Monday, December 22, 2014

PLANETARY TREMORS: Very Strong Magnitude 6.6 Earthquake Strikes In Indonesia's Molucca Sea - No Tsunami Threat! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location map.

December 22, 2014 - INDONESIA
- A earthquake registering a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 struck in the Molucca Sea Sunday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s automated seismograph alert network.

The quake struck an estimated depth of 34 miles below the earth’s surface.

Deeper quakes are less noticeable while a shallow quake–in the 0 to 40 mile depth range–can feel much stronger than their actual reported magnitude.

USGS shakemap intensity.

Quakes just below the earth’s surface, in the 0 to 10 miles range, can cause even more damage at lower magnitudes.

No tsunami warning was issued. - CBS.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Philippine Sea and Vicinity

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

The Philippine Sea plate is bordered by the larger Pacific and Eurasia plates and the smaller Sunda plate. The Philippine Sea plate is unusual in that its borders are nearly all zones of plate convergence. The Pacific plate is subducted into the mantle, south of Japan, beneath the Izu-Bonin and Mariana island arcs, which extend more than 3,000 km along the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea plate. This subduction zone is characterized by rapid plate convergence and high-level seismicity extending to depths of over 600 km. In spite of this extensive zone of plate convergence, the plate interface has been associated with few great (M>8.0) ‘megathrust’ earthquakes. This low seismic energy release is thought to result from weak coupling along the plate interface (Scholz and Campos, 1995). These convergent plate margins are also associated with unusual zones of back-arc extension (along with resulting seismic activity) that decouple the volcanic island arcs from the remainder of the Philippine Sea Plate (Karig et al., 1978; Klaus et al., 1992).

South of the Mariana arc, the Pacific plate is subducted beneath the Yap Islands along the Yap trench. The long zone of Pacific plate subduction at the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea Plate is responsible for the generation of the deep Izu-Bonin, Mariana, and Yap trenches as well as parallel chains of islands and volcanoes, typical of circum-pacific island arcs. Similarly, the northwestern margin of the Philippine Sea plate is subducting beneath the Eurasia plate along a convergent zone, extending from southern Honshu to the northeastern coast of Taiwan, manifested by the Ryukyu Islands and the Nansei-Shoto (Ryukyu) trench. The Ryukyu Subduction Zone is associated with a similar zone of back-arc extension, the Okinawa Trough. At Taiwan, the plate boundary is characterized by a zone of arc-continent collision, whereby the northern end of the Luzon island arc is colliding with the buoyant crust of the Eurasia continental margin offshore China.

Along its western margin, the Philippine Sea plate is associated with a zone of oblique convergence with the Sunda Plate. This highly active convergent plate boundary extends along both sides the Philippine Islands, from Luzon in the north to the Celebes Islands in the south. The tectonic setting of the Philippines is unusual in several respects: it is characterized by opposite-facing subduction systems on its east and west sides; the archipelago is cut by a major transform fault, the Philippine Fault; and the arc complex itself is marked by active volcanism, faulting, and high seismic activity. Subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate occurs at the eastern margin of the archipelago along the Philippine Trench and its northern extension, the East Luzon Trough. The East Luzon Trough is thought to be an unusual example of a subduction zone in the process of formation, as the Philippine Trench system gradually extends northward (Hamburger et al., 1983). On the west side of Luzon, the Sunda Plate subducts eastward along a series of trenches, including the Manila Trench in the north, the smaller less well-developed Negros Trench in the central Philippines, and the Sulu and Cotabato trenches in the south (Cardwell et al., 1980). At its northern and southern terminations, subduction at the Manila Trench is interrupted by arc-continent collision, between the northern Philippine arc and the Eurasian continental margin at Taiwan and between the Sulu-Borneo Block and Luzon at the island of Mindoro. The Philippine fault, which extends over 1,200 km within the Philippine arc, is seismically active. The fault has been associated with major historical earthquakes, including the destructive M7.6 Luzon earthquake of 1990 (Yoshida and Abe, 1992). A number of other active intra-arc fault systems are associated with high seismic activity, including the Cotabato Fault and the Verde Passage-Sibuyan Sea Fault (Galgana et al., 2007).

Relative plate motion vectors near the Philippines (about 80 mm/yr) is oblique to the plate boundary along the two plate margins of central Luzon, where it is partitioned into orthogonal plate convergence along the trenches and nearly pure translational motion along the Philippine Fault (Barrier et al., 1991). Profiles B and C reveal evidence of opposing inclined seismic zones at intermediate depths (roughly 70-300 km) and complex tectonics at the surface along the Philippine Fault.

