Saturday, February 13, 2016

PLANETARY TREMORS: A "SEVERE" Magnitude 5.8 Earthquake Has Hit Christchurch, New Zealand - Major Rock Dislodgement Near Sumner; Several Buildings Evacuated; POOLS TURNING TO WAVES; GeoNet Science Warns Of AFTERSHOCKS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY + PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

USGS earthquake location.

February 13, 2016 - CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - A "severe" magnitude 5.8 earthquake has hit the New Zealand city of Christchurch almost five years after a deadly tremor devastated the region.

GeoNet Science, the official New Zealand earthquake monitoring service, warned of aftershocks following the "severe intensity" quake.

A police spokesman said there were no reports of damage or major injuries, although the tremor did cause "some major rocks to be dislodged into the sea" near Sumner.

Several buildings were evacuated in Christchurch as a precaution.

Jenny Krex, the manager of a coffee shop in the seaside suburb of Sumner, told the New Zealand Herald items broke in her shop after the quake struck.

USGS shakemap intensity.

"Everyone got a big fright, we had everyone running out," she said.

"I made sure everyone was OK, it was quite a big shock. It's crazy out here at the moment."

The quake struck a week before the fifth anniversary of a deadly magnitude 6.3 tremor which killed 185 people and caused billions of dollars of damage in one of New Zealand's deadliest disasters.

GeoNet said the epicentre of the latest earthquake was 15 kilometres east of the city at a depth of 15 kilometres.

GeoNet spokeswoman Caroline Little said the earthquake was too small to cause a tsunami.

Videos have started to emerge online of pools turning to waves as water is churned up and rockcliffs crumbling.

A video posted by Chris (@kimber_chris) on

A video posted by Sam Elstob (@samelstob) on

WATCH: Sumner Cliff Collapses.

She said that with such tremors: "People and animals are alarmed, and many run outside. Walking steadily is difficult ... objects fall from walls and shelves."

New Zealand is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which form part of the so-called "Ring of Fire".

The country experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year. - ABC Australia.

Seismotectonics of the Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate

The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Since 1900 there have been 15 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded near New Zealand. Nine of these, and the four largest, occurred along or near the Macquarie Ridge, including the 1989 M8.2 event on the ridge itself, and the 2004 M8.1 event 200 km to the west of the plate boundary, reflecting intraplate deformation. The largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand itself was the 1931 M7.8 Hawke's Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people. The last M7.5+ earthquake along the Alpine Fault was 170 years ago; studies of the faults' strain accumulation suggest that similar events are likely to occur again.

North of New Zealand, the Australia-Pacific boundary stretches east of Tonga and Fiji to 250 km south of Samoa. For 2,200 km the trench is approximately linear, and includes two segments where old (greater than 120 Myr) Pacific oceanic lithosphere rapidly subducts westward (Kermadec and Tonga). At the northern end of the Tonga trench, the boundary curves sharply westward and changes along a 700 km-long segment from trench-normal subduction, to oblique subduction, to a left lateral transform-like structure.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 60 mm/yr at the southern Kermadec trench to 90 mm/yr at the northern Tonga trench; however, significant back arc extension (or equivalently, slab rollback) causes the consumption rate of subducting Pacific lithosphere to be much faster. The spreading rate in the Havre trough, west of the Kermadec trench, increases northward from 8 to 20 mm/yr. The southern tip of this spreading center is propagating into the North Island of New Zealand, rifting it apart. In the southern Lau Basin, west of the Tonga trench, the spreading rate increases northward from 60 to 90 mm/yr, and in the northern Lau Basin, multiple spreading centers result in an extension rate as high as 160 mm/yr. The overall subduction velocity of the Pacific plate is the vector sum of Australia-Pacific velocity and back arc spreading velocity: thus it increases northward along the Kermadec trench from 70 to 100 mm/yr, and along the Tonga trench from 150 to 240 mm/yr.

The Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone generates many large earthquakes on the interface between the descending Pacific and overriding Australia plates, within the two plates themselves and, less frequently, near the outer rise of the Pacific plate east of the trench. Since 1900, 40 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded, mostly north of 30°S. However, it is unclear whether any of the few historic M8+ events that have occurred close to the plate boundary were underthrusting events on the plate interface, or were intraplate earthquakes. On September 29, 2009, one of the largest normal fault (outer rise) earthquakes ever recorded (M8.1) occurred south of Samoa, 40 km east of the Tonga trench, generating a tsunami that killed at least 180 people.

Across the North Fiji Basin and to the west of the Vanuatu Islands, the Australia plate again subducts eastwards beneath the Pacific, at the North New Hebrides trench. At the southern end of this trench, east of the Loyalty Islands, the plate boundary curves east into an oceanic transform-like structure analogous to the one north of Tonga.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 80 to 90 mm/yr along the North New Hebrides trench, but the Australia plate consumption rate is increased by extension in the back arc and in the North Fiji Basin. Back arc spreading occurs at a rate of 50 mm/yr along most of the subduction zone, except near ~15°S, where the D'Entrecasteaux ridge intersects the trench and causes localized compression of 50 mm/yr in the back arc. Therefore, the Australia plate subduction velocity ranges from 120 mm/yr at the southern end of the North New Hebrides trench, to 40 mm/yr at the D'Entrecasteaux ridge-trench intersection, to 170 mm/yr at the northern end of the trench.

