Wednesday, November 25, 2015

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Enormous Mounds Of Methane Found Off The Coast Of The Yamal Peninsula In Siberia - Researchers Warn That It Could Cause Huge Blow Outs Under The Ocean!

Arctic scientists have discovered huge mounds, some up to 3,280ft (990 metres) wide and 30ft (9 metres) tall, on the sea bed of the South Kara Sea off the coast of Siberia
using seismic surveys (pictured). They said melting permafrost on the seabed is releasing methane that is forcing the earth above it to bulge upwards.  © Pavel Serov

November 25, 2015 - SIBERIA, RUSSIA - Huge mounds filled with methane have been discovered forming on the frozen sea bed of the Arctic Ocean, raising fears they are being caused by climate change.

Scientists fear thawing permafrost beneath the ocean is causing methane to become free, forming underwater pingos - mounds of earth and ice - off the coast of the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia.

Similar structures are thought to be behind enormous craters that have appeared on the land on the peninsula as methane exploded out of the Earth.The researchers warn the underwater pingos appear to be forming through the same process and are also at risk of causing huge blow outs under the ocean.

This could release huge amounts of methane - a potent greenhouse gas - into the atmosphere.


Pingos are lumps of ice covered by soil or seabed.

As permafrost melts, due to global warming, methane gas is released, and a build up can cause a leak or an explosion.

On-land pingos are typically formed when the water freezes into an ice core under soil, this is caused by the chilling temperatures of permafrost.

However, subsea pingos may be formed because of the thawing of subsea permafrost as it separates from methane-rich gas hydrates.

Gas hydrates are ice-like solids made of, among other things, methane and water.

They form and remain stable under a combination of low temperature and high pressure.

In permafrost the temperatures are very low and gas hydrates are stable even under the low pressure, such as on shallow Arctic seas.

Thawing of permafrost leads to temperature increases, which in turn leads to melting of gas hydrates, therefore, releasing the formerly trapped gas.

The underwater pingos were discovered in the South Kara Sea off the coast of the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia, where several large craters have been discovered in
recent years, thought to be the remains of pingos that have exploded due to the build up of gas beneath the ground.  © Pavel Serov

Dr Paval Serov, a geologist at the Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate in Tromso, Norway, said: 'The subsea-pingo like formations are significantly larger than the ones on land.

'Gas leakage from one of the ocean floor pingos offshore Siberia shows a specific chemical signature that indicates modern generation of methane.

'We suggest that the mound formed more recently, moving material physically upwards.'

The pingos were discovered in the shallow South Kara Sea at a depth of around 131 feet (40m), just off the coast of the Yamal Peninsula.

The seabed there is formed of thick layers of permafrost that formed during the ice ages of the late Pleistocene.

As organic material trapped in the soil broke down this formed an icy substance known as gas hydrate.

When sea levels rose following the end of the last Ice Age 19,000 years ago, several million square miles of this frozen permafrost was flooded.

The researchers, whose work is published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, believe the underwater pingos may be forming because this relict permafrost is now thawing and the methane gas is being released.

Scientists have been investigating the occurrence of huge craters found in the Siberian permafrost on the Yamal Peninsula in recent years. They believe they maybe
caused by climate change melting the permafrost and releasing large amounts of methane gas trapped there to form pingos that eventually explode.
© Vasily Bogoyavlensky/The Siberian Times 

Increasing temperatures in the waters around the Arctic may be driving this process.

The mounds are roughly 230ft (70 metres) and a staggering 3,280ft (1,000 metres) in diameter.

They rise between 16ft (5 metres) and 30 ft (9 metres) above the surrounding sea floor.

The researchers warn that they could also pose a significant hazard to companies drilling for natural gas and petroleum in the arctic.

In 1995 the Russian vessel Bavenit got into trouble while undertaking 'geotechnological drilling' after drilling into one of these mounds and triggering a sudden methane release west of Vaygach Island in the Pechora Sea.

Dr Serov said: 'Pingos are intensively discussed in the scientific community especially in the context of global climate warming scenarios. They may be the step before the methane blows out.

'We don't know if the methane expelled from the subsea pingos reaches the atmosphere, but it is crucial that we observe and understand these processes better, especially in shallow areas, where the distance between the ocean floor and the atmosphere is short.' - Mail Online.


MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFFS: Primates In Peril - 50 PERCENT Of Our Closest Living Relatives Are On The Brink Of Extinction Around The World!

