Monday, February 1, 2016

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Karymsky Volcano In Russia's Kamchatka Region Spews 3km High - Hours After Major Earthquake!

The volcano erupted within 48 hours of the major earthquake.
© QNA/NASA

February 1, 2016 - KAMCHATKA, RUSSIA - A HUGE volcano has seen a massive eruption of toxic ash and gas just hours after a major earthquake rocked the region, causing shopping centre evacuations.

The Karymsky volcano in Russian Kamchatka's eastern volcanic zone spewed ash up to 3km into the air, according to the Regional Emergencies Ministry.

Airlines have been placed on an "orange" warning to avoid the area following today's eruption.

It came less than 48 hours hours after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake tore through the region, followed by a series of at least seven less powerful aftershocks.

Terrified shoppers fled from a shopping mall after feeling the tremors inside.

The epicentre of the earthquake was within about 20 miles of the 1,486 metre-high magma mountain, prompting fears seismic activity is on the rise and there could be a catastrophic earthquake, volcanic eruption or both.

The quake struck an area close to the Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Ocean.

It suffers many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but the National and Pacific Tsunami Warning Centers have said there is no current risk of a tsunami from the powerful quake.

The area has seen much volcanic activity this month.


The earthquake epicentre shown as a star on the map and the volcano site in red.  EARTHQUAKE.USGS.GOV

On January 19 Express.co.uk reported how the nearby Zhupanovsky volcano sent an ash cloud five miles into the sky, within hours of a major eruption in Indonesia, also on the Ring of Fire and on an interconnecting fault line.
In a report nine days earlier Sputniknews.com reported how the Shiveluch volcano, also within the Kamchatka range, sent ash four miles high.

Its article back then raised fears the big one was coming and said "Seismologists have previously predicted that volcanic activity in the area would continue to rise over time."

Shoppers who fled Saturday's nearby quake in fear, tweeted their reactions.

One of them, Ksenya Maksimova, on Twitter described an "unpleasant feeling ... when everything is shaking."

Others said they "almost died of fright."

Posting a smashed bottle of drink, Marina Brovkina, tweeted: "The earthquake broke our bottle of Bacardi."

Senya Mikhaylitskaya seemed less concerned, tweeting: "Cool earthquake! Our telly nearly fell over."


The Shiveluch volcano erupts in a powerful ash explosion.
GETTY

The Russian Emergencies Ministry said: "The epicentre was located in the region of Yelizovo, 84 km northwest of Yelizovo and 87 km northwest of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

"Inhabitants of populated areas felt the tremor at magnitude of 5.0." The US Geological Survey said: "A strong, deep 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Russia's far eastern Kamchatka peninsula on Saturday."

It struck 64 miles north of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, the capital city of Russia's Kamchatka Krai.

Anything over a seven magnitude is classed as a major earthquake, but due to the remote location, as yet there are no reports of casualties or significant damage.

The earthquake was reported as starting 91 miles below ground.

Buildings in the area have been built to withstand a force nine quake, but rescue teams still carried out searches in case.

An emergency services spokeswoman said: "There have been no reports of damage yet.

"We saw furniture and doors shake as well as swinging chandeliers."

Today's volcanic eruption is also in a remote location.

The ash cloud moved southwards by 66 miles towards Avacha Bay.

Karymsky is one of the most active volcanoes of a series of volcanoes in the central part of the Eastern volcanic belt of Kamchatka and is just 18 miles from the Pacific coast and 75 miles from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

Scientists say the world is currently in volcano season, and that the Earth should expect a world-changing catastrophic eruption from one of the super volcanoes across the planet within the next 80 years.

They worryingly added world leaders are woefully unprepared for the consequences.


WATCH: Karymsky's eruption in early 2015.



- Express.




ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Blizzard Leaves Behind RARE SNOW ROLLERS In Vineyard, Massachusetts; First Snowfall In 15 YEARS For Arunachal Capital, India; Heavy Snowfall Disrupts China's Pre-Holiday Travel Rush; And FIRST EVER RECORDED SNOW 300km South Of Hanoi, Vietnam! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Snow rollers scattered on the field at Fred Fisher's farm in West Tisbury.
© Timothy Johnson

February 1, 2016 - EARTH - The following articles constitutes several of the latest reports on heavy snowfall, low temperatures and snow storms as global cooling continues across the Earth.

Blizzard leaves behind rare snow rollers in Vineyard, Massachusetts

Beyond the snow and some downed tree limbs, the weekend blizzard left another, more unusual calling card, as Vineyard fields were strewn with cylindrical pieces of snow.

The meteorological phenomena are called snow rollers. According to the National Weather Service, snow rollers are formed by strong but not too-strong winds and light snow falling on a layer of smooth, crusted-over old snow.

A small piece of snow is picked up by the wind and, as it rolls along, it collects more snow and becomes cylindrical in shape, sometimes with a hole extending lengthwise through the center. It's a bit like an oblong base of a snowman made by the wind. Snow rollers are said to be as large as a foot in diameter.


Snow rollers are said to be rare because of the unique set of conditions required for them to form.© Albert O. Fischer

Snow rollers are rare, the weather service said, because of the combination of conditions required for them to form.

On Monday they were the talk of the town, including on social media sites, as they were spotted around the Island.

Meanwhile, snowfall amounts varied around the Island. Weather observers reported 10 inches in Edgartown, 13 inches in Oak Bluffs, and 15 inches in West Tisbury during the winter storm that lasted from mid-day Saturday to early Sunday morning. - Vineyard Gazette.


First snowfall in 15 years for Arunachal capital, India

Snow in Arunachal Pradesh

Several districts of Arunachal Pradesh witnessed season's first snowfall. The State capital witnessed the season's first snowfall after a gap of over 15 years.
With the mercury going sub-zero, several districts in Arunachal Pradesh witnessed the season's first snowfall since the last couple of days.

Tawang district bordering China witnessed heavy snowfall while Sela Pass situated an altitude of 13,700 feet on the Bomdila-Tawang road, the lifeline of defence personnel travelling to the frontier, was covered with more than one feet of snow in the last three days, additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Jang Dr D K Chutia said.

Bomdila, the district headquarters of West Kameng received moderate snowfall after a gap of over 12 years.

This year snowfall was also reported from Mechuka in West Siang district, Mayudia in Dibang Valley, Kibithu in Anjaw, Lemiking and Taksing in Upper Subansiri. - The North East Today.


Heavy snowfall disrupts China's pre-holiday travel rush

Citizens walk on the snow-covered bank of the Xiangjiang River in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, Feb. 1, 2016

Rare heavy snow hit several central and eastern Chinese provinces Sunday, disrupting a pre-holiday travel rush that involves millions of people.

