Sunday, May 4, 2014

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Russia Declares That "Ukraine Is Beyond Our Control" - Insists It Cannot Control Pro-Russian Separatists And Calls For Dialogue With West!

May 04, 2014 - UKRAINE - The Kremlin said yesterday it was receiving "thousands" of pleas for help from Ukraine, warning that it could not control pro-Russian separatists in the country and now required help to resolve the worsening violence.

An armed Ukrainian soldier looks around while guarding at a checkpoint not far of Slavyansk
EPA/Roman Pilipey

As Russian troops continued to conduct exercises near the Ukrainian border and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, demanded the Russian government do more to defuse the situation or risk further economic sanctions, a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was quoted as saying that Russia had "lost its influence" over separatists in the region.

Speaking in Moscow yesterday, Mr Peskov said: "People are calling in despair, asking for help. The overwhelming majority demand Russian help. All these calls are reported to [President] Vladimir Putin."

He made clear that the Russian government blamed the West for the worsening situation, while stressing the need for "dialogue" towards a peaceful resolution. "Kiev and its Western sponsors are practically provoking the bloodshed and bear direct responsibility for it. Those who recognise this junta as a legal power become an accomplice to this crime."

Ukraine is scheduled to hold a presidential election on 25 May. But Mr Peskov said it would be "absurd" for it to go ahead under the current conditions of "military action, a punitive operation and mass killings".

Mr Kerry, currently in Africa, spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to warn of further economic penalties if the situation did not stabilise.

"It's important for Russia to withdraw support for the separatists," he said. "If those supported by Russia continue to interfere with the elections, regrettably there will have to be sanctions, including the possibility of – the reality of – sector sanctions."

Mr Lavrov responded by placing the responsibility for defusing the crisis on the West. The US, he said, must use its influence in Kiev.

A former British ambassador to Moscow warned that the Kremlin's claims not to be orchestrating the situation should not be dismissed. Sir Rodric Braithwaite told The Independent on Sunday: "It may be true that Putin is losing control of events in eastern Ukraine and that he fears being sucked into a situation which could turn out to be unmanageable. It is unlikely that he has abandoned the proposition that he put forward weeks ago, that Ukraine needs a new constitution of a federal kind with specific rights for the Russian-language population in the East … The West will need to think how to respond to these propositions if a constructive negotiation for the benefit of the Ukrainians themselves is to be got under way." - Independent.

RATTLE & HUM: Loud Boom Heard Along Hundreds Of Kilometers Of French West Coast - Said To Be "Sonic Boom"?!

May 04, 2014 - FRANCE - An explosion heard on Sunday May 4th at around 2pm from Bordeaux to Les Sables d'Olonne in the Vendée region was the result of a fighter jet crossing the sound barrier, according to the French Air Force.

On social networks, people of the Gironde, Vendée and Poitou-Charentes regions, an area with a radius of at least 100 miles, were wondering about the source of the massive boom that shattered the tranquility of their Sunday afternoon.

Within hours, the French Air Force claimed that the boom was caused by a French fighter jet that crossed the sound barrier as it went to intercept an American Airlines flight that was having "communication problems" as it entered French airspace.

According to an Air Force spokesperson, the jet took off from Mont de Marsan, East of Bordeaux, and then proceeded up the Western coastline. Because the situation involved a possible "security threat", the pilot was given permission to go "supersonic" in order to intercept the commercial airliner in the shortest possible time.

The French Air Force claimed that 70 similar incidents had occurred in 2013, although few, if any, such booms were heard on those occasions. The question remains, therefore, why, on this occasion, a "possible emergency situation" was declared and the pilot of the jet permitted to "go supersonic", allegedly creating the loud boom. - SOTT.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Bright Meteor Sighted Over Missouri!

May 04, 2014 - MISSOURI, UNITED STATES -  Many of you contacted us after seeing a flash of light in the sky and hearing a big boom late Friday night. We may now have an answer to the question, "What was that?"

