Friday, October 25, 2013

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 7.3 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Japan - Strikes In The Vicinity Of The Crippled Fukushima Nuclear Reactor; Japan Emergency Agencies Issue Tsunami Warning For The Region!

October 25, 2013 - JAPAN - A magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit the Fukushima region of Japan Saturday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS earthquake location.

The quake hit Japan's east coast at 2:10 a.m. Tokyo time, near the crippled Fukushima nuclear site. The tremor was felt in Tokyo, some 300 miles away.

Japan's emergency agencies declared a tsunami warning for the area.

Japan's Meteorological Agency raised the tsunami warning for the area of Honshu. But the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not post warnings for the rest of the Pacific.

Residents near Honshu are being warned to evacuate from coastal or river areas immediately to high ground or tsunami evacuation buildings.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

Anyone exposed risks being caught in strong tsunami currents in the sea. Fish farming facilities could be washed away and small vessels in the water are also at risk during a tsunami advisory.

All but two of Japan's 50 reactors have been offline since the March 2011 magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami triggered multiple meltdowns and massive radiation leaks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, about 160 miles northeast of Tokyo.

About 19,000 people were killed. - FOX News.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of Japan and Vicinity.
USGS plate tectonics for the region.

The October 25, 2013 M 7.2 earthquake offshore of Honshu, Japan occurred as the result of normal faulting in the shallow oceanic crust of the Pacific plate. The earthquake occurred outboard (east) of the Japan Trench, which marks the seafloor expression of the subduction zone plate boundary between the Pacific and North America plates, and is immediately up-dip of the source region of the March 2011 M 9.0 Tohoku earthquake. At the latitude of this earthquake, the Pacific plate moves westwards with respect to the North America plate at a rate of 83 mm/yr before subducting beneath the island of Honshu. Note that some authors divide this region into several microplates that together define the relative motions between the larger Pacific, North America and Eurasia plates; these include the Okhotsk and Amur microplates that are respectively part of North America and Eurasia.

The location, depth, and focal mechanism of the October 25 2013 event are consistent with normal faulting rupture near the outer-arc high of the Japan Trench. In this region, normal faulting is encouraged by both the bending of the Pacific plate as it enters the subduction zone, and by stresses transferred from the locked subduction thrust interface to the west. Since the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake, two large events of M 7.7 and M 7.3 have occurred in the vicinity of the October 25, 2013 earthquake. The M 7.7 event, on March 11, 2011, was also a normal faulting event near the outer-arc high and occurred 95 km north of the October 25 event. The M 7.3 event, on December 7, 2012, was a more complex earthquake resulting from thrust motion near the trench 100 km to the northwest of the October 25 earthquake. Since March 2011, 10 additional events, ranging in magnitude from M 6.1-6.4, have occurred in this region east of the Japan Trench.

Japan and the surrounding islands straddle four major tectonic plates: Pacific plate; North America plate; Eurasia plate; and Philippine Sea plate. The Pacific plate is subducted into the mantle, beneath Hokkaido and northern Honshu, along the eastern margin of the Okhotsk microplate, a proposed subdivision of the North America plate. Farther south, the Pacific plate is subducted beneath volcanic islands along the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea plate. This 2,200 km-long zone of subduction of the Pacific plate is responsible for the creation of the deep offshore Ogasawara and Japan trenches as well as parallel chains of islands and volcanoes, typical of Circumpacific island arcs. Similarly, the Philippine Sea plate is itself subducting under the Eurasia plate along a zone, extending from Taiwan to southern Honshu that comprises the Ryukyu Islands and the Nansei-Shoto trench.

Subduction zones at the Japanese island arcs are geologically complex and produce numerous earthquakes from multiple sources. Deformation of the overriding plates generates shallow crustal earthquakes, whereas slip at the interface of the plates generates interplate earthquakes that extend from near the base of the trench to depths of 40 to 60 km. At greater depths, Japanese arc earthquakes occur within the subducting Pacific and Philippine Sea plates and can reach depths of nearly 700 km. Since 1900, three great earthquakes occurred off Japan and three north of Hokkaido. They are the M8.4 1933 Sanriku-oki earthquake, the M8.3 2003 Tokachi-oki earthquake, the M9.0 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the M8.4 1958 Etorofu earthquake, the M8.5 1963 Kuril earthquake, and the M8.3 1994 Shikotan earthquake. - USGS.