Large earthquakes are common along the North New Hebrides trench and have mechanisms associated with subduction tectonics, though occasional strike slip earthquakes occur near the subduction of the D'Entrecasteaux ridge. Within the subduction zone 34 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900. On October 7, 2009, a large interplate thrust fault earthquake (M7.6) in the northern North New Hebrides subduction zone was followed 15 minutes later by an even larger interplate event (M7.8) 60 km to the north. It is likely that the first event triggered the second of the so-called earthquake "doublet".

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics


FIRE IN THE SKY: "It Was Huge,... Heard A Loud Bang,... Was Rumbling For A Good Five Minutes,..." - Strange Light, Loud Boom In Queensland Could Have Been Meteorite?!

Was it a meteor that lit up Queensland?© News Mail

February 13, 2016 - QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - People from across Queensland have taken to social media to describe what they say was a bright light accompanied by a boom sound. "Was rumbling for a good five minutes before I went outside," said Bundaberg's Jamie-lee Doorey.

"Was walking back from shed, heard something from the sky as I looked up something seemed to have exploded, sparks went in three different directions. "I've seen plenty shooting stars, this was not one, or it was huge. The rumbling continued for a couple of minutes, nothing since."

Margie Ryan, also from Bundaberg, said she was left puzzled by the sighting. "Was inside. Saw bright flash outside. About one minute later, heard a loud bang like a clap of thunder which shook the house a bit," she said.

"Checked the BoM, no storm, clear sky, so posted on Facebook." Gladstone's Rory Henricks said he thought he saw a plane in the sky "shooting fireworks out of its rear". He said at 9.20pm on Tuesday, he was riding from town to Calliope and about halfway saw the object for a second. "Nothing, then several circular firework explosions in a line behind it, then nothing again," he said. "I flipped my visor up to have a look around, I saw some pilot lights but lost track of it. Was moving really fast and appeared to have jet engines under each wing. "I'm pretty cynical but if it wasn't a UFO it seems like someone was trying to appear like one."

Charlene Kelly Maree said she heard people had seen the object in Gladstone, while Carissa Less Hansen said she witnessed it. "Saw it in Maryborough, Queensland, but didn't hear the noise," she said. Dell Holdings said she saw a flash but thought it was lightening. "It woke me from my sleep, no noise," she said.

Alyssa Gilbert said she saw a massive flash that was as quick as a flash on a camera. "I jumped up and ran to the window thinking someone was in my yard," she said. However, Peter Hurn believed it probably wasn't anything from another world.

"From what it sounds like it might have been a jet using flares," he said.

Kylie Campbell disagreed. "There's no way it was a jet unless it exploded, it was a crazy site to see!" she said. "I was actually out at Bucca, sitting on a rock in front of my car and my initial thought was someone had stolen my car; the light from it was blinding it was like someone turned my car lights on! Lit up everything!

"It was huge, it was breaking off into pieces as it was flying, you could see smaller debris light up behind it. "Never seen anything like it before!" Chanelle Bamblett said she thought it looked like a flare.

Jason Mccallum said he saw strange things in the sky last week."I didn't see last night's but on Wednesday I seen a bright white light go upwards in the sky and seconds later a green light going across the sky with what looked to be sparks coming off it and was much larger than the white light," he said.

Rachel Linda Beris Petersen took to Bundaberg Forum to ask if anyone heard loud bangs around West Bundaberg about 2am Wednesday. "(They) sounded like gunshot noises," she said. Tracy Simpson said she heard similar bangs early in the morning at Kepnock the night before - though it's not sure if these sounds were related to the boom.


Bundaberg Astronomy Society member Mark Sugars said he didn't see the light but from what had been described it sounded like it could have been a meteorite. "It would be a rational answer to say it was a meteorite," he said.

He confirmed it was possible for people to have seen it from a wide area following reports of sightings from Rockhampton down to Gympie. "They can travel that distance in a second so it is definitely possible," Mr Sugars said.

He said meteorites can be seen differently depending on the location of the viewer. "Meteorites can present differently - as they burn up they produce different colours," he said.

"It could have been coming in at a side view for someone viewing it from Gympie and a different colour for someone at Rockhampton." - News Mail.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Adelie Penguins Landlocked By Colossal Iceberg In Antarctica - Researchers Estimate Over 150,000 Have Died!

Landlocked Adélie penguins.
© Alamy

February 13, 2016 - ANTARCTICA - An estimated 150,000 Adelie penguins living in Antarctica have died after a huge iceberg the size of Luxemburg became lodged near their colony. The grounding of the colossal iceberg in Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay left the colony effectively landlocked.