Heavy snow blanketed central China's Hubei Province early Sunday, closing down a pivotal airport in its capital Wuhan, delaying trains and causing standstill on expressways, the local government said.

The Tianhe Airport in Wuhan was closed at midday. Sixteen departing flights were canceled, while 18 incoming flights were forced to land in the neighboring cities of Nanchang or Changsha. At least 2,000 passengers were stranded at the airport.

The railway network was also under heavy pressure, as large crowds of passengers, frustrated by flight cancellations and road blocks, flocked into train stations.


Photo taken on Jan. 31, 2016 shows a closed Yangtze River ferry dock in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province. Local meteorologic authority issued yellow
alerts against snow and road icing on Sunday, forecasting snowfall in Wuhan, Huanggang and Jingzhou cities.
© Xinhua/Yu Guoqing


"We put four additional trains in service for passengers traveling within Hubei Province," said an official with the Wuhan Railway Bureau. "But the snowy weather slowed down most trains, causing an average delay of 30 to 50 minutes." The weather bureau in Wuhan said the snow would last in most parts of the province until Tuesday.

In east China's Jiangxi Province, snowy weather caused serious congestions on interprovincial expressways. On one of the most congested sections of an expressway linking Jiangxi and Hubei Provinces, motor vehicles piled up 3 km in a standstill.


The provincial weather bureau has forecast snow in six cities and a temperature drop of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius.

Snow hit at least 12 cities in east China's Jiangsu Province Sunday. Local authorities have closed down four interprovincial expressways for safety considerations.Snow or sleet also hit the provinces of Henan and Anhui, while rain soaked Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi and Yunnan provinces as well as Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to the National Meteorological Center.


WATCH: Snow disrupts millions of Chinese' pre-holiday travel rush.




This round of rain and snow will last for three days, according to the center.

The bad weather is a nuisance for the early birds who have embarked on their once-a-year Spring Festival travel for home.

The 40-day travel rush, which began a week ago, was a major event in China. Students, migrant workers and other passengers take trains, buses and planes to head home for the Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb. 8 this year. - ECNS.

First ever recorded snow 300km south of Hanoi, Vietnam

Snows blanketed Vietnam and Laos the last week of January 2016 breaking hundreds of cold and snow records. SaPa farmers at total crop losses, 9000+ cattle froze to death and Nghe An recorded its first snowfall ever with records stretching back to 1650.


WATCH: First ever recorded snow 300km south of Hanoi, Vietnam.



- Adapt 2030.






MONUMENTAL PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: The World Health Organization Declares GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY Over Zika Virus - Says Causal Link To Brain Defects "STRONGLY SUSPECTED"!

According to WHO, the Zika virus linked to babies being born with abnormally small head is likely to spread throughout nearly all the Americas.

February 1, 2016 - HEALTH - The World Health Organization on Monday designated the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern, an action it has taken only three times before and which paves the way for the mobilization of more funding and manpower to fight the mosquito-born pathogen spreading "explosively" through the Americas.

Zika, which was first identified more than 50 years ago, has alarmed public health officials in recent months because of its possible association with thousands of cases of brain defects, known as microcephaly, in newborns. Estimates are that the virus will infect up to 4 million people by year's end.

Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, said at a press briefing that the primary reason for the decision was that members of an 18-member advisory panel agree that a causal relationship between Zika and with microcephaly is "strongly suspected" although it hasn't been scientifically proven. She said that given the seriousness of the conditions being reported, the consequences of waiting were too great.

“Even the clusters of microcephaly alone are enough to declare a public health emergency because of its heavy burden" on women, families, and the community, Chan said.


WATCH:
Zika prevention measures set up across the Americas.





"Can you imagine if we do not do all these works now and wait until the science comes out, then people will say why don't you take action?" Chan said.

According to the latest figures, there have been 4,000 suspected cases in Brazil and 270 have been confirmed as microcephaly with evidence of an infection. There were also several cases in French Polynesia in 2014, WHO officials said.

Bruce Aylward, WHO's executive director of outbreaks and emergencies, said there have also been increases in reports of

The declaration represents the WHO's highest level of alert and is only invoked in response to the most dire threats. The first time was in 2009 during the H1N1 influenza epidemic that is believed to have infected up to 200 million worldwide; the second in May 2014 when a paralyzing form of polio re-emerged in Pakistan and Syria; and the third in August 2014 with Ebola in West Africa.


WATCH:
What you need to know about the Zika virus.




“Zika is the latest emerging health threat, and a serious concern for pregnant women and their babies,” said Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a statement.

“The WHO declaration calls the world to action, committing resources to affected countries, to finding better means of mosquito control and virus prevention, and advising others on ways to avoid Zika infection. CDC, along with the entire U.S. government, is actively involved in the world's Zika response and working 24/7 to learn more about the virus and protect health.”

“This is supposed to be the official global sounding bell that governments and others need to start to really paying attention to this,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said of the WHO’s declaration. “It’s like sounding a clarion.”

Fauci said that while Zika is an entirely different disease than Ebola, global health officials – and the WHO in particular – have been determined to react quickly to the current outbreak, given the widespread criticism that the world reacted far too sluggishly to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.“They obviously want to stay ahead of the curve,” he said of the WHO. “The last big outbreak – Ebola – they got severely criticized for moving too slow.” So far, he said, the agency has done better this time around. “It’s not too soon, it’s not too late. It’s the appropriate time,” he said of Monday’s emergency declaration.


Coloured Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) of a female yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti.

Infectious disease experts and others have been pressuring the WHO to escalate its response to Zika for several months, warning of the mistakes world leaders made during the Ebola crisis when a lack of coordination delayed quarantines and treatment.

Chan said there is no reason for travel or trade restrictions at this time.

Much of the alarm about Zika comes from reports from Brazil, the epicenter of the outbreak, where Zika is suspected as a cause of what may be up to thousands of babies being born with abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development. Researchers are also investigating a possible link between the virus and a surge in Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare condition that can lead to paralysis that have been documented in Brazil, French Polynesia and El Salvador.

Bruce Aylward, the WHO's director of outbreaks and health emergencies, said that the evidence pointing to both a “temporal and geographic association” between Zika and microcephaly was strong.

"This is definitely the right measure to be taking at this time based on the information available," he said.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Brazilian Heath Minister Marcelo Castro said the outbreak is his country is worse than previously believed because an estimated 80 percent of people who become infected with the virus do not exhibit known symptoms.

Castro also said every municipality in Brazil will be required to report all Zika cases to a central database starting next week. In further controls, Brazil will join other nations in banning blood donations from people who had the virus.

