Thursday, February 6, 2014

MONUMENTAL MASS FISH DIE-OFF: The Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Causes Thousands Of Mysterious, Grisly Starfish Deaths - Unknown Plague Causes Starfish To Rip Off Their Arms And Scientists Don't Know Why?!

February 06, 2014 - WEST COAST, UNITED STATES - A nightmarish ailment plaguing starfish along the West Coast has left millions of the creatures dead, and scientists don't yet know why. The affliction, known as sea star wasting syndrome, causes the arms of the echinoderms to contort into lumps and then "crawl" away from the body, slowly pulling the creature apart until its insides spill out, according to PBS.

Gruesome epidemic ravages starfish.

Even worse, the starfish—famed for their regenerative abilities—can no longer replace affected limbs, rendering them incapacitated. Indeed, sea star wasting syndrome is so deadly that most afflicted creatures die just 24 hours after acquiring symptoms, according to PBS.

"There were bodies everywhere, and they were just like these splats," Laura James, a Seattle-area diver told PBS. "It looked like someone had just taken a laser gun and zapped them, and they just vaporized."
Ben Minor, a biology professor at Western Washington University surveyed a similar scene on a recent dive in Washington.

"We were coming across arms and piles of deteriorated sea stars and individuals that were twisted," said Minor.

Scientists first discovered the syndrome last summer, when a certain species of starfish, known as the sunflower star, began washing up along Washington's Olympic Peninsula. But in the months that have followed the cases have spread into nearly a dozen species of starfish as far north as Alaska and as far south as southern California.

A number of causes may be to blame, from climate change to some sort of alien virus, but even if scientists do find a cause they'll have to contend with the ecological consequences of such a substantial loss of life. Starfish are important predators on the ocean floor, consuming anything from sea cucumbers to other starfish. And without millions of predators on the ocean floor, the outlook of that ecosystem could change drastically.
"Because these are ecologically important species, when you lose this many sea stars, it will certainly change the seascape," Drew Harvel, a marine epidemiologist from Cornell University, told PBS.

Scientists are making headway though. Announcements about a potential cause could be made in the next couple of months, PBS reports.

Until then, Laura James and others are encouraging folks to help build out data on the impacts of the syndrome by documenting instances of sick starfish here. - TWC.

Mysterious Plague Causes Starfish To Ripp Off Their Arms, Scientists Are Puzzled.
A mysterious disease is causing starfish to tear themselves to pieces. The arms of infected starfish begin
to twist and then 'crawl' away from the creature's body, until they tear off (pictured).

Previous cases were believed to be associated with warmer waters - starfish have sensitive skin and prefer cooler water - but most scientists do not believe this to be the case this time around.

When the die-offs happened previously, the geographic span of the infections was much smaller and far fewer sea stars were affected.

In 1983, an epidemic nearly wiped out the Pisaster ochraceus from tidal pools along the southern coast of California.

Another, smaller die-off in 1997 may have been caused by warmer waters in an El Nino year, scientists said.

Scientists first started noticing the mass deaths in one species - the sunflower starfish - in June 2013, but
the disease, which has been dubbed sea star wasting syndrome - has now spread to 12 species.
A healthy sunflower starfish is pictured.

Divers and scientists first noticed the horrific disease off the coast of Washington state in the Pugnet Sound,
but sightings of dead starfish have been reported as far north as Alaska and in southern California.

Ben Miner, a biology professor at Western Washington University, collected healthy starfish and those
showing symptoms of the disease to study in his laboratory At first, the starfish twist their arms into
knots and then legions form on their skin, before the arm tears away from the body (pictured).

The animals destroy themselves within 24 hours of the symptoms appearing. Here is all that was left of one
animal that tore itself apart.

'Sea stars are important because 'they play a key role in this ecosystem on the West Coast,' Dr Raimondi said.

Starfish eat mussels, barnacles, snails, molluscs and other smaller sea life, so their health is considered a measure of marine life on the whole in a given area.

WATCH: Mysterious epidemic devastates starfish population off the Pacific Coast.

Dr Sleeman said that when starfish decline in number, 'the mussel population has the potential to dramatically increase, which could significantly alter the rocky intertidal zone.'

•    The most commonly observed symptoms of the suspected disease are white lesions on the arms of the starfish.
•    The lesions spread rapidly, resulting in the loss of the arm.
•   The arms of infected starfish begin to twist and then ‘crawl’ away from the creature’s body.
•    They tear off but appear to keep crawling for a short time.
•    As the animal loses more arms its insides spill out.
•    The creatures typically dies within 24 hours of the symptoms appearing and they rip themselves apart.
•    One diver said the scene under the waves near the coastline of Seattle was reminiscent of something from a horror film as there are ‘bodies everywhere’.

 While starfish make up an important component of the base of the ocean food chain and are considered a top predator, they are in turn eaten by other starfish, shorebirds, gulls, and sometimes sea otters.

Add captionBiologists are worried about the decline of the sea creatures, which are key to the marine
ecosystem. A stock image of the sunflower starfish is pictured.

In an effort to find out what is causing the mass deaths, scientists are collecting reports from the public, taking specimens to the lab for analysis and doing genetic sequencing to find out whether a toxin or an infection may be to blame.

