Saturday, February 7, 2015

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Latest Report Of Volcanic Eruptions, Activity, Unrest And Awakenings – February 7, 2015!

February 7, 2015 - EARTH - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Stunning visuals out of YouTube show Italy's Mount Etna erupting in grand fashion earlier this month.

The Sicily volcano started erupting on January 31 and  proceeded to spew a mixture of lava and ice, along with large plumes of smoke for two days.

WATCH: Italy's Mount Etna volcano erupts in a spectacular display.


The video above depicts the eruption between January 31 and February 2 of this year.

Sakurajima (Japan): A mysterious 'milky' rain has been falling over the Pacific Northwest that is baffling meteorologists.

The volcano has been particularly active this month. Last week it sent a 5km ash plume billowing into the sky

Residents of Washington, Oregon and Idaho have been filling up glasses of the unusual substance trying to determine what it could be.

One strong possibility is that the weather system has been infected by eruptions from Japan's Sakurajima volcano.

The volcano has been particularly active over the past month.

WATCH: Massive eruption at Sakurajima.

Last week it sent an ash plume of three miles billowing into the sky.

It is the most active Sakurajima has been all year, with up to three or four explosions a day, according to Volcano Discovery.

Following a particularly violent eruption on Thursday, some speculated that Russia's Shiveluch volcano could have sent ash into the sky that was blown across the Pacific Ocean, as well.

In the past two weeks, eight eruptions have been recorded.

The Walla Walla County office in Washington corroborated those suggestions in a Facebook post.

'We have received reports of "white stuff" on vehicles,' officials wrote.

'The ash is more than likely from Volcano Shiveluch in Kamchatka Krai, Russia, which spewed an ash plume to about the 22,000-foot level in late January. 

'It has been deposited in a wide spread area, including Washington and Oregon.' 

But the National Weather Service of Spokane, Washington, is still investigating.

WATCH: Above the clouds, ash bellows from volcano erupting in Japan.

'The truth is that we really don't know where it came from!' the NWS Spokane said on Facebook.

'We are continuing to investigate and have reached out to other offices for assistance in recreating atmospheric flows from the past several days. We've also reached out to other agencies that may have collected samples appropriate for testing.'

Soputan (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): The eruption continues at the volcano. It feeds a viscous lava flow about 500 m long on the volcano's upper western flank.

Active lava flow at Soputan volcano (image:

Intermittent explosions and incandescent rockfalls accompany this activity.

Fuego volcano (Guatemala):
Explosions remain frequent and often strong, producing ash plumes that rise 1-1.3 km above the crater and are accompanied by shock waves that rattle roof and windows in nearby villages.

Suwanose-jima volcano (Ryukyu Islands, Japan):
An eruption from the volcano was reported this morning by Tokyo VAAC.

Pacaya volcano (Guatemala): 
Small ash emissions continue, probably from mild, deep-seated strombolian activity in the new pit inside Mackenney crater described a week ago.

Villarrica (Central Chile)
Magma has reached the surface of the inner summit crater. Strombolian activity has formed a new small cone containing a small lava lake in its open vent. This followed a strong increase in volcanic tremor to about 20 times background level starting since Thursday. Glow from the volcano's top has become visible at night.

A new cone has formed around the vent in Villarrica's summit crater seen during an overflight yesterday (image: metalesrojos valpo @met_valpo / twitter)

An overflight confirmed the presence of lava inside the deep pit at the summit crater. SERNAGEOMIN raised the alert level of the volcano to yellow.

So far, this activity represents a very typical state of the volcano. If it remains like this, it does not pose significant threats to the surroundings unless activity strongly increases, which could result in the generation of lahars (mud flows due to meltwater from the summit) in particular. These could threaten the areas of the towns of Villarrica, Pucón, Curarrehue and Panguipulli. Chile's civil protection ONEMI has issued a pre-alert, still coded as green, as a precaution.

Barren Island (Indian Ocean): As the Culture Volcan blog pointed out, a weak thermal anomaly was detected on satellite data above the volcano yesterday. The hot spot is weak, but could indicate some sort of activity occurring at the volcano. What could be a plume is visible on other satellite imagery, but for now, there is no confirmation of volcanic activity.

Hot spot detected at Barren Island via MIROVA

Piton de la Fournaise (La Réunion): A new eruption has started at the volcano, following a brief seismic crisis that started early this morning.