This meant the mid-sized penguins, that range from 46cm-71 cm (18in-28in), had to trek 60km to the sea to feed on their favoured krill. Their habitat used to sit on the edge of a large expanse of open water but in 2010 a massive iceberg measuring 2,900km sq became lodged in the bay, rendering the colony of Penguins landlocked.

Adelie penguins walk on the ice at Cape Denison in Antarctica, on 12 December 2009.© Reuters

In the last five years the colony was dwindled in size, as the perilous journey has claimed the lives of 150,000 of the penguins, according to research carried out by the Climate Change Research Centre at Australia's University of New South Wales. And scientists warned that the colony is set to disappear in just 20 years unless the sea ice breaks up or the iceberg, named B09B, becomes dislodged.

Researchers in an article in Antarctic Science said: "The arrival of iceberg B09B in Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica, and subsequent fast ice expansion has dramatically increased the distance Adélie penguins breeding at Cape Denison must travel in search of food.

The Cape Denison population could be extirpated within 20 years unless B09B relocates or the now perennial fast ice within the bay breaks out. This has provided a natural experiment to investigate the impact of iceberg stranding events and sea ice expansion along the East Antarctic coast."

WATCH: 150k penguins die due to iceberg.

But all is not lost, a study of another colony of Adelie penguins located just 8km from the coast of Commonwealth Bay is thriving, the researchers said. And new findings from other studies suggest that between the last ice age through to 1,000 years ago, some species of penguins have benefited from climate warming and retreating ice. Professor Chris Turney, who led the expedition, told the Morning Herald that penguin numbers had been recorded for 100 years at Cape Denison.

"It's eerily silent now," he said. "The ones that we saw at Cape Denison were incredibly docile, lethargic, almost unaware of your existence. The ones that are surviving are clearly struggling. "They can barely survive themselves, let alone hatch the next generation. We saw lots of dead birds on the ground it's just heartbreaking to see."

- International Business Times.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Dead Whale Calf Found Off Samana, Dominican Republic Was "Stillborn"; Around 500 Manatees Crowd Into A Florida Spring To Stay Warm?! [VIDEO]

A dead whale calf in Dominican Republic.

February 13, 2016 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

Dead whale calf found off Samaná, Dominican Republic was 'stillborn'

A whale calf was found dead Friday in the waters of the Cabo Samaná Natural Monument, where according to the Environment Ministry was apparently stillborn.

In a statement, Environment said a preliminary report on the dead whale's condition showed that people weren't involved.

Moreover, the 4.35-meter long calf didn't show visible signs of entanglement or bruises.

"The calf was found dead floating on the water next to the monument of Talanquera, as confirmed by the provincial director and rangers from that district," the statement said.

"Apparently, this whale was a few hours old since it still had the umbilical cord. It's normal during the humpback whales visitation season," said marine biologist Omar Reynoso, quoted by  - Dominican Today.

Around 500 manatees crowd into a Florida spring to stay warm

Like most sensible creatures, manatees, the sea cows that live in the waters around the US state of Florida, seek warmth when it's cold.

On Thursday morning, roughly 500 of the gentle, aquatic giants crowded into the Three Sisters Springs as temperatures along Florida's Gulf Coast dipped below 10 degrees Celsius.

The springs have been periodically closed to swimmers because of the large concentration of the endangered animals.

But that hasn't stopped visitors from flocking to the boardwalk to gawk at the behemoths, which can weigh up to 590kgs.

Manatees are very susceptible to cold weather.

They can suffer hypothermia and cold stress and will eventually die if they are in water below 20 degrees Celsius.

WATCH: Hundreds of manatees crowd into a Florida spring.

- Daily Telegraph.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Nicaragua's Momotombo Erupts - Two Small Explosions Results In The Ejection Of Incandescent Materials Producing Ash Plumes; Three-Fold Increase In Volcanic Tremor!

Eruption at Momotombo (Image: INETER)

February 13, 2016 - NICARAGUA - Two relatively small explosions occurred yesterday at the volcano, one at around 02:20 and another at 11:15 local time.

They ejected incandescent material onto the upper flank of the cone and produced ash plumes that quickly dissipated into westerly directions.

According to INETER, the activity was accompanied by a threefold increase in volcanic tremor and preceded by a significant increase in SO2 output from approx. 600 to over 1000 tons per day between 9 and 11 February.

Most likely, the eruptions were the result of a new magma batch rising inside the volcano and more explosions could follow in the near future.

Momotombo volcano is a symmetrical stratovolcano rising as a peninsula above the NW part of Lake Managua, Nicaragua. It is one of the most known volcanoes of the country.

Momotombo is located at the SE end of the Marrabios Range. It consists of the remnant of an older volcano which now forms a somma ridge on the southern part and a young symmetrical cone that is less than 4500 years old and contains a 150 x 250 m wide summit crater. Young lava flows from Momotombo have flown down the NW flank into the 4-km-wide Monte Galán caldera.

