Monday, January 20, 2014

RATTLE & HUM: Another Mysterious Boom Heard Sunday Over Parts of Central Virginia - Loud Explosive-Type Sound Heard Since Mid-December?!

January 20, 2014 - UNITED STATES - CBS 6 News received a number of reports Sunday afternoon about another loud boom heard in parts of Central Virginia.

Ky's mum posted on the CBS 6 Facebook page that she heard the blast just after 4 p.m. at her home near the Colonial Heights-Chester line.

"This time it shook the house!" she wrote.

Ruth J Perry also posted on the CBS 6 Facebook page that she heard a "loud, explosion-type sound" on Chesterfield County's southside.

Diana Penn, who said this is the third boom she has heard this month, said the latest one at 4:10 p.m. was the closest one she has felt.

In fact, Penn said the first two blasts were from the southwest. She said Sunday's boom sounded closer - as if it was from the southeast and did not have the telltale rumble sound afterward,.

The latest boom was heard on the southside of Chesterfield County, Prince George, Ettrick, Matoaca and the Shepherd Stadium, Sherwood Hills and Tussing neighborhoods in Colonial Heights, according to social media reports.
@SarahNSimmons @CBS6 heard in Prince George too. @SAOSam -
Diana R. Penn (@drpenn) January 19, 2014
This comes after CBS 6 received hundreds of tips earlier this month after our first story aired about mysterious booms heard in parts of Central Virginia.

During that incident, which happened on Sunday, Jan. 5, Sgt. Rob Ruxer with Colonial Heights police said dispatchers received at least three calls just before 5:30 p.m. from citizens in separate areas of the city about a loud noise.

Officials have not been able to tie the booms to one specific area, but they have been reported since mid-December.

CBS 6 News checked area surveillance cameras earlier this month and could not find sign of the boom.

Colonial Heights Fire Chief A.G. Moore told CBS 6 News senior reporter Wayne Covil that his department did not have any additional leads about where the noises are coming from or what is causing them.

CBS 6 News has determined the booms are not coming from Fort Lee or Fort Picket. It was not the rock quarry in Dinwiddie or Chesterfield. Additionally, it was not a transformer explosion or a sonic boom. - WTVR.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Global Volcano Report For January 20, 2014 - Updates On Sinabung, Karymsky, Shiveluch And Aso!

January 20, 2014 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): Aris Yanto (NdesoAdventures) who is currently on location sent us some impressions from the activity at Sinabung volcanotaken during 16-20 Jan 2014.

Small pyroclastic flow(about 700 m long) with ash plume rising about 1 km. Sinabung volcano, Sumatra.
Sinabung's lava dome early on 20 Jan 2014 (Photo: Aris)

As of today, after a few days of relative calm with only rockfalls but no significant pyroclastic flows, activity has picked up again and the volcano produced a few small to medium-sized pyroclastic flows. Ash plumes were reported to reach a maximum of approx. 20,000 ft (6 km) altitude.

Karymsky (Kamchatka): The volcano continues to produce sporadic strombolian and small vulcanian explosions. VAAC Tokyo reported a small ash plume yesterday at 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude.

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): The volcano has been a bit calmer over the past days with no significant explosions / ash emissions from the (active) dome reported. Most of the time, the volcano is covered in clouds, but occasional views show intense degassing.

Steaming from Shiveluch's lava dome yesterday.

Aso (Kyushu): Activity at the volcano has decreased although the Nakadake crater with its 2 active vents continues to emit an abundant steam plume, mixed perhaps sometimes with dilute ash. Glow can no longer be seen at night, or at least it has become extremely weak.

Steaming Nakadake crater, Aso volcano (Japan)

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for January 20, 2014.

- Volcano Discovery.

PROTESTS & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Pandemonium In The Ukraine - Violent Protests In Kiev Enters Second Day; Tear Gas, Grenades, Molotov Used In Clashes Between Police And Protesters!

January 20, 2014 - UKRAINE - Ukrainian police have used tear gas and stun grenades after pro-EU protesters began throwing Molotov cocktails at officers. The clashes followed violence at the protests in the country’s capital, Kiev, on the previous day.

AFP Photo / Volodymyr Shuvayev

The protesters climbed atop the main gate of the Dynamo football stadium, using it as a strongpoint to bombard the police’s special forces with Molotov cocktails.

The officers, who were trying to prevent protesters from entering the governmental offices district, were forced to retreat, RIA Novosti news agency reports.

Fire brigade teams have arrived at Kiev’s European Square to put out fires, burning riot police shields and officers’ uniforms.

WATCH:  Ukraine Pandemonium - Violent Protests In Kiev.

The demonstrators have delivered gasoline canisters and empty bottles to make more Molotov cocktails.

The police opted for tear gas and stun grenades in order to contain the rioting crowd, which local media estimate at around 2,000.

RT’s cameraman was caught in the stand-off as he got hit in the back with a rubber bullet fired by police, Aleksey Yaroshevsky reports. The cameraman was not injured.

Protesters hold Molotov cocktails during clashes with the police in the centre of Kiev on January 20, 2014.
(AFP PHhoto / Sergei Supinsky)

Protesters clash with riot police on January 19, 2014 during an opposition rally in the centre of the Ukrainian
capital Kiev in a show of defiance against strict new curbs on protests. (AFP Photo / Genya Savilov)

A cameraman of Ukraine's ICTV channel was hit with a bullet in the eye, however. Yaroshevsky reports that doctors say he might partially lose his sight.

The protesters meanwhile built a wooden catapult on European Square. The 3-meter-tall ballistic device was put to use with a shot fired in the direction of the police. The projectile flew less than 10 meters, however, and no casualties were reported.

The protesters and the police are separated from each other by a convoy of Interior Ministry vehicles, which were burnt by the protesters on Sunday, becoming a symbolic dividing line between the sides.

Pro-European integration protesters hide behind shields during clashes with Ukranian riot police
in Kiev January 19, 2014. (Reuters / Gleb Garanich)

Ukrainian riot police reacts after being hit by a petrol bomb during clashes with pro-European integration
protesters in Kiev January 19, 2014. (Reuters / Stringer)

The Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, agreed to start dialogue with the opposition and ordered that a group of negotiators be formed from the government. But the leader himself reportedly has no plans of participating in the talks.

