Tuesday, March 8, 2016

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Commuter Train Derails In California - 14 People Injured, 2 Of Them Seriously! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

General view of a San Francisco Bay Area commuter train derailment at a creek in Niles Canyon in this handout released by the
Alameda County Fire Department March 7, 2016. © Alameda County Fire Department/ / Reuters

March 8, 2016 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - At least 14 people have been injured, four of them seriously, after a commuter train traveling from Silicon Valley to Stockton derailed and two of its cars crashed into a local creek in California.

The incident took place in a rural area some 72km east of San Francisco on Monday night, Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train officials told KCBS radio, adding that there were at least 214 passengers on the train at the time of the incident.

At least four of the 14 people hurt in the incident received “serious” but “non-life-threatening” injuries, the Alameda Fire Department said. Officials added that it was raining heavily at the time of the incident.

“It was dark, wet, it was raining. It was very chaotic,” Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly said, as cited by AP. “This is an absolute miracle that no one was killed, no passengers or first responders.”

WATCH: Train car derails, falls into creek.

According to Alameda County Sheriff's Department spokesman J.D. Nelson, one of the train cars has been partially submerged in the creek.

The first car that fell into Alameda creek was carrying six passengers and one crew member, Altamont Corridor Express train official Steve Walker said.Later all passengers were rescued and the injured were transported to the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton. - RT.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Massive Shift In Alpine Fault In New Zealand, Much More Than Previously Thought - New Research!

The Alpine Fault, which runs up the spine of the South Island, has ruptured five times in the past 1100 years -
producing an earthquake of between magnitude 7 and 8 each time.
© GNS Science

March 8, 2016 - NEW ZEALAND - The Alpine Fault has moved much more than previously thought, and more than any other known fault on land in the world, new research shows.

In the past 25 million years, the two sides of the South Island have shifted more than 700 kilometres relative to each other along the Alpine Fault. That is 250km more than previously thought.

The full extent of the movement was masked because the rocks first moved 250km in one direction, then went back the other way - retracing the first 250km and adding a further 450km.

GNS Science earthquake geologist Robert Langridge has been studying why the Alpine Fault is so susceptible to earthquakes - it's since been discovered that it may be the world's fastest-moving known fault line.

The extent of the movement was worked out by researchers from Victoria University and GNS Science, with the findings published in the American Geophysical Union journal G-Cubed.

GNS Science earthquake geologist Robert Langridge studying layers in the trench across the Alpine Fault at Springs Junction. New research has found that the
fault line may be the world's fastest-moving, having shifted around 700km in 25 million years.
© Joanne Carroll/Fairfax NZ

"I don't think anybody in their wildest dreams would have thought that displacements on the fault could be so large, and also change direction so dramatically through time," Associate Professor Dr Simon Lamb, from Victoria's School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, said.

The researchers made the discovery by looking at geological maps together with studies of the direction of magnetisation in the rocks.

The finding underscored the fact the Alpine Fault was the big seismic hazard in the South Island and had been for a "very, very long time", Lamb said.

The findings may have implications for why the Alpine Fault is so prone to earthquakes.© GNS Science

Other faults in central and southern parts of the South Island had played only a small role in the movement of the tectonic plates.

The next largest known fault displacement on land was on the Altyn Tagh Fault in Tibet, with a total movement of about 475km.

The new theory about the Alpine Fault was a major shift in thinking and the researchers had needed to provide convincing arguments to get it published.

GNS Science earthquake geologists studying layers in the trench across the Alpine Fault at Springs Junction.© GNS Science

The idea occurred to him only about six months ago, Lamb said. "I was calculating the motion of the tectonic plates through New Zealand and realised they were so much bigger than the movement everyone was saying had taken place on the Alpine Fault."

His advantage was that coming from the UK he wasn't wedded to a particular way of thinking about it.

"We put together this team of people who came at it from lots of different directions to make sure this was right, that we hadn't made some terrible mistake and missed something." The idea was exciting but it was followed by a large amount of work. "You spend a lot of time checking. You have to go through an enormous amount of information to look at what other people have discovered. You do a lot of testing. In you mind you play devil's advocate," Lamb said.

"It will be interesting to see what the reception is."

