Thursday, June 13, 2013

EXTREME WEATHER: Mother Nature Strikes Back - Flooding, Tornado Near DC, And Threat Of More Severe Weather On U.S. East Coast As Rare June Nor'easter Hits New York City To Boston!

June 13, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A tornado in Maryland as well as lightning, hail and heavy rain delayed flights and snarled work commutes along the East Coast on Thursday, caused by a massive storm system that tormented the Midwest a day earlier.

Flooding, Tornado Near DC, And Threat Of More Severe Weather On East Coast.
A tow truck operator attaches a cable to a car that crashed into a flooded ditch during heavy rain along the New York State Thruway in Buffalo, N.Y., on Thursday, June 13. The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for much of upstate New York, saying the region was in for two days of rain starting Thursday. David Duprey / AP

The storm turned deadly in Virginia, where a large, mature tree uprooted by the storm fell on a school-age child, killing him, police said. A man was also injured in the incident that took place at Maymont Park in Richmond, but his injuries are not life-threatening.

Flood warnings were in issued for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington, while severe thunderstorm warnings were also issued in the South and Southeast.

The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado near the Washington suburb of Laurel, Md., just after 4 p.m. ET Thursday, and said the twister was moving east at 50 mph. A tornado threat had been issued earlier in the day, extending all the way from southern New Jersey and southern Pennsylvania to the Gulf Coast, said Weather Channel forecaster Greg Forbes. The threat was highest from north and east Virginia to east Pennsylvania and central New Jersey.

In Maryland and Virginia, tornado watches expired at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Roughly 62 million Americans were in the path of severe weather, MSNBC Meteorologist Bill Karins said. Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Richmond, Va., and Philadelphia were expected to get the worst of it.

Lightning flashes over Chicago's skyline on Wednesday. Scott Eisen / AP

An initial batch of storms passed through the nation's capital Thursday morning, with more severe weather hitting the area in the evening, reported. Downed wires and trees were reported in nearby Frederick County, Md.; Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and Ronald Reagan National Airport ordered groundstops Thursday morning.

The storms delayed hundreds of people on planes and trains and created massive backups on area roadways. More than 360 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport. For a time, all inbound flights to O'Hare were kept at their origin. Midway International, to the south, saw another 50 cancellations.

Weather Service ground crews surveying damage on Thursday made preliminary confirmation of a derecho -- straight-line windstorms whose gusts can reach hurricane force -- happening Wednesday night into early Thursday morning in northern Indiana and northwest Ohio, The Weather Channel reported.

Winds during the likely derecho event, which completely destroyed a grain silo and two barns in the Wabash, Ind., area, were estimated at 90-100 mph in a swath 7 miles long and 3 miles wide.

The storm's broad path along the Eastern United States knocked out electricity for up to 200,000 people across several states. In Georgia alone, more than 162,000 customers were without power, officials said.

This photo taken in LaPorte, Indiana, on June 29, 2012, shows a shelf cloud on the leading edge of a derecho.
Kevin Gold / NOAA, file

At least 55,000 customers were without power in Illinois and northwest Indiana after the storm system pushed through the Upper Midwest Wednesday, bringing suspected tornadoes to Chicago and Ohio. The Weather Service confirmed Thursday that the tornado that hit the Savanna area of Illinois, knocking a house off its foundation and damaging several smaller buildings, was an EF-2 storm with maximum winds of 135 mph.

New York and surrounding suburbs, already saturated with up to 7 inches of rain from the downpours Friday and Monday, primarily faced the threat of more flooding, NBCNewYork reported.

A powerful supercell system pushed through metropolitan Cleveland in the early hours of Thursday, which forecasters earlier predicted would bring baseball-sized hailstones and more high winds.

Severe weather forecast.

It was the end of what Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Seidel had earlier warned was going to be a "long and ugly night" for Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis and the rest of the Midwest.

The Weather Channel reported "buildings destroyed" in Auglaize County as powerful winds blew through Ohio's northern Miami Valley early Thursday, though no details were immediately available. In the same county, a semi truck was toppled by high winds, NBC station WDTN TV in Dayton reported.

In Lake Delton, Wis., a "very, very strong downpour of rain" caused the roof over a loading dock to collapse at a Wal-Mart store late Wednesday afternoon, police said.

Police Sgt. William Hitchcock told NBC station WTMJ of Milwaukee that no serious injuries were reported, but the store is likely to be closed through Thursday. - NBC News.

Rare June Nor'easter NYC To Boston.

A rare strong coastal storm for June will bring heavy rain, gusty winds and flooding problems from New York City to Boston Thursday night into Friday.

It's as if Mother Nature thought it was still March or early April with a storm forecast by meteorologists to quickly spin up into a nor'easter.

The non-tropical storm will belt areas from northern and coastal New Jersey to eastern Massachusetts with a period of windswept, drenching rain Thursday night into Friday morning.

Many folks were already noticing the cool air accompanying the system from the eastern Great Lakes to New England.

Enough rain could fall to cause flash, urban and small stream flooding.

Lesser rain will generally fall over northern New England. However, there could be a few pockets of flash and small stream flooding.

Wind gusts with the storm system, ranging between 30 and 50 mph near the coast, can topple weakly rooted trees and break large tree limbs off.

As a result of the wind and rain, there can be significant travel delays and sporadic power outages.

While the effects of the storm will be brief, an onshore component of the wind (north to northeast) for a time will bring coastal water levels to a foot or two above published values.

Minor flooding is possible at time of high tide along the north shore of Long Island, the eastern shore of Massachusetts and the vicinity of Raritan Bay, N.J.

Fortunately tides are not especially high during this part of the month with a first-quarter moon on June 16.

The storm will roll off to the northeast Friday. Rough surf and seas will linger for a time along New England and Long Island.

