Monday, June 3, 2013

MONUMENTAL SOLAR SYSTEM CHANGES: Earth's Galactic "Neighborhood" Just Got Upgraded - Study Reveals That The Earth Is Closer To The Center Of The Milky Way Than Previously Thought?!

June 03, 2013 - SPACE - Earth may not be located in the center of the universe, but a new study finds that it is a little closer to the center of the galaxy than previously thought.

This illustration shows a stage in the predicted merger between our Milky Way galaxy and the neighboring
Andromeda galaxy, left, in 3.75 billion years. (NASA)

Astronomers thought the solar system was located in a small "spur" of the Milky Way, a galaxy that contains somewhere between 200-400 billion stars.

The center of the Milky Way likely still contains a "supermassive black hole" that the rest of the stars orbit around, but it turns out that the solar system is likely located on one of the star's "main arms" of the spiral galaxy known as the "Local Arm."

"Our new evidence suggests that the Local Arm should appear as a prominent feature of the Milky Way," Alberto Sanna, of the Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, said in a statement.

"Based on both the distances and the space motions we measured, our Local Arm is not a spur. It is a major structure, maybe a branch of the Perseus Arm, or possibly an independent arm segment."

Sanna presented his research Monday at the American Astronomical Society's meeting in Indianapolis.

He and his colleagues used data from the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array, a series of 10 radio telescopes spread throughout the continental United States, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands.

The array is used to track near-Earth asteroids, measure the sizes, spins and shapes of galaxies, and estimate the distance of stars from Earth.

Measuring the Milky Way is difficult because the solar system is located inside it. To solve the problem, Sanna and his team took measurements from when Earth was located on either side of the sun, allowing them to get different perspectives and new measurements.

The new finding suggested the solar system is most likely located on a major arm of the galaxy, not an offshoot of that.

The team says our "Milky Way neighborhood just went upscale," but perhaps we shouldn't get too comfortable: A NASA finding last year suggested that the Milky Way is "destined for a head-on collision" with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy.

"It is likely the sun will be flung into a new region of our galaxy, but our Earth and solar system are in no danger of being destroyed," the agency says.

According to NASA, the collision will likely occur about 4 billion years from now. - USN.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe And Violent Storms Prowl The United States Plains Again - High Risk Of Life-Threatening And Property-Damaging Tornadoes And Hail To Disaster-Ravaged Areas Such As Oklahoma!

June 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A new week is underway and another round of severe weather is unfolding, including the risk of tornadoes over the Plains.

The overall storm system projected to bring the violent storms to the Plains is not as intense or as slow-moving as that of last week.

However, the system is strong enough to threaten lives and property with severe weather, including some of the same areas hit hard by last week's destructive and deadly storms.

The storms are more likely to hit during or shortly after the evening rush hour each day, rather than first thing in the morning. However, there can be some exceptions.

Spotty severe thunderstorms fired across the High Plains into Monday evening.

Late Monday, severe storms will mostly be found from the northern Texas Panhandle northward into western parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.

During Monday evening, cities and towns with the greatest potential for these storms include Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas; Woodward, Okla.; Liberal, Garden City and Goodland, Kan.; and North Platte and Valentine, Neb.

Tuesday and Wednesday, the greatest risk of severe weather will settle slowly southeastward. The storms may focus over Kansas and northern and western Oklahoma late Tuesday, then over central and southeastern Oklahoma by late Wednesday.

This is not expected to be a major outbreak of severe weather. Even isolated thunderstorms can wreak havoc on the locations they affect.

The greatest impacts from these storms will be large hail and strong wind gusts. A few of the strongest storms could produce a tornado.

The chance of a tornado will be quite low for any particular area. However, it is impossible to predict in advance of several minutes which local areas will be hit the hardest.

Golf ball- to tennis ball-sized hail can injure or kill exposed livestock and people, damage vehicles and shatter windows. Hail of this size can also destroy crops.

Wind gusts of 60 mph can cause damage to power poles and down trees and large tree limbs. Loose debris can also be easily picked up, and dust can be lofted into the air, leading to low visibility.

If you will be out and about in the alerted area this week, keep an eye to the sky, monitor radars on your smart phone and pay attention to weather bulletins.

Once thunderstorms develop, they will strengthen quickly, and dangerous conditions could follow soon after.

While the situation this week does not favor a broad area of new flooding problems, storms at the local level can cause incidents of flash and urban flooding.

Additional rainfall onto area streams and rivers can lead to new rises on the waterways.

Current technology has advanced enough over recent years to provide ample alert of the potential for severe weather and the approach of localized severe storms. Be sure to understand the difference between a watch and a warning.

A watch means that an area is being monitored for dangerous weather. A warning means that dangerous weather is imminent. When a warning is issued, there may be too little time to travel across town or across a county to escape the storm.

The time to have a plan of action and move to the general vicinity of a storm shelter or safe area is when a watch is issued.

Keep in mind that lightning is one of Mother Nature's most dangerous killers. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning, even if the sun is still shining. - AccuWeather.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Work Halted For The Past Week At The Sinkhole As Tremors Increase; Official Declares "Never Before Had The Level Of Rock Slumped Inside The Cavern"!

