Wednesday, July 24, 2013

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Thousands Of Dead Eels Wash Ashore In China?!

July 24, 2013 - CHINA - Tens of thousands of dead eels have washed ashore in China over the past few weeks.

Feeding frenzy! Cusk eels, photographed 3.7 miles below the surface of the sea, swarm
some tasty treats. © University of Aberdeen

The eel is just the latest animal to die en masse in China's waters.

In March, thousands of dead pigs were dumped by farmers into the Hangpu River in Shanghai, and hundreds of dead ducks and fish have also turned up in Chinese waterways.

Although no one knows the cause yet, some suspect the China National Offshore Oil Company may be responsible, the website Quartz reported.

That company is doubling its crude oil production.

But the company and local administrators say the eels died of natural causes.

The company says ocean currents brought a confluence of low temperatures, low oxygen and high salt content that killed off the eels, the South China Morning Post reported. - Live Science.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Polar Temperatures - Cold Snap Leaves Six Dead Across Argentina!

July 24, 2013 - ARGENTINA - Recent polar temperatures that for the last five days have affected almost all of Argentina have left a tragic outcome: at least six people have died as a consequence of the cold in various parts of the country.

Mendoza province experienced heavy snowfall as a consequence of the intense cold.
© Buenos Aires Herald

In Catamarca province, a 51-year-old man died of a heart attack caused by hypothermia, in his Altos de Choya home. In the Parque Norte Oeste district of Catamarca, meanwhile, a 19-year-old disabled youth also lost his life.

In the early hours of Monday morning Jose Romera, a homeless man aged 47, was discovered in the streets of Andresito, Misiones, and was pronounced dead also due to hypothermia.

In Salta, meanwhile, a three-year-old boy was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, a consequence of fumes from a heater which had been turned on to combat the intense cold.

Early morning temperatures in Buenos Aires dropped as low as 1.6°C, before rising to 10° in the afternoon. Similar numbers are forecast for Wednesday, before the rest of the week sees a slight increase in temperature.

In parts of Jujuy and Mendoza provinces, meanwhile, locals suffered with temperatures of up to -10°C. - Buenos Aires Herald.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Train Derails In Santiago de Compostella, Spain - At Least 60 Dead, Over 130 Injured; Worst In Spain For 40 Years; One Of Europe's Worst Ever Rail Disasters! UPDATE: Hot Air Balloon Crashes In The Netherlands With 10 People On Board!

July 24, 2013 - SPAIN - At least 60 people were killed when a train was derailed on Wednesday in one of Europe's worst rail disasters.

The train travelling from Madrid to Ferrol derailed close to Santiago de Compostela, Galicia Photo: EPA

The crash occurred as the train approached the north-western Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela at 8.40pm. A further 131 people were reported injured in the accident, the worst in Spain for 40 years. Reports said about 20 were very seriously injured, with five in comas.

The death toll might rise further, a spokeswoman for the office of the central government in Galicia warned.

Rescue workers were battling to free passengers trapped inside the carriages, several of which had overturned. Some caught fire. Bodies covered in blankets lay next to the overturned carriages as smoke billowed from the wreckage. Firemen clambered over the twisted metal trying to get survivors out of the windows.

"The scene is shocking, it's Dante-esque," the head of the Galicia region, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, said in a radio interview.

Rescue workers carry victims from the scene of the crash. Photograph: Reuters

There were some 247 people on board the train, which was travelling from Madrid to the Galician port of Ferrol. The train jumped the tracks on what officials described as "a difficult curve" on the outskirts of Santiago. At least six carriages were derailed.

"The train started flipping over, over and over, and carriages ended up on top of others," one passenger said.

Another said: "It was going so quickly. It seems that on a curve the train started to twist, and the wagons piled up one on top of the other."

Passenger Ricardo Montesco told Cadena Ser radio station: "A lot of people were squashed on the bottom. We tried to squeeze out of the bottom of the wagons to get out and we realised the train was burning ... I was in the second wagon and there was fire ... I saw corpses."

One witness near the scene told the radio station she heard an explosion before seeing the derailed train.

El Pais newspaper cited sources close to the investigation as saying the train was travelling at more than twice the speed limit on a sharp curve. The recommended speed is 80km an hour (50mph), and sources suggest the train was travelling as fast as 180km an hour.

Injured victims are helped from the scene of the crash outside Santiago de Compostela. Photograph: Reuters

Both Renfe and state-owned Adif, which is in charge of the tracks, had opened an investigation into the cause of the derailment, Renfe said.

An official source said no statement would be made on the cause of the crash until the black boxes of the train were examined, but it was most likely an accident.

"We are moving away from the hypothesis of sabotage or attack," he said.

One carriage was thrown five metres from the track and landed on the other side of a retaining wall beside a row of houses. Several carriages were almost completely destroyed.

Clinics in the city were overwhelmed with people flocking to give blood, while hotels organised free rooms for relatives. Madrid sent forensic scientists and hospital staff to the region on special flights.

Both drivers of the train were unhurt in the crash. One of them was reportedly seen wandering dazed among the dead saying: "I've derailed, what am I going to do, what am I going to do?" It is still not clear whether the apparent excessive speed was the result of human error or a technical fault.

Emergency services work at the site of the crash near Santiago de Compostela. Photograph: EPA

Spain's national rail company, Renfe, admitted that the service was running five minutes late, fuelling the hypothesis that it was trying to make up time.

The crash happened a day before Santiago's main festival, focused on St James. The apostle's shrine is the destination of the famous El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, followed by Christians since the middle ages. The traditional fiesta de Santiago was cancelled and the archbishop of Santiago, Julián Barrio, sent his condolences. Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, who was born in Santiago, was due at the scene on Thursday.

WATCH: Spain train crash - Dozens killed as high-speed train derails in Santiago de Compostela.

"In the face of a tragedy such as just happened in Santiago de Compostela on the eve of its big day, I can only express my deepest sympathy as a Spaniard and a Galician," Rajoy said in a statement.

Renfe faced criticism because it failed to issue a press release until three hours after the accident and then only reported it as a derailment without any indication of the seriousness of the accident. On Thursday night investigators were still trying to locate the train's "black box" for clues to what caused the accident.

The derailment happened less than two weeks after six people died when a train came off the tracks and hit the platform at a station in central France.

That accident may have been caused by a loose steel plate at a junction, French train operator SNCF said. - Guardian.

Hot Air Balloon Crashes In The Netherlands With 10 People On Board.
A hot air balloon carrying ten passengers crashed into a lake in the Netherlands on Tuesday evening. Two of the passengers sustained injuries when they jumped out of the basket as it landed. 

WATCH: Raw video - Hot air balloon crashes in the Netherlands with 10 people on board.