The storm system is assisting in the formation of lines, complexes and individual severe thunderstorms farther south over the mid-Atlantic to the Carolinas Thursday.

The storms bring the full spectrum of severe weather ranging from damaging wind gusts, flash flooding, hail and frequent lightning to tornadoes.

The storms have already disrupted play at the U.S. Open at Ardmore, Pa. - AccuWeather.

PLANETARY TREMORS: In The Risk Zone - British Columbia Due For Mega-Earthquake Along Coast!

June 13, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The last massive earthquake that shook the south coast of British Columbia took place on Jan. 26, 1700, say researchers who have been able to use sediment samples taken from the sea floor off the coast of Vancouver Island to reveal the Pacific coast's seismic history.

Researchers say the region that stretches from the northern tip of Vancouver Island down the coast to
northern California is due for another major quake. (Google)

In a study published Wednesday, the team said the region that stretches from the northern tip of Vancouver Island down the coast to northern California has experienced 22 major earthquakes over the last 11,000 years, and is due for another.

Audrey Dallimore, of the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University and the author of the study, said the research showed earthquakes occur every 500 to 1,000 years.

The last one took place 313 years ago.

"What that means is we're due for another subduction zone earthquake either tomorrow — or 700 years from now," she said.

"[It] may happen within our lifetimes and will certainly happen at some time over the life of our communities and our infrastructures."

Researchers extracted a sediment core from the sea floor of Effingham Inlet, in Barclay Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and used radiocarbon dating to determine when large or so-called megathrust earthquakes occurred on what is known as the Cascadia subduction zone.

"The sediments preserved on the bottom of Effingham Inlet resemble the rings of a tree," Dallimore said, explaining that each year is represented by a thin layer of sediment.

"These layers have given us a story of what happened in Effingham Inlet year by year back all the way to the end of the last glaciations about 11,000 years ago."

No megathrust quake in Canada's written history

By radiocarbon dating interruptions in the sediment, researchers determined large earthquakes also took place about 1,200 and 4,000 years ago.

The first seismograph was installed in Victoria in 1898, so written records of B.C. seismic activity goes back only a little more than a century but Japanese written records confirm that a tsunami occurred from a magnitude-8 or 9 quake along the North American coast about 9 p.m. on Jan 26, 1700.

The British Columbia coast has seen 22 major earthquakes over the last 11,000 years, and is
due for another, says a new study.
Mark van Manen / Postmedia News files

A megathrust earthquake occurs when a piece of the earth's crust is forced underneath another plate.

The quakes are of magnitude 9 or greater, and both the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that caused the tsunami in Indonesia and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan were megathrust events.

There has never been a megathrust earthquake along the west coast in the written history of Canada, but the study confirmed First Nations oral histories and found that megathrust earthquakes occur about every 500 years in the region, although they can stretch out for up to 1,000 years.

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake that occurred off the west coast of Haida Gwaii last October was the second-largest ever recorded in Canada but it was not a megathrust quake.

B.C. forms part of the North American portion of what is called the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a 40,000-kilometre horseshoe of ocean trenches and volcanoes where 90 per cent of the world's earthquakes take place.

According to Natural Resources Canada, the Geological Survey of Canada records more than 1,000 earthquakes in western Canada each year. More than 100 magnitude 5 or greater earthquakes have been recorded in the ocean west of Vancouver Island in the past 70 years.

Megathrust quake rare

Scientists cannot predict when earthquakes will happen, said John Clague, a professor of earth sciences at Simon Fraser University.

But this and other studies show they are inevitable in this region, he said.

And while a megathrust quake is rare and may occur up to one every millennium, other, smaller quakes occur more frequently.

Previous research suggests massive quakes occur in clusters, and it's unclear where B.C. is in the cluster interval, Clague said.

"They are inevitable and although it may not occur in my lifetime it certainly will occur when Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria are thriving cities," he said.

"So we do have to prepare for these things. Societally, we owe it to our children and our grandchildren and so on to be as ready as we can for what is inevitable."

The research by experts at Royal Roads, the Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, UBC and the University of California is published in the current issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

Children in Stephanie Freeman's French immersion kindergarten class take cover under their desks during an earthquake drill at Sir James Douglas Elementary in Victoria, B.C., in 2011. Lyle Stafford / Postmedia News files

The study looked at sediment disturbance in Effingham Inlet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Dallimore said researchers using state-of-the-art radiocarbon dating determined the last so-called megathrust earthquake in the zone that stretches from northern Vancouver Island down to California happened more than 300 years ago.

In fact, comparing the sediment dating to records of a tsunami in Japan, they were able to pinpoint the last so-called megathrust quake to a 9 p.m., Jan. 26, 1700.

The world’s largest earthquakes are all megathrust earthquakes, which occur when there is a slip along the fault between a subducting and overriding tectonic plate.

There has never been a megathrust earthquake along the west coast in the written history of Canada, but the study found that megathrust earthquakes occur about every 500 years in the region, although they can stretch out for up to 1,000 years.

“The last megathrust earthquake originating from the Cascadia subduction zone occurred in 1700 AD. Therefore, we are now in the risk zone of another earthquake,” Dallimore said.

B.C. forms part of the North American portion of what is called the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a 40,000 km horseshoe of ocean trenches and volcanic zones where 90 per cent of the world’s earthquakes take place.

According to Natural Resources Canada, the Geological Survey of Canada records more than 1,000 earthquakes in western Canada each year. More than 100 magnitude 5 or greater earthquakes have been recorded in the ocean west of Vancouver Island in the past 70 years.

