Saturday, November 21, 2015


This dead sei whale was found in Patagonia in May.  © Vreni Häussermann

November 21, 2015 - CHILE
- The cause of the massive die-off, discovered in remote waters off Patagonia, Chile, is being investigated. Scientists say they are most likely sei whales, which are endangered.

Scientists made a startling discovery on an observation flight over a remote fjord in southern Chile's Patagonia: 337 dead whales. That is the biggest single whale stranding event known to science.

Because of the remoteness of the area and the roughness of the seas, scientists have not been able to examine the whales directly, but aerial and satellite photography identified 305 bodies and 32 skeletons in an area between the Gulf of Penas and Puerto Natales, toward the southern tip of the continent.

Many of the remains were in advanced states of decay so it's unclear what species they are, says lead scientist Carolina Simon Gutstein of the Universidad de Chile and Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales in Santiago. But based on their size and location, they are probably sei whales, she says.

Endangered throughout its range, sei whales are large, bluish-gray baleen whales that filter the water to feed on krill and other small creatures. They can reach 64 feet (19.5 meters) long and 50 tons. Considered the fastest cetacean, sei whales can swim at speeds up to 31 miles (50 kilometers) per hour. Their lifespan is 50 to 70 years, and they are usually found in deep waters far from coastlines. The worldwide population is estimated at about 80,000.

The dead whales were first observed in Patagonia in June from the air, but now scientists are trying to figure out what killed them.  © Carolina Simon Gutstein

Gutstein and colleagues actually made the discovery on June 23, with support for the observation flights provided by the National Geographic Society Waitt Grants Program. The team is analyzing its findings for publication in a scientific journal, but the story leaked Friday in the Chilean press. "We are planning on going back there in the summer to try to study them more closely," says Gutstein. Thirty sei whales were seen stranded in the same general area in April by Vreni Häussermann of the Huinay Scientific Field Station. That prompted Gutstein and Häussermann to team up, pool resources, and to look further with flights and remote imagery (the pair made the discovery jointly on June 23, with the Institut de Ecologia y Biodiversidad). (Learn how people can help stranded whales.)

The scientists are still trying to figure out what caused the die-off, and the Chilean government has launched an investigation since whales are protected there. Gutstein did not want to speculate on the cause of death but in the past red tides (blooms of toxic microorganisms) have been blamed for whale deaths in the region. Red tides can be caused or exacerbated by nutrients from sewage and fertilizer, although it's often "very difficult to find one person or corporation culpable," says Gutstein.

The status of whales off Chile is poorly known, she adds. "We know some about how many have died now but how many are alive? We don't know," she says. "We don't have much data."

Toxic blooms may have been the culprit in mass death of marine mammals off Chile three to five million years ago, according to another National Geographic explorer. That evidence was found by Nicholas Pyenson of the Smithsonian in a fossil bed in Chile's Atacama Desert.

About fifteen years ago, some 600 gray whales were stranded on the North American Pacific Coast from Alaska to Mexico, but that occurred over a vast area and over a longer span. In Patagonia, the whales were found close together. Nearly 200 whales were stranded in New Zealand in February. - National Geographic.

OMEN: Plagues And Pestilences - Calf Born With TWO HEADS And SIX LEGS In Los Conquistadores, Argentina?!

BIZARRE: The calf was born with two heads and six legs. © CEN

November 21, 2015 - ARGENTINA
- Cowherd Ramon Cabrera was shocked when he delivered one calf with two heads and six legs after a five-hour birth.

Both heads were fully formed, but the calf did not live long after being born and sparked fears of a toxic chemical outbreak.

Ramon said: "I was told by the vet that the mother had probably been expecting twins that ended up staying together due to a genetic malformation."

The unusual condition of being born with two heads is called polycephaly and occurs in both animals and humans.

It comes just weeks after a the discovery of a mysterious humanoid corpse with huge fangs sparked claims of a real-life vampire.

The calf was born in Los Conquistadores, as marked on this map. © GOOGLE

Its most common cause is two identical twins begin to form from the same egg, but do not separate correctly and end up sharing the same body.

But environmental groups from the surrounding area however told local media they blamed the increase in use of chemicals for the mutated calf.

Most of the time, animals and humans with polycephaly die soon after birth.

The two-headed critter was born at the Los Amigos farm in the Argentine town of Los Conquistadores.

Last month, a critter branded the Croc-Cow - named because of its part crocodile, part cow appearance - was born. - Daily Star.


INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Helicopter Crashes On New Zealand Glacier - 7 People Killed!

Seven confirmed dead in New Zealand helicopter crash.