More than half of the world's primates are at risk of dying out due to the threat posed by habitat loss and hunting. The Hainan gibbon (pictured)
is thought to be the world's most endangered primate, with just 25 of the animals left living on an isolated island in China

November 25, 2015 - EARTH
- They are our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom, yet more than half of the world's primates are facing extinction due to our destruction of the habitats where they live.

Burning and clearing of large areas of tropical forest, combined with hunting of primates for food and illegal wildlife trade, has placed many species of apes, lemurs and monkeys at risk of dying out.

These include iconic species such as the Sumatran orang-utan, Grauer's gorilla, the Northern brown howler monkey and the Hainan gibbon.

Scientists and conservation experts have now updated a report on the world's 25 most endangered primates based on the current knowledge of the animals numbers and the risks facing them.

Dr Christoph Schwitzer, a primatologist and director of conservation at Bristol Zoological Society who helped compile the list, said: 'This research highlights the extent of the danger facing many of the world's primates. 'We hope it will focus people's attention on these lesser known primate species, some of which most people will probably have never heard of, such as the Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur from Madagascar - a species only discovered two years ago - or the Roloway monkey from Ghana and Ivory Coast, which we believe is on the very verge of extinction.' 'Some of these animals have tiny populations remaining in the wild and support and action to help save them is vital if we are to avoid losing these wonderful animals forever.

'This report makes scary reading for primatologists and the public alike, and highlights where we as conservationists must focus our attention over the coming years.'

There are 703 species and sub-species of primates around the world.

Every two years experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Bristol Zoological Society, International Primatological Society and Conservation International, produce a list of those most under threat.

In their latest report two species - the Philippine tarsier and the Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur from Madagascar - were included on the list for the first time.

The Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur was only discovered two years ago and its exact numbers are still unknown but its habitat is already being destroyed.

The report warned that Madagascar and Vietnam are home to large numbers of highly threatened primate species.

This is because many of the species live in isolated pockets of forest that are under threat of destruction.

The Northern sportive lemur from Madagascar is possibly the second most endangered animal to appear on the list with just 50 individuals known to survive. The Cat Ba langur, or golden headed langur as it is also known, has just 60 individuals left on Cat Ba Island in Vietnam.There are thought to be just 24 Hainan gibbons left on Hainan Island in China.

In Africa, the red colobus monkeys was under 'particular threat', as were some of South America's howler monkeys and spider monkeys.

The Northern brown howler monkey, for example, has less than 250 mature animals living in the wild.

The report warned: 'All of these species are relatively large and conspicuous, making them prime targets for bushmeat hunting.'

Russell Mittermeier, chair of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN, said he hoped the report would encourage governments to commit to 'desperately needed biodiversity conservation measures'.

He said there was growing evidence that some primate species play important roles in dispersing tropical forest tree seeds, meaning they were essential to those habitats.

He added: 'The purpose of our Top 25 list is to highlight those primates most at risk, to attract the attention of the public, to stimulate national governments to do more, and especially to find the resources to implement desperately needed conservation measures.

'In particular, we want to encourage governments to commit to desperately needed biodiversity conservation measures.' THE WORLD'S 25 MOST ENDANGERED PRIMATES

Sumatran orang-utans (pictured) are one of the world's most threatened species and has been the focus of intense conservation campaigns.

Madagascar has many unique species of primate but many of the island's lemurs are now threatened, including the Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur (upper), which number just
5,000 animals left in the wild. South American primates like the Colombian black spider monkey (lower) are also under threat from habitat loss

Although some of the species that appear on the list of the most threatened animals are small and rarely seen, like the Philippine tarsier (upper),
others are quite large and noisy species, like the brown howler monkey (lower)

Lemurs in Madagascar are among the most threatened according to the report, including the red ruffed lemur (pictured).
Exact numbers of this species are not known but they are extremely rare

The Roloway monkey lives in the forests of from Ghana and Ivory Coast but is thought to be on the 'very verge' of extinction,
according to experts behind a new report on the world's most endangered primates

Primate species. Number remaining in the wild.

Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur Unknown

Lake Alaotra bamboo lemur 2,500 - 5,000

Red ruffed lemur Unknown

Northern sportive lemur Around 50

Perrier's sifaka 1,700 - 2,600

Rondo dwarf galago Unknown, but remaining habitat is just 100 square km

Roloway monkey Unknown, but thought to be on the very verge of extinction

Preuss' red colobus monkey Unknown

Tana River red colobus monkey 1,000

Grauer's gorilla 2,000 - 10,000

Philippine tarsier Unknown

Javan slow loris Unknown

Pig-tailed langur 3,300

Cat Ba langur 60

Delacour's langur 234 - 275

Tonkin snub-nosed monkey less than 250

Kashmir grey langur Unknown

Western purple-faced langur Unknown

Hainan gibbon 25

Sumatran orang-utan Unknown

Ka'apor capuchin Unknown

Northern brown howler monkey Less than 250 adults

Colombian brown spider monkey Unknown

Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey Unknown

Courtesy of IUCN, the Bristol Zoological Society, International Primatological Society and Conservation International

- Daily Mail.


EXTREME WEATHER: "They're Left With Fewer And Fewer Places To Go" - Drought Threatens Habitat Of Migratory Birds In California!

Sandhill cranes land in flooded fields at the Sandhill Crane Reserve near Thornton, California, Nov. 3, 2015. The state's ongoing drought has
left millions of waterfowl that migrate from northern climes to California with fewer places to land, seek food.  © Reuters

- With their red heads, 2.13-meter (7-foot) wingspan and a trilling call, migrating Sandhill Cranes provide a dramatic sunset spectacle as they land by the thousands in wetlands near Sacramento each night during the fall and winter.

But the state's ongoing drought has left the cranes, along with millions of other waterfowl that migrate from Canada and other northern climes to spend the winter in California, with fewer places to land, threatening their health as they crowd in on one another to seek shelter and food.

"They're left with fewer and fewer places to go, which will start to have impacts on their population," said Meghan Hertel, who works on habitat issues for the Audubon Society in California. "They can die here from starvation or disease or be weaker for their flight back north."

WATCH: California drought threatens habitat of migratory birds.

Beloved sight

The cranes are a beloved sight in California's Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys when they arrive each fall.

Tourists flock to see them as they take off en masse at dawn or land in a series of swooping, trilling groups as the sun goes down.

This weekend, the town of Lodi near the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta holds its annual crane festival, complete with tours of the wetlands where the five-foot tall birds spend their days foraging for food and their nights roosting in shallow water.

California's Central Valley - which includes both the San Joaquin and the Sacramento - provides winter lodging for 60 percent of the world's 10,000 remaining greater Sandhill Cranes, a taller crane variety that is listed as a threatened species by the state, according to the Audubon Society.

As many as 25,000 of their shorter cousins, the lesser Sandhill Cranes, also roost in the region.

But the wildlife refuges set up to replace natural habitat long diminished by the dams and levees built by humans in the most-populous U.S. state are themselves drier this year, and fewer acres of wetland are available to the birds.

Drought efforts

And in an ironic twist, farmers criticized by some conservationists for flooding their corn, rice and alfalfa fields have cut back the practice dramatically as the drought has worn on, saving water but reducing habitat for waterfowl, who rely on the wet acreage to roost and feed.

"The impact of not having flooded agricultural fields available to the birds is huge," said Craig Isola, deputy project leader for the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

In the Sacramento Valley north of the Delta, flooded fields rich with unused grain, insects and other nutrients supply half of the food eaten by migratory birds each year, Isola said.

But this year, rice farmers plan to flood just 100,000 of the 300,000 acres that they normally cover with about five inches of water, said Paul Buttner, environmental affairs manager for the California Rice Commission.

Wetland acreage is also down at the wildlife refuges managed by state and federal agencies.

That's because even though the refuges are located in areas that were once natural wetlands, the water that would have flowed to them a century or more ago has long since been blocked by dams, levees and reservoirs meant to help manage water for a state that has grown to include 39 million residents.

As a result, the refuges receive an allocation of water each year from regional water suppliers, which they then use to flood their lands just in time for migratory birds to come in the fall.

Supply cut to refuges

The state's catastrophic drought, now in its fourth year, led the regulators who manage California's water supply to cut back the allocation for the refuges by up to 45 percent for 2015.

Rain is expected to help ease conditions in the southern part of the state, thanks to the weather and Pacific Ocean warming phenomenon known as El Nino, relief that would also provide more wet habitat for migratory birds.

But El Nino doesn't always bring rain as far north as the Sacramento Valley or the Delta area, so there is a chance that dry conditions will linger here.

If that happens, the cranes, ducks, geese and other migratory birds that winter in the state's midsection would have to crowd in to dramatically smaller wetland areas, making it easier to spread of such diseases as avian cholera.