Several relevant tectonic elements, plate boundaries and active volcanoes, provide a context for the seismicity presented on the main map. The plate boundaries are most accurate along the axis of the trenches and more diffuse or speculative in the South China Sea and Lesser Sunda Islands. The active volcanic arcs (Siebert and Simkin, 2002) follow the Izu, Volcano, Mariana, and Ryukyu island chains and the main Philippine islands parallel to the Manila, Negros, Cotabato, and Philippine trenches.

Seismic activity along the boundaries of the Philippine Sea Plate (Allen et al., 2009) has produced 7 great (M>8.0) earthquakes and 250 large (M>7) events. Among the most destructive events were the 1923 Kanto, the 1948 Fukui and the 1995 Kobe (Japan) earthquakes (99,000, 5,100, and 6,400 casualties, respectively), the 1935 and the 1999 Chi-Chi (Taiwan) earthquakes (3,300 and 2,500 casualties, respectively), and the 1976 M7.6 Moro Gulf and 1990 M7.6 Luzon (Philippines) earthquakes (7,100 and 2,400 casualties, respectively). There have also been a number of tsunami-generating events in the region, including the Moro Gulf earthquake, whose tsunami resulted in more than 5000 deaths.

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics


CYBER WARS: Eye For Eye - North Korea Internet Infrastructure Collapses; Suffers Blackout For Nearly 10 Hours!

Massive Internet outages reported in North Korea, major cyber attack suspected

December 22, 2014 - NORTH KOREA
- North Korea completely lost internet access for 9.5 hours on Monday before coming back online early Tuesday. The blackout happened after US President Obama promised to “respond proportionally” to the Sony online breach, blaming Pyongyang.

US computer experts said that North Korea has experienced wide internet outages, with one saying that Pyongyang’s net connection was“totally down.”

Access to the website of the official North Korean Central News Agency and the Rodong Sinmun newspaper were back up on Tuesday, South Korean officials told AP.

North Korea's Internet restored after 9 hour, 31 minute outage.

Washington has decided not to comment as to whether it had any involvement in the matter.

“We aren’t going to discuss, you know, publicly operational details about the possible response options or comment on those kind of reports in any way except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen,” US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told journalists.

There have been reports that researches spotted a rise in denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against North Korea as early as Thursday, which attempted to overload the country’s service, putting into question US role.

The next day, a Twitter account connected to the hacktivist group Anonymous, ‘theanonmessage’, tweeted that a counterattack against the North Korean regime had begun: “Operation RIP North Korea, engaged. #OpRIPNK.”

According to statistics analyzed by security research firm Arbor Networks, North Korea experienced two DDoS attacks on Thursday, followed by another four on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday attacks surged in numbers, with 5.97 gigabits of data drowning North Korea’s wires every second.

New Hampshire-based Dyn Research says the cause of the blackout is still unknown and may range from a hacker attack to a technical glitch.

"There's either a benign explanation - their routers are perhaps having a software glitch; that's possible. It also seems possible that somebody can be directing some sort of an attack against them and they're having trouble staying online," Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research, told Reuters.

Internet instability and outages today in North Korea.

According to a Dyn report, North Korea “has significantly less internet to lose, compared to other countries with similar populations: Yemen (47 networks), Afghanistan (370 networks), or Taiwan (5,030 networks).”

"And unlike these countries, North Korea maintains dependence on a single international provider, China Unicom," the document added.

Tom Kellermann, Chief Cyber-Security Officer at Trend Micro, said that Pyongyang was attacked by a botnet. A botnet is a network of home computers, often controlled by a criminal gang.

"It would be possible that a patriotic actor could achieve the same results with a botnet, however the [US] president promised a proportional response," said Kellermann.

The attacks come in the wake of infamous string of cyber-attacks against Sony Pictures, which ended up as a row between North Korea and the US.

WATCH: US v North Korea cyber warfare looming - ‘Unilateral action can escalate situation out of control’.

On Friday, US President Barack Obama promised to “respond proportionally” to the Sony online breach, blaming North Korea for the attack.

North Korea, on the other hand, repeatedly denied it was behind the hack and proposed a joint investigation with the United States into the attack against Sony Pictures, according to the state news agency, KCNA. The calls have been dismissed by the US envoy to the UN, Samantha Power, as “absurd.”