Citizen scientists are being encouraged to report any sightings of dead starfish and their exact location on social media sites, by using #SickStarfish. - Daily Mail.

ICE AGE NOW: Winter Storm Nika Leaves Nearly 850,000 Customers In Pennsylvania In The Dark - Power Outages Could Last For Days; President Obama Signs Emergency Declaration!

February 06, 2014 - PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES - More than 410,000 customers were still without power in Pennsylvania Thursday evening after Winter Storm Nika brought heavy snow, high winds and icy conditions. The number is down from the height of the storm, when nearly 850,000 customers were in the dark, but some utility companies were warning the remaining outages could last for days.

Sondra Bauchspies, of Wilson Borough, makes a path from her house to the street along Ferry Street on Feb. 5, 2014.

"Moisture from Nika overran a layer of cold air near the surface of the earth in the Northeast late Tuesday night into early Wednesday," said meteorologist Chris Dolce. "This resulted in freezing rain in southeast Pennsylvania that accumulated one-quarter to one-half inch, leading to tree damage and widespread power outages."

Freezing rain also accumulated an estimated one-quarter to one-third of an inch in the Trenton, N.J. metro area. Driving conditions remain poor in many areas. Ice weighed down power lines and caused branches to break.

President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for Pennsylvania on Thursday, allowing for federal funds to be used in the recovery.

A half-inch accumulation of ice on power lines can add 500 pounds of extra weight. Ice can also increase the weight of branches by 30 times, significantly increasing the potential for breaking and falls.

Earlier Wednesday, PECO reported 620,500 customers without power Wednesday in the five-county Philadelphia region, most of them in suburban counties. More than 161,000 customers were without power in Chester County, more than 118,000 in Montgomery County and more than 102,000 in Bucks County. PPL reported more than 60,000 customers without power, most of them in Lancaster County.

Ed Ostrander, of Wilson Borough, cleans off his front steps on Northampton Street on Feb. 5, 2014.

"The crews have been making progress restoring the power all through (Wednesday) and (Wednesday) night," said Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett in a Thursday morning interview on The Weather Channel. "Our state operations center is constantly monitoring this."

This was the second-worst storm in PECO history in terms of outages; Only Superstorm Sandy left more customers without power.

"We know that this is going to take multiple days," PECO spokeswoman Cathy Engel Menendez said.

About 3,500 employees and contractors were working to restore power, while an additional 1,000 linemen from utilities as far as Chicago were expected to join the company's efforts, she said.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike ordered speed limits reduced to 45 mph and banned empty tractor-trailers. State highway officials also dropped speed limits to 45 mph on many roads including a number of interstates. Amtrak announced suspension of Philadelphia to Harrisburg service due to downed trees on wires and along tracks.

Phillipsburg High School employees clean snow from Hillcrest Boulevard on Feb. 5, 2014.

An accident late Tuesday night involving three tractor-trailers killed one driver and closed both eastbound and westbound lanes of the turnpike between the Gettysburg Pike and Harrisburg West in central Pennsylvania, officials said. The turnpike also warned motorists to beware multiple fallen trees — some of them blocking lanes — on portions of the southeastern Pa. turnpike and the southern part of the Northeast Extension (I-476). - TWC.

PARADIGM SHIFT: Forget The Internet - Soon There Will Be OUTERNET; Company Plans To Beam Free Wi-Fi To EVERY PERSON On Earth From Space!

February 06, 2014 - TECHNOLOGY - You might think you have to pay through the nose at the moment to access the Internet.

The New York company plans to ask NASA to test their Outernet technology on the International Space Station
(left) so that they can begin broadcasting Wi-Fi to web users around the world (right)

But one ambitious organisation called the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) is planning to turn the age of online computing on its head by giving free web access to every person on Earth.

Known as Outernet, MDIF plans to launch hundreds of satellites into orbit by 2015.

And they say the project could provide unrestricted Internet access to countries where their web access is censored, including China and North Korea.

By June of this year the Outernet project aims to begin deploying prototype satellites to test their technology

In September 2014 they will make a request to NASA to test their technology on the International Space Station

By early 2015 they intend to begin manufacturing and launching their satellites

And in June 2015 the company says they will begin broadcasting the Outernet from space

Using something known as datacasting technology, which involves sending data over wide radio waves, the New York-based company says they'll be able to broadcast the Internet around the world.

The group is hoping to raise tens of millions of dollars in donations to get the project on the road.

The Outernet team claim that only 60% of the world's population currently have access to the wealth of knowledge that can be found on the Internet.

This is because, despite a wide spread of Wi-FI devices across the globe, many countries are unable or unwilling to provide people with the infrastructure needed to access the web.

The company's plan is to launch hundreds of low-cost miniature satellites, known as cubesats, into low Earth orbit.

The Outernet project is aiming to raise tens of millions of dollars to launch hundreds of miniature
satellites known as cubesats to make their dream a reality

Here, each satellite will receive data from a network of ground stations across the globe.

Using a technique known as User Datagram Protocol (UDP) multitasking, which is the sharing of data between users on a network, Outernet will beam information to users.

Much like how you receive a signal on your television and flick through channels, Outernet will broadcast the Internet to you and allow you to flick through certain websites.

