Monday, July 8, 2013

PLANETARY TREMORS: 7.3 And 6.6 Magnitude Earthquakes Strike Papua New Guinea!

July 08, 2013 - PAPUA NEW GUINEA - An earthquake measuring 7.3 magnitude struck deep below the sea east of Papua New Guinea on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

USGS earthquake location.

The earthquake, which was 379 kms (235 miles) deep, struck 110 km (68 miles) northeast of the town of Taron, said the USGS.

There was no tsunami warning.

It was followed by a second, 6.8 magnitude earthquake on the country’s New Britain island, at 30 km (19 miles) northeast of the town of Kandrian at a depth of 62 km (39 miles), the USGS said.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

The 6.8 magnitude earthquake was later downgraded to a 6.6 magnitude event by the USGS. - Reuters.

Tectonic Summary
The M 7.3 July 7 2013 earthquake northeast of Papua New Guinea occurred as a result of normal faulting approximately 380 km deep within the subducted Australia Plate. 200 km to the south of this event, the Australia Plate subducts beneath the Pacific plate at the New Britain Trench, moving towards the north-northeast at a rate of 103 mm/yr. The depth and faulting mechanism of the July 7 earthquake are consistent with the event resulting from internal (intraplate) deformation of the subducted slab, rather than as an interplate event on the shallow plate boundary interface. Crustal tectonics of the New Britain region are commonly described in terms of relative-motions of microplates that are situated at the boundary of the Australia and Pacific plates.

The New Britain Trench region is familiar with large earthquakes; this subduction zone is one of the most seismically active regions of the world. Deep earthquakes (Magnitude greater than 300 km) are reasonably common as well; several Magnitude greater than 6.5 earthquakes have occurred within 250 km of the July 7 event over the past 40 years, including a M 6.8 event in an almost identical location in June 1995. Because of their great depths, none are known to have caused damage. Intermediate-depth (70-300 km) and deep-focus (depth greater than 300 km) earthquakes are distinguished from shallow earthquakes (0-70 km) by the nature of their tectonic setting, and are in general less hazardous than their shallow counterparts, though they may be felt at great distances from their epicenters. The Australia slab in the region of the July 7 2013 earthquake is seismically active to depths of over 400 km.

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

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

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

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

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

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

There have been 22 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded in the New Guinea region since 1900. The dominant earthquake mechanisms are thrust and strike slip, associated with the arc-continent collision and the relative motions between numerous local microplates. The largest earthquake in the region was a M8.2 shallow thrust fault event in the northern Papua province of Indonesia that killed 166 people in 1996.
The western portion of the northern Australia plate boundary extends approximately 4800 km from New Guinea to Sumatra and primarily separates Australia from the Eurasia plate, including the Sunda block. This portion is dominantly convergent and includes subduction at the Sunda (Java) trench, and a young arc-continent collision.

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

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

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Alert Level Raised To Phase 3 On Mexico’s Popocatépetl Volcano!

July 08, 2013 - MEXICO - The intensity of the current eruptive phase for Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano remains high.

A phase of particularly strong tremor accompanying continuous explosions and ash emissions occurred this morning.

As a consequence of the elevated activity, CENAPRED raised the alert level to Yellow, Phase 3.

An exclusion zone of 12 km radius around the volcano is in place. During the (intermittent) eruptions, a steam and ash plume is rising about 3 km above the crater.

WATCH: Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano lights up the night sky during eruption.

A giant SO2 plume can be seen drifting north from Popocatepétl, which is notorious of its large SO2 output during eruptions. - Volcano Discovery.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: South Korea's Asiana Flight 214 Crashes Into San Francisco International Airport Runway - Two Dead, 168 Injured!

July 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - An Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul crashed on landing at San Francisco's airport Saturday, killing two passengers, injuring more than 160 and and forcing dozens of frightened passengers and crew to scamper from the heavily damaged aircraft before it was engulfed in smoke and flames.

A Boeing 777 airplane lies burned on the runway after it crash landed at San Francisco International Airport July 6, 2013.(Photo: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)

There were 307 on board, including 16 crew. Officials said 123 escaped without injury and 181 were hospitalized or treated for injuries. Among the injured, 49 are in serious condition and five at San Francisco General Hospital, including a child, remain in critical condition. Among the 47 others at San Francisco General, several were treated for minor injuries, including fractures and abrasions, and were released Saturday night.