The research by experts at Royal Roads, the Geological Survey of Canada, UBC and the University of California is published in the current issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.- CBC News.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Massive Storms Spawn Season's First Derecho In The United States - Storm Spanned 240 Miles; 23 Tornado Reports; 122 Hail Reports; 251 Wind Reports; One Child Dead, 170,000 Homes Without Power; Widespread Damage! [PHOTOS]

June 13, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Severe storms are being blamed for at least one death in Virginia and left more than 170,000 homes and businesses without power.

Duane Barkema's truck sits on its side in Alexander, Iowa, after a tornado was reported in the area on Wednesday, June 12, 2013, in Alexander and Belmond. (AP Photo/The Des Moines Register, Bryon Houlgrave)

The massive storms spawned the season's first derecho, a storm of strong straight-line winds spanning at least 240 miles with wind gusts of 58 mph or greater, the Storm Prediction Center reported Thursday. The systems are distinctive and take on a comma or bow shape, and usually have a large area of very cold cloud tops not typically seen in an ordinary thunderstorm.

At least one tornado touched down late Wednesday night in Wilshire, Ohio and packed winds as high as 80 mph. On Thursday, the storm revved up again for another round, mostly in areas further south than the first wave.

"I guarantee you, every severe thunderstorm warning today is going to have damaging winds," said Dr. Greg Forbes, severe weather expert for The Weather Channel.

Here's a snapshot of the storm's aftermath, state by state:

Lightning strikes the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in downtown on June 12, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. A massive storm system with heavy rain, high winds, hail and possible tornadoes is expected to move into Illinois and much of the central part of the Midwest. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A wall cloud in northern Allen County drops what appears to be a funnel cloud on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 just north of Fort Wayne, Ind. (AP Photo/The Journal Gazette, Chad Ryan)

iWitness contributor Rachel Gordon snapped this picture of cloud-to-ground lightning from Westville, Ind. (iWitness/Rachel Gordon)

Strong storms in Richmond are being blamed for the death of a child at Maymont Park. Richmond Police say a very large, mature tree was uprooted by the storm and fell on a school-age child, killing him. His father was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries. The park was being evacuated due to severe weather.

Officers are still working the death investigation and haven't yet released any information identifying the child.

National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Sammler in Wakefield said Richmond International Airport reported a wind gust of 48 mph, and it was likely some areas saw gusts of up to 60 mph. Rainfall across the area was generally less than a half-inch.

More than 104,000 Appalachian Power customers in Virginia were without electricity, while Dominion Virginia Power reported about 69,000 customers without service.

Maryland experienced the brunt of a long-lived line of storms Thursday morning, and several severe thunderstorm warnings were issued. Officials are reporting trees down, roads closed and tens of thousands of power outages in Maryland and Delaware after a line of heavy thunderstorms moved through. Just east of Rising Sun, a person was reportedly struck by lightning on Thursday morning.

Carroll County Emergency Management Director James Weed says large hail fell near Union Bridge and New Windsor on Thursday. He says it piled up "to the point that it looked like snow on the ground."

Baltimore Gas and Electric reports about 8,300 customers without power, mostly in Carroll and Baltimore counties. Potomac Edison reports another 4,000 customers without power in Carroll, Frederick and Allegany counties.

These storms came just days after four tornadoes in the state were confirmed from a severe weather outbreak that occurred Monday afternoon and evening. Damaging winds, hail and frequent lightning were the biggest threats to the Baltimore area as the storms closed in.

Later Thursday afternoon, the second round of storms reportedly brought down a 380-year-old white oak tree in Westminster.

iWitness contributor shelblynn77 snapped this picture of hail from Bourbonnais, Ill. (iWitness/shelblynn77)

A weather warning sign is seen on the a leaderboard on the 18th hole during Round 1 of the 113th U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club on June 13, 2013. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Fragments of splintered roofing lie scattered across North Water Street in Caledonia, Ohio on Thursday, June 13, 2013. The roof was blown off an old ice house in the background during heavy rains and high winds that swept over this community early Thursday morning. (AP Photo/The Marion Star, James Miller)

Washington, D.C.
Tens of thousands of power outages are reported following thunderstorms and possible tornadoes in the Mid-Atlantic region. Montgomery County's emergency management office says it's gotten reports of a tornado touchdown Thursday afternoon near the northern Washington suburb of Aspen Hill. Director Christopher Voss says there are also reports of a funnel cloud in the Olney area.

The state emergency management agency says there are reports of baseball-sized hail in southern Maryland. The National Weather Service says it can't confirm any tornadoes until it is able to investigate the damage.

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency reports about 68,000 power outages, mostly in Montgomery, St. Mary's and Wicomico counties.

Delmarva Power reported 17,000 customers in the dark by late Thursday morning, mostly in New Castle County, Delaware. A county official says trees were reported down and one fell on a house.

Heavy showers and lightning disrupted the U.S. Open, trapped motorists in suburban Philadelphia and likely sparked a fire that killed a man in western Pennsylvania as a storm system swept across Pennsylvania on Thursday. Forecasters said the storm moved through the region quickly and deposited less rain than feared, diminishing the threat of flooding. The National Weather Service canceled its flood warning for southeastern Pennsylvania at 4 p.m. but forecast more showers through 7 p.m.

State police believe lightning caused a house fire in New Brighton, about 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. A woman and small child escaped, but the man was killed after he returned to the home to try to rescue a dog, witnesses said.

While the skies cleared out to some extent by 2 p.m., several trapped motorists had to be rescued from a flooded road in East Norriton Township, outside Philadelphia. Elsewhere, little flooding was reported.

Play was halted at the U.S. Open in Merion around 8:30 a.m., less than two hours into the first round. It wasn't raining as players and spectators left the course, but soon there were thunderclaps over the Merion Golf Club, and lightning and rain followed. Play resumed in the afternoon.

West Virginia
A county 911 center was evacuated and some roads in the Spencer area have been closed because of flash flooding.