November 21, 2015 - NEW ZEALAND
- Rescuers found no survivors after a helicopter with seven people on board crashed on Fox Glacier, located on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, police have confirmed. Bad weather conditions have not allowed rescue crews to retrieve the bodies.

The helicopter, thought to be a six-passenger Eurocopter “Squirrel,” reportedly crashed at about 10 am local time on the upper ice fall area of the glacier. Police said the alarm was raised an hour after.“Police can confirm that a pilot and six passengers were on board the helicopter and believe no one has survived the crash,” a statement said, as cited by local Television New Zealand.

The Rescue Coordination Centre’s search mission is ongoing. Four helicopters transporting alpine rescue teams have been sent to the scene.

The wreckage has been located in a crevasse, but rescuers have been unable to reach it due to rugged terrain and poor weather conditions.

"It wouldn't be a good day to be flying helicopters," Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said, according to the New Zealand Herald. "Everything is against a rescue [mission]. It will be cold up there. And the problem is amplified by the cloud cover".

Helicopter crash on Fox Glacier, seven on board 

Seven dead in Fox Glacier helicopter crash 

© Russell Boyce

Commenting on the recovery operation, inspector John Canning said that he was “not going to risk any more lives, we’ve lost seven."

The wreckage of the helicopter is in a crevasse 2500ft (762m) up the valley, with debris scatted for hundreds of meters around the crash site, Canning said according to online news.

The nationalities of those killed - a pilot and six passengers- are not yet known. Officers have been trying to locate the crash victims’ next of kin.

The south Westland firm, Alpine Adventures, has confirmed that the crashed helicopter belonged to the company, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has launched an investigation. Police have estimated that recovering the wreckage and examining the crash site would take some days.

"We're in the process of deploying a camp of four people who will be arriving early evening," head of communications and support Peter Northcote said. - RT.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Massive Landslide Hits Lefkada Island, Greece Following Earthquake - One Of The World's Most Beautiful Beaches Destroyed!

Photographed from above, by helicopter, most of the beach has been covered by a landslide

November 21, 2015 - GREECE
- Voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by media like CNN and Trip Advisor numerous times, the picturesque beach of Egremni on the island of Lefkada is no more, following the deadly earthquake that struck the island on Tuesday, November 17th which killed two elderly women.

Egremni Beach on the island of Lefkada before the earthquake

As seen from above, a large landslide decimated the beach below

The moment the earth shook and massive landslides took place at Afales Bay

Large boulders and swaths of rubble detached off the mountain which precariously hung atop the lush sandy beach below, leaving much of the open area that welcomed thousands of tourists annually, completely wiped away.

WATCH: Massive landslide destroys beach.

The moment of the earthquake and the large landslides were captured on video by a fisherman whose boat was just offshore when the earth shook. Following the earthquake, the entire landscape of the area changed, leaving much of the area which once occupied sunbathers and beach towels, gone. - The Pappas Post.


WEATHER PHENOMENON: Signs In The Heavens - Amazing Sun Halo Seen In The Skies Over Bali, Indonesia!

This amazing sun halo appeared over Bali, Indonesia on November 14 2015.  © Shea D.

November 21, 2015 - BALI, INDONESIA
- These incredible pictures were sent to Strange Sounds by Shea D., a follower of the blog.

This amazing sun halo appeared in the sky of Bali on November 14, 2015. Another sign for new extreme weather events to come?

Do you see the crossed rays coming from the sun?  © Shea D.

Here another shot of this extremely rare circumzenithal arc, also called a smile in the sky.  © Shea D.

Like some energy geysers flying out of the sun.   © Shea D.

Sometimes, rings around the moon or the sun may announce rain or a tropical storm coming soon as halos form through ice crystals which are usually present in high altitude cirrus clouds.

And these clouds arrive days before an advancing cold or warm front, which bring rain. It is to keep in mind that not all cirrus clouds are associated with storm systems.

Therefore most of the rings indicate an increase in water in the upper atmosphere. - Strange Sounds.


EXTREME WEATHER: Deadly Lightning Bolt In Zimbabwe - Six Family Members Killed!

File photo.

November 21, 2015 - ZIMBABWE
- Six members of the same family have been burnt to death in Chienge while two others are battling for their lives at Mwabu Rural Health Post after the house in which they were sleeping was struck by lightning.

The dead are five children and an adult, identified as Jennifer Musonda, 28, Emmanuel Nyinda, three, and Musonda Chipampe, six, all of Kamasansa village in Chief Puta's area, Jennifer Musange, 16, Nancy Chanda, 11, and Anthony Mulambwa, 9, all of Kalendwe village.