June 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Like a chocolate soufflé removed too soon from the oven, fractured rock and sediment rising up for months inside a failed salt dome cavern tied to the Assumption Parish sinkhole has begun to drop, if ever so slightly.

The fall could be an indication that stability is increasing around the 15.1-acre sinkhole and Texas Brine Co.’s failed cavern that is suspected of causing the sinkhole to form, company officials and regulators agreed Friday.

The sinkhole, which has grown in spurts for months and is beset with periodic tremors, is one reason 350 people in the nearby Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou communities have been under evacuation orders for just short of 10 months.

Seeping natural gas also triggered by the cavern failure is another reason for the order, parish officials have said.

Workers have been idled inside the sinkhole’s earthen containment levee since early last week because of increasing numbers of tremors pointing to a possible sinkhole burp of natural gas or an edge collapse, parish officials said.

John Boudreaux, director of the parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said none such had occurred by Saturday morning.

During a period of nearly three decades, the Texas Brine cavern was mined with freshwater under pressure into a roughly cylindrical shape deep in the interior of the Napoleonville Dome, a vast solid salt deposit reaching tens of thousands of feet underground.

Scientists think a breach at a depth of 5,600 feet underground, near the bottom of the suspect cavern, has allowed sediments outside the salt dome and under intense pressures to flow into and rise up inside the 2,258-foot-tall cavity in the salt dome.

This subterranean movement of earth into the cavern undermined shallower layers of rock and sediment and triggered the swampland sinkhole, now 174 feet deep, scientists have said. The flow of rock has continued, fueling growth of the sinkhole and certain types of earth tremors.

Boudreaux said that cavern depth measurements going back to last fall have shown the rock had risen inside the cavern, on average, about 3 feet per day.

But, on Friday, Texas Brine measured a 29-foot drop during one week. Boudreaux added that never before had the level of rock slumped inside the cavern since the sinkhole emerged.

Texas Brine officials speculated Friday the drop could be an early sign that an awaited point of equilibrium is happening.

“It is compaction, and we might be reaching a point of equilibrium where in-filling may be coming to an end,” said Sonny Cranch, Texas Brine spokesman, citing the reasoning of company experts.

Scientists have said that the sinkhole would begin to stabilize after the cavern gets filled up to its roof with rock.

Once completely filled, the cavern eventually would reach an equilibrium, or balance point, between the pressures pushing sediments into the cavern and pressures working against that kind of movement. This balance would bring a probable end to the instability of both the cavern and the sinkhole.

If Texas Brine experts are right, equilibrium could be established sooner than predicted. The sediment and rock were measured at level of 129 feet below the cavern’s roof after the recent drop, according to parish figures.

State regulators, however, said it was too soon to make claims about arriving at a state of equilibrium, though they said stability may be improving.

“Pending further analysis, consultants indicate that the unconsolidated material that has been filling the cavern may be starting to settle and compact under its own weight and the subsurface pressure,” Patrick Courreges, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, said in an email.

The sediment is called “unconsolidated” because it is new geologically and has not undergone the necessary eons of time to compress and harden.

The sediment is believed to have expanded once the rock was pushed inside the cavern and relieved of the underground pressures outside the salt dome. Scientists have speculated that the expanded sediments would re-compact once inside the cavern.

While indications of increasing stability may be emerging, Texas Brine has been hit by lawsuits in both state and federal court over the sinkhole and its side effects. At the same time, the company has been put under public pressure to offer out-of-court buyouts for residents covered by the evacuation order.

Through Friday, Texas Brine officials said they made settlement offers to 38 residents who have not filed suit among the 111 people eligible and interested in receiving the offers.

“We’ve had several acceptances,” said Texas Brine spokesman Cranch. He declined to provide any numbers.

He said others who received offers are considering them or have made counteroffers.

In a fact sheet issued Friday, the company said it is operating under a 30-day window for direct negotiations ordered May 22 by the federal judge overseeing four class-action lawsuits seeking damages as a result of the sinkhole.

That period ends at 5:30 p.m. June 24, according to the judge’s order. - Advocate.

EXTREME WEATHER: Tropical System May Impact United States East Coast - Area Of Disturbed Weather Could Produce Deluge Of Heavy Rainfall And Thunderstorms!

June 03, 2013 - GULF OF MEXICO - An area of disturbed weather hovering near Yucatan, Mexico, to start the week could track along part of the Atlantic Seaboard after affecting Florida in the coming days.

The system is likely to produce a swath of heavy rain from parts of the Florida Peninsula into portions of the mainland South this week.

Depending on the track of the system, a dose of heavy rain is possible in portions of the eastern mid-Atlantic and New England toward the weekend.

Drenching showers and locally gusty thunderstorms were affecting western Cuba, the Keys and the eastern coastline of Yucatan, Mexico, Monday midday. Rainfall will gradually propagate northeastward over the next couple of days impacting more of central and South Florida.

According to Tropical Weather Expert Dan Kottlowski, "There will be a window of opportunity for the system to develop tropically during the middle of the week as it begins to drift northeastward."

Kottlowski stated that strong upper atmospheric winds, which are currently hindering development, could drop off enough to allow more of a circulation near the surface of the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical systems are storms that inhabit the lowest part of the atmosphere. Since they are warm weather storms, they can strengthen over warm water and tend to weaken over land or cold water.

