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Southern Egypt hit by first major tremor in several decades

December 27, 2011 - According to the National Institute of Astronomical and Geophysical Research, tremors were reported on Monday evening near Lake Nasser, south of Aswan. The population of the High Dam city barely noticed the quake, however, the tremors were felt by people in the desert regions, several tens of kilometers south of Aswan. According to scientists, the epicenter was located at a depth of two kilometers. This area was once considered a seismically hazardous area, but over the last few decades there had not been a single tremor.

The largest earthquake was said to be measured at a magnitude of 4.2.

…(English.ru)

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Seismic | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Study: Link Between Tropical Cyclones and Earthquakes

December 27, 2011 - A groundbreaking study led by University of Miami (UM) scientist Shimon Wdowinski shows that earthquakes, including the recent 2010 temblors in Haiti and Taiwan, may be triggered by tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons), according to a presentation of the findings at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco. “Very wet rain events are the trigger,” said Wdowinski, associate research professor of marine geology and geophysics at the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “The heavy rain induces thousands of landslides and severe erosion, which removes ground material from the Earth’s surface, releasing the stress load and encouraging movement along faults. “Wdowinski and a colleague from Florida International University analyzed data from quakes magnitude-6 and above in Taiwan and Haiti and found a strong temporal relationship between the two natural hazards, where large earthquakes occurred within four years after a very wet tropical cyclone season.

During the last 50 years three very wet tropical cyclone events — Typhoons Morakot, Herb and Flossie — were followed within four years by major earthquakes in Taiwan’s mountainous regions. The 2009 Morakot typhoon was followed by a M-6.2 in 2009 and M-6.4 in 2010. The 1996 Typhoon Herb was followed by M-6.2 in 1998 and M-7.6 in 1999 and the 1969 Typhoon Flossie was followed by a M-6.2 in 1972. The 2010 M-7 earthquake in Haiti occurred in the mountainous region one-and-a-half years after two hurricanes and two tropical storms drenched the island nation within 25 days. The researchers suggest that rain-induced landslides and excess rain carries eroded material downstream. As a result the surface load above the fault is lessened. “The reduced load unclamp the faults, which can promote an earthquake,” said Wdowinski.

Fractures in Earth’s bedrock from the movement of tectonic plates, known as faults, build up stress as they attempt to slide past each other, periodically releasing the stress in the form of an earthquake.

…(Science Daily)

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Seismic | , , , | Leave a comment

Mount Lokon in Indonesia’s North Sumatra erupts

December 27, 2011 - Mount Lokon in Tomohon city of Indonesia’s North Sulawesi erupted at 03:07 a.m. local time on Tuesday (2207 GMT on Monday). The eruption and its tremor were heard and felt in the post of Mount Lokon about 5 kilometers from the top. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of Center of Data Information and Public Relation at the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB), said in a statement that smoke from the eruption was not monitored as the volcano was covered by haze. Nugroho said that the Regional Agency for Disaster Management ( BDPB) of North Sulawesi keeps coordinating with the Center for Volcanology and Geologic Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) and government apparatus to anticipate things related to increasing activities of the volcano.

Up till now, he said, Mount Lokon’s danger status still at level III.

“No need to take refuge. But, people are urged to stay alert,” said Nugroho.

…(Xinhuanet)

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Volcanic | , , , | Leave a comment

Philippine’s Mount Bulusan Showing Signs of Abnormal Activity

December 27, 2011 - Mt. Bulusan has been showing signs of abnormal activity these past two weeks. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Director Renato Solidum said at least 10 quakes were felt around the volcano. Solidum said they noted changes in the form of soil around Mt. Bulusan. Phivolcs warned of possible ash explosion and advised residents to observe the four-kilometer radius permanent danger zone around the mountain. The agency advised the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to tell  their pilots to avoid flying near the volcano.

…(Journal)

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Volcanic | , , , | Leave a comment

CME Targets Earth and Mars

December 26, 2011 - New sunspot 1387 erupted during the late hours of Christmas Day, producing an M4-class flare and hurling a CME toward Earth and Mars.