'We have a very solid understand of the costs involved, as well as experience working on numerous spacecraft,' said Project Lead of Outernet Syed Karim, who fielded some questions on Reddit.

'There isn't a lot of raw research that is being done here; much of what is being described has already been proven by other small satellite programs and experiments.

There's really nothing that is technically impossible to this'

But at the prospect of telecoms operators trying to shut the project down before it gets off the ground, Karim said: 'We will fight... and win.'

If everything goes to plan, the Outernet project aims to ask NASA for permission to test the technology on the International Space Station.

And their ultimate goal will be to beginning deploying the Outernet satellites into Earth orbit, which they say can begin in June 2015. - Daily Mail.

DISASTER IMPACT: Frigid January Cost Air Travelers $2.5 Billion - 49,000 Canceled Flights; 300,000 Delayed Flights!

February 06, 2014 - UNITED STATES - A spate of freezing and inclement weather wreaked havoc on the nation's airline system in January, leading to an estimated 49,000 canceled flights, 300,000 delayed flights, and costing passengers more than $2.5 billion.

Halle Crawford rests on her bag Lambert-St. Louis International Airport after her flight to New York
was cancelled because of snow Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in St. Louis.

The total disruption was greater than during Hurricane Sandy, according to an analysis by masFlight, a software company specializing in airline operations.

The travel snafus resulting in headaches and hassles and an increase of approximately 18 hours to passenger travel times. Passenger costs included productivity losses, time spent and difficulty rebooking, and additional expenses, such as hotel rooms and meals.

Regional airports bore the brunt of the cancellations, accounting for two-thirds of the total.

Compounding the issue were new federal safety rules that limit the number of hours pilots can be on duty, whether or not they fly. Intended to prevent accidents involving pilot fatigue, such as a 2009 Colgan Air crash that left 50 dead, the 2012 regulations can make it harder for airlines without increased staffing levels and modified operating procedures to recover from big storms. - NBC News.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: "The Last Two Decades Have Been Kind Of Exceptional,... Our Lakes Have Never Been Lower Than They Are,..." - The Great Lakes Water Levels Are in Unusual Decline?!

February 06, 2014 - GREAT LAKES, UNITED STATES - The Great Lakes share a surprising connection with Wisconsin's small lakes and aquifers — their water levels all rise and fall on a 13-year cycle, according to a new study. But that cycle is now mysteriously out of whack, researchers have found.

A pier that no longer reaches the lake due to dropping water levels at Big Muskellunge Lake, Wisc.
Credit: Carl Watras

"The last two decades have been kind of exceptional," said Carl Watras, a climate scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Water levels have been declining since 1998, Watras told Live Science. "Our lakes have never been lower than they are."

 The research was published Jan. 21 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

According to 70 years of lake and aquifer records from northern Wisconsin, the states' small lakes usually rise and fall on a regular cycle — about six years up, and six years down. But since 1998, there has been only one brief uptick in levels, in 2002 through 2003).

Both the normal 13-year cycle and unusual recent downward trend are mirrored in the world's biggest freshwater water body, the linked Great Lakes of Michigan and Huron, Watras said.

"What that tells us is some hydrologic driver is operating on all of these lakes, and groundwater in the region, and controlling the water levels," Watras said.

Earlier research uncovered a 12-year cycle of rising and falling lake levels in the Michigan-Huron lakes, as well as a shorter 8-year cycle.

"It is likely the same signal," said Janel Hanrahan, a climate scientist at Lyndon College in Vermont and lead author of the earlier studies, who was not involved in the new research. Hanrahan attributed the 8-year cycle to changes in precipitation during the winter months, and the 12-year cycle to precipitation changes during the summer.

Low water levels at Fallison Lake, Wisc., in 2007, exposed previously submerged wood on the shoreline.
Credit: Dick Lathrop, WDNR

Watras and his co-authors similarly link the long-term rise and fall in Wisconsin's lakes to an cyclic atmospheric pattern called the circumglobal teleconnection (CGT), a narrow, high-altitude wind similar to the jet stream. The pattern flows about 16,500 feet (5,000 meters) above the Midwest, bringing in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Since the lake levels started their downward plunge in the late 1990s, the CGT's pattern has been stuck in a position that means less rainfall for Wisconsin, the study found. But evaporation also plays a role. Warmer-than-average winters since 1998 kept smaller lakes free of ice for longer time spans, allowing more water to escape through evaporation.

"The balance between precipitation and evaporation is key," Watras said.

The good news is that with this year's polar vortex icing the Great Lakes, combined with an early freeze in November that put a lid on small lakes, 2014 could be a better year overall for Wisconsin's lakes, Watras said.

"Our crystal ball is foggy," he said. "Things may return to normal, but we don't know. This year we are seeing lake levels and groundwater levels rise a little bit, but we don't know whether the uptick will be sustained or everything will continue to crash. At least now we have a history to look back on, and make comparisons." - Live Science.

GLOBAL COASTAL EVENT: Earth Changes Threaten To Cause TRILLIONS In Damages To World's Coastal Regions If They Do Not Adapt To Sea-Level Rise - Research Predicts Massive Increases In Damages From Storm Surge Flooding!