"It was all over in 10 seconds," says Vedpa Singh, who suffered a fractured collarbone. "We heard a big bang, and it was over."

The cause of the crash has not been determined, but the FBI has has ruled out terrorism. The Boeing 777 appeared to have touched down tail-first and short of the runway. A sheered off tail section rested several hundred feet from the main body of the aircraft, and debris from the plane littered the runway. Passenger Janghyung Lee told USA TODAY that the aircraft rattled wildly before landing.

Source: USA TODAY research; Pictometry; FlightAware; Associated Press; AFP/Getty Images
Julie Snider, Jerry Mosemak, Bob Laird, Janet Loehrke and Anne Carey, USA TODAY

The two people who died in the crash were found outside the heavily damaged jetliner. Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said late Saturday that she did not know the ages or genders of the victims.

Images from the scene showed smoke billowing from the plane and emergency exits open from the plane's fuselage. A massive, gaping hole blackened by fire stretched along much of the plane's top.
The flight, which originated in Shanghai China before stopping in Seoul en route to San Francisco, was carrying 61 U.S. citizens, 77 South Koreans and 141 Chinese. All passengers and crew were accounted for by Saturday night. It took several hours to account for everyone on the flight.
"We're lucky we have this many survivors,'' said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

It was the first fatal crash of a commercial airline in the U.S. since February 2009.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman declined comment on whether pilot error caused the crash. "We have not determined what the focus of this investigation is yet,'' she said before leaving Washington, D.C, with a crash site-bound team of investigators . "We will be looking at everything. Everything is on the table at this point.''

Hersman said the investigative team would look at all possible crash causes. "Obviously we have a lot of work to do,'' Hersman said before departing Washington for the crash scene.

The investigators will work with the FAA, the aircraft's manufacturer Boeing and Korea's Air and Accident Investigation Board, Hersman said. Analysts in Washington, D.C., will examine air-traffic control records, weather and aircraft maintenance issues, she said. Investigators on site will examine the aircraft, the cockpit data recorders and the scene.

Asiana Flight 214 is dismantled and readied for transport to a hangar at San Francisco International Airport early on July 12.  Jane Tyska, AP

San Francisco International Airport was closed for several hours, with incoming flights diverted to other airports, before reopening two of four runways.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in an e-mail that she had been scheduled to take the flight, but switched to a United flight to cash in air miles for family members. "We are OK. My friend on that flight is OK, too,'' Sandberg told USA TODAY.

Samsung executive David Eun, who was aboard the aircraft, was among the first to tweet photos and word of passengers. "Fire and rescue people all over the place. They're evacuating the injured. Haven't felt this way since 9/11.''

WATCH: Video Shows Crash Passengers' Escape.

Asiana Airlines said on its Twitter account, "Our thoughts and prayers are with all the passengers, and flight crew on the flight. We hope to provide you with further info asap... We are currently investigating and will update with news as soon as possible.''

Boeing said in a tweet from its corporate account: "Our thoughts are with everyone affected by today's incident at SFO. We stand ready to assist the NTSB.''

Saturday's crash landing was the first fatal accident involving a major commercial carrier in the U.S. since November 2001, when a American Airlines flight to the Dominican Republic crashed on takeoff in Queens, N.Y., killing all 260 people on board. The last fatal accident involving a commercial flight in the U.S. was Colgan Air Flight 3407, which crashed near Buffalo, killing 50 in 2009. - USA Today.

STORM ALERT: Tropical Storm Chantal Takes Aim At The Caribbean - Could Reach Hurricane Status!

July 08, 2013 - CARIBBEAN - Newly formed Tropical Storm Chantal is taking aim at the Caribbean this week. The Atlantic Basin has been void of a tropical depression or storm since mid-June, until Sunday evening that is. Tropical Storm Chantal has developed in the Atlantic Ocean and is currently 550 miles east-southeast of Barbados.

The Hurricane Center has been keeping a close eye on this tropical system over the past few days as it has been moving from near Africa across the Atlantic Ocean. The fast-forward motion of Chantal should hinder rapid intensification as it is expected to maintain its status as a tropical storm over the next several days.

Chantal will continue to track to the west and northwest through midweek, passing over the Windward and southern Leeward islands on Tuesday. The threat of flooding will accompany Chantal as it moves across these islands. Additionally, tropical storm-force winds will potentially cause tree and minor structural damage, as well as power outages.