On Monday evening, the representatives of government and opposition have held a meeting to try to finding a solution to the political crisis in Ukraine, Anna German from ruling Party of Regions told loval UNN news agency.

More than 100 people sought medical assistance from doctors after the first day of violence on Sunday, with 61 police officers picking up injuries during the riot. Over 30 people were detained.

The clashes in Kiev erupted after a massive rally held in Independence Square on Sunday, where protesters spoke out against the set of laws adopted by the Ukrainian government last week.

The new legislation toughens responsibility for participation in mass protests, restricts access to Internet websites involved in distribution of illegal information and introduces criminal punishment for libel and defamation of war memorials.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has urged the international community to condemn radical actions of the protesters, which led to massive clashes in the center of the country’s capital.

Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko (C) reacts after he was sprayed with a powder fire extinguisher during
a pro-European integration rally in Kiev January 19, 2014 (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

The initially peaceful rally was marred by “radicals resorting to illegal actions, which required an appropriate law enforcement response,” the ministry said in a statement.

The situation in Ukraine has been tense since November 21, when the authorities suspended preparations for the signing of an association agreement with the EU. - RT.

ICE AGE NOW: Polar Vortex To Reinforce Extremes - Causing Frigid Cold To Intensify In The U.S. Midwest And East, And Drought To Build In California And The West; As Arctic Air Threatens Ice Build-Up On Niagara Falls!

January 20, 2014 - NORTH AMERICA - The polar vortex will get stronger and move farther south later in January, causing cold to intensify in the Midwest and East and drought to build in California and the West.

As the pattern responsible for rounds of nuisance snow and waves of cold air continues into next week, indications are that bitterly cold air will return later in the month courtesy of the polar vortex.

There is the chance the cold may rival that of early January in some areas.

Impact from the new surge of very cold air may include the already familiar risks from below-zero temperatures including life-threatening conditions and frostbite. The cold may be intense enough to cause school closings, frozen pipes and water main breaks. Heating systems may struggle to keep up, people will spend more money keeping their homes and businesses warm and ice will again build up on area rivers. Where the cold is accompanied by snow, travel delays are likely.

A piece of the polar vortex will continue to hover around Hudson Bay and northern Quebec, Canada, into next week.

In this position, the vortex will continue to act like a giant pinwheel producing a series of weak storms with spotty snow and flurries, as well as brief waves of moderately cold air over southern Canada and the North Central and Eastern United States.

However, during the third and fourth weeks of January, some changes will take place. The high amplitude pattern is forecast to get more extreme. The polar vortex will move farther south and get stronger. The pattern will gradually change the current mixture of Pacific and Arctic air in the Canada Prairies and the North Central U.S. to all Arctic air. The air will get significantly colder over the Canada Prairies and the much of the eastern half of the nation as a result.

West Impact

Storms from the Pacific Ocean will be blocked from rolling onshore along the West coast.

Warmth in much of the West now will continue, with virtually no chance of rain and probably no snow for the Sierra Nevada in California. Above-average warmth in Alaska will likely get more extreme.

Air stagnation and fog may become more of a problem in parts of the West. As the drought builds, the risk of wildfires will continue and may get worse.

East Impact

The pattern has the potential to produce days of near- to below-zero cold from the northern Plains to parts of the Midwest, more lasting cold in the Northeast and noteworthy episodes of cold over the interior South.

Since the path of the bitterly cold air will be first directed over the North Central states, the cold will not be quite as severe by the time it reaches the Northeast, similar to that of early January.

Prior to and during the main push of the coldest air later in the month in the East, there may be a large storm or two.

According to Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno, "We could have a storm slice out of the South Central states and into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast that puts down snow."

Any deep snow cover that occurs could make the cold more severe. Deep snow acts as an insulator to the warming effects of the ground.

"If there is no big snow ahead of the cold in the East, it may take more of the extreme out of the cold," Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity explained.

The new invasion of frigid air will produce lake-effect snow downwind of areas of open water. While much of Lake Erie has frozen over, most of the other Great Lakes are still open. Some areas immediately downwind of Lake Erie may get colder with this outbreak, compared to the last as a result.

If it is any comfort, during the frigid weather forecast, the daylight will be a bit longer, when compared to just past New Year's Day. However, the few extra minutes of daylight will have minimal effect on the air mass that could rival the early January visit from the polar vortex.

Arctic Air Threatens Ice Build-Up On Niagara Falls
Polish tourist Waldek Kubicki, 29, is seen on an iced-over rock formation near the edge of Niagara Falls
Saturday, Feb. 10, 2007, in Niagara Falls, N.Y. (AP Photo/Eileen Koteras Elibol)

Another surge of arctic air toward the end of the month could disrupt the picturesque Niagara Falls once again, bringing the threat of more ice jams.

In early January, the polar vortex brought below-normal temperatures, snarling the flow of water at the tourist attraction and creating significant ice build-up. When a thaw arrived a week later, the melting ice broke up and floated downstream resulting in ice jams.

Like the jams that formed in early January, the ice jams at the end of the month are not expected to create significant problems, as they were capable of in the mid-1800s.

On March 29, 1848, a massive ice jam reduced the mighty Niagara Falls to a trickle, a rare phenomenon that lasted for nearly 40 hours.

The ice jam developed as strong winds blew chunks of ice from Lake Erie into the Niagara River's entrance near Buffalo, blocking the flow of water to Niagara Falls.

Residents first noticed the eerie silence of barely any water rushing over Niagara Falls during the evening of March 29.

In the hours that followed, a report from the New York State Assembly states that people were able to retrieve guns, bayonets and tomahawks--all artifacts from the War of 1812--77 from the exposed river bed.

Some crew members of the famous "Maid of the Mist" used this time to blast away rocks that had created navigation hazards.

Nearby mills and factory machines, which used power generated from the Falls, had to be shut down.

Normalcy around Niagara Falls finally resumed during the night of March 31, when the ice jam broke free and water once again started roaring over the Falls. - AccuWeather.

DELUGE: Endless Rainfall - Flooding Leaves Major Road Damage In Canoe Pond, St. Mary, Jamaica!