Local astronomers say it was a meteor associated with the Eta Aquarids meteor shower, which is set to peak early Tuesday.

The American Meteor Society states that fireballs could be seen across seven states.

After hearing initial reports from viewers around 10:30 Friday night, KY3 posted a Facebook status asking people if they had seen anything and where they were located. More than 2,000 people commented on the post saying that they had seen and/or heard fireballs.

KY3 contacted local authorities Friday night. They did not immediately have an explanation for the flash or the boom. - KY3.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Twin Undersea Earthquakes Jolt South Of Fiji Islands - No Tsunami Warning After The 6.6 And 6.1 Magnitude Tremors! [MAPS+ESTIMATES+TECTONIC SUMMARY]

May 04, 2014 - FIJI ISLANDS - A 6.6-magnitude and another 6.1- magnitude undersea earthquakes jolted south of Fiji late Sunday, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.

USGS earthquake location map.

The epicenter of the first quake, a 6.6-magnitude one which struck from a depth of 527.6 kilometers at 9:15 p.m. local time ( 0915 GMT), was traced 722 kilometers south of the Fijian capital of Suva, USGS data showed. The agency had initially reported the quake at 6.8 magnitude.

The epicenter of the second quake, a 6.1-magnitude one which struck from a depth of 610.6 kilometers at 9:25 p.m. local time ( 0925 GMT), was traced 848 kilometers south of Suva.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not immediately issue a tsunami warning based on the two quakes, and there were no immediate reports of casualty or damage.

Fiji lies on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones where continental plates collide producing frequent seismic activity. - People Daily.

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.

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 (>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.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes And Landslides Keep Popping Up Across Florida - Sinkhole Appears In Panama City Beach; Sinkhole Re-opens, Being Filled A Second Time In Villages!

May 04, 2014 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - A sinkhole is inconveniencing some residents in a Panama City Beach neighborhood Saturday.

Video Link

Bay County Sheriff's deputies received a call shortly before 2 P.M. from a neighbor about a sinkhole. Officials say the sinkhole off Boca Lagoon Drive is at least 15 feet wide and 4 feet deep.

Deputies closed portions of the road for safety reasons and are making cars drive on the grass to avoid the sinkhole. The Bay County Roads and Bridges Department and the Panama City Beach Water Department are trying to figure out who's jurisdiction the road is in before they fix it.

Officials haven't determined how the sinkhole appeared, but believe this week's severe weather could have caused it. They expect the sinkhole to be repaired by Saturday night.

Neighbors in the area say the road was recently repaved.   - WJHG.

Sinkhole Re-opens, Being Filled A Second Time In Villages
A sinkhole that officials filled over the weekend in The Villages has reopened.

WATCH: Sinkhole reopens in Florida.


Source:WESH-2   - WJHG.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: "Scientists Are Puzzled" - Early Fish Die-Off In Maryland Waters Centered On Baltimore Remains A Mystery?!

May 04, 2014 - MARYLAND, UNITED STATES -  As quickly as it started, a fish kill in Baltimore's Inner Harbor appears to be easing.

A skim boat filled with dead fish from Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Alex DeMetrick reports what triggered the sudden die-off is still guesswork.

The city moved fast to remove the die-off, with skim boats collecting hauls more commonly seen on commercial fishing boats and as menhaden and shad died from the Inner Harbor out to the Key Bridge.

"And some of them were struggling at the surface, looking like they were trying to catch their breath. It was sad to see; it was just so widespread," said John Tapscott, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Tapscott captains the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's educational boat in the harbor. Tuesday's trip spotted far fewer dead fish but none of the usual triggers of die-offs, which normally happen later in the year in far warmer weather.

"We didn't really see any classic sign and even the oxygen yesterday, there was enough oxygen in the water for the fish to breathe," Tapscott said.

"I think it's pretty certain some kind of combination of nutrients, runoff and organic matter," said Dr. Donald Boesch, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Which takes rain to move off the hard surfaces of urban areas into the harbor and bay.