STORM ALERT: Tropical Storm System Dorian Forms In The Caribbean - To Approach Leeward Islands This Weekend!

July 24, 2013 - CARIBBEAN - A tropical system that moved off the coast of Africa last weekend has become the fourth tropical storm of the 2013 Atlantic season Wednesday.

A slightly north of west path is forecast with Dorian through this weekend into early next week, most likely taking the feature close to or just north of the Lesser Antilles.

Conditions in the Leeward Islands this weekend will depend upon the exact path and strength of the tropical storm. There is a possibility of gusty, drenching squalls developing in the area Sunday into Monday, if the system were to track close by.

According to Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, "The vast area of dry air surrounding the system to start the week has diminished and would tend to favor strengthening during the middle of the week."

At 8:00 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, the system may have already been a tropical storm. Enhanced satellite images during the morning hours indicated a concentrated area of thunderstorms with some rotation.

At 10:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday, winds were officially estimated to be sustained at 50 mph near the center and the system was named Dorian.

Official investigation by the National Hurricane Center will continue. Sustained winds must reach 74 mph for the system to be classified as a hurricane.

"Later this week, Dorian will move into a zone of cooler waters, which may cause the system to plateau or even weaken," Kottlowski stated.

The path of Dorian next week will depend on the strength of the tropical system itself and other weather systems surrounding it. Currently, Dorian was moving swiftly along to the west-northwest at around 20 mph.

"It is too early to say with confidence for next week where Dorian will track and what the strength will be," Kottlowski added.

It could be scooped up by the back side of high pressure near Bermuda over the Atlantic Ocean. In this scenario, the feature could then travel along the East Coast of the United States.

Another scenario allows Dorian to miss the "right turn lane" and continue west-northwestward brushing northern shores of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba. - AccuWeather.

DISASTER ALERT: Los Angeles Council Approves Soaring Hollywood Millennium Skyscrapers - Despite Strong Warnings From State Officials About The Project's Proximity To A Major Earthquake Fault Line?!

July 24, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The Los Angeles City Council has approved a plan that would radically alter the Hollywood skyline despite warnings from state officials about the project's proximity to a major earthquake fault line.

A computer rendering shows the proposed $1-billion development around the Capitol Records building on Vine Street in Hollywood. (Millennium Partners / May 12, 2011)

The 13-0 vote Wednesday in favor of the Hollywood Millennium project allows New York-based developer Millennium Partners to build two skyscrapers and more than 1 million square feet of office, hotel and retail space on several vacant parking lots surrounding the iconic Capitol Records building.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was a leading champion of new development in Hollywood during his three terms representing the neighborhood on the City Council, announced Wednesday that he would sign the deal.

Newly elected Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who replaced Garcetti after he termed out this year, said the project will create jobs and new tax revenue for the city and draw new residents and tourists to Hollywood's eastern edge.

"It’s a game changer for the Hollywood area," O'Farrell said. In recent days, he had been silent on whether he would support the project, which has drawn opposition from neighbors who complain that it is out of scale with the surrounding architecture and will worsen traffic gridlock.

When O'Farrell asked his colleagues Wednesday to join him in supporting the development, dozens of community members who had packed City Hall to voice opposition erupted in shouts and boos. A large contingent of supporters, including many from the business and labor community, also showed up at the hearing and cheered when it was approved.

In recent days, opponents have raised concerns about the project's proximity to the Hollywood earthquake fault line. They point to a letter sent to Council President Herb Wesson by the head of the California Geological Survey, alerting Wesson that the project "may fall within an earthquake fault zone."

In the letter, John Parrish said his agency launched a study of the Hollywood fault after several independent studies suggested it may be active. He said the study may not be completed until 2014, but noted that if the fault is found to be active, the city would be required by state law to withhold permits for new development projects until testing could prove that there is no risk.

The project's developers say extensive testing has shown that the complex would not be built on an active fault. They pointed out that they will have to secure permits from the city's Department of Building and Safety before any construction can begin. Department officials say they have asked the developer to conduct additional seismic tests to ensure the safety of the site.

Philip Arons, a founding partner of Millennium Partners, called the development "a dynamic mixed-use project that pays tribute to the past and paves the way to the future."

He said it was "foremost a preservation project" that would protect views of the Capitol Records building and the Hollywood sign. "Hollywood is constantly changing," he added.

The project's only vocal opponent at City Hall, Councilman Tom LaBonge, was not present at Wednesday's meeting because of a death in his family.

O'Farrell read a statement from LaBonge. In it, LaBonge said he would not have voted for the project if he had been present. "I feel the height of the two towers is too tall and out of scale with the character of Hollywood," he said. LaBonge added that he worried about the impact of traffic in the Hollywood Hills, a large swath of which he represents. - LA Times.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: The Latest Cases In The United States - 600 Fish Die From "Heat And Low Water" In Reservoir In Utah; Thousands Of Fish Die From "Lack Of Rain" In Sugar Lake, Missouri; Hundreds Of Dead Fish Found In Lake George, Massachusetts; Hundreds Of Fish Turning Up Dead In Holter Lake, Montana; Large Fish Kill Washing Up On Lake Michigan; Die-Off Of Chinook Salmon In John Day River, Oregon; Hundreds Of Dead Fish Found In A Creek In Colonial Heights, Virginia; And 3,000 Fish Found Dead In A Creek In Madison County, Ohio!

July 24, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The following constitute the latest news reports on mass fish die-offs across the United States.

Thousands Of Fish Die From "Lack Of Rain" In Sugar Lake, Missouri.

A Buchanan County community is dealing with a stinky situation, and they say they can't get anyone to do anything about it.

A lack of rain is taking its toll on Sugar Lake, killing thousands of fish in the past few days alone.

It used to be packed with swimmers and boaters, but now it seems the only thing inside the lake at the Lewis and Clark Village is thousands of dead fish.

"It is terrible. A terrible, terrible waste of natural resources,"said Fred Simmerman, who is part of the Sugar Lake Sportsman Club, a group dedicated to preserving the area.

Residents say they have only received about a fifth of their usual rain fall so far this year.

The quick evaporation is zapping all the oxygen from the water. The first fish started turning belly up just a few days ago, and now they are everywhere.

As if the sight of swarming flies and dead fish isn't bad enough, they say it is the overwhelming stench that is giving the whole town a bad name.

"Oh my, it'll turn your stomach," Simmerman said.

Simmerman said their problems really started after the big flood in 2011.

The Missouri River dumped thousands of pounds of silt into the water, raising the lake bed and making it more susceptible to drought.

WATCH: Thousands Of Fish Die From "Lack Of Rain" In Sugar Lake.

Simmerman has tried to reach out to the Missouri Department of Conservation, which he said has jurisdiction. However, he has not had much luck.