January 20, 2014 - JAMAICA - A third day of rainfall in the community of Canoe Pond, St. Mary has left major road damage in the area due to floods.

Residents in the area stated that a drain built rebuilt in the area could not hold the volume of water which swept through the area, and they are reporting that the road is completely gone. The rains which has been triggered by a Stationary Front over Jamaica, has prompted the Meteorological Service of Jamaica to issue a Flash Flood Warning for low lying and flood prone areas in St. Mary and Portland.

According to the Met Service, the forecast is for unstable weather conditions to continue across northern parishes including Portland and St.Mary. A significant decrease in rainfall is expected this evening into tonight as the frontal system moves away from the island. - OG.NR.

Sections of Port Maria, Galina and Oracabessa in St Mary have experienced flooding following heavy rains in the parish over the weekend.

Several students from the Ocho Rios area attending school in St Mary returned home Monday morning after learning that the areas have been flooded.

Several motorists including taxi operators have refused to traverse the flooded areas. - Jamaica Observer.

A flash flood watch is in effect for low-lying areas of Portland and St Mary.

This means flooding has been reported or will occur shortly.

The Met Service says motorists and pedestrians should not attempt to cross flooded roadways or other low-lying areas as strong currents are likely.

Residents in low-lying areas should be on the alert for rising waters and be ready to move quickly to higher ground.

According to the Met Service, a Stationary Front currently across Jamaica, is producing showers across sections of northern parishes.

Satellite imagery and radar observations indicate that moderate to heavy showers have affected mainly coastal areas of northeastern and north central parishes.

The forecast is for unstable weather conditions to continue across northern parishes especially Portland and St Mary.

The Met Service says a significant decrease in rainfall is expected this evening into tonight as the frontal system moves away from Jamaica. - Jamaica Gleaner.

MONUMENTAL GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: "We Have Passed The Tipping Point" - Massive Antarctic Glacier Uncontrollably Retreating, Study Suggests; Covers OVER 2 MILLION Square Kilometers; The Collapse Of The Entire Ice Sheet Would Raise Global Sea Level By 16 FEET!!

January 20, 2014 - ANTARCTICA - The glacier that contributes more to sea level rise than any other glacier on Antarctica has hit a tipping point of uncontrollable retreat, and could largely collapse within the span of decades, a new study suggests.

A NASA satellite image snapped Nov. 13, 2013, shows open water between Pine Island Glacier and its massive iceberg. 
NASA Modis

Pine Island Glacier accounts for about 20 percent of the total ice flow on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet — an amalgam of glaciers that covers roughly 800,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers) and makes up about 10 percent of the total ice on Antarctica. Many researchers think that, given the size of Pine Island Glacier, its demise could have a domino effect on surrounding glaciers and ultimately — over the course of many years — lead to the collapse of the entire ice sheet, which would raise average global sea level by between 10 and 16 feet (3 and 5 meters).

The glacier is not only massive, but also one of the least stable of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet ice flows. In the past 40 years, its melting rate has accelerated due to relatively warm ocean currents that have seeped underneath its base and lubricated its flow seaward. As it slips into the ocean, the glacier's ice shelf — the part that floats on water and extends beyond the glacier's base — disintegrates through a natural process called calving, exposing yet more of the glacier to warm waters. Last year, an iceberg larger than the city of Chicago broke off into the surrounding Amundsen Sea.

'We have passed the tipping point'Many researchers have tried to predict the future behavior of this important glacier using mathematical models but, given the complicated nature of glacial dynamics, all of these attempts have been limited and prone to error. Precipitation, wind patterns, atmospheric temperatures, oceanic currents and the shape of bedrock underneath the glacier are only some of the numerous factors that control glacial growth and retreat. Models predicting glacial behavior are therefore very complicated and always prone to some degree of error.

Researchers based at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Grenoble have now developed state-of-the-art models that, while still limited, provide the best estimates yet of the future behavior of Pine Island Glacier, they say. The team has found that the glacier's grounding line — the point where glacier and its ice shelf meet — is about to retreat over an oceanic trench that would increase the amount of water that seeps underneath and melts the glacier. Their models suggest that this would cause the glacier to uncontrollably retreat about 25 miles (40 kilometers) over the next several decades, potentially raising global sea levels by more than 0.4 inches (1 centimeter).

Retreat may slow once the glacier passes the trench, the researchers report, but it will not likely regain stability or enter a positive-growth phase.

"Whatever it will do, we are already engaged in a big change," study co-author Gael Durand told LiveScience. "We have passed the tipping point."

Uncertainties remainEric Steig, a glacial geologist at the University of Washington who also studies Pine Island Glacier but was not involved in this study, thinks the study provides the best models yet of this particular glacier's dynamics. Still, he points out that the models make the assumption that melting rates will increase in the near future and that, while this is likely, it is not necessarily a given.

Last month, Steig and colleagues published a paper in the journal Science reporting that Pine Island Glacier's retreat slowed significantly in 2012 due to oceanographic changes related to La Niña. While this seems to have been an anomalous event, Steig says that the 40 years of data gathered on the glacier may not be enough to make accurate predictions about its future behavior, and about what is normal or anomalous for its flow.

"I actually think it's a good assumption that the melt rate will stay high," Steig told LiveScience. "But my confidence that that is right is extremely low and the reason that it is low is that it depends strongly on what happens elsewhere."

For example, La Niña — a weather pattern related to El Niño that brings cold-water masses up the coast of South America, into the central equatorial Pacific, and eventually along the coast of Antarctica — originates as far away as the equatorial tropics, and has a significant impact on the behavior of the glacier. Future work will need to take these distant global factors into account in predicting the behavior of the glacier.

Still, despite these shortcomings, Durand is convinced the glacier has little chance of regaining stability.

"We showed that it will need a very large decrease of the melting condition below the ice shelf and that the oceanographic conditions would need to be much colder than it was before it started its retreat [to maintain stability]," Durand said. "What will come next is an open question, but to recover to its 1990s position is unlikely."

The study findings were detailed earlier this month in the journal Nature Climate Change. - NBC News.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Mega Default In China Scheduled For January 31 - The World's Largest Bank By Assets Will Not Be Able To Compensate Investors!