Strong winds near the top of the storm can also disrupt development or tear a tropical storm or hurricane apart.

Indications are that steering winds will guide the system, whether it has fully developed tropically or not, on a general northeastward path during the second half of the week into the weekend.

The first name on the list of tropical storms and hurricanes for the Atlantic Basin 2013 season is "Andrea."
While the exact path will depend on how much development occurs, rainfall along parts of the Atlantic Seaboard from Florida to New England could be enhanced as the system moves along.

"It is possible this system never has enough time to become a well-organized tropical storm or hurricane," Kottlowski said.

The first stage of development of a warm core would be a tropical depression. However, even if the system were to reach that phase, it does not guarantee that a tropical storm or hurricane would follow.

Even weak tropical or sub-tropical systems can bring tremendous rainfall, on the order of several inches or more. Weak systems can also bring locally severe thunderstorms and dangerous surf conditions.

Over the weekend in the East, the Gulf system could interact with another storm system coming in from the Plains. That system over the central part of the nation will bring another round of severe weather to storm-weary residents in Oklahoma and surrounding states Monday into Wednesday.

According to Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity, "The Gulf system is likely to pick up forward speed later in the week and over the weekend, which should work to shorten the duration of the rainfall and could lessen problems caused by flooding farther north."

Flooding is a concern in the southeastern corner of the nation, where slow movement is likely. However, some areas could handle a dose of drenching rain, as long as the rain does not. - AccuWeather.

MASS MAMMAL DIE-OFF: Disaster Precursors - Dead Whales Mysteriously Wash Up On West Coast Beaches In New Zealand?!

June 03, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - Three dead whales have washed up on West Coast beaches in as many days.

The Cuvier's beaked whale that washed up at Greymouth© Ron Hazeldine, Dept of Conservation

A local marine scientist said it was unusual for whales of different species to wash up so close to one another, but the deaths were not believed to be connected.

Curious locals were drawn to the beach at Greymouth after the 6m carcass of a Cuvier's beaked whale washed up on Saturday morning.

The next day, a 15m sperm whale washed up halfway between Greymouth and Hokitika. And today, a small 2-3m whale or dolphin of unknown species washed up near Westport.

Hokitika-based Department of Conservation marine scientist Don Neale said it was uncommon for three whales to wash up so close to one another in such a short space of time.

"It's not unusual to have whales washed up on the beaches on the West Coast - we do get anything between a couple and half a dozen a year of various species," he said.

"But when they come up one after the other, it's a little bit less usual."

Mr Neale said it was unlikely the deaths were directly connected, and they could be a coincidence.

Big storms had lashed the coast last weekend, which may have thrown the whales around and led to their deaths.

The whales had been be inspected and photographed, but there were no obvious signs of ship strike or other external injuries.

"We don't know at this stage what the cause of death is, and it's possible we may never know entirely what caused their death."

Local iwi Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae had been notified and was working to recover the jawbone from the sperm whale.

The carcasses would either be buried or left to decompose on the beach.

Mr Neale reminded people not to touch the whale carcasses, and to report any sick or dead marine mammals to conservation staff.

"We don't mind people coming along and having a look at the whales, but especially with the sperm whale being worked on down there, it would be really good for people to keep their distance." - NZ Herald.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Mother Nature Strikes Back - Hive Of About 40,000 AFRICANIZED Bees Kills Texas Man; Stinging Him More Than 1,000 Times!

June 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A Texas man died after a swarm of Africanized bees disturbed by his tractor attacked, stinging him more than 1,000 times Saturday.

File Photo.

The bees were living inside an old chicken coop that Larry Goodwin, 62, was pushing over to clear off his Moody, Texas, property, neighbor John Puckett told CNN affiliate KCEN-TV.

"He lifted the whole hive and disturbed them all and they just came swarming out of there and trapped him on his tractor," Puckett said.

His daughter and neighbors rushed to help, but they said there was nothing they could do to save Goodwin.

"When we got to him, he was purple, he had thousands and thousands of bee stings on his face and arms," Tanya Goodwin said.

Puckett said his wife and daughter were stung 100 times. "I came pretty close to losing my family," Puckett said.

Allen Miller, whose company Bees Be Gone removed the hive after the attack, said he's seen more Africanized bee hives in the past few weeks than he normally sees in a year.

"If anybody has any brush or anything on their lands, please clear it, because they don't want to go through this," Tanya Goodwin said. "Nobody needs to go through this."

Africanized honey bees, known colloquially as "killer bees," are believed to have entered Texas in 1990 and have since spread to at least 10 other states, from California to Florida.

Africanized honey bees, which are hybrids of African and European bees, can be highly defensive around their nests and swarm more frequently than other honey bees, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The venom carried by honey bees has similar potency. - CNN.

WATCH: Africanized bee swarm kills Texas man.

A hive of Africanized bees has killed a Central Texas man and injured a woman who tried to help him.

McLennan County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Matt Cawthon told the Waco Tribune-Herald that Larry Goodwin was driving a tractor in Moody about 30 minutes south of Waco on Saturday when attacked.

Goodwin ran to a house about 50 yards away and tried to use a garden hose. A woman came out to help and was also stung. Goodwin was pronounced dead on the scene.