Sony’s network was hacked in November, with masses of private data, including employees’ emails, later made public.

The attack was accompanied by threats against movie theaters that planned to show ‘The Interview’, which involves a fictional, CIA-sanctioned plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. - RT.

FIRE IN THE SKY: "It Was Like Daytime Almost" - Calgary Photographer Captures Fireball Over Night Skies Of Mount Rundle!

Calgary photographer Brett Abernethy captured a shot of an apparent fireball streaking across the night sky in Banff over
Mount Rundle on Saturday, December 20, 2014.   © Brett Abernethy / Calgary Herald

December 22, 2014 - CALGARY, CANADA
- Calgary photographer Brett Abernethy was out in Banff shooting aurora over the night sky early Saturday when he captured what appeared to be a fireball zipping over the mountains.

Abernethy said he and a fellow photographer were set up at Johnson Lake taking a shot of Mount Rundle at around 1:22 a.m. when the sky lit up.

"It was like daytime almost. It fragmented into three pieces. We were both in awe. Then I realized my shot was exposing as it was going on," he said, adding he used a 40-second exposure.

When he looked at the photo he snapped with his Canon 5D Mark III, using a Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 lens, he was pleasantly surprised to see he'd captured a bright light streaking over the mountains.

"I got to a whole level of excitement," he said. "When I was a kid, I remember the light, the sky lighting up once. But I didn't see anything like that, that's for sure."

Abernethy says he went online to see if anyone else caught a glimpse of the light show, but couldn't find any chatter about the event, adding it was early in the morning and many Banff residents may have been asleep.

Calgary astronomer Alan Dyer said in an e-mail that by looking at the photo, it appears to be a fireball, "and a bright one at that - a natural meteor entering the atmosphere and burning up."

It's not clear from the photo if fragments might have survived to reach the earth, Dyer added.  - Calgary Herald.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Swarm - More Than 250 Earthquake Tremors Hit Italy's Chianti Region Since Friday - Raising Concern Over Safety Of Michelangelo's David Statue!

The epicentre of the strongest quake was nine kilometres below ground close to Greve in Chianti. Photo: Konrad Lawson

December 22, 2014 - ITALY
- Several mini-earthquakes with a maximum magnitude of 4.1 shook Italy's famous Chianti wine region on Friday.

The tremors were sufficiently powerful to result in homes, schools and offices being evacuated but no serious damage or injuries were reported.

The National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) said there had been more than 30 tremors over 24 hours with the strongest, measuring 3.8 and 4.1, registered mid-morning on Friday.

The epicentre of the strongest quake was nine kilometres (six miles) below ground close to Greve in Chianti, one of the best known wine villages in an area of rolling hills around and between the historic cities of Florence and Siena.

The area lies in the foothills of the central section of the Apennine mountains, which run like a spine down the centre of Italy and are subject to significant seismic activity.

Source: AFP

- The Local.

Italian earthquakes raise concern over safety of Michelangelo's David Statue

More than 250 tremors have been rattling Florence and the Chianti region since Friday, raising concerns over the safety of Michelangelo's David.

According to Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the two major shocks that hit the wine-growing region measured 3.8. and 4.1 on the Richter scale, while several others reached 3.0 to 3.5, scaring people but leaving no one injured.

Minor tremors are continuing at the moment, sparking alarm over the national art treasure, with the focus on Michelangelo's statue of David. Earlier this year, experts found David at risk of crumbling down under its own weight because of tiny fractures in its ankles.

Italy's ministry of culture Dario Franceschini announced on Sunday that the 17-foot high statue will be given a special, anti-seismic platform worth $250,000. The support is expected to be ready for use by the end of 2015.

"The recent earthquakes make this project urgent," Franceschini said in a statement. "A masterpiece like David must not be left to any risk."

Representing the biblical hero who killed Goliath, the sculpture marked a watershed in Renaissance art and established Michelangelo as the foremost sculptor of his time at the age of 29.

The towering sculpture, acclaimed for its depiction of male physical perfection, was displayed for the first time beside the main doorway of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence on Sept. 8, 1504.

David remained in its original location, at the mercy of the elements, until 1873, when it was moved to its present location in the Galleria dell'Accademia, where it attracts 1.25 million visitors a year.

