Tuesday, December 29, 2015

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Flooding Cripples Upstate Towns In South Carolina, Creating Massive Sinkholes! [PHOTOS]

December 29, 2015 - SOUTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES - After a few hours of heavy rain, some Upstate towns saw significant flooding and subsequent damage on Tuesday.

Most of the rain receded late Monday night and Tuesday should be mostly dry during the early parts of Tuesday, according to FOX Carolina Chief Meteorologist Kendra Kent. She said the ground has been saturated with water from all the rain the area has been experiencing.

The saturated grounds left some Upstate roads damaged Tuesday. A few road gave way under the weight of the water in Anderson County, according to Taylor Jones with the county's Emergency Services department.

Jones said drivers should use caution where roads may be washed out or closed, including along Gerrard Road near Centerville and Hattons Ford Road near Townville - where two utility truck were damaged Tuesday morning.

The large hole that formed along Gerrard Road was because a 72" concrete culvert was lost. Drivers will be detoured onto Centerville Road and Dion Road.

Jones said emergency officials responded to 42 calls overnight about flooding concerns Anderson County.

More rain in forecast for northeast Georgia, western Carolinas

Meteorologist Nicole Papay said though Tuesday will remain mostly dry, as the heat and humidity builds later in the day, more showers and storms could pop up.

The already-saturated ground and high stream levels could lead to flooding later in the day, Papay said. She said the storms that pop up will be slow-moving, so isolated areas could see an inch or more of rain in a very short time, increasing the flooding concern.

The sinkhole at Harness Trail and Highway 14. (July 8, 2013/FOX Carolina)

Part of Gerrard Road is washed away in Anderson County. (July 9, 2013/FOX Carolina)

Patrick Tighe's flooded car in Mauldin. (July 8, 2013/FOX Carolina)

Some Upstate towns experienced flooding on Monday because of a similar weather system. A storm formed in east Greenville, and it never really moved, according to Kent. Kent said there wasn't much movement in the atmosphere to help push the storm, so it just sat over the city, flooding creeks and roads in its path.

The worst flooding was reported in Taylors and Mauldin with additional reports in Greenville and Simpsonville. There were also some flooding reports in Anderson County.

Flood waters rise quickly in Greenville County

The Red Cross opened a shelter in Mauldin on Monday night at the First Baptist Church on 150 South Main St. but closed Tuesday morning because no residents needed safe shelter during the night. Officials said 10 people were evacuated from their homes on Monday.

Some areas in Mauldin saw several feet of water. Along East Butler Road, a rising creek flooded streets, cars and businesses. One gas station saw the waters rise.

"You can see it, over the roads," said Kalpesh Patel, the East Butler Road store owner. "It was running over the roads before it came into the store. Never went over by the pump, but it's been raining so hard, and there's so much of it."

Drivers are reminded not to drive through flooded roads, even if they don't appear to be deep. One driver learned firsthand Monday how quickly a car can flood.

"It didn't look deep at all," said driver Patrick Tighe, whose car was submerged. "It was fine, and then all of the sudden it just went deeper and dove down, and the car died and filled up with water."

The heavy downpours also caused a large sinkhole in Greenville County near Five Forks and Woodruff. The hole opened up at Harness Trail and Highway 14 on Monday. Emergency dispatchers said the sinkhole was as big as a car.
Nearby residents said this is not the first time this has happened, saying that sinkholes have been patched up before. There is no word yet on when the road will be repaired. - Live5News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Global Seismic Uptick - 4.4 Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Devore Area In California; Numerous Aftershocks!

USGS earthquake location.

December 29, 2015 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - After a 4.4-magnitude earthquake shook the Devore area Tuesday, at least 20 additional smaller aftershocks struck across SoCal, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The first quake was upgraded from initial reports that it was a 4.3-magnitude temblor.

More than 6,000 people across SoCal reported feeling the quake that hit at 5:48 p.m.

In the 10 minutes following the quake, aftershocks hit the same area. The first was a 2.4, the second was a 3.8, the third was a 2.5, the fourth was a 3.2, and the last was a 2.1 across SoCal, according to initial reports.

More quakes of smaller magnitude hit SoCal in the time after the initial earthquake, including a 2.7 that hit the Devore area at 6:20 p.m.