Luapula Province deputy commissioner of police Webby Shula said in an interview yesterday that the incident happened on Wednesday around 23:00 hours at Kalendwe village in Senior Chief Puta's area.

Mr Shula said the survivors have been identified as Jennifer, 30, and four-year-old Kalwa Tonto, both of Kalendwe village.

"The family has been advised to proceed with burial and to mark the graves for any future investigations," he said. - Zambia Daily News.


FIRE IN THE SKY: Meteor Fireball Strikes The Earth Somewhere In Humboldt County, California?!

The fireball's smoke trail. © Gail Zanetti

- Wednesday, Nov. 18 was a typical morning at Pacific Union School's early morning daycare program, when just before 7:15 a.m., Gail Zanotti heard an excited five-year-old exclaim that "a fireball just went over my head!"

Curious, she went outside to take a look, and it turned out to be more than just a little boy's vivid imagination. A fresh smoke trail from a possible meteorite was clearly visible to the east. Zanotti grabbed her cell phone and started taking pictures.

The second set of smoke trails.  © Gail Zanotti

The smoke trail overhead. © Gail Zanotti

"I ran outside, and I snap snap snap the trail, but didn't see the fireball," Zanotti recalls.

Nor did she directly observe any impact, as the object landed out of view. Still, she's certain something struck the ground; she's just not sure where.

"It threw up a big cloud of dust," she said. "Was it up past Kneeland, or where was that?"

She then noticed a second set of north-to-south smoke trails in a different location, apparently from more objects headed southbound.

Read more:

- Mad River Union.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Liberia Suffers New Ebola Cases - About Two Months After Being Declared Free Of The Disease!

November 21, 2015 - LIBERIA
- Liberia has suffered a setback in its fight to free itself of Ebola, after three fresh cases of the disease were recorded on Friday. The West African nation was declared Ebola-free on September 3.

A 10-year-old boy and two direct family members have tested positive for the deadly disease. The child lives in Paynesville, a suburb of the capital Monrovia, Liberian Health Minister Bernice Dahn said.

"The hospital is currently decontaminating the unit. All of the healthcare workers who came into contact with the patient have been notified," she told a news conference, according to Reuters.

"We know how Ebola spreads and we know how to stop Ebola but we must remain vigilant and work together," she said.

The three patients, along with another three family members and other high-risk contacts, are being watched over and cared for at an Ebola Treatment Unit in Paynsville, Dahn added.

Bruce Aylward, in charge of the Ebola response for the UN World Health Organization, says this is likely to be a fresh case of the disease appearing, as the patient did not have any contact with anyone infected with Ebola.

"The family obviously is at particular risk and is being investigated right now," he told a news conference in Geneva. He was speaking before it was known that two further family members had caught the disease.

Liberia has seen more than 10,600 people struck by Ebola. A total of 4,808 people have died of the virus, which was first established in March 2014, the WHO stated.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in October found that Ebola can continue to be detected in patients long after they have contracted the virus. Research carried out showed it can remain in some men’s semen for nine months or longer after they first showed symptoms.

“These results come at a critically important time, reminding us that while Ebola case numbers continue to plummet, Ebola survivors and their families continue to struggle with the effects of the disease,” said Aylward, in an October press release.

Bruce Aylward added that the study provides further evidence that survivors need continuous and substantial support for the next six to 12 months to meet these challenges and to ensure their partners are not exposed.

The virus has killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Liberia was the first of the West African nations to be declared Ebola free on September 3, while Sierra Leone was declared free of the virus on November 7. Guinea has started its countdown to be free of the disease.

This countdown starts when the last patient produces a second negative test for Ebola. If no more cases are recorded within the next 42 days then the country can be declared free of the disease. - RT.

Tracking the EBOLA Virus Outbreak

MONUMENTAL GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: "This Isn't Just The Road, IT'S THE MOUNTAIN ITSELF THAT'S MOVING" - Landslide Buckles Vasquez Canyon Road In Los Angeles, California; Road Lifted SOME 15 FEET IN THE AIR And STILL ADJUSTING; Significant Damage Along A TWO-MILE STRETCH; Reporter Could Hear The SOIL SHIFTING! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

KTLA reporter Mark Mester, who is over 6 feet tall, stands next to the badly damaged Vasquez Canyon Road on Friday. (Credit: KTLA)

- A portion of Vasquez Canyon Road remained closed indefinitely Friday after a landslide prompted buckling and significant damage along a 2-mile stretch in the Canyon Country area.

"This isn’t just the road; it’s the mountain itself that’s moving and it’s pushing the road up," said Paul Funk with L.A. County Department of Public Works.

