding back roads of Puerto Rico, politely knocking on people's doors to ask if they could root around on their land for frogs, the researchers were relieved to find plentiful specimens. But they were also dismayed to confirm that one place designated as critical habitat had not a single coqui guajon left.

"To our surprise, the habitat is there, but no frogs, no frogs at all," he said. - ABC News.

EXTREME WEATHER: Very Powerful Storms March Toward American East Coast After Killing 3 And Tearing Apart Homes - More Snow Denver To Minneapolis Next Week!

April 13, 2013 - UNITED STATESA vast storm system that spawned tornadoes and killed three people marched toward the East Coast on Friday, delivering spring snow and ice to New England and promising to drench some of the country’s most populous cities.

On Thursday, storms tore through the Great Plains, Midwest and South. Tornadoes were reported in Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi, and tens of thousands of people were left without power.

 Lightning strikes downtown Huntsville, Ala., as strong storms moved into Madison County Thursday.
Bob Gathany / via AP

Storms blew the steeple off a church and killed someone in Mississippi, and a utility worker was electrocuted repairing damage in Missouri. Earlier in the week, a Nebraska woman died trying to trudge through a vicious snowstorm from her car to her home.

In Shuqualak, Miss., Kathy Coleman said she was outside her home Thursday, signing for a delivery of dialysis medication, when the storm hit. The deliveryman rushed her into the house, and the two of them huddled with the housekeeper in the bathroom.

“All I could hear was trees breaking and falling and glass,” she said. “He started praying and I started praying. Thank God he was here.”

Umbrellas bloomed at the Masters golf tournament in Georgia, and elsewhere in the state roofs were ripped off buildings and wrapped around trees like pieces of paper, one witness said.

In Rome, Ga., a wooden beam shot through a house 3 feet from where Tim Crouch was standing.

“I’m lucky,” he said. “I’m sure there are some folks out there who can’t go back to their home.”

On Friday, the system still had remarkable reach — bending from the Canadian border in snowy North Dakota through the Great Lakes and punishing the East Coast with storms all the way to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

  Residents begin cleanup of debris from homes hit by a tornado in Shuqualak, Miss.
Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Tornado watches were in effect in eastern Virginia and North Carolina. Parts of New Hampshire were expected to get 3 to 5 inches of snow, according to meteorologists for The Weather Channel. New York City, Boston and Washington were expecting heavy rain.

The storm was also having some positive effects, bringing much-needed rain to drought-stricken farmland in the Midwest.

Heavy rain on Friday morning even helped extinguish a wildfire that burned across 3,400 acres on the west side of the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va., according to a Marine Corps press release.

Forecasters said a similar storm pattern was taking shape for next week, probably Tuesday through Thursday, packing both snow and severe thunderstorms as it plows east.

The Rockies, parts of the Plains and Upper Midwest could get snow again, The Weather Channel said, and severe storms could rip through the southern Plains and the Mississippi Valley. - NBC News.

WATCH: Storms killed one person and injured five in Mississippi on Thursday were part of a massive system that stretched from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez reports.

More Snow Denver To Minneapolis Next Week.
The weather pattern will favor additional waves of cold, snow, rain and thunderstorms over the middle of the nation next week. Call it deja vu, living the movie Groundhog Day or something else, but many of the areas that were hit with snow and/or cold are likely to be hit again by another storm spanning Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

According to Long Range Weather Expert Jack Boston, "While all storms are unique, the new storm could take a very similar path from the Rockies to the Plains and the Upper Midwest spanning Tuesday through Thursday of next week and has the potential to put down a swath of heavy snow."

While the intensity of the storm has yet to be determined, it could be intense enough to disrupt travel along major highways and could lead to flight delays at major airports and connecting hubs along the way.
Long stretches of I-25, I-70, I-80 and I-90 could be impacted by snow and ice.

Depending on the exact track of the storm, cities including Denver, Casper, Wyo., Rapid City, S.D., Scottsbluff, Neb., Sioux Falls, S.D., and Minneapolis could be in for a brief period of snow or something much more substantial and long-lasting.

Icy branches partially block a city street and fall amid parked cars, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Sioux Falls, S.D. The area was hit Tuesday and Wednesday by up to an inch of freezing rain and several inches of snow. Farther west, between 1 and 3 feet of snow fell on parts of western South Dakota, western Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado.
(AP Photo/Dirk Lammers)

The early indications are that the storm next week may not be quite as intense as this week's monster. While winds may kick up some dust over the deserts they may be less powerful over Southern California and the Southwest in general, when compared to Monday and Tuesday of this past week.

The new storm may not have quite the magnitude of cold air on its northern and western flank. However, it is likely to have heavy, wind-driven snow and unusual cold for a multiple-day stretch in parts of the same area hit by the recent storm.

It could also bring another round of severe weather beginning over parts of the central and southern Plains to portions of the Midwest and South as the week progresses.

Odds favor the severe weather focusing over the lower Mississippi Valley. However, storms could ignite farther west over the central and southern Plains and may eventually march right along into the Appalachians and East Coast.

The major storm next week will be preceded by a snowfall along the northern tier of the nation from Montana to northern Minnesota this weekend. A half a foot of snow could fall in some areas.

This map shows the preliminary storm streaking across the northern tier states. The main new storm will emerge from the Four Corners states early next week.

More Moisture!
Away from the disruptions and dangers from the new storm on deck is the potential for another dose of needed moisture in an area bracing for extreme drought this summer.

Interestingly this week's storm and other prior storms since the latter part of the winter have streams and rivers near flood stage over portions of the Midwest. Many areas of the Central states have received between 1 and 5 inches of rain (or the liquid equivalent) in the past week.