View of the eruption (OVPF webcam)

Lava flow from Piton de la Fournaise

According to OVPF, the new (fissure) vent should be located between Bory, Dolomieu and Rivals craters on the upper flank of the Dolomieu main cone. A lava flow is descending SSW and has already reached the base of the Dolomieu crater, i.e. the floor of the enclos. Its length is more than 1 km.

Kliuchevskoi (Kamchatka): Strombolian explosions of small to moderate size and an active lava flow on the volcano's upper flank continue.

Klyuchevskoy's lava flow last night on KVERT's webcam

Zhupanovsky (Kamchatka, Russia): Moderate intermittent explosive activity continues at the volcano. Satellite images detected ash plumes drifting 160 km SW and SE at altitudes of 5-6 km (16,400-19,700 ft) a.s.l. during 22 and 25-26 January, and a thermal anomaly over the volcano during 23 and 25-27 January. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange. (Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 28 January-3 February 2015)

Chirpoi (Kurile Islands, Russia)
A weak thermal anomaly at the summit of Snow volcano continues to be detected on satellite data.

Chirinkotan (Northern Kuriles)
SVERT reported that weak steam-and-gas emissions from Chirinkotan were detected in satellite images on 31 January.

Cloud cover obscured views on the other days during 26 January-2 February. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow. (Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 28 January-3 February 2015)

Aso (Kyushu): No significant changes have occurred at the ongoing strombolian eruption from Asosan's Nakadake Crater althugh its intensity seems to have decreased.

Stronger strombolian eruption at Aso on 3 Feb (Kyoto Univ. crater webcam)

Incandescent material from intermittent explosions is sometimes ejected onto the crater rim, and plumes rise up to approx. 1 km above the crater.

Manam (Papua New Guinea): RVO reported that activity at both Manam's Southern Crater and Main Crater was low during 1-31 January; diffuse white vapor emissions were observed rising from both craters during brief clear views.

Incandescence from Main Crater fluctuated from weak to bright during 19 and 23-27 January. (Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 28 January-3 February 2015)

Karangetang (Siau Island, Sangihe Islands, Indonesia): Since 10 Jan 2015, the volcano has been active again. A lava dome is growing at the summit, producing incandescent avalanches.

Glowing avalanches from Karangetang volcano yesterday (photo: Andi Rosadi / VolcanoDiscovery Indonesia)

Our correspondent Andi who visited the volcano during the pst days wrote: "Mt Karangetang spews lava flows and the status has been raised again into level 3. According to the seismic recordings from the observatory post, there are harmonic tremor and volcanic quakes, indicating the ongoing dome building. A warning was issued to the local population to prepare for possible evacuations."

Ruapehu (North Island): The crater lake temperature has been increasing since early December 2014, rising from 15 to over 40 deg C. This is not seen as a sign that an eruption is to be expected in the near futures and the alert level remains at level 1, meaning minor unrest only.

The volcano's lake undergoes frequent cycles of cooling and heating. It seems that the lake is now at the peak of the current cycle. Similar temperatures were recorded in March 2011 and April 2014, before the lake cooled again.

Colima (Western Mexico): After being a bit lower during the past week, activity has picked up again today.

Explosion at Colima

The volcano had a series of small to moderate explosions ejecting ash plumes reaching up to 2-3 km above the crater:

WATCH: Colima volcanic activity.

Reventador (Ecuador): Activity with sporadic small explosions from the active dome continues. Seismic activity is at moderate levels.

 - Volcano Discovery | Daily Mail | The Weather Network.

EARTH CHANGES: Monumental Signs Of The Times – The Latest Reports On Extreme Weather Across The Planet For February 7, 2014!

February 7, 2015 - EARTH - The following stories constitutes some of the latest incidents of Earth changes across the globe.

Ice halo around the moon seen in the UK

Last night many observers in the UK reported seeing an odd halo of light around the moon.

The remarkable phenomenon was captured in stunning images, showing the moon surrounded by a bright ring of light.

The spectacle is caused by ice crystals in the atmosphere, specifically when thin cirrus or cirrostratus clouds are present at an altitude of about 20,000 feet (6,100 metres).

During cold weather these clouds can contain millions of hexagonal ice crystals, and as light from the moon - which is just reflected sunlight - passes through the atmosphere, it refracts in a particular way within the crystals.

Specifically, the light refracts at angles no smaller than 22° - sometimes leading the phenomenon to be called a 22° halo - which results in a ring around 44 times larger than the moon itself.

