Monday, February 15, 2016

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.2 Magnitude Earthquake Recorded Off New Zealand Coast - Just Two Days After A "SEVERE" Magnitude 5.8 Tremor Hit Christchurch! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

February 15, 2016 - NEW ZEALAND - A magnitude-6.2 earthquake has been recorded off the coast of New Zealand.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck shortly before 1930 GMT Monday and was centered 136 miles (219 kilometers) northwest of Auckland Island and 735 miles southwest of Wellington.

It was at a depth of 6.2 miles.

USGS shakemap intensity.

There was no immediate tsunami alert from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Two days ago, a "severe" magnitude 5.8 earthquake has hit the New Zealand city of Christchurch almost five years after a deadly tremor devastated the same region.

Several buildings were evacuated in Christchurch, as the temblor turned pools into waves of water and cliffs crumbling.

WATCH: Sumner Cliff Collapses.

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.

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


SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Stunning Weather Phenomena In Ontario, Canada - "Sun Dog" Sparkles Along Orangeville Skyline And Morning "Sun Dog" Captures Attention Of Residents In Caledon! [PHOTOS]

Local photographer Rose Knott managed to capture an image of a sun dog near Mono early Saturday morning (Feb. 13).© Rose Knott

February 15, 2016 - ONTARIO, CANADA - Mother Nature has treated residents in the Orangeville area to a relatively uncommon atmospheric phenomenon only seen a few times every year.

After a band of snow squalls moved through Dufferin County last night, the skies cleared to reveal a parhelion — informally nicknamed a sun dog — near Mono early Saturday morning (Feb. 13).

Local photographer Rose Knott managed to capture an image of the uncommon occurrence early Saturday morning.

"I've never seen a sun dog. It was just so exciting to me," she posted on Facebook. "Just felt so thrilled to capture this."

Sun dogs are formed when sunlight refracts off ice crystals in the atmosphere, creating bright spots on either side of the sun. In some cases, a rainbow-shaped halo can be seen connecting these bright pillars beside the sun.

"It is more the ice crystals high up in the atmosphere that create the phenomena," Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson told The Banner last year. "When those ice crystals reflect the sunlight at a certain angle, it can form these sun dogs."

Cold air isn't a preamble to a sundog, as Coulson said they could appear pretty much year round. They usually occur in the morning when the sun is rising or when it is setting in the evening.

"What you're really looking for is relatively cloud free conditions," Coulson said. "To be able to view it, you really would had to be within sort of the breaks in the flurry activity to actually see the sun and the phenomena itself." - Orangeville Banner.

Morning 'sun dog' captures attention of residents in Caledon, Ontario

© Lori Makarewicz
Residents across Caledon were looking to the skies Thursday morning (Feb. 11) as a unique 'sun dog' cast a spherical glow on the landscape.

"It certainly was a beautiful sight this morning, wasn't it?" local resident, Lori Makarewicz said to The Enterprise. "I have never seen one like that before. I almost got frostbite by standing out in my sandals on the front lawn, didn't want to waste any time looking for my boots in case I missed it!"

According to Environment Canada meteorologist, Rebecca Wagner, "sun dogs" which are also classified as parhelion, halos, or "mock suns," are an optical effect caused by the refraction of sunlight by ice crystals in the atmosphere.

"In particular this morning we had a very well developed halo around the sun with two bands with bright spots on either side of the sun, at about the same elevation," she continued.

© Gordon Bentley

While they technically occur any time of the year, sun dogs appear more vividly in the winter due to the combination of ice crystals in the atmosphere and the low angle of the sun in the sky - and even still, are usually only spotted about two to three times a year.

As the sun rises in the sky, the halo diminishes as the angle of the light hitting the ice crystals changing. Bolton resident, Craig Kellough, spotted the unique optical effect over the North Hill of town.

"I was driving into Bolton around 9 a.m. when I saw this spectacular scene in the sky surrounding the sun," he said. "I had to pull over and take as many shots as I could. It was something I had never seen before."