"They've been really hard to deal with trying to help Sugar Lake. They claim it is a oxbow lake, and it is doomed. But it has been here for well over 200 years, Lewis and Clark camped here," he said.

But Simmerman isn't taking this lying down. His club shelled out $5,000 to pump water into the lake during the winter months.

They ran out of funding but are reaching out to other groups for help.

Without any real rain, residents worry the lake will be completely dry in about a month. But they vow to keep pumping to stave that off.

KCTV5 tried reaching out to the local conservation agent, but calls were not returned. - KCTV5.

Hundreds Of Dead Fish Found In Lake George, Massachusetts.
(File photo) The Hampden County town of Wales will reach out to the state today after hundreds
of dead fish were found in Lake George

The Hampden County town of Wales will reach out to the state today after hundreds of dead fish were found in Lake George.

Susan Cadieux of the town Board of Health told 22News the mass die-off was likely caused by extremely warm water temperatures.

She said when the temperature rises, the fish can run out of oxygen.

It's unclear which species were affected.

 WATCH: Hundreds Of Dead Fish Found In Lake George.

She told 22News the die-off has nothing to do with weed control chemicals that are put in the lake every year.

The town will ask the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife if the lake needs further testing. - WWLP.

Hundreds Of Fish Turning Up Dead In Holter Lake, Montana.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologists are still trying to determine what is killing carp in Holter Reservoir.

Over the past two weeks, hundreds of dead carp have turned up on the surface of the lake, prompting FWP to investigate.

Preliminary test results are inconclusive, but we're told bacteria may be to blame.

The fish were found in the Gates of the Mountains and American Bar area of the reservoir.

No other species of fish are being affected and officials are not aware of any similar incidents on the Missouri River. - KRTV.

Large Fish Kill Washing Up On Lake Michigan.
Credit Phil Moy / Wisconsin Sea Grant
Alewives washing ashore.

Just in time for peak travel season, dead fish have been washing ashore on some popular Lake Michigan beaches. Most recently this has been happening in parts of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

But while this is certainly unpleasant for swimmers, it signals some good news for the state’s sport fishery.

These little, silver fish are called alewives. They are an invasive species - they weren’t originally designed for the cold waters of the Great Lakes.

Their numbers exploded back in the 1960s.

Jay Wesley manages the southern Lake Michigan fishery for the state of Michigan.

“Beach owners would actually have to bring in bulldozers and front-end loaders to deal with it," he says. "Then salmon were introduced in the late '60s as an experiment to see if salmon would forage on alewives, and they did. And the salmon also created a world-class sport fishery in the Great Lakes.”

So alewives feed salmon, and these days state fisheries managers like to see them do well (even though the salmon are not native to the Great Lakes either).

No one likes die-offs, which mean the fish are stressed coming out of winter and heading into the spawning season. But since they’re not totally adapted to this habitat – it’s somewhat inevitable.

The die-off is also evidence there’s food in Lake Michigan for salmon.

It's good news, because anglers have been nervous. In the last decade or so, alewives haven’t always done so well. - Michigan Radio.

600 Fish Die From "Heat And Low Water" In Reservoir In Utah.

The recent rain has cooled down water temperatures at Strawberry Reservoir, but the heat had already done
damage by killing 600 fish in the past week.

Division of Wildlife Resources biologist Alan Ward said that the fish are dying because the low water levels are killing the aquatic vegetation, and that combined with the heat is lowering the oxygen levels.

He said he has seen similar situations over the year where the heat directly affects the wildlife.

"We want to come out and monitor what's going on," Ward said. "The oxygen levels just get enough that these fish can't survive anymore."

Ward and other DWR employees are continuing to monitor the water situation, and Ward said he hopes that dead fish don't continue showing up throughout Strawberry.

"Fortunately for us, it's just in one small localized area," Ward said.

Water typically flows through a connector tunnel system called the "Ladders section" of Strawberry Reservoir, but Ward said that due to the low water levels and heat, the water flow isn't very strong. Anglers will notice hundreds of dead fish along the rocky shore line in the Ladders Section of Strawberry.

"As long as we have really hot temperatures, 90's and 100's, it's going to be more of a pronounced effect," Ward said. "We're going to see more of it happen."

However, the fish that have died aren't the type of fish that people typically like to catch. Mot of the dead fish are sucker fish that came to the Strawberry Reservoir channel to spawn. The sucker fish died when they got caught in low water conditions.

"Most of the fish people are concerned with and want to come up here and catch out there on the reservoir," Ward said. "We're still doing well."

Ward has worked at Strawberry Reservoir for the past 13 years, and he said this year has had one of the lowest water levels he has ever seen.

WATCH: 600 Fish Die From "Heat And Low Water" In Reservoir In Utah.

"We just don't have much runoff left this year," he said. "We didn't have a good snowpack last year."

Strawberry Reservoir is currently about 79 percent full which isn't nearly as low as other reservoirs, but it was completely full in 2011.

"2011 was a great year," Ward said. "We topped Strawberry off that year. We had a really good runoff, and so 2011 was a great year. But the last two years, we've been pretty strong into this drought cycle where we're well below average."

Ward said that as the water levels continue to decrease, the problems will the fish and other wildlife will increase. - KSL.

Die-Off Of Chinook Salmon In John Day River, Oregon.
Officials say more than 180 wild Chinook salmon died in a remote section of the Middle Fork of the John Day river.

 The Blue Mountain Eagle reports that the die-off is due to low water and a sudden spike in water temperatures.

 Staff members surveyed a 22 mile stretch of the river and found 113 Chinook still alive.

 The region has been hit with an early heat wave, featuring highs of more than 100 degrees.

 Jeff Neal, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fish biologist in John Day, says water temperatures in the river rose from 62 degrees on June 26 to a high of 74 degrees the next day.

 Biologists say wild adult Chinook salmon can survive in temperatures of 80 degrees, but only as long as the rise in heat is gradual.

 Some other fish, including small whitefish and sculpin, also died in the warming water.

 To prevent future die-offs, environmental officials are looking at narrowing the channel and planting more trees to shade the river. - OPB.

Hundreds Of Dead Fish Found In A Creek In Colonial Heights, Virginia.
The Department of Environmental Quality confirmed its investigators are working to determine what killed hundreds of fish in a Colonial Heights creek.

Neighbors who live near Swift Creek in Colonial Heights discovered the dead carp after a foul stench filled the air late last week.

“It was a putrid smell. We thought something was dying. We took a walk through the woods and didn’t see anything,” Tina Wilson said.

She said over the weekend her boyfriend finally found the source of the stench.

“There was hundreds of dead carp from the bridge all the way down towards the dam,” Wilson said. “They were stuck in the trees. You could see their white bellies up against the banks. They were everywhere. It stunk.”

Researchers just wish someone would have called them last Friday or Saturday, when hundreds of dead carp were spotted floating along a section of Swift Creek.