Different colours of light are bent at different angles, resulting in the inner edge of the halo being slightly red, and the outer edge having a slightly bluer tint.

Pictured is the moon halo over the, Isle of Wight. The moon halo is formed by a high-altitude ice crystal cloud that gathers around the moon

The light refracts at angles no smaller than 22° in the ice crystals (illustrated) - sometimes leading the phenomenon to be called a 22° halo -
which results in a ring around 44 times larger than the moon itself

The reason that it forms as a ring is because of the angle of refraction. The only light that reaches your location is that which is located at the right distance
away from the moon to form a ring. Here, a vapour trail from a plane is seen cutting through the halo above Herefordshire

The effect is not exclusive to the moon, however. It can also occur around the sun, for the same reasons described above.

On some occasions the halos are accompanied by sundogs - bright spots either side of the moon or sun as the crystals sink through the air, causing the light to be vertically aligned.

'Ice halos are atmospheric phenomena that can occur around the sun or the moon, when tiny crystals of ice in the atmosphere refract and reflect light, creating a halo around the solar or lunar source,' Ben Biggs, Editor for All About Space magazine, told MailOnline.

'Visually, they can range from the one we could see last night in parts of the UK, which was a cool and slightly creepy perfect circle around the moon, to a bright and ethereal display featuring multiple arcs and 'sundogs' (also known as parhelia), which appear as bright spots at the corners of the halo when the sun is near the horizon.'

'Even the more ordinary halos are fairly uncommon in the UK but in particularly bright and bitter conditions, such as in the US, absolutely spectacular ice halo displays can appear.'

Ice halos were once said to be a sign that a storm was approaching, as cirrus or cirrostratus clouds often come before a large storm front.

However, the clouds can also occur without a large storm approaching, so their use as an accurate weather prediction tool is not entirely accurate. - Daily Mail.

Homes evacuated as mudslide, flooding hit rural Jefferson Co.

Dozens of homes were engulfed by floodwaters Friday in the small town of Brinnon after extremely heavy rain overnight in rural Jefferson County forced the Duckabush River over its banks near Hood Canal.

A mudslide also damaged homes and three people were rescued after their truck became stranded as they were fleeing the rushing floodwaters.

Evacuations are under way in the area, but so far there are no reports of injuries. A swift water rescue team is in the area. Several vehicles also were stranded in floodwaters from the rain-gorged Duckabush River, including a Jefferson County sheriff's patrol car.

"It's pretty bad," said Assistant Fire Chief Ben Andrews. "There are a lot of homes that have water in them."

A National Weather Service spotter reported that 4.43 inches of rain fell in the area between 4 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 a.m. Friday.

Emergency responders initially rushed to the area near Shorewood Road and Kelly Road in Brinnon, off Duckabush Road, at about 1 a.m. Friday after receiving reports of a mudslide, said a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management. The slide reportedly blocked the road and damaged five or six homes.

Now crews are going to door to door to check on residents stranded by floodwaters from the Duckabush River, which flows from the Olympic Mountains. Many homes are completely surrounded by floodwaters.

Nicole Black, whose home is located just above the flood zone, said the area occasionally experiences minor flooding when it rains heavily, but "this is different."

"This is a lot more than we're used to," she said. "This is beyond our comfort zone." She said the flooding may have been worsened by a mudslide on a bank that was logged about two years ago.

She said crews are going door-to-door with Zodiac boats and a large dump truck to evacuate residents.

"It wasn't very fun," said Elyssa Brown. "This is the second time it's happened."

The last time was in December when the Duckabush also went over its banks.

"It's horrible," said Keri Nelson. "We've already had it happen and we haven't even recovered from the last time."

WATCH: Severe flooding in Brinnon, Jefferson County.

Marlene Standerfer and her husband are staying put, even though the water is up to their doors, and their house is surrounded by water. They say they're not nervous.

"We've come out a lot of times and sat at the picnic table and watched all the logs come down," said Marlene Standerfer.

The fire crews say the evacuations are advisable, but not mandatory... At least not yet. Even along Kelly Road on the north side of the river, we saw smoke from a chimney -- a family deciding to ride it out despite water around -- and probably inside their home.

Flood Watches and warnings remain in effect for much of Western Washington, including rivers in Grays Harbor, Clallam, Jefferson, Skagit, Whatcom, Mason, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

More heavy rainfall is forecast through the weekend, with significant rainfall in the Mount Rainier area as well.