There have been frequent small ash eruptions that were reported by explorers in the past century, but the volcano has been dormant for more than 100 years now. At the moment, the activity consists of active high-temperature fumaroles and gas and steam emission.

A major geothermal field is located on the southern flank of the volcano. - Volcano Discovery.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Railroad Fire At Bonnet Carre Spillway, Louisiana - Contained But Still Burning! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Fire fighters have contained the fire burning the train tracks in the Bonnet Carré Spillway.

February 13, 2016 - LOUISIANA, UNITED STATES - A fire broke out in the railroad track along Interstate 10 near the Bonnet Carre Spillway on Saturday morning (Feb. 13). The fire began around 8:20 a.m., according to the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office.

The blaze had been contained as of about 2 p.m., St. Charles officials reported, but firefighters were still working to extinguish it using a helicopter and airboats.

The sheriff's office told WVUE Fox 8 News that the a crew working on the tracks reported the fire. The workers were doing grinding work on the tracks when they noticed the fire starting, the station said citing the sheriff's office. The station reported the crew tried to put the fire out with extinguishers, but was unable to do so.

Travelers driving along the interstate between New Orleans and Baton Rouge captured the large blaze on photographs and video recordings.

The interstate has remained opened as the fire burns. Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Trooper Melissa Matey said the heavy smoke from the blaze has been blowing away from the interstate travel lanes but is being monitored.

A shift in wind direction could force temporary closures, she said, but that is not being considered at this time.

"We do ask that people not stop on the shoulders to look," Matey said. "The shoulders need to be for emergency stops only, or to allow emergency vehicles to pass."

Amtrak's media relations department did not immediately return a message seeking comment on how the fire is or will affect its passenger train operations. - NOLA.

DELUGE: Widespread Flooding Hits Dominican Republic And Haiti - Following 8 Inches Of Rainfall In Just 24 Hours! [PHOTOS]

February 13, 2016 - HISPANIOLA - Heavy rain affected the northern part of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola between 09 and 11 February 2016, resulting in flooding in parts of both Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Dominican Republic
After a long period of intense drought, Puerto Plata Province on the northern coast of Dominican Republic saw 216 mm of rain in 24 hours in Puerto Plata station, between 10 and 11 February 2016.

According to local media, the San Marcos River and the Camú River overflowed, causing flooding in the municipalities of Puerto Plata, Montellano and Villa Isabela. Several houses are reported to be affected by local inundations in La Sabana, Las Cruces de Martín Alonso, Tasajera, Estrecho Abajo, El Estrecho, Ranchito de los Vargas communities.

The country's Operational Centre for Emergencies (Centro de Operaciones de Emergencias - COE) declared, on 11 February, an alert for possible flash-floods and landslides in the Puerto Plata, Montecristi, Dajabon, Santiago Rodríguez and Valverde Provinces.

As many as 15,000 people were evacuated after severe floods struck in the Dominican Republic in February 2015.

The northern coast of Haiti has also been affected by heavy and prolonged rainfall which occurred between 9 to 11 February 2016.

According to local news the Civil Defence declared red alert (highest level) in North Haiti for possible flooding and landslide caused by the rain.

Major cities including Port-de-Paix and Cap-Haïtien have been affected by the severe weather and more than 200 houses have been damaged, forcing families to leave their home. Several neighbourhoods of Cap-Haïtien, including Carénage, Cité Lescot, Sainte Philomène and Charrier, suffered flooding on the 11 February.

Flooding blocked roads and caused traffic problems. The heavy rain also caused a mudslide which blocked the main road in the district of Bel-Air, according to local media.

Cap-Haïtien, the second biggest city of Haiti, is known to be vulnerable to hydrological and hydro-geological problems, with recurrent events causing significant damages. The area suffered major flooding at almost exactly the same time last year. The situations is exacerbated by unplanned urbanization.

With wide areas of standing water, contaminated flood water and streets littered with waste and garbage, focus has turned to health concerns. Haiti public health authorities have called for people to be aware of the threat of the spread of cholera and other water-borne diseases, and to take necessary preventative measures in flood-affected areas of Cap-Haïtien and Port-de-Paix. - Floodlist.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Frost Covers Costa Rica's Irazu Volcano IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER?! [VIDEO]

Screen capture © / YouTube
February 13, 2016 - COSTA RICA - In what can only be described as an extreme weather anomaly, frost was seen on Costa Rica's Irazu volcano.

The Irazu Volcano, still active, last made international headlines when it erupted in 1963 on the day that former US President John F. Kennedy visited the country. The eruption decimated crops in the area but left the soil enriched for decades to come. The last noticeable activity came in 1996, and since then Irazu has been a quiet giant.

Reaching upward of 11,260 ft (3,432 m), Irazu is the tallest volcano in Costa Rica. 

What the volcano usually looks like during summer. © Rafael Golan

The volcano has several craters, two of which are the principal attractions. The larger of the two delves 900 feet (275 m) deep, as steam rises up into the air giving visitors at nearby viewing stations an amazing sight to behold.