Indeed, the micro fractures on David's ankles are the result of a long-lasting, small forward inclination of about 5 degrees during the statue's time in Piazza della Signoria.

Tests by the National Research Council and Florence University suggested that the 6-ton marble statue would break under its own weight if standing at an inclination higher than 15 degrees.

"There is a real risk that David collapses under an earthquake," Fernando De Simone, an expert in underground engineering, said.

According to De Simone, the anti-seismic platform will not fully protect the masterpiece from earthquakes.

"It will protect it from vibrations, but could not prevent the ceiling from crumbling over the statue," De Simone said.

He believes David and other art treasures should be moved to a specially built, anti-seismic underground museum.

In April 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake devastated the town of L'Aquila and province in central Italy, killing 309 people, and was preceded by several weeks of minor tremors.

The biggest earthquake in recent history in the Florence area dates back to 1895. At that time, an estimated 5.4-magnitude event hit the same Chianti region, causing damage to buildings, churches and museums. - Discovery News.

MONUMENTAL DELUGE: Widespread Flooding – The Latest Reports Of High Tides, Heavy Rainfall, Flash Floods, Sea Level Rise, And Catastrophic Storms!

December 22, 2014 - EARTH
- The following list constitutes the latest reports of high tides, heavy rainfall, flash floods, widespread flooding, sea level rise and catastrophic storms.

4 Dead, 14,000 Evacuated after Floods in Thailand – Malaysia Border

Heavy rain and flooding has continued in southern Thailand and is now also affecting areas along the Thailand-Malaysian border. At least 4 states in Malaysia have suffered from severe flooding. Several southern provinces in Thailand have been under water for the last week.

Across the region a total of four people have been reported as killed in the floods and 14,000 people evacuated (12,000 in Malaysia). Two people remain missing in the floods in Thailand.


In Thailand, the provinces of Songkhla, Surat Thani, Narathiwat, Yala, and Phatthalung continue to be among the worst affected. Rivers in Narathiwat, including the Golok, Bang Nara and Sai Buri, have overflowed.

Flooding from the Golok river has meant the border crossing between Thailand and Malaysia at Sungai Kolok has had to be closed. Flood water is said to be as high as 30 cm in the border towns along this stretch of the river.


In Narathiwat, a soldier died while helping villagers escape deep flooding. A young girl died in a landslide in Yala’s Than To district.

Flood and Landslide Warnings for the South

More rain is expected and the National Disaster Warning Centre issued a warning yesterday that nine provinces in the South face the risks of floods and landslides.


The two states of Kelantan, Perak, Pahang and Terengganu are currently affected by the floods. A total of 12,000 people are said to have evacuated from their homes. Many of the displaced are staying in evacuation centres. Around 6,700 people have been evacuated in Kelantan, 4,600 in Terengganu and 825 in Pahang.


A young child died when she was swept away by flood water while being carried by her mother to a relief centre in Kelantan. The child’s mother and 3 siblings survived.

A further victim, a man in his thirties, drowned in a swollen river in Kampung Lepa Limbat.

Further Flood Warnings Issued for Thailand and Malaysia

The flood situation continues in the border region of Thailand and Malaysia. Further severe weather warnings have been issued for both countries. 20,000 people remain displaced by flooding in Kelantan state, Malaysia, while floods have now affected parts of Sabah state. In Thailand, Pattani City in Pattani Province was declared a flood disaster area on Saturday 20 December after the Pattani River overflowed.


The situation is still critical in parts of Kelantan state, where the numbers of displaced rose from 15,000 to over 20,000 during the weekend.

Floods have also now struck in Sabah state. More than 100 flood victims from seven villages in the Tenom district, were evacuated to eight temporary relief centres which were opened on Monday.

Elsewhere the heavy rains appear to have eased on Sunday 21 December, at least for a short while. The transport situation is said to have improved in Terengganu state, and many of the displaced started to return home in the states of Pahang and Johor.

More Rain and High Tides Forecast

Sadly their return may be short-lived as more heavy rainfall is predicted for the flood-hit states. A yellow levels flood alert has been issued for the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor.

Malaysia’s Meteorological Department also expects a high tide which could exacerbate the situation in coastal areas.

Rumours that Dam in Thailand is Causing Kelantan Floods

Over the weekend rumours on social media suggested that a release of water from a dam in Sukhirin district, Narathiwat, Thailand, was about to cause massive flooding in Kelantan, Malaysia. Later Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab, Malaysia’s National Security Council (MKN) secretary, confirmed that there was in fact no such dam and the current Kelantan floods were a result of several days of heavy rainfall.