Several Cascade Mountain rivers also are threatened by potential flooding, including the Nooksack, Skagit, Stillaguamish and Puyallup rivers.

"This is only the beginning of things getting worse," Black said. "If this rain continues like it is projected to everybody here needs to get out and we need to make sure these banks don't fall." - Komo News.

Orange snow covers Russian city, bewilders residents

Residents of the city of Saratov, some 858 km from the Russian capital, have been shocked as they looked out of the windows and saw their neighborhoods covered with orange snow.

The residents shared the news in social networks as the colorful snow appeared to be seen in almost all parts of the city. Its color varied from light yellow to intensive orange.

Such unconventional snowfall caused numerous concerns among the city people. Some social network users were worried that could be radioactive or could contain harmful chemical substances. Others were afraid they had problems with eyes and color vision.

Local residents contacted the Svobodnye Novosti news agency, which quizzed an expert on the phenomenon.

Saratov weather forecast service director Mikhail Boltukhin said it was quite a common event and it was absolutely harmless for people and animals. He said the orange snow was caused by a cyclone from the Western Sahara which brought some sand from the African desert to Russia.

WATCH: Orange snow in Russia.

“The air coming from the West contains tiny particles of sand, which give the falling snow an orange hue,” Boltukhin said. “Similar phenomena have been observed recently in various districts of the region and in other parts of the country, particularly in Crimea.”

There are no toxic substances, as it is natural sand, the expert added. - RT.

Cluster Of 7 Small Earthquakes Hit Bay Area From North To South


A swarm of seven small earthquakes hit the Bay Area Wednesday evening, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s automated seismograph alert network.

The quakes ranging from magnitude 0.4 to 1.6 struck shortly before 8 p.m. Pacific Time at an estimated depth of 5km 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. Quakes just below the earth’s surface, in the 0 to 10 miles range, can cause even more damage at lower magnitudes.

The quakes hit from the Hollister area in the south to as far north as Napa. - CBS.

Mercury levels on the rise in Hawaiian yellowfin tuna

Mercury concentrations in tuna are increasing by nearly four percent a year, according to a new University of Michigan-led study, which suggests rising atmospheric levels of toxin are to blame.

Researchers came to this conclusion using the findings from three previously published reports, which studied yellowfin tuna caught near Hawaii in 1971, 1998 and 2008. In the studies, scientists tested the tuna’s muscle tissues, finding that nearly all of the mercury they detected was the toxic methylmercury.

As part of their reexamination of these studies, scientists included yellowfin tuna between 48 and 167 pounds and used a computer model that controlled for the effect of body size.

In total, data from 229 fish was analyzed: One hundred and eleven from 1971, 104 from 1998 and 14 from 2008. The researchers found that mercury concentrations in the yellowfin tuna did not change between the 1971 and 1998 datasets. However, concentrations were higher in 2008 than in either 1971 or 1998. Between 1998 and 2008, the mercury concentration in yellowfin tuna increased at a rate greater than or equal to 3.8 percent a year, according to the new study.

Reuters/Tony Gentile

We crunched the data & looked at mercury levels in an ocean of popular fish. Top 4= off limits 

The take-home message is that mercury in tuna appears to be increasing in lockstep with data and model predictions for mercury concentrations in water in the North Pacific,” said Paul Drevnick, an assistant research scientist at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment, in a statement. “This study confirms that mercury levels in open ocean fish are responsive to mercury emissions.”

Mercury is a potent toxin that can accumulate to high concentrations in fish and pose health risks to people who eat large, predatory marine fish such as swordfish and tuna. The US Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency advises women of a child-bearing age, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid swordfish, shark and king mackerel, and to limit their consumption of tuna to 6 ounces per week. Consumption of large amounts of polluted fish can result in coronary heart disease and brain damage in children.

The principal source of mercury pollution in the oceans comes from emissions from coal-fired power plants and artisanal gold mining.

For decades, scientists have expected to see mercury levels in open-ocean fish increase in response to rising atmospheric concentrations, but evidence for that hypothesis has been hard to find.

Mercury levels are increasing globally in ocean water, and our study is the first to show a consequent increase in mercury in an open-water fish,” Drevick said. “More stringent policies are needed to reduce releases of mercury into the atmosphere. If current deposition rates are maintained, North Pacific waters will double in mercury by 2050.” - RT.