Hundreds of residents said they felt the aftershocks.

Residents from Redondo Beach, Newport Beach, Glendale, and Fontana reported feeling the temblor.

USGS shakemap intensity.

"In Devore right now..... Felt like a sonic boom," Treasure Ortiz said on NBCLA's Facebook page.

Louann Hess Koscielski, a Facebook user living in Rialto, said she thought her "window was going to break."

"In the last 10 years, we've had nine quakes above a magnitude of 4, so it's a relatively active area," Lucy Jones, U.S.G.S. seismologist, said.Jones also said the initial quake was shallow, at just three miles below the surface. - NBC.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - New Species Of Sharks Discovered In The Pacific Ocean; Glow-In-The-Dark Stealthy Ninja Lanternshark?!

The recently discovered ninja lanternshark can cloak itself by giving off a bluish light that effectively renders it invisible. (D. Ross Robertson/Douglas J. Long)

December 29, 2015 - PACIFIC OCEAN - Forget Jaws — it's the ninja lanternshark that's making waves on social media and in the scientific community.

The inky-black fish already has the camouflage of darkness in the deepsea levels. But it's also covered in photophores — tiny dots that can emit light, cloaking the fish in a bluish glow and making it invisible to prey or predators below, the California scientist who identified the shark says.

"As they're swimming they can be backlit by the light and stand out, even though they're all black," Vicky Vásquez said. "So ... lanternsharks glow just enough to hide that shadow or that silhouette that they're creating."

The 30-50 centimetre shark — named by Vásquez's four young cousins "because it's good at being stealthy" — got introduced to the world last week thanks to a paper written by the Pacific Shark Research Centre graduate student and two other scientists.

Outside the hype

The paper appeared in the Journal of the Ocean Science roughly five years after the first ninja lanternshark was pulled from the water and catalogued.

The Spanish research vessel, Miguel Oliver, picked up the first specimen in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central America in 2010. Since that discovery, seven more of the sharks have been found off Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, the scientists write.

It's the latest "lost shark," the term coined by Vásquez's research supervisor. That is, the new fish species is one that's long been overshadowed by the mystique of great whites and tiger sharks — just two of the more than 400 known shark species.

The ninja lanternshark has between 30 and 36 teeth on its lower jaw. (Douglas J. Long/Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation)

"That hype can be a huge issue when you're trying to really understand how the ocean is functioning as a whole and what is important to different ecosystems," Vásquez said.

Much of the shark frenzy can be traced back to 1974 and Peter Benchley's bestseller Jaws and the film series that took off the next year. The author and former journalist ended up spending the latter part of his life as an ocean conservationist, trying to dispel the myths that evolved from works of fiction, including creating the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards.

That's partly why the shark's scientific name honours his memory — etmopterus benchleyi — with Vásquez saying she wanted to recognize Benchley's conservation efforts and use his name to boost the profile of a lesser-known shark.

It appears to have worked, with major newspapers and scientific journals writing about the shark's two names as much as they did about its discovery.

Ocean health

Just eight of the deepwater sharks have been found, all at depths ranging from 836 metres to about 1.4 kilometres below the water's ocean's surface, the paper says.

Their discovery also provides a barometer of the ocean's health in that region, Vásquez said. Other species of lanternsharks exist in most of the world's warm waters and she said she found it odd that none lived off the coast of Central America.

"So the question was, is that because there aren't any there ... or could it be that people did something and it affected the oceans?" she asked. "So I would say that, even though we don't have a lot to go on, the fact that we know the lanternsharks are there is a good sign."  - CBC.

SOLAR WATCH: Massive Sunspot Erupts, Hurls Coronal Mass Ejection Towards Earth - Strong G3 Geomagnetic Storm At Higher Latitudes!

December 29, 2015 - SPACE - After several days of pent-up quiet, big sunspot AR2473 erupted on Dec. 28th (12:49 UT), producing a slow but powerful M1.9-class solar flare. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the blast's extreme ultraviolet glow:

For more than an hour, UV radiation from the flare bathed the top of Earth's atmosphere, ionizing atoms and molecules. This, in turn, disrupted the normal propagation of shortwave radio signals on the dayside of our planet.

WATCH: Long Duration M1.8 Solar Flare and Coronal Mass Ejection.