The roadway was closed Thursday between Lost Creek Road and Vasquez Way after public works officials first noticed the shift around 10:30 that morning.

The closure was said to be indefinite and would likely last for "a long time," Funk said.

 Sky5 aerials show a badly damaged Vasquez Canyon Road on Friday. (Credit: KTLA)

 Sky5 aerials show a badly damaged Vasquez Canyon Road on Friday. (Credit: KTLA)

 The L.A. County Department of Public Works tweeted this photo of Vasquez Canyon Road, which showed significant damage as of 3:36 p.m.
Thursday when compared to earlier photos that day.

In less than 24 hours, the roadway changed from appearing slightly tilted to being very badly damaged.

More than half the road was lifted some 15 feet in the air, with dirt from the neighboring hillside sliding underneath and causing significant cracks.

As of Friday, the roadway was still adjusting. KTLA reporter Mark Mester, who was at the scene, said he could hear the soil shifting.

 WATCH: Landslide Buckles Vasquez Canyon Road.

Vasquez Canyon Road is popular with cyclists, and provides additional access for drivers living in northern Santa Clarita areas -- such as Saugus -- and connects Bouquet Canyon Road to the 14 Freeway and Sierra Highway.

Traffic was expected to be impacted in the area, including both Bouquet and the Sierra Highway.Four power poles, owned and maintained by Southern California Edison, were also located on or near the buckling road, but Edison officials said the power had been turned off and customers were not affected. - KTLA.


INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Plane Crashes Into South Orlando Lake - Two People Killed!

Two people were killed Friday after a small plane crashed into Clear Lake in Orlando.

November 21, 2015 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
- The fatal plane crash shook buildings and startled residents.

"I thought it was a blown transformer, to be honest," said Michael Singh, who was working on a home a few houses from the shore when he heard what sounded like an explosion.

Then he spotted several boaters and kayakers scrambling to help.

Two people — an unidentified man and girl — died Friday morning when the small airplane they were in crashed into a southwest Orlando lake.

The six-passenger plane took off from Orlando Executive Airport shortly after 11:15 a.m. and crashed less than 15 minutes later into Clear Lake, a roughly 300-acre lake off Rio Grande Avenue.

A man who appeared to be in his 50s and a teenage girl were the only two people on board, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.

Both died at the scene. Their hometowns were unknown.

Demings said the Beechcraft Bonanza was headed to Gainesville, Texas, and is registered in Montana.

It crashed in about 12 to 15 feet of water not far from the east shore near Duchess Drive.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.The Orange County Sheriff's Office is handling the death investigation.

Several boaters and kayakers who were on the water when the plane went down rushed to help.

They spotted the victims on board but weren't able to get to them, Demings said.

Orlando firefighters were next to reach the submerged plane.

Several crew members dove down and pulled the man and teen out, but neither could be saved, Demings said.

The plane crashed not far behind New Covenant Baptist Church of Orlando, and witnesses inside reported feeling the building shake, Demings said.

Singh and several other people in the area said they heard what sounded like the plane's engine revving before the crash.

One man said he saw the plane fly over the neighborhood near the lake and then turn around. He said the plane started getting louder, and then he heard it come down.

Fuel and debris floated in the water near the submerged plane after the crash.

The plane's destination, Gainesville, Texas, has a population of about 16,000 and is roughly 67 miles north of Dallas. - Orlando Sentinel.


PLANETARY TREMORS: Increased Seismic Activity - 17 Oklahoma Earthquakes Of 2.6 Magnitude Or Greater Recorded Since Thursday's 4.7!

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded more than 2,300 Oklahoma earthquakes of at least 2.5 magnitude this year (as of Friday), diagrammed on this map.
The largest ones are listed on the left, led by Thursday's 4.7 magnitude near Cherokee. USGS map.

November 21, 2015 - OKLAHOMA, UNITED STATES
- Three earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater shook an area just northwest of Medford in Grant County within a 15-minute time period Thursday evening.

The first and biggest of the three, a 4.1 magnitude temblor, hit at 4:40 p.m. and could be felt as far as the Tulsa area to the east and Wichita, Kansas, to the north, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The measurement initially went out as a 4.6 magnitude quake, but was quickly amended to 4.1 on the Geological Survey's website.

Two more earthquakes followed from the same area between 8 to 9 miles northwest of Medford. A 3.1 magnitude quake hit at 4:53 p.m., followed by a 3.9 quake two minutes later.

About 45 miles to the southwest near Helena, another quake erupted at 5:09 p.m., this time with a 3.3 magnitude. The quake was recorded about 7 miles northwest of Helena.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission announced Friday plans to shut off four disposal wells within 3 miles of the earthquake activity near Crescent on Thursday. Two quakes were recorded, one of which was a magnitude 4.0.