The smaller crater, Diego de la Haya, dips below the surface 300 ft (91 m) as its mineral-rich lake astonishingly transforms its color from emerald-green to crimson-red. On a clear day, the Pacific and Caribbean are visible.

 WATCH: This is how the Irazu Volcano National Park looks right now.

- Ruta Alterna | ACR.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 5.1 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Oklahoma - The THIRD LARGEST In Recorded State History; USGS Describe Tremor As "SIGNIFICANT"! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY + PHOTOS]

USGS earthquake location.

February 13, 2016 - OKLAHOMA, UNITED STATES - An earthquake measuring 5.1 in magnitude hit the US state of Oklahoma in the Midwest on Saturday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

The third largest earthquake in recorded state history.

The tremor was registered just after 11 am local time (5 pm GMT). A 3.9-magnitude aftershock was reported 10 minutes later.

The epicenter of the earthquake was located about a mile (1.6 km) beneath the ground some 95 miles (153 km) northwest of Oklahoma City, according to USGS.

The town of Fairview was the closest to the epicenter, which is located 17 miles (28 km) away.

USGS shakemap intensity.

There have been no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The USGS has described the tremor as “significant.”

5.1-magnitude earthquake shakes Oklahoma. Image: KOCO

5.1-magnitude earthquake shakes Oklahoma. Image: KOCO

Local KOCO-TV 5 television channel reported “several phone calls from people who felt the earthquake throughout the state,” but said the local police department had not reported any damage.

The 5.1 earthquake was “probably the second largest in Oklahoma and the largest in this general area,” according to USGS National Earthquake Information Center geophysicist John Bellini, as cited by Reuters.

The largest earthquake before today’s took place in 2011 and measured 5.6 in magnitude. - RT.

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.


DAWN OF THE AGE OF AQUARIUS: "Historic,... Unprecedented,..." - Pope Francis And Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill Hold Groundbreaking Meeting In Cuba; The First Time Since The 11th CENTURY; Sign Call To End Persecution Of Christians, As Christendom Enters It's Twilight Time And The End Of The Piscean Age!

© Adalberto Roque / AFP

February 13, 2016 - CUBA - The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, and Pope Francis signed a joint declaration after their first historic meeting in Havana, Cuba. They called on world leaders to prevent Christians in the Middle East from “being completely exterminated” and to help refugees from those regions.

“Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa, whole families, villages, and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated,” the declaration stated.Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis drew attention to the violence in Iraq and Syria, stressing the severity of the humanitarian problem in the region, and urging the international community to stand up and help.

“Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large-scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighboring lands.”

The two also discussed the relations between the Churches and the problems of their believers, in addition to sharing views on the progress of human civilization.

The declaration calls on the world to unite against terrorism and help free those who have been kidnapped by extremists.

“We call upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation.”

The two also touched upon Ukraine, condemning the violence that has “thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis” and urging all sides to embrace a peaceful solution to the conflict. “We invite all the parts involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity and to action aimed at constructing peace.”

The Churches are now looking into overcoming some historical differences and joining efforts to face the challenges of the 21st century. “Human civilization has entered into a period of epochal change. Our Christian conscience and our pastoral responsibility compel us not to remain passive in the face of challenges requiring a shared response.”

Concerns over family ‘crisis’ & same-sex marriages
Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis also discussed their concerns over “the crisis in the family in many countries,” according to the document. Both have expressed “regret” that “other forms of cohabitation” are being “placed on the same level” as a union between a man and a woman.

At the same time the two said they were concerned that “the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.”

“Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of the family … The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman. It is love that seals their union and teaches them to accept one another as a gift.”

‘Brothers at last’
“We are brothers, at last,” were the first words Pope Francis addressed to his counterpart when they met, TASS news agency reports.

“Now, it will be easier,” responded Patriarch Kirill.

“It is evident that this meeting is God’s will,” said the Pontiff, in his native Spanish.

“We are meeting at the right time and at the right place. I want to emphasize once again that it became possible with God’s will,” Patriarch Kirill told the Pontiff.

The two religious leaders embraced warmly in front of the cameras before proceeding to hold closed-door two-hour talks.Earlier in the day, Patriarch Kirill honored Cuban independence hero Jose Marti during a ceremony on Havana’s Revolution Square.

High hopes of Middle Eastern Christians
The rise of Christian persecution in the Middle East is one of the issues drawing the two churches closer, despite a nearly 1,000-year rift.

“We expect the leaders of the two confessions to have a joint position on the problems we face, especially the surviving of Christians in the region,” Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, the head of the Syrian Orthodox Church, told RT ahead of the meeting.

Islamic State (IS, ISIS/formerly ISIL) has been systematically eradicating Christianity’s traces from the region, killing and expelling thousands of Syrian Christians and demolishing the world’s historical heritage in Iraq, Syria, and beyond.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians have been tortured, subjected to extortion, or forcibly converted, in what the European Parliament says is tantamount to “war crimes” and “genocide” by jihadists.