Weather officials say preliminary reports indicate multiple tornadoes touched down in northern Iowa on Wednesday, though an official tally isn't immediately available. A team has been surveying damage in the Belmond area in Wright County, where reports indicate more than one tornado may have hit the area. There has been significant damage to a few houses and businesses on the north side of town. It includes collapsed walls, broken windows and debris.

In the small town of Belmond, Iowa, about 90 miles north of Des Moines, Duwayne Abel, owner of Cattleman's Steaks & Provisions restaurant, said a tornado demolished part of the building. No one was in the restaurant at the time.

The team is headed to the Hampton area in nearby Franklin County, where there also have been reports of damage. No injuries or fatalities have been reported.

A car is covered with branches in New Albany, Ohio, Thursday, June 13, 2013.
(AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch, Tom Dodge)

Jay Stephan and his daughter Kate Stephan survey their damaged patio at their home in New Albany, Ohio, Thursday, June 13, 2013. (AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch, Tom Dodge)

National Weather Service authorities reported several small tornadoes and quarter-size hail as severe weather moved across northern Illinois. Meanwhile, airlines canceled more than 120 flights at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Wednesday night's White Sox game was postponed, along with Northwestern University classes and finals scheduled on its Chicago and Evanston campuses. Game 1 of the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup series was played at the United Center. Power outages remained at about 6,500 in northern Illinois on Thursday morning.

The National Weather Service says several farm buildings near Wabash, Ind., were destroyed by 90 to 100 mph straight-line winds. Building damage and downed trees were reported after winds topping 60 mph and golf ball-size hail pelted places from Gary to Fort Wayne. Thousands of customers across northern Indiana were without power at one point, though utility officials said most had been restored by Thursday.

Consumers Energy spokesman Roger Morgenstern said about 32,000 of the utility's 1.8 million Michigan customers remained without power Thursday afternoon. Allegan and Van Buren were the hardest-hit counties, with about 14,000 outages between them. Morgenstern said many customers will have power restored by the evening, while some in the hardest-hit areas will have to wait until Friday afternoon. Many trees struck power lines, bringing them down — along with poles in some cases.

Storms left thousands without power Thursday in the Buckeye State, and there were at least 42 reports of wind damage Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The confirmed EF0 tornado was just one of several tornado reports Wednesday night. Downed trees were blocking some area roads, but there were no reports of serious injuries.

The damaging winds roared into the MidAtlantic region Thursday. A large tree fell onto a home in Lynchburg, Va. (Image: jgifford85/iWitness)

LEFT: This aerial photo shows storm-damaged buildings in Caledonia, Ohio in Marion County on Thursday, June 13, 2013. (AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch, Craig Holman)  RIGHT:  This aerial photo shows storm damaged buildings near Raymond, Ohio in Union County at the Nature Pure Chicken farm on Thursday, June 13, 2013. (AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch, Craig Holman)

A partial roof collapse at a Wal-Mart in Lake Delton left two employees with minor injuries as heavy rain and high winds spread across southern Wisconsin. Street flooding was reported in parts of the village of Boscobel in Grant County and in Portage and Pardeeville in Columbia County.

A storm dumped heavy rain to parts of southern Minnesota on Wednesday morning, including nearly 3.25 inches at Hutchinson airfield. Hail nearly 3 inches in diameter and wind gusts of up to 65 mph were also reported.

New York
All three major airports in the New York City area were experiencing lengthy flight delays on Thursday afternoon due to lingering storms.

North Carolina
A utility company is reporting more than 165,000 customers without power in North Carolina as a storm moves west to east through the state. Duke Energy said on its website that most of the outages are in Forsyth County, where more than 40,000 customers are without power and in Guilford County, where power was out to almost 28,000 customers.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for many North Carolina counties Thursday evening.

Rhode Island
A flood warning has been issued for areas for the Pawtuxet River and areas along the Pawcatuck River. Some areas along the Pawtuxet have already experienced minor flooding.

New Jersey
An earlier threat of severe weather has somewhat diminished in New Jersey after a line of strong thunderstorms caused some damage and street flooding. Meteorologists say flood watches have been canceled for New Jersey as of Thursday evening. James Bunker with the National Weather Service says scattered showers and rumbles of thunder could last through 10 p.m. Thursday.
Earlier Thursday, trees and power lines were knocked down outside Cape May County Park as were four utility poles in Deerfield. Observers reported pea- to penny-sized hail in Linwood.

Below is a list of preliminary storm reports from the system, through June 12 (courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center):

- TWC.

PLANETARY TREMORS: New Subduction Zone Forming Off Spain's Coast - "Squeezed Crust" Between The Eurasian And African Tectonic Plates!

June 13, 2013 - SPAIN - A budding subduction zone offshore of Spain heralds the start of a new cycle that will one day pull the Atlantic Ocean seafloor into the bowels of the Earth, a new study suggests.

Possible future scenarios for the subduction zone developing off Spain's coast.
CREDIT: João Duarte/Geology

Understanding how subduction zones start is long-lasting mystery in plate tectonics, said lead study author João Duarte, a research fellow at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Subduction zones are key players in creating supercontinents and opening and closing Earth's oceans. In a subduction zone, one of Earth's tectonic plates dives beneath another, sinking into the mantle, the layer under the crust. As oceanic crust disappears, continents may draw closer together and collide, as has happened numerous times in the history of the planet. Subduction zones also spawn the biggest earthquakes on the planet, as in Japan, Chile and Alaska.

On the flip side are passive margins, the seamless transition between oceanic and continental crust, as is seen along eastern North America and northern Europe.

But while northern Europe may have a gentle transition, the folded and fractured seafloor offshore of southwestern Spain leads scientists to think Earth's crust is poised on the brink between the two types of plate boundaries.