"People fertilizing lawns and gardens, animal waste," Boesch said.

Causing algae blooms that turn water brown during hot weather, choking off oxygen other life needs. But that's not happening - at least on the surface.

But wind could churn up dead water from below.

"So if you get a wind condition, it will take that material that consumes a lot of oxygen up to the surface," Boesch said.

But it's not clear if that happened this time.

"I think scientists are puzzled as to why. Everyone wants to know. I'd love to know why," Tapscott said.

Maryland's Department of the Environment says there are no signs of a toxic spill or a classic algae bloom. Answers from water tests will take at least a week.  - WJZ.

DELUGE: Torrential Rains Cause Widespread Flooding In Central Italy - Streets Were Submerged And Cars Were Seen Floating! [VIDEO]

May 04, 2014 - ITALY - At least one person has been killed and another is missing after flooding hit the Le Marche province in central Italy.

In the port town of Senigallia, streets were submerged and cars were seen floating in filthy water.EPA

The port town of Senigallia, on the Adriatic coast, was the worst hit when the River Cesano burst its banks.

Streets were submerged and cars were seen floating in the filthy water.

The man who has been confirmed dead is believed to have been suffering from a heart condition, but the ambulance was unable to reach him due to the flooded roads.

WATCH: Heavy flooding in Central Italy.


More rain is expected in the region over the next few days, but the heaviest rain is expected to move southwards, across the southern parts of Le Marche and the Abruzzo province.

Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary are also expecting torrential rain over the next few days, which could bring the risk of flooding. - Al Jazeera.

MONUMENTAL GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Sinkholes Are Opening Up All Over The Nicobar Islands!

May 04, 2014 - NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIAN OCEAN -  While the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is sparing no effort to fill a rapidly widening sinkhole in Florida since Apr. 23, India's Geological Survey has closed its field station in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where sinkholes have sprung up all over as an aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami.

A sinkhole is widening in Car Nicobar, but the authorities are clueless about its potential dangers. Malini Shankar/IPS

The administration in this popular tourist destination in the Bay of Bengal may be prepared for another tsunami. But it seems clueless about these holes in the ground that can sometimes cave in or lead to other geological events like hot springs, water spouts, natural gas emissions or even cracks in the subterranean magma chambers.

Islanders told IPS that sinkholes have appeared all over Nicobar. Whether that is also the case with the Andamans remains a matter of speculation as there is no official documentation of it, nor did the administration facilitate this writer's photo assignment to visit the geologically volatile islands.

IPS discovered and photographed sinkholes in three Nicobar Islands - Car Nicobar, Kamorta and Campbell Bay.

"Car Nicobar is full of sinkholes after the tsunami. Even though I grew up here, our parents are now petrified of us swimming near the beach," says Dr. Christina Rossetti, a local of Car Nicobar who works at a government-run hospital here.

Indian Air Force officers at Car Nicobar documented a water spout in April 2013 which shot up from a sinkhole to 1,000 metres in the sky over the Bay of Bengal.

Tsunami survivors in Car Nicobar also told IPS about water spouts that injured their eyes during the disaster.

Sinkholes can be either the cause or the consequence of quicksand, hot springs, geysers, natural gas emissions or water spouts. Initially the surface starts collapsing.

"Usually the depression goes on increasing in depth and it transits from depression to saucer to cup," Dr. Arun Bapat, formerly head of earthquake engineering research at the Central Water and Power Research Station in the western Indian city of Pune, told IPS.

"Sinkholes are usually formed in calcareous formation. The reduction or dissolution of calcium due to drainage or erosion or natural flow of water can cause sinkholes. Earthquakes are not the main cause of sinkholes. But it is possible that in calcareous rock, when a landslide has occurred during or immediately after earthquake, landslides could lead to sinkholes," says Bapat.

Sinkholes look deceptively benign, but anything from quicksand to natural gas could be hidden beneath, deceiving people and livestock who may innocently trample the surface and be swallowed into geysers or cavernous black holes in the ground.

