Earth Changes

Bizarro Earth

Argentina 5.9 earthquake: Tremor hits Jujuy and Salta near San Salvador

A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 has struck the provinces of Jujuy and Salta in northwest Argentina, near the city of San Salvador de Jujuy, seismologists say.

The earthquake struck at 3:52 p.m. local time and was centered about 9 kilometers west of Yuto, or 91 kilometers northeast of San Salvador de Jujuy. It struck about 10 kilometers deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to seismologists.

Residents in the region reported feeling the earthquake, but there was no immediate word on damage or casualties.

Computer models from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that as many as 2.1 million people may have felt the earthquake, including some 29,000 people who may have perceived strong shaking. Those in Yuto and Caimancito are likely to have felt the worst shaking.

Other details about Sunday's earthquake were not immediately available.

Cloud Grey

Panama drought set to continue as El Niño rocks Central America

© Reuters
Children look at a carcass of a cow that died in Nicaragua's 2014 drought.
More drought is expected in Panama before the end of the year, experts said Sunday, adding to months of difficult conditions for farmers in the face of parched soils across Central America.

The climatology department at the Etesa electrical company called on Panamanians to exercise caution with water use during the upcoming dry spell to ensure reservoirs can continue to meet needs across the country, Cuban news agency Prensa Latina reported. The company said that water conservation is the responsibility of everyone so that resources can be effectively shared. The news comes as experts predict 2015 will be the hottest year on record.

Snowflake Cold

California freezin': Below-zero temperatures in the Sierras; another storm on the way

© LA Times
A series of winter storms have dumped large amounts of snow in the Sierra, and several counties are under freeze warnings through the weekend.
A deep freeze in California's Sierra is continuing, with one spot east of Redding recording minus-11 degrees.

An earlier version of this article said the low in California was minus-14. It was actually minus-11, according to the National Weather Service.

According to the National Weather Service, the Bogard Rest Area in the Lassen National Forest recorded that frigid temperature between Friday night and Saturday morning. The rest area is north of Susanville.

A few other mountain areas posted below-zero temperatures overnight. A series of winter storms have dumped large amounts of snow in the Sierra, with some places receiving more than 20 inches. The NWS said another storm could move in by Thursday.

A good blanket of snow is now sticking to the ground across the mountain range, according to the weather service. The cold temperatures are good news for ski resorts, which are off to a strong seasonal start after several years of drought conditions.

A freeze warning was in place in the Sacramento Valley for Sunday. Officials warned residents to protect outdoor plants and pipes.


California's infrastructure being destroyed as drought plagued areas continue sinking

© David McNew/Getty Images
Cracks form in a field near Firebaugh, California.
On a day when the skies were ashen from the smoke of distant wildfires, Chase Hurley kept his eyes trained on the slower-moving disaster at ground level: collapsing levees, buckling irrigation canals, water rising up over bridges and sloshing over roads.

This is the hidden disaster of California's drought. So much water has been pumped out of the ground that vast areas of the Central Valley are sinking, destroying millions of dollars in infrastructure in the gradual collapse.

Four years of drought - and the last two years of record-smashing heat - have put water in extremely short supply.

Such climate-charged scenarios form the backdrop to the United Nations negotiations starting in Paris on 30 November, which are seeking to agree on collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But the real-time evidence of climate change and the other effects of human interference in natural systems are already changing the contours of California's landscape.

Comment: What if it's not drought per se that is causing California to sink, but 'Earth opening up' from below that is causing aquifers to disappear?


Three men die in sewer tragedy after inhaling toxic gas in Kerala, India

© K. Ragesh
A fireman, wearing breathing apparatus, prepares to fish out the body of the victims in Kozhikode on Thursday.

2 labourers, good Samaritan die of asphyxiation in sewer

Two cleaning workers from East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh and an autorickshaw driver from the city died of asphyxiation during a maintenance work in one of the sewers in the city on Thursday.

The incident took place at around 10.30 a.m. when the migrant workers Narasimhan and Bhaskar Rao attached to a private contract agency, were busy with measuring the water level in the 12-ft sewer after opening its manhole.

Eyewitnesses said it was Narasimhan who first fell into the sewer after inhaling the toxic gas that gushed out of the manhole. Bhaskar Rao and auto-driver Noushad Karuvissery, 32, were asphyxiated when they tried to save Narasimhan.