January 20, 2014 - CHINA - On Friday, Chinese state media reported that China Credit Trust Co. warned investors that they may not be repaid when one of its wealth management products matures on January 31, the first day of the Year of the Horse.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China sold the China Credit Trust product to its customers in inland Shanxi province. This bank, the world’s largest by assets, on Thursday suggested it will not compensate investors, stating in a phone interview with Reuters that “a situation completely does not exist in which ICBC will assume the main responsibility.”

There should be no mystery why this investment, known as “2010 China Credit-Credit Equals Gold #1 Collective Trust Product,” is on the verge of default. China Credit Trust loaned the proceeds from sales of the 3.03 billion-yuan ($496.2 million) product to unlisted Shanxi Zhenfu Energy Group, a coal miner. The coal company probably is paying something like 12% for the money because Credit Equals Gold promised a 10% annual return to investors—more than three times current bank deposit rates—and China Credit Trust undoubtedly took a hefty cut of the interest.

Zhenfu was undoubtedly desperate for money. One of its vice chairmen was arrested in May 2012 for taking deposits without a banking license, undoubtedly trying to raise funds through unconventional channels. In any event, the company was permitted to borrow long after it should have been stopped—reports indicate that it had accumulated 5.9 billion yuan in obligations. Zhenfu, according to one Chinese newspaper account, has already been declared bankrupt with assets of less than 500 million yuan.

The Credit Equals Gold product is not the first troubled WMP, as these investments are known, to risk nonpayment, but Chinese officials have always managed to make investors whole. CITIC Trust did that in 2013 on a steel-loan product in Hubei province, and a mysterious third-party guarantee rescued a Hua Xia Bank WMP. An investment marketed by ICBC’s Suzhou branch was similarly repaid.

There has never been a default—other than one of timing—of a WMP, so the Credit Equals Gold product could be the first. If it is, it will edge out the WMP that invested in loans to Liansheng Resources Group, another Shanxi coal miner. Jilin Trust packaged Liansheng’s loans into a wealth management product sold by China Construction Bank , the country’s second-largest lender by assets, to its customers. Liansheng is in bankruptcy, and it looks like the WMP holders will not be repaid in full.

A WMP default, whether relating to Liansheng or Zhenfu, could devastate the Chinese banking system and the larger economy as well. In short, China’s growth since the end of 2008 has been dependent on ultra-loose credit first channeled through state banks, like ICBC and Construction Bank, and then through the WMPs, which permitted the state banks to avoid credit risk. Any disruption in the flow of cash from investors to dodgy borrowers through WMPs would rock China with sky-high interest rates or a precipitous plunge in credit, probably both. The result? The best outcome would be decades of misery, what we saw in Japan after its bubble burst in the early 1990s.

Most analysts don’t worry about a WMP default. Their argument is that the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, is encouraging a failure of the Zhenfu product to teach investors to appreciate risk and such lesson will improve the allocation of credit nationwide. Furthermore, they reason the central authorities would never allow a default to threaten the system.

Observers make the logical argument that “to have a market meltdown, you have to have a market” and China does not have one. Instead, Beijing technocrats dictate outcomes.

That’s correct, but that is also why China is now heading to catastrophic failure. Because Chinese leaders have the power to prevent corrections, they do so. Because they do so, the underlying imbalances become larger. Because the underlying imbalances become larger, the inevitable corrections are severe. Downturns, which Beijing hates, are essential, allowing adjustments to be made while they are still relatively minor. The last year-on-year contraction in China’s gross domestic product, according to the official National Bureau of Statistics, occurred in 1976, the year Mao Zedong died.

Why will China’s next correction be historic in its severity? Because Chinese leaders will prevent adjustments until they no longer have the ability to do so. When they no longer have that ability, their system will simply fail. Then, there will be nothing they can do to prevent the freefall.

We are almost at that critical point, as events last June and December demonstrate. The PBOC did not try to tighten credit as analysts said in June and December; it simply did not add liquidity. The failure to add liquidity caused interbank rates to soar and banks to default on their interbank obligations. In the face of the resulting crises, the central bank backed down both times, injecting more money into state banks and the economy. So Chinese leaders showed us twice last year that they now have no ability—or no will—to deal with the most important issue they face, the out-of-control creation of debt.

There are rumors that local authorities in Shanxi will either find cash so that Liansheng can pay back its loans or force institutions to roll over the WMP marketed by Jilin Trust. Similarly, there are suggestions that ICBC, despite its we’re-not-responsible statement, will produce dough for the Credit Equals Gold investors. Others say China Credit Trust, China’s third-largest such group as measured by assets, will repay investors in part. Repayment will avoid an historic default and postpone a reckoning. In all probability, authorities will be able to get past Zhenfu if they try to do so.

Even if Beijing makes sure there is no default on January 31, we should not feel relief. Just as Zhenfu followed Liansheng, there will be another WMP borrower on the edge of disaster after Zhenfu. And there are many Lianshengs and Zhenfus out there. There may have been 11 trillion yuan in WMPs at the end of last year.

And at the same time China’s money supply and credit are still expanding. Last year, the closely watched M2 increased by only 13.6%, down from 2012’s 13.8% growth. Optimists say China is getting its credit addiction under control, but that’s not correct. In fact, credit expanded by at least 20% last year as money poured into new channels not measured by traditional statistics. That appears to be in excess of credit expansion in 2012.

Even if credit expansion slowed last year, Silvercrest Asset Management’s Patrick Chovanec tells us why we should be concerned. As he wrote today, “Looking purely at the decline in the year-on-year rate of credit expansion is kind of like arguing that if I chase my shot of vodka with a pint of beer, I’m actually exercising moderation because the alcohol proof level of my drinks is falling.” - Forbes.

MASS FISH/BIRD/ANIMAL DIE-OFF: The Latest Incidents In Asia - Hundreds Of Turtles Wash Ashore Dead Along The East Coast Of India; Large Die-Off Of Fish In A River In Qinhuai, China; Over 80,000 Ducks And Chickens Killed Due To Avian Flu In North Jeolla Province, South Korea; Large Die-Off Of Shrimp "Due To Disease" In Ernakulam, India; 20,000 Fish Found Dead Off The Coast Of Mati, Philippines; 1,000 Ducks Found Dead In A Reservoir In North Jeolla Province, South Korea; And Tons Of Fish Found Dead In The "Worst Fish Kill Ever" In A River In Mindanao, Philippines!