The Alpine Fault started as part of the break-up of the supercontinent Gondwana, with New Zealand starting to drift away from Antarctica about 80 million years ago.

That resulted in about 250km of movement along the Alpine Fault but in the opposite direction to the way the fault is moving today. Then "nothing" happened for tens of millions of years, Lamb said.

About 25 million years ago a new plate boundary formed and the Pacific Plate and Australian Plate started moving relative to each other "in a big way".

"That's the situation today. You have the Alpine Fault breaking up this fragment of continent that split away from Gondwana," Lamb said.

It had been thought movement along the Alpine Fault was getting faster. "Basically what we showed was that from the moment the Alpine Fault started to move in the direction it's moving today it more or less moved at the same rate." That was an average speed of about 3cm a year. - Stuff.

WAR DRUMS: Escalating Tensions On The Korean Peninsula - North Korea Threatens PRE-EMPTIVE NUCLEAR STRIKE On South Korea And The United States; Seoul And Washington Hold The LARGEST-EVER JOINT DRILLS IN HISTORY; IAEA Says The WEAPONIZATION Of The North Threatens Regional And Global Security!

South Korean and US troops are to conduct an annual field exercise known as Foal Eagle (AFP Photo/Kim Hong-Ji)

March 8, 2016 - KOREAN PENINSULA - North Korea threatened "indiscriminate" nuclear strikes against South Korea and the US mainland, as the two allies prepared to kick off large-scale joint military drills on Monday.

North Korea threatens pre-emptive nuclear strike on South, US

The threat to carry out what it described as a "pre-emptive nuclear strike of justice" was made in a statement by the North's powerful National Defence Commission, citing the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army (KPA).

It came just days after leader Kim Jong-Un ordered the country's nuclear arsenal to be placed on standby for use "at any moment," in response to tough new UN sanctions imposed over the North's fourth nuclear test in January and last month's long-range rocket launch.

Pyongyang has issued dire warnings of nuclear attack in the past, usually during periods of elevated military tensions on the divided Korean peninsula.

While the North is known to have a small stockpile of nuclear warheads, experts are divided about its ability to mount them on a working missile delivery system.

The National Defence Commission described the annual South Korea-US military exercises as "undisguised nuclear war drills" that threatened the North's national sovereignty, and vowed an all-out offensive in response to "even the slightest military action.""The indiscriminate nuclear strike... will clearly show those keen on aggression and war, the military mettle of (North Korea)," said the statement published by the North's official KCNA news agency.

Under a military plan ratified by the North Korean leadership, any strike would not just target operational theatres on the Korean peninsula, but also US bases on the mainland and in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.

- 'Flames and ashes" -

"If we push the buttons to annihilate the enemies even right now, all bases of provocations will be reduced to seas in flames and ashes in a moment," it added.

Despite a pair of successful long-range rocket launches, North Korea is largely believed to be years away from developing a genuine inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US mainland.

The annual exercises slated to begin Monday -- called "Foal Eagle" and "Key Resolve" -- last for weeks and involve tens of thousands of US and South Korean troops.

Pyongyang has long condemned the drills as provocative rehearsals for invasion, while Seoul and Washington insist they are purely defensive in nature.

Tensions have surged on the Korean peninsula since the North's nuclear test on January 6 and February's rocket launch, which was seen as a disguised ballistic missile test.

A UN Security Council resolution adopted last week laid out the toughest sanctions imposed on Pyongyang to date over its nuclear weapons programme and will, if implemented effectively, apply significant economic pressure on Kim's regime.

It breaks new ground by targeting specific sectors key to the North Korean economy and seeking to undermine the North's use of, and access to, international transport systems.

Pyongyang has rejected the sanctions as "unfair, illicit and immoral" and vowed to keep building its nuclear arsenal.

The National Defence Commission said the US and its allies had failed to realise how the "outrageous" sanctions made "this land boil like a crucible of battle." - Yahoo.

South Korea, US Launch Largest-Ever Joint Drills in History 

© REUTERS/ Kim Hong-Ji/Files

Military drills between South Korea and the United States kicked off earlier in the day and are believed to be the largest-ever joint exercises of the two countries amid increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
On Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the military to prepare to use its nuclear weapons at any moment in light of the exercise, according to the country’s state media reports.

Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, two joint US-South Korean military exercises on dispatching the US overseas forces to the Korean Peninsula, presuppose practicing the elimination of Pyongyang's weapons of mass destruction.

As many as 15,000 US troops joined around 290,000 South Korean soldiers in the drills expected to last until April 30. In 2015, Washington sent four times fewer troops than now, while the number of Seoul soldiers is now 1.5 times higher.

During the drills, the United States and South Korea are likely to apply their new operational plan, namely OPLAN 5015, which envisages possible preventive strikes against North Korea.

The US side is expected to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and submarines. - Sputnik.

Weaponization of North Korea Threatens Regional, Global Security - IAEA 

© AP Photo/ Wong Maye-E, File

The threat of possible use of nuclear weapon by North Korea causes concern over regional and global security, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano said on Monday.

Since the beginning of 2016, North Korea has conducted a nuclear test, its fourth to date, and launched a long-range rocket, defying a UN Security Council resolution that bans Pyongyang from launching rockets that could be used as ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads.
"We do not assess the weaponization of North Korea, we will not have to have views whether they have been looked as large nuclear weapons or not, this belongs to the military area. But it is serious concern that DPRK developed nuclear weapons and tested them using territories near to the neighboring countries. This is a serious concern for the region and beyond," Amano told reporters.
The IAEA chief noted that North Korean leader's order to prepare to use its nuclear weapons at any moment, causes particular concern. - Sputnik.

OMEN: Hong Kong Beaches Turn BLOOD RED - Beach-Goers Advised Not To Swim?!

 Photo: SCMP Pictures

March 8, 2016 - HONG KONG - Beach-goers advised not to swim at Clear Water Bay Second Beach and Silver Mine Bay Beach, while brown foam appears on Cheung Chau shoreline

Several parts of Hong Kong were hit by suspected red tides over the weekend, with swathes of the Cheung Chau shoreline caked with a putrid, foamy discharge that put off many beach-goers.

Pictures taken by local islanders and tourists on Saturday and Sunday showed parts of the island's Tung Wan Beach covered in the light brown froth.

Red tide found in Sam Mun Tsai in 2014. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Red tides, or algal blooms, are areas of seawater discoloured - brown, pink or red - by large concentrations of micro-organisms that may deplete levels of dissolved oxygen. Sightings usually peak in the spring. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said the Environmental Protection Department was taking water samples.

On Saturday, beach-goers were advised not to swim at Clear Water Bay Second Beach in Sai Kung and Silver Mine Bay Beach on Lantau Island.

A reader photo showing the foamy waters at Cheung Chau over the weekend. Photo: SCMP Pictures

The government's inter-departmental red tide working group reported six red tides in Hong Kong waters last week in Silverstrand Beach and Hoi Ha Wan in Sai Kung, Junk Bay, Sham Wan, Lo Tik Wan, the Sok Kwu Wan and Cheung Sha Wan fish culture zones, and the east and west Lamma channels.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has stepped up monitoring of the fish culture zones in close vicinity of the red tides. - South China Morning Post.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Samoa - USGS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

March 8, 2016 - SAMOA - A 6.2 magnitude earthquake has struck off the Samoa islands, Geoscience Australia and the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported, adding that the epicenter of the quake is about 200km from Apia, the capital and largest city of the island country.

Apia has about 37,000 residents.

The earthquake depth is 29.8 km, USGS said. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) put the depth of the earthquake at 2km. According to the most recent USGS estimate, the magnitude of the quake is 5.8 and it took place just 96km from the town of Hihifo in Tonga.

USGS shakemap intensity.

There have not been any reports of injuries or damage, and no tsunami warning has been issued.

The part of South Pacific Ocean where Tonga and Samoa are located is considered to be one of the most seismically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates, the USGS said.  - RT.

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: Large Meteor Fireball Caught On Dash Cam In Missouri! [VIDEO]

© Screenshot via KY3.com

March 8, 2016 - MISSOURI, UNITED STATES - KY3 viewer Tim Zikowsky was setting up a dash cam on his way to work, and caught the meteor falling from the sky.

WATCH: Fireball over Missouri.

- KY3.