Allen Miller, owner of Bee Be Gone, who later destroyed the hive, said Goodwin apparently hit a pile of wood that housed a hive. Miller estimated it contained about 40,000 bees.

He said Africanized bees attack much more aggressively and in greater numbers than European bees. - FOX News.

MASS CRUSTACEAN DIE-OFF: Hundreds Of Dead Crabs Wash Up On East Looe Beach In The United Kingdom?!

June 03, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - Hundreds of dead crabs was seen at the East Looe beach, a fishing port in a small coastal town in Cornwall, England.

WATCH: Dead crabs wash up on East Looe beach, UK.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 4.1 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Near Niland, California!

June 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A shallow magnitude 4.1 earthquake was reported Monday afternoon five miles from Niland, Calif., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS earthquake location.

The temblor occurred at 12:04 p.m. PDT at a depth of 1.9 miles.

According to the USGS, the epicenter was 17 miles from Brawley and 29 miles from El Centro.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

In the past 10 days, there has been one earthquake magnitude 3 and greater centered nearby. - LA Times.

DISASTER IMPACT: Mother Nature Strikes Back - At Least 16 Dead After Rain, Twisters Lash Midwest United States; More Storms Heading East!

June 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Violent storms that left at least 16 people dead in Oklahoma and Missouri were heading towards the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Sunday, as the nation’s mid-section struggled to cope with floodwaters.

At least 13 people –including nine adults, three of who were storm chasers, and four children — were killed after five tornadoes — one a half-mile wide — struck the Oklahoma City area Friday evening, terrorizing communities already battered by deadly storms this spring.

The Oklahoma City Fire Department on Sunday was also searching the Oklahoma River for four more missing people.

Hospitals in Oklahoma City reported 115 injuries, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

One of the dead was named by the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office as James C. Talbert, 65, whose vehicle drove off a washed-out bridge in eastern Oklahoma County Saturday.

WATCH: Millions of Americans were in the path of a major storm on Sunday that caused flash flooding and devastation throughout the middle of the country, The Weather Channel's Chris Warren reports.

Three further deaths, in Missouri, were blamed on flooding caused by the torrential hailstorms that the weather system brought to large parts of the mid-US.

"Authorities have confirmed three deaths from high water; those occurred in Lawrence, Miller and Reynolds counties," said a statement from Missouri governor Jay Nixon’s office.

The Weather Channel confirmed at least three tornadoes touched down around St. Louis, badly damaging homes but not causing any fatalities.

Tens of thousands were without power, and only eight minor injuries were reported. Gov. Nixon declared a state of emergency. After touring the damage on Saturday, Nixon told The Weather Channel that "dozens of houses literally exploded" in Charles County, where an EF3 twister ripped through.

Three "storm chasers" who had done work with The Weather Channel were killed in Friday's tornadoes. Father and son team Tim and Paul Samaras, as well as chase partner Carl Young, were killed as a result of a twister in El Reno, Okla.

"They went in the field focused on collecting data to enable meteorologists to further the science behind tornadoes which we know has and will help to save countless lives," The Weather Channel said in a statement. "Our community has suffered a terrible loss and our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones."

The twisters came just 11 days after a monster tornado left 24 dead in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, where power outages were reported Friday.

"The last two nights, I've been having hell," Roy Stoddard, a truck driver from Depew, Okla., who was delayed by rising floodwaters at Little Rock, Ark. on Thursday told The Associated Press. On Friday evening, he had to take shelter in a store's walk-in cooler during Friday evening's rush-hour in Oklahoma City as deadly weather approached.

WATCH: About 30 miles from Oklahoma City, there is now rubble and heartbreak in the aftermath of a destructive storm. NBC's Mark Potter reports.

"I know what a tornado can do," Stoddard added.

The weather system had started lurching eastward Sunday, bringing scattered thunderstorms, some severe, to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, the Weather Channel’s Michael Palmer said.

“Large hail and damaging winds are the main threat with an isolated tornado possible. Lingering warm and humid air ahead of the cold front will produce isolated severe storms in the Carolinas on Monday.”

Washington, D.C., was being hammered by showers and thunderstorms Sunday evening, which could go on until Monday morning, according to NBC Washington.

In Anderson County in upstate South Carolina citizens told authorities of possibly tornado sightings, according to County Administrator Rusty Burns. Burns said at least one hit was struck and had its roof torn up, but there were no reported injuries Sunday evening.

"Everything is under control now," Burns said.

There is also yet more bad news for the Plains: The chance of yet more severe storms returns Monday, Palmer said. - NBC News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For June 03, 2013 - Updates On Popocatépetl, Plosky Tolbashick, Kerinci, Ol Doinyo Lengai, Pacaya, Papandayan And Mayon!

June 03, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Plosky Tolbashick, Kamchatka (GV – June 2 – 12:05 UTC)
Explosive-effusive eruption of the volcano continues. Ash explosions up to 19,700 ft (6 km) a.s.l. could occur at any time. Activity of the volcano could affect low-flying aircraft.

Image courtesy and copyright Roman Melnyk. Archive image – A winter night in Tolbachik. Due to the full moon, the smoke column is beautifully highlighted.