January 20, 2014 - ASIA - The following constitutes the latest incidents of mass animal, bird and fish die-offs across Asia:

Hundreds Of Turtles Wash Ashore Dead Along The East Coast Of India.
Close to 155 turtles have been reported dead since December. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

An alarmingly high number of Olive Ridley turtles seem to have died on the southern and northern parts of the east coast this season.

Supraja Dharini of TREE Foundation, an organisation involved in Olive Ridley conservation, said that nearly 155 turtles have been reported dead on the stretch between Napier Bridge and Marakkanam since the beginning of this season in December.

During the entire nesting season (December to March) last year, the total deaths were not more than 190, she said.

Ms. Dharini said in the northern part of the east coast, in the Nellore area, the number of turtle deaths had already touched 300 since the beginning of the new year. Last year, during the corresponding period, only 96 turtles had died.

The use of wide-mesh net by trawlers is one of the main reasons for the increase in the casualty of sea turtles. Another major reason is the use of banned Ray Fish nets, which also lead to deaths.

Ms. Dharini said many fishing trawlers from Tamil Nadu with wide-mesh nets were fishing in the waters around Nellore. When fishing takes place within five kilometres from a high tide, turtles that come to lay eggs, get entangled, drown and die, she said.
Device demonstration

Ms. Dharini said the State fisheries department and wildlife officials have given their consent for the demonstration of a turtle excluding device to be fitted on all nets used by trawlers. TREE Foundation will soon hold a demonstration for the benefit of fishermen. The device will help decrease the deaths of Olive Ridleys, she said. - The Hindu.

Large Die-Off Of Fish In A River In Qinhuai, China.
The streets within Jurong River is heavily polluted river, to make fifty-six km range of a large number
of dead fish poisoning rotten shrimp waters appear. (Network Pictures)

Recently, according to an enthusiastic audience broke continent, about two days ago, the streets of the territory in Jiangning Chun Jurong River is heavily polluted river, To make fifty-six km range a lot poisoning the waters appear dead rotten shrimp. According to nearby residents said that at present most of the dead fish have been surrounding residents salvage or enter the market . 

According to mainland media reports, at present, in addition to Nanjing Jiangning, Zhenjiang Jurong territory have thirty-four kilometers contaminated waters. There are local residents, said sources from the junction of Jurong Jiangning and a world of human sewage waste-water treatment chemical company.  According to earth person responsible chemical company, said the company had been punished because of substandard sewage, but the company has improved. However, only a sewer is approved legally established, the other remains to be investigated. And the company claims that have been discontinued since January 9 this year. But reporters that until yesterday afternoon (January 16) issued by the roar of the machine is still in the factory.  Currently, fish deaths of more serious is the Jiangning Chun Street democratic community, the river has some black color and emit a pungent stench.

You can see a lot of little shining white carp floating in the water, and some have become dried fish float to shore. According to local residents, said most of these fish are not in captivity, but about two days ago, Jurong River comes from the north.  After hearing the news, many people are now dead fish have been running out fishing. On January 15, next to the village it has been recovered 700 kg. You can also see the number of live giant sheets of professional fishing nets, according to local residents, said the toxic fish harvesters are known, they should not eat, not to sell directly in the market, is sold to the fishmonger, and these are likely fishmonger The fish sold Jiangning Dongshan, even the Nanjing market.  Jurong EPA believes that this is a criminal case together with the environmental pollution caused by human activity, has been transferred to public security organs. - NTD TV. [Translated]

Over 80,000 Ducks And Chickens Killed Due To Avian Flu In North Jeolla Province, South Korea.

South Korea stepped up the culling of poultry and enforced strict quarantine measures Saturday to stop the country's first outbreak of bird flu in three years from spreading, officials said.Some 21,000 ducks on a poultry farm in Gochang in North Jeolla Province - 300 kilometers (187 miles) Southwest of Seoul - were culled after avian influenza was found there, the agriculture ministry said, Voice of Russia reported."Testing showed it was confirmed as H5N1 avian flu," Kwong Jae-Hwan, a senior ministry official, told reporters on Saturday. Ducks were found on Friday to have been infected with a highly pathogenic form of avian influenza and a tight sanitary cordon has been established around the farm.The culling of 60,000 ducks at nearby farms has also begun and a probe into the deaths of about 1,000 migratory birds in a reservoir in Gochang has been opened, the ministry added.Quarantine measures were also enforced at 24 other farms in four different provinces that were known to have purchased ducks from the Gochang farm.The last outbreak in South Korea occurred in 2011, when more than six million poultry were culled at more than 280 farms across the country. - FARS News Agency.

Large Die-Off Of Shrimp "Due To Disease" In Ernakulam, India.

Shrimp farms in Ernakulam district are witnessing an outbreak of the contagious White Spot Syndrome (WSS), putting farmers in a fix.  Exports as well as domestic markets earn top dollars for shrimp farmers and the spread of WSS and the resultant death of shrimp in large numbers have created panic among farmers. The spread of WSS was first spotted in 40-50 day old shrimp of ‘Kara’ breed in Paravoor, Kottuvalli, Varappuzha and Ezhikkara regions.  Fully grown shrimp of Kara breed fetches Rs 500-800 in market depending on the count. Fearing the outbreak of WSS, farmers are now bringing even shrimp, which are not yet fully grown, to the market, but they are unable to attract even one-third of the normal market rate. Unless they are fully-grown, shrimp cannot be exported also, putting farmers in a dilemma.

The outbreak of WSS was first revealed after the examination of the shrimp samples conducted at Panangad Fisheries College under the aegis of Kerala Aqua Farmers Federation. There are no effective preventive measures to check the outbreak of WSS  Further examination of shrimp samples revealed the outbreak of the virus in farms located in southern regions of Thrippunithara, Kumbalangi and Chellanam, Kerala Aqua Farmers Federation State Secretary K X Sebastian said.  Shrimp affected by WSS will have a mixture of red and yellow colours and will float en masse to the periphery of the farms and  drop dead within 24 hours. To prevent the spread of WSS to other shrimp in the farms, farmers are now trying to remove the dead shrimp from the farms.