WATCH: Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis hold historic meeting in Havana.

“Today, the Christians in the Middle East are subject to persecution. Terrorists are attempting violently to evict them from the Middle East; they hide behind the religion and kill everyone who they consider to be an infidel,” Father Gavrill Dawood from the Syrain Orthodox Church told RT. “That is why the historic meeting in Cuba is of great importance for us.”

Observers say the meeting has implications reaching far beyond the Middle East.

Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican’s Nuncio to Russia and Uzbekistan, believes the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill will have significant “symbolic consequences.”

He called the meeting “a good start” and a “symbol” of a new beginning for both churches. “This historic meeting is a kind of fruit of so many years of mutual positive contacts,” he told RT, adding that “we belong to the same culture.”

The schism between Rome and Constantinople that took place in the year 1054 grew out of political, cultural, and doctrinal differences. It has never fully healed. The heads of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Pope had been mutually excommunicated from each other’s branches until the mid-1960s. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church does not have an overall head, but Patriarch Kirill leads its biggest branch, which boasts more than 150 million believers. - RT.

WORLD WAR 3: Russia Warns Of "NEW WORLD WAR" Starting In Syria - After Gulf States Threaten To Send In Ground Forces!

"Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap." - Isaiah 17:1, The Bible.

February 13, 2016 - SYRIA
- Russia warned of “a new world war" starting in Syria on Thursday after a dramatic day in which Gulf states threatened to send in ground forces.

Foreign and defence ministers of the leading international states backing different factions in the war-torn country met in separate meetings in Munich and Brussels following the collapse of the latest round of peace talks.

Both Russia and the United States demanded ceasefires in the long-running civil war so that the fight could be concentrated against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) - but each on their own, conflicting terms. But the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, staged their own intervention, saying they were committed to sending ground troops to the country. Their favoured rebel groups have been pulverised by Russian air raids and driven back on the ground by Iranian-supplied pro-regime troops.

They said their declared target was Isil. But the presence of troops from Gulf states which have funded the Syrian rebels would be taken as a hostile act by the Assad regime and its backers, and a sign that they were committed to staking their claim to a say in the final Syrian settlement.

A girl asks a passerby for help to pay a medical bill, as her father sits in his wheelchair, in the Douma area of Damascus earlier this month.  Photo: Reuters

Russia issued a stark warning of the potential consequences. "The Americans and our Arab partners must think well: do they want a permanent war?" its prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, told Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper in an interview due to be published on Friday but released on Thursday night.

“It would be impossible to win such a war quickly, especially in the Arab world, where everybody is fighting against everybody.

"All sides must be compelled to sit at the negotiating table instead of unleashing a new world war.”

Earlier in the day, both Russia and the United States had demanded a ceasefire in the Syrian war.

Russia did not specify a date publicly but diplomats said that they had suggested March 1, which the Americans say would leave them another two weeks to achieve their military goals, including the defeat of “moderate” rebel forces in the north around Aleppo.

The United States countered by demanding an immediate ceasefire.

An Islamic State position on Kobane hill is taken out by an allied airstrike.

The rebels, whose main negotiators have been touring Europe in the wake of the collapse of the Geneva peace talks and the renewed assault on Aleppo, say a ceasefire can only happen in conjunction with a negotiated “political transition” - something which looks ever more unlikely in light of regime victories on the ground.

Under the United Nations security council resolution passed in December, any ceasefire would automatically exclude Isil, the local al-Qaeda branch Jabhat al-Nusra, which operates throughout rebel territory, and other UN-designated terrorist groups.

Since these are being struck by both the United States and Russia, as well as the regime, the terms of the resolution mean that the only group that would have to stop fighting under the terms of a ceasefire would be the “moderate rebels” backed by the West.

This they are unlikely to do voluntarily.

A girl carrying a toddler inspects damage, in a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force, in Douma.

Saudi Arabia is said to be furious that their main regional rival, Iran, has been allowed to consolidate its power bases in both Iraq and Syria because of the civil wars in both countries and under the cover of an international air campaign supposedly targeting Isil.

Its defence ministry spokesman, Brig Gen Ahmed al-Assiri, said its decision to send ground troops to Syria was “irreversible”.

The kingdom, along with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, is offering to provide the troops the United States-led coalition are needed to take on Isil on the ground under coalition air cover.

Michael Fallon, who held talks in Brussels on the fringes of a defence ministers meeting with deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, said he welcomed the Saudi offer.

“The Saudis are leading the Islamic military coalition,” he said.

“We've always made clear this is a campaign that can't be won by western troops doing the fighting. It can only be won in the end by local forces that have the support of the local population.” That last phrase appears to refer to the undesirability in western minds of Isil being defeated from the air only for pro-regime troops to retake the territory it now holds, which is overwhelming Sunni and was previously in the hands of non-Isil Sunni-led rebels.