The CME is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field on Dec. 28th at 1200 UT and a direct hit to the planet Mars on Dec. 30th at 1800 UT. Using onboard radiation sensors, NASA’s Curiosity rover might be able to sense the CME when it passes the rover’s spacecraft en route to Mars. Here on Earth, NOAA forecasters estimate a 30-to-40% chance of geomagnetic storms on Dec. 28th when the CME and an incoming solar wind stream (unrelated to the CME) could arrive in quick succession. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras on Wednesday night.

…(Space Weather)

December 26, 2011 Posted by | Solar | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Storms pelt Australia with Giant Hail stones

December 26, 2011 - The damage bill could run into tens of millions of dollars after hundreds of cars were bombarded, windows in homes and businesses were smashed and roofing was torn away. The State Emergency Service was called to more than 2500 jobs when a series of storm cells intensified dramatically in Melbourne in the afternoon. The worst was a tornado that hit Fiskville, near Bacchus Marsh, west of Melbourne. Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for many parts of Victoria throughout the afternoon and evening, but the weather was expected to improve ahead of today’s Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Early this morning, a severe weather warning remained current for parts of southern New South Wales, including Orange, Dubbo, Parkes, Griffith, Broken Hill and Brewarrina.

Around Melbourne yesterday, most calls to the SES were from Keilor Park, Keilor Downs and Taylors Lakes. Parts of Eltham and Greensborough were hit more than once and planes were grounded at Melbourne Airport. Lightning hit the 3AW transmission tower, knocking out its analogue signal and putting it off air to most listeners. About 77 passengers on a flight out of Darwin spent almost four hours at Sale airport after Qantas decided it was unsafe to fly into Melbourne. Metro warned commuters to expect major train delays, with most lines disrupted, and advised passengers to defer non-essential travel. The storm blacked out more than 5000 homes in Port Melbourne, Ballarat, Armadale, Toorak and South Melbourne as families sat down to Christmas dinner.

A family in Apollo Rd, Taylors Lakes, had nine cars damaged and roof tiles and outdoor lights broken when the storm hit about 3.30pm. Robyn Sullivan said the hailstones had been almost as big as tennis balls.

“It was like a roar as it came through,” she said. “I’ve never heard anything like it.”

…(News AU)

December 26, 2011 Posted by | Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

Large wave floods village in southern Thailand

December 26, 2011 - About one hundred people in southern Thailand were evacuated Sunday when a large wave flooded their coastal village, a local official said. The three-to-four metre high wave inundated a shore on the Gulf of Thailand, causing floods of one metre deep in a village of Chumphon province, according to provincial governor Pinich Charoenpanich. He said officials helped evacuate about a hundred people to a safe place further inland, and were expected to return home when the waters had subsided and the wind dropped. There were no casualties reported. “This high wave would be normal for fisherman out at sea but this time it happened near the shore, so it caused flooding on the land,” he said. The country was battered by an Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 that killed an estimated 5,400 people in Thailand alone. The tsunami, triggered by an earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, sent giant waves crashing into countries around the Indian Ocean, killing more than 220,000 people.

…(RSOE EDIS)

December 26, 2011 Posted by | Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

A Gift From The Sun: Two Amazing Sunspot Eruptions

December 24, 2011

CHRISTMAS EVE ERUPTION #1: A filament of magnetism connected to sunspot AR1386 erupted during the early hours of Dec. 24th. Extreme UV-wavelength cameras onboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the picturesque blast. The C5-class eruption hurled a billion-ton coronal mass ejection (CME) into space, but not toward Earth. With the cloud sailing wide-left of our planet, Christmas geomagnetic storms are unlikely. Nevertheless, this active region merits watching as it turns toward Earth in the days ahead, possibly positioning itself for the first storms of 2012.

…(Space Weather)

CHRISTMAS EVE ERUPTION #2: Again, by SDO, another picturesque blast has been captured a few hours after the first eruption on the opposite limb of the Sun on a region fading out of the Earth’s direct view. I have compiled a video below of both in HD 1080p format.

And with that I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

-Mark

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Solar | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scientists come a bit closer to predicting earthquakes

December 24, 2011 - The ability to predict hurricanes, volcanoes or tsunamis has saved millions of lives. But science still hasn’t found a way to anticipate earthquakes. That may be changing thanks to recent discoveries.

