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Blue Planet

Volcanoes erupting around the world this week in pictures

Restless volcanoes from around the world spew ash, steam, and concern in their wake.

© Oliver Bluett, AFP/Getty
Mount Tavurvur erupts in eastern Papua New Guinea on Friday.
The Mount Tavurvur volcano in eastern Papua New Guinea jolted awake early Friday morning, belching rocks, ash, and steam (see above) nearly 60,000 feet (18,288 meters) into the air.

Local residents evacuated their homes on Friday, and Qantas Airways modified flight paths for planes heading to Tokyo and Shanghai from Sydney, Australia, according to news reports. (Watch video: "Volcano 101.")

The last time Mount Tavurvur erupted, in 1994 - at the same time as nearby Mount Vulcan - both volcanoes destroyed the town of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea.

Comment: Actually, they missed some impressive activity. Check out Sott Worldview's volcanic entries from this past week for more information:



Wolf

Another atypical animal attack on humans: Villagers viciously attacked by a pack of starving wolves in China


Grey wolves usually keep away from humans because of the threat of being hunted. There are thought to be 10,000 living in Xinjiang


* Two seriously injured in attack by wolves driven mad by hunger

* One victim has ear torn clean off, while others suffer scratches to face

* Starving beasts attacked humans after drought killed off their usual prey


These shocking images show the horrifying injuries suffered by villagers in China when a pack of starving wolves attacked.

Up to five of the animals surrounded the small farming community before viciously mauling the six people living there, leaving two seriously injured in a previously unheard of attack.

One of the victims had their ear torn off by the wolves, who had been driven mad by hunger, while others suffered bites and scratches to the face, neck and chest.


Six Chinese villagers were injured when wolves driven mad with hunger attacked

Comment: There appears to have been a spate of unusually aggressive animal attacks on humans of late including some by species normally thought of as being wary and retiring when encountering people, see also: Giant anteaters kill Brazilian hunters!

Bear attacks kill at least three people with many others injured in Siberia and far-east Russia

Boy and grandmother attacked and injured by river otter on Pilchuck River, Washington

Paddling family of three attacked by a beaver in Austria

400 pound alligator attacks 9-year-old boy, Florida

Crocodile kills fisherman in front of his wife in Northern Territory, Australia

Man mauled by bear in Italian wood

Minneapolis girl attacked and chased by otter in Wisconsin lake

More unusual animal behaviour: Crocodile attack earns Florida swimmers dubious distinction

Aggressive dolphin tried to push swimmer underwater off the coast of Ireland

Three dingoes attack man on Fraser Island beach, Australia

Bizarro Earth

Southern Utah farmers scratching their heads over mystery crater

Utah Crater_1
© Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Bryce Dalton and his two brothers recently discovered a round hole or crater in the bottom of their irrigation pond on their farmland in Circleville, Piute County. So far, they have not found anyone that know what it is or what cause it to be there.
Circleville, Piute County - Farmers in southern Utah are scratching their heads and trying to figure out what caused an unusual phenomenon in an irrigation pond.

Earlier this week, Gary Dalton of Circleville discovered a mysterious crater that suddenly appeared under the water.

"The sun was just right," Dalton said, "so I saw this blasted thing that no one had ever seen."

He noticed it after most of the water was drained from the pond for irrigation. Just beneath the surface he saw concentric circles in the pond bottom with a diameter of about 25 feet. The outer ring is a circular depression filled with algae. An inner circle looks as though something erupted from beneath, forming what looks startlingly like a small volcanic crater.

"My heck, I guess that's Martian art," Dalton said. "I don't know."

Experts from the Utah Geological Survey took a look and were initially baffled.

"Well, yeah, we've got several theories," said veteran geologist Bill Lund as he examined the pond. "Most of them have gone up in smoke."

Most of the theories were disposed of almost immediately. Some had speculated that the feature was caused by a natural spring, pushing up from under the pond after being supercharged by recent rains. But Lund said that theory was quickly disproved by aerial photos that were taken before the pond was excavated 2 ½ years ago.

"This was an alfalfa field and there was no spring here," Lund said. "It's not a spring."

Another theory was that a buried pipeline had been punctured during construction of the pond. But Lund said there is no pipeline.

Another possibility is that there was a burp of methane gas from decaying organic material under the pond. Lund strongly doubts that theory because the local geology isn't the type that sometimes causes such events.