February 06, 2014 - EARTH's COASTAL REGIONS - New research predicts that coastal regions may face massive increases in damages from storm surge flooding over the course of the 21st century.

Aerial views during an Army search and rescue mission show damage from Hurricane Sandy to the
New Jersey coast, Oct. 30, 2012. Credit: US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen

According to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, global average storm surge damages could increase from about $10-$40 billion per year today to up to $100,000 billion per year by the end of century, if no adaptation action is taken.

The study, led by the Berlin-based think-tank Global Climate Forum (GCF) and involving the University of Southampton, presents, for the first time, comprehensive global simulation results on future flood damages to buildings and infrastructure in coastal flood plains. Drastic increases in these damages are expected due to both rising sea levels and population and economic growth in the coastal zone. Asia and Africa may be particularly hard hit because of their rapidly growing coastal mega-cities, such as Shanghai, Manila and Lagos.

"If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic," explains Jochen Hinkel from GCF and the study's lead author. In 2100, up to 600 million people (around 5 per cent of the global population) could be affected by coastal flooding if no adaptation measures are put in place.

"Countries need to take action and invest in coastal protection measures, such as building or raising dikes, amongst other options," urges Hinkel. With such protection measures, the projected damages could be reduced to below $80 billion per year during the 21st century. The researchers found that an investment level of $10 to $70 billion per year could achieve such a reduction. Prompt action is needed most in Asia and Africa where, today, large parts of the coastal population are already affected by storm surge flooding.

However, investment must also occur in Europe as shown by the recent coastal floods in South West England. Professor Robert Nicholls from the University of Southampton, who is a co-author of the paper, says: "If we ignore sea-level rise, flood damages will progressively rise and presently good defences will be degraded and ultimately overwhelmed. Hence we must start to adapt now, be that planning higher defences, flood proofing buildings and strategically planning coastal land use."

Meeting the challenge of adapting to rising sea levels will not be easy, explains Hinkel: "Poor countries and heavily impacted small-island states are not able to make the necessary investments alone, they need international support." Adding to the challenge, international finance mechanisms have thus far proved sluggish in mobilising funds for adapting to climate change, as the debate on adaptation funding at the recent climate conference in Warsaw once again confirmed.

"If we do not reduce greenhouse gases swiftly and substantially, some regions will have to seriously consider relocating significant numbers of people in the longer run," adds Hinkel. Yet regardless of how much sea-level rise climate change brings, the researchers say careful long-term strategic planning can ensure that development in high-risk flood zones is appropriately designed or avoided. Professor Nicholls says: "This long-term perspective is however a challenge to bring about, as coastal development tends to be dominated by short-term interests of, for example, real-estate and tourism companies, which prefer to build directly at the waterfront with little thought about the future." - Science Daily.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: China Reports 11 New H7N9 Human Cases - United Nations Warns China's Neighbors On Spread Of H7N9 Bird Flu Virus!

February 06, 2014 - CHINA - Eleven Chinese people were confirmed to be infected with the H7N9 bird flu on Wednesday in four regions, with 8 in critical condition, according to local health authorities.

The southern province of Guangdong reported 4 new cases, including a 5-year-old girl and a 42-year-old man in Zhaoqing City, a 49-year-old man in Foshan City and a 56-year-old man in Shenzhen City, said the provincial health and family planning commission.

The girl and the man from Foshan are in stable condition while the other two remain in critical condition, according to the commission.

The eastern province of Zhejiang, the region hit hardest by the H7N9 virus, confirmed four new human cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of affected cases to 69 in the province so far this year, said the provincial health and family planning commission.

The patients were two men and two women, all in critical condition, according to the commission.

Two new cases were reported in Hengxian County in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to the regional health and family planning commission. They were a 41-year-old woman, in critical condition, and his 5-year-old son.

A 36-old man in Quanzhou City of east China's Fujian Province was confirmed to be infected with the virus on Wednesday. He is in critical condition, according to the provincial health and family planning commission.

An empty poultry shop at a market in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Photo: AP

Chinese health authorities on Wednesday reaffirmed no proof has been found that the H7N9 virus is spreading from human to human.

Most human H7N9 infection cases have been isolated so far, said a statement from the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

During the Spring Festival holidays, expert teams sent by the commission have been supervising local hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong in diagnosing and treating H7N9 patients, the statement said.

Health authorities and hospitals in provinces with high incidence of H7N9 are working hard to identify H7N9 cases as early as possible, it said.

The health authorities will strive to prevent cases of severe infection and reduce casualties, it added. - Xinhuanet.

United Nations Warns China's Neighbors On Spread Of H7N9 Bird Flu Virus
A Chinese health worker places a pigeon-trap at a park in Shanghai. AFP FILE PHOTO

The United Nations has sounded the alarm on the risk of the H7N9 bird flu virus progressively crossing the border from China to neighboring countries as it reaches southward across the Taiwan Strait.

The Food and Agriculture Organization said on Thursday that with the virus now detected in southern China, neighboring countries should review their emergency plans.

The virus, which produces no detectable symptoms among infected birds, is now present in 14 provinces of China as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to FaO.

While there has been no evidence of human-to-human transmission, the virus has increased the health risk to humans, the FAO said.

Bird flu watchers have counted at least 290 confirmed illnesses and 66 human deaths resulting from the virus being transmitted from animals to humans, especially in live bird markets.