Last week, Castro warned that Brazil was “badly losing” the battle against the mosquito blamed for spreading Zika and said that more than 220,000 members of Brazil’s military would be mobilized in eradication efforts. The plans included distributin mosquito repellent to about 400,000 pregnant women, according to Brazil’s O Globo newspaper. - Washington Post.




MONUMENTAL DISASTER ALERT: "The Really Big One" - The Next Full Cascadia Rupture Will Spell The Worst Natural Disaster In North American History!

According to Chris Goldfinger, a professor in OSU's College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and lead author of the study, the southern margin of Cascadia
has a much higher recurrence level for major earthquakes than the northern end and it is overdue for a rupture. However, that doesn't mean that an earthquake couldn't
strike first along the northern half, from Newport, Oregon, to Vancouver Island. Major earthquakes tend to strike more frequently along the southern end - every 240
years or so - and it has been longer than that since it last happened. The probability for an earthquake on the southern part of the fault is more than double that of the
northern end. Cascadia earthquake sources (USGS)

February 1, 2016 - PACIFIC NORTHWEST - When the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck Tohoku, Japan, Chris Goldfinger was two hundred miles away, in the city of Kashiwa, at an international meeting on seismology. As the shaking started, everyone in the room began to laugh. Earthquakes are common in Japan—that one was the third of the week—and the participants were, after all, at a seismology conference. Then everyone in the room checked the time.

Seismologists know that how long an earthquake lasts is a decent proxy for its magnitude. The 1989 earthquake in Loma Prieta, California, which killed sixty-three people and caused six billion dollars' worth of damage, lasted about fifteen seconds and had a magnitude of 6.9. A thirty-second earthquake generally has a magnitude in the mid-sevens. A minute-long quake is in the high sevens, a two-minute quake has entered the eights, and a three-minute quake is in the high eights. By four minutes, an earthquake has hit magnitude 9.0.

When Goldfinger looked at his watch, it was quarter to three. The conference was wrapping up for the day. He was thinking about sushi. The speaker at the lectern was wondering if he should carry on with his talk. The earthquake was not particularly strong. Then it ticked past the sixty-second mark, making it longer than the others that week. The shaking intensified. The seats in the conference room were small plastic desks with wheels. Goldfinger, who is tall and solidly built, thought, No way am I crouching under one of those for cover. At a minute and a half, everyone in the room got up and went outside.

It was March. There was a chill in the air, and snow flurries, but no snow on the ground. Nor, from the feel of it, was there ground on the ground. The earth snapped and popped and rippled. It was, Goldfinger thought, like driving through rocky terrain in a vehicle with no shocks, if both the vehicle and the terrain were also on a raft in high seas. The quake passed the two-minute mark. The trees, still hung with the previous autumn's dead leaves, were making a strange rattling sound. The flagpole atop the building he and his colleagues had just vacated was whipping through an arc of forty degrees. The building itself was base-isolated, a seismic-safety technology in which the body of a structure rests on movable bearings rather than directly on its foundation. Goldfinger lurched over to take a look. The base was lurching, too, back and forth a foot at a time, digging a trench in the yard. He thought better of it, and lurched away. His watch swept past the three-minute mark and kept going.

Oh, shit, Goldfinger thought, although not in dread, at first: in amazement. For decades, seismologists had believed that Japan could not experience an earthquake stronger than magnitude 8.4. In 2005, however, at a conference in Hokudan, a Japanese geologist named Yasutaka Ikeda had argued that the nation should expect a magnitude 9.0 in the near future—with catastrophic consequences, because Japan's famous earthquake-and-tsunami preparedness, including the height of its sea walls, was based on incorrect science. The presentation was met with polite applause and thereafter largely ignored. Now, Goldfinger realized as the shaking hit the four-minute mark, the planet was proving the Japanese Cassandra right.

For a moment, that was pretty cool: a real-time revolution in earthquake science. Almost immediately, though, it became extremely uncool, because Goldfinger and every other seismologist standing outside in Kashiwa knew what was coming. One of them pulled out a cell phone and started streaming videos from the Japanese broadcasting station NHK, shot by helicopters that had flown out to sea soon after the shaking started. Thirty minutes after Goldfinger first stepped outside, he watched the tsunami roll in, in real time, on a two-inch screen.

In the end, the magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed more than eighteen thousand people, devastated northeast Japan, triggered the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant, and cost an estimated two hundred and twenty billion dollars. The shaking earlier in the week turned out to be the foreshocks of the largest earthquake in the nation's recorded history. But for Chris Goldfinger, a paleoseismologist at Oregon State University and one of the world's leading experts on a little-known fault line, the main quake was itself a kind of foreshock: a preview of another earthquake still to come.
Most people in the United States know just one fault line by name: the San Andreas, which runs nearly the length of California and is perpetually rumored to be on the verge of unleashing "the big one." That rumor is misleading, no matter what the San Andreas ever does. Every fault line has an upper limit to its potency, determined by its length and width, and by how far it can slip. For the San Andreas, one of the most extensively studied and best understood fault lines in the world, that upper limit is roughly an 8.2—a powerful earthquake, but, because the Richter scale is logarithmic, only six per cent as strong as the 2011 event in Japan.

Just north of the San Andreas, however, lies another fault line. Known as the Cascadia subduction zone, it runs for seven hundred miles off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, beginning near Cape Mendocino, California, continuing along Oregon and Washington, and terminating around Vancouver Island, Canada. The "Cascadia" part of its name comes from the Cascade Range, a chain of volcanic mountains that follow the same course a hundred or so miles inland. The "subduction zone" part refers to a region of the planet where one tectonic plate is sliding underneath (subducting) another. Tectonic plates are those slabs of mantle and crust that, in their epochs-long drift, rearrange the earth's continents and oceans. Most of the time, their movement is slow, harmless, and all but undetectable. Occasionally, at the borders where they meet, it is not.

Take your hands and hold them palms down, middle fingertips touching. Your right hand represents the North American tectonic plate, which bears on its back, among other things, our entire continent, from One World Trade Center to the Space Needle, in Seattle. Your left hand represents an oceanic plate called Juan de Fuca, ninety thousand square miles in size. The place where they meet is the Cascadia subduction zone. Now slide your left hand under your right one. That is what the Juan de Fuca plate is doing: slipping steadily beneath North America. When you try it, your right hand will slide up your left arm, as if you were pushing up your sleeve. That is what North America is not doing. It is stuck, wedged tight against the surface of the other plate.

