Saturday, May 31, 2014

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: "Mountain Of Spirits" - Menacing 12-MILE-HIGH Ash Cloud Looms Over Indonesia As Sangeang Api Volcano Erupts, Disrupting Flights Across Northern Australia! [STUNNING PHOTOS+VIDEO]

May 31, 2014 -  INDONESIA - Flights across northern Australia could be affected for days as a vast ash cloud spews from an Indonesian volcano, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says. Sangeang Api, a volcano off the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, has erupted at least three times since Friday afternoon.Flights to and from Darwin International Airport have been cancelled on Saturday as the ash cloud spreads across the Top End and towards Alice Springs.

Eruption at Mount Sangean Api in the Lesser Sunda Islands, IndonesiaSofia Efendi

This is the incredible moment when a huge volcano erupted in Indonesia sending ash spewing an estimated 12 miles into the sky.The powerful explosion took place at Mount Sangeang Api in the Lesser Sunda Islands - an area that plays host to 129 active volcanoes - and sent a distinctive spaceship-shaped ring of pyroclastic smoke high into the air.

The photographs were taken by professional photographer Sofyan Efendi during a commercial flight from Bali to the fishing town of Labuan Bajo in West Nusa Tenggara province.

Scores of farmers who work but do not live on the island were ordered to leave and not return until the volcano has finished erupting, said Muhammad Hendrasto, head of Indonesia's National Volcanology Agency. There are not believed to have been any deaths or injuries as a result of the eruption.

Authorities have had Mount Sangiang Api - which means 'Mountain of Spirits' in Balinese - on high alert for almost a year, he told China's Xinhua news agency. The volcano sits in Indonesia's notorious 'Ring of Fire' - an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. It has 452 volcanoes - 75 per cent of the world's total.Since Sangiang Api's first recorded eruption in 1512, it is believed to have erupted a total of 20 times.

Eerie: After erupting, the volcano sent a distinctive spaceship-shaped ring of pyroclastic smoke high into the air.
Pilots in the area reported seeing the cloud rising to 65'000 feet, spreading over a 25 mile area

Cloud: The volcano sits in Indonesia's notorious 'Ring of Fire'

The 'Ring of Fire' - an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the
basin of the Pacific Ocean. It has 452 volcanoes - 75 per cent of the world's total

Mr Truss says the ash cloud sits between 6km and 13km in the atmosphere and is sweeping southwest over northern Australia."Depending on wind and other weather conditions, the ash has the potential to affect flights to and from other airports, including Brisbane, during coming days. This is currently being fully assessed," he said.

Air services Australia, the nation's air navigation authority, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Bureau of Meteorology are all investigating the cloud, Mr Truss said."Depending on wind and other weather conditions, the ash has the potential to affect flights to and from other airports, including Brisbane, during coming days. This is currently being fully assessed," he said.

"Passengers are advised to check with their airlines for further information."

Airservices Australia has begun diverting international flights around the ash cloud.

WATCH: 12-mile high ash cloud looms over Indonesia as volcano erupts.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority says volcanic ash can affect all aircraft with piston or jet engines at all flight levels.

Fine particles of pulverised rock consisting mainly of silica contained in volcanic ash clouds can be highly abrasive and damage aircraft engines, structures and windows.

"Commercial air operators and private pilots planning to fly in this area should conduct a safety risk assessment before any flights," a spokesman said.

"CASA recommends flights are not conducted into areas with visible volcanic ash clouds.

"Flights into areas with low levels of ash contamination should only be conducted after a safety risk assessment has been carried out."

The manager of the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology in Darwin, Emile Jansons, said the cloud is dispersing as it spreads south but the situation could change at any time.

"It is continuing to disperse but it is moving very rapidly - at 70 to 80 knots (130 to 150km/h) towards Alice Springs," Mr Jansons told AAP.

"There is a very strong jet stream so the boundary (of the cloud) may come further south."

He said no impact is expected on Brisbane but this could change.

Mr Jansons said volcanic ash can be hazardous to aircraft but the decision whether or not to fly is a safety and economic decision that rests with individual airlines.

Safety concerns: Scores of farmers who work but do not live on the island were ordered to leave and
not return until the volcano has finished erupting

Mount Sangeang Api eruption causes flight delays out of Darwin, Australia.

AEROMEDICAL service CareFlight has scaled its flights from Darwin airport until the volcano dust settles.CareFlight Director Ian Badham said it's being monitored on a minute by minute basis."To mitigate risk, we're responding to really urgent cases," Mr Badham said. "All but urgent emergency flights have been temporarily suspended. We're monitoring it like all other aviation operators. We're looking to life restrictions as soon as it's safe to do so." Careflight has six planes and a helicopter based at its Darwn hanger.

Duty Superintendent Geoff Barnhert said the police plane was still flying because the ash affected only high-level aviation.

The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre said most of the Territory is covered by an ash cloud, but it is unlikely to reach Australia's east coast. Flights in and out of Darwin have been cancelled after volcanic ash from Mount Sangeang Api moved across to Australia.

The volcano, which erupted on Friday, is 1373km northwest of Darwin on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa. It is roughly halfway between Bali and Timor.

DVAAC manager Emile Jansons told the NT News it was a "fairly sizeable eruption" but that the cloud over the Territory would be invisible to the naked eye.

"The volcano has been erupting to 15km in the air," he said. "It has moved across the Kimberley and western Top End. It's high in the atmosphere so there won't be any ashfall different to normal bushfire ashfall."

He said there should be negligible impact on the air quality compared to usual Top End dry season weather, and said adverse health effects were unlikely.

There is no official announcement yet, but word on the ground at Darwin Airport is most flights will be cancelled until Monday.

