Earth Changes


Chile quake defies expectations

© Ivan Alvarado/Reuters/Corbis
People walk along a road damaged in the 1 April Chilean earthquake.
Monika Sobiesiak wasn't expecting the morning of 2 April to start with such an adrenaline jolt. But as she scrolled through a list of earthquakes on her mobile phone, she saw that overnight a series of quakes had rocked the coast of northern Chile - almost exactly where she had installed a seismometer network a few years earlier. "I saw the 8.2," says the geophysicist, who works at the University of Kiel in Germany, "and I rushed to get to my desk."

That 1 April quake, which struck offshore near the village of Pisagua, was the largest in Chile since a magnitude-8.8 quake hit farther south in 2010. Although the Pisagua quake was not as big and not particularly damaging, it will still go down in the annals of seismology - as an intensively studied earthquake that upends some assumptions about how and when big quakes happen.

In one sense, seismologists knew it was coming. Northern Chile, near the border with Peru, was the only stretch of the country's coastline that had not broken in a large earthquake in the past century (see 'Under pressure'). In 2006, expecting it to go, a German - French - Chilean collaboration blanketed the region with seismometers, tiltmeters and other ground-measuring instruments, creating the Integrated Plate boundary Observatory Chile (IPOC). It captured the Pisagua quake in action, as did Sobiesiak's network.

Grass fires total over 400 in March across South Wales despite cool temperatures

The fire above Ogmore Vale
Fire crews caught on camera dealing with more than 400 fires, many of them started deliberately, across many parts of South Wales

Huge areas of grass and shrubland are a sea of charred black today after a wave of deliberately set fires swept through huge chunks of the Welsh countryside.

These dramatic pictures show firefighters trying to deal with the grass fires, including one which at one point was six miles wide.

The lone firefighter walking through the charred scrubland sums up the battle fire crews have had to deal with since the start of the month.

From March 1, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service alone has attended 215 grass fires and 283 deliberately set fires across huge areas of land. There were another 35 deliberately lit grass fires in the South Wales Fire and Rescue area yesterday damaging over 198 hectares of Welsh countryside

Despite cool damp Spring fire crews tackle nearly 300 grass fires during April in Mid and West Wales

© Roger Vince
Mid and West Wales fire crews were called into action to tackle a blaze on the Black Mountain at 7pm on Saturday. The service has faced 200 grass fires during the month of April.
The latest grass fire to strike the Amman Valley raged for more than five hours on the Black Mountain on Saturday night before being brought under control by emergency crews.

Amman Valley firefighters based at Gwaun cae Gurwen were called to tackle the blaze, which began above Cwmgarw Road on the Black Mountain, following reports of the fire at 7pm.

The incident is just the latest in what has become an ever increasing problem for emergency services.

As well as taking up time and manpower, the grass fires are also proving a massive drain on financial resources.

Another large forest fire breaks out in New Jersey despite cool Spring temperatures

A forest fire continues to grow in Downe Township, Cumberland County, fanned by strong winds.

As of Thursday morning, officials said about 1500 acres have been consumed in a remote area of the Edward G. Bevan Fish and Wildlife Management Area.

So far, no structures or people have been threatened.

At least 50 firefighters were battling the blaze, which started Wednesday as a Red Flag warning went into effect in New Jersey.


Another shoe is about to drop: Entire town in Wyoming evacuated after unexplained blast at gas plant

A Wyoming explosion caused by a malfunction at a natural gas plant has caused an entire town to be evacuated, with officials still unsure what caused the blast.

The explosion took place Wednesday at roughly 2pm MDT at the Williams Gas Plant, located about five miles outside the town of Opal. The plant had to be shut down, though company spokeswoman Michelle Swaner said there were no injuries caused by the blast.

Officials at the plant are working to make arrangements for the roughly 100 people who live in the rural outpost and were displaced.

The cause of the Wyoming explosion is still under investigation, but officials believe they have narrowed it down to just a few possibilities.

Comment: How many accidents and explosions should happen before people will start paying attention?
Final death toll from massive Harlem explosion: 8 - Cause remains unknown, but investigators suspect natural outgassing after discovering unusually high levels of methane in soil
Massive explosion destroys apartment complex in Ewing, New Jersey - 1 killed, seven injured
10 injured after massive explosion obliterates two houses in Essex, England
TransCanada pipeline explosion in Manitoba shuts off gas for 4,000 residents in sub-zero temperatures - Cause unknown


Unprecedented plagues hit oranges and bananas

© unknown
What is causing all of these plagues to hit our food supply? Have you heard of citrus greening disease? Probably not, but it has already gotten so bad that it is being projected that Florida's orange harvest will be the smallest in 30 years. Have you heard of TR4? Probably not, but it has become such a nightmare that some analysts believe that it could eventually wipe out the entire global supply of the type of bananas that Americans eat. In addition, another major plague is killing millions of our pigs, and a crippling drought that never seems to end is absolutely devastating agricultural production in the state of California. Are we just having bad luck, or is there something else to all of this?

Citrus greening disease has been a steadily growing problem that has reached epidemic levels this year. Because of this disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that orange production in the U.S. this year will be down 18 percent compared to last year. Here is more on this horrible plague from Yahoo News...
A citrus disease spread by a tiny insect has devastated Florida's orange crop, which is expected to be the worst in nearly 30 years, and sent juice prices soaring on New York markets.

The culprit? The gnat-sized Asian citrus psyllid, which is infecting citrus trees across the Sunshine State with huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease, which causes fruit to taste bitter and fall from trees too soon.

"It feels we are losing the fight," said Ellis Hunt, the head of a family-run citrus farm spread over about 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) in the central Florida town of Lake Wales.

60% of China's water "too polluted to drink"

Forget bank-runs, the water run has begun in China. Residents of the western city of Lanzhou rushed to buy mineral water earlier this month after local tap water was found to contain excessive levels of the toxic chemical benzene. But that is the tip of what is a massive problem facing the Chinese people.

Not only do they suffer choking smog day after day, but, as The Business Times reports, sixty per cent of underground water in China which is officially monitored is too polluted to drink directly, state media have reported, underlining the country's grave environmental problems.

Water Wars
© Zero Hedge
Bizarro Earth

USGS: Earthquake Magnitude 6.6 - 94km S of Port Hardy, Canada

Port Hardy Quake_240414
Event Time
2014-04-24 03:10:12 UTC
2014-04-23 19:10:12 UTC-08:00 at epicenter

49.846°N 127.444°W depth=11.4km (7.1mi)

Nearby Cities
94km (58mi) S of Port Hardy, Canada
159km (99mi) W of Campbell River, Canada
177km (110mi) W of Courtenay, Canada
202km (126mi) WNW of Port Alberni, Canada
336km (209mi) WNW of Victoria, Canada

Technical Details
Red Flag

Renowned NYU Professor: GMOs could literally destroy the planet

© Shutterstock
What effects will the genetic manipulation of nature have on our worldwide ecosystem?
Nassim Taleb, a renowned New York University (NYU) professor recently raised eyebrows when he said genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have the potential to cause "an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet."

Taleb, who specializes in risk engineering, has outlined the dangers of GMOs in The Precautionary Principle, a paper recently made available to the public.

Loud boom in Florida blamed on military aircraft

Two Eglin Air Force Base jets were the source of explosion-like booms heard in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties this morning, according to Eglin officials.

The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron is conducting a training mission in the county this morning, officials said.

A spokesperson for Eglin confirmed the booms this morning were most likely a pair of F-16s performing a close air support test mission.

Comment: Another mysterious boom in Ocean City, Maryland reportedly caused by sonic boom