Without moving your hands, curl your right knuckles up, so that they point toward the ceiling. Under pressure from Juan de Fuca, the stuck edge of North America is bulging upward and compressing eastward, at the rate of, respectively, three to four millimetres and thirty to forty millimetres a year. It can do so for quite some time, because, as continent stuff goes, it is young, made of rock that is still relatively elastic. (Rocks, like us, get stiffer as they age.) But it cannot do so indefinitely. There is a backstop—the craton, that ancient unbudgeable mass at the center of the continent—and, sooner or later, North America will rebound like a spring. If, on that occasion, only the southern part of the Cascadia subduction zone gives way—your first two fingers, say—the magnitude of the resulting quake will be somewhere between 8.0 and 8.6.That's the big one. If the entire zone gives way at once, an event that seismologists call a full-margin rupture, the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2. That's the very big one.

Flick your right fingers outward, forcefully, so that your hand flattens back down again. When the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty to a hundred feet to the west—losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries. Some of that shift will take place beneath the ocean, displacing a colossal quantity of seawater. (Watch what your fingertips do when you flatten your hand.) The water will surge upward into a huge hill, then promptly collapse. One side will rush west, toward Japan. The other side will rush east, in a seven-hundred-mile liquid wall that will reach the Northwest coast, on average, fifteen minutes after the earthquake begins. By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA's Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, "Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast."

In the Pacific Northwest, the area of impact will cover* some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America. Roughly three thousand people died in San Francisco's 1906 earthquake. Almost two thousand died in Hurricane Katrina. Almost three hundred died in Hurricane Sandy. FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million. "This is one time that I'm hoping all the science is wrong, and it won't happen for another thousand years," Murphy says.

In fact, the science is robust, and one of the chief scientists behind it is Chris Goldfinger. Thanks to work done by him and his colleagues, we now know that the odds of the big Cascadia earthquake happening in the next fifty years are roughly one in three. The odds of the very big one are roughly one in ten. Even those numbers do not fully reflect the danger—or, more to the point, how unprepared the Pacific Northwest is to face it. The truly worrisome figures in this story are these: Thirty years ago, no one knew that the Cascadia subduction zone had ever produced a major earthquake. Forty-five years ago, no one even knew it existed.

In May of 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, together with their Corps of Discovery, set off from St. Louis on America's first official cross-country expedition. Eighteen months later, they reached the Pacific Ocean and made camp near the present-day town of Astoria, Oregon. The United States was, at the time, twenty-nine years old. Canada was not yet a country. The continent's far expanses were so unknown to its white explorers that Thomas Jefferson, who commissioned the journey, thought that the men would come across woolly mammoths. Native Americans had lived in the Northwest for millennia, but they had no written language, and the many things to which the arriving Europeans subjected them did not include seismological inquiries. The newcomers took the land they encountered at face value, and at face value it was a find: vast, cheap, temperate, fertile, and, to all appearances, remarkably benign.

A century and a half elapsed before anyone had any inkling that the Pacific Northwest was not a quiet place but a place in a long period of quiet. It took another fifty years to uncover and interpret the region's seismic history. Geology, as even geologists will tell you, is not normally the sexiest of disciplines; it hunkers down with earthly stuff while the glory accrues to the human and the cosmic—to genetics, neuroscience, physics. But, sooner or later, every field has its field day, and the discovery of the Cascadia subduction zone stands as one of the greatest scientific detective stories of our time.

The first clue came from geography. Almost all of the world's most powerful earthquakes occur in the Ring of Fire, the volcanically and seismically volatile swath of the Pacific that runs from New Zealand up through Indonesia and Japan, across the ocean to Alaska, and down the west coast of the Americas to Chile. Japan, 2011, magnitude 9.0; Indonesia, 2004, magnitude 9.1; Alaska, 1964, magnitude 9.2; Chile, 1960, magnitude 9.5—not until the late nineteen-sixties, with the rise of the theory of plate tectonics, could geologists explain this pattern. The Ring of Fire, it turns out, is really a ring of subduction zones. Nearly all the earthquakes in the region are caused by continental plates getting stuck on oceanic plates—as North America is stuck on Juan de Fuca—and then getting abruptly unstuck. And nearly all the volcanoes are caused by the oceanic plates sliding deep beneath the continental ones, eventually reaching temperatures and pressures so extreme that they melt the rock above them.

The Pacific Northwest sits squarely within the Ring of Fire. Off its coast, an oceanic plate is slipping beneath a continental one. Inland, the Cascade volcanoes mark the line where, far below, the Juan de Fuca plate is heating up and melting everything above it. In other words, the Cascadia subduction zone has, as Goldfinger put it, "all the right anatomical parts." Yet not once in recorded history has it caused a major earthquake—or, for that matter, any quake to speak of. By contrast, other subduction zones produce major earthquakes occasionally and minor ones all the time: magnitude 5.0, magnitude 4.0, magnitude why are the neighbors moving their sofa at midnight. You can scarcely spend a week in Japan without feeling this sort of earthquake. You can spend a lifetime in many parts of the Northwest—several, in fact, if you had them to spend—and not feel so much as a quiver. The question facing geologists in the nineteen-seventies was whether the Cascadia subduction zone had ever broken its eerie silence.

In the late nineteen-eighties, Brian Atwater, a geologist with the United States Geological Survey, and a graduate student named David Yamaguchi found the answer, and another major clue in the Cascadia puzzle. Their discovery is best illustrated in a place called the ghost forest, a grove of western red cedars on the banks of the Copalis River, near the Washington coast. When I paddled out to it last summer, with Atwater and Yamaguchi, it was easy to see how it got its name. The cedars are spread out across a low salt marsh on a wide northern bend in the river, long dead but still standing. Leafless, branchless, barkless, they are reduced to their trunks and worn to a smooth silver-gray, as if they had always carried their own tombstones inside them.

What killed the trees in the ghost forest was saltwater. It had long been assumed that they died slowly, as the sea level around them gradually rose and submerged their roots. But, by 1987, Atwater, who had found in soil layers evidence of sudden land subsidence along the Washington coast, suspected that that was backward—that the trees had died quickly when the ground beneath them plummeted. To find out, he teamed up with Yamaguchi, a specialist in dendrochronology, the study of growth-ring patterns in trees. Yamaguchi took samples of the cedars and found that they had died simultaneously: in tree after tree, the final rings dated to the summer of 1699. Since trees do not grow in the winter, he and Atwater concluded that sometime between August of 1699 and May of 1700 an earthquake had caused the land to drop and killed the cedars. That time frame predated by more than a hundred years the written history of the Pacific Northwest—and so, by rights, the detective story should have ended there.

