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Reporting System

While we were gone…

A lot happened while we were down. Sunspot 1402 decided to show its strength as it crossed over the visible corona. From the start it began shooting out M class flares, and just as it was leaving it did the same. The strongest flare it released was an X5 class flare, which produced a large CME that mostly hit Earth. On top of several other C and M class flares, the magnetic field has had to work over time on certain occasions as of late.

The volcanic situation is interesting as always, with a few new candidates appearing on the scene, with a few old timers like Etna continuing on and on.

The largest earthquake we’ve seen since we’ve been gone was a 7.4 magnitude quake that struck Mexico on the 20th, following a 6.9 that struck Japan just a few days earlier, and prior to a 6.6 that struck PNG late on the 21st. The 188 day theory did not hold true, unfortunately. The idea was that there was a megaquake separated by a 7 mag quake in this pattern, since February 27, 2010. While we did have some 6 magnitude action and a 7.4, it still isn’t enough to say that this cycle held out. I think that it may be indicative of a pattern of movement roughly every 6 months or so, but rounding it down to the day, or hour, is likely to yield no real results. That’s all at present. The equinox has come, and now shall the colours of 2012 really start to come through.

– Admin

March 23, 2012 Posted by | Seismic, Solar, Volcanic | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How an Earthquake Warps a Landscape

A team of geologists from the U.S., Mexico and China are using light detection and ranging (LiDAR) laser altimetry to study how an earthquake can change a landscape. In particular, the geologists want to know more about the magnitude 7.2 quake that struck April 4, 2010, near Mexicali in northern Mexico. Airborne LiDAR equipment, which bounces a stream of laser pulses off the ground, can measure surface features to within a few centimeters. The researchers were able to make a detailed scan of the affected area over about 360 square kilometers in less than three days, they report in the February 10 issue of the journal Science.

In the above image, blue shows where ground surface moved down whereas red indicates upward movement compared with the previous survey.

LiDAR has a number of applications. Researchers have used it to study the properties of Saharan dust clouds for climate models as well as to gather detailed information on the plume emanating from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Mexico had used LiDAR to map the Mexicali region in 2006, so Michael Oskin, a geology professor at the University of California, Davis, the paper’s lead author, and his colleagues had a baseline with which to compare their results.

Some changes brought about by the quake are readily visible from the ground, such as a 1.5-meter clifflike ridge created when part of a hillside abruptly moved up and sideways. But the LiDAR survey also revealed some features that could not easily be detected otherwise, Oskin reports, such as a warping of the ground surface above the Indiviso Fault, which runs beneath agricultural fields along the Colorado River floodplain.

The 2010 Mexicali earthquake did not occur on a major fault, such as the San Andreas, but rather ran through a series of smaller fractures in Earth’s crust. The new LiDAR survey shows how seven of these small faults came together to cause a major quake.

…(Scientific American)

February 11, 2012 Posted by | Science, Seismic | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Food Crisis as Drought and Cold Hit Mexico

A drought that a government official called the most severe Mexico had ever faced has left two million people without access to water and, coupled with a cold snap, has devastated cropland in nearly half of the country.

The government in the past week has authorized $2.63 billion in aid, including potable water, food and temporary jobs for the most affected areas, rural communities in 19 of Mexico’s 31 states. But officials warned that no serious relief was expected for at least another five months, when the rainy season typically begins in earnest.

While the authorities say they expect the situation to worsen, one of the five worst-affected states, Zacatecas, got a reprieve on Sunday. Heriberto Félix Guerra, head of the Ministry of Social Development,  saw the rain, the first in 17 months, as a guardedly reassuring sign.

Among the more seriously affected communities are tribal areas of the Tarahumara indigenous community in the Sierra Madre, in the north. Known for endurance running and self-reliance, the Tarahumara are among Mexico’s poorest citizens. When false reports of a mass suicide brought on by hunger surfaced recently, journalists and aid organizations poured in to shed light on the situation.

“I think it has really become extreme poverty,” says Isaac Oxenhaut, national aid coordinator for the Mexican Red Cross. Mr. Oxenhaut recently visited the Indian communities where, he said, the land was too dry to grow any crops the Tarahumara usually depend on for their livelihood. “They don’t have anywhere to harvest absolutely anything,” he added. Nearly 7 percent of the country’s agricultural land, mostly in the north and center, has suffered total loss, according to Victor Celaya del Toro, director of development studies at the Agriculture Ministry.

…(NY Times)

February 3, 2012 Posted by | Climate | , , , , | Leave a comment

Swine Flu Outbreak Kills 29, Infects Nearly 1,500 in Mexico

An ongoing swine flu outbreak in Mexico has left at least 29 people dead and nearly 1,500 others infected, health officials confirmed on Saturday. Thousands more are also ill as the country faces several types of flu this season.

Since the start of the ongoing winter season, at least 7,069 people have reported suffering from symptoms similar to those of swine flu. Lab tests are still underway and have so far confirmed 1,456 cases of the disease, which is officially known as A/H1N1.

According to Mexico’s Health Ministry, at least 29 people have died of swine flu so far this season. While no health emergency has been declared, officials expect the death toll will rise in the coming weeks as Mexico also faces A/H3N2 and B influenza.

The H1N1 influenza virus emerged in the Mexican state of Veracruz in April 2009 and quickly spread around the world, causing the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global flu pandemic in June 2009. At least 18,000 people have died of the disease since, although the actual number is believed to be far higher.

In August 2010, the WHO declared that the swine flu pandemic was over. “In the post-pandemic period, influenza disease activity will have returned to levels normally seen for seasonal influenza,” the WHO said at the time. “It is expected that the pandemic virus will behave as a seasonal influenza A virus.”

…(BNO News)

January 31, 2012 Posted by | Health Warning, Outbreak | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Earthquakes Expected Along Rio Grande Rift in Colorado and New Mexico, Study Says

The Rio Grande Rift, a thinning and stretching of Earth’s surface that extends from Colorado’s central Rocky Mountains to Mexico, is not dead but geologically alive and active, according to a new study involving scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.  

“We don’t expect to see a lot of earthquakes, or big ones, but we will have some earthquakes,” said CU-Boulder geological sciences Professor Anne Sheehan, also a fellow at CIRES. The study also involved collaborators from the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech, Utah State University and the Boulder-headquartered UNAVCO. The Rio Grande Rift follows the path of the Rio Grande River from central  roughly to El Paso before turning southeast toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Sheehan was not too surprised when a 5.3 magnitude  struck about 9 miles west of Trinidad, Colo., in the vicinity of the Rio Grande Rift on Aug. 23, 2011.  The quake was the largest in Colorado since 1967 and was felt from Fort Collins to Garden City, Kan.

Along the rift, spreading motion in the crust has led to the rise of magma — the molten rock material under ’s crust — to the surface, creating long, fault-bounded basins that are susceptible to earthquakes, said Sheehan, a study co-author and also associate director of the CIRES Solid Earth Sciences Division. The team studied the Rio Grande Rift region to assess the potential earthquake hazards.

Using Global Positioning System instruments at 25 sites in Colorado and New Mexico, the team tracked the rift’s miniscule movements from 2006 to 2011.

…(PhysOrg)

January 13, 2012 Posted by | Seismic | , , , , , | Leave a comment