Effusion of lava flows continues from the Southern fissure at Tolbachinsky Dol. Very fluid lava is moving to the southern, eastern and western slopes of Tolbachinsky Dol. Cinder cones continue to grow on the Southern fissure, a weak gas-steam plumes were observing last week. A big thermal anomaly was noticed at satellite images in the northern area of Tolbachinsky Dol all week.

Kerinci volcano, Sumatra, Indonesia (AV – June 2 – 14:41 UTC)
2 great twitter sites to follow up activity and images of Gunung Kerinci : @Infoseismic and @padangekspres The image below is a twitter image of the ash cloud earlier today:

Twitter Image courtesy @ Padangekspres

(AV – June 2 – 12:15 UTC)
The Indonesian press reports that some villagers living on the slopes and at the base of the Kerinci volcano (alert level Waspada or 2 on a scale of 4) have fled their houses due to a number of “atomic bomb” black smoke eruptions. The atomic bomb description has to be regarded as a mushroom kind of smoke column. This kind of explosions are very similar than those happening in September 9/2007. Villagers are fearing that their crops will be lost as soon after the eruption black ash was falling out of the sky. To make it even worse, it started to rain shortly thereafter making the ash even more dangerous for crops. Villagers also told the reporters that they felt strong vibrations.

We expect that CVGHM will increase the alert level from Waspada to Siaga (3 on a scale of 4) very soon.
The volcano was in Waspada status since 2007! Mount Kerinci is the highest volcano in Indonesia.The summit towers 3805 m above sea level.

Kerinci volcano as photographed by Amin8871 – This image was uploaded in 2008.
Image courtesy and copyright Amin8871

Recent historic activity from the volcano
CVGHM reported that diffuse white plumes from Kerinci typically rise about 300 m above the crater. On 9 September 2007 the Alert Level was raised to 2 (on a scale of 1-4) because “black smoke” plumes rose 800 m above the crater. The height of the plumes (described as “smoke”) declined, but remained variable, so the Alert Level continued at 2. On 24 March 2008, ash-and-gas plumes rose to 4.3 km (14,100 ft) a.s.l. In early April 2009, increased seismicity was accompanied by ash plumes that rose as high as 600 m above the crater. During 1-20 April, light and dark plumes rose to a maximum of 500 m above the crater. On 19 April, ashfall was reported at a nearby observation post. During 19-20 April, noises indicative of an eruption were heard at the observation post. The Alert Status remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4). Residents and visitors were advised not to enter an area within 1 km of the summit.

The video below has a bad quality but shows the deep crater and some fumeroles at the base of the crater and along the steep slopes. The volcano is very popular by young hikers who are seeing this as a great climb. Most videos are showing only the hikers and not the crater.

WATCH: Kerinci in 2012.

Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano, Tanzania  (AV/GV – June 3 – 10:36 UTC)
We have noticed 2 modereta but important earthquakes near or on the lopes of Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano, located near Lake Natron, know from his flamingo colonies, in the border area in between Kenya and Tanzania. The image below is the volcano, but watch also the great video of the ascend of the volcano by a French volcanologist. The volcano has a very special crater which looks more like a piece of art than the crater of a real volcano.

Image courtesy and copyright SteveAxford

The image above is the volcano, but watch also the great video of the ascend of the volcano by a French volcanologist. The volcano has a very special crater which looks more like a piece of art than the crater of a real volcano.

WATCH: Lengai volcano.

Pacaya volcano, Guatemala (AV – June 2 – 12:15 UTC)
@JohnSeach reports via twitter ( :
Eruption of Pacaya volcano, Guatemala. Lava flow and volcanic ash emission 15,000 ft altitude.

Popocatepetl Volcano, Mexico  (GV – June 2 – 12:05 UTC)
Activity has continued to decrease and there have been no new significant explosions. The number of steam-gas emissions (which sometimes contain also small amounts of ash) has dropped from an average of 5 per hour to only 2 per hour last night.

(GV – June 1 – 08:51 UTC)
Volcanologists have conducted a reconnaissance flight on May 28 to assess the situation in the Popocatepetl crater. They have noticed a new dome  covered by fragments of explosions which occurred the last couple of weeks (vent created by the explosion of May 15).

During the last 8 hours, the monitoring system of Popocatepetl recorded 14 exhalations of low or moderate intensity, accompanied by emission of steam, gas and sometimes small amounts of ash.
Although visibility was reduced during the period covered by this report because of cloudy conditions, new weak explosion were observed.

Papandayan volcano climb, Indonesia (AV – June 1 – 11:00 UTC)
Those among you who are climbing volcanoes now and then should read this great article in the Jakarta Post.
Excerpt :  At only 2,665 meters above sea level, Mount Papapandayan is known among hikers as “the mountain for beginners”.  Yet there are very few mountains in Indonesia that are like Mt. Papandayan, cramming as it does into its breathtaking view a beautiful edelweiss meadow, a dead forest and a steaming sulfur crater.
Read the full article here

Image courtesy and copyright Jakarta Post and JP/Putera Satria Sambijantoro.