Earlier today the Thai Meteorological Department warned that the northeast monsoon which is covering the lower part of Thailand and the Gulf of Thailand is likely to become stronger. This will result in more rainfall in several provinces in the lower South, especially those from Nakhon Si Thammarat downwards. Heavy to very heavy rain is predicted in some areas of those provinces.

People living along the Gulf of Thailand coast in the lower part of the country are strongly advised to beware of the danger caused by wind waves predicted to be 2-4 metres high.

Narathiwat Province

In Narathiwat province, floods are still affecting at least 13 districts. The Head of the Narathiwat Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DPM) Office, said yesterday that the situation in all 13 districts of the province must be closely monitored as heavy rain yesterday has caused water levels to rise again despite a drop in the past few days, but has yet to reach a crisis level.

Yala Province

The Municipality of Muang District, Yala, has issued a flood warning after heavy rains continue to hammer the province, causing inundation in several areas. Floods have disrupted the Baan Nieng – Lammai route in the district.

On Sunday four army officials were injured in a helicopter crash while carrying out flood relief operations in Yala.

NNT reported that the chopper unexpectedly lost its balance and descended into a rubber plantation. The soldiers are currently in intensive care at Yala Central Hospital. Officials have been investigating the accident on site. Defense Minister and Royal Thai Army Chief General Udomdej Sitabutra was immediately informed of the crash

Pattani Province

Pattani City in Pattani Province was declared a flood disaster area on Saturday 20 December after the Pattani River overflowed. Floods in Paka Harang, Baraho and Talubo subdistricts in Mueang Pattani district were up to 1 to 1.5 metres deep. Other affected areas include Saiburi, Yaring, Nong Chik, Panare, Yarang and Mae Lan.

Flash Floods Across Sri Lanka Displace 46,000

Three days of heavy rainfall have caused flash floods in northern and central areas of Sri Lanka. Eastern, North-Central, Northern and North-Western provinces have all seen heavy rain since Saturday 20 December 2014. Sri Lanka’s Disaster management Centre (DMC) say that as many as 452,960 people have been affected by floods or landslides in the past 3 days.

WATCH: Serious flash floods in Rambewa, Sri Lanka.


DMC say that around 46,000 people have evacuated their homes and are currently staying in temporary accommodation, including local schools and community centres. Some of the latest TV news reports in Sri Lanka have the total number displaced as being much higher at over 200,000. This as yet has been unconfirmed by Sri Lanka authorities.

Eastern province is thought to be the worst affected. According to the latest situation report from Sri Lanka’s Disaster management Centre (DMC), over 30,000 people from the districts of Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Ampara. DMC also say that 3 deaths have occurred in the province as a result of the recent floods. One person was reported as injured in the floods in Anuradhapura, North Central Province.

The huge amounts of rain have increased river and reservoir levels across the provinces, forcing the authorities to open flood gates. Xinhua report that 29 of the big dams and 83 of the medium ones have reached spill level, forcing sluice gates to be opened, threatening people living downriver.

President Calls for Relief for Flood Victims

In a statement made earlier today, President Mahinda Rajapaksa instructed the authorities to provide immediate relief. DMC confirmed that the distribution of food and other relief for those affected by the inclement weather was being carried out through the District Secretaries with the coordination of other regional stakeholders and tri-forces personnel.

More Rain and Possible Landslides

As the heavy rain continues, the threat of landslide is increasing. Sri Lanka is still recovering from the disaster of Wednesday 29 October 2014, when heavy rain led to a mudslide in the Meeriyabedda tea plantation near the town of Haldummulla.

The National Department of Meteorology has issued an Amber Warning for further rainfall and strong winds. Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) warned people to be alert to the possibility of landslides and cut slope failures in Matale, Kandy, Badulla and Nuwara Eliya.

WMO Rainfall Totals, 24 Hour Period from 21 to 22 December

Badulla – 56.8 mm
Batticaloa – 84.6 mm
Trincomalee – 59.6 mm
Anuradhapura – 72.9
Vavuniya – 61.9 mm
Maha Illuppallama – 76.3 mm
Puttalam – 52.8 mm
Mannar – 52.8 mm

- Floodlist.