Toads, breaking rocks and ozone gas might hold the clue to predicting earthquakes in the future and enable the development of an advance warning system that could save many lives. Seismic events often strike without warning, and that element of surprise makes them all the more deadly. Scientists have long looked for ways to predict them but have had little success, until recently. But a team led by physicist Raul Baragiola of the University of Virginia has demonstrated that rocks crushed ahead of and during an earthquake produce ozone. In turn, the presence of ozone molecules near the earth’s surface could explain a range of physical and animal phenomena anecdotally associated with the onset of a quake.

“There are these reports that may or may not be true that animals actually can detect [an earthquake] before it happens,” said Raul Baragiola, a professor of engineering physics at the University of Virginia. Accounts of bizarre animal behavior ahead of earthquakes date back to antiquity, but the unpredictability of quakes combined with the difficulty of simulating earthquake conditions in a laboratory setting has made formal research on the subject difficult. Toads, snakes, fish and more have been reported to sense earthquakes coming.

A breakthrough came in 2009 when biologist Rachel A. Grant of the UK’s Open University happened to be studying toad breeding colonies in Italy just before a 6.3-magnitude earthquake jolted an area northeast of Rome less than 100 km (62 miles) from where Grant was conducting her research. Five days before the seismic event, almost all of the male toads abandoned the colony – a stark contrast with their normal behavior at the start of a breeding cycle. Three days before that, all breeding activity had stopped, and no new spawn was laid until nearly a week after the quake ended.

Parallel breakthroughs

Baragiola knew that animals seemed capable of predicting quakes, but he also knew that in the presence of sparks, oxygen gains an extra molecule and turns into ozone gas. At certain levels, humans and animals may be sensitive to ozone’s presence. People can often smell when lightning from a distant thunderstorm creates ozone. Baragiola asked one of his students, Catherine Dukes, to test whether rocks, when breaking apart, create sparks that produce ozone. She began the series of experiments but crushing rocks slowly in a vice in small boxes and testing whether ozone was produced. It was.

The work done by the University of Virginia team and published in a November issue of Applied Physics Letters parallels findings published by Catherine Grant since her 2009 toad observations. Earlier this year, Grant presented a paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in which she showed that pre-earthquake tectonic stresses activate electronic charge carriers underground. Once those highly mobile carriers reach the Earth’s surface, they create chemical conditions that can affect the groundwater, Grant claimed, turning normal water into hydrogen peroxide. That is one mechanism that could explain the toads’ unusual decision to vacate the pool where they were breeding.

Seconds count

Ozone levels may rise and water properties may change due to the charges that pre-earthquake conditions create, but it is unclear how much notice those chemical clues could offer in terms of forecasting. It is also unknown whether the clues would appear at radically different times depending on the magnitude of the earthquake or the way in which it unfolds.

Still, Baragiola is optimistic about possible applications for the findings, even if predicting earthquakes days in advance remains impossible.

“If you have even half a minute, that’s enough to tell school children to go under the bench.  You can save a lot of lives,” he said.

…(DW-World)

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Seismic | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liquefaction Following Christchurch Earthquakes

December 24, 2011 - There is the possibility more areas of Christchurch could be red-zoned after yesterday’s strong earthquakes. Christchurch was rocked by two powerful tremors in quick succession yesterday afternoon, which forced evacuations from buildings. Since midnight there have been 23 aftershocks, with the last one just before 2.30pm. Many of today’s shakes were around magnitude 3, but the biggest, at 6:37am this morning, was magnitude 5.1. Most of the quakes were centred around the same area – off the coast, about 10 kilometres east of Christchurch.

The ongoing tremors mean many areas of Christchurch are still dangerous. The Port Hills pose a risk of rock falls, and authorities are urging people to steer clear, unless they live there. In the eastern suburbs, many residents are cleaning up liquefaction for the third, fourth or even fifth time this year. Parklands residents have said that they want their land rezoned red once and for all.

“We’ve had enough – we can’t keep doing this, this will happen again, and again,” said resident Geoff Cooke.

…(TVNZ)

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Seismic | , , | Leave a comment

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