Electric Universe: Two 'rare' observations of red sprites over South America - a few days apart

At the ESO's observatories located high in the Atacama Desert of Chile, amazing images of distant objects in the Universe are captured on a regular basis. But in January 2015, ESO photo ambassador Petr Horálek captured some amazing photos of much closer phenomena: red sprites flashing in the atmosphere high above distant thunderstorms.

The photo above was captured from ESO's Paranal Observatory. A few days earlier during the early morning hours of Jan. 20 Petr captured another series of sprites from the La Silla site, generated by a storm over Argentina over 310 miles (500 km) away.

Add caption

Sprites spotted from ESO’s La Silla observatory by Petr Horálek (left horizon)

So-named because of their elusive nature, sprites appear as clusters of red tendrils above a lighting flash, often extending as high as 55 miles (90 km) into the atmosphere. The brightest region of a sprite is typically seen at altitudes of over 40-45 miles (65-75 km).

Because they occur high above large storms, only last for fractions of a second and emit light in the portion of the spectrum to which our eyes are the least sensitive, observing sprites is notoriously difficult.

These furtive atmospheric features weren't captured on camera until 1989. Continuing research has since resulted in more images, including some from the International Space Station. When they are spotted, sprites - and their lower-altitude relatives blue jets - can appear as bright as moderate aurorae and have also been found to emit radio noise. It has even been suggested that looking for sprite activity on other planets could help identify alien environments that are conducive to life.

Find out more about sprite research from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and check out the PBS NOVA program "At the Edge of Space" below about a sprite hunt in the skies over Denver, CO conducted by a team of American scientists and Japanese filmmakers.

Source: ESO

- Universe Today.

Storm Of The Century: At least eight killed as huge storm batters Turkey

At least eight people have been killed and many more rescued from high winds and flooding caused by a huge storm that has battered Turkey since Sunday.

The storm, a southwesterly known locally as a Lodos, hit the Marmara, Aegean, Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea regions of the country, causing roofs of houses to collapse and forcing residents in some areas to flee the rising waters.

In the northwestern province of Edirne close to the border with Greece, the flooding of the Meric and Tunca rivers cut off the Karaagac neighborhood, home to 5,000 people.

Military vehicles and helicopters were dispatched to rescue the inhabitants, with Edirne governor Dursun Ali Sahin describing the flooding as the disaster of the century.

No casualties were reported in the area, but Sahin warned the situation could worsen, with water levels expected to rise further.

"Rescue efforts will continue in the coming hours. We know for a fact that road transportation across the river will be closed for 10 days," he told local television reporters.

Four people in different provinces were killed by collapsing buildings on Monday. A taxi driver died when high winds brought a crane down on his cab.

In the southeastern province of Gaziantep, three young children from the same family were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, after high winds forced fumes back down the house's chimney.

The storm brought down the roofs of more than 300 buildings and around 100 vehicles were damaged in Bursa province.

Local media footage showed huge waves slamming into the shore, and a mosque's stone minaret being blown down.

Turkish Airlines said it had canceled more than 100 flights over the weekend due to adverse weather. - Reuters.

Heavy snowfall disrupts normal life in Kashmir

Heavy snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir hit electricity, water and blocked national highway, disrupting normal life.

Roads in Ramban area were filled with snow making it difficult for vehicles to ply due to which people had to walk long distances carrying their luggage. National Highway-44 was completely blocked, restricting transportation.

Srinagar on Sunday had received season's first snowfall bringing cheers to residents. However, snowfall did not bring much delight to residents of Ramban district.

"This may be the season's first snowfall (in this area) and it has caused a lot of problems to everybody here as all the roads are closed. Since morning it has increased and causing a lot of troubles," said a resident, Sunder Singh.

As per local media reports, the weather department has predicted snowfall for next three days. The minimum temperature recorded was minus 0.2 degree Celsius.

Reportedly, an avalanche warning has also been issued in higher reaches of the valley.

Meanwhile, Shimla also received three to 90 centimeters of fresh snowfall.

"Since yesterday it is snowing heavily here and this will increase the business of hotels, restaurants and taxis as more tourists will visit this place," said a resident, Rakesh Kumar.

Minimum temperature recorded was two degree Celsius.

Forest officials arrange food for animals in Kashmir's national park following snowfall

With thick blanket of snow covering Kashmir, officials in Srinagar's Dachigam national park are busy arranging food material for birds and animals, deprived of natural vegetation due to snow.

Kashmir has been receiving heavy snowfall for the last four days, disrupting normal life.