The FAO said that so far, there has been no sign of the virus in Vietnam or any of China’s other neighboring countries in the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia, such as Myanmar and Laos. All three countries share land borders with China.

However, the agency cited indications—based on previous experience with the H5N1 bird flu virus—that H7N9 could circulate across borders.

H7N9 presents a serious public health risk when there is close contact between infected poultry and humans, particularly during times of festival such as the recent lunar New Year celebrations, the FAO added.

“The key issues that need to be considered immediately are the enhancement of ongoing surveillance and a comprehensive risk communication plan to raise awareness of the threat H7N9 poses to both the animal and human health sectors,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO’s regional representative for Asia and the Pacific.

“Urgent initiatives are needed to improve biosecurity in live bird markets, and a clear response plan to disrupt the transmission cycle of the virus in case of an incursion is also necessary,” Konuma said.

The warning comes a few weeks after the issuance of an order from the Department of Agriculture for a temporary ban on the importation of birds from China.

The order, issued barely three weeks ago, covers domesticated and wild birds including poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs and semen.

According to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, the order was prompted by a report from the China Animal Disease Control Center dated Dec. 21, 2013.

The report states that the outbreak of the virus was detected in the villages of Zhungzhuang, Jiaozhuang and Baoding in Heibei, China.

Alcala explained that the ban meant an immediate suspension of the processing, evaluation of the application and issuance of permits for the importation from China of such products as well as the confiscation of shipments—except heat-treated products—that have arrived.

Alcala has been rallying local poultry producers to tap in to the export market, especially the halal markets where there are Muslim populations.

He said the Philippines has worked hard to remain free of the bird flu, without needing vaccines, and that it was high time that producers benefit from this. - Inquirer.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Yellowstone’s Supervolcano Belly Is Rumbling - Seismometer Inside Borehole Reports Staggering Underground Activity Near The Southwest Corner Of Yellowstone Lake!

February 06, 2014 - YELLOWSTONE, UNITED STATES - A seismometer inside a borehole at Yellowstone National Park has begun reporting staggering underground activity near the southwest corner of Yellowstone Lake, possibly signaling the beginning of an eruption of the Super Volcano at the Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park is home to many beauties, with it’s ancient landscape, geysers, and hot springs. It is also the site of one of the worlds most destructive forces. A supervolcano.

On average, Yellowstone’s Caldera erupts about every 640,000 years. According to the analysis of earthquake data in 2013, the magma chamber is 80 km (50 mi) long and 20 km (12 mi) wide, and is shaped like 4,000 km3(960 cu mi) underground mass, of which 6–8% is filled with molten rock.

The upward movement of the Yellowstone caldera floor between 2004 and 2008 rose almost 3 inches (7.6 cm) each year and was more than three times greater than ever observed since such measurements began in 1923. By the end of 2010, geologists stated that the ground swelling has slowed down significantly.

However, new reports are coming in the a borehole (B944) at Yellowstone Lake (where most activity is) has shown some pretty intense movements.

“The activity began around 12:00 Noon, Mountain Standard Time (MST) on February 1, and was detected by a seismometer in Borehole B944 then continued, non-stop, all day yesterday getting worse and worse as the hours wore on. The activity is continuing right now at 6:06 EST AM as this news article is being produced.” This according to Turner Radio Network.

"A second printout shows the activity continuing to this very moment, so severely that the seismometer printer is RUNNING OUT OF BLUE, BLACK AND GREEN INK!"

The map below shows the location of Borehole B944 in relation to Yellowstone Lake and the rest of the park.

To better view the seismograph, click here.

To get an idea at how monsterous these supereruptions can be, the Island Park Caldera supereruption (2.1 million years ago), which produced the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, was the largest and produced 2,500 times as much ash as the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption.

Only time will tell on if these beast is ready to go, as it is technically “over do” for it’s next eruption. However, it could still be another million years before it does. This data could just a bark at the moon, however a large series of earthquakes occurred in and around the area. These links are below.

1.9 2014/01/31 09:55:29 44.798N 110.540W 4.4 30 km (18 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
1.1 2014/01/31 07:35:32 44.578N 111.145W 9.2 10 km ( 6 mi) SSW of West Yellowstone, MT
1.7 2014/01/31 06:25:39 44.834N 110.536W 6.9 26 km (16 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
1.2 2014/01/30 21:16:01 44.718N 111.203W 10.7 10 km ( 6 mi) NW of West Yellowstone, MT
1.9 2014/01/30 17:21:11 44.815N 110.532W 3.9 28 km (18 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
1.8 2014/01/30 15:02:27 44.807N 110.525W 6.9 30 km (18 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
1.8 2014/01/30 11:43:19 44.806N 110.540W 2.2 29 km (18 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
1.8 2014/01/30 09:42:11 44.812N 110.535W 4.9 29 km (18 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
1.4 2014/01/30 04:11:36 44.798N 110.537W 7.9 30 km (19 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
2.0 2014/01/30 04:11:35 44.808N 110.530W 7.4 29 km (18 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
1.8 2014/01/30 03:57:10 44.817N 110.533W 10.1 28 km (18 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
2.4 2014/01/30 01:40:35 44.807N 110.522W 11.8 30 km (18 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
2.2 2014/01/29 23:57:03 44.398N 110.615W 1.8 49 km (30 mi) SE of West Yellowstone, MT
1.5 2014/01/29 23:43:29 44.405N 110.628W 1.9 47 km (29 mi) SE of West Yellowstone, MT
1.3 2014/01/29 23:39:18 44.375N 110.636W -0.3 49 km (30 mi) SE of West Yellowstone, MT
1.4 2014/01/29 23:33:12 44.401N 110.627W 2.3 48 km (30 mi) SE of West Yellowstone, MT
1.5 2014/01/29 18:29:59 44.801N 110.544W 4.3 29 km (18 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
2.3 2014/01/29 01:11:08 44.600N 110.153W -3.4 49 km (31 mi) SSW of Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
1.5 2014/01/28 04:39:47 44.815N 110.528W 7.3 29 km (18 mi) SSE of Gardiner, MT
1.4 2014/01/27 19:44:29 44.747N 110.780W 6.2 27 km (17 mi) ENE of West Yellowstone, MT.