Sinkholes, which range from a few centimetres to 600 metres in diameter, can appear in the aftermath of big seismic events.

Referring to Thailand, the 2005 United Nations Environment Programme report 'Rapid Assessment after Asian Tsunami' says: "Between the earthquake of 26 December 2004 and 24 January 2005, 25 sinkholes have been reported, an unprecedented frequency; 17 of them were reported in the six tsunami-affected provinces."

But no such assessment has been done for India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

IPS approached several authorities, including the National Geophysical Research Institute, the National Institute of Ocean Technology, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, the Geological Society of India, but drew a blank.

The secretary of the Disaster Management Authority for Andaman and Nicobar Islands (DMA) was on leave and the director of DMA did not answer calls.

Sakshi Mittal, deputy commissioner of Nicobar, said, "This has not been brought to my notice yet." Lt. Gen. A.K. Singh, Lieutenant-Governor of Andaman and Nicobar, the highest ranking official of the island territory, told IPS, "We have no idea about sinkholes, please complete your research and inform us."

This administration seems unaware of potential dangers even though the area is home to 350,000 people, 20,000 of whom are highly endangered indigenous people. Its picturesque locales drew 250,445 tourists in 2013.

Ambikaprasad Mallik, a scuba diving instructor in Havelock Island, told IPS, "If a series of sinkholes on the beach collapses at one go, the difference of levels in the water and land masses can create waves and even cause a small local tsunami."

Sinkholes occur in many parts of India and the world. They have accounted for the disappearance of human beings, livestock, rivers, buildings and vehicles.

"Sinkholes represent a hazard to property and human safety in a wide variety of geologic settings across the globe," says the USGS on one of its websites.

Florida in the U.S. is particularly prone to sinkholes, with one last year swallowing a 37-year-old man in his sleep. Another engulfed a forest in Louisiana.

Geologists fight shy of forecasting the precise cause and consequence of sinkholes.

Prof. Kusala Rajendran of the Centre for Earth Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore told IPS, "It is unlikely to lead to anything life threatening, but there may be signatures of deformation such as fissures. This might depend on the region. During seismic activity, land can go down soon after the earthquake. Sinkholes form much later. They develop gradually and are well expressed."

Bapat says, "The sinkholes recently formed in Andaman and Nicobar are probably due to the tsunami. Sometimes, due to geological formation and geometry in the coastal area, stationary waves are formed and this keeps the water vibrating in vertical direction."

USGS notes: "Sinkholes are dramatic because the land usually stays intact for a period of time until the underground spaces just get too big. In most cases, the subsidence rate of a sinkhole represents the most significant potential impact and risk to public safety."

Sinkholes on volcanic slopes like Krakatau in the Java Straits have triggered minor earthquakes. Barren Island, South Asia's only active volcano located in the Andamans, has been spewing lava since January 2010.

With no public transport available to Barren Island, this writer's request to the island administration to facilitate a photo shoot there and in other parts of Andaman district where mud volcanoes are expanding was not accepted. - IPS.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Rare Arctic Ross's Gull Found In Torbay, Newfoundland?!

May 04, 2014 - NEWFOUNDLAND, CANADA - Birdwatchers in Torbay had a treat this week when a rare Ross's Gull was spotted. Bird expert Bill Montevecchi says the seagull is recognizable for its pink colour, making it perhaps the flashiest gull on the water. Montevecchi says the bird, along with many European golden plovers, have made it here because they have been blown off-course by strong northerly and northeasterly winds.

Ross's Gull at Torbay, Avalon Peninsula, NewfoundlandBruce Mactavish

He says birders looking for rarities are watching the weather. He says these winds are the most interesting because that's how European birds wind up here.

Montevecchi says for birds blown off course, Newfoundland is a welcome rest for them before they get back on their way.

He says a lot of the birds probably don't make it, and perish in the ocean. But for the ones who do, they get a chance to refuel. He says they most likely do get back on track after they rest. - VOCM.