"If a disease outbreak occurs we could lose a lot more of them than we would in a normal year," said Dan Yparraguirre, deputy director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Birds might also be weakened by a lack of food. "They will have less access to food and poorer body condition come spring, then when they migrate north they may not make it," he said. - Voice of America.


PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Costco E. Coli Outbreak Sickens 19 People In Seven States - CDC!

November 25, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- Rotisserie chicken salad from Costco Wholesale has been linked to an E. coli outbreak in seven states that has infected at least 19 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"The epidemiologic evidence available at this time suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is a likely source of this outbreak," the CDC said on Tuesday.

The outbreak has been linked to seven states: California, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. Of the 19 people infected, five have been hospitalized and two have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported, according to the CDC.

Today's outbreak: Costco chicken salad blamed for E. coli outbreak in 7 states. Yikes. 
Twitter: ciara linnane

The illnesses were recorded on dates ranging from October 6 to November 3, with ill people ranging from five years of age to 84. Fifty-seven percent of ill people are female.

Evidence suggests that the wholesaler’s rotisserie chicken salad was the likely source of the outbreak, with almost 90 percent of the people saying they purchased or ate the salad in the week before their illness started, according to the CDC. The ongoing investigation has not identified what specific ingredient in the chicken salad is linked to the illness.

The CDC is warning customers who purchased the chicken salad on or before November 20 to either not eat it or throw it away.

Rotisserie chicken salad made/sold in Costco stores has been linked to an E. coli outbreak 
 Twitter: Newsweek

Costco has removed all that remains of the contaminated product from all its stores in the US, and stopped production until further notice. Shares of the company dropped as much as 1.5 percent after the CDC released the report, Bloomberg News reported, ultimately closing down 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the CDC is still trying to determine what caused an E. coli outbreak that affected customers of Chipotle Mexican Grill. A total of 45 people were infected, with 43 of the victims reporting that they ate at Chipotle restaurants. While investigation had initially focused on Oregon and Washington, where the outbreak began, it eventually expanded to four additional states on Friday. Chipotle closed 43 restaurants in Oregon and Washington for more than a week as it determine the cause of the outbreak.

Chipotle E. coli outbreaks hit six states, poisons 45 – CDC 
Twitter: RT America

The CDC has said that evidence suggests an ingredient or “common meal item” is to blame for the Chipotle outbreak. Meat was likely not the culprit because vegetarians were among those sickened, the agency said.

Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria normally lives in the intestines of people and animals, but some strains can cause illness and, in some cases, death. It is potentially lethal for children under five and senior citizens. The infection can cause vomiting, abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea, so treatment includes hydration.  - RT.


INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Massive Gas Explosion In Indiana - "SHOOK THE WHOLE TOWN", Leveling House And Killing One Person!

© Jen Danczak - 21Alive

November 25, 2015 - INDIANA, UNITED STATES
- One person died and two others were injured in a house explosion Monday night. It happened in the 1200 block of S. Gonser Avenue in Ashley around 9:30 p.m.

According to the Ashley Fire Department, it started with a LP gas leak at the house. Ashley Fire Chief Dave Barrand confirmed that something separate from the LP gas leak then triggered the blast.

"I was the first one on scene, and I noticed that the house was leveled with debris out on the roadway and out on the fields," Barrand said. "Did find a male trapped inside with severe burns, also found a female that was under some debris."

Barrand said the man and woman were airlifted to an area hospital. Another man was pronounced dead on the scene.

WATCH: Scenes from the house explosion.

The home sits in an isolated area. No other buildings were damaged. Ashley Town Marshal Scott Barnhart said, "it shook the whole town" causing a flood of 911 calls.

One person was pronounced dead on the scene, two others were flown to the hospital by helicopter.

Firefighters from Ashley and Hudson as well as police from DeKalb County and Steuben County responded. Barrand said several fires started up after they got there, but the crews were able to get them out quickly.

Even though the Ashley Fire Department has confirmed a gas leak led to the explosion, Barrand said there will be an ongoing investigation. - WANE.


PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 5.1 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Venezuela - Rockslide Kills One Person; Multiple Aftershocks Recorded!

November 25, 2015 - VENEZUELA
- One person was killed in Venezuela when a rockslide was triggered by a 5.1-magnitude earthquake in the state of Mérida, causing a traffic collision.

The Venezuelan Foundation of Seismological Research, or FUNVISIS, reported the epicenter of the earthquake was located about 18 miles southeast of the town of El Vigía at 4:08 p.m. at a depth of about 3 miles. Multiple aftershocks were recorded in the region.