SOLAR WATCH: Activity On The Sun Is Intensifying - Sunspot AR1882 Erupts With A Major Solar Flare, Unleashes X1-Class Flare And Coronal Mass Ejection; Earth's Magnetic Field To Receive Glancing Blow From Three Other Prior CMEs; Could Trigger Mild Polar Geomagnetic Storms! UPDATE: Solar Flare Sparks Temporary Radio Blackout! UPDATE: Second X-Flare - X2.1 Eruption Seen By Earth-Orbiting Satellites!

October 25, 2013 - SUN - Earth's magnetic field is about to receive a glancing blow from three Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) observed leaving the Sun between October  20th and 22nd. Forecast models suggest that the three clouds merged en route to Earth, and their combined impact could trigger a mild polar geomagnetic storm on October 25. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

MAJOR SOLAR FLARE - X-FLARE ON OCTOBER 25th: Solar activity is intensifying. New sunspot AR1882, which rotated over the sun's eastern limb earlier today, promptly unleashed an X1-class solar flare, adding to a fusillade of lesser flares already underway from sunspots AR1875 and AR1877. The event was associated with Type II and Type IV sweep frequency events, along with a 10cm Radio Burst (TenFlare) lasting 24 minutes and measuring 610 solar flux units (SFU).

A major X1.7 Class solar flare was observed around new Sunspot 1882 this morning.
Image by SDO.

Attached image by SDO captured the major X1.7 solar flare centered around Sunspot 1882 this morning.

New sunspot 1882 is proving to be quite volatile. Low level M-Class flare activity continues
following the initial X-Class solar flare. Image by SDO.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded a bright flash of extreme UV radiation from the X1 flare, which peaked at 08:01 UT on October 25th.

WATCH:  X1.7 Solar Flare - October 25, 2013. 

Coronagraph data from NASA's twin STEREO probes show a CME emerging from the blast site. However, because of the sunspot's location on the sun's eastern limb, Earth is not in the CME's path.

A bright CME is now visible in the latest Lasco C2 imagery. Because of the location near the limb,
a majority of the ejected material will be directed away from Earth.

SUMMARY: 10cm Radio Burst
Begin Time: 2013 Oct 25 0757 UTC
Maximum Time: 2013 Oct 25 0758 UTC
End Time: 2013 Oct 25 0821 UTC
Duration: 24 minutes
Peak Flux: 610 sfu
Description: A 10cm radio burst indicates that the electromagnetic burst associated with a solar flare at the 10cm wavelength was double or greater than the initial 10cm radio background. This can be indicative of significant radio noise in association with a solar flare. This noise is generally short-lived but can cause interference for sensitive receivers including radar, GPS, and satellite communications.

More flares are in the offing. There are now three sunspot groups on the Earthside of the sun capable of strong eruptions: AR1875, AR1877 and AR1882.

New sunspot AR1882 is crackling with M- and X-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of M-flares and a 10% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours.

UPDATE: Solar Flare Sparks Temporary Radio Blackout!

The sun erupted with one of the strongest solar flares it can unleash early Friday, just days after firing off an intense solar storm at Earth.

The major solar flare, which registered as an X1.7-class solar event on the space weather scale, peaked at 4:01 a.m. EDT (0801 GMT), according to an alert by the NOAA-run Space Weather Prediction Center. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured video of the X1.7 solar flare, which followed several smaller sun storms over the last few days.

The sun storm erupted from a new sunspot cluster called Region 1882 and sparked a temporary radio blackout, SWPC officials said in an update. But it is not aimed directly at Earth and is not currently expected to be "geo-effective," meaning that it should not spark a major geomagnetic storms in Earth's magnetic field, they added.

Astronomers classify solar flares into three categories — C, M and X — with C being the weakest and X the strongest. When aimed directly at Earth, X-class sun eruptions can interfere with satellite-based communications and navigation systems, endanger astronauts in orbit.

That does not appear to be the case with the X1.7-class flare, according to an SWPC update, though officials are awaiting additional imagery of the solar flare to see if it was associated with a massive explosion of super-hot plasma — known as a coronal mass ejection — that can hurl solar material into space at more than 1 million mph.