But it did not. If you travel five thousand miles due west from the ghost forest, you reach the northeast coast of Japan. As the events of 2011 made clear, that coast is vulnerable to tsunamis, and the Japanese have kept track of them since at least 599 A.D. In that fourteen-hundred-year history, one incident has long stood out for its strangeness. On the eighth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year of the Genroku era, a six-hundred-mile-long wave struck the coast, levelling homes, breaching a castle moat, and causing an accident at sea. The Japanese understood that tsunamis were the result of earthquakes, yet no one felt the ground shake before the Genroku event. The wave had no discernible origin. When scientists began studying it, they called it an orphan tsunami.

Finally, in a 1996 article in Nature, a seismologist named Kenji Satake and three colleagues, drawing on the work of Atwater and Yamaguchi, matched that orphan to its parent—and thereby filled in the blanks in the Cascadia story with uncanny specificity. At approximately nine o' clock at night on January 26, 1700, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck the Pacific Northwest, causing sudden land subsidence, drowning coastal forests, and, out in the ocean, lifting up a wave half the length of a continent. It took roughly fifteen minutes for the Eastern half of that wave to strike the Northwest coast. It took ten hours for the other half to cross the ocean. It reached Japan on January 27, 1700: by the local calendar, the eighth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year of Genroku.

Once scientists had reconstructed the 1700 earthquake, certain previously overlooked accounts also came to seem like clues. In 1964, Chief Louis Nookmis, of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation, in British Columbia, told a story, passed down through seven generations, about the eradication of Vancouver Island's Pachena Bay people. "I think it was at nighttime that the land shook," Nookmis recalled. According to another tribal history, "They sank at once, were all drowned; not one survived." A hundred years earlier, Billy Balch, a leader of the Makah tribe, recounted a similar story. Before his own time, he said, all the water had receded from Washington State's Neah Bay, then suddenly poured back in, inundating the entire region. Those who survived later found canoes hanging from the trees. In a 2005 study, Ruth Ludwin, then a seismologist at the University of Washington, together with nine colleagues, collected and analyzed Native American reports of earthquakes and saltwater floods. Some of those reports contained enough information to estimate a date range for the events they described. On average, the midpoint of that range was 1701.

It does not speak well of European-Americans that such stories counted as evidence for a proposition only after that proposition had been proved. Still, the reconstruction of the Cascadia earthquake of 1700 is one of those rare natural puzzles whose pieces fit together as tectonic plates do not: perfectly. It is wonderful science. It was wonderful for science. And it was terrible news for the millions of inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest. As Goldfinger put it, "In the late eighties and early nineties, the paradigm shifted to 'uh-oh.' "

Goldfinger told me this in his lab at Oregon State, a low prefab building that a passing English major might reasonably mistake for the maintenance department. Inside the lab is a walk-in freezer. Inside the freezer are floor-to-ceiling racks filled with cryptically labelled tubes, four inches in diameter and five feet long. Each tube contains a core sample of the seafloor. Each sample contains the history, written in seafloorese, of the past ten thousand years. During subduction-zone earthquakes, torrents of land rush off the continental slope, leaving a permanent deposit on the bottom of the ocean. By counting the number and the size of deposits in each sample, then comparing their extent and consistency along the length of the Cascadia subduction zone, Goldfinger and his colleagues were able to determine how much of the zone has ruptured, how often, and how drastically.

Thanks to that work, we now know that the Pacific Northwest has experienced forty-one subduction-zone earthquakes in the past ten thousand years. If you divide ten thousand by forty-one, you get two hundred and forty-three, which is Cascadia's recurrence interval: the average amount of time that elapses between earthquakes. That timespan is dangerous both because it is too long—long enough for us to unwittingly build an entire civilization on top of our continent's worst fault line—and because it is not long enough. Counting from the earthquake of 1700, we are now three hundred and fifteen years into a two-hundred-and-forty-three-year cycle.

It is possible to quibble with that number. Recurrence intervals are averages, and averages are tricky: ten is the average of nine and eleven, but also of eighteen and two. It is not possible, however, to dispute the scale of the problem. The devastation in Japan in 2011 was the result of a discrepancy between what the best science predicted and what the region was prepared to withstand. The same will hold true in the Pacific Northwest—but here the discrepancy is enormous. "The science part is fun," Goldfinger says. "And I love doing it. But the gap between what we know and what we should do about it is getting bigger and bigger, and the action really needs to turn to responding. Otherwise, we're going to be hammered. I've been through one of these massive earthquakes in the most seismically prepared nation on earth. If that was Portland"—Goldfinger finished the sentence with a shake of his head before he finished it with words. "Let's just say I would rather not be here."

The first sign that the Cascadia earthquake has begun will be a compressional wave, radiating outward from the fault line. Compressional waves are fast-moving, high-frequency waves, audible to dogs and certain other animals but experienced by humans only as a sudden jolt. They are not very harmful, but they are potentially very useful, since they travel fast enough to be detected by sensors thirty to ninety seconds ahead of other seismic waves. That is enough time for earthquake early-warning systems, such as those in use throughout Japan, to automatically perform a variety of lifesaving functions: shutting down railways and power plants, opening elevators and firehouse doors, alerting hospitals to halt surgeries, and triggering alarms so that the general public can take cover. The Pacific Northwest has no early-warning system. When the Cascadia earthquake begins, there will be, instead, a cacophony of barking dogs and a long, suspended, what-was-that moment before the surface waves arrive. Surface waves are slower, lower-frequency waves that move the ground both up and down and side to side: the shaking, starting in earnest.

Soon after that shaking begins, the electrical grid will fail, likely everywhere west of the Cascades and possibly well beyond. If it happens at night, the ensuing catastrophe will unfold in darkness. In theory, those who are at home when it hits should be safest; it is easy and relatively inexpensive to seismically safeguard a private dwelling. But, lulled into nonchalance by their seemingly benign environment, most people in the Pacific Northwest have not done so. That nonchalance will shatter instantly. So will everything made of glass. Anything indoors and unsecured will lurch across the floor or come crashing down: bookshelves, lamps, computers, cannisters of flour in the pantry. Refrigerators will walk out of kitchens, unplugging themselves and toppling over. Water heaters will fall and smash interior gas lines. Houses that are not bolted to their foundations will slide off—or, rather, they will stay put, obeying inertia, while the foundations, together with the rest of the Northwest, jolt westward. Unmoored on the undulating ground, the homes will begin to collapse.