"We are precisely in the transition between a passive and an active margin. The plate is breaking in two and starting to converge," Duarte told OurAmazingPlanet in an email interview.

Squeezed crust

Duarte and his colleagues reached their conclusion, detailed online June 6 in the journal Geology,by carefully mapping the underwater faults near Spain and west of Gibraltar, in a zone called the southwest Iberia margin. The zone has spawned several great earthquakes, including the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, which killed more than 10,000 people and may have sent a tsunami all the way to the Caribbean.

The team discovered active thrust faults throughout the supposedly passive margin. Thrust faults form when the crust is squeezed, in this case between the Eurasian and African tectonic plates.

"This shows that the margin is not passive anymore but is now being reactivated, i.e. a new convergent plate boundary is forming," Duarte said. "If you were looking for an embryonic subduction zone this is what you would expect to see."

Sharing subduction

The researchers suspect that the new Iberian subduction zone will get a little help from a tiny, ultra-slow subduction zone beneath the Straits of Gibraltar. The Gibraltar subduction zone is attached to the African plate. Over the next several million years, this conveyer belt may roll out toward the Atlantic and merge with the Iberian zone into an even bigger trench, the study suggests.

Subduction zones take million of years to form, but they leave behind few records of how the process works. (Most of the clues end up in the mantle.) The possible new subduction zone helps decipher their mysterious birth. One model proposed that old, strong oceanic crust near continents spontaneously cracked, collapsing and starting a new trench. But the embryonic subduction zone near Spain instead suggests that subduction spreads from ocean to ocean, Duarte said.

Duarte and his colleagues are now developing numerical models of subduction to better understand the forces driving and resisting plate motion. "Identification and understanding of such processes may provide new insights on how subduction zones may have initiated in the past and how oceans start to close," he said.

Making sense of the complex tectonics offshore of Spain and Portugal is also crucial for forecasting the region's seismic hazard, Duarte added. "Despite 20 years of intense investigation only now we are starting to understand the whole picture," he said. - Live Science.

WAR: Lethal Aid For Syria - White House Declares That Syria Has Crossed "Red Line" By Using Chemical Weapons On Rebels, Promises To Provide Military Support To Syrian Insurgency And Establish A Limited No-Fly Zone Over The Country!

June 13, 2013 - SYRIA - American officials say they have confirmed that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the insurgency seeking to remove it, asserting that the move crosses a "red line." The US is now on the record as considering military support.

An internal memorandum circulating within the Obama administration has assessed that chemical weapons, most likely the nerve gas sarin, were used multiple times in battle against the Syrian rebels.

The “intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year,” according to that memo, as cited by The New York Times.

White House officials speculated over evidence that nerve gas had been used as of April, but that evidence is now being called “definitive” – with Congressional sources describing the conclusion as crossing the “red line” for US military intervention or backing as previously defined by the president.

"The president has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition, that will involve providing direct support to the (Supreme Military Council), that includes military support," Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.

"This is going to be different in both scope and scale in terms of what we are providing to the SMC than what we have provided before," he adds.

According to officials who spoke with the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, the US military is currently considering a proposal for arming factions of the Syrian insurgency – as well as establishing a limited no-fly zone over the country to be enforced from nearby Jordanian territory.

That no-fly zone could stretch for up to 25 miles into Syrian territory, and would be set up in a bid to train and equip rebel forces and protect refugees, officials said.

A no-fly zone would not require the destruction of Syrian antiaircraft batteries, according to the accounts cited in American media. The White House could alternatively authorize the arming and training of the Syrian opposition in Jordan without a no-fly zone.

Congress was being notified of the conclusions over chemical weapons use in the country on Thursday in classified documents. Findings were corroborated by evidence sent to the US by France, which along with the UK claimed that Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons.

"There is a growing body persuasive evidence showing that the regime used - and continues to use - chemical weapons, including sarin," a spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office said Thursday.

"The room for doubt continues to diminish. Assad must grant the UN investigation unrestricted access to investigate on the ground in Syria and establish the full facts," he added.

In a conference call to reporters on Thursday, the White House said that the intelligence community estimates that as many as 150 people, or about 0.16 per cent (0.0016) of the 93,000 reported deaths in the Syrian conflict, could have been a result of chemical weapons used by pro-Assad forces.

WATCH: White House - Syria crossed ‘red line’ using chemical weapons on rebels.

The White House said during the same call that the US “will make decisions on our own timeline" regarding the next steps on Syria. President Obama will consult with G8 partners, including Russia, about Syria next week.

Republican senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham called on the US to provide "lethal assistance, especially ammunition & heavy weapons" to Syria’s rebels on Thursday.

“The President must rally an international coalition to take military actions to degrade Assad’s ability to use airpower and ballistic missiles and to move and resupply his forces around the battlefield by air,” said a joint statement by the pair.

As a UN probe was underway into allegations of chemical weapons use in May, lead investigator Carla Del Ponte said the findings showed that rebels were behind at least one chemical weapons attack. "This was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities," Del Ponte told Swiss TV. - RT.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 6.7 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Northeast Of Flying Fish Cove, Christmas Island!

June 13, 2013 - INDONESIA - A powerful 6.7 magnitude earthquake has just hit south of Java, Indonesia. The tremor struck 170km northeast of Flying Fish Cove, Christmas Island - a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean.

USGS earthquake location.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the earthquake hit at 16:47:23 UTC, at 10.030°S 107.182°E, with a depth of 11.1km (6.9 miles).

No tsunami warning was issued.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, an official said.

According to initial reports, the tremor was felt in Kawalu, Sumatra, Singaparna, Java and Bali and other remote parts of southern Indonesia. Setiabudi, Kuningan, a resident of Jakarta, said that the, "Lamp swayed, I thought I had a headache but things were shaking for way too long for a headache."