This river level forecast map is a product of the National Weather Service (NWS) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Water levels on the upper Mississippi River, including the St. Louis area, are recovering from their near-record lows during the start of the winter.

The NWS is projecting minor flooding on portions of the Mississippi River over the next couple of weeks. Moderate flooding is possible on some of the tributaries and other streams in the vicinity. - AccuWeather.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Animal Apocalypse Continues In China - Tons Of Dead Fish Mysteriously Found In Cihu Lake?!

April 13, 2013 - CHINA - Sanitation workers transport dead fish to a truck on April 9, 2013 in Huangshi city, Central China’s Hubei province.

Workers started collecting dead fish two days following tons found floating dead in the northern part of Cihu Lake in the city.

The biggest dead fish weighed five kilograms and the cause of death is yet unknown.

Sanitation workers move dead fish to a truck on April 9, 2013 in Huangshi city, Central China’s Hubei province. - China Daily.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: 10 Dolphins Found Dead On The Northern Beaches Of Peru?!

April 13, 2013 - PERU - Dead dolphins continue to wash up on Peru's northern shores, Peru21 reported on Thursday.

According to the daily, over 10 dolphins have been found dead on various beaches in the Lambayeque region, over the past 15 days.

Francisco Niquen, head of Lambayeque's Fishermen's Association, said the group had reported the incident to Peru's Sea Institute (Imarpe), but said the agency had not been to the site.

(Photo: Peru21/Reference)

Niquen argued that the dolphins' death was caused by sound waves from seismic tests used by oil companies to locate deposits.

A study carried out by Imarpe last February, found that 50 sea lions in the area had died from poisoning. According to the daily, local fishermen were thought to be behind the incident, and an investigation is still underway.

Last year hundreds of dolphins were found dead on Peru's coast, leading that government to investigate the deaths. In May Minister of Production, Gladys Triveño, said the dolphins had died from natural causes.

"The dolphins that are better prepared will survive, this happens periodically and not only in Peru, also in New Zealand, Australia, and other countries. There is no need to look for a cause that does not exist," she said at the time. - Peru This Week.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Ants Lead The Way On Earthquake Prediction, Can Sense Tremors A Day In Advance!

April 13, 2013 - GERMANY - Ants with the world's worst taste in real estate seem to sense earthquakes before they strike, according to research presented today (April 11) at the European Geosciences Union annual meeting in Vienna.

Red wood ant mounds on an earthquake fault in Germany.
CREDIT: Gabriele Berberich

Active faults, fractures where the Earth violently ruptures in earthquakes, are the preferred housing site for red wood ants in Germany. Researcher Gabriele Berberich of the University Duisburg-Essen in Germany has counted more than 15,000 red wood ant mounds lined up along Germany's faults, like candy drops on a conveyor belt.

For three years, Berberich and her colleagues tracked the ants 24-7 with video cameras, using special software to catalog behavioral changes. There were 10 earthquakes between magnitude 2.0 and 3.2 during the study period, 2009 to 2012, and many smaller temblors. The ants only changed behavior for quakes larger than magnitude 2.0, which also happens to be the smallest quakes that humans can feel.

Red wood ants have special cells called chemoreceptors which can detect changes in carbon dioxide levels.

During the day, ants busily went about their daily activity, and at night the colony rested inside the mound, mirroring human diurnal patterns, Berberich said at a news conference today. But before an earthquake, the ants were awake throughout the night, outside their mound, vulnerable to predators, the researchers found. Normal ant behavior didn't resume until a day after the earthquake, Berberich said.

So how do ants know an earthquake is coming? Berberich suspects the insects pick up changing gas emissions or local shifts in the Earth's magnetic field.

"Red wood ants have chemoreceptors for carbon dioxide gradients and magnetoreceptors for electromagnetic fields," she said. "We're not sure why or how they react to the possible stimuli, but we're planning on going to a more tectonically active region and see if ants react to larger earthquakes," Berberich added. - Live Science.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Turkey Vulture Freezes, Falls From Sky, Lands On Sioux Falls Deck!

April 13, 2013 - UNITED STATES - On top of the rain, sleet and snow that fell from the sky yesterday, birds are also dropping, as one Sioux Falls resident found out.

A large turkey vulture dropped out of the sky on the deck of the home of Adam Weber, taking shelter under the table.

"My wife was making breakfast, and she suddenly yelled, 'Adam! A large bird just fell out of the sky!'," said Weber, who lives two blocks north of McKennan Park.

A large turkey vulture dropped out of the sky on the deck of the home of Adam Weber, taking shelter under the table.  Submitted by Adam Weber

"That was the last thing I expected to see when I looked out on the deck yesterday."

Weber, who is a pastor at Embrace Church, said the bird was completely iced over and sat straight upright under the table on the deck. The bird moved around a bit, letting Weber know it was still alive, and allowed him to get close to it to take a photo.

The turkey vulture spent all day under the table, Weber said, and left at some point during the night, as he looked all around the house and didn't see it.

That turkey vulture under the table fared better than a second turkey vulture which fell on the roof of his house. That one, he said, hasn't moved since it fell, so he assumes it's dead.

Weber said he called Animal Control, who told him that they had received several calls about similar incidents in the McKennan Park area. Animal Control officials told him there wasn't much that could be done for the bird.

"I felt bad for the guy, I really did," Weber said. "I hope he's alright."

Sioux Falls Animal Control officer Michael Colwill said wild birds are not able to roost in trees when they are coated with ice, so will stay on the ground until storms pass and they thaw out. - Argus Leader.