Farmers had earlier avoided routing lake water in some shrimp farms fearing that shrimp from lakes were spreading the outbreak, but WSS outbreak has spread in such farms also.  Shrimp for farming is provided to farmers through the Agency for Development of Aquaculture (ADAC). ADAC authorities claim that shrimp is thoroughly checked before distribution to ensure that it doesn’t have any contagious diseases. But detection of WSS in the present lot of shrimp provided by ADAC has disproved such claims.  Farmers who apply are provided shrimp free of cost. The government also bears a huge sum as insurance to protect the shrimp farmers. But shrimp farmers who claim insurance are sent back citing various technicalities. The Kerala Aqua Farmers Federation plans to approach the District Deputy Director against this. - Manorama Online.

20,000 Fish Found Dead Off The Coast Of Mati, Philippines.

Incidents of fishkill were reported in Mati City days after torrential rains were spawned by the low pressure area that has now become Tropical Depression Agaton, leading to flooding and excessive runoff from nearshore areas.  The fish die-off incidents happened off Purok Guang-guang along Pujada Bay, where fish cages are located.  About 20,000 fish reportedly died in the area.  Authorities from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the fishkill could be related to the weather condition affecting the city since last week.  BFAR 11 Director Fatma Idris said a huge volume of fresh water coming from land to the sea could have affected the salinity and the water temperature of Pujada Bay that killed the fish population, especially the juveniles.  Idris said government technicians have taken samples for analysis to determine the exact cause of the fishkill.  Local authorities, meanwhile, advised the people not to eat the fish as this could be harmful.  Mati City Mayor Carlo Rabat met with BFAR officials to discuss ways of helping the affected fishermen with their livelihood. - Solar News.

1,000 Ducks Found Dead In A Reservoir In North Jeolla Province, South Korea.
Health authorities opened an investigation Saturday to determine what killed about 1,000 ducks in a southern county recently hit by an outbreak of avian influenza (AI).The Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency found the flock of migratory birds dead in a reservoir in North Jeolla Province a day earlier and began an investigation to confirm a possible link to AI, according to the provincial government.The investigation comes after bird flu was confirmed in thousands of ducks at a duck farm in Gochang, a nearby village in the same province.It was the first case of AI since May 2011 in South Korea. More than 3 million poultry were slaughtered at the time in connection with the virus.If AI is confirmed, it would be the first case of the virus in migratory birds in South Korea, authorities said, adding that such a result would have major ramifications.

Another flock of farm ducks is likely to have been infected with a highly virulent strain of the bird flu in the same region, the agriculture ministry also said, adding that it is investigating for a possible link to the other cases.The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs ordered a cull of some 6,500 farm ducks in North Jeolla Province's Buan village as part of preventive measures, a ministry official said."An investigation is under way to find a possible connection among the infection cases in Gochang and Buan farms and in the wild," the official said, hinting at the possibility that the AI-infected wild ducks spread the virus while flying over duck farms in the region.The ministry will set up some 150 disinfection and quarantine posts in the region to prevent further infection, the official said. - Global Post.

Tons Of Fish Found Dead In The "Worst Fish Kill Ever" In A River In Mindanao, Philippines.
Nitrite ammonia was found in the three water sampling that the Regional Health Fish Laboratory of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Northern Mindanao conducted on Monday after a fish kill occurred in the river of Barangay Agusan on January 11.  Rey Hojas, lab analyst of BFAR, said the river water contained high amounts of nitrite ammonia.  He added that the chemicals can bring stress to the fishes that could have caused the fish kill.  “It is possible that the nitrite ammonia came from agricultural runoff,” said Hojas adding the chemical was drained into the river.  He furthered that possibly the nitrite ammonia came from pesticides and fertilizers in the hinterlands due to the rain water flushed to the river. 

Hojas said the murky water could have also contributed to the fish kill.  Hojas said any fish in contaminated water should not be eaten.  Agusan village chief Andrew Melizza said some residents reported fish kills in the hinterland communities in the barangay.  “In the hinterland communities like Balubal, fish kills occurred,” said Melizza.  The river in Barangay Agusan roots from “Mt. Kitanglad along the Agusan Canyon, barangays Dahilayan and Camp Philips in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.  Edwin Dael, city local environment and natural resources office (Clenro) chief, said that in the hinterland areas that include a town in Bukidnon province banana plantations, pineapple plantations, pig and poultry farms are operating.  Meanwhile, Celestino Rullan, a veterinarian who used to work in the Department of Agriculture for 29 years, said the investigation regarding the causes should also include the animals around the river.  He added that pesticide analytical methods should be conducted to identify the exact chemicals that brought the onslaught to marine life in the river.  Rullan’s residence is just along the river in Barangay Agusan. 

Worst fish kill 
Hojas said the residents reported that around 175 kilograms of fish of different variety were gathered during the fish kill.  However, Dael claimed tons of fish were found lifeless when some of the Clenro staff arrived in the area after receiving the report from Melizza.  “This is the worst fish kill recorded in the history of the river in Barangay Agusan,” Dael said.  He added the deaths of fishes lasted up to two days.  At press time, Melizza, said fishes in the river are still dying. 

“Money is not enough to pay for the damage caused in our river,” said Melizza.  Dael added it would take two years or more before connecting rivers can supply marine life to the river in barangay Agusan.  He added a certain type of shrimp that releases its offspring in the mouth of the river could now be gone after the fish kill.  “The chain of offspring was cutoff due to the phenomenon,” said Dael.  Pigok, an endangered variety of fish that can only be found in Mindanao, did not escape the onslaught of the contaminated water in the river.  Melizza added a lot of people are relying on the river for livelihood and they are the ones who are gravely affected by it. 

Probe deeply 
Dael vowed his office would further investigate the fish kill.  “This phenomenon happened on a periodic basis before, but no concrete solutions were made,” said Dael.  He furthered that a committee would be established to investigate and come up with conclusive evidence to cease the periodic fish kill.  Dael said aside from nitrite ammonia, it is possible that other substances could have been involved considering the massive amount of dead fish.  In Barangay Tablon, a village adjacent to barangay Agusan, some 10 to 15 kilograms of small fish of different varieties were found floating lifeless just meters away from the shoreline in December last year. The fish kill took place near an oil company.  Melizza added that the same phenomenon happened in the river in the long past. - Sun Star.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES & GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Severe Drought Prompts Disaster Declarations In 11 American States - Ridge Of High Pressure Deflecting All The Storms Off The Pacific Coast?!