Mayon volcan, Philippines (AV – June 1 – 10:19 UTC)
Phivolcs reported yesterday : In the past 36-hr period, three weeks after the phreatic explosion on 7 May, visible but weak and short-lived emission of bluish H2S fumes was observed at Mayon Volcano, with persistent crater glow of Intensity I (weak) visibly observed in the evening to early morning. The persistence of weak glow may denote heating of the atmosphere above the crater due to a steady emission of magmatic gas. SO2 measurements for the same period have nonetheless varied between 55 and 388 tonnes/day, and for today averaged 290 tonnes/day, remaining below normal levels of 500 tonnes/day. Seismicity has been markedly low, while recently concluded ground deformation survey by

Precise Leveling indicate slight inflation of the edifice compared to February 2013 survey data.

Archive image – courtesy

In view of the observation of fumes and visible crater glow, despite most monitoring parameters remaining within baseline levels, PHIVOLCS is raising the alert status of Mayon from Alert Level 0 to Alert Level 1 as a precaution to the public that the volcano is exhibiting abnormal behavior.

As before, PHIVOLCS strongly reiterates that the 6-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone or PDZ should be a no-entry zone to the public because of the perennial danger of life-threatening rockfalls, avalanches, ash puffs and sudden phreatic or steam-driven eruptions. Mayon’s alert level status may further change if significant changes in monitoring parameters occur. PHIVOLCS advises residents around the volcano to remain vigilant and to keep abreast of updates on Mayon’s condition through local and national officials. PHIVOLCS maintains its close monitoring of the volcano and any significant observation will be immediately communicated to all concerned stakeholders.

- Daily Volcano Report.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: MERS Coronavirus Spreads - New MERS-CoV Cases In Italy Further Heighten Global Concern!

June 03, 2013 - ITALY - The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified two additional laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV in Italy over the past 24 hours, according to a recent update by the WHO.

Novel Coronavirus nCoV (Photo credit: AJC1)

A 45 year old man who recently spent time in Jordan, and traveled back to Italy in late May, developed fever and cough and progressive respiratory distress, according to the WHO.

He was hospitalized on May 28th in Italy and is stable at this time, according to recent reports. Unfortunately, two close contacts, a 2 year old girl and a 42 year old woman– the two newly identified patients–have also been infected.  Both are in stable condition at this time, based on early reports.

MERS-CoV belongs to the coronavirus family and is responsible for illnesses ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

SARS, spreading from South China to Hong Kong, was responsible for over 775 deaths out of 8,273 cases worldwide between November, 2002 and July, 2003, according to the WHO.

Within a few weeks, SARS spread from Hong Kong to infect individuals in 37 countries in early 2003.

While MERS-CoV is similar to SARS, it is not as easily as transmissible based upon clusters of patients evaluated to date. Thus far, out of 53 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV since September of 2012, 30 have died.

Patients with Mers-CoV may develop either a mild upper respiratory illness characterized by fever with cough or a more severe course, marked by respiratory failure, with pneumonia progressing to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and kidney failure.

A coronavirus that may cause SARS. (transwikied from
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those with underlying diabetes, renal failure or coronary artery disease may be more at risk for severe illness, although there have already been a number of previously healthy patients affected as well.

A number of laboratory-confirmed cases–mainly among immunocompromised patients–have presented with atypical features, including diarrhea and fever, along with mild respiratory symptoms.

Investigators have also noted that based on recently identified clusters, men seemed to predominate, with an unclear reason for the gender preference.

It appeared as though a large proportion of females were apparently exposed to infected males but did not seem to routinely develop symptoms.

However, based upon more recently identified cases, women who had close contact with infected males have tested positive for MERS-CoV, dispelling the idea that women were somehow less likely to be vectors or have the ability to develop infection.

Age-standardised disability-adjusted life year (DALY) rates from Lower respiratory infections by country
(per 100,000 inhabitants). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thus far, supportive care-intravenous fluids, oxygen and antibiotics [if suspected secondary infection]- are among the potential treatments once infected, as there is no vaccine or specific antiviral with known activity against MERS-CoV.

Although respiratory secretions or a droplet mechanism of spread are theorized, standard practice of so-called “universal precautions” for healthcare workers (gown, gloves, and mask), as well as isolation or quarantine protocols for persons presenting to emergency departments or hospitals with fever and upper respiratory symptoms with recent travel to the Middle East are in place at this time.

According to Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, we still do not have a defined mechanism for spread, which ultimately makes it difficult for scientists to prevent development of infections.

The virus is “a threat to the entire world,” Chan said last week and emphasized that “is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself”. - Forbes.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Indonesia's Mount Kerinci Volcano Erupts, Rattling Nearby Residents With A Loud Bang - Spews Smoke As High As 600 Meters!

June 03, 2013 - INDONESIA - Mount Kerinci in Jambi has erupted on Sunday, spewing smoke as high as 600 meters. The eruption occurred at 8:43 a.m. local time.

Head of Sungai Rumpun village, Herman, said everyone panicked, pouring out of their houses worried that a bigger eruption would follow.

“A loud bang was heard in our village. When we looked up we saw the volcano spew plumes of black smoke,” said Herman, who contacted the Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) to seek information.

An ash cloud turned the sky black and locals could smell sulfur in the air.

Half hour after the eruption, several villages in Gunung Tujuh district were blanketed in thick black ash, sparking concern for food crops, but heavy rain after the ash shower washed the crops clean.