The plan also called for a 50 percent volume reduction at seven Arbuckle disposal wells. Operators at other nearby wells also were put on notice to be prepared for possible changes in operation.

A 4.7 magnitude Oklahoma earthquake Thursday -- the largest recorded in the state since 2011 -- caused the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to shut down or reduce capacity at 25 disposal wells.

However, the state's quake activity has continued since that milestone temblor, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS recorded 17 Oklahoma earthquakes since the 4.7, including a 4.0 magnitude near Crescent, and the 4.1 magnitude near Medford.

The quakes recorded as low as 2.6 magnitude (two Thursday near Cherokee and Medford), but also include six recorded earlier today:

- 2.7 magnitude 6:07 a.m. about 9 miles south-southwest of Cherokee

- 2.8 magnitude 9:42 a.m. about 15 miles north-northwest of Fairview

- 3.1 magnitude 3:11 p.m. about 15 miles east of Cherokee

- 3.2 magnitude 2:06 a.m. about 18 miles north-northwest of Fairview

- 3.5 magnitude 12:12 a.m. about 9 miles southwest of Cherokee

- 3.5 magnitude 5:22 a.m. about 9 miles southwest of Cherokee.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has said this year that 558 disposal wells are in an area of interest under scrutiny by scientists. That was an expansion from 347 wells first targeted earlier in the year.

- Tulsa World.

Tectonic Summary - Earthquakes in the Stable Continental Region

Natural Occurring Earthquake Activity
Most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains has infrequent earthquakes. Here and there earthquakes are more numerous, for example in the New Madrid seismic zone centered on southeastern Missouri, in the Charlevoix-Kamouraska seismic zone of eastern Quebec, in New England, in the New York - Philadelphia - Wilmington urban corridor, and elsewhere. However, most of the enormous region from the Rockies to the Atlantic can go years without an earthquake large enough to be felt, and several U.S. states have never reported a damaging earthquake.

Earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains, although less frequent than in the West, are typically felt over a much broader region than earthquakes of similar magnitude in the west. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area more than ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast. It would not be unusual for a magnitude 4.0 earthquake in eastern or central North America to be felt by a significant percentage of the population in many communities more than 100 km (60 mi) from its source. A magnitude 5.5 earthquake in eastern or central North America might be felt by much of the population out to more than 500 km (300 mi) from its source. Earthquakes east of the Rockies that are centered in populated areas and large enough to cause damage are, similarly, likely to cause damage out to greater distances than earthquakes of the same magnitude centered in western North America.

Most earthquakes in North America east of the Rockies occur as faulting within bedrock, usually miles deep. Few earthquakes east of the Rockies, however, have been definitely linked to mapped geologic faults, in contrast to the situation at plate boundaries such as California's San Andreas fault system, where scientists can commonly use geologic evidence to identify a fault that has produced a large earthquake and that is likely to produce large future earthquakes. Scientists who study eastern and central North America earthquakes often work from the hypothesis that modern earthquakes occur as the result of slip on preexisting faults that were formed in earlier geologic eras and that have been reactivated under the current stress conditions. The bedrock of Eastern North America is, however, laced with faults that were active in earlier geologic eras, and few of these faults are known to have been active in the current geologic era. In most areas east of the Rockies, the likelihood of future damaging earthquakes is currently estimated from the frequencies and sizes of instrumentally recorded earthquakes or earthquakes documented in historical records.

Induced Seismicity
As is the case elsewhere in the world, there is evidence that some central and eastern North America earthquakes have been triggered or caused by human activities that have altered the stress conditions in earth's crust sufficiently to induce faulting. Activities that have induced felt earthquakes in some geologic environments have included impoundment of water behind dams, injection of fluid into the earth's crust, extraction of fluid or gas, and removal of rock in mining or quarrying operations. In much of eastern and central North America, the number of earthquakes suspected of having been induced is much smaller than the number of natural earthquakes, but in some regions, such as the south-central states of the U.S., a significant majority of recent earthquakes are thought by many seismologists to have been human-induced.

Even within areas with many human-induced earthquakes, however, the activity that seems to induce seismicity at one location may be taking place at many other locations without inducing felt earthquakes. In addition, regions with frequent induced earthquakes may also be subject to damaging earthquakes that would have occurred independently of human activity. Making a strong scientific case for a causative link between a particular human activity and a particular sequence of earthquakes typically involves special studies devoted specifically to the question. Such investigations usually address the process by which the suspected triggering activity might have significantly altered stresses in the bedrock at the earthquake source, and they commonly address the ways in which the characteristics of the suspected human-triggered earthquakes differ from the characteristics of natural earthquakes in the region.



PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Eastern Indonesia - USGS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

November 21, 2015 - INDONESIA
- A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Indonesia Saturday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, but no tsunami warning was issued and no immediate damage or casualties were reported.

The undersea quake was recorded at a depth of 67 kilometers near Indonesia's Babar islands, according to USGS.

The quake was felt in Saumlaki, the closest city to the epicentre, a local geophysics station officer said.

"We felt the quake for about 25 seconds, and it felt like a truck went past in front of the house," an officer at the geophysics station, Alva Rottie, told AFP.

USGS shakemap intensity.

The tremor prompted some residents to run outside, but the National Disaster Management Agency said the quake had no tsunami potential.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. - Bangkok Post.

Seismotectonics of the New Guinea Region and Vicinity

The Australia-Pacific plate boundary is over 4000 km long on the northern margin, from the Sunda (Java) trench in the west to the Solomon Islands in the east. The eastern section is over 2300 km long, extending west from northeast of the Australian continent and the Coral Sea until it intersects the east coast of Papua New Guinea. The boundary is dominated by the general northward subduction of the Australia plate.

Along the South Solomon trench, the Australia plate converges with the Pacific plate at a rate of approximately 95 mm/yr towards the east-northeast. Seismicity along the trench is dominantly related to subduction tectonics and large earthquakes are common: there have been 13 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded since 1900. On April 1, 2007, a M8.1 interplate megathrust earthquake occurred at the western end of the trench, generating a tsunami and killing at least 40 people. This was the third M8.1 megathrust event associated with this subduction zone in the past century; the other two occurred in 1939 and 1977.

Further east at the New Britain trench, the relative motions of several microplates surrounding the Australia-Pacific boundary, including north-south oriented seafloor spreading in the Woodlark Basin south of the Solomon Islands, maintain the general northward subduction of Australia-affiliated lithosphere beneath Pacific-affiliated lithosphere. Most of the large and great earthquakes east of New Guinea are related to this subduction; such earthquakes are particularly concentrated at the cusp of the trench south of New Ireland. 33 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900, including three shallow thrust fault M8.1 events in 1906, 1919, and 2007.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

The western end of the Australia-Pacific plate boundary is perhaps the most complex portion of this boundary, extending 2000 km from Indonesia and the Banda Sea to eastern New Guinea. The boundary is dominantly convergent along an arc-continent collision segment spanning the width of New Guinea, but the regions near the edges of the impinging Australia continental margin also include relatively short segments of extensional, strike-slip and convergent deformation. The dominant convergence is accommodated by shortening and uplift across a 250-350 km-wide band of northern New Guinea, as well as by slow southward-verging subduction of the Pacific plate north of New Guinea at the New Guinea trench. Here, the Australia-Pacific plate relative velocity is approximately 110 mm/yr towards the northeast, leading to the 2-8 mm/yr uplift of the New Guinea Highlands.

Whereas the northern band of deformation is relatively diffuse east of the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border, in western New Guinea there are at least two small (less than 100,000 km²) blocks of relatively undeformed lithosphere. The westernmost of these is the Birds Head Peninsula microplate in Indonesia's West Papua province, bounded on the south by the Seram trench. The Seram trench was originally interpreted as an extreme bend in the Sunda subduction zone, but is now thought to represent a southward-verging subduction zone between Birds Head and the Banda Sea.

There have been 22 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded in the New Guinea region since 1900. The dominant earthquake mechanisms are thrust and strike slip, associated with the arc-continent collision and the relative motions between numerous local microplates. The largest earthquake in the region was a M8.2 shallow thrust fault event in the northern Papua province of Indonesia that killed 166 people in 1996.

The western portion of the northern Australia plate boundary extends approximately 4800 km from New Guinea to Sumatra and primarily separates Australia from the Eurasia plate, including the Sunda block. This portion is dominantly convergent and includes subduction at the Sunda (Java) trench, and a young arc-continent collision.

In the east, this boundary extends from the Kai Islands to Sumba along the Timor trough, offset from the Sunda trench by 250 km south of Sumba. Contrary to earlier tectonic models in which this trough was interpreted as a subduction feature continuous with the Sunda subduction zone, it is now thought to represent a subsiding deformational feature related to the collision of the Australia plate continental margin and the volcanic arc of the Eurasia plate, initiating in the last 5-8 Myr. Before collision began, the Sunda subduction zone extended eastward to at least the Kai Islands, evidenced by the presence of a northward-dipping zone of seismicity beneath Timor Leste. A more detailed examination of the seismic zone along it's eastern segment reveals a gap in intermediate depth seismicity under Timor and seismic mechanisms that indicate an eastward propagating tear in the descending slab as the negatively buoyant oceanic lithosphere detaches from positively buoyant continental lithosphere. On the surface, GPS measurements indicate that the region around Timor is currently no longer connected to the Eurasia plate, but instead is moving at nearly the same velocity as the Australia plate, another consequence of collision.