January 20, 2014 - UNITED STATES - Portions of nearly a dozen states have been designated as primary natural disaster areas by federal officials, putting an even brighter spotlight on the financial hardships farmers are likely to see in those areas due to an ongoing drought.

Drought-scarred ground. (Thinkstock/Jupiterimages/Getty Images)

The announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday included counties in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma and California.

The designation means eligible farmers can qualify for low-interest emergency loans from the department.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he and President Obama want to ensure that agriculture remains a bright spot in the nation's economy.

"USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood." he said in statement.

Counties adjacent to those affected also are eligible for assistance.

While storms have dumped rain and snow in the East, droughts are persisting or intensifying in the West, according to officials connected with the U.S. Drought Monitor, an index on which the USDA's declarations are based. A ridge of high pressure is to blame for keeping storms off the Pacific coast and guiding them to the East.

A visitor to Folsom Lake, Calif., walks his dog down a boat ramp that is now several hundred
yards away from the waters edge, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.

"What we're seeing meteorologically is a blocking pattern that is deflecting all the storms," said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the Lincoln, Neb.-based National Drought Mitigation Center. "There really hasn't been a lot of indication that this pattern is breaking down."

Poor snowpack is threatening regions dependent on major western rivers, and no amount of wet winter weather in the East can ease the pain, officials said.

"Once you cross the Rockies, nothing on the East is going to help you," Fuchs said.

The dry weather could mean an active fire season. Southern California had an early taste of that with a blaze that started Thursday morning in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and forced nearly 2,000 people to evacuate. At least two homes were burned.

Three men were arrested on suspicious of recklessly starting a fire. They're accused of tossing paper into a campfire in the dangerously windy and dry conditions.

"We don't say the drought causes the fires," Fuchs said. "But when you have fire season and drought, you'll see more fire." - TWC.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 6.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Lower North Island, New Zealand - Damaging Homes, Toppling Walls And Chimney, Smashing Windows, Sending Rockfalls Across Roads; Multiple Aftershocks!

January 20, 2014 - NEW ZEALAND - A "severe'' magnitude 6.2 quake has damaged homes and closed roads in the lower North Island, toppling walls and chimneys and sending rockfalls across roads.

The quake, initially reported as a magnitude 6.3, struck 10km north of Castlepoint in Wairarapa, at a depth of 33km, at 3.52pm, GeoNet said.

USGS earthquake location.

Sara Page, GeoNet public information specialist at GNS Science, said GeoNet had received more than 6000 "felt" reports from the public by 4.30pm, with some reporting damage.

"As expected after a quake of this size, there have been multiple aftershocks, and these will continue for some time as the region settles," she said.

The Wairarapa is no stranger to large earthquakes, with two very damaging magnitude 7 quakes in 1942.

However, the region's last earthquake above magnitude 6 was in 1961.

Damage reports

There have been no reports of injuries but emergency services have reported damage to roads and buildings in the lower North Island.

Most of the damage was reported in the Wairarapa and Palmerston North areas.

Fire Service central communications shift manager Mike Wanoa said there were no reports of major damage so far, but firefighters were "extremely busy''.

"The earthquake has been reasonably major in the Masterton-Eketahuna area, so we're getting multiple calls to all sorts of things at the moment, but we're right in the middle of it now.''

There were reports of fires, alarm activations and lines down. A lot of the damage was in the Wairarapa and Palmerston North areas, Mr Wanoa said.

Inspector Mike Coleman of police central communications said there were reports of damage to houses in Eketahuna, including broken windows, collapsed walls and fallen chimneys.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

The number of reports of damage remained unknown.

"Obviously some houses have been damaged,'' Mr Coleman said.

"Windows have been smashed and crockery has been thrown around the place - the usual sort of movement with earthquakes.''

Mr Coleman said there were rocks and debris on roads between Woodville and Taihape due to various slips.

The Manawatu Gorge road was down to one lane, while the road between Pahiatua and Palmerston North was closed.

Bridges and roads around Eketahuna were being checked, Mr Coleman said.

Transport Agency spokesman Ewart Barnsley says the organisation is unaware so far of any serious damage to state highways in the Wellington region, but is still checking, and is urging motorists to drive carefully.

Mr Barnley said the agency believed major road bridges from Wellington to Masterton had survived the earthquake, but had yet get to the bottom of reports of possible rock falls in the northern Wairarapa.

"We have got all our contractors out, but the problem is that the phone system is being heavily used at the moment."

A Wellington Free Ambulance spokesman said: "Wellington Free Ambulance has had no callouts as a result of the earthquake. However, we have gone into emergency management mode just to be safe.''

Tranz Metro said all train services in the region had been suspended due to the quake.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said teams were busy checking the road network for damage but everything seemed to be okay.

Power is out in Linton, south of Palmerston North.

A spokeswoman for the Earthquake Commission (EQC) said the agency was still gathering information on the quake and the volume of calls received.

One of the two giant eagles hanging from the roof of Wellington airport to promote the Hobbit trilogy did fall down as a result of the shaking.

The giant eagle hanging from the roof of Wellington airport to promote the Hobbit trilogy
has fallen down due to the shake. Photo / Kylie Te Moanaui

Rock falls all along the Manawatu Gorge following the quake. Photo / Andy Burt

Office evacuation in Wellington due to 6.2 magnitude earthquake. Photo / Richard Smith

The Weta Workshop eagles each weigh 2 tonnes, have a wingspan of 15m, and were suspended from the roof by eight cables.

Greg Thomas from Wellington Airport said one of the eagles slowly became detached during the quake and had come to rest on the floor.

He said it was still partly suspended, and no one was injured when it came down.

The quake had not caused any other damage at the airport. A runway inspection had been carried out and the airport had been cleared to continue operating.

No flights had been disrupted, he said.