Across the region, other, larger structures will also start to fail. Until 1974, the state of Oregon had no seismic code, and few places in the Pacific Northwest had one appropriate to a magnitude-9.0 earthquake until 1994. The vast majority of buildings in the region were constructed before then. Ian Madin, who directs the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), estimates that seventy-five per cent of all structures in the state are not designed to withstand a major Cascadia quake. FEMA calculates that, across the region, something on the order of a million buildings—more than three thousand of them schools—will collapse or be compromised in the earthquake. So will half of all highway bridges, fifteen of the seventeen bridges spanning Portland's two rivers, and two-thirds of railways and airports; also, one-third of all fire stations, half of all police stations, and two-thirds of all hospitals.

Certain disasters stem from many small problems conspiring to cause one very large problem. For want of a nail, the war was lost; for fifteen independently insignificant errors, the jetliner was lost. Subduction-zone earthquakes operate on the opposite principle: one enormous problem causes many other enormous problems. The shaking from the Cascadia quake will set off landslides throughout the region—up to thirty thousand of them in Seattle alone, the city's emergency-management office estimates. It will also induce a process called liquefaction, whereby seemingly solid ground starts behaving like a liquid, to the detriment of anything on top of it. Fifteen per cent of Seattle is built on liquefiable land, including seventeen day-care centers and the homes of some thirty-four thousand five hundred people. So is Oregon's critical energy-infrastructure hub, a six-mile stretch of Portland through which flows ninety per cent of the state's liquid fuel and which houses everything from electrical substations to natural-gas terminals. Together, the sloshing, sliding, and shaking will trigger fires, flooding, pipe failures, dam breaches, and hazardous-material spills. Any one of these second-order disasters could swamp the original earthquake in terms of cost, damage, or casualties—and one of them definitely will. Four to six minutes after the dogs start barking, the shaking will subside. For another few minutes, the region, upended, will continue to fall apart on its own. Then the wave will arrive, and the real destruction will begin.

Among natural disasters, tsunamis may be the closest to being completely unsurvivable. The only likely way to outlive one is not to be there when it happens: to steer clear of the vulnerable area in the first place, or get yourself to high ground as fast as possible.
For the seventy-one thousand people who live in Cascadia's inundation zone, that will mean evacuating in the narrow window after one disaster ends and before another begins. They will be notified to do so only by the earthquake itself—"a vibrate-alert system," Kevin Cupples, the city planner for the town of Seaside, Oregon, jokes—and they are urged to leave on foot, since the earthquake will render roads impassable. Depending on location, they will have between ten and thirty minutes to get out. That time line does not allow for finding a flashlight, tending to an earthquake injury, hesitating amid the ruins of a home, searching for loved ones, or being a Good Samaritan. "When that tsunami is coming, you run," Jay Wilson, the chair of the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC), says. "You protect yourself, you don't turn around, you don't go back to save anybody. You run for your life."

The time to save people from a tsunami is before it happens, but the region has not yet taken serious steps toward doing so. Hotels and businesses are not required to post evacuation routes or to provide employees with evacuation training. In Oregon, it has been illegal since 1995 to build hospitals, schools, firehouses, and police stations in the inundation zone, but those which are already in it can stay, and any other new construction is permissible: energy facilities, hotels, retirement homes. In those cases, builders are required only to consult with DOGAMI about evacuation plans. "So you come in and sit down," Ian Madin says. "And I say, 'That's a stupid idea.' And you say, 'Thanks. Now we've consulted.' "

These lax safety policies guarantee that many people inside the inundation zone will not get out. Twenty-two per cent of Oregon's coastal population is sixty-five or older. Twenty-nine per cent of the state's population is disabled, and that figure rises in many coastal counties. "We can't save them," Kevin Cupples says. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it and say, 'Oh, yeah, we'll go around and check on the elderly.' No. We won't." Nor will anyone save the tourists. Washington State Park properties within the inundation zone see an average of seventeen thousand and twenty-nine guests a day. Madin estimates that up to a hundred and fifty thousand people visit Oregon's beaches on summer weekends. "Most of them won't have a clue as to how to evacuate," he says. "And the beaches are the hardest place to evacuate from."

Those who cannot get out of the inundation zone under their own power will quickly be overtaken by a greater one. A grown man is knocked over by ankle-deep water moving at 6.7 miles an hour. The tsunami will be moving more than twice that fast when it arrives. Its height will vary with the contours of the coast, from twenty feet to more than a hundred feet. It will not look like a Hokusai-style wave, rising up from the surface of the sea and breaking from above. It will look like the whole ocean, elevated, overtaking land. Nor will it be made only of water—not once it reaches the shore. It will be a five-story deluge of pickup trucks and doorframes and cinder blocks and fishing boats and utility poles and everything else that once constituted the coastal towns of the Pacific Northwest.

To see the full scale of the devastation when that tsunami recedes, you would need to be in the international space station. The inundation zone will be scoured of structures from California to Canada. The earthquake will have wrought its worst havoc west of the Cascades but caused damage as far away as Sacramento, California—as distant from the worst-hit areas as Fort Wayne, Indiana, is from New York. FEMA expects to co√∂rdinate search-and-rescue operations across a hundred thousand square miles and in the waters off four hundred and fifty-three miles of coastline. As for casualties: the figures I cited earlier—twenty-seven thousand injured, almost thirteen thousand dead—are based on the agency's official planning scenario, which has the earthquake striking at 9:41 A.M. on February 6th. If, instead, it strikes in the summer, when the beaches are full, those numbers could be off by a horrifying margin.

Wineglasses, antique vases, Humpty Dumpty, hip bones, hearts: what breaks quickly generally mends slowly, if at all. OSSPAC estimates that in the I-5 corridor it will take between one and three months after the earthquake to restore electricity, a month to a year to restore drinking water and sewer service, six months to a year to restore major highways, and eighteen months to restore health-care facilities. On the coast, those numbers go up. Whoever chooses or has no choice but to stay there will spend three to six months without electricity, one to three years without drinking water and sewage systems, and three or more years without hospitals. Those estimates do not apply to the tsunami-inundation zone, which will remain all but uninhabitable for years.

How much all this will cost is anyone's guess; FEMA puts every number on its relief-and-recovery plan except a price. But whatever the ultimate figure—and even though U.S. taxpayers will cover seventy-five to a hundred per cent of the damage, as happens in declared disasters—the economy of the Pacific Northwest will collapse. Crippled by a lack of basic services, businesses will fail or move away. Many residents will flee as well. OSSPAC predicts a mass-displacement event and a long-term population downturn. Chris Goldfinger didn't want to be there when it happened. But, by many metrics, it will be as bad or worse to be there afterward.

On the face of it, earthquakes seem to present us with problems of space: the way we live along fault lines, in brick buildings, in homes made valuable by their proximity to the sea. But, covertly, they also present us with problems of time. The earth is 4.5 billion years old, but we are a young species, relatively speaking, with an average individual allotment of three score years and ten. The brevity of our lives breeds a kind of temporal parochialism—an ignorance of or an indifference to those planetary gears which turn more slowly than our own.