PLANETARY TREMORS: 2.4 Magnitude Earthquake Causes Underground Fire In South Africa Gold Mine - Eight Miners Killed; One Worker Still Missing!

February 06, 2014 - SOUTH AFRICA - Eight gold miners in South Africa died after a magnitude-2.4 earthquake triggered an underground fire, and rescue teams operating deep below the surface were searching for a ninth missing miner, a mining company said Thursday.

Miners of the Harmony Gold's Doornkop mine mourn their colleagues
who died in a mining accident on February 6, 2014.

Smoke and a rockfall had hampered searchers struggling to find any survivors after fire broke out 1.7 kilometres underground at the Doornkop mine around 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Harmony company said in a statement. The mine is 30 kilometres west of Johannesburg.

On Wednesday morning, rescue teams located eight other miners who had sought refuge from the fire and brought all of them to the surface within several hours. On Thursday morning, Harmony announced the discovery of eight bodies.

The National Union of Mineworkers, a major labour group, said the rockfall had ruptured electrical cables, triggering the fire, and that water and ventilation pipes were also damaged. It called for an urgent investigation.

"Our members' lives must come first. The health and safety measures must be applied," said Livhuwani Mammburu, a union spokesman. "There is technology available to actively monitor seismicity underground. We wonder if Harmony has got that technology."

James Duncan, a Harmony spokesman, said the company has monitoring equipment.

"Seismicity is not an exact science," Duncan said. "The challenge is to stay abreast of current technology, make sure you have the best that is available and continue to strive for improvement."

South Africa has some of the deepest mines in the world, raising concern about the safety of workers who could be more vulnerable to tremors and other dangers. The Doornkop mine shaft extends about two kilometres below ground. Harmony's deepest gold mines go to twice that depth, Duncan said.

South Africa's ministry of mineral resources said its chief mine inspector visited the Doornkop mine on Wednesday.

This photo file taken Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, shows a view of the Doornkop Gold Mine,
about 30kms west of Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe-file)

Minister Susan Shabangu said this week -- just before learning of the fatal fire -- that miners' health and safety had improved significantly since a panel, formed after the end of white minority rule in 1994, found poor safety standards and inadequate enforcement of existing laws. The parliament will soon consider amendments that strengthen the country's mine health and safety laws, Shabangu said at an international mining conference in Cape Town.

More than 54,000 miners in South Africa have died in accidents since reporting began in 1904, and many more have died from exposure to hazardous dust, gas and fumes, the ministry says on its website. The Chamber of Mines, an industry group, said there were 112 deaths in South African mine operations in 2012, a 9 per cent reduction over the previous year.

The mining industry in South Africa, a pillar of the economy, is struggling with increasing costs and labour unrest.

Workers have been on strike for two weeks in the country's platinum-mining sector, amid sporadic reports of clashes pitting protesters against mine security and police. In 2012, police shot and killed several dozen miners during labour unrest at a Lonmin platinum mine. - CNN.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Global Volcano Report For February 6, 2014 - Major Updates On Nishino-Shima, Etna, San Cristobal, Fuego, Santiaguito, Pacaya, Dukono, Reventador, And Tungurahua! [PHOTOS]

February 06, 2014 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe, courtesy of the Volcano Discovery.

Nishino-Shima (Volcano Islands): New images from an overflight on 3 February confirm that the activity on the former new island continues steadily. Over the past weeks, the vent has been feeding several active lava flow fronts, that enlarged the land covered by new lava in more or less all directions.

Nishino-Shima island on 3 Feb. For comparison, the previous shorelines on 20 Jan (yellow) and 21 Nov past year (white). (Image: Japanese Coast Guard)

In particular, there are two active flows relatively close to the vent which have been heading out towards the southeast and formed a small almost closed bay with green-orange discolored water inside. The water color is a result of dissolved volcanic gasses and lava fragments in suspension.

In addition to the ongoing lava effusion, strombolian explosions occur from the main vent as well, which has built a small perfectly circular cone.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Lava continues to flow from the fissure vent at the eastern base of the New SE crater. Accompanied by slowly rising tremor, an overall gradual increase of the activity can be noted.