According to Wagner, with the chilly temperatures and clear skies predicted for this weekend, there might be another in store for those who missed Thursday morning's display. - Caledon Enterprise.

FIRE IN THE SKY: The Latest Fireball Sightings - Valentine's Day Meteor-Fireball Streaks Over Northeastern United States; Unexplained Flashes Of Light Puzzle Residents Of Petrozavodsk, Russia; Strange Orange Flash Sighted In Plymouth, UK Skies; And Bright Green Meteor Reported Above Southeast Winnipeg, Canada!

Meteor-fireball over northeastern United States. © YouTube/Bill Conklin (screen capture)

February 15, 2016 - SPACE - The following constitutes several of the latest reports of fireballs, seen in the skies, across the globe.

Valentine's Day meteor-fireball streaks over Northeastern US

A streak of light, followed by a large flash over Dover, DE on Valentines Day morning.

WATCH: Meteor-fireball over Northeastern United States.

- YouTube.

Unexplained flashes of light puzzle residents of Petrozavodsk, Russia

What is this mysterious flash of light recorded by different cameras in the city of Petrozavodsk, the capital city of the Republic of Karelia, Russia?

Most probably a meteor exploding and lighting up the city for a brief moment on February 11, 2016 just before midnight.

WATCH: Strange lights over Russia.

- Strange Sounds.

Strange orange flash sighted in Plymouth, UK skies

Could their be alien activity in Plymouth? Reports of mysterious flashing lights have been seen across Plymouth's skyline recently, and no explanation can be found for it. Two days ago, a band of Plymouth residents said they saw a bright orange flash in the sky, with many puzzled by the momentary light.

Yesterday, a Plymouth retiree came forward to say she had also witnessed a white flash a few weeks ago, which radiated from the same area as the orange illumination had appeared on February 9. Jenni Robertson was driving home from Bristol when she was dazzled by a white light which lasted for a few seconds. The 66-year-old retiree was making her way back from Flyball training with her collie, Tilli, when she saw the fleeting flash just past Lee Mill on the way into Yealmpton on January 31.

The Staddiscombe resident opted to take a different route home through Lee Mill that evening to avoid roadworks on the A38 by Deep Lane, and as she was driving through a back lane, she spotted the flash to her right of her windscreen. "It was a clear night and quite cold, so I figured it couldn't have been lighting,"

Jenni said. "At around 9:30pm, I saw a huge flash in the sky on my drivers side of the van towards Ivybridge- it wasn't too high as I could see if from the window. "It was just like a speed camera going off- it lasted a couple of seconds and then it was gone again." Jenni didn't think much of the glow until witnesses came forward with claims about a similar orange flash which came from a similar direction.

Ground worker Sam Ho says he was coming out of his house in Yealmpstone Drive at 7am two days ago when he witnessed the dazzling light, as he looked in the direction of Ivybridge. Sam said the massive flash was "quite impressive" and suspects it could have been a meteorite.

An explanation for the lighting activity has yet to be explained. - Plymouth Herald.

Bright green meteor reported above southeast Winnipeg, Canada

© Getty Images

Astronomers believe a meteor caused a bright green flash above southeast Winnipeg.

It happened early Wednesday morning around 5:30am.

The Planetarium's Scott Young tells it was probably a smaller space rock.

"I didn't see it, but based on reports it could've been caused by an object from the size of a quarter up to a basketball."

They're what cause so-called 'shooting stars.' Space is full of them.

Triangulating meteors

Young says the Manitoba Museum collects information about reported sightings.

When the object is large and many reports are collected, astronomers can use the information to triangulate the position.

"We've only had two or three objects in the last twenty years where we've gone out to do a search."

In those cases, they're referred to as fireballs or bolides.

Good luck finding one

Young says the object is usually only visible when it's still kilometres above the planet.

"It actually falls the last dozen or so kilometres without any visible trail. So the odds are, if you saw it in the sky, it didn't land near you." - My Toba.