Blas Federico Méndez, 41, died immediately and his son Emmanuel Méndez, 32, was injured after their vehicle made a frontal collision with an SUV. Both vehicles attempted to evade debris from a rockslide, but collided in the process. Two people inside the SUV were injured, El Universal reported.

This is the second death connected to earthquakes in Mérida this month. FUNVISIS President and engineer Aura Fernández urged for calm, saying natural events are "normal in Venezuela, because we are a seismic country."

Six houses were significantly damaged by the earthquake. Road travel through multiple districts in Mérida and the corresponding Andean region has been limited due to potential rockslides. Officials warn the increased seismic activity could last 15 or more days.

"Recall that in Venezuela, the most seismically active area corresponds to a stretch of about 100 kilometers [62 miles] wide, defined along the mountain ranges of the Andes, the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera Oriental, places where the main plate boundaries in the country are located," FUNVISIS said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Venezuela announced it would demolish 33 homes in Mérida after more than 80 aftershocks and a 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck the South American country, killing one person. - UPI.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Large Sinkhole Appears At Lindal-in-Furness, UK - About 200 FEET DEEP; Swallows Up A Cabin And Two Cars!

November 25, 2015 - UNITED KINGDOM
- A large sinkhole opened up near Lindal-in-Furness over the weekend - swallowing a 20ft cabin, a wagon and a Nissan Micra.

The hole, believed to be about 200ft deep, appeared as heavy rain battered the region and is thought to be in the location of an old iron ore mine. - The Westmorland Gazette.


PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.0 Magnitude Earthquake Hits West Of Agrihan, Northern Mariana Islands - USGS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

November 25, 2015 - MARIANA ISLANDS
- An earthquake measuring 6.0 magnitude jolted 37 km west of Agrihan, Northern Mariana Islands, on Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake occurred at 1321 GMT.

USGS shakemap intensity.

The epicenter, with a depth of 586.23 km, was initially determined to be at 18.7906 degrees north latitude and 145.3115 degrees east longitude. - Xinhuanet.

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).

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

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 (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



ICE AGE NOW: Snowy Weather Hits Croatia - Strong Winds And Over 30 Centimetres Of Snowfall Results In Falling Of Many Trees And Damaged Electric Lines!

November 25, 2015 - CROATIA
- Almost the entire Lika region was caught in snowy weather last night. In Gospić, more than 30 centimetres of snow has fallen, while in mountainous areas the snow cover is even higher. Snow has caused the falling down of many trees which have damaged electrical lines, so the wider area of ​​Gospić was without power this morning. Director of Elektrolika Ernest Petri said that two transmission lines that supply electricity to Gospić have broken down. There are problems with the local phone lines as well, reports and Vecernji List on November 22, 2015.

Snow and strong winds are causing traffic problems in the Primorje region. The Lika-Senj Police Department has announced that the Adriatic highway from Karlobag to Sveta Marija Magdalena is completely closed down, and on all the roads in Lika winter tyres are mandatory.

Rain, snow and sleet slow down traffic in most areas. Several ferry and catamaran lines have been suspended this morning. Due to the stormy winds, parts of the A6 highway Rijeka-Zagreb are open just for smaller vehicles. Due to winter conditions, the traffic is prohibited for trucks with trailers and semi-trailers while other vehicles must have winter equipment on the roads in Gorski Kotar as well.

The weather today will be mostly cloudy with occasional rain, and snow in the mountains. Afternoon, it is expected that the rain will stop. In the first part of the day, winds will be moderate, with heavy winds possible on the Adriatic Sea. The highest daily temperatures will be from 1 to 5 degrees, and from 7 to 19 degrees in the coastal regions, reported the forecast of the State Meteorological Service. - Total Croatia News.


FIRE IN THE SKY: Comet Catalina Grows Two Tails, Photographed At Dawn!

Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina shows off a compact green coma and two tails in this photo taken this morning (Nov. 22, 2015) at dawn from Arizona.
The green color comes from carbon compounds fluorescing in UV sunlight.
© Chris Schur

November 25, 2015 - SPACE
- Amateur astronomer Chris Schur of Arizona had only five minutes to observe and photograph Comet Catalina this morning before twilight got the better of the night. In that brief time, he secured two beautiful images and made a quick observation through his 80mm refractor. He writes:
"Very difficult observation on this one. (I observed) it visually with the 35mm Panoptic ocular. It was a round, slightly condensed object with no sign of the twin tails that show up in the images. After five minutes, we lost it visually as it was 2° degrees up in bright twilight. Images show it for a longer time and a beautiful emerald green head with two tails forming a Y shaped fan."
Schur estimated the comet's brightness at around magnitude +6. What appears to be the dust tail extends to the lower right (southeast) with a narrower ion tail pointing north. With its twin tails, I'm reminded of a soaring eagle or perhaps a turkey vulture rocking back and forth on its wings. While they scavenge for food, Catalina soaks up sunlight.

I also headed out before dawn for a look. After a failed attempt to spot the new visitor on Saturday, I headed down to the Lake Superior shoreline at 5:30 a.m. today and waited until the comet rose above the murk. Using 7×50 binoculars in a similar narrow observing window, I could barely detect it as a small, fuzzy spot 2.5° south of 4th magnitude Lambda Virginis at 5:50 a.m. 10 minutes after the start of astronomical twilight. The camera did better!

With the comet climbing about 1° per day, seeing conditions and viewing time will continue to improve. The key to seeing it is finding a location with an unobstructed view to the southeast—that's why I chose the lake—and getting out while it's still dark to allow time to identify the star field and be ready when the comet rises to greet your gaze.

Comet Catalina stands some 3° high over Lake Superior near Duluth, Minn. (U.S.) at 5:55 a.m. this morning, Nov. 22. Stars are labeled with their magnitudes.
Details: 200mm lens, f/2.8, ISO 1250, 3-seconds. © Bob King

Alan Hale, discoverer of Comet Hale-Bopp, also tracked down Catalina this morning with an 8-inch (20-cm) reflector at 47x. He reported its magnitude at ~+6.1 with a 2-arc-minute, well-condensed coma and a faint wisp of tail to the southeast. In an e-mail this morning, Hale commented on the apparent odd angle of the dust tail:

"Since the comet is on the far side of the sun as seen from Earth, with the typical dust tail lagging behind, that would seem to create the somewhat strange direction. It (the tail) almost seems to be directed toward the Sun, but it's a perspective effect." There were side benefits to getting up early today. Three bright planets lit up Leo's tail and Virgo's "Cup" and a magnificent display of zodiacal light rose from the lake to encompass not only the comet but all the planets as well.

Chris’s first photo was taken when the comet rose. This one was photographed minutes later with twilight coming on.  © Chris Schur

North is up and east to the left in these two photos of the comet made by Dr. D.T. Durig at 6:23 a.m. EST on Nov. 21st from Cordell-Lorenz Observatory in Sewanee,
Tenn. He estimated the coma diameter at ~2 arc minutes with a tail at least 10 arc minutes long . “I get a nuclear magnitude of 10.3 and an total mag of
around 7.8, but that is with only 5-10 reference stars,” wrote Durig.  © Dr. Douglas T. Durig

Venus glares inside the cone of the zodiacal light this morning at the start of astronomical twilight. Jupiter is seen at top and Mars two-thirds
of the way from Jupiter to Venus. Arcturus shines at far left.   © Bob King


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: "Volcano Of Fire" - Mexico's Colima Volcano Erupts Spectacularly!

November 25, 2015 - MEXICO
- Mexico’s Fire Volcano is continuing its rampant activity spitting out ash and instilling fear in both locals and visitors to breathtaking effect. Webcams de Mexico has captured the latest stunning Colima volcano activity.

A moderate explosion recorded Tuesday, shows the crater of one of the most deadly volcanoes in the world slowly steaming away when it suddenly erupts, sending debris into the air.

The heated material than falls on the slopes as flashes of volcanic lightning are seen before the ash is whipped up by the wind.

After the blast, which happened early Tuesday, the plume from the eruption spread roughly roughly one kilometer into the air.

Further eruptions saw the plume reaching roughly 2.5 km into the air.

The volcano continues to remain restless, after being home to a powerful eruption on November 16.

On this date, the plume of smoke and ash from the Fire Volcano reached some 3,000 meters into the air. Webcams de Mexico also offers footage of the spectacular explosion.

Since Colima’s continuous activity started in July, several precautionary evacuations have been ordered. It was previously active in January and February of 2015.

The Colima volcanic complex is the most prominent volcanic center of the Mexican Volcanic Belt. It consists of two volcanoes: Nevado de Colima towering 4,320 meters high in the north and the 3,850-meter-high Volcán de Colima in the south. - RT.