Another resident in Banjar, indicated that the shaking lasted for 5 to 10 seconds.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

"The floor and the chair I was sitting on began to move. It lasted 5 - 10 seconds I am not sure. I got up to see what was happening and the floor was moving below my feet. I saw the shutters shaking. I thought it must be an earthquake and then everything just stopped and it was calm once again," said a resident of Borobodur.

The Indonesian-Australian area is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Massive Explosion And Fire At Louisiana Chemical Plant - Multiple Injuries!

June 13, 2013 - UNITED STATES - An enormous explosion shook a chemical plant in Geismer, Louisiana, just south of Baton Rouge on Wednesday. The blast was followed by a huge fire. 25 have been injured in the blast, with fatality numbers currently unconfirmed.

Emergency crews are on the scene and have reported injuries. A hazardous materials team has also been dispatched to the fire. 

Picture of explosion at Williams Olefins from Ryan Meador

25 people have been confirmed injured in the explosion by the Louisiana Emergency Response Network. Currently there have been no reported deaths. However, five trauma patients are being treated by Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, and they expect more, according to NBC 33.

Iberville Office of Emergency Preparedness have stated that six burn victims have been transported to various hospitals via helicopter, and four by ground, with emergency officials still manning the scene.

Google Maps.

After the initial blast, clouds of thick black smoke could be seen billowing towards the sky, visible from a local school. Flames could be seen rising from two separate locations. 

“It looked like a pretty big explosion – it looks like Williams have taken all the precautions they can do to evacuate all the personnel. The firefighters are responding as needed,”
 witness Ryan Meador told local station 90 WAFB.

“Everyone evacuated to the road. Everyone is trained for something like this.”

WATCH: Meador released witness footage of the fire's aftermath.

St. Gabriel residents are being told to take shelter from Highway 3115 to Highway 74 as a precautionary measure.

A man named Todd Stiles who worked half a mile away told the New Orleans-based Times-Picayune that he and his colleagues were instructed to either shelter in place or evacuate. He reportedly didn’t hear the explosion as he was located in a blast-proof area, but told the paper that some people had seen a ‘fireball in the air.’

Image by @911BUFF

A Geismar, Louisiana, chemical plant exploded and caught fire Thursday, causing multiple injuries and
forcing authorities to evacuate the area around the facility.

Another view of fire at Williams Olefins plant in Geismar.

Williams Olefins, which owned the plant, are involved in the production of plastics with clients in the petrochemicals industry. The facility annually produces approximately 1.3 billion lbs of ethylene and 90 million lbs of polymer grade propylene.

The air quality in the area has started being monitored by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency. They are currently unsure of the levels and specific chemicals that could be leaking into the atmosphere. “We're just in the very beginning of this.” They told the Times-Picayune.

WATCH: Massive explosion at Louisiana chemical plant.

Other buildings in the area are reportedly being evacuated, and there are fears another explosion could happen and the fire is not fully under control. A nearby plant told the 90 WAFB channel that the major risk is butadiene spheres, in which crude budatiene is stored under pressure as a liquid. - RT.

THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Global Panic Selloff - Markets Pummeled, U.S. Dollar Slumps As Rout Gathers Pace, Nikkei Plunges 6% As It Re-Enters Bear Market!

June 13, 2013 - EARTHGlobal stock markets fell for a third straight day on Thursday and the U.S. dollar hit a 10-week low against the yen as investors unwound bets linked to central bank stimulus measures that have buoyed many asset markets.

Global Shares Fall For Third Straight Day As The Yen Reach 10-Week High.
A trader looks at his screen on the Unicredit Bank trading floor in downtown Milan June 13, 2013.
World shares fell and the dollar slumped on Thursday as a sell-off on global financial markets.
Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

But Wall Street rebounded after the open and oil prices also recovered, helped by stronger-than-expected U.S. data on retail sales and jobless claims.

Investors are trying to gauge when central banks around the world, particularly the Federal Reserve, which meets next Tuesday and Wednesday, will pull back on their accommodative monetary policies.

Concern about a pullback in central bank liquidity mounted after recent comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and a decision by the Bank of Japan to hold off on easing further. It has fueled a selloff in global equities, emerging markets, bonds and commodities, while driving the yen sharply higher.

"The easy money helped us on the way up. The concern is mounting it's going to end," said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.

"The action has been choppy and erratic," he said. "It's a case of investors looking to limit exposure ahead of next week's Fed meeting."

The MSCI All-Country World Index .MIWD00000PUS fell 0.4 percent to 360.41, while emerging equities .MSCIEF hit 11-month lows. Most emerging currencies remained under heavy pressure, with the Indian rupee falling to a record low.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 33.79 points, or 0.23 percent, at 15,029.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was up 4.99 points, or 0.31 percent, at 1,617.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 9.66 points, or 0.28 percent, at 3,410.09.

European shares .FTEU3 fell as much as 1.1 percent before recovering slightly, while Japan's Nikkei .N225 fell 6.4 percent - its second-biggest daily drop in more than two years. That rattled markets and left Asian shares at their lowest level of the year. <.

 A woman walks past a markets index board in Tokyo June 12, 2013.Credit: REUTERS/Toru Hanai

The dollar lost 1.8 percent against the yen as investors spooked by Japan's stock dive unwound bets the yen would weaken. It fell as low as 93.78 yen, its lowest since April 4, giving back almost all the gains made since the Bank of Japan's aggressive monetary easing was announced on that day.

The euro lost 0.4 percent to $1.3281.

"If you look at it historically, there has never been a period when the Fed has started to take back stimulus that has left the markets untouched," said Hans Peterson, global head of investment strategy at Swedish bank SEB.