The Saudis are also testing American willingness to “lead from the front” in Syria in the face of the apparent defeat of their favoured rebels at the hands of an assertive Russian intervention.

“Saudi Arabia will not step back from its offer to send ground troops to Syria as part of an International Coalition operation,” Mohammed al-Yahya, a London-based Saudi analyst said.

Damaged buildings in the Douma area of Damascus.

“The strategies used to fight Isil so far have not adequately weakened it, let alone eliminated it. It has become clear that Assad and the forces allied to him, namely Hizbollah, Russia, and Iran, are focusing on fighting the Assad regime’s opposition, not Isil.” Meanwhile on the ground, Russian-backed Kurdish forces took new ground from the rebels near the Turkish border, seizing the Minnegh air base, a highly symbolic target as it was seized from the regime first by Isil and then from them by non-Isil rebels two years ago after some of the fiercest battles of the whole war.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said more than 50,000 people had now been displaced north of Aleppo in the latest bout of fighting, calling the situation “grotesque”.

“The warring parties in Syria are constantly sinking to new depths, without apparently caring in the slightest about the death and destruction they are wreaking across the country,” he said. - Telegraph.

MONUMENTAL DISASTER IMPACT: 114 Bodies Pulled From Toppled Taiwan Building Following The Powerful 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake - Death Toll Rises To 116; One Person Still Missing!

Rescue workers carry a woman on a strecher from a collapsed building after an earthquake in Tainan, Taiwan, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.

February 13, 2016 - TAIPEI, TAIWAN - Workers have pulled out 114 bodies from the rubble of a high-rise apartment building that collapsed in an earthquake in Taiwan's oldest city, leaving only one missing, authorities said Saturday, a week after the disaster.

All but two of the 116 bodies recovered in Tainan after the magnitude-6.4 quake struck the city on Feb. 6 were found in the ruins of the Weiguan Golden Dragon building. A total of 327 people in the 17-story building survived.

According to Taiwan's Interior Ministry, workers extracted more than 60 more bodies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. One person is still unaccounted for, local authorities said Saturday.

Authorities have detained the building's developer, Lin Ming-hui, and two architects on suspicion of negligent homicide amid accusations that Lin's company cut corners in the building's construction.

More than 100 dead in collapsed Taiwan building: Rescue agency

Tainan city officials said they will inspect several dozen other developments built by Lin, as well as other buildings in the Weiguan compound that did not collapse.

Earthquakes frequently strike Taiwan, but usually cause little or no damage, particularly since more stringent building regulations were introduced following a magnitude-7.6 quake in 1999 that killed more than 2,300 people. - NY Times.

WAR DRUMS: Escalating Tensions On The Korean Peninsula - North Korea Says That Kaesong Shutdown Is A "DECLARATION OF WAR" And Cuts ALL HOTLINES With The South Amid Rising Tensions!

February 13, 2016 - KOREAN PENINSULA - North Korea has severed all communication hotlines with its South Korean neighbor amid a spike in tensions following Pyongyang’s recent rocket launch. Seoul says it will start talks with the US as early as next week on the deployment of a new missile defense system.

All emergency hotlines connecting the two rival states were cut on Thursday, following the South’s decision to stop operations at the joint industrial complex in Kaesong, Seoul’s Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said on Friday.

Meanwhile, South Korea will begin talks with Washington on the deployment of an advanced US missile defense system as early as next week, a South Korean defense official told Reuters.

Russia and China have expressed concerns about the potential deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). Russian Ambassador to Seoul Alexander Timonin said that deploying the anti-ballistic missile system will not help solve the North’s nuclear problem.

"Russia thinks that deployment of such systems in the Republic of Korea [South Korea] hardly facilitates strengthening peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and brings the resolution of the nuclear problem," he told a press conference last week.

Seoul took decision to shut down the Kaesong inter-Korean factory - the last major symbol of cooperation on the peninsula – on Wednesday, following Pyongyang’s Sunday launch of a long-range rocket and a fourth nuclear test on January 6.

On Friday, the South shut off water and energy supply to the Kaesong complex, situated 10km north of the Korean demilitarized zone, in reprisal for the deportation of some 300 South Korean workers and its takeover by the North Korean military on Thursday.

The South’s unification minister, Hong Yong-pyo, described the move as “very regrettable” and cautioned the North against damaging South Korean property in the complex.

The closure of Kaesong provoked a strong reaction from North Korean officials, who called it “a dangerous declaration of war” and a “declaration of an end to the last lifeline of North-South relations,” according to a statement from the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, as cited by AFP.

South Korean workers were ordered to leave the factories by the deadline set by the North at 5.30pm (08:30 GMT) on Thursday. They were prohibited from taking anything apart from personal items.

In addition, the North ordered the freezing of all South Korean assets at the park.

The Kaesong Industrial Park was opened in 2004 in the North Korean border region as a breakthrough collaborative project between the neighbors, and was designed to alleviate strains between the two countries.