Mt Kerinci last erupted in 2009. Activity increased in July 2011 with tremors recorded in October that year. - Jakarta Post.

Mount Kerinci (also spelled Kerintji, among several other ways, and referred to as Gunung Kerinci, Gadang, Berapi Kurinci, Kerinchi, Korinci, or Peak of Indrapura) is the highest volcano in Indonesia, and the highest peak on the island of Sumatra.

It is surrounded by the lush forest of Kerinci Seblat National Park, home to the endangered species of Sumatran Tiger and Sumatran Rhinoceros.

Kerinci is located in Province of Jambi, the west central part of the island, in the Barisan Mountains, near the west coast, and is about 130 km (81 mi) south of Padang.

It is the most prominent feature of the terrain of Kerinci Seblat National Park, with pine-forested slopes rising 2,400-3,300 metres above the surrounding basin, and a cone 13 km (8 mi) wide and 25 km (16 mi) long at the base, elongated in the north-south direction.

At the summit there is a deep 600 m (1,969 ft) wide crater, often partially filled by a small crater lake on the northeast side of the crater floor.

Kerinci is more active than most Indonesian volcanoes, with nearly annual phreatic eruptions. In 2004, Kerinci erupted and continues to spew clouds of sulphurous smoke, with plumes reaching as high as 1,000 m (3,281 ft) above the summit.

In 2009, Kerinci erupted again and followed by June 2, 2013 eruption with 600 m (1,969 ft) spewed black smoke.

There is farmland in the area, and a tea plantation on its southern slope, Kerinci, being located in an Indonesian national park, and perhaps out of respect for its frequent growlings as well, sits in an area that is sparsely populated by Indonesian population-density standards. - Wikipedia.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Sinkhole Opens Up In Oklahoma Following Storm Passage!

June 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Major flooding following the passage of several tornadoes cause a giant sinkhole to appear in Oklahoma City.

WATCH: Massive sinkhole in Oklahoma.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Major Solar System Disturbance - Bright Fireball Explodes Over Taiwan!

June 03, 2013 - TAIWAN - A fireball was seen on the 31st of May, darting across the night skies over Taiwan.

WATCH: Fireball over Taiwan.

DELUGE & MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Widespread Flooding In China Leave Thousands In Distress - 16,400 Affected; Two Deaths; Over 1,300 Livestock Killed; Farmlands And Local Infrastructure Destroyed!

June 03, 2013 - CHINA Authorities informed that heavy floods triggered by rainstorms have affected over 16,400 people while causing two deaths in China's Xinjiang Uygur region.

Over 1,310 livestock had been killed till Wednesday due to floods that have damaged over 2,100 hectares of farmland in the prefecture. It has also destroyed local roads, bridges and underground power lines in the region.

According to the local flood control authorities, downpours began on Sunday in Kashgar prefecture, leading to destruction of residential properties and some infrastructure in the region. - Pharda Phash.

PLANETARY TREMORS: "Something Volcanic Is Brewing Underground" - The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Declares That Earthquakes In Mindanao Will Last For Months!

June 03, 2013 - PHILIPPINES The earthquakes experienced today in Carmen town, North Cotabato and the rest of Mindanao will possibly last for weeks or months.

This was according to Jenila de Ocampo, Officer-in-charge of the Davao Seismic Station of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), in a phone interview.  She added the intensity might either be “felt” or “unfelt” by humans.

One of the houses in Carmen, North Cotabato damaged by the 5.7 magnitude earthquake Saturday. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza)

On Monday morning, two strong quakes struck Carmen.

A 5.7 magnitude was felt at 4:08 AM with epicenter at seven Kilometers (Km) Northeast of the town.  It has a depth of 10 Km.  The town was placed under Intensity VI.

“An Intensity VI in the PEIS (Phivolcs Earthquake Intensity Scale) means there will be a minimal damage to poorly built structures, or those with light materials and even concrete structures which do not meet building standards like the proper placement of steel bars,” De Ocampo explained.

Intensities V and IV were felt in Kabacan and Matalam towns in North Cotabato, respectively.  Intensity III was felt in the cities of Kidapawan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao City and Cotabato; and in the towns of President Roxas, Arakan, Magpet and Makilala in North Cotabato.   Intensity II was felt in Koronadal town in South Cotabato; the towns of Quezon, Maramag , Valencia and Don Carlos in Bukidnon province; and in Misamis Oriental.  Intensity I was felt in the cities of General Santos and Butuan.

At 7:31 AM, another quake jolted Carmen town.  A 4.0 magnitude was recorded with epicenter at 7 Km Northeast of the town.  It has a depth of 3 Km.

Intensity II was felt in Matalam town, North Cotabato.

On Saturday evening, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake rocked the town which hurt 5 people, damaged 60 houses in Kimadsil village alone, and destroyed a bridge as well as agricultural facilities, school buildings and health centers.

The said quake, according to De Ocampo, “is shallow and tectonic in origin.” Its depth was at 5 Km.

“Strong earthquakes which are tectonic will cause aftershocks until the energy dissipates.  In the case of Carmen which was hit by shallow quakes, the energy of the quake has little chance to dissipate when it reaches the surface,” she said.