"And this time it is a bigger exercise. We have moved markets from 2009 to 2013 on stimulus and now we are trying to take a step into a world which is more driven by natural growth. That transition will not be easy."

WATCH:   Asian Markets Decline - Nikkei Plunges More Than 6%.

Brent crude rose 19 cents to $103.68 a barrel, having traded as low as $102.75 on reports indicating weak demand, including a cut in the outlook for global economic growth by the World Bank.

U.S. crude fell 0.22 percent to $95.67 a barrel.

Investors headed for traditional safe-haven government debt. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 9/32, the yield at 2.1956 percent. German government bonds had their biggest gains in a week.

The recent selling of euro zone periphery debt also resumed, and Italy's borrowing costs rose at an auction of three-year debt, although yields at a parallel 15-year sale were little changed. - Reuters.

Nikkei Plunges 6.4%; Re-Enters Bear Market.

Nikkei 225
accelerated its losses to plunge over 6 percent on Thursday in a vicious sell-off that took the index to levels not seen before the Bank of Japan launched its massive stimulus program on April 3. 

Uncertainty over central banks rolling back stimulus saw dollar/yen drop below the key 95-handle, rising nearly 2 percent to plumb a new 10-week low. The Nikkei is now down over 21 percent from last month's five-and-a-half-year high of 15,942, placing the benchmark firmly back in bear market territory for the second time in less than a week.

"In my personal opinion, this is deep consolidation phase. I would expect that that's going to continue for another 3-4 weeks but afterwards I do think earnings visibility in Japan is going to pull shares higher again," said Jesper Koll, managing director at JP Morgan Securities.

In response to the steep falls, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda was quoted by the Nikkei business daily as saying that the Japanese economy is on a steady path to recovery and that financial markets will calm down over time.

WATCH: Nicholas Benes, Representative Director of The Board Director Training Institute of Japan says Japan needs real robust policies that are market-wide and high-impact in nature, especially on labor reforms and tax incentive measures.

Asia-Wide Losses

Elsewhere in Asia, markets experienced a bout of heavy selling with the Shanghai Composite down over 3 percent after being closed since last week, Seoul shares falling to a new eight-week low and Australia's S&P ASX 200 hitting a fresh five-and-a-half-month low.

Emerging markets also extended losses as capital flows continue to exit local equities. Thailand's SET index and Philippine's benchmark index slumped over 5 percent each, extending losses from earlier this week.

Central Bank Jitters

Nagging worries about the Federal Reserve tapering its bond-buying program and disappointment from the Bank of Japan's policy inaction at its Tuesday meeting have roiled global equity markets in recent sessions, leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop for a third session in a row on Wednesday.

"We are seeing the first signs of a lack of confidence in the ability of central banks to control the interest rates, to stimulate inflation, and real GDP [gross domestic product] growth rates," said Viktor Shvets, head of strategy research, Asia, at Macquarie.

Nikkei in Bear Market
Japan's benchmark index closed at a fresh ten-week low with experts attributing the sell-off to short-term traders taking money off the table, warning that a move below 12,000 would force the market into dangerous territory.
"This is not the time to stick your hand in and catch the falling knife. It's best to stay on the sidelines and wait and see what the July elections say," said David Poh, Regional Head of Asset Allocation at Societe Generale Private Banking.

Exporters suffered with Hino Motors losing over 9 percent while fiber manufacturer Nitto Boseki fell 8.6 percent. A stronger yen diminishes the value of exporters' overseas earnings when repatriated.

Despite the steep losses, one investor told CNBC that he is positive on the market over the next 6-19 months and views the current sell-off as a buying opportunity. "On a 12-18 month basis, I would look to the market to be above 20,000," said Glen Wood, head of sales, Global, Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities. That target is almost 60 percent higher from current levels.

Viktor Shvets, Head of Strategy Research, Asia at Macquarie said the rout in global markets resembles a lack of confidence in the ability of central banks to generate a real economic recovery.

Sydney Slips 0.6%

Australia's benchmark index fell further into correction territory, with the index down 11 percent from last month's high of 5,249.

The Australian dollar fell below the $0.95 handle against the greenback after initially popping to $0.9520 after an upside surprise on the jobs front. Data released on Thursday showed the nation added 1,100 jobs in May, a hefty gain compared to market expectations of a drop of 10,000.

Resources weighed on the broader index with Gindalbie Metals and rare earth miner Lynas leading losses by over 7 percent each. Oil and gas producer Linc Energy tanked 6.5 percent after Brent crude slipped towards $103 on demand worries.

Greater China Resumes Trade

The Shanghai Composite fell below its 200-day simple moving average of 2,188 as investors had a chance to react to last week's dismal economic data. Markets have been closed since last week for the Dragon Boat holiday.

Banks led the losses after data showed that weaker new loans were extended in May. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank skidded 3.5 percent while Hua Xia Bank fell 2.6 percent.

Weakness in the mainland spelled heavy losses for Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, which fell below 21,000 to its lowest level since October 2011.

Kospi Below 1,900

South Korea's benchmark index tracked the global equity rout, weighed down by a 2 percent drop in shares of Samsung Electronics, the largest component on the Kospi index.

Exporters were unable to gain from the yen's rise with automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors down over 2 percent each.

Sentiment was little changed after the Bank of Korea left interest rates steady at 2.5 percent at its policy meeting, a move widely expected by market players. - CNBC.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For June 13, 2013 - Updates On Sakurajima, Tolbachik, Chirinkotan, Taal, Manam, Pavlof, Popocatépetl, Pacaya And Nevado del Ruiz!