Large earthquakes in eastern Indonesia occur frequently but interplate megathrust events related to subduction are rare; this is likely due to the disconnection of the descending oceanic slab from the continental margin. There have been 9 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded from the Kai Islands to Sumba since 1900. The largest was the great Banda Sea earthquake of 1938 (M8.5) an intermediate depth thrust faulting event that did not cause significant loss of life.

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics



GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Latest Report Of Volcanic Eruptions, Activity, Unrest And Awakenings – November 21, 2015!

Explosion from Nishinoshima's active main vent on November 17 (Japan Coast Guard)

November 21, 2015 - EARTH
- The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.

Nishino-shima (Japan): The volcano continues to erupt and is approaching its anniversary. It started with the birth of a new island offshore the old Nishino-Shima island on November 23, 2013, which by now has joined and completely covered and greatly enlarged the older one.

The latest survey of the Japanese Coast Guard on November 17 showed that although lava effusion continues at slow rate, thickening the flow field in the interior of the island, they no longer reach the shores and the island's total surface has decreased a bit due to wave erosion from 2.67 in September to now 2.63 square km.

Strombolian to vulcanian-type explosions occur from the main vent, sometimes strong enough to project bombs of meter size into the sea, i.e. to more than 1 km distance.

Cotopaxi (Ecuador): The volcano's activity remains low, with intermittent small ash emissions and continuous steaming.

Small ash emission from Cotopaxi yesterday evening

Weak glow can sometimes be observed at night. According to IGEPN, seismic activity remains moderately strong.

Erta Ale (Ethiopia): The lava lake in the southern pit of the caldera, 30-40 meters in diameter, remains very active and approaches again levels close to overflowing the margins of the pit, being only a few meters below the floor of the caldera.

A group of ours is currently there and we will have fresh news in about 10 days, but the following video likely from early November shows the current activity well:

WATCH: Erta Ale volcano.

Karymsky (Kamchatka): Ash plumes from the volcano drifting east at estimated 23,000 ft (7 km) altitude were reported by VAAC Tokyo yesterday.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Today and yesterday, the activity at the volcano has been lower and emissions much reduced, after a phase of near continuous degassing and ash venting, producing columns of up to 3 km height during November 18-19.

Tungurahua volcano last night

Effects of recent ash falls in Cotaló and Pillate (images: IGEPN)

In this period, 1-6 mm of ash fell in areas to the NW, including Cotaló, Chacauco, Pillate, Chontapamba, Chonglontus, Cusua, Juive, and Bilbao where it caused significant damage to vegetation and some infrastructure.

Colima (Western Mexico): Intermittent explosive activity continues with little changes. Another beautiful shot of an ash column with eruption lightning by our friend Hernando Rivera from Colima attached. 

Eruption from Colima last night (photo: Hernando Rivera / facebook)

The volcano erupted on Wednesday, sending a column of ash and vapour two kilometres (1.2 miles) into the air. Some volcanic ash fell nearby and forced flights at the local airport to be temporarily suspended. Colima, also known as the “fire volcano”, is located approximately 690 kilometres (428 miles) west of Mexico City.

WATCH: Colima erupts spectacularly.


Shishaldin (Aleutian Islands, Alaska):  No anomalous activity at Shishaldin has been observed in satellite data since weakly elevated surface temperatures were detected on the 16 of October. Low-amplitude seismic tremor continues but is not considered to be indicative of an active eruption.

AVO is therefore downgrading the status of Shishaldin volcano from aviation color code ORANGE to YELLOW and from volcano alert level WATCH to ADVISORY. (AVO / USGS)

EXTREME WEATHER: Lightning Strikes In Sri Lanka - Two Women Killed!

November 21, 2015 - SRI LANKA
- The Met. department states that many areas in the island might receive thunder showers during today afternoon.

The on duty weather forecaster Nimal Bandara Ekanayaka forecasts that lightning accidents also could occur along with the thunder showers and warns the public to be vigilant.

Meanwhile two persons have been killed by lightning.

A 50 year old person has been killed by lightning yesterday while working in a paddy field in Kanthale-Agbopura- Ginipetty Palama area.