"Unaware of the risk involved, the two entered through the manhole, ignoring the warnings of the merchants from the area," they said.

For around 30 minutes, all the three were trapped inside the sewer as the frantic rescue efforts made by the local people did not yield any result.

Comment: See also: Outgassing? Inquest finds sewer deaths of Dublin brothers caused by 'toxic levels of hydrogen sulphide'


Shaking all over: Two 5.0 magnitude earthquakes hit Turkey

On Nov. 29, at 00:28 UTC, an unconfirmed magnitude (M) 5.0 earthquake erupted in Turkey. The epicenter was 10 km deep. According to GEOFON Program, the coordinates of the epicenter were 37.87ºE 38.90ºN.

At the same time, Central Turkey experienced a 5.0M quake that was 22 km deep and five minutes later, a 3.0M aftershock, five km deep continued to rock the cities nearby.

Nearby cities included:

Kulucak, Turkey - 7 km

Hekimhan, Turkey - 16 km

Darende, Turkey - 42 km

Gurun, Turkey - 45 km

Ankara, Turkey - 437 km


5.6 magnitude earthquake shakes Greater Jakarta, Indonesia

An earthquake measuring a magnitude of 5.6 on the Richter scale shook Jakarta and its surrounding cities at 9:47 p.m., on Saturday.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the quake was centered 77 kilometers from southeastern Pandeglang, Banten, at a depth of 75 kilometers.

Social media users from Bogor, Depok, Sukabumi and Bekasi in West Java and Tangerang in Banten said they felt the shake in their respective regions.

Meanwhile, people residing near the quake felt an even greater shake.

"Me and my whole family went outside in fear of falling walls," said Uni, a resident of Rangkas Bitung, Banten, as quoted by

Two hours before the Banten quake, the agency recorded an earthquake 49 kilometers from southeastern Kepulauan Talaud in North Sulawesi.


Magnitude 6.2 earthquake strikes off Chile coast

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck off the northern coast of Chile on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, although there were no initial reports of damage.

The USGS said the quake's epicenter was located 18 miles (29 kilometers) below the seabed, 82 miles (132 km) southwest of Antofagasta.

The quake, initially reported as a magnitude 6.0, struck at 6 p.m. (2100 GMT).

Local emergency services said the tremor was felt strongly in the northern Atacama desert, and they were assessing whether it had caused any damage. The navy said it was not issuing a tsunami alert.

A spokesman for Chilean state copper producer Codelco [COBRE.UL] said there were no reports of any damage at its mines in the area.

Chile, located on the so-called Pacific ring of fire, is prone to earthquakes and has strict building codes that limit damage when they occur.


Venomous jellyfish wash up on Cornish beaches, UK

© Rich Mulryne
Mauve stingers at Poldhu beach in Cornwall
Mass strandings of highly venomous jellyfish have been reported from Cornish beaches in the past week.

Huge rafts of the mauve stinger jellyfish (Pelagia noctiluca) have been reported around the coast of Cornwall.

Rich Mulryne spotted thousands of the creatures at Poldhu beach on November 19, and there have also been reports from Tolcarne beach, Newquay, and Sennen.

Mauve stingers, an oceanic jellyfish that glows spectacularly in the dark, are the most venomous species in our waters. They grow up to four inches across, according to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, but can reach 16in in northern waters. The deep bell is pinkish purple in colour and is speckled with wart-like spots that are actually stinging cells.

They have four frilly arms and eight trailing tentacles measuring up to six feet long.


Man films dramatic bushfire escape in South Australia

© youtube/BBC News

An Australian man has filmed his terrifying trip through the heart of a bushfire.

George Hooker told the BBC he was driving near Hamley Bridge in South Australia when smoke and flames engulfed his car.

He kept filming on his phone with one hand even as the fire front raced towards him.

Two people have died and 13 hospitalised in the fires burning north of Adelaide.

"There were flames licking at the car, cinders and twigs blowing up against it," Mr Hooker said.

"If I stopped I would have been dead so I just kept going not really thinking much at all."

Comment: See also: Major wildfire kills two as farm animals burned alive in southern Australia