Low energy protons streaming past our planet is currently at enhanced levels, but well below the minor (S1) radiation storm threshold for now.

A NOAA blackout map shows the affected area. Ham radio operators, mariners and aviators in South America, Africa and the south Atlantic Ocean may have noticed fades and blackouts of transmissions below 20 MHz.

Credit: NOAA

The event was associated with a Type IV radio emission, along with a 10cm Radio Burst (TenFlare) lasting 45 minutes and measuring 370 solar flux units (SFU).

The slow explosion also produced a coronal mass ejection (CME). Images from the Solar and Heliospheric Obseratory (SOHO) show a ragged, full-halo CME heading almost directly toward Earth:

 NOAA analysts have modeled this CME, and they say it could reach Earth as early as Dec. 30th, with a 60% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when the CME arrives. Maximum storm levels are expected to be in the range G1 to G2.

Sunspot AR2473 has an unstable 'beta-delta' magnetic field that could explode again in the hours ahead. NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of additional M-class flares and a 10% chance of X-flares on December 29.


Sunspot AR2473 has a 'beta-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares.

Credit: SDO/HMI

Coronal Hole

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on January 1-3.

Credit: SDO/AIA.


2015 could end with an outburst of auroras. NOAA forecasters say there is a 60% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on December 30th when a CME  is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. There is an equal 60% chance that the storms will spill over into December 31st, New Year's Eve.

Geomagnetic Storm

NOAA upgraded their geomagnetic storm watch to include the possibility of Strong (G3) conditions at higher latitudes. This will go into effect on Wednesday (December 30) when a coronal mass ejection (CME) observed on Monday is expected to sweep past our planet. Perhaps some beautiful aurora to close out 2015 is in the works.

- Space Weather | Solar Ham.

DELUGE: West Alton Residents Evacuating As Mississippi Flood Waters Top Levee - Coast Guard Close Mississippi River To All Vessel Traffic Near MacArthur Bridge; Missouri Governor Jay Nixon Calls In The National Guard!

Flooding in Pontoon Beach.

December 29, 2015 - MISSOURI, UNITED STATES - Residents in West Alton are being told to evacuate immediately, due to the overtopping of the Consolidated North County Levee on the Mississippi River.

Mayor William Richter ordered any of the town’s approximate 520 residents who had not already evacuated to get out of harm’s way, the Associated Press reports.

The Coast Guard has also closed the Mississippi River to all vessel traffic near MacArthur Bridge because of high water and fast currents.

The Mississippi River is forecasted to crest in Alton, IL on Thursday at 38 feet, 17 feet over flood stage.


That's the second highest crest of the river, behind only the 42.72 feet crest on August 1, 1993.

There has been as much as 12" of rain over the last three days. Now, historic flooding is underway.

A car sits stranded as heavy pumps try to clear the roadway of floodwater during a downpour in north St. Louis on December 28, 2015. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has
declared a state of emergency with over 125 roads flooded or closed and 10 deaths due to the flooding statewide. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

West Alton residents were under a voluntary evacuation over the weekend.  Southbound U.S. 67 between
the Clark Bridge and Highway 94 has already been closed due to high water.

Several area rivers will crest higher than record crests of December 1982 and Summer of 1993.

This includes the Bourbeuse River at Union, MO and the Mississippi River at Chester, IL.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has called in the National Guard to assist with flood-fighting efforts.

Nixon says guard members will be used to assist first responders in providing security in evacuated areas, and to help direct traffic away from road closures.

Roads are closed in nearly 500 locations across the state.

The city of Fenton is asking for sandbaggers this afternoon to report to two different locations – Life Church on Larkin Williams Road, and Metro Electric at Old 141 and Old Gravois. - CBS.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 4.3 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Oklahoma City Area Early Tuesday - USGS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

December 29, 2015 - OKLAHOMA, UNITED STATES - A strong earthquake awoke many people in the Oklahoma City area early Tuesday.

There are no immediate reports of major damage, but the quake is blamed for power outages affecting thousands of people.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 4.3.

The quake struck at 5:39 a.m. Tuesday with an epicenter 5 miles east-northeast of Edmond.

USGS shakemap intensity.

A smaller earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 3.4 hit the same area about 10 minutes later.

Edmond city officials say about 4,400 homes and businesses lost power because of the quake but electricity was restored quickly.