And a woman has also been killed by lightning yesterday while working in paddy field in Anuradhapura Gomarankadawala area. - Hiru News.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Incoming - Earth-Grazing Fireball Lights Up The Skies Over Mexico!

A comet fragment skimming Earth’s atmosphere was visible from New Mexico and Colorado on Tuesday evening. © Thomas Ashcraft

November 21, 2015 - MEXICO
- An 8-inch fragment of a comet blazed orange across the sky at 62,000 miles per hour around nightfall Tuesday in a spectacle that was visible just south of Santa Fe.

Lamy astronomer Thomas Ashcraft captured the event on his Sentinel camera on loan from Sandia National Laboratories.

Ashcraft said the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., confirmed that the 5:47 p.m. event was the result of a rare Taurid earth-grazer that was about as bright as the first-quarter moon.

"Earth-grazers enter earth's atmosphere at a very shallow angle and skim along the top of the atmosphere. Some actually skim and then re-enter space," Ashcraft wrote in an email. "This fireball was visible for eleven seconds and burned brightly its entire path of at least 180 miles. This means it had some mass to it to be able to burn that long."

Earth-grazers are not rare, but brighter ones, such as Tuesday's fireball, are special, Ashcraft said. "I'm not sure of the last time but I can tell you that a fireball of this size is not a common event over one location," he said. "That it was a long path earth-grazer makes it much more special."

WATCH: Earth-grazing fireball lights up New Mexico sky.

Marshall Space Flight Center analyst Bill Cooke reported that the earth-grazer was seen from Colorado, New Mexico and as far away as Laramie, Wyo. "The meteor started at an altitude of 65 miles just east of the Kiowa National Grassland in New Mexico, and moved south of [due] west at 62,000 mph for over 180 miles," Cooke told Ashcraft after analyzing various reports. "It finally ablated 45 miles above the town of San Fidel, also in New Mexico. The brightness of this fragment of Comet Encke indicates that it was about 8 inches in diameter, with a weight around 20 pounds."

Comet Encke is a periodic comet that orbits the sun once every 3.3 years, Ashcraft said. "This comet spawns the Taurid meteor shower which was brighter and chunkier than usual this year and generated many fireballs around the planet," he said.

Eleven meteor observers reported what they saw Tuesday evening on an online reporting site called AMS Meteors. One meteor observer in La Salle, Colo., wrote that "the fireball was the biggest I've ever seen and the tail is the longest. It lasted a lot longer than I've ever seen one last too. When I first saw it I thought it was a jet liner on fire but it didn't take long to realize it was moving way too fast to be a plane. It was an incredible experience to see."

Another observer in Boulder, Colo., wrote, the "fireball seemed to grow with intensity ... WOW!" - The New Mexican.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Increasing Seismic Activity - Magnitude 3.2 Earthquake Hits Bárðarbunga Volcano In Iceland!

Holuhraun in December 2014. © AFP/Bernard Meric

November 21, 2015 - ICELAND
- Eyes are back on Iceland's Bárðarbunga volcano following a magnitude 3.2 earthquake that hit the caldera of the volcano yesterday.

Monitoring by the Icelandic Met Office has recently revealed significantly greater seismic activity than any time since the 2014-15 eruption in the adjacent Holuhraun lava field.

Bárðarbunga is one of Iceland's most powerful volcanoes and is located under the country's famous Vatnajökull glacier.

The Met Office's Einar Hjörleifssonhas indicated that the situation is being monitored closely.  - Iceland Monitor.


FIRE IN THE SKY: Bright Meteor Fireball Passes Over Dublin, Ireland!

November 21, 2015 - IRELAND
- This following footage was captured by amateur astronomer Michael O'Connell and was posted on YouTube. The 'bright fireball possible from the Leonid meteor showers, passed directly over Dublin and was visible across the the rest of Ireland, as well as parts of the United Kingdom.

WATCH: Fireball over Dublin.

- The Independent.


PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong Magnitude 6.2 Earthquake Strikes Off Japan's Bonin Islands - USGS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

Bonin islands, Japan. © Google Maps

November 21, 2015 - JAPAN
- An earthquake of magnitude 6.2 struck 112 km (70 miles) southeast of Japan's Bonin islands on Friday, about 1,000 km south of the capital Tokyo, the US Geological Survey said.

The quake at a depth of 10 km (6 miles), hit at 0540 GMT.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. - The New Indian Express.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Philippine Sea and Vicinity

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 (Magnitude greater than 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.

USGS plate tectonics for the region

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 (Magnitude greater than 8.0) earthquakes and 250 large (Magnitude greater than 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