Earth Changes

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Sinkhole again in Allentown, Pennsylvania: this time it closes Lehigh Parkway South

A sinkhole developed in the 2400 block of Lehigh Parkway South, near the entrance of Mack Truck Customer Center late Sunday, according to Allentown police.

The 15-foot-wide hole has been stabilized but traffic is being diverted because of the presence of gas mains under the road in the area, police said.

The hole is also about 50 yards from the main entrance to the Mack Trucks facility. Mack workers are being diverted to the Oxford Drive entrance of the Allentown Recycling Center and then to the rear entrance of the Mack facility, police said


The current sinkhole isn't the first one in Allentown. Another opened 6 months ago, as you can see in the video above. In 2013 a large sinkhole threatened a family home in Bethlehem Township. (video below)


New Zealand shaken by 6.0 magnitude earthquake


The magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck near Wanaka (pictured) in New Zealand's South Island
A magnitude 6.0 earthquake has struck near Wanaka in New Zealand.

Buildings in Wanaka and Queenstown were reportedly swaying when the quake hit but there are no reports of damage or casualties.

The quake, located 30km northwest of the town, struck at 2.29pm (local time). It was at a depth of 5km and its intensity was 'severe', GeoNet reports. By late Monday afternoon GeoNet had reviewed the quake to a 'moderate' intensity one.


Huge swarms of locust "black out the sky" in Queensland, Australia


Magnified spectrum image of locust taken through an electron microscope by the CSIRO.
Plagues of locusts have been devouring their way through the state's central west compounding the hardships suffered by drought-affected farmers.

More than 150 swarms have been reported to Biosecurity Queensland so far this year, with some reported to be more than 40ha in size and thick enough to "black out the sky".

While their activity has been dying down as winter approaches, there are fears eggs are lying dormant waiting to return in favourable weather conditions.

There were only 15 swarms reported throughout the state from 2011 and 2013.

But Biosecurity Queensland figures show there were 40 swarms reported in January, 59 in February, 43 in March and 16 in April and conducted aerial sprays over 20,000ha of central Queensland to tackle them.

Locust activity has been reported mostly in the central west including Blackall-Tambo, Emerald, Longreach, Barcaldine, Banana, Boulia, Cloncurry and Diamantina.

Bizarro Earth

Dead zones: Places where no animal can survive found in Atlantic Ocean

© NASA Earth Observatory
Example of an ocean eddy (not from the study) as seen from space.
A team of German and Canadian marine biologists have for the first time ever witnessed so-called 'dead zones' in the Atlantic Ocean - places where no life can thrive, owing to there being almost no dissolved oxygen in the water.

Zones depleted of oxygen do exist in nature and have previously been discovered along populated coastal areas off the eastern and southern coasts of the United States and the Baltic Sea. But this is the first time such a place has been observed in the open ocean.

In a paper published in the journal Biogeosciences, researchers outline the existence of pockets of low-oxygenated patches of water in the Atlantic Ocean.

They are vast - sometimes 100 square miles in size. They travel constantly and are also seasonal. One of the biggest ever discovered forms each year in the Gulf of Mexico.

What makes these things tick is a hodge-podge of nutrients and microbes delivered from elsewhere. It's a cyclical process: the nutrients are food for algae blooms, which in turn get devoured by microorganism. This creates waste, which is then eaten by other microbes. This process uses up a lot of oxygen, creating oxygen-free pockets.

Bizarro Earth

USGS: Earthquake Magnitude 4.0 - San Francisco Bay Area

Geographic coordinates:
37.968N, 122.030W

Magnitude: 4.0

Depth: 14 km

Universal Time (UTC): 3 May 2015 22:13:19
Time near the Epicenter: 3 May 2015 15:13:19

Location with respect to nearby cities:
1 km (1 mi) S of Concord, California
3 km (2 mi) NE of Pleasant Hill, California
7 km (4 mi) NNE of Walnut Creek, California
8 km (5 mi) WNW of Clayton, California
82 km (51 mi) SW of Sacramento, California


3.2 magnitude earthquake rattles North Texas

A 3.2 magnitude earthquake struck near Las Colinas in Irving on May 3, 2015.
The WFAA newsroom received multiple reports of an earthquake in Irving and Northwest Dallas on Sunday morning shortly after 10 o'clock.

The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the tremor at 10:11 a.m. and initially measured it as a magnitude 3.1, but later revised the intensity to 3.2.

"We felt it in the middle of 9:30 mass at Christ the King Church in Dallas," Joyce Aldaba said.

Its epicenter was just southwest of the intersection of Highway 114 and Rochelle Boulevard in Northwest Dallas.

"My apartment just shook," tweeted WFAA anchor Marcus Moore. "Not fun!"