While a positive identification of what caused the fish kill might not be possible because of the time-lapse, researchers took readings and water samples to try to solve the mystery.

One thing in their favor, less than a half mile upstream, water readings were taken on Wednesday, near the Lakeview Dam, un-related to the fish kill.

WATCH: Hundreds Of Dead Fish Found In A Creek In Colonial Heights.

Wilson and other neighbors are concerned because they fish the creek and eat what they catch.

“I’m afraid that somebody’s put a chemical or drained their pool or did something to shock the fish in the area and it’s killed them,” she said. “I don’t want to eat out of the creek. I don’t want my kids to swim in it.”

Bill Smith has lived along the creek since 1982. He said this is the first time he has ever seen so many fish die there at once.

“I want them to find out why. Something is wrong for that many fish to die at the same time,” Smith told CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil.

DEQ says the test results should be back in about a month. - WTVR.

3,000 Fish Found Dead In A Creek In Madison County, Ohio.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency placed aerators along a stretch of Oak Run that was contaminated with ammonia this week. The incident killed more than 3,000 fish near London. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

After several days of cleanup, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says it now knows what killed more than 3,000 fish in Madison County on Sunday: The London city sewer plant dumped ammonia-tainted water into the stream.

And that water, which contaminated nearly 6 miles of Oak Run, initially came from the Scotts Miracle-Gro fertilizer plant in Marysville, the EPA says. The discharged water apparently contained no trace of pesticide or fertilizer, however, investigators say.

Someone called the EPA’s tip line about the dead fish in the creek, which runs through London, on Sunday. Someone from the city’s plant self-reported the incident that same day, said EPA spokesman Mike Settles. It’s a significant fish kill, Settles said, because it affected such a long stretch of the stream.

London officials have been “proactive and cooperative” in the investigation, said EPA spokeswoman Erin Strauss.

Aerators were placed along Oak Run in several places to increase oxygen levels and decrease the ammonia levels in the stream. The cleanup finished on Thursday.

The EPA said that Scotts trucks in what is labeled as “rinse water” to the London plant regularly. In the past, it has been pretreated at the plant and has been discharged into the stream without incident.

Why the city’s plant discharged the water with too-high ammonia levels this time remains under investigation, officials said.

Dan Leavitt, superintendent of the London sewer plant, said he could not comment on the fish kill. He also wouldn’t say how much material Scotts trucks in regularly.Marysville, where the Scotts plant is located, is not equipped to handle trucked-in wastewater, said John Mitchell, the city’s public service director.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which also is investigating, said the high ammonia levels killed 3,219 fish and other aquatic wildlife in the stream, including smallmouth bass, darters, minnows, crayfish and sunfish.

ODNR spokesman Mark Bruce said the department will determine how much each was worth and someone will be required to pay a certain value for each fish killed plus the cost of the investigation.

Fines and penalties also could be levied.

Lance Latham, a Scotts corporate spokesman, said the company was notified of the fish kill on Tuesday. The company is cooperating with authorities, he said.

The state says the rinse water, described as a byproduct of the fertilizer process at the plant, is nutrient-rich. Typically, the treatment process at the plant filters out the ammonia and the clean water is discharged.

Latham said he didn’t know how much rinse water Scotts hauls to London but he said the company only started trucking the material there earlier this summer. He said that London approached Scotts about taking the water.

The EPA said the London plant has the proper permits to do so. - The Columbus Dispatch.


WEATHER PHENOMENON: Mammatus - Incredible And Unusual Clouds That Herald A Massive Downpour Are Spotted In The United States Midwest!

July 24, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Bulbous formation turned sky over Iron Mountain orange. Weather phenomenon, known as Mammatus, can be sign of storm.

Ominous clouds gathered over a Michigan city on Monday night, leading residents to question what was causing the bulbous formations and if they were a sign of rough weather ahead.

Strange forecast: Joe Nottage took pictures of the clouds as they gathered over Iron Mountain.

As the orange-tinged clouds were spotted at about 8.30pm above Iron Mountain, residents posted pictures of them on social media to see if anyone could identify what they were.

Meteorologist Jeff Last was finally able to resolve the mystery through Twitter, when he identified the phenomenon as Mammatus.

His tweet was in response to a picture Joe Nottage had put online, as he asked: 'Can anyone explain this?' Skye reported.

Eerie: The sky was tinged with orange as the bulbous clouds appeared, catching the attention of many residents.

Another resident, Jason Asselin, filmed the clouds as they gathered over the city.

'All of a sudden it got very yellow outside, it felt strange and mysterious,' he wrote on YouTube.

'It was the craziest thing I have ever witnessed over my head. I almost expected to see a tornado or something.'

Amazing cloud formations in the sky.

His assumption that the formation, which gathers under a larger cloud, is a forewarning of severe weather was close to the truth.

The clouds, which are formed after a sharp change in temperature or moisture, can sometimes be a sign of an approaching thunderstorm or, in some cases, a tornado.

Other people struggled to describe the strange and beautiful weather phenomenon.

In his blog for the city's Daily News, Chris Tomassucci said: 'The pictures really don't capture how eerie the whole experience was.'

He added: 'The mammatocumulus that formed over Iron Mountain made everything take on strange coloration. Greens looked more green, blues more blue, and so on.'


Mammatus are bulbous formations that are found under other clouds.

While most clouds have flat bottoms, Mammatus have round pouches that are caused by sinking air.

Stormy weather: Mammatus clouds, like this one pictured in Oklahoma, can often be a sign of thunder.

This has led to cloud physicists referring to the shape as being caused by negative buoyancy.

Their name is said to be derived from the Latin for breast.

The clouds, which often form in turbulent air, can stretch for hundreds of miles and can be a sign of a gathering storm.

For the clouds to form, there must be a sharp change in temperature. - Daily Mail.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For July 24, 2013 - Updates On Veniaminof, Raung, Tolbachik, Sakurajima, Merapi, White Island, Popocatépetl, Turrialba, Reventador And Tungurahua!

July 24, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Southwest flank of the intracaldera cone at Veniaminof Volcano showing lava flows emplaced during June-July eruptive activity. View is toward the east. (image from 16 July, taken by Chris Waythomas via AVO/USGS)

Veniaminof (Alaska Peninsula, USA): AVO reports no changes in activity: continuous low-level volcanic tremor, elevated surface temperatures at the intracaldera cone, visible glow and low-level ash and steam plumes indicate that lava flows continue to be erupted, along with mild strombolian activity.

AVO posted a picture showing the erupting intra-caldera cone emitting a lava flow and producing mild strombolian explosions.

Strombolian eruption from Raung on 21 July (photo Agus Kurniawan)

Raung (East Java): Mild strombolian activity is taking place from the intra-crater cone, a recent photo shows.