Panoramic view of the Bove Valley at dawn (Photo: Emanuela / VolcanoDiscovery Italia)

The front of the old lava flow is stopped at 1660 m while the active lava flow is descending on the upper wall of the valle del Bove.

Ash emission continues from the summit vent of the New SE crater.

Dukono (Halmahera): Low-level ash plumes continue to be detected on satellite imagery almost every day, suggesting that explosive activity (strombolian type) is currently intense.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Activity has shown no to little variations but has decreased a bit overall. The lava dome has currently active flows on the SW and NE flanks and continues to produce small to moderate ash explosions from time to time.

Pacaya (Guatemala): No visible eruptive activity except degassing is being mentioned by INSIVUMEH. The seismic signal shows degassing tremor and deep-seated small explosions.

Current seismic signal from Pacaya (PCG station, INSIVUMEH)

Fuego (Guatemala): Strombolian activity remains relatively intense and the seismic signal suggests it currently increasing. The volcano observatory reported that during the past 24 hours, there were frequent small to moderate explosions with incandescent ejecta reaching up to about 100 m above the crater and ash plumes of up to 500 m. Shock waves commonly accompany the explosions.

Current seismic signal of Fuego (FG3 station, INSIVUMEH)

The lava flow on the upper southern slope had decreased to only about 75 m length.

San Cristobal (Nicaragua): A series of small, probably phreatic explosions occurred at the volcano's summit crater early on Tuesday. INETER indicated the activity took place between 6:41 - 8:50 local time and consisted of at least 2 explosions, which generated a small steam and ash plume rising to about 200 m height.

INETER believes that these eruptions were an isolated event and not sign of a new eruptive phase with new magma involved, but most likely caused by the sudden vaporization of overheated infiltrated rain water. The alarm level of the volcano was not raised and no particular measures are planned.

Reventador (Ecuador): Intense degassing and occasional weak explosions with ash emissions probably continue, based on the more or less unchanged moderately intense seismic activity. Visual observations were not possible over the past days due to cloud cover.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): The volcano continues to be very active with frequent explosions that eject incandescent lava to several hundred meters height and ash plumes rising up to 3-4 km above the summit.

Ash plume from an explosion of Tungurahua this afternoon.

Current seismic signal from Tungurahua (RETU station, IG)

Strong shock waves and cannon-shot explosion sounds accompany the eruptions. Ash fall occurred in Pondoa, Runtún, Triunfo, and Río Verde.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for February 6, 2014.

- Volcano Discovery.

MONUMENTAL SOLAR SYSTEM CHANGES: "No Words Can Describe This!" - More Signs Of A Magnetic Polar Migration As The Sky Explodes Over Manitoba, Canada With Most Stunning Aurora Display; Although There Are NO Geomagnetic Storms!

February 06, 2014 - CANADA - There is a place on Earth where you can see auroras almost every clear night even when there is no geomagnetic storm. It is under the auroral oval.

The auroral oval is a donut of light around the poles which never goes completely dark because it is excited by energetic particles raining down from Earth's magnetosphere. Feb. 3rd was a very good night to be under the oval:

"What an amazing night this was!" says Alan Dyer of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. "On the night of Feb 3-4, despite all indicators showing quiet levels of activity, the sky exploded with a stunning all-sky display of rippling curtains across the sky. Churchill is under the prime auroral oval, so we see Northern Lights almost every clear night, even when official indicators are reading low or no geomagnetic storms."

"These images are from the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, a non-profit research institute for Arctic science and that also offers aurora-watching and other Arctic tours through the year, including polar bear viewing in the autumn," he continues. "No words can describe the view of rapidly waving curtains of light rippling from horizon to horizon. All the tour group members left satisfied they had seen the celestial experience of a lifetime."

According to NOAA forecasters there is only a 5% chance of geomagnetic storms on Feb. 6th. That's more than enough, however, under the oval. - Space Weather.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: "The Decline After 2006 Is Quite Sharp" - Alaska's Arctic Icy Lakes Lose Thickness!

February 06, 2014 - ALASKA - The ubiquitous shallow icy lakes that dominate Alaska's Arctic coastal plain have undergone a significant change in recent decades.

The Alaskan Arctic coastal plain is covered in a great swathe of shallow lakes

These lakes, many of which are no more than 3m deep, melt earlier in the season and retain open water conditions for much longer.

And 20 years of satellite radar also now show that far fewer will freeze right through to the bottom in winter.

The results of the space-borne survey are published in The Cryosphere.

What is happening to the lakes is an example of how land ice is following the pattern of diminishing sea ice in the region, say scientists.

"The decline after 2006 is quite sharp," explained Dr Cristina Surdu from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. "This is another piece in the puzzle of climate change in the region.

"We're seeing warmer air temperatures; we're seeing sea-ice extent decreasing; and we're seeing a general greening of the Arctic with the treeline moving north. The lakes are part of that story."

Surdu's and colleagues' research focussed on an area near Barrow, the largest settlement on Alaska's North Slope.

It encompassed more than 400 lakes that individually have surface areas up to 60 sq km but which are about, in the main, just 1.5m deep.

The lakes tend to be completely ice free in summer for a short period of roughly 8-10 weeks and then freeze up again with the onset of colder temperatures in Autumn.