The tensions on the Korean Peninsula have heightened since North Korea launched a long-range missile and claimed it successfully placed the observation satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 into orbit on Sunday. - RT.

WORLD WAR Z: Plagues & Pestilences - Over 5,000 Pregnant Women In Colombia Infected With The Zika Virus; WHO Says The Disease Could Infect As Many As 4 MILLION PEOPLE This Year!

The government of Colombia has confirmed over 5,000 cases of pregnant women with the Zika virus.

February 13, 2016 - COLOMBIA - More than 5,000 pregnant Colombian women are infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus, the country's national health institute said on Saturday, as the disease continues its rapid spread across the Americas.

Cases of the virus total 31,555, the institute said in a epidemiology bulletin, among them 5,013 pregnant women.

Zika, which has spread to more than 30 countries, has been linked to birth defect microcephaly and to neurological disease Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Total reported Zika cases increased by 23 percent over last week's figures, while the number of pregnant women with the virus was up 57.8 percent.

Much remains unknown about Zika, including whether the virus actually causes microcephaly. Brazil is investigating the potential link between Zika infections and more than 4,300 suspected cases of the birth defect, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems.

Researchers have confirmed more than 460 of these cases as microcephaly and identified evidence of Zika infection in 41 of these cases, but have not proven the virus can cause microcephaly.

There are so far no recorded cases of Zika-linked microcephaly in Colombia, the government has said. Officials are still examining figures from countries such as Brazil, but say Colombia can expect between 500 and 600 cases this year.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms.

The institute said 29.4 percent of pregnant women with Zika live in Norte de Santander province, along the eastern border with Venezuela.

Colombia's Caribbean region, which includes popular tourist destinations Cartagena and Santa Marta, had more than 12,488 cases of the virus, the bulletin showed.

The government has said pregnant women with Zika are eligible to access much-restricted abortion services. Many women struggle to find abortion providers even when they meet strict legal requirements and illegal abortions are widespread.

One Bogota abortion clinic said several women with Zika had come for consultations, but would not confirm if procedures took place. Local media reported what they said was the first abortion in the country because of Zika last week.

Colombian authorities have urged women to delay pregnancy for six to eight months.

The World Health Organization estimates Zika could eventually affect as many as 4 million people. Colombia expects up to 600,000 cases this year.

The health minister has said he believes three deaths are connected with Zika.- Reuters.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Sinkhole Drains Pond At Golf Course In The Villages, Florida!

Birds feast on fish after a sinkhole prompted the water to drain from a retention pond at Pimlico Executive Golf Course.

February 13, 2016 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - A sinkhole has drained a retention pond at Pimlico Executive Golf Course.

Sam Wartinbee of District Property Management confirmed Thursday morning that a sinkhole, about eight feet across, caused the pond to drain.

He said that work to fill in the sinkhole will be taking place but did not offer an immediate timeline.

Birds were making the most of the situation, feasting on fish left at the bottom of the pond. - Villages-News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Increasing Seismic Activity Along The Pacific Northwest - Series Of Earthquakes Reported Under Mount Rainier, Washington!

February 13, 2016 - PACIFIC NORTHWEST - A series of earthquakes were recorded under Mount Rainier Thursday morning.

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network reports a "little swarm of quakes" shook under the mountain for about 20 minutes.
Yesterday morning, there was a little swarm of quakes under #MountRainier for 20 mins or so. — PNSN (@PNSN1) February 12, 2016
Don't read into the quakes too much. Earthquakes like that are fairly common, according to John Vidale of the Seismic Network. They don't signify much, he says.

"Those swarms probably appear several times a year," he added.

The stronger shaking occurred at 3:41 a.m. when a 1.45-magnitude quake was recorded.

On the same day the Seismic Network reported a tremor episode began in mid-Oregon. Those tremors began not long after a "tremor blob" stalling in Washington.

The tremors, or slow-moving earthquakes, occur along the Cascadia Subduction Zone about once per year. The latest episode in Washington began Dec. 21.

Though there's no definite connection between the tremors and recent earthquakes, the Seismic Network reported there was a chance they were related to the 4.8-magnitude quake that shook Victoria.

- KIRO7.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Water Main Break Turns Parts of Pennsylvanian City Into Winter Wonderland As Record Cold Temperatures Grip U.S. Northeast! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

February 13, 2016 - PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES - A residential junction in Scranton, Pennsylvania has been left literally frozen after a massive water main break in wintry overnight temperatures.

Residents at the corner of East Market and Meylert Avenue woke up Friday morning to icicles on their rooftops.

Power lines, cars, trees were all covered with ice after a 12-inch pipe broke around 2.30 am, reported Reuters.

See more images below:

“There's water in the basement. I've got water coming through the windows – a foot of water, two feet of water in my neighbor's basement.” Chris Blaker told WBRE/WYOU.

WATCH: Water main break encases homes in ice.

About 30 customers were said to be affected, ahead of one of the coldest weekends forecast in the area this winter. - RT.