MODIS hot spot data (past 7 days) for Tolbachik volcano (ModVolc, Univ. Hawaii).

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): There are no signs of the eruption ending soon. Although an overall weakly decreasing trend is visible over the past months, tremor levels reported by KVERT remained stable during the past week and lava continues to be erupted form the southern fissure, feeding a vast flow field mainly SE of the volcano.

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): Activity remains elevated. During most of the time, the volcano produces (usually silent) near-continuous ash puffs that reach varying heights of a few hundred meters, as well as intermittent vulcanian explosions with plume heights often exceeding 3 km. Often, the plumes from this activity merge into a continuous one that has been drifting into easterly directions where light to moderate ash fall occurs.

The eastern sector of the volcano is covered by up to several cm of fresh ash from the activity during the recent weeks.

Merapi (Central Java): A small explosive eruption occurred from the volcano yesterday (22 July) morning between 04:22 and 05:35 local time. It produced a dark ash plume rising about 1000 m and ash fall in the villages of Klaten (SE of the volcano) and Sleman (SW).

Current seismic recording from White Island (GeoNet).

White Island (New Zealand): The "drumbeat" earthquake activity, which could be caused by pulsating steam and gas emissions from a narrow conduit continues. Over the past days, the intensity of seismic activity has risen, but dropped again a bit at the moment.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity has been low during the past days. Emissions of steam, gas and only sometimes small amounts of ash occurred at rates fluctuating between 0-3 per hour and plumes reached a maximum of about 1 km above the crater.

Following the relatively calm phase over the past week, CENAPRED lowered the alert level back to Yellow phase 2 (from 3).

Turrialba (Costa Rica): The seismic crisis continues with a swarm of volcanic-tectonic quakes as well as periods of low-frequency tremor and possible small explosion signals (which could suggest small phreatic eruptions).

Yesterday's seismic signal from Turrialba (VTUC station, OVSICORI).

OVSICORI wrote that on 18 July, over 1000 earthquakes were recorded on a single day.

MODIS hot spots on Reventador volcano (MODVOLC, Univ. Hawai'i).

Reventador (Ecuador): Small to moderate explosions and (probably) the effusion of a lava flow on the NE side of the cone continue. Seismic activity is high.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Activity remains high. The volcano produces intermittent explosions and near continuous strombolian explosions and ash emissions that produce an eruption column reaching up to 1.5 km above the crater. Easterly winds drift the ash mainly to the west and SE, where light ash fall occurred in Cahuají and Choglontus.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for July 24, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - Robot Swarms Self-Assemble Into Flying Units Of ANY Shape Or Size!

July 24, 2013 - UNITED STATES - It was just a few years ago that we saw the first grainy images of a quad-copter, the incredible aerial brainchild of a bunch of grad students and academics, the sort of thing that could never possibly impact our real lives. It’s too out-there, too science fiction. And yet, today, quad-rotor drones hit the news on a daily basis. They’re in the military, and on So it’s not surprising that now we’re starting to see new elaborations on the technology, things that beggar belief even more effectively. Still, this latest is a doozy.

A team of Swiss researchers have demonstrated not a quad-rotor flying machine, but a modular, multi-rotor one capable of adjusting its behavior to fly reliably regardless of the number of rotors in the unit. And since that would hardly be useful if we had to sit around putting together arbitrary arrangements of rotors, the system naturally assembles itself.

WATCH: The Distributed Flight Array Summary.

These autonomous robots find each other, form a whole, and take to the air — and they do it all while answering to no central authority. This Distributed Flight Array means that each unit decides what to do to help the group, trusting (metaphorically) in the rest of the team to act according to the same predictable rules set.

The only aspect of this that is less spectacular than it might be is that it doesn’t assemble in the air. Each hexagonal rotor-bot is fitted with three omni-directional wheels that let it drive to the meeting spot. Amazingly, this spot is generated dynamically based on the surroundings.

Once two or more units have found each other, they can attach via small latches, and communicate with infra-red light pulses. (The units shown in the video above are an older version, using a slightly different method of attachment and communication, but the principle is the same.) Thus connected, they can move in almost perfect coordination both while driving and flying.

The overall shape of the drone, and each rotor’s place within that shape, will determine how each rotor reacts to changes in attitude; a T-shaped flier needs less work from each rotor on the cross end in order to stay level, for instance. During takeoff, half the units start their rotors going clockwise, the other half counter-clockwise, to mitigate internal torque. It all works incredible well, though no one unit can fly on its own without another to stabilize it.

WATCH: The Distributed Flight Array: Indoor Flight Experiments.

In terms of applications, the usefulness will probably have more to do with the theory than the application. This is a proof of concept for networked flight, though its applications will almost certainly be military first.

The ability to create a flying drone frome multiple parts, perhaps one part with surveillance equipment, another few with power supplies, and another with a transmitter, would make infiltration much easier. A previously large and easily detectible robot could be several small and discreet ones. Additionally, as we saw in recent Turkish protest, shooting a drone takes it down — but what if the drone could compensate for any lost rotor in real-time, adjust to its new weight distribution and carry on before plummeting to Earth? - Geek.

GOD PARTICLE: Scientists Find Strange, Shape-Shifting Particles - Could Solve The Mystery Of Antimatter?!

July 24, 2013 - SWEDEN - Exotic particles called neutrinos have been caught in the act of shape-shifting, switching from one flavor to another, in a discovery that could help solve the mystery of antimatter.

A candidate electron neutrino appears in the Super Kamiokande particle detector in Japan like this. In July 2013 researchers announced they'd definitively measured muon neutrinos oscillating flavor into electron neutrinos. (T2K)

Neutrinos come in three flavors: electron, muon and tau and have been known to change, or oscillate, between certain flavors. Now, for the first time, scientists can definitively say they've discovered muon neutrinos changing into electron neutrinos.

The discovery was made at the T2K neutrino experiment in Japan, where scientists sent a beam of muon neutrinos from the J-PARC laboratory in Tokai Village on the eastern coast of Japan, streaming 183 miles away to the Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector in the mountains of Japan's northwest.

The researchers detected an average of 22.5 electron neutrinos in the beam that reached the Super-Kamiokande detector, suggesting a certain portion of the the muon neutrinos had oscillated into electron neutrinos; if no oscillation had occurred, the researchers should have detected just 6.4 electron neutrinos.

In 2011, T2K scientists announced they'd seen indications that this shape-shifting was taking place, but they couldn't say with certainty that the effect wasn't one of chance. The experiment has now collected enough data for the researchers to say the probability of this effect being produced by random statistical fluctuations is less than one in a trillion.The results were announced Friday (July 19) at the European Physical Society meeting in Stockholm.