Friday's X1.7 solar flare occurred just hours after a more moderate M-class solar flare and two days after an intense M9.4-class solar flare on Wednesday. That M9.4 solar flare was associated with a coronal mass ejection.

The Wednesday sun storm peaked at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Oct. 23 (0030 GMT Thursday), with NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory capturing an impressive close-up video of that solar flare. Flares similar to the one that erupted Wednesday evening have caused brief radio blackouts near the poles in the past, NASA officials said.

"Increased numbers of flares are quite common at the moment, since the sun is near solar maximum," NASA officials wrote Thursday while discussing the Oct. 23 solar flare. "Humans have tracked solar cycles continuously since they were discovered in 1843, and it is normal for there to be many flares a day during the sun's peak activity." - FOX News.

UPDATE: Second X-Flare - X2.1 Eruption Seen By Earth-Orbiting Satellites!
Earth-orbiting satellites have just detected a second X-class solar flare on Oct. 25th. The X2-class eruption at 15:07 UT followed an X1-event at 08:01 UT.

Major X2.1 solar flare centered around Sunspot 1882 at 15:03 UTC. This is now the second X-Class
solar flare around this region today.

So where does the latest solar flare rank versus the other X-Flares during the current solar cycle?
The X2.1 around sunspot 1882 comes in at number 6 on the list. 

A major X-Class solar flare is currently in progress. HF signals faded away while listening to
28 mhz (10 meters). A radio blackout is currently in progress.

Sunspot 1882 now in view off the southeast limb produced the second X-Class flare of the day. The latest major event at 15:03 UTC peaked at X2.1. A strong radio blackout was observed on the sunlit side of Earth. While listening to the 10 meter (28mhz) amateur radio band, signals went from very strong to almost nothing in a matter of minutes. Signals did start to recover after about 15 minutes.

A radio blackout was observed throughout the HF spectrum on the sunlit side of Earth.

A coronal mass ejection (CME) is likely. A 10cm radio burst (TenFlare) lasting 44 minutes and measuring 370 solar flux units was detected. A Type II radio emission with a velocity of at least 2078 km/s was associated with the event. 

A bright coronal mass ejection (CME) is now seen emerging following the X2.1 event.

Sunspot 1882 is still not in the best position for Earth directed plasma clouds, but that will
change in the days ahead as it rotates into a more direct view.

There is no reason to think this fusillade will end soon, so stay tuned for more flares.

Earth directed CME Update: A bright coronal mass ejection (CME) is now seen emerging following the X2.1 event. The expanding cloud looks to have an Earth directed component when viewing the latest Lasco C2 imagery. A geomagnetic storm could unfold once the plasma cloud sweeps past Earth in the days ahead.

WATCH: The flare and CME. 

 More updates to follow. Stay tuned.

SOURCES: Space Weather | Solar Ham | Solar Watcher.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Strong Strombolian Explosions Occur Every 5-10 Minutes At The Stromboli Volcano In Italy!

October 25, 2013 - ITALY - Activity has picked up during the past week. During a visit yesterday afternoon and evening, we observed frequent and often strong strombolian eruptions from the NW vent (Ginostra side), which had enlarged a lot since early this year.

Strrong strombolian explosion from the western vent of Stromboli (October 24th)

Explosions occurred at 5-10 minutes intervals and produced spatter-rich jets to heights to 200-300 m. Glow from the vent and weak spattering indicates that the magma column inside the western vent has risen high.

In contrast, the central vents were completely inactive and showed no glow, different from what had been observed during most of the past years.

The NE crater (Stromboli side), that had been the site of most activity until early this year, only had weaker and more infrequent (1 per half an hour, approx.) strombolian explosions and showed only weak glow in the intervals.

Stromboli, a small island north of Sicily, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and famous for its normally small, but regular explosions throwing out glowing lava from several vents inside its summit crater. This activity has been going on for at least 2000 years, as long as there is written memory of the activity, which Stromboli lended its name to, the so-called strombolian activity.

The N-most island of the Eolian Islands is famous for its spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions, that have long attracted visitors from all over the world and brought the volcano the nickname the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." Stromboli has even given its name to this kind of typical small explosions.