Damage at Pukaha Mt Bruce wildlife centre, near Eketahuna, was confined to items falling off shelves in the retail area, said general manager Helen Tickner.

"There's a bit of cleaning up to do tomorrow, but all the animals are fine and all the visitors were fine,'' she said.

"Everyone was a bit shaken up and a bit freaked out.''

She said there would be a careful check for any further damage, but it was expected the centre would open as usual tomorrow.

'This one came with a bang'

Karen Monk, who is on a farm in Mauriceville, just north of Masterton, said the quake was "really violent''.

"My baby daughter was in her cot asleep and I managed to leap across the hall and grab her and leap outside onto the lawn,'' she said.

They had stayed outside for about half an hour while aftershocks rolled through.

Ms Monk said the quake was sudden and violent, compared to the usual rolling shakes.

"It was certainly the biggest we've had since we've been here.

"It was really sudden. Usually the earthquakes we feel up here, whether they're from north or south, they're more rolling and you start start with a gentle shake.

"This one just came with a bang, with massive jolting.''

She said the contents of the pantry had spilled onto the floor, shelves tipped over. Almost every room in the wooden villa had cracks in the walls.

"We're on a farm here and the animals don't normally react to quakes but the horses were running around for a good 10 minutes afterwards. The sheep are all huddled together. That's really unusual.'' - NZ Herald.

Tectonic Summary
The January 20, 2014 M6.2 earthquake northeast of Masterton in the North Island of New Zealand is located approximately 115 km northeast of Wellington. The earthquake resulted from northeast-southwest oriented normal faulting within the deep crust of the Australia plate 175 km to the west of the Hikurangi Trench, where the Pacific plate subducts westward beneath the North Island. At the latitude of this event, the Pacific plate moves towards the west-southwest with respect to the Australia plate at a rate of approximately 42 mm/yr. The faulting character, location and depth of this earthquake indicate it is an intraplate event within Australia plate crust above the subducting Pacific plate, rather than a plate boundary event on the subduction zone thrust interface.

New Zealand experiences fairly frequent moderate-sized earthquakes; the region within 200 km of the January 20, 2014 event has experienced 35 earthquakes of M 5.5 or larger over the past century. The 2014 event is just a few kilometers to the east of a M 7.3 earthquake in March of 1934, and approximately 40 km southwest of two M6.2 and 6.4 earthquakes near Dannevirke in March and May of 1990, respectively. The 1990 events did not cause significant damage or fatalities.

Seismotectonics of the Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate
The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand.

Since 1900 there have been 15 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded near New Zealand. Nine of these, and the four largest, occurred along or near the Macquarie Ridge, including the 1989 M8.2 event on the ridge itself, and the 2004 M8.1 event 200 km to the west of the plate boundary, reflecting intraplate deformation. The largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand itself was the 1931 M7.8 Hawke's Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people. The last M7.5+ earthquake along the Alpine Fault was 170 years ago; studies of the faults' strain accumulation suggest that similar events are likely to occur again.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

North of New Zealand, the Australia-Pacific boundary stretches east of Tonga and Fiji to 250 km south of Samoa. For 2,200 km the trench is approximately linear, and includes two segments where old (greater than 120 Myr) Pacific oceanic lithosphere rapidly subducts westward (Kermadec and Tonga). At the northern end of the Tonga trench, the boundary curves sharply westward and changes along a 700 km-long segment from trench-normal subduction, to oblique subduction, to a left lateral transform-like structure.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 60 mm/yr at the southern Kermadec trench to 90 mm/yr at the northern Tonga trench; however, significant back arc extension (or equivalently, slab rollback) causes the consumption rate of subducting Pacific lithosphere to be much faster. The spreading rate in the Havre trough, west of the Kermadec trench, increases northward from 8 to 20 mm/yr. The southern tip of this spreading center is propagating into the North Island of New Zealand, rifting it apart. In the southern Lau Basin, west of the Tonga trench, the spreading rate increases northward from 60 to 90 mm/yr, and in the northern Lau Basin, multiple spreading centers result in an extension rate as high as 160 mm/yr. The overall subduction velocity of the Pacific plate is the vector sum of Australia-Pacific velocity and back arc spreading velocity: thus it increases northward along the Kermadec trench from 70 to 100 mm/yr, and along the Tonga trench from 150 to 240 mm/yr.

The Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone generates many large earthquakes on the interface between the descending Pacific and overriding Australia plates, within the two plates themselves and, less frequently, near the outer rise of the Pacific plate east of the trench. Since 1900, 40 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded, mostly north of 30°S. However, it is unclear whether any of the few historic M8+ events that have occurred close to the plate boundary were underthrusting events on the plate interface, or were intraplate earthquakes. On September 29, 2009, one of the largest normal fault (outer rise) earthquakes ever recorded (M8.1) occurred south of Samoa, 40 km east of the Tonga trench, generating a tsunami that killed at least 180 people.

Across the North Fiji Basin and to the west of the Vanuatu Islands, the Australia plate again subducts eastwards beneath the Pacific, at the North New Hebrides trench. At the southern end of this trench, east of the Loyalty Islands, the plate boundary curves east into an oceanic transform-like structure analogous to the one north of Tonga.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 80 to 90 mm/yr along the North New Hebrides trench, but the Australia plate consumption rate is increased by extension in the back arc and in the North Fiji Basin. Back arc spreading occurs at a rate of 50 mm/yr along most of the subduction zone, except near ~15°S, where the D'Entrecasteaux ridge intersects the trench and causes localized compression of 50 mm/yr in the back arc. Therefore, the Australia plate subduction velocity ranges from 120 mm/yr at the southern end of the North New Hebrides trench, to 40 mm/yr at the D'Entrecasteaux ridge-trench intersection, to 170 mm/yr at the northern end of the trench.

Large earthquakes are common along the North New Hebrides trench and have mechanisms associated with subduction tectonics, though occasional strike slip earthquakes occur near the subduction of the D'Entrecasteaux ridge. Within the subduction zone 34 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900. On October 7, 2009, a large interplate thrust fault earthquake (M7.6) in the northern North New Hebrides subduction zone was followed 15 minutes later by an even larger interplate event (M7.8) 60 km to the north. It is likely that the first event triggered the second of the so-called earthquake "doublet". - USGS.