Oklahoma’s uptick in earthquakes has been linked to the injection of wastewater underground from oil and gas production.

State regulators have begun reducing the volume or shutting down disposal wells in response. - WAVY.

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.


WEATHER ANOMALIES: Ice Age Now - Rare Snow Storm For El Paso, Texas; More Than 7 Inches Of Snow Reported! [VIDEOS]

Briana Betancis, 14, and Deziree Dominguez, 12, fly down a hill at Memorial Park on Dec. 27 as they enjoy the outdoors and fresh snow in El Paso.

December 29, 2015 - TEXAS, UNITED STATES - Despite the freezing cold, dangerous road conditions, power outages and several business and church closings, El Pasoans made the best of the rare winter storm that brought more than five inches of snow to the area.

"It's been great and it's been years since we have seen it snow like this in El Paso," said Sebastian Lopez, who was building a 12-foot snowman with family and friends at Eastwood Park Sunday. "While it is great, driving home last night to the East Side from work on the West Side was a bit harsh. The visibility was zero and people here just aren't used to driving in those conditions, but I made it home and it doesn't seem like the snow caused too many problems for people, so all in all it's been great."

According to the National Weather Service, the El Paso International Airport reported about 5.3 inches of snow, while areas in El Paso and Horizon City recorded more than 7 inches.

Las Cruces received between five to 12 inches of snow, while Organ, N.M., outside of Las Cruces, reported getting 13 inches.

The snow began falling in the El Paso area Saturday afternoon and continued into the early morning hours of Sunday.

El Paso, New Mexico and Texas transportation officials were forced to close several roads due to the heavy snow, low visibility and icy road conditions.

City of El Paso officials closed Scenic Drive Saturday night until further notice.

The Texas Department of Transportation shut down Trans Mountain Road Saturday night and maintenance crews began cleanup efforts to reopen the road at about 4 p.m. Sunday but the snow was too thick, officials said.

The road was to remain closed overnight with crews returning early Monday morning. TxDOT also completely closed U.S. Highway 67 Saturday between Marfa and Presidio for more than 10 hours while they waited for storm conditions to improve, officials said.

WATCH: Rare snow storm for El Paso.

New Mexico Department of Transportation issued warnings about road conditions on Interstate 10 between El Paso and Las Cruces, while they shut down several highways for hours including US 62/180 from Carlsbad to the State line, officials said.

No major accidents with serious injuries were reported during the storm, but an 18-wheeler that flipped over on its side on Interstate 10 near Vinton caused delays for several hours, TxDOT officials said.

Hundreds of El Pasoans also faced power outages due to the storm, including on Saturday in East and Central El Paso.

No major delays were reported at the El Paso International Airport, although according to its website, some flights to Dallas were delayed or cancelled due to weather conditions in that area.

While the borderland was blanketed with snow, other areas of Texas saw much more serious and powerful storms.

In the Dallas area, 11 people, including eight in Garland, Texas, died as almost a dozen tornados hit the area Saturday, the Associated Press reported.  - El Paso Times.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Sinkhole Opens Up On Australian Beach!

© via Twitter

December 29, 2015 - AUSTRALIA - A sinkhole of varying depth and up to three metres across reopened at the south end of Shelly Beach in Ballina over the weekend.

On Sunday surf lifesaving guards put up boundary tape around the sinkhole to warning beach goers.

The sinkhole, believed to be between one and three metres deep, first opened up several weeks ago, Far North Coast Surf Lifesaving duty officer Garry Meredith said.

The council used earth moving equipment to fill in the hole, but it re-opened over the weekend.

The heavy seas over the last few days pushed around a lot of sand, Mr Meredith said.

© via Twitter

By Monday the depth of the hole had reduced to less than a metre deep, but Ballina Shire Council was considering taking steps to again use equipment to fill the hole in, group manager of civil services John Truman said.

The sinkhole is close to a storm water pipe and its arrival could be related to that, Mr Truman said.

At other times the water in the sinkhole has had to be filled in with tea-tree stained water so it was hard to gauge its depth, Mr Meredith said. - The Northern Star.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Crazy Winter Weather Drives Rare Red-Rumped Swallow From The Mediterranean To Norfolk, UK?!