ICE AGE NOW: Monumental Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - RECORD-BREAKING COLD Sweeps Across North America; Over 75 MILLION PEOPLE Affected In The U.S. Northeast; Arctic Blast Hits Central And Eastern Canada, Temperatures MINUS 45 CELSIUS; Stunning Wall Of Snow Effect Seen In Buffalo, New York; Infrastructure Collapse As Over 50 Vehicles Pileup In Pennsylvania Killing Three People; National Weather Service Issue Frostbite Warnings; New York's Whiteface Mountain Records MINUS 114 DEGREES, COLDER THAN ANTARCTICA; Another Storm Set To Develop Monday In The Southeast! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

If you want to go outside when the temperatures plunge, a facemask can protect from frostbite and windburn. © Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press

February 15, 2016 - NORTH AMERICA - So much for a warm and fuzzy Valentine's Day.

About 20 cities across the East endured record-breaking cold Sunday, forecasters say.

New York City's temperature plummeted to 1 below zero at Central Park, shattering the record of 2 degrees, set during World War I.

Boston reported 9 below. Toronto's temperature reached 16 below over the weekend.

WATCH: Record low temperatures across U.S. northeast.

And those are just the real temperatures.

Factor in strong winds, and states from northern Pennsylvania to Maine felt wind chills well, well below zero.

In all, more than 75 million people from the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard are expected to be affected by snow and freezing rain into Tuesday.

An Arctic surge will bring bitter cold air to the Northeast this weekend, with record low temperatures expected.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents to brace for dangerous conditions.

"The city is facing some of the coldest temperatures and wind chills we've seen in the last 20 years," de Blasio said. "Extremely cold weather can be life-threatening -- especially for seniors, infants and people with medical conditions."

The mayor thanked first responders.

"I think, the combination of the way New Yorkers have heeded the warnings, and the fact that our first responders are out constantly scanning for anyone who might need help, it's been very effective. And thank God, we have no reports to date of any fatalities," he said.

Parts of the South under the gun

Even the South isn't immune to the frigid winter weather.

Another storm is expected to develop Monday in the Southeast and then move to the Northeast by Tuesday.

The heaviest snow will likely fall from Tennessee to the interior Northeast, meteorologists said, especially near the eastern Great Lakes and higher elevations of the Appalachians.

'Wall of snow'

A cold air mass across the Great Lakes has spawned heavy lake-effect snow that is pushing inland, especially near Buffalo, New York.

Lake-effect snow happens when moisture from warmer lake waters mixes with cold air coming from the north, causing more than 2 to 3 inches of snow an hour.

The best lake effect snow squall structure I've ever seen this evening over Buffalo, NY. (@kylebrobertson)
Twitter: NortheastWeatherWx

"Depending on where you are, if you're just south or north of this lake effect, it can look like a wall of snow is coming down," CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

Deadly pileup

Intense snow and terrible visibility Saturday factored into a fatal pileup involving at least 60 vehicles near Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania.

At least three people died in the pileup on Interstate 78, Pennsylvania State Police said. More than 70 people were injured.

"It was definitely a whiteout. I couldn't see any farther than probably two city blocks," Raoul Jardine of Allentown said.

WATCH: Fatal vehicle pileup in Pennsylvania.

"I saw brake lights and pulled off to the side. Somebody hit me when I was parked in the shoulder."

Parts of I-78 were still closed Sunday morning.

Elsewhere on Sunday, a part of Interstate 65 in Indiana was closed after an estimated 40 vehicles were involved in a series of crashes. Several injuries were reported, but none were thought to be life threatening.

"The roadways throughout Central Indiana are snow covered and hazardous. Only travel if necessary, reduce your speed significantly and allow ample space between you and the vehicle in front of you," state police said in a statement.

Frostbite concerns

With the coldest weather of the season, the National Weather Service issued a warning about the symptoms and dangers of frostbite.