EXTREME WEATHER: Britain Braces Itself For Christmas Chaos And Weather Bombs - Snow, Winds, Rains And Storms Predicted In The Forecast!

Weather bomb: Experts predict Christmas will see extreme weather batter Britain

December 22, 2014 - BRITAIN
- The north of the UK could see Christmas chaos next week as the region is forecast to be hit by a blast of arctic weather.

Cold air from Greenland is forecast to bring lows of -7C (19F) on Christmas Day, which is colder than Iceland.

The Met Office said the cold polar maritime air would arrive in Scotland late on Monday, reaching all parts by Thursday.

Temperatures are expected to peak on Christmas Day at just 1C in inland Scotland and 7C in southern England, with the mercury dropping as low as -7C on Christmas Day night in parts, which would be the coldest recorded this winter so far.

Icy: What temperatures will feel like on Christmas Day

Those hoping for a white Christmas may be disappointed, though, with any snow likely to just fall over the hills in north-east England and east Scotland.

Bookies don't fancy the prospect of snow, either, with Ladbrokes lengthening white Christmas odds to 5/2 in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, 5/1 in Manchester and an outside 10/1 in London.

But festival travel plans could also be thrown into chaos by storms before and after the day.

Those rushing home north for the holiday could be affected by localised flooding, with heavy rain and gales expected to batter parts of Scotland and north-east England on Monday.

Up to 80mm of rain is forecast in western Scotland, with winds up to 75mph in the south-east of the country.

And those looking to make a quick getaway on Boxing Day could be affected by 70mph storms and the chance of more severe snow.

The RAC warned of delays and has put all 1,500 patrols on standby for overtime.

Spokesman Simon Williams said: “Drivers should plan ahead through Christmas and allow extra time for journeys.”

Boxing Day weather bomb to bring winds, rain and SNOW to Britain

Weather bomb: Experts predict Boxing Day will see extreme weather batter Britain

The nation is set to be hit by a Boxing Day weather bomb that will see racing winds and heavy snow batter much of Britain.

Experts have warned that the violent weather could also see up to 40 millimetres of rain fail from this Friday to Sunday while temperatures could also plunge to -6C.

Dr Leon Brown, forecaster for The Weather Channel UK, said the weather is expected to come in due to falling air pressure.

He said: “Be prepared for a spell of much more unsettled weather from Boxing Day to Sunday.

"We will see some explosive cyclogenesis in the North Atlantic and a rapidly deepening area of low pressure approaching North Scotland.

"Pressure actually falling by nearly 50mb from Friday to Saturday so we can call the system the Boxing Day Bomb.”

He said winds will pick up after Boxing Day with heavy snow likely over parts of Scotland and the north.

"After a cold and frosty start on Boxing Day strengthening winds and rain, preceded by a spell of sleet and snow, will quickly spread across Scotland," he added.

"We could see some heavy snow over the Highlands which may cause some travel problems for higher routes.

"Some snow over the Pennines too in the afternoon with lighter rain spreading across central and southern areas in the afternoon followed by a very wet and windy evening and night for much of the UK.

"Many areas can expect 10-15mm of rainfall and 30 to 40mm over some western areas. Winds also strong to gale in exposed areas, so not a good night to travel.”

Wind Gust: What winds will feel like on Christmas Days to Boxing Day

The Met Office has said that weather bombs were not unusual for this time of year, but stressed that is was “tricky” to see how strong winds would be.

James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, said people should be aware of the potential extreme weather at a time when many would be travelling long distances to see family.

He said: "There is then some strong agreement across a large amount of the top computer models for a major winter storm to hit our shores within the latter part of this week.

“This could produce a major weather event within the upcoming festive period.

“The worst case scenario could bring some extremely strong winds and heavy rain in places, and there is also a substantial risk that the rain could turn to snow and blizzards across large parts of the country within this period as it clashes with some much colder air."

Parts of Britain were battered by a sudden explosion of wind and rain this month after a 'weather bomb' swept in from the Atlantic.
The phenomenon is triggered when air pressure drops by 24millibars in 24 hours with a repeat this week all but certain. - Mirror.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 5.6 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Guadeloupe - No Tsunami Warnings Issued!

USGS earthquake location map.

December 22, 2014 - GUADELOUPE, CARIBBEAN
- A magnitude-5.6 earthquake shook Basse-Terre, the westernmost of Guadeloupe's two main islands, on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The temblor was registered at 3:49 p.m. (1949 GMT).

USGS shakemap intensity.