According to wildlife officials, animals especially the endangered Hangul deer wander outside their safe havens in search of food. The officials have placed huge chunks of dry willow salt in various parts of the national park to feed the endangered species of animals.

WATCH: Heavy snowfall sweeps Jammu and Kashmir.

"So our responsibility increases that these wild animals in search of food and natural habitat do not go out of forest and we try to supply with alternative food for these animals so that they do not face any problems," said wildlife official, Nazir Ahmed.

According to 2009 census, the population of the Hangul, also known as the Kashmiri stag, was estimated to be between 201 and 234, against 117-180 in March 2008.

The preventive steps come in the wake of state meteorological department warning of an avalanche in the higher reaches of the Valley.

Snowfall in states like Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh has a direct impact in other states like Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

- Times of India | Yahoo.

Air in 90% of China’s cities still not safe for breathing, despite ‘war on pollution’

Woman wear face masks on the Bund in front of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower during a hazy day in downtown Shanghai January 26, 2015. (Reuters/Aly Song)

Air pollution in China is still incredibly high – 90 percent of its cities stand below the threshold for air safety standards in 2014.

The “war on pollution” started a year earlier is having some effect, but hazardous emergencies are still in the hundreds.

Only eight of China’s 74 large cities have managed to meet official air safety standards in 2014, according to the Environmental Protection Ministry. This is five cities more than in 2013, when only three cities – Haikou on the island of Hainan, the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and the coastal resort city of Zhoushan – officially met air quality standards.

Seven of the 10 most polluted Chinese cities are around Beijing, despite the capital’s efforts to combat the situation.

There were also “471 environmental emergencies in total in 2014, down 241 from a year earlier,” the ministry also said.

The particles considered to be most harmful to health – PM2.5 – are slowly decreasing, down to 93 micrograms per cubic meter from 106 this year in Beiging, Hebei and Tianjin region last year.

But that’s still three times the approved limit of 35 micrograms. China, however, does not expect to reach the safety standard before 2030.

A government official in mid-January blamed the pollution in the southwestern Sichuan province on bacon, of all things. Apparently, levels spiral out of control as locals engage in the age-old tradition of smoking bacon on the eve of the Chinese lunar New Year, which this year will fall on February 19.

Coal production remains another contributor to air pollution – a dirty industry that has earned China a lot of notoriety.

The Hebei province worries the government more than any other place, as six of its cities have all scored off the charts for smog and coal pollution. They alone account for 60 percent of the entire pollution. But the sticking point is to find alternative sources for energy. So far the government has only been shutting down factories.

The one bright spot in all this is the Pearl River Delta: its PM2.5 levels are within the legal and health limits. But the No. 1 pollutant there is ozone. - RT.

Mysterious "dirty rain" falling in Eastern Washington, Oregon

 While it's been a routine, rainy day in Seattle, those over in southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon have had a strange phenomenon: A dirty, milky rain.

Several reports have come in from Spokane, Walla Walla, Pendleton -- and really across much of that region. The rain has left a dirty residue on cars and has flooded social media over there with people wondering what is causing the odd rain.

So far, the official cause remains a mystery, but officials with the National Weather Service offices in Spokane and Pendleton are looking into it.

The Walla Walla emergency management office posted photos of their area, which show much more of an ashen look to their rain. Their office suggests it all could be ash washing out from an eruption of Volcano Shiveluch in Kamchatka Krai, Russia. Their office says it spewed an ash plume to about the 22,000-foot level in late January and has deposited ash in a widespread area across parts of the Northwest.

The Spokane office of the National Weather Service posted a new photo Friday afternoon showing the cloudy rain that collected in their rain gauge.

"Definitely much cloudier than the typical rain water we see," they wrote on their Facebook page. "We have heard a few theories thus far including; volcanic ash from Mexico or Russia, dust picked up from last night's strong winds, or perhaps ash from last year's wildfires over SE Oregon/SW Idaho. We still don't have a definitive answer."

We'll let you know when we indeed do get more definitive answers. - Komo News.

Seismologists find 2-mile fault line in Irving, Texas

Seismologists studying the recent earthquakes in Irving and Dallas have found a fault line.

The scientists from Southern Methodist University gave a report on their finding to local leaders Friday morning.

Initial results from 20 new seismic monitors installed in the area show the earthquakes are relatively shallow. That explains so many people as far away as Plano can feel them.

They've also been concentrated along a narrow, two-mile line.

That suggests a fault line extending from Irving into West Dallas. It runs from Highway 114 to Walnut Hill Road along the Trinity River.