This problem is bidirectional. The Cascadia subduction zone remained hidden from us for so long because we could not see deep enough into the past. It poses a danger to us today because we have not thought deeply enough about the future. That is no longer a problem of information; we now understand very well what the Cascadia fault line will someday do. Nor is it a problem of imagination. If you are so inclined, you can watch an earthquake destroy much of the West Coast this summer in Brad Peyton's "San Andreas," while, in neighboring theatres, the world threatens to succumb to Armageddon by other means: viruses, robots, resource scarcity, zombies, aliens, plague. As those movies attest, we excel at imagining future scenarios, including awful ones. But such apocalyptic visions are a form of escapism, not a moral summons, and still less a plan of action. Where we stumble is in conjuring up grim futures in a way that helps to avert them.

That problem is not specific to earthquakes, of course. The Cascadia situation, a calamity in its own right, is also a parable for this age of ecological reckoning, and the questions it raises are ones that we all now face. How should a society respond to a looming crisis of uncertain timing but of catastrophic proportions? How can it begin to right itself when its entire infrastructure and culture developed in a way that leaves it profoundly vulnerable to natural disaster?

The last person I met with in the Pacific Northwest was Doug Dougherty, the superintendent of schools for Seaside, which lies almost entirely within the tsunami-inundation zone. Of the four schools that Dougherty oversees, with a total student population of sixteen hundred, one is relatively safe. The others sit five to fifteen feet above sea level. When the tsunami comes, they will be as much as forty-five feet below it.

In 2009, Dougherty told me, he found some land for sale outside the inundation zone, and proposed building a new K-12 campus there. Four years later, to foot the hundred-and-twenty-eight-million-dollar bill, the district put up a bond measure. The tax increase for residents amounted to two dollars and sixteen cents per thousand dollars of property value. The measure failed by sixty-two per cent. Dougherty tried seeking help from Oregon's congressional delegation but came up empty. The state makes money available for seismic upgrades, but buildings within the inundation zone cannot apply. At present, all Dougherty can do is make sure that his students know how to evacuate.

Some of them, however, will not be able to do so. At an elementary school in the community of Gearhart, the children will be trapped. "They can't make it out from that school," Dougherty said. "They have no place to go." On one side lies the ocean; on the other, a wide, roadless bog. When the tsunami comes, the only place to go in Gearhart is a small ridge just behind the school. At its tallest, it is forty-five feet high—lower than the expected wave in a full-margin earthquake. For now, the route to the ridge is marked by signs that say "Temporary Tsunami Assembly Area." I asked Dougherty about the state's long-range plan. "There is no long-range plan," he said.

Dougherty's office is deep inside the inundation zone, a few blocks from the beach. All day long, just out of sight, the ocean rises up and collapses, spilling foamy overlapping ovals onto the shore. Eighty miles farther out, ten thousand feet below the surface of the sea, the hand of a geological clock is somewhere in its slow sweep. All across the region, seismologists are looking at their watches, wondering how long we have, and what we will do, before geological time catches up to our own.

*An earlier version of this article misstated the location of the area of impact. - The New Yorker.









MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Researchers Think Gulf Of Alaska Seabird Die-Off Is The BIGGEST EVER RECORDED - At Least 22,000 Dead?! [VIDEO]

Dead Murres line a beach in Prince William Sound.
© David Irons/USFWS

February 1, 2016 - ALASKA - The mass of dead seabirds that have washed up on Alaska beaches in past months is unprecedented in size, scope and duration, a federal biologist said at an Anchorage science conference.

The staggering die-off of common murres, the iconic Pacific seabirds sometimes likened to flying penguins, is a signal that something is awry in the Gulf of Alaska, said Heather Renner, supervisory wildlife biologist at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

"We are in the midst of perhaps the largest murre die-off ever recorded," Renner told the Alaska Marine Science Symposium on Thursday. While there have been big die-offs of murres and other seabirds in the past, recorded since the 1800s, this one dwarfs most of them, Renner said.

"This event is almost certainly larger than the murres killed in the Exxon Valdez oil spill," she said.

After that spill -- at the time, the nation's largest -- about 22,000 dead murres were recovered by crews conducting extensive beach searches in the four months after the tanker grounding, according to the Exxon Valdez Trustee Council, the federal-state panel that administers funds paid to settle spill-related claims for natural-resource damages.

Now, hundreds and thousands of dead murres are turning up on a wide variety of Alaska beaches, including nearly 8,000 discovered this month on a mile-long stretch in Whittier, she said. A preliminary survey in Prince William Sound has already turned up more than 22,000 dead murres there, she said. Starving, dying and dead murres are showing up far from their marine habitat, in inland places as distant as Fairbanks, hundreds of miles from the Gulf of Alaska coast, making the die-off exceptionally large in geographic scale.

Even if she weren't an expert, the bird die-off would be obvious to Renner. She lives in Homer, where the beaches are "littered" with murre carcasses, she said.



WATCH: Thousands of dead seabirds turn up in Alaska.




"You can't walk more than a few feet without finding murres," she said.


Since only a small proportion of those killed ever show up as carcasses on the shore -- past studies put that proportion at 15 percent -- the actual death toll is likely much higher, Renner said.

The murre die-off began last spring, making it an especially long-lasting event. It coincides with widespread deaths of other marine animals, from whales in the Gulf of Alaska to sea lions in California. The die-off is overwhelmingly affecting common murres rather than thick-billed murres, which are closely related but tend to use slightly more western and northwestern waters from the Aleutians to the Chukchi Sea.

The immediate cause of the bird deaths is starvation.


"They just simply aren't able to find the food that they need to survive," Renner said. Necropsies conducted by the National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin found the dead murres were emaciated, with no food in their gastrointestinal systems and no fat on their bodies.

But what's behind the starvation?

Renner said biologists are focusing on three potential culprits that may be working independently or in concert with one another. And a common thread is heat, likely related to the "Blob" of warm water that persisted in 2014 and 2015 in the North Pacific and pushed temperatures as much as 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal.

"Warm water is implicated," she said.

Warmer waters might have affected murre food supplies or altered the birds' food needs by changing their metabolism, she said. Many past die-offs have been associated with warm waters, supporting the argument that the Blob is to blame, she said. The investigation is complicated because biologists have unanswered questions about the winter diet of murres, birds famous for their deep dives to forage for fish in summer.

"We know a lot more about what they eat in the summer than what they eat in the winter," Renner said.