When frostbite strikes, ice crystals can form on the skin. Then the skin starts feeling warm, even though it hasn't defrosted, the weather agency said.

After that, the skin can have a waxy appearance and turn red, pale or white, the NWS said. Finally, frostbitten skin can turn dark blue, black or gray, and cause pain that can last for hours.  - CNN.

Whiteface Mountain in New York state records minus 114; colder than Antarctica

Winds at Whiteface Mountain's summit blasted at 45 mph on Saturday night going into Sunday morning.© The Wild Center

While New York City had its coldest start to Valentine's Day in 100 years on Sunday, it would seem balmy compared with the wicked wind chill at upstate Whiteface Mountain.

As temperatures dropped across the Northeast from the blast of a polar vortex, the wind chill at Whiteface, near Lake Placid, made it feel like a body- and mind-numbing minus 114 degrees late Saturday and into Sunday.

Central Park could only muster a minus 1 degree.

This is what happens when a tree is exposed to minus 114 degrees wind chill at Whiteface Mountain's summit.© The Wild Center

The Wild Center, which works with the Atmospheric Science Research Center at SUNY Albany, recorded the frigid temperature from a research station at the mountain's summit. "The extreme temperatures (Saturday) night on Whiteface have to do with its elevation, 4,865 feet and the wind speed," Tracey Legat, the center's communications manager at the center told the Daily News. "The mountains of the Adirondacks are often some of the coldest places in the lower 48 states during the year."

The Arctic winds howled through the summit at about 45 mph, freezing almost everything in their path.

WATCH: Upstate New York Mountain reaches MINUS 114 wind chill.

The center managed to capture a photo of a tree being turned into a popsicle as the winds formed "monstrous rime ice" around it. The mountain's summit was actually colder than Antarctica on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

- New York Daily News.

Arctic blast hits Central and Eastern Canada; temperatures minus 45 celsius

If you are outside in extremely cold temperatures this weekend be sure to bundle up to avoid hypothermia and frostbite. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Bitter cold is gripping parts of Central and Eastern Canada as temperatures dipped to -45 C with the wind chill in some areas.

Environment Canada issued cold or winter storm warnings on Saturday for provinces from Manitoba to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The national weather forecaster said temperatures could fall to -45 C in Ottawa on Saturday with the wind chill, warming up to -35 C overnight.

In New Brunswick, temperatures were expected to hover between -35 C and -40 C with the wind chill until Sunday.

Quebec and Manitoba can expect much of the same, with temperatures warming up early next week.

Meanwhile, Newfoundland was bracing for a winter storm that could bring up to 20 cm of snow to eastern parts of the island.

Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and eastern Newfoundland all had cold alerts in areas.

Environment Canada blames the extreme cold on an Arctic ridge of high pressure sliding
southward toward the U.S. Midwest. On the other side of it, Calgary will be seeing
temperatures of 9 C over the next two days. (Environment Canada)
Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Montreal and Fredericton were expected to be among the coldest cities over the next two days.

"We're going to see Ottawa today, the last weekend of Winterlude, the high today -24, the wind chills -33. That's going to freeze flesh in a matter of minutes, so it's almost as if it is too extreme to enjoy the outdoors," said Dave Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, on Saturday.

Environment Canada said, "Some improvement is expected on Sunday as temperatures moderate somewhat." It issued an extreme cold warning for the region.

Manitoba experienced the worst of the cold front on Friday, its fifth day of extreme lows in temperature and wind chill values of -40 in southern regions, dipping to -45 to -50 in northern areas.

Environment Canada blames the extreme cold on an Arctic ridge of high pressure sliding southward toward the U.S. Midwest.

"Some are at greater risk than others for frostbite and hypothermia: homeless people, outdoor workers, people living in homes that are poorly insulated or with no heat or no power, people with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, peripheral neuropathy and diseases affecting the blood vessels, people taking certain medications including beta-blockers, winter sport enthusiasts, people who consume excess alcohol, infants, and seniors." the agency warns.