"This is a first step, but an important one, in investigating the cause of the earthquakes," said SMU seismologist Brian Stump. "Now that we know the fault's location and depth, we can begin studying how this fault moves - both the amount and direction of motion."

The next step is looking for the triggers and determining whether they are natural or manmade.

“Sometimes what triggers an earthquake can be very small, so all of these factors have to be considered when looking for that trigger,” said Heather DeShon, another seismologist from SMU.

The report notes two inactive gas wells in the area and one wastewater injection well about eight miles to the northwest. But, the scientists have not yet determined if those wells are causing the quakes.

WATCH: SMU seismologist identify fault line in Dallas and Irving.

The U.S. Geological Survey previously pinpointed the locations of the earthquakes in a circular pattern around the old Texas Stadium site. The team from SMU no longer believes that map is accurate.

The closest USGS monitor is 40 miles away and some are as far away as 900 miles, they said. - FOX4 News.

RATTLE & HUM: "I Just Heard A Big Blast,... Like Dynamite Exploding,... Shook My House,... Knocked Me Out Of My Chair,..." - Scores Of Residents Report Loud, Mysterious Boom In St. Johns County, Florida; Most Calls To Law Enforcement Came From Ponte Vedra Beach?!

February 7, 2015 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
- Area law enforcement agencies and the News4Jax newsroom received dozens of phone calls Friday morning from people reporting what sounded like a sonic boom.

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office alone received about 50 calls before 11 a.m., many from the Ponte Vedra Beach area. The calls also came in from the Nocatee, Palencia, Fruit Cove and Durbin Crossing areas.

911 operator:
911. What is your emergency?

Caller: I just heard a big blast and it sounded like dynamite exploding. I don't know where it came from. It shook my house. So I'm curious as to what's going on or what it was.

Callers reported it sounded like an explosion and their homes shook around 9:30 a.m.

One caller said the boom knocked her out of a chair. “Shook the garage door. I thought it was going to come off the rollers. I don't see anything,” she told the operator.

The St. John's County Sheriff's Office said the loud noise also triggered many alarm systems.

“It was equivalent to someone dropping a big dumpster right in the center of my house,” one caller said.

WATCH: Scores of residents report sonic boom.

The sonic boom would possibly be from an F-18 or F-22 aircraft.

The FAA said military aircraft were in the area Friday, but could not confirm if one broke the sound barrier.

A spokesman for the Navy said none of their F-18s are offshore as the recent training involving the USS Theodore Roosevelt has concluded its recent COMPTUEX exercises.

One or two fighter jets from Marine Air Station Beaufort were scheduled to fly out of Savannah on Friday. But MAS Beaufort told News4Jax their planes did not come this far south. - News4Jax.

FIRE IN THE SKY: "Was It A Bird, A Plane,..." - Fixed Camera Captures Meteor-Fireball Over Dawlish Beach, Devon, United Kingdom?!

© The Telegraph, UK

February 7, 2015 - UNITED KINGDOM
- Footage shows a glowing object - described as a meteor - streaking through the night sky before appearing to burn up or land in the sea in Devon.

The video was shot from a fixed camera at Dawlish Beach, Devon, UK early on Wednesday morning. The operator of the fixed camera later wrote online: "What was caught on camera the other night? Was it a bird or a plane, maybe even superman".

The video was caught by a camera that overlooks the Dawlish railway line - which was destroyed by storms one year ago this week.

WATCH: Meteor caught on Devon beach camera.

On the day before the video was captured, York residents also reported also seeing a ball of fire "falling out of the sky" - according to local media. In June 2014 a 'green fireball meteor' was caught on camera by an observatory in the same Devon area. - Telegraph.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Monster Vehicle Pile-Up In Upstate New York Shuts Down Highway - Caused By Severe Winter Weather And Low Visibility! [PHOTOS]

Massive pile-up on causes jam:  via @Brian_TWCNews

February 7, 2015 - NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- 30 passenger vehicles and four tractor-trailers were involved in a massive car crash that forced the closure of an icy highway in upstate New York, according to state police.

Photos and videos shared by motorists and passengers on social media show dozens of cars smashed together and splayed across the highway lanes in Jefferson County, New York.

Traffic is being re-routed after the multi-vehicle crash, while crews work to clear the area. It is not yet clear if there are any serious injuries. The crash was reportedly caused by severe winter weather and low visibility.