The discovery opens an intriguing avenue for studying antimatter, the strange cousin of matter that's mysteriously missing in the universe. Scientists think the Big Bang produced about as much matter as antimatter, but most of this antimatter was destroyed in collisions with matter, leaving a slight excess of matter to make up the universe we see today.

The best shot at explaining why matter won out in this cosmic struggle is to find instances where a matter particle behaves differently than its antimatter counterpart. Many physicists suspect that neutrino oscillations might be just the type of occasion to see this difference.

Now that the researchers have observed this oscillation pattern in neutrinos, they can recreate the experiment with a beam of anti-muon neutrinos, and find out whether they change more or less often into anti-electron neutrinos.

"Our findings now open the possibility to study this process for neutrinos and their antimatter partners, the anti-neutrinos," physicist Alfons Weber of the U.K.'s Science and Technology Facilities Council and the University of Oxford, said in a statement. "A difference in the rate of electron or anti-electron neutrino being produced may lead us to understand why there is so much more matter than antimatter in the universe. The neutrino may be the very reason we are here."

This next phase of the project will likely take at least a decade, the researchers said.

"We have seen a new way for neutrinos to change, and now we have to find out if neutrinos and anti-neutrinos do it the same way," T2K team member Dave Wark of the Science and Technology Facilities Council said in a statement. "If they don't, it may be a clue to help solve the mystery of where the matter in the universe came from in the first place. Surely answering that is worth a couple of decades of work!" - FOX News.

WAR DRUMS: Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces Start Snap Combat Drills - New Maneuvers Follow Largest Military Exercise Since The Cold War!

July 24, 2013 - RUSSIA - Just days after it concluded the biggest military exercise since the cold war, Russia has ordered its missile forces to conduct a snap drill in order to ascertain the readiness of putting intercontinental ballistic missiles on “high-alert” within a short time frame.

Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces Start Snap Combat Drills. Image: RIA Novosti. Sergei Guneev

“The headquarters and two missile divisions of the Orenburg Missile Army in Russia’s Urals region have been put on high-alert as part of snap combat readiness drills,” reports RIA Novosti.

The drills, which will run until Saturday, involve the redeployment of missile units which include those armed with nuclear-capable Topol (SS-25 Sickle) intercontinental ballistic missiles and RS-20V Voyevoda (SS-18 Satan) ballistic missile systems.

“The goal of this snap check is to assess the ability of missile units to go on high-alert in required time and to evaluate their readiness to perform the designated tasks,” said Col. Igor Yegorov, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry.

The missile drills follow in the footsteps of a similar “snap order” given by Vladimir Putin which tasked the Russian military to achieve full “combat readiness” as quickly as possible. Last week’s exercise involved 130 combat aircraft, 70 ships, 5,000 tanks, 160,000 troops and 320 tons of equipment, making it the biggest such drill since the Soviet era.

According to Konstantin Sivkov, a retired officer of the Russian military’s General Staff, last week’s exercise “was intended to simulate a response to a hypothetical attack by Japanese and US forces,” although the drill received little attention from the US media.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Russia has dramatically stepped up its military spending, with arms industry expenditure expected to soar nearly 60% over the next two years while the US military budget is cut by 15 per cent.
Back in May, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called on the nation’s defense industry to provide “state-of-the-art weapons superior to their Western analogs.”

Russia is currently engaged in the largest military build-up since the cold war, including the development of a new missile defense radar in southern Russia designed to counter missiles launched from Europe, as part of maneuvers which pose, “a strategic threat to the United States and NATO allies,” according to US military officials.

Russia is also working on a new generation of nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles called the Yars-M which “Russian officials say will be able to penetrate U.S. missile defenses.”

With two snap drills taking place in the space of little over a week, some are concerned that Russia is gearing up for conflict following the announcement that Israel had bombed Russian-made weapons in Syria earlier this month.

With Barack Obama getting the green light from the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to arm jihadist rebels in Syria, a proxy war is developing as a result of Russia’s staunch support for President Bashar Al-Assad. - Info Wars.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Cyclospora Infection - CDC Says 250 People In 6 American States Have Unidentified Stomach Bug?!

July 24, 2013 - UNITED STATES - More than 250 people in at least six states have come down with a stomach bug that could be linked to foodborne illness.

The Centers for Disease Control says the cyclospora infection causing diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms has been reported in Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia and Connecticut.

The CDC said 10 people have been hospitalized and most of the reported illnesses occurred from mid-June to early July.

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the cyclospora infections, which are most often found in tropical or subtropical countries and have been linked to imported fresh produce in the past.

The illness is usually spread when people ingest foods or water contaminated with feces. The agency said it isn't yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are linked.

The number of reported illnesses expanded from more than 200 to more than 250 on Tuesday, according to the CDC. The CDC added Georgia and Connecticut to the list of affected states.

The agency said it is investigating additional illnesses and the number of those sickened could grow. - CBS News.

WAR ON MOTHER NATURE: The European Vampiric Plan To Geo-Engineer The Planet, Block The Sun And Prevent The Incoming Cosmic Energies - The CIA Wants To Control The Weather And Climate Change?!

July 24, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The CIA is funding a study examining various ways mankind can geo-engineer the planet -- blocking or limiting the sunlight that reaches the Earth, stripping carbon dioxide from the skies, seeding the clouds and so on.

The project, a panel called “Geoengineering Climate: Technical Evaluation and Discussion of Impacts,” is backed by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA -- and the U.S. intelligence community.

That’s spy-talk for the CIA, William Kearney, a spokesman for NAS, told Mother Jones.

So why would the trenchcoat troops meet with the eggheads?

"It's natural that on a subject like climate change the Agency would work with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security," Edward Price, a spokesman for the CIA, told Mother Jones. He refused to confirm the agency's role in the study.

Conspiracy theorists love to argue that various world governments seek to control the weather; they cite “chemtrails” and cloud seeding and so on. The topic has even pervaded popular culture, from “The Simpsons” to “The X-Files.”

The group’s first two meetings, May 20 and June 19, were closed-door in their entirety, save for a list of participants.

On July 17 in Washington D.C., closed-door morning and evening meetings book-ended a public session, however, offering a peek into the group’s plans -- and it’s nothing worthy of Fox Mulder’s time, explained Edward Dunlea, study director with the National Academies.

“Nothing involved in this study is classified at all,” Dunlea told “We’re doing an evaluation. This is an assessment of what is known in the science literature about some of the proposed engineering techniques -- both solar-radiation management and carbon-dioxide removal.”

Dunlea declined to cite the CIA by name.

“All of our sponsors are interested in this topic as a part of the larger climate-change discussion, which has economic, environmental and national-security ramifications,” he said.

A 2008 study by the National Intelligence Council
concluded that climate change posted a serious threat to national security.