Effects on wildlife

South of the border in New York City, the blast of Arctic air forced the cancellation of the city's annual Central Park Ice Festival.

"There are also the long-term effects," Phillips told CBC News. "We won't know what the full accounting of this will be until we get to the summer."

WATCH: Arctic blast hits Canada.

Due to periods of milder temperatures this winter, some wildlife have been caught on the ground rather than burrowing beneath the snow, he says.

"This winter may be known as a pothole kind of winter because of the freeze/thaw cycle periods we have seen." - CBC.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - TENS OF THOUSANDS Of Sharks Seen Migrating Off Palm Beach, Florida?!

This picture shows a swarm of sharks migrating a short distance from the coast in Palm Beach, Florida

February 15, 2016 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - With temperatures plummeting below freezing in parts of the country, you may be temped to escape to some winter sun in Florida.

But if you do hit the sunny beaches, you may want to avoid going for a swim.

That's because tens of thousands of sharks are migrating in huge swarms, and it's happening just off the coast.

Florida Atlantic University biological sciences professor Stephen Kajiura took video from the air of blacktip sharks invading the waters of Palm Beach, on Florida's Atlantic coast He has been monitoring their movement since January 15. But he decided to get footage from 5,000ft in the air.

Kajiura told WPEC: 'There are literally tens of thousands of sharks a stone's throw away from our shoreline.

Florida Atlantic University biological sciences professor Stephen Kajiura took video of blacktip sharks invading the waters of Palm Beach,
on Florida's Atlantic coast. A paddle boarder is seen on the bottom left of the screen near the hoard of sharks

'You could throw a pebble and literally strike a shark. They are that close Blacktips are the most common species in that part of Florida and are behind the majority of shark bites.

However, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there hasn't been a fatal attack yet.

WATCH: Tens of thousands of sharks migrating off Florida beach.

They are named by the black markings on the tips of their fins and are common in the warm Atlantic waters between South Carolina and Texas.

Every winter, during their mating season, they move to find warmer parts of the ocean.

They feed on fish, stingrays and squids.

Blacktips have also been known to follow fishing boats and feed on culled catches. - Daily Mail.

EXTREME WEATHER: Deadly Lightning Strike In South Africa - Three Persons Killed In KwaZulu-Natal!

February 15, 2016 - SOUTH AFRICA - Lightning struck a tree under which members of the Shembe Nazareth Baptist Church were worshiping, KwaZulu-Natal's Emergency Medical Services said.

Three women, aged between 50 and 65, were killed instantly and 38 others survived the strike but sustained injuries
, spokesperson Robert Mckenzie said.

Those injured were taken to nearby hospitals and were currently in a stable condition, Mckenzie said.

Authorities cautioned people against using trees as a cover in cloudy conditions, particularly in the middle of summer when lightning takes place frequently.

Thunderstorms, generating big electrical discharges, are common in South Africa's eastern and northern provinces between October and March.

South Africa has one of the highest lightning ground strike densities in the world. Particularly in recent years, deaths from lightning are growing in rural areas.

The annual average number of lightning-related deaths is 6.3 per million of the population, more than 15 times the global average, according to the South African weather service.  - News Ghana.

EARTH CHANGES: Monumental Signs Of The Times - SOTT Earth Changes Video Summary For January, 2016! -


February 15, 2016 - EARTH - Mass whale strandings in India and northwestern Europe - Record 'snowzilla' blizzard thanks to Winter storm Jonas in the US Northeast - Record cold wave in the Far East and South East Asia bringing snow to Vietnam, Taiwan and southern China - The first recorded snowfall in Kuwait - Severe flooding in the central US, UK and many other places - The earliest Pacific cyclone on record, and the earliest Atlantic hurricane since 1938 - Major earthquakes in Russia's Far East and Alaska - Significant volcanic eruptions in central America, Russia's Far East and Antarctica.

Here are some of the 'signs of the times' in January 2016...

WATCH: Monumental Earth Changes.