The team used radar data from Europe's ERS satellites in the 1990s and 2000s to track the progression of the freeze-up.

Orbital radar can sense the presence of liquid water on the ground even when it is covered by tens of centimetres of ice. The energy of the signal scattered back to the satellites is significantly different when some water is retained.

And what the scientists could see over the course of the study period was that a smaller fraction of the lakes' ice was freezing right through to the bed in winter.

From 1991 to 2011, the fraction of grounded ice present by the end of the freeze-up in April had declined by 22%. Modelling work suggests this is equivalent to the lakes' ice caps being reduced in thickness by 18-22cm.

From 1992 to 2011, the studied lakes experienced a 22% reduction in grounded ice (dark blue)

The change in the lakes' behaviour almost certainly reflects the warmer conditions in the region. The mean air temperature in Barrow, for example, increased by 1.7C in the first decade of the 21st Century. But it also reflects shifts in precipitation.

"Snow is a very important factor in all this because it is an insulator," explained Dr Surdu.

"If it falls at the beginning of the ice season, it slows down the thickening of the ice on these lakes; whereas, if it falls at the end of the ice season, it helps retain the ice because it insulates that ice from warming temperatures.

"But what we're actually seeing is more snowfall at the beginning of the ice season and so the precipitation is working against the ice."

The presence of more liquid water underneath the lake ice is likely to have a number of impacts. One is to change the lakes' ecology.

For people, some impacts, such as the availability of more fresh water, will be beneficial. But other impacts will cause difficulties. An example would be the "ice roads" driven across the lakes in winter by the trucks that supply Barrow and neighbouring communities on the coastal plain. Continued thinning could limit the roads' use in future.

The warmer conditions in the lakes also have important climate feedbacks by disturbing the underlying permafrost and transferring more heat back into the atmosphere in autumn. These effects work to amplify the changes already under way.

The study used European Space Agency satellites that are no longer in operation. But Esa is about to launch new radar spacecraft under the EU's Copernicus-Sentinel programme.

With the promise of two identical radar satellites flying at the same time, it should make studies such as this one far easy to conduct. The Sentinels will return more data more frequently. - BBC.

CYBER WARS: "Happy Birthday Mark!" - Syrian Electronic Army Hacks Into Facebook's Domain!

February 06, 2014 - INTERNET - The Syrian Electronic Army hacking group is notorious for causing all sorts of trouble for some of the biggest destinations on the Web, and this time around, they’ve gone after Facebook.

Update: Facebook’s WHOIS info has been restored back to normal.

The group has just claimed on Twitter to have gained possession of

A quick check of the domain’s WHOIS data showed that the admin’s contact data has indeed been changed to a Syrian email address.

While Facebook appears to be working as usual for now, the SEA boasted that it had changed the name servers to hijack the site, but it was “taking too much time.” As the SEA noted in its original tweet, the apparent attack on Facebook comes at an inopportune time, as the company just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The attack looks to have come through the MarkMonitor domain management service. Facebook’s WHOIS info does list MarkMonitor as the domain registrar. According to the SEA, MarkMonitor closed down its portal in response to the alleged hack. On its website, MarkMonitor says it offers a “hardened” portal and premium security solutions to protect brands’ domains.

A tweet from the SEA included a screenshot that, if genuine, would seem to show MarkMonitor’s portal interface.

We’ve reached out to Facebook for comment. When contacted by The Next Web, MarkMonitor declined to comment, citing a company policy of neither confirming nor denying whether companies use its services.

To be clear, there’s no evidence that Facebook itself has been compromised. Despite SEA’s claims to have rerouted the company’s nameservers, Facebook traffic seems to be operating as usual. While the SEA’s purported screenshots point to an intrusion on MarkMonitor’s end, we’ll have to wait for the registrar to issue an official statement on what went down.

Last August, the SEA launched a similar attack on domains from Twitter, The New York Times and The Huffington Post by compromising Melbourne IT, the companies’ domain registrar.
This is a developing story. Please stay tuned for updates. - TNW.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Massive Space Rock Hit Planet Mars - NASA's HiRISE Captures Spectacular New Martian Impact Crater!

February 06, 2014 - MARS - Space rocks hitting Mars excavate fresh craters at a pace of more than 200 per year, but few new Mars scars pack as much visual punch as one seen in a NASA image released today.

A dramatic, fresh impact crater dominates this image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment
(HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov. 19, 2013. Researchers used HiRISE to examine
this site because the orbiter's Context Camera had revealed a change in appearance here between observations
in July 2010 and May 2012, bracketing the formation of the crater between those observations. This image
is one product from the HiRISE observation catalogued as ESP_034285_1835.

The image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a crater about 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter at the center of a radial burst painting the surface with a pattern of bright and dark tones.

It is available online at and

The scar appeared at some time between imaging of this location by the orbiter's Context Camera in July 2010 and again in May 2012. Based on apparent changes between those before-and-after images at lower resolution, researchers used HiRISE to acquire this new image on Nov. 19, 2013. The impact that excavated this crater threw some material as far as 9.3 miles (15 kilometers).

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. HiRISE is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson. The instrument was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates the Context Camera.

For more information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been studying Mars from orbit since 2006, visit - NASA.