The quake's epicenter was located 114.7 kilometers (71.3 miles) below the surface at a spot 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) south of Pointe-Noire and 24 kilometers (15 miles) north-northwest of Basse-Terre town, according to the USGS.

No damage was reported in Guadeloupe or nearby Caribbean islands such as St. Martin, Dominica, Antigua and Montserrat, media outlets said.

No tsunami warning was issued. - FOX News.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Caribbean Region and Vicinity 

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Extensive diversity and complexity of tectonic regimes characterizes the perimeter of the Caribbean plate, involving no fewer than four major plates (North America, South America, Nazca, and Cocos). Inclined zones of deep earthquakes (Wadati-Benioff zones), ocean trenches, and arcs of volcanoes clearly indicate subduction of oceanic lithosphere along the Central American and Atlantic Ocean margins of the Caribbean plate, while crustal seismicity in Guatemala, northern Venezuela, and the Cayman Ridge and Cayman Trench indicate transform fault and pull-apart basin tectonics.

Along the northern margin of the Caribbean plate, the North America plate moves westwards with respect to the Caribbean plate at a velocity of approximately 20 mm/yr. Motion is accommodated along several major transform faults that extend eastward from Isla de Roatan to Haiti, including the Swan Island Fault and the Oriente Fault. These faults represent the southern and northern boundaries of the Cayman Trench. Further east, from the Dominican Republic to the Island of Barbuda, relative motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate becomes increasingly complex and is partially accommodated by nearly arc-parallel subduction of the North America plate beneath the Caribbean plate. This results in the formation of the deep Puerto Rico Trench and a zone of intermediate focus earthquakes (70-300 km depth) within the subducted slab. Although the Puerto Rico subduction zone is thought to be capable of generating a megathrust earthquake, there have been no such events in the past century. The last probable interplate (thrust fault) event here occurred on May 2, 1787 and was widely felt throughout the island with documented destruction across the entire northern coast, including Arecibo and San Juan. Since 1900, the two largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the August 4, 1946 M8.0 Samana earthquake in northeastern Hispaniola and the July 29, 1943 M7.6 Mona Passage earthquake, both of which were shallow thrust fault earthquakes. A significant portion of the motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate in this region is accommodated by a series of left-lateral strike-slip faults that bisect the island of Hispaniola, notably the Septentrional Fault in the north and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault in the south. Activity adjacent to the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault system is best documented by the devastating January 12, 2010 M7.0 Haiti strike-slip earthquake, its associated aftershocks and a comparable earthquake in 1770.

Moving east and south, the plate boundary curves around Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles where the plate motion vector of the Caribbean plate relative to the North and South America plates is less oblique, resulting in active island-arc tectonics. Here, the North and South America plates subduct towards the west beneath the Caribbean plate along the Lesser Antilles Trench at rates of approximately 20 mm/yr. As a result of this subduction, there exists both intermediate focus earthquakes within the subducted plates and a chain of active volcanoes along the island arc. Although the Lesser Antilles is considered one of the most seismically active regions in the Caribbean, few of these events have been greater than M7.0 over the past century. The island of Guadeloupe was the site of one of the largest megathrust earthquakes to occur in this region on February 8, 1843, with a suggested magnitude greater than 8.0. The largest recent intermediate-depth earthquake to occur along the Lesser Antilles arc was the November 29, 2007 M7.4 Martinique earthquake northwest of Fort-De-France.

The southern Caribbean plate boundary with the South America plate strikes east-west across Trinidad and western Venezuela at a relative rate of approximately 20 mm/yr. This boundary is characterized by major transform faults, including the Central Range Fault and the Boconó-San Sebastian-El Pilar Faults, and shallow seismicity. Since 1900, the largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the October 29, 1900 M7.7 Caracas earthquake, and the July 29, 1967 M6.5 earthquake near this same region. Further to the west, a broad zone of compressive deformation trends southwestward across western Venezuela and central Columbia. The plate boundary is not well defined across northwestern South America, but deformation transitions from being dominated by Caribbean/South America convergence in the east to Nazca/South America convergence in the west. The transition zone between subduction on the eastern and western margins of the Caribbean plate is characterized by diffuse seismicity involving low- to intermediate-magnitude (Magnitude less than 6.0) earthquakes of shallow to intermediate depth.