“Climate change and climate-change policies could affect … domestic stability in a number of key states, the opening of new sea lanes and access to raw materials, and the global economy more broadly -- with significant geopolitical consequences,” it said. - FOX News.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Accelerated Frequency - New Study Finds "Nighttime Heat Waves" Increasing In Pacific Northwest!

July 24, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A new study has found that heat waves are increasing in the western portions of the Pacific Northwest, but not the kind most people envision, with scorching hot days of temperatures reaching triple digits. These heat waves occur at night.

Researchers documented 15 examples of "nighttime heat waves" from 1901 through 2009 and 10 of those have occurred since 1990. Five of them took place during a four-year period from 2006-09. And since the study was accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, another nighttime heat wave took place at the end of this June, the authors point out.

File image.

"Most people are familiar with daytime heat waves, when the temperatures get into the 100s and stay there for a few days," said Kathie Dello, deputy director of the Oregon Climate Service at Oregon State University and a co-author on the study. "A nighttime heat wave relates to how high the minimum temperature remains overnight.

"Daytime events are usually influenced by downslope warming over the Cascade Mountains, while nighttime heat waves seem to be triggered by humidity," said Dello, who is in OSU's College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. "Elevated low-level moisture at night tends to trap the heat in."

In their study, Dello and co-authors Karin Bumbaco and Nicholas Bond from the University of Washington defined heat waves as three consecutive days of temperatures at the warmest 1 percentile over the past century. Using that standard criterion, they documented 13 examples of daytime heat waves during the time period from 1901 to 2009. Only two of those occurred in the last 20 years.

In contrast, nighttime heat waves have been clustered over the past two decades, with what appears to be accelerating frequency. A warming climate suggests the problem may worsen, studies suggest.

"If you look at nighttime temperatures in Oregon and compared them to say the Midwest, people there would laugh at the concept of a Pacific Northwest heat wave," Dello said. "However, people in the Midwest are acclimated to the heat while in the Northwest, they are not. People in other regions of the country may also be more likely to have air conditioning in their homes.

On occasion, daytime and nighttime heat waves coincide, Dello said, as happened in 2009 when temperatures in the Pacific Northwest set all-time records in Washington (including 103 degrees at SeaTac), and temperatures in Oregon surpassed 105 degrees in Portland, Eugene, Corvallis and Medford. It was the second most-intense daytime heat wave in the last century, but lasted only three days by the 1 percentile definition.

However, that same stretch of hot weather in 2009 results in a nighttime heat wave that extended eight days, by far the longest stretch since records were kept beginning in 1901.

The latest nighttime heat wave began in late June of this year, and continued into early July, Dello said.

"Like many nighttime heat waves, a large high-pressure ridge settled in over the Northwest, while at the same time, some monsoonal moisture was coming up from the Southwest," she pointed out. "The high swept around and grabbed enough moisture to elevate the humidity and trap the warm air at night." - Space Daily.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Pandoravirus - Never Before Seen GIANT Virus Found That's So Unusual It May Have Come From Mars?!

July 24, 2013 - FRANCE - Scientists have found a new virus thought to be the biggest ever seen on Earth.

The virus, dubbed Pandoravirus, is one micrometre big - up to ten times the size of other viruses - and only six per cent of its genes resemble anything seen on Earth before.

Scientists have found a new virus, Pandoravirus (pictured), which is the biggest ever seen on Earth.
It is found underwater and is not thought to pose a serious risk to humans.

This has led French researchers to believe the virus may have come from an ancient time or even another planet, such as Mars.

The giant virus is only found underwater and is not thought to pose a serious risk to humans.

However, the researchers, who published their findings in the journal Science, believe that the virus opens up a range of questions about the history of life on Earth.

Dr Jean-Michel Claverie of Aix-Marseille University in France, who found the virus, told NPR: ‘We believe that these new Pandoraviruses have emerged from a new ancestral cellular type that no longer exists.’

Many traditional viruses range in size from around 10 nanometres (nm) to around 500nm.

The Pandoravirus is around one micrometre big and there are 1,000nm in a micrometre.

This means the Pandoravirus is big enough to be seen under the most basic microscopes.

Dr Claverie explained that because the virus is very big and lacks the regular shape normally associated with viruses, he initially thought it was a small bacterium.

The scientists who found the Pandoravirus believe that it could have originated on Mars. Only six
per cent of its genes resemble genes seen before in other organisms on Earth.

His team went on a hunt for giant viruses after a survey identified signs of them in seawater.

They took sediment samples from the coast off Chile and from a pond in Australia.

They took the samples to their laboratory and put them in a solution packed with antibiotics in an attempt to kill any bacteria present.

These bacteria-free samples were then exposed to amoebas knowing that if they died, there must be something else in the samples killing them.

This proved to be successful and large amounts of Pandoravirus were spawned.

When the team studied them they found that their genetic code was twice the size of the Megavirus, which was previously the biggest virus ever found at around 440nm.

However, they were in for more of a shock as only six per cent of its genes resembled genes seen before in other organisms on Earth.

Dr Claverie told NPR: ‘We believe that those new Pandoraviruses have emerged from a new ancestral cellular type that no longer exists.’

He went on to explain that it is possible that they have come from another planet, such as Mars.

The researchers do not yet know why this cellular form became a virus but they speculate that it could have evolved as a survival strategy.

Alternatively, its unusual genome could have developed as a result of it picking up genetic material from its hosts.

The researchers say that they now expect to find more giant viruses.


Pandoravirus lives underwater and was found off the coast of Chile and in a pond in Australia.

It is thought to have emerged from a new ancestral cellular type that no longer exists.

The Megavirus, pictured, was previously thought to have been the biggest virus on Earth at 440nm
- half the size of the new Pandoravirus.

It is about one micrometre meaning it is big enough to be seen under a normal microscope.

The virus lacks the regular shape normally associated with viruses.

Its genetic code is twice the size of the Megavirus, the biggest virus previously found.

Only six per cent of its genes resemble genes seen before on Earth.

- Daily Mail.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Major Alert - Officials Tell New Zealand Residents That It's Time To Prepare For An Alpine Fault Earthquake!

July 24, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - The faultline behind the swarm of quakes in central New Zealand may be much longer than previously realised and therefore capable of larger quakes.

ALPINE FAULT: "An earthquake on the Alpine Fault in the near future would not be a big surprise."

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research is heading into Cook Strait tomorrow to map the area around the swarm of earthquakes that has been rattling Wellington and Marlborough since Friday.

It is hoped the work will identify the faultline from which the quakes have been generated.

GNS Science seismologist John Ristau said that, because the quakes appeared to be happening between the known Vernon and Needles faultlines, it seemed increasingly likely that the London Hill fault was to blame.

In 2003 a Marlborough District Council geotech report described London Hill as a one of "several relatively small faults near the east coast between Seddon and the Waima River".