As long as there are historical records, Stromboli has been constantly active, which makes it almost unique among the volcanoes in the world. Most of its activity consists of brief and small bursts of glowing lava fragments to heights of 100-200 m above the craters. Occasionally, much stronger explosions or periods of more continuous activity can occur. The most violent eruptions during the past 100 years, in 1919, 1930 and on 5 April 2003, were large enough to take lives and or destroy property even at considerable range from the craters, for example inside the inhabited areas.

Apart from explosive activity, effusive eruptions with outflow of lava occur at irregular intervals ranging from a few years to decades. The most recent one began on 28 December 2002 and ended in July 2003.

Stromboli offers visitors a unique possibility to watch its eruptions. From the rim of an older crater one can stand only 150-250 m almost directly above the active craters,- a perfect viewing terrace. It should be mentioned that this is regarded as surprisingly safe as well: even though there is a small risk of being involved in a sudden, larger explosion (which happen infrequently a few times per year), and then being hit, injured or killed by an ejected bomb from the crater, the risk in terms of numbers is probably much smaller than many other risks in everyday situations. The number of accidents on Stromboli, when compared to the number of visitors at the crater over the years, is extremely small.

For hose who know and learn to love it, Stromboli is a magical place,- even not only for its volcano, but also for its unique charm, its beautiful beaches, the lush vegetation and its characteristic and unspoiled architecture.

- Volcano Discovery.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: "This Is Out Of The Ordinary" - "Fogmageddon" Grips Seattle, Spurs Amazing Photos!

October 25, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Seattle is known for it’s gray skies and rainy weather, but experts say the dense fog and temperatures in the 40s or 50s that have blanketed the city over the past several days is out of the ordinary.

Photo: Tim Durkan

Cliff Mass, a University of Washington Meteorologist writes on his blog, “I have forecast here for many decades and I can not remember a situation that is even close.”

The cause, according to Mass, is an odd combination of long-lasting high pressure, drought, and dense low clouds. In short, the high pressure on either side of the city is trapping colder air in the middle, close to the ground. The result? Fog, and lots of it.

WATCH: 'Fogmageddon' grips Seattle.

The current foggy streak is standing at seven days. According to Seattle’s that puts the current stretch in a seven-way tie for the fifth longest run in the city. The No. 1 spot goes to a 13-day streak from December of 1985. But according to local reports the current weather pattern could make a run at the record with the sun not in the forecast at least for the next several days.

Ironically the only thing that will wipe out the dreary conditions is a low pressure system; in other words a storm.

Photo: Ross Fletcher.

Photo: KIRO 7.

Photo: Monica Guzman.

Such a system is on the way but is not guaranteed to hit the city. The earliest it will get there, if at all, is sometime next week. Until then Seattle will continue to see the same gray skies and dense low clouds.

Those in and around Seattle are making the best of the extraordinary conditions and sharing on Twitter.

For those who just can't take it anymore the sun isn’t that far away, at least geographically. Mass notes in his blog that while Seattle may be under a gray blanket the sun is shining and the air is warm just an hour outside the city. - Yahoo.

EXTREME WEATHER: Australian Wildfire Update - Pilot Dies While Fighting Blazes; More Than 100 Wildfires; Over 200 Homes Destroyed; Hundreds Of Thousands Of Hectares Burnt!

October 25, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - A pilot trying to fight one of several raging Australian wildfires died when his plane crashed Thursday, in the second fatality resulting from the fires that have ripped through the nation's most populous state over the past week.

The 43-year-old man was the only person on board and was trying to drop water onto a blaze in extremely rugged terrain near Ulladulla, south of Sydney, when his plane went down, Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

A firefighter tries to control flames near houses at Bilpin, Australia on Oct. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

"He's a husband with young children and we're all acutely aware that there's a family suffering ... because their dad hasn't come home," an emotional Fitzsimmons said, pausing to compose himself. "We're also feeling for the firefighting community."

More than 100 wildfires have killed one resident and destroyed more than 200 homes in New South Wales state this month. Sixty-one fires were burning Thursday, with 23 out of control, though cooler weather had decreased the fire threat and residents who evacuated had returned to their homes.

Officials were trying to access the crash site, but the steep terrain and wind was making it difficult, New South Wales police Superintendent Joe Cassar said.