Another suspect is a series of strong storms that might have scattered already stressed birds this winter, she said.

A third suspect is harmful algal blooms, which proliferate in warm waters and have been connected to some other marine animals' deaths.

So far, toxins associated with such algal blooms have not been found in dead murres examined by the National Wildlife Health Center. But it is possible that the signs of the toxins would have vanished long before the tests, even if they killed the birds, because the toxins don't linger in body tissue and instead are generally found in food in animals' digestive systems -- something missing from these murres' carcasses.

Renner said she is not yet worried about the die-off threatening Alaska's overall common murre population, roughly estimated at 2.8 million.

Still, troubling signs warrant monitoring in the future.

A breeding colony in the Barren Islands that is usually teeming in late summer with adult murres tending their young was deserted this year, she said. The site, at East Amatuli Island, usually has nesting birds crowded into the cracks of the rock face, but this year, "nobody was home," Renner said. "In more than three decades of monitoring murres in the Barrens, we've never had complete reproduction failure before." Similar failures occurred at some other nesting colonies, though not at all, she said.

Common murres and whales -- which are the subject of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration investigation after several were found dead this summer -- are not the only Gulf of Alaska marine animals to fall victim to ailments believed to be related to warm waters in 2014 and 2015.

Tammy Hoem Neher, a NOAA scientist working with the multiagency program Gulf Watch Alaska, listed a wide range of changes in the marine systems observed during the period of unusual warmth.

Kachemak Bay saw an eight-fold increase in sea otter deaths, with carcasses showing signs of toxins produced by harmful algal blooms, Neher said at the symposium. Sea stars in Kachemak Bay in 2015 were found stricken with a wasting disease similar to that which has killed large numbers of the animals elsewhere on the U.S. West Coast, she said. One hypothesis is that the unusually warm waters exacerbated other stresses on the sea stars, she said.


But at least one Gulf of Alaska marine population thrived in the new conditions, Neher said. Fish-eating resident killer whales have feasted on big runs of salmon, fattening up without having to swim very far, she said.

"They kind of lazed around day to day," she said. - Alaska Dispatch News.






GLOBAL COASTAL EVENT: El Nino Storm Hits Southern California - Over 150,000 Homes Without Power, Gusts Up To 115mph!

People watch as El Nino generated storm waves crash onto seaside houses at Mondos Beach, California.© Mark Ralston / AFP

February 1, 2016 - SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - Over 150,000 US households were left without electricity as gusts of an El Nino-driven storm downed trees and power poles is Southern California.

Gusts of wind up to 115mph were recorded, with locals taking to social media to share the aftermath.

The storm, accompanied by heavy rain, hit the west coast, causing massive outages and flooding on Sunday night.





In addition to fierce gusts of wind, California is facing heavy downpours, low-elevation snow and thunderstorms, with counties Los Angeles and San Diego hit hardest.

A fallen tree measuring 8 feet in diameter killed a driver in the Pacific Beach area and crushed three empty parked cars.

The storm is expected to reach Michigan and Iowa on Monday night or Tuesday, bringing blizzards to these states by Groundhog Day, local meteorologists report. - RT.





PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Trypanosomiasis-Protozoa - Over 500 Camels Killed By Mysterious Disease In Kenya?!

A herder waters his camels in Marsabit on January 25, 2016. Herders in the county are counting loses following an outbreak of a mysterious
disease that has so far killed over 500 camels.
© Ken Bett / NATION MEDIA GROUP

February 1, 2016 - KENYA - Herders in Marsabit County are counting loses following an outbreak of a mysterious disease that is killing camels.

Bubisa and Shuur in Marsabit North Sub-County are the worst hit by the calamity with ward representative Pius Yatani describing the situation as alarming.

"I received the report on January 19 on the deaths and so far more than 500 camels have perished. I believe the disease may have erupted earlier,'' said Turbi-Bubisa Ward Rep.

Mr Yatani said he had appealed to the county government for urgent intervention.

He said a team of vets was already on the ground supplying vaccines donated by the county government to the pastoralists.

DONATED VACCINES

"The department of livestock has donated 20 dozen vaccines to help mitigate the crisis," he said by telephone.

Speaking to the Nation by phone, Shuur Pastoralist Community Initiative and Development Assistance (Pacida) programme coordinator Wario Guyo, said the animals were dying in large numbers.

"They (camels) are in good body shape but they suddenly become weak before dying,'' he said.

Marsabit County Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries executive James Aboran Dokhe said he was aware of the outbreak of the disease.

He said the disease was likely to have been spread from neighbouring Wajir where three weeks ago Wajir South MP Abdullahi Diriye raised the alarm over an unknown disease killing camels in the county.

Dr Dokhe said his department had responded to the emergency and had dispatched a team of experts to identify the mysterious disease.

"Once the tests are completed we will send the report to the University of Nairobi's veterinary department of for analysis,'' said the CEC

Mr Dokhe said the disease was likely to be Trypanosomiasis-protozoa. - Daily Nation.




GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Weather Anomalies - Scientists Film Rare Eruption Of Remote Antarctic Volcano! [VIDEOS]

Big Ben has erupted at least three other times in the past 15 years.
© Pete Harmsen

February 1, 2016 - HEARD ISLAND - Australian scientists have witnessed the rare eruption of an Antarctic volcano off the coast of the frozen continent.

The scientists, from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), filmed the volcanic event by chance while aboard research vessel "Investigator" studying the fringe of Antarctica's Heard Island.

The crew, working in conjunction with the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), were actually looking to study underwater volcanoes before the land-based variety caught their attention.

Heard Island, a remote sub-Antarctic region, is home to Big Ben, an active volcano which is believed to have only erupted three times since the turn of the century.

Given the island's isolation, viewing Big Ben - which is mostly covered in ice throughout the year - during an eruption is considered a geoscientific rarity. Often, satellite images provide the only evidence that an eruption has occurred.


WATCH: Heard Island volcano erupting.






Chief scientist aboard The Investigator, IMAS professor and geophysicist Mike Coffin, said on Monday it was a great thrill to film the 2,745-meter volcano in action, becoming one of the few people in human history to have witnessed it erupting.

"We have 10 excited geoscientists aboard Investigator, and our enthusiasm has spread to our 50 shipmates," Coffin said in a CSIRO press release on Monday.

The crew, based 4,100 km southwest of the Western Australian city of Perth, are only three weeks into their 58-day research voyage.

Despite the trip barely getting underway, the researchers claim to have already uncovered "50 potential underwater hydrothermal plumes," which may help establish whether active underwater volcanoes - which create these plumes - form the foundation for life in the Southern Ocean. - Shanghai Daily.