Red-rumped swallow.© GETTY
December 29, 2015 - UNITED KINGDOM - The balmy winter weather with its bees, butterflies and flowering bulbs has produced another phenomenal sighting of a swallow on the wing. And not just any swallow.

A rare red-rumped swallow from the Mediterranean is spending its Christmas on the North Norfolk coast - further evidence that December 2015 is likely to go down on record as the warmest since records began.

The red-rumped swallow that has brought a dash of seasonal, russet colour to our shores is finding enough small insects to maintain its energy levels as it patrols the skies over Norfolk's network of famous nature reserves.

By rights, the red-rumped swallow should be enjoying sunshine south of the Sahara or even as far away as India rather than the skies over Wells-next-the-Sea.

Temperatures as high as 16 degrees in recent days are also helping other fair weather species to survive. A hoopoe has been showing off its powder pink plumage at Hinksford in Staffordshire.

These dazzling birds occasionally turn up Britain during spring when they overshoot their breeding grounds around the Mediterranean.

Warm weather with its glut of small insects is also helping several tiny warblers to stay alive.

Dusky, yellow-browed and Pallas's warblers have all been seen in different parts of the UK in recent days when, by rights, they were meant to have migrated from their Siberian nesting areas to tropical South East Asia.

Grahame Madge, a wildlife enthusiast and spokesman for the Met Office, explained why nature lovers have been enjoying an unusual Christmas bonanza.

"If conditions remain as mild as they have been for the rest of the month we are on track for the warmest UK December since records began in 1910," he said.

"The mild temperatures have been due to warm air being pushed up from the subtropics around the Azores.

"Given the origin of our mild weather, it's perhaps not unsurprising that birds more normally seen around the Mediterranean are here in December.

"For some of these birds, the mild conditions have thrown them a lifeline as flying insects and other invertebrates have been in plentiful supply. - Daily Express.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Papua New Guinea Shaken By 5.8 Magnitude Earthquake - USGS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

December 29, 2015 - PAPUA NEW GUINEA - A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck Papua New Guinea, the US Geological Survey said Tuesday.

The quake was registered at 01:51 GMT.

The epicenter was located about 92 kilometers (57 miles) south of the town of Panguna at the depth of 47.2 kilometers.

USGS shakemap intensity.

There are currently no reports of damage or victims due to the earthquake. - Sputnik.

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.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

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.

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


ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Stray Dogs Kill Another Child In Bareilly, India; The Seventh So Far In The Past Year!

December 29, 2015 - INDIA - In unending attacks by stray dogs in Baheri tehsil of Bareilly district, a 10-year-old was mauled to death, the seventh kid to have died in the past year, with more than 30 children being attacked in the same period.

The boy, identified as Amit Kumar, a student of class II, became the seventh victim of dog attacks. Amit, along with his friend, had on Sunday evening gone to the outskirts of their native Siyatheri village to pluck wild berries when they were surrounded by a pack of dogs. While his friend managed to escape from the scene, dogs attacked Amit and mauled his head, neck and stomach.

When the villagers reached the spot, the child had sustained severe injuries. He was rushed to hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.

According to the district administration and forest department stray dogs have become feral in the region after scavenging on animal residue like flesh, blood and bones, which are mostly discarded from slaughterhouses.

Sub-divisional magistrate of Baheri, Paras Nath Maurya, said, "We conducted a meeting with the forest department and Nagar Palika on Monday. Forest department has been asked to identify the areas where pack of ferocious dogs are present and ways to deal with them. Nagar Palika has been directed to create awareness among locals that they should not dump animal residue in the open and should instead bury it."

As per the villagers in Baheri, incidents of dog attacks have become frequent since January this year after a lull of few months. Once the attacks stopped, the district administration and forest department called off their teams which were deployed to catch ferocious dogs. While the officials had claimed that during this period, they had caught nearly 50 dogs and released them in forest of Uttarakhand, the villagers alleged that the exercise was done only in papers.

"Had they actually caught the dogs, attacks would have stopped by now," alleged Naim Prakash, a resident of Navayal village, where a 12-year-old boy was earlier killed.

Earlier, desperate district officials in the region had come up with a bizarre way to tackle the menace. They had proposed to paint dogs that people need not fear, blue. This, they added, would help differentiate 'normal' dogs from the killer ones. The plan was dropped after criticism from animal rights activists. District authorities had also asked villagers to tie a collar or rope around the neck of dogs that people need not fear.