The plate boundary offshore of Colombia is also characterized by convergence, where the Nazca plate subducts beneath South America towards the east at a rate of approximately 65 mm/yr. The January 31, 1906 M8.5 earthquake occurred on the shallowly dipping megathrust interface of this plate boundary segment. Along the western coast of Central America, the Cocos plate subducts towards the east beneath the Caribbean plate at the Middle America Trench. Convergence rates vary between 72-81 mm/yr, decreasing towards the north. This subduction results in relatively high rates of seismicity and a chain of numerous active volcanoes; intermediate-focus earthquakes occur within the subducted Cocos plate to depths of nearly 300 km. Since 1900, there have been many moderately sized intermediate-depth earthquakes in this region, including the September 7, 1915 M7.4 El Salvador and the October 5, 1950 M7.8 Costa Rica events.

The boundary between the Cocos and Nazca plates is characterized by a series of north-south trending transform faults and east-west trending spreading centers. The largest and most seismically active of these transform boundaries is the Panama Fracture Zone. The Panama Fracture Zone terminates in the south at the Galapagos rift zone and in the north at the Middle America trench, where it forms part of the Cocos-Nazca-Caribbean triple junction. Earthquakes along the Panama Fracture Zone are generally shallow, low- to intermediate in magnitude (Magnitude less than 7.2) and are characteristically right-lateral strike-slip faulting earthquakes. Since 1900, the largest earthquake to occur along the Panama Fracture Zone was the July 26, 1962 M7.2 earthquake.

References for the Panama Fracture Zone:

Molnar, P., and Sykes, L. R., 1969, Tectonics of the Caribbean and Middle America Regions from Focal Mechanisms and Seismicity: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 80, p. 1639-1684.

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics


GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Super Typhoon Shifts 177-TON Boulder About 150 FEET - Largest Ever Documented To Have Been Moved By A Storm!

This 177-ton boulder was shifted about 150 feet by Supertyphoon Haiyan. © Max Engel/University of Cologne

December 22, 2014 - THE PHILIPPINES
- Super Typhoon Haiyan set a world record when it touched down in the Philippines by moving a 177-ton boulder a distance of about 150 feet.

Max Engel, a geoscientist at the University of Cologne in Germany, and colleagues from his college and the University of the Philippines' Marine Science Institute said they looked at satellite photos from before and after the typhoon's landfall in the Philippines in November 2013 and determined the boulder, weighing more than 25 adult African elephants, had been moved about 150 feet along a beach by the Haiyan's tsunami-like waves.

The researchers, who presented their paper, "Storm Surge of Super Typhoon Haiyan (7 - 9 Nov 2013) on Samar (Philippines) Moved the Largest Boulder Ever Documented for a Recent Storm", Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco, said the boulder is the largest on record to be shifted by a storm.

Engel and his colleagues said their findings suggest other boulder movements associated with tsunamis may have been caused by super storms. - UPI.

FIRE IN THE SKY: More Meteor Scribblings In The Sky - Strange Glowing Cloud Spotted In The Skies Above Siberia?!

December 22, 2014 - SIBERIA, RUSSIA
- A strange-shaped cloud materialised in the early morning sky above Siberia just minutes after the launch of a rocket sending satellites into space. Glowing orange as it was touched by the rays of the rising sun, it cast a ghostly spectre against the clear winter sky.

For a while it was unclear what had caused the trails of vapour over the southern Altai region, with many even speculating about the possibility of UFOs.

WATCH: Strange lights over Siberia.

However, while no official confirmation has been given, it was almost certainly made by parts of the rocket falling to earth as it powered into orbit. Indeed experts have said that it is consistent with the second stage disengagement.

The Altai region is close to where the Proton-M rocket blasted off from its launch site in nearby Kazakhstan, with space debris regularly landing there. It was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrone at 6.16am on December 15, carrying a Yamal-401 satellite.

A number of residents in the city of Barnaul, on the banks of the River Ob, took photos and videos of the subsequent glowing patterns, and uploaded them to social media. Extremely cold weather is required to create the clouds, with vapour from the hot falling debris meeting the freezing air.

Natalia Pavlova, the head of the Barnaul planetarium, said the patterns could have been caused by the rocket launch, but stressed falling meteors was another explanation.

Residents in Siberia and Urals are becoming used to seeing mysterious lights in the sky.
Meteorites, missiles, a plane crash, and even extra-terrestrial activity were among the many theories put forward to explain the incident on November 14. - Siberian Times.