WFAA's Facebook page was immediately inundated with comments, like this one from Bruce Crone: "Man, did I feel that one!!! Seems like the biggest one that I have felt!!!!"

The strongest recent quake recorded in North Texas since 2010 was measured at 3.6 magnitude on January 7. There have been four earthquakes from 3.3 to 3.5 magnitude in the same area since 2012, and more than 60 quakes measured since 2010.

But Sunday's tremor clearly raised concerns for a lot of people.


Elephant tramples villager to death in Raigarh, India: 4th casualty in a week


Elephant on a charge.
A man was trampled to death by a herd of elephants in Chaal forest of Dharamjaigarh region in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh on Saturday, fourth casualty in a week. This is the 12th death recorded from Korba, Surguja, Jashpur and Bilaspur regions of the state this since January.

On an average, 25 people fall prey to tuskers in the state annually.

Foresters said 61-year-old villager from Sharasmal village went to forests to collect forest produce when a herd of elephants attacked and trampled him to death. His maimed body was recovered by officials.

Despite large number of deaths caused by elephants, state government has not been able to come up with an effective strategy to deal with the problem and experts attribute laxity on government's part due to presence of rich mineral resources in forests resulting in mining activities. Large part of forest divisions with elephant presence (accounting to more than 30% of human deaths and crop damage) has been identified as sites for mining.


Coyote carries off dog in Randolph, New Jersey


This photograph shows a coyote stalking the Upper West Side of Manhattan on April 22. The animals are said to be most aggressive around this time of year
A vicious coyote attacked a pet dog and dragged it into the forest in a New Jersey town - the latest in a string of incidents which have seen the wolf-like animals encroach on towns and cities.

The beast grabbed the beloved pet, a Yorkshire terrier, in the backyard of his owner's home in the township of Randolph, around an hour west of New York City.

The Yorkie, named Bo, was seen being carried away by the coyote around 10pm Tuesday, police said. reported that Bo's owner had let him out briefly when the coyote struck and watched the abduction without being able to help.

Police and wildlife officials combed the nearby woods in the hope of tracking down either Bo or the coyote, but turned up no trace of either.

Comment: See also this sample of recent reports of coyote attacks on dogs:

Coyote fights 2 large dogs in back yard in Pinellas, Florida

Coyotes seen attacking large dogs in Stamford, Connecticut

More 'rare' urban coyote attacks on Indiana dogs

Spike in coyote attacks on animal pets in Claremont, California

Coyotes killing pets in Seal Beach, California

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Scientists: Mount Everest shrunk about 2.8 centimeters after Nepal earthquake; Nepal region lifted about 1 meter

© Reuters/Tim Chong
Mount Everest (C), the world highest peak, and other peaks of the Himalayan range.
The deadly quake in Nepal not only devastated the country killing thousands but also changed its landscape. Mount Everest shrank a little bit after the disaster, satellite data shows.

According to Europe's Sentinel-1A radar satellite, which passed over the affected area on Wednesday, a day after the 7.8-magnitude quake, Earth's highest mountain is now 2.8 centimeters smaller than it used to be, reports LiveScience.

The lowering is explained by a relief of strain in the Earth's crust, it said citing UNAVCO, a nonprofit geoscience research consortium.

At the same time a region about 120 kilometers long and 50 kilometers wide near Nepal's capital Kathmandu lifted about 1 meter, which partially explains the extensive damage the city suffered. The uplift peaked just 17 kilometers from the city.

The satellite data is still raw and will be analyzed by teams of scientists over the next few weeks. Roger Bilham, a professor in geological sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, told the Huffington Post that the shrinking of Mount Everest is probably just about one or two millimeters.

Cloud Precipitation

Severe rain causes sinkhole in west Sydney; threatens apartment blocks

© Gordon McComskie
Dozens of residents have spent the night away from their homes after fears of a building collapse in Sydney's west.

About 60 people were evacuated from three apartment blocks in Harris Park on Saturday evening after heavy rain damaged a nearby construction site at Parkes Street.

NSW SES media spokesman Todd Burns said the walls of a construction pit had started to crumble after being softened by rain.

Amid concerns the apartment buildings either side might give way, residents spent the night with family and friends and had not been allowed to return on Sunday morning.

Police said initial inquiries indicated that severe weather conditions had caused "excessive soil erosion and affected the structural integrity of the site".

It is not known when the buildings will be deemed safe as investigations involving the site developer, engineers, geologists and gas and electrical companies continue.
© Gordon McComskie
The job was one of more than 1000 the SES had responded to since 7pm on Thursday as wild weather hit Queensland and New South Wales, fatally sweeping three cars off the road north of Brisbane and killing a six-year-old boy at South Ballina.