A senior scientist at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, who wished not to be named, said that stray dogs have started attacking children because of behavioural disorder. "There is a need to provide counselling and medicines to stay dogs. Drug dosage will help to temporarily erase their memory in order to change their temperament. Besides, dogs feel hungrier during winter season," added the scientist. - Times of India.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Huge Sinkhole Develops Near Cross Lanes Restaurant, West Virginia!

Sinkhole. © WSAZ /Justin Rogers
December 29, 2015 - WEST VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES - A massive sinkhole has developed near a popular restaurant in Cross Lanes.

Heavy rain on Christmas Day helped contribute to the sinkhole, located in front of the Golden Corral in Cross Lanes.

Crews blocked the hole off Monday and were determining how to fix it.

The hole is estimated to be about 20 feet wide and several feet deep. - WSAZ.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Giant Squid From The Deep, Surfaces In Japanese Harbor?! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

December 29, 2015 - JAPAN - It isn't every day that a mystery from the deep swims into plain sight.

But on Christmas Eve, spectators on a pier in Toyama Bay in central Japan were treated to a rare sighting of a giant squid.

The creature swam under fishing boats and close to the surface of Toyama Bay, better known for its firefly squid, and reportedly hung around the bay for several hours before it was ushered back to open water.

It was captured on video by a submersible camera, and even joined by a diver, Akinobu Kimura, owner of Diving Shop Kaiyu, who swam in close proximity to the red-and-white real-life sea monster.

"My curiosity was way bigger than fear, so I jumped into the water and go close to it," he told CNN.

"This squid was not damaged and looked lively, spurting ink and trying to entangle his tentacles around me. I guided the squid toward to the ocean, several hundred meters from the area it was found in, and it disappeared into the deep sea."

Yuki Ikushi, the curator of Uozu Aquarium in Uozu, Toyama, told CNN that there were 16 reports of Architeuthis squid trapped by fishing nets last season, and this one is the first sighting this season, which runs from November to March.

"We might see more in this season, but it's very rare for them to be found swimming around (the fishing boats') moorings."

The Toyama squid is a fairly small example of the species, estimated at around 3.7 meters (12.1 feet) long, and may be a juvenile.

Giant squid are thought to grow as large as 13 meters (43 feet) long. They typically inhabit deep waters, and it is unclear why this one wandered into the bay.

Sightings of giant squid are extremely rare, and indeed for hundreds of years they were considered no more than a myth.

The species was likely the inspiration for the mythological Kraken sea monster, a northern European legend popularized in an eponymous poem by Alfred Tennyson, and the Scylla of Greek mythology.

WATCH: Giant squid surfaces in Japanese harbor.

Recent specimens have been found washed ashore dead, when their bright colors have already faded.

The first-ever observations of a giant squid in its natural habitat were made in deep waters in the north Pacific in 2004, and Japanese broadcaster NHK, along with the Discovery Channel filmed the first live adult in 2012.

Oceanographer and squid expert Edie Widder of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association, who was part of the team which first captured the squid on film, told a TED audience in 2013: "How could something that big live in our ocean and remain unfilmed until now?

"We've only explored about five percent of our ocean. There are great discoveries to be made down there, fantastic creatures representing millions of years of evolution." - CNN.

ICE AGE NOW: Baby, It's Cold Outside - Record Cold Hits Southern California; Weather Station Ties 1916 Low!

A view of Burbank.

December 29, 2015 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - Southern California does get real weather. Sometimes.

We had record cold yesterday and we're looking at possible rain tonight.

Today's high temperature wasn't expected to break 60. That's not a Midwestern blizzard. But it's weather.

The National Weather Service said Sunday's low temperature of 36 degrees at USC tied the station's all-time record low, set in 1916.

Overnight, federal forecasters warned of a "cold air mass" that pushed temperatures in Los Angeles County valleys to the lower to mid-30s.

Same went for the Santa Monica Mountains, they said.

The Ojai Valley in Ventura County was expected to see low temps in the mid-20s.

"Those who live in areas where near or below freezing temperatures are expected should take action to protect sensitive plants and crops," the NWS said in a statement.