Asked to look into his crystal ball to get an end date, Mr Jansons said: "It continues to erupt - it's still going up right now - but how long it'll go I don't know. They tend to stop after a day or two so it's unlikely to reach the east coast. It's almost reached Tennant Creek in the south. It won't get to Brisbane or Sydney."

He said his office monitors cloud images and distributes information to aviators to make decisions. The ash can harm aircraft engines and structures, depending on the concentration of ash in the air. "It's a hazard in the atmosphere," he said. It's a situation for airlines to balance the safety costs or the damage costs."

Darwin International Airport's website shows all incoming and outgoing flights have been cancelled.  

SOURCES:  Daily Mail | MSN | NT News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.2 Magnitude Undersea Earthquake Strikes Off The Coast Of Mexico! [MAPS+TECTONIC SUMMARY]

May 31, 2014 -  MEXICO - The 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck off Mexico's Pacific coast, around 300 km from some of the country's beach resorts.

USGS earthquake location map.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake occurred at 10km deep in the Pacific Ocean.

Nearby coastal cities include Tomaltan ('Tomato land') at 259 km, a Mexican beach resort city of Puerto Vallarta at 303 km and Ixtapa beach resort at 311 km.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity

The country's capital Mexico City is 877 km from the earthquake's epicenter.

An excavator-mounted hydraulic jackhammer is being used to break up the concrete of the collapsed bridge Cuajilote
after an earthquake struck the area in Tecpan de Galeana May 9, 2014. (Reuters / Claudio Vargas)

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. - RT.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of Mexico
Located atop three of the large tectonic plates, Mexico is one of the world's most seismologically active regions. The relative motion of these crustal plates causes frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. Most of the Mexican landmass is on the westward moving North American plate. The Pacific Ocean floor south of Mexico is being carried northeastward by the underlying Cocos plate. Because oceanic crust is relatively dense, when the Pacific Ocean floor encounters the lighter continental crust of the Mexican landmass, the ocean floor is subducted beneath the North American plate creating the deep Middle American trench along Mexico's southern coast. Also as a result of this convergence, the westward moving Mexico landmass is slowed and crumpled creating the mountain ranges of southern Mexico and earthquakes near Mexico's southern coast. As the oceanic crust is pulled downward, it melts; the molten material is then forced upward through weaknesses in the overlying continental crust. This process has created a region of volcanoes across south-central Mexico known as the Cordillera Neovolcánica.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

The area west of the Gulf of California, including Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, is moving northwestward with the Pacific plate at about 50 mm per year. Here, the Pacific and North American plates grind past each other creating strike-slip faulting, the southern extension of California's San Andreas fault. In the past, this relative plate motion pulled Baja California away from the coast forming the Gulf of California and is the cause of earthquakes in the Gulf of California region today.

Mexico has a long history of destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In September 1985, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake killed more than 9,500 people in Mexico City. In southern Mexico, Volcán de Colima and El Chichón erupted in 2005 and 1982, respectively. Paricutín volcano, west of Mexico City, began venting smoke in a cornfield in 1943; a decade later this new volcano had grown to a height of 424 meters. Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl volcanos ("smoking mountain" and "white lady", respectively), southeast of Mexico City, occasionally vent gas that can be clearly seen from the City, a reminder that volcanic activity is ongoing. In 1994 and 2000 Popocatépetl renewed its activity forcing the evacuation of nearby towns, causing seismologists and government officials to be concerned about the effect a large-scale eruption might have on the heavily populated region. Popocatépetl volcano last erupted in 2010. - USGS.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Fireball Spotted In The Skies Over Central Victoria, Australia - Loud Bangs Heard Close Within Close Proximity To Its Landing!

May 31, 2014 - AUSTRALIA - Dr Andy Tomkins is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Geoscienes at Monash University.

Dr Andy Tomkins says meteorites can been seen hundreds of kilometres away from ground level.
( - ABC)

He says there were reported sightings of a loud, white flash at ground level at around 6:30pm on the worldwide meteorites news website.

"It would have been a meteorite coming in somewhere from Mars and Jupiter, they usually come from that sort of orbit, and just coming through our atmosphere really, really fast and burning up as it came through the atmosphere and hopefully landing on the ground."

Dr Tomkins encourages people to check their CTTV cameras from Sunday evening in hope of locating the meteorite.

"We can use that to figure out the direction that the meteorite came from and where it's likely to have ended up on the ground, particularly if there is some sort of time stamp on the video that really helps us nail it down as well."

"We use video from multiple directions from where people have seen it from multiple angles to triangulate down toward the ground position."

He says people who heard a loud bang on Sunday evening would have been within close proximity to its landing.

"Usually it gets brighter the closer you are to it, then a bang, the boom people heard is when you're really close to it, people can usually see a smoke trail if they're fairly close."

Dr Tomkins says the meteorite would have been the size of a car before exploding into the lower atmosphere.

"Usually if they're a stony meteorite, they usually explode in the lower atmosphere and shower the ground with lots of little meteorites."

Freshly fallen meteorites are usually magnetic and have a black, shiny outer surface, however once on the ground a light interior can be seen.

Dr Tomkins says locating meteorites on ground level is quite rare, with an estimated eight recoveries per year.

"People are only awake for brief periods during the evening, they don't' see all of them, a lot of them land in the ocean."

"We're talking about thousands of tonnes of meteoric material that actually comes to the earth from space every year."

Dr Tomkins says if a meteorite is recovered, it can help scientists understand the solar system.

"It tells us the age of the solar system, which is 4567 million years old, the chemical composition of the solar system and the earth ultimately, what the earth's core is made of, where the earth's water came from, tells us all about how life might have come to earth."

Dr Tomkins recommends anyone with footage to send it to his friend, David Finlay, an astronomy enthusiast who alerted the university about this particular sighting.

David Finlay's email is  - ABC Australia.