Dr Ristau said it now appeared the faultline might be much longer than originally thought, which meant it could be capable of creating much larger earthquakes.

"That means it's actually considerably longer than initially thought ... the larger a faultline is, the larger the earthquake."

It was important scientists were able to determine exactly which fault the earthquake had occurred on, as it would allow them to establish whether other nearby faults could now produce large earthquakes as a result.

It appeared the level of stress had not greatly effected the other Wellington faults, but there were a few lines in the Marlborough region that were capable of creating quakes of magnitude 7 or greater.

"If they increase stress, it could trigger a similar-sized earthquake or even a much larger earthquake ... hopefully by the end of the week we'll be able to be a lot more definitive."

Niwa research ship Tangaroa was diverted from survey work in the nearby Pegasus Basin overnight and will spend part of today measuring whether the earthquakes have triggered any landslides in the Cook Strait Canyon.

"We have previously identified an area of potential instability in the middle of the canyon and this will give us the opportunity to see if there have been any changes," marine geologist Scott Nodder said.

An area crossing the earthquake epicentre will also be surveyed to see if the sea floor has changed. Dr Ristau said that mapping would help determine the faultline.

The probability of another big quake, of magnitude 6 or greater, has fallen to 4 per cent within the next day, 13 per cent in the next seven days and 33 per cent in the next year.

The probabilities would continue to fall the longer the region went without a large event, Dr Ristau said.

Aftershocks were likely to continue for about a week.


Yesterday, GNS Science seismologist Stephen Bannister said scientists could not rule out the possibility that the quakes could stir up other faults and "kick off" the Alpine Fault.

He said the biggest misconception the public had when it came to earthquakes was that small ones minimised or took "the edge off" the possibility of a large one occurring.

 However, GNS Science spokesman John Callan said the recent swarm of quakes east of Seddon was "not increasing or decreasing the risk of a quake on the Alpine Fault".

He said the quakes were too far away to affect the Alpine Fault, which stretches 600 kilometres from Milford Sound along the western Southern Alps to Marlborough and is the on-land boundary between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates.

Recent research led by GNS Science found it last ruptured 296 years ago, and it predicted a 30 per cent chance of a big quake along it in the next 50 years.

The average interval between large quakes on the fault was 330 years.

In the past 8000 years it had ruptured 24 times and caused magnitude-8 quakes, including four in the past millennium. The longest gap between major quakes was 510 years and the shortest 140 years.

"An earthquake on the Alpine Fault in the near future would not be a big surprise. Equally, it could be many decades away, based on its past behaviour," Callan said.

"There is no better time than the present to prepare for the next quake on the Alpine Fault. The more thoroughly we prepare, the lower the eventual impact will be."

He said work was under way to prepare to drill a deep borehole into the fault early next year to study processes taking place at depth inside a major plate boundary fault.

GNS Science is jointly leading the Deep Fault Drilling Project with Otago and Victoria universities, and it involved 22 organisations from eight countries.

An extensive network of seismic instruments, including six "down-hole seismometers" and about 40 surface instruments was recently installed near the planned drilling site so scientists could record the normal level of small quake activity.

The first stage was completed in 2011 with two holes drilled 101 and 105 metres into river terraces next to Gaunt Creek near Whataroa in South Westland.

West Coast tourist town Franz Josef straddled the fault ,but residents were unfazed by quakes in far away regions, such as Wellington, Franz Josef Development Society Incorporated chairman Marcel Fekkes said.

"Everyone is so used to the thing being here, we don't think about it much,'' he said.

"You can't live having fears like that really. When you think about it, the whole country is rather volatile from natural hazards."

Many Franz Josef residents have been fighting Westland District Council plan to establish fault-avoidance zones, which would impose significant restrictions on the township. Submissions closed last September, but a date for public hearings has yet to be set.


The Earthquake Commission is bracing itself for an expected flood of claims from property owners throughout the upper South Island and Wellington region.

However, the commission says the quake swarm will not affect the processing of unsettled claims in Canterbury, while Prime Minister John Key says the country can "in principle" afford another earthquake.

EQC has received more than 350 claims after the quakes centred east of Marlborough that shut down central Wellington yesterday and left nerves across the region frayed.

It is already handling 459,198 claims from the Canterbury quakes.

Commission customer services general manager Bruce Emsom said most of the claims were for minor quake damage.

He said there was sufficient cover through levies, reinsurance and the Crown guarantee to provide for all valid claims.

EQC would bring in more field staff, if required, to deal with the influx of claims, so Cantabrians still waiting for their claims to be settled should not be affected.

"There is unlikely to be any impact on processing existing claims from the Canterbury quakes," he said.

Labour's EQC spokesman, Clayton Cosgrove, said that with the commission struggling to keep up with its workload it was important the Government moved swiftly to ensure it had extra resources and personnel so that claims resulting from the Wellington quakes could be dealt with efficiently and without causing any delay to the processing of Canterbury claims.

"You don't want anyone's claim held up," he said.

"Three years into a major catastrophe like this, one would have thought EQC would be well-practised now and have the systems up to deal with this.

''You would hope the mistakes that have been made down here ... would not be replicated and they could expedite claims faster."

Meanwhile, a Christchurch City Council offer to send personnel to Wellington to help authorities assess the extent of the damage has so far not been taken up.


GNS Science seismologist Stephen Bannister said yesterday that intensive research was being carried out to pinpoint where the recent swarm of earthquakes had come from.

It was possible the recent quakes had come from a fault called the London Hill Fault, a relatively small fault near the South Island's east coast between Seddon and the Waimea River, he said.

Scientists would deploy nine extra seismic instruments in coastal Marlborough over the next few days to enable more accurate measurements of the aftershocks.

Seismologists expected to have a clear understanding of the size and geometry of the fault that ruptured on Sunday by the end of the week, along with knowledge of the level of stress change that had occurred on neighbouring faults.

Bannister said the fault the quakes were coming from had the capability to produce magnitude 7s, especially in northern Marlborough, on the Awatere and Clarence faults.

"Yesterday's earthquake may have a flow-on triggering effect to other nearby faults in the vicinity," he said.

"We're quite confident that the earthquakes are not occurring on the major fault between the Pacific and Australian plate, which we call the ‘subduction interface'."

Bannister said aftershocks could reasonably be expected to go on for days. A similar cluster of quakes that occurred just north of Seddon in 1995 had continued for about 11 days.

Probability forecasts for aftershock sequences had been "strongly tested" by the Canterbury sequence, he said.

There was a small possibility that some of the "busy network" of faults in Cook Strait could pose a tsunami threat, prompting a reminder to those near the coast that they should move to higher ground if they felt a strong earthquake shaking the ground for more than 30 seconds, he said. - Stuff.