Sunday, December 1, 2013

EXTREME WEATHER: More Than 30 People Injured As Sheet Of Ice On Massachusetts Bridge Causes 70 CAR PILE-UP - Leaving Road Closed For Nearly Five Hours In Both Directions!

December 01, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Thirty people were injured this morning when an icy bridge caused a massive pile-up of 70 cars, two tractor-trailers and one box trailer in Worcester, Massachusetts.

No fatalities: There were no fatalities in the crash, but at least 30 people were bussed
off the road to be treated for minor injuries.

There were no fatalities and none of the injuries were serious, but the 6:45am accident did cause traffic to stop for hours in both directions on route 1-290. Route 1-290 eastbound wasn't reopened until 10am, followed by the westbound reopening just before noon.

As soon as we hit the bridge, I mean we came over the top and it was a sheet of ice,' driver Jill Conway told NECN. 'We saw cars every which way and tried to slow down and realized it was just total ice. I chose to go into the divider to slow down, and, you know, there was nothing I could do.'

Freezing temperatures over night caused the bridge where the crash happened to freeze over.

Pile-up: 70 cars, two tractor-trailers, and a box trailer were involved in a crash this morning when
a bridge in Worcester, Massachusetts froze over.

Trapped: Some of the cars involved in the crash were pushed underneath a tractor-trailer, shown above.

Slippery: The Massachusetts State Police has advised drivers to stay at home for
the time being due to the dangerous driving conditions.

Bridges freeze faster than roads for two reasons. One is that they are exposed on all sides to the weather, which allows heat to escape faster.

Also, most bridges are made of steel and concrete which conducts heat more than asphalt making temperatures variable.

Those injured in the crash were bussed off the highway and taken to the hospital, while some lucky enough to drive off in their own cars recalled the scary situation.

One driver says it was a 'miracle' that her family didn't get hit.

'I was trying to stop my car, but I was able to get around the tractor-trailer and stop my car and then try to just pull over because cars were kind of crashing up behind us.

WATCH: More than 30 injudred in car pile-up.

They have advised drivers to stay at home for the time being, due to the dangerous conditions on the roads.

The weather impacted other parts of central and eastern Massachusetts today.

A section of Route 9 was closed and other accidents were reported on Route 146.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation dispatched some 125 crews to treat roads in the area today. - Daily Mail.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Global Volcanism - Strong And Very Dangerous Earthquake Strikes Volcanic Region Of The Congo!

December 01, 2013 - CONGO - This is a very dangerous earthquake basically because of the combination magnitude and shallow depth. The epicenter was located in the eastern volcanic area of the DR Congo. M5.4 for a shallow quake is damaging level in this area of the world.

As the distance to major towns is rather big (also to Rwanda and Burundi), the earthquake may not have been felt so far (no mentions from this otherwise very communicative area). Smaller villages and settlements (Like Bikule and Mukingiti, only a few km from the epicenter are however at risk.

The epicenter is also Gorilla nature area (Maiko National Park) and has a number of dormant volcanoes in the area. More to the east are some active volcanoes. This is also a location where rebels are fighting the army, this already for many years and with very cruel atrocities going on (HRW reports).

Even if some damage has been inflicted, we will probably never know it, as the area is highly unsafe with almost no press present. We will however scan reports from the area to get some more information, eventually from environmentalists and conservationists (gorillas). - Earthquake Report.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Catania Airport Reopens In Italy After Another Eruption From Mount Etna!

December 01, 2013 - ITALY - The eastern Sicilian city of Catania’s Fontanarossa airport reopened on Friday after Mount Etna’s recent eruption halted flights there in recent days, the airport said.

Following a quiet summer, Europe’s most active volcano spewed molten lava up thousands of feet high as thick ash clouds spread for miles around.

Officials said no serious damage has been caused by the eruption, which caused Etna to produce rare series of perfect steam rings.

A dark cloud of tiny rock fragments spread over the island leaving cars, road and beaches covered in a thick black layer earlier this month.

Etna’s last major eruption was in 1992 but it has regular smaller ones. - Adnkronos.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Eastern Indonesia!

December 01, 2013 - INDONESIA - A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit eastern Indonesia on Sunday but there was no tsunami alert, seismologists said.

USGS earthquake location.

The quake struck at 10:24am local time (0124 GMT), 351 kilometers (217 miles) east-northeast of the East Timor capital Dili at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue any alerts following the tremor in the remote region at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago between the islands of Timor and New Guinea. In an initial assessment, the USGS said there was a low likelihood of damage or casualties.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. A 6.1-magnitude quake that struck Aceh province on Sumatra Island in July killed at least 35 people and left thousands homeless. - Channel News Asia.

Tectonic Summary - 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.