"Also provide pets and livestock with proper shelter."

Freezing and near-freezing temps were expected again overnight, but with the added drama of possible rain.

A low-pressure system was moving in from the north, but forecasters were unsure if it would bring significant precipitation.

"The front will weaken as it drops south down the coast," the NWS said.

There's "enough moisture for showers," but "model precipitation fields show little precipitation."

Mountain snow was possible, including along the 5 freeway Grapevine, forecasters said.

Warming was expected midweek, with a high-pressure system moving in and offshore winds taking over, according to the NWS.

Normal, warm temperatures were expected by New Year's Day.

Federal forecasters initially said "a series of wet storms" might hit next week. Sounds like El Niño. But then they backed off, calling only for "cloudy and cooler weather."

Stay warm. - LA Weekly.

SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Taliban Resurgence - Suicide Attack Near School In Afghanistan Leaves 18 Children Wounded!

December 29, 2015 - AFGHANISTAN - Eighteen children have been injured and one person killed in a suicide car bomb attack on a road near a religious school in Kabul. Taliban has claimed responsibility. The total of 33 people were injured in the blast.

According to a Taliban statement, the attack targeted a foreign military convoy – specifically a minibus carrying Americans and Europeans from a nearby military base to the airport.

Despite Taliban claims that “several invading forces were killed and wounded,” a spokesman for NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Kabul said none of its people had been affected by the incident, as reported by Reuters.

The incident took place in a civilian area with no military personnel nearby, said Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi. Eighteen of the 33 injured were children who were studying in a local madrassa. Another four were women, AFP reports.

“Enemies of humanity detonated a suicide car bomb in front of a madrassa where children were learning the Koran and Islamic studies. It shows that they are enemies of mosques, God and the Koran,” Rahimi said commenting on the incident, as reported by Reuters.

The attack comes a day after Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif visited Kabul for negotiations aimed at preparing the ground for a renewal of peace talks with Taliban.

“Both sides agreed that the first round of dialogue between Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China will be held in January to lay out a comprehensive roadmap for peace,” the Afghan presidential palace said in a statement, as quoted by AFP.

The first round of peace talks with the Taliban started in Pakistan in July, but negotiations reached deadlock as the militant group belatedly confirmed the death of its long-time leader Mullah Omar.

The latest incident is just the last in a series of terror attacks committed by the Taliban recently. On December 11, the insurgents assaulted the Spanish embassy guesthouse in the Afghan capital. The militants also killed six US soldiers in a suicide bomb attack on the Bagram air base.

The Taliban has seized part of Afghan’s southeastern Helmand province and heavy clashes with government forces have already been taking place there for several weeks.

British troops were redeployed to the province a year after NATO forces formally ended their combat operations in Afghanistan after the militants took control of the town of Sangin.The Taliban are on the offensive in several parts of Afghanistan.

In October, they seized two districts in Badakhshan Province and even held the large northern Afghan city of Kunduz for several days in late September before government forces managed to retake it with heavy air support from the US. - RT.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Government Report Says That Plutonium Has Been Detected In Recent California Air Samples - "Fallout From Fukushima Nuclear Accident" May Be To Blame!

 Air particulate and tritium monitoring locations in the Livermore Valley, 20 1 4

December 29, 2015 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - Composite samples for the Livermore  Site and Site 300 were analyzed by gamma spectroscopy for  an environmental suite of gamma - emitting radionuclide concentrations in air that include fission  products, activation products, actinides, and naturally occurring  isotopes . The isotopes detected at  both sites  in 201 4 were beryllium - 7 (cosmogenic), lead - 210, radium - 226, all of which are naturally  occurring in the environment. 

Composite samples were analyzed by alpha spectroscopy for plutonium - 239+240, which was  detected in 2 out of 2 06 samples taken in  201 4 .  Detections at the  Livermore Site and Livermore  off - site locations for plutonium - 239+240 are attributed to a number of factors including the  following:  resuspension of plutonium - contaminated soil (see Chapter 6) ; ambient air from  his torical operations ; resuspended fallout from previous atmospheric testing ;  or  fallout from the Fukushima nuclear accident.

The derived concentration technical standard (DCS), which complemen ts DOE Order 458.1,   specifies  the concentrations of a radionuclide that can be inhaled continuously 365 days a year  without exceeding the DOE primary radiation protection standard for the public, which is 1 mSv/y  (100 mrem/y) effective dose equivalent.