As Chantal moves into the eastern and central part of the Caribbean, there is a chance that warm waters will allow the system to reach Category 1 hurricane status. By midweek, Chantal will encounter disruptive winds at the middle layer of the atmosphere.

Winds of this sort tend to distort the structure of tropical systems and can lead to weakening. This potential weakening would occur around the same time that nears Hispaniola and eastern Cuba. Even though the mountainous terrain of these islands should deter Chantal from strengthening, these islands may still be faced with the danger of flooding rain and mudslides at midweek. - Accuweather.

NEW DAWN: Monumental Changes In Egypt - Egyptian Army Overthrows And Detains President Mohamed Morsi, Suspends Constitution, And Releases Roapmap For The Future!

July 08, 2013 - EGYPT - The Egyptian army has overthrown President Mohamed Morsi, announcing a roadmap for the country’s political future that will be implemented by a national reconciliation committee.

Fireworks light the sky opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi celebrate in Tahrir
Square in Cairo. Picture: AP Photo/Amr Nabil

According to a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi is being held in a military facility with top aides.

"Morsi and the entire presidential team are under house arrest in the Presidential Republican Guards Club," Gehad El-Haddad, the son of a top Morsi aide, told AFP news agency on Thursday. Haddad's father, Essam El-Haddad, widely seen as Morsi's right-hand man, was among those held, he added.

WATCH: Anti-Morsi protests sweep Egypt.

WATCH: General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declares removal of Morsi.

WATCH: Morsi falls and Tahrir celebrates.

The head of Egypt's armed forces issued a declaration on Wednesday evening suspending the constitution and appointing the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as interim head of state.
Mansour would be sworn in on Thursday.

Morsi's presidential Facebook page quoted him as saying he rejected the army statement as a military coup.
The ousted leader was believed to be at a Republican Guard barracks in Cairo but it was not clear whether he was under arrest.

In a televised broadcast, flanked by military leaders, religious authorities and political figures, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi effectively declared the removal of  Morsi.

Early elections
Sisi called for presidential and parliamentary elections, a panel to review the constitution and a national reconciliation committee that would include youth movements. He said the roadmap had been agreed by a range of political groups.

Islamist supporters of Morsi who have gathered in a Cairo suburb reacted angrily to the announcement by the army.

An Egyptian family celebrates in Cairo.  AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI


Some broke up paving stones, forming piles of rocks. Muslim Brotherhood security guards in hard hats and holding sticks formed a cordon around the encampment, close to a mosque. Men and women wept and chanted.

Denouncing military chief Sisi, some shouted: "Sisi is void! Islam is coming! We will not leave!"

Violent clashes

At least 14 people were killed when opponents and supporters of Morsi clashed after the army announced his removal,  officials said. Eight of those died in the northern city of Marsa Matrouh, including two members of the security fources.

Three people were killed and at least 50 wounded in Alexandria, state news agency MENA reported; a woman stabbed in the stomach, and two men killed by birdshot.

WATCH: Morsi's fall from power.

WATCH: The rise and fall of Morsi.

Three people were also killed and 14 wounded in the southern city of Minya, including two police, MENA said.
Dozens more were wounded in Fayoum, south of Cairo, where unidentified assailants looted the local offices of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood's political wing, MENA said.

WATCH: Who is Adly Mansour?

In Cairo's Tahrir Square, the security forces looked on as tens of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters rallied in a demonstration that dwarfed that of Morsi supporters in Nasr City, on the opposite side of town.

'Revolution re-launched'
Speaking shortly after Sisi's announcement, liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said the "2011 revolution was re-launched" and that the roadmap meets the demand of the protesters.
Egypt's leading Muslim and Christian clerics also backed the army-sponsored roadmap.

Pope Tawadros, the head of the Coptic Church, said the plan offered a political vision and would ensure security for all Egyptians, about 10 percent of whom are Christian. Egypt's second largest Islamist group, the Nour party, said in a statement that it agreed to the army roadmap in order to avoid further conflict.

Opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi shout slogans during a protest in
Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.

Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, came under huge pressure in the run-up to Sunday's anniversary of his maiden year in office, with his opponents accusing him of failing the 2011 revolution by concentrating power in Islamist hands.

The embattled 62-year-old proposed a "consensus government" as a way out of the crisis. That was not enough for the army, and Mansour, a previously little known judge, was installed as the country's interim leader. - Al Jazeera.