"We are trying to recover the pilot from the scene but are being challenged by weather conditions and nearby fire," Cassar told reporters in Nowra, a city near Ulladulla.

A helicopter drops water to douse a fire approaching houses in the Faulconbridge area of the Blue
Mountains of Australia on Oct. 24, 2013. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Fire officials also Thursday defended Australia's defense department after investigators revealed a military training exercise with live ordnance ignited the largest of the wildfires. The fire near the city of Lithgow, west of Sydney, has burned 47,000 hectares (180 square miles) and destroyed several houses but caused no injuries or deaths.

Fitzsimmons said the defense department's actions were obviously an accident.

"It was a side effect of a routine activity, it would appear, and clearly there was no intention to see fire start up and run as a result of that activity," Fitzsimmons said. "There is no conspiracy here."

Firefighters control flames during hazard reduction in Bilpin, 46 miles from Sydney, Australia,
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Air Marshal Mark Binskin, vice chief of the defense force, said the fire started after a demolition training activity. Defense personnel tried unsuccessfully to snuff it out and fire crews arrived within 30 minutes to help.

Binskin apologized for the fire, but noted the exercise took place on a relatively cool day in which there was no fire ban in place.

WATCH: Plane Fighting Australia Fires Crashes Killing Pilot.

"This was not deliberately starting a fire," he told reporters. "This was an accident."

Investigators are still looking into the causes of the other fires. Some were started by power lines brought down in strong winds, and at least one was likely ignited by lightning, the fire service said. A few appear to have been deliberately lit, and police have arrested several children in connection with those. - TWC.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: The "Earthquake Island" In Balochistan, Pakistan Is Now Sinking!

October 25, 2013 - PAKISTAN - A mud island from the sea off Balochistan's Gwadar port as a result of a powerful earthquake last month is now vanishing as predicted.

The island named `Earthquake Island', about 250 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake, has attracted global curiosity, but scientists had forecast that it would not last long and will disappear in couple of months, private news channel reported.

They said methane gas under the seafloor pushed up the big pile of mud. When it emerged near the port of Gwadar after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake, the island was about 70 feet high, 300 feet wide and 120 feet long.

Fresh satellite images show the island sinking in the sea up to 10 feet, with a little sand around it.

Samples collected by experts of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) are being analyzed as more facts about the island are likely to be unveiled next month. - Business Recorder.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Large Fish Kills Due To Lack Of Rain In Horbyan, Sweden?

October 25, 2013 - SWEDEN - Long, sunny, and then a beautiful autumn with unusually little rain. It punishes itself naturally. Mushroom pickers combs zero in bone-dry forests. But far worse is the very low water levels in our rivers and lakes. Last weekend was hit Hörbyån of large fish kills and seabed of the lake the lies exposed.

Drifts of dead fish were discovered last weekend in Hörbyån. Low water level in combination
with unusually large migration of fish upstream caused the oxygen in the water is not enough.

According to SMHI is the tenth year since the water level was this low in lakes and rivers. Is there a danger that the drinking water is affected?

- Urban demands are high and the water quality is checked carefully. Still, I have not heard any warning from Sydvatten that we have a good working relationship with.

How is life in the rivers?

- The biological life may be damaged and the fish do not feel good when it's low water and oxygen levels decrease. Fish Death that hit Hörbyån can take two to three years to recover.

Groundwater levels have not been this low in 20 years and is one meter below normal in some places. How does it affect us?

- Most people live in cities and municipal water. They did not notice anything. But farming with individual water and those who have their own wells may notice that the start theirs. Those animals on their farms may have to fetch water from the tank.

How much more rain must come to restore balance?

- It is impossible to say. The ground is so dry that most of the rain is absorbed directly. But it does rain very, very much for the rivers to be filled to normal flows.

- To restore the water table may take some time, depending on the surface layer. Is that sand and gravel releasing water through in just a few days. The inertial system, it can take months.

Is there a risk that the situation worse?

- No, this time of year is not much sun can cause evaporation, and at night it is very damp and then stay long. The fields are irrigated not, so what little there is in waterways may in all cases be left behind. It tends to correct itself, says Ola Gustafsson, and hope for a really rainy autumn. - HD. [Translated]