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

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): After 10 days of almost no activity, the volcano has woken up violently with 3 powerful explosions last night (at 22:05 and 23:58 UTC, ash plumes to 10-13,000 ft) and this morning at 04:26. The eruption this morning appears to be one of the largest explosions for a long time, producing an ash plume rising to 16-20,000 ft (5-6 km) altitude. An SO2 plume is also visible on satellite data.

SO2 plume from Sakurajima volcano (NOAA).

Forecasted ash plume from the explosion this morning (VAAC Tokyo).

Tokyo VAAC issued a warning of an ash plume drifting SE at flight level 200 (20,000 ft altitude), s. graphic.

Tolbachik (Kamchatka)
: KEVRT reports no changes in the activity of any of the currently active volcanoes in Kamchatka.

Chirinkotan (Northern Kuriles)
: Some activity is occurring at the volcano. On MODIS Terra satellite images from 5 June, a moderately large steam plume can be seen drifting from the volcano. SVERT has raised the alert level to yellow on 8 June.

Steam plume from Chirinkotan volcano in the Kuriles on 5 June (Terra false color image).

Taal (Luzon, Philippines)
: A pulse of more frequent earthquakes (7-9 per day) has been detected under the volcano in recent days. Other parameters show at present no significant changes.

A slight increase in water temperature (from 33.0 to 33.9 deg C) and the level of the crater lake were measured on 6 June... [read more]

Manam (Papua New Guinea)
: A SO2-enriched plume is visible at Manam today.

SO2 plume from Manam volcano (NOAA).

Pavlof (Alaska Peninsula, USA)
: Activity (external and internal) has been decreasing, although now intermittent ash emissions and possibly effusion of lava continue, AVO reports.

Current seismic recording from Pavlof volcano (PVV station, AVO).

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico)
: The rate of emissions has dropped to less than 1 per hour, but more (small) earthquakes have occurred and a large SO2 plume is visible yesterday on satellite images, suggesting that new magma could be currently intruding at depth.

SO2 plume from Popocatépetl (NOAA).

Weak glow is visible from the crater at night.

Pacaya (Guatemala)
: The volcano has been quiet yesterday. No explosions occurred. INSIVUMEH reports moderate steaming only.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia)
: Two shallow volcanic-tectonic earthquakes of magnitudes 2.8 and 2.9 occurred this morning at 05:39 local time. Quake hypocenters were at 5 km SW beneath the Arenas crater.

Seismic recording this morning at Nevado del Ruiz (OLL station, INGEOMINAS).

EXTREME WEATHER: Colorado's Black Forest Fire Now State's Worst Ever - 360 Homes Lost; 15,000 Acres Burned; 38,000 People Evacuated!

June 13, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The Black Forest fire burning north of Colorado Springs has now destroyed at least 360 homes and consumed 15,000 acres, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said at a news conference early Thursday. The list of homes that has been evaluated has been posted online and is updated whenever possible.

A house is fully engulfed with flames in the midst of the Black Forest Fire northeast of Colorado Springs
on June 12, 2013.  Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

Maketa stressed that the evaluation of structures is ongoing. "Home assessments can change in 10 minutes," he said. "We are trying to keep it as accurate as possible."

The evacuation area includes 94,000 acres and 13,000 homes as of Thursday morning. Some 38,000 people have been evacuated. The fire was first reported Monday about 1 p.m. No cause has been established and there is no containment.  No injuries to residents or firefighters have been reported, although Maketa noted that there were reports of people who refused to evacuate. One person is reported to be missing.  Maketa said that efforts to check the address of the missing person have been hampered by the fire behavior.  No wildfire in Colorado history has destroyed more homes. The Waldo Canyon fire west of Colorado Springs in 2012 destroyed 347 homes. 

A barn is fully engulfed with flames allowing firefighters only the ability to watch and hope that it doesn't spread
in the midst of the Black Forest Fire on June 12, 2013.  Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

The evacuation zone for the Black Forest fire was expanded early Thursday morning because of "dynamic changing conditions," the sheriff's office said.  Overnight, sheriff's deputies went door-to-door in the expanded evacuation area.  The zone now also includes Highway 83 east to Eastonville Road, and Walker Road north to South County Line Road, linking an Elbert County evacuation area to the original El Paso County evacuation area.

The evacuation area extends from Black Forest north into Elbert County. Some areas of Colorado Springs to the south are under a pre-evacuation notice.  Palmer Ridge High School has been designated an evacuation center; New Life Church, which was an evacuation center, is no longer being used because of heavy smoke. Large animals are being accepted at the El Paso County Fairgrounds, Elbert County Fairgrounds and Adams County Fairgrounds. 

Aerial photos of the Black Forest fire outside Colorado Springs show homes burned to their foundations.
(John Wark, Special to The Denver Post)

Wednesday afternoon Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order declaring a disaster emergency for the fire, "ordering $5.5 million from the Disaster Emergency Fund to pay for the fire suppression, response and recovery effort related to the fire since its inception," his office said in a news release. 

DC-10 slurry bomber fights the Black Forest Fire. Colorado Springs, Colorado. June 12, 2013.
(Photo By Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

The entire fire zone is within a red flag fire warning area posted Thursday by the National Weather Service.  The weather service warning, which starts at 11 a.m. and runs through 7 p.m., is prompted by gusty winds, low humidity, and dry fuels. 

Winds this afternoon are expected to gust up to 35 mph and humidity levels will struggle to get out of single digits. Isolated thunderstorms with lightning are expected early Thursday afternoon, the weather service reports.  "Wind is our number one threat. It has been the game changer," Maketa said Thursday morning.  Firefighters may have to deal with extreme fire behavior Thursday, the weather service warns. 

The weather forecast Thursday for the Black Forest area includes a 10 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m., with a high temperature of 83 degrees.

WATCH: Raw Scenes - Black Forest Fire.

 - Denver Post.