As of Sunday afternoon, 80 aftershocks have been recorded by Phivolcs.  It was expected, De Ocampo said, but many were not felt even if it showed on their records.

With the continuous tremors, affected residents wonder why no evacuation has been ordered.
De Ocampo said the decision rests on the hands of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the local government unit.

“We just help them (by giving our recommendations).  Last Sunday, we have personnel from Phivolcs in Kidapawan City who assisted them,” De Ocampo said.

No new volcano

Meanwhile, De Ocampo belied claims of some residents that a new volcano was discovered in Kibudtungan village in Carmen town.

Ayna Sison, a resident in the area, said Phivolcs personnel allegedly told her grandfather of a “newly found” volcano located near the site where he lives.  The volcano was said to be “inverted.”

“My grandfather said he heard a whistling sound like gas exiting from a chamber.  When the sound stopped, he said, the earthquakes happened,” recounted Sison.

But De Ocampo said “(T)here is no such thing.  But, the area though is still within the Mt. Apo complex,” she said.

Phivolcs data noted there is no active fault line in the region.

But Joel Peeters, a Belgian who has lived in Davao City and has been checking the earthquakes in the country using European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre and US Geological Survey data listing, expressed that the series of quakes could “indicate that an inactive (volcano) is activating again, or forming, or that underground something is brewing.”

Albeit not an expert but just an observer on this matter, he said, he believes that it’s “not usual” for a number of earthquakes, especially strong ones, to happen in an area not far from a sleeping volcano, which is the Mt. Apo.

“Maybe the Phivolcs could check if the sleeping giant is showing signs of waking up?,” he urged. - Davoa Today.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Dutch Authorities Cull 11,000 Chickens After Avian Influenza Outbreak In Amsterdam, Netherlands!

June 03, 2013 - NETHERLANDS - Health authorities will cull 11,000 chickens at a farm in the Netherlands after an outbreak of a mild form of avian influenza, the Dutch Economic Affairs Ministry said on Saturday.

The chickens were believed to have the low pathogenic H7 strain, the ministry said in a statement. They would be culled as a precaution because the strain can mutate into a form that is fatal for poultry.

Authorities imposed a one-kilometer safety perimeter around the farm banning transports of poultry, eggs and other farm products. Testing would also be carried at 11 other farms in the area, it said.

In recent years several cases of the low pathogenic bird flu strain have been reported in the Netherlands.

The most devastating outbreak of H7N7 avian flu in the country was in 2003 and led to the culling of 30 million birds, about a third of the nation's poultry flock. - Scientific America.

EXTREME WEATHER: New Zealand Told To Brace For Wild Weather - Met Service Issues Severe Weather Watch For Many Parts Of The Country; Deluge Of Heavy Rainfall And Snowfall Expected!

June 03, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - MetService has issued severe weather watches for parts of the country.

Westland, Buller, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, Wellington, Wairarapa, Bay of Plenty and Rotorua are among the regions set to face heavy rain and wild weather over the next 24 hours.

Motorists stuck at Burkes Pass - Source: Renier Figuracion.

Pictures sent to ONE News show heavy snow has been causing disruptions for motorists on the last day of the long weekend.

Vehicles with chains waited for hours this afternoon for roads to open in Burkes Pass, just north of Tekapo.

Eight firefighters in the area were called to push at least half a dozen cars out of the snow and assist police with road control, Volunteer Fire Chief Officer Craig Willis said.

MetService says there is a high possibility of heavy snow in North Canterbury and Marlborough tomorrow as the cold southerly rain turns into snow above 400 meters.

Burkes Pass closes due to snow - Source: Bethany Rentoul.

Heavy rain and gales are expected for central New Zealand tomorrow as a front is expected to move slowly across the upper South Island and lower North Island .

Snow of about 500 meters is predicted for Hanmer Springs and Seddon areas.

Road toll

As of early evening, there had been no deaths on the road this long weekend, putting the country on track to achieving the first zero road toll over the Queen's Birthday Holiday since records began.

But with snow and flooding in many southern areas, police are warning motorists to take extra care. - TVNZ.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Shanghai Man Dies From H7N9 Avian Influenza - Becomes 38th Fatality!

June 03, 2013 - CHINA - A man diagnosed with avian influenza H7N9 approximately two months ago, has succumbed to the new viral disease, say the Shanghai Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission, the Indo-Asian News Service reports Saturday.

Under a high magnification, this negatively-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) captured some of the ultrastructural details exhibited by the new influenza A (H7N9) virus.

The 59-year-old man becomes the 38th death reported due to the bird flu virus.

To date, there are a total of 132 laboratory-confirmed cases, including 38 deaths.

Influenza A(H7N9) is one of a subgroup of influenza viruses that normally circulate among birds. Until recently, this virus had not been seen in people. However, human infections have now been detected in China.

Thus far, most patients with this infection have had severe pneumonia. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

At a special presentation on the response to the recent emergence of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China was held during the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO Director-General said:

“Chinese officials have promptly traced, monitored, and tested thousands of patient contacts, including hundreds of health care workers. At present, human-to-human transmission of the virus is negligible. However, influenza viruses constantly reinvent themselves. No one can predict the future course of this outbreak.”
- Global Dispatch.