The  DCS were formerly published in DOE Order 5400.5  (Radiation Protection of the Public and  the Environment)  i n 1993. The current radiation protection standards approach, which has changed  from the previously adopted 1993 guidance, uses age and gender specific attributes for the  population subgroups of members of the publ ic subject to exposure incorporating more  sophisticated biokinetic and dosimetric information from the International Commission on  Radiological Protection (ICRP).

The highest values and percentage of the DCS  for the plutonium - 239+240 detections were as  fol lows:

• Livermore Site perimeter: 13.4 nBq/ m 3 ( 0.36 aCi/m 3 ), 0.00015% of the DCS. 
• Livermore off - site locations: 10.4 nBq/m 3 ( 0.2 8 aCi/m 3 ) ,  0.00 0 1 2 % of the DCS.
• Site 300 composite:  There were no detections in 2014. 

Uranium - 235 and uranium - 238  were detected at all sample locations. Uranium ratios are used to  determine the type of uranium present in the environment. Natural uranium has a mathematical  uranium - 235/uranium - 238 ratio of 0.00725, and depleted uranium has a uranium - 235/uranium - 238  ratio of 0.002. The annual median uranium - 235/ uranium - 238 isotopic ratios for  201 4 were as  follows:

• Livermore Site perimeter composite:  0.0072 7
• Site 300 sample locations: 0.0071 8
• Site 300 off - site location:  0.0072 6

The annual uranium - 235/uranium - 238  isotopic ratio medians are consistent with naturally occurring  uranium. All of the individual uranium - 235 and uranium - 238 results were less  than  one tenth of  one  percent of the DCS.

Gross alpha and gross beta were sample d for at all locations. The primary sources of alpha and  beta activities are naturally occurring radioisotopes. Routine isotopic gamma results indicate the  activities are the result of naturally occurring isotopes (uranium,  radium,  and lead), which are als o  routinely found in local soils. - SAER. [PDF]

NOTE: Thanks to ENE News.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Weather Phenomenon - Outbreak Of Stunningly Colorful Polar Stratospheric Clouds Return To Swedish Skies, As Magnetic Polar Migration Accelerates!

© Patricia Cowern

December 29, 2015 - SWEDEN - Polar stratospheric clouds are back again around the Arctic Circle.

The new outbreak of these colorful high-altitude clouds has started on December 26, 2015.

Look at them floating above Porjus, Lappland, Sweden:

© Patricia Cowern

© Patricia Cowern

© Patricia Cowern

For the second time this month, sky watchers around the Arctic Circle are reporting an outbreak of colorful polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs).

Also known as "nacreous" or "mother of pearl" clouds, icy PSCs form in the lower stratosphere when temperatures drop to around minus 85ºC.

High-altitude sunlight shining through tiny ice particles ~10µm across produce the characteristic bright iridescent colors by diffraction and interference.

Once thought to be mere curiosities, some PSCs are now known to be associated with the destruction of ozone.

The best time to look for PSCs is just before sunrise or right after sunset, when the ground is dark but the upper atmosphere is still illuminated by sunlight. - Strange Sounds.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Major Land Subsidence Continues In Oregon - Landslide Closes Down Highway 42, Roads Are "CRUMBLING LIKE PEANUT BRITTLE"! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

December 29, 2015 - OREGON, UNITED STATES - Oregon Department of Transportation officials say a landslide has shut down Oregon 42 for at least the next few days.

They say the highway on the border of Coos and Douglas counties was "crumbling like peanut brittle" from the force of the slide.

Here are a few images from Oregon DOT video showing the slide on Highway 42 near the Coos-Douglas county line.

WATCH: Landslide buckles Oregon highway 42.


PLANETARY TREMORS: 4.8 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Offshore Of Northern California - USGS!

USGS earthquake location.

December 29, 2015 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.8 struck off California, 64 miles northwest of Eureka, on Monday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS initially measured the quake at magnitude-4.5.

The earthquake struck at 7:35 p.m. local time.

USGS shakemap intensity.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii or the West Coast, following the temblor.

For more info on this quake and others, visit the SFGATE earthquake page here.

- SFGate.