A pop-up shelter has been erected at a local fire department where drivers and passengers are being escorted. School buses have been sent in to transport those left stranded. Jefferson Country emergency officials have issued a travel warning for the southern parts of the country, local news reports. - RT.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: "PathoMap" - Traces Of BUBONIC PLAGUE, ANTHRAX, And Over 600 Unknown Organisms Found In The New York City Subway; Including Drug-Resistant Species!

Reuters/Eric Thayer

February 7, 2015 - NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Scrutinized trashcans and handrails of New York’s subway infrastructure reveal that the system houses potential threats to health, such as yet-unstudied microorganisms, accompanied by more common bacteria leading to meningitis or food poisoning.

The majority of the microbes inhabiting the New York City subway system are harmless, but in several parts of the city samples of disease-causing bacteria can be found, estimated at 12 percent. These include drug-resistant species, or even DNA fragments of anthrax and Bubonic plague, both, however, at very low levels and likely not alive.

What’s more, nearly half (48 percent) of the sequences of DNA that had been collected couldn’t be identified by the National Center for Biotechnology Information or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

StationNumber of unique bacteria Illnesses associated with bacteria
Times Square - 42 St114Food poisoning, radiation resistance, toxic cleanup, medical-device infections, meningitis
Grand Central - 42 St128Antibiotic resistance, radiation resistance, mozzarella cheese, sepsis, sunscreen
14 St - Union Sq50Sunscreen, food poisoning, urinary-tract infections, oil cleanup, toxic cleanup
59 St - Columbus Circle87Toxic cleanup, sunscreen, antibiotic resistance, food poisoning, Italian cheese
Lexington Avenue29Heart-valve infections, radiation resistance, toxic cleanup
86 St66Respiratory ailments, oil cleanup, food poisoning, antibiotic resistance

The results of an ambitious year-and-a-half-long project, demonstrated by an interactive “pathogen” urban map, were published by New York’s Weill Cornell Medical College researchers in the journal Cell Systems on Thursday.

According to the study's senior investigator, Christopher Mason, repeated “PathoMap” sampling could be used for “long-term, accurate disease surveillance, bioterrorism threat mitigation, and large scale health management for New York”.

Heatmap of the Pseudomonas genus, the most abundant genus found across the city. Hotspots are found in areas of
high station density and traffic (i.e. lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn).

"Our data show evidence that most bacteria in these densely populated, highly-trafficked transit areas are neutral to human health, and much of it is commonly found on the skin or in the gastrointestinal tract,"
Mason said in a press release. "These bacteria may even be helpful, since they can out-compete any dangerous bacteria."

“Despite finding traces of pathogenic microbes, their presence isn't substantial enough to pose a threat to human health,”
Mason added. “The presence of these microbes and the lack of reported medical cases is truly a testament to our body's immune system, and our innate ability to continuously adapt to our environment.”

Isaac Garcia, 17, of Astoria, volunteers for @nycpathomap swabbing for "genetic material" on Downtown 1

The researchers collected DNA samples using nylon swabs inside the trains, as well as in all open subway stations in 24 subway lines across the five boroughs – and even the closed South Ferry station, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. They were also equipped with a specially designed mobile app, to log the data on precise time and location of each sample.

“We built maps that detail what organisms are present in each area of the city, creating a molecular portrait of the metropolis,”
said co-lead author Cem Meydan.

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (Image from

The international team of scientists also managed to find positive correlations between demographic data and human DNA samples found. They could trace the density of population, as well as the ethnicity of the neighborhood. For instance, a Hispanic area near Chinatown in Manhattan “appeared to hold a strong mixture of Asian and Hispanic human genes.”

In 2013, New York City's subway system was used by an average of 5.5 million people per day, according to the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Detected bacteria were related to the most commonly associated body parts (Image from the study published in Cell Systems)

“You wouldn't want to lick all the poles, even though you'd probably be fine,”
Mason told Gothamist blog. “Wash your hands and don't walk around with a gaping wound.”

The study also has collaborators across the country, who have collected samples from airports, subways, transit hubs, taxis and public parks located in 14 states, including Texas and California. The scientists hope that sequencing of the DNA to be collected in the future, they will be able to compare the country’s major urban areas.

Pathomap - a molecular portrait of New York City (Image from

Microorganisms comprise an important factor of human health, as there are 10 times as many microbes as human cells, and their function include resistance of various infectious diseases, regulation of metabolism and even obesity risk control. - RT.