"If we were in coal country," Lund said, "I'd be thinking about that a little harder but, you know, we're not."
Attention

Even more strange animal behavior: Deer crashes into restaurant in Iowa

Deer breaks window
A deer crashed into the windows of Rebos on Wednesday afternoon, shattering one of the two panes.

There is no significant damage to the restaurant and nobody was injured.

The deer was still breathing when ABC9 crews arrived at the scene.

Customers and staff say they were pretty shaken up about the whole ordeal.

"It was about the noon hour and it sounded like, I don't know what it was. All we heard was a big giant crash, a very loud band and everything in the restaurant stopped," said Ryan Brun, Rebos bartender.

Blue Planet

Papua New Guinea Mount Tavurvur volcano erupts

Mt Tavurvur eruption
© Emma Edwards
The ash cloud is spreading at heights of 60,000 feet.
Residents near an erupting volcano in Papua New Guinea are waiting to see if they need to evacuate, and a giant ash cloud is affecting some flights to and from Australia.

Mt Tavurvur, in East New Britain province, began erupting overnight. The volcano destroyed nearby Rabaul township in 1994, and residents fear a repeat, PNGLoop reported.

Authorities were still considering the situation.

The eruption, which began between around 3.30am local time, caused explosions strong enough to rattle residents' windows.

Ash covered Rabaul and shops were closed, but otherwise life was continuing as normal, PNGLoop reported.

Question

Aggressive dolphin tried to push swimmer underwater off the coast of Ireland


Smiling assassin? A bottlenose dolphin is said to have deliberately pushed a man under water who was swimming in the sea in County Cork, Ireland. A local group said: 'Do not confuse the shape of their jawline with a smile. They can cause serious injury to humans and have killed in the past.' A stock image is pictured
With their friendly faces and playful natures, it may seem that wild dolphins are always friendly.

But a bottlenose dolphin has been reported to have deliberately pushed a man underwater while he was swimming in the sea off County Cork, in the Republic of Ireland.

The animal is said to have 'lashed out' at the swimmer twice with its tail, prompting experts to warn swimmers to keep out of the water near the large predators.

The incident occurred on July 26 off Sherkin Ireland, according to a report made to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) which stated that the animal acted 'aggressively'.

Known as Clet, the adult bottlenose dolphin is thought to have come to the area from France, after spending time off the coasts of South Devon, Cornwall and Wales.

The IWDG said that Clet is a non-social solitary dolphin who does not seek out and engage with swimmers.

The group's log book reads: 'We are aware of a report of an adult swimmer nearby in wetsuit and mask, from a yacht at anchor, being aggressively pushed underwater by the dolphin. They got a bit of a shock as a result.'

Comment: See also: Rise of the killer dolphins: 'Alarming' rise in fatal attacks on porpoises leaves experts puzzled in Wales

Fireball

So it was a planetary impact event? Younger Dryas climate event solved via nanodiamonds

From the University of California at Santa Barbara - By Julie Cohen |

Most of North America's megafauna - mastodons, short-faced bears, giant ground sloths, saber-toothed cats and American camels and horses - disappeared close to 13,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene period. The cause of this massive extinction has long been debated by scientists who, until recently, could only speculate as to why.

A group of scientists, including UC Santa Barbara's James Kennett, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth Science, posited that a comet collision with Earth played a major role in the extinction. Their hypothesis suggests that a cosmic-impact event precipitated the Younger Dryas period of global cooling close to 12,800 years ago. This cosmic impact caused abrupt environmental stress and degradation that contributed to the extinction of most large animal species then inhabiting the Americas. According to Kennett, the catastrophic impact and the subsequent climate change also led to the disappearance of the prehistoric Clovis culture, known for its big game hunting, and to human population decline.

In a new study published this week in the Journal of Geology, Kennett and an international group of scientists have focused on the character and distribution of nanodiamonds, one type of material produced during such an extraterrestrial collision. The researchers found an abundance of these tiny diamonds distributed over 50 million square kilometers across the Northern Hemisphere at the Younger Dryas boundary (YDB). This thin, carbon-rich layer is often visible as a thin black line a few meters below the surface.
Water

California drought: East Porterville residents without water as wells go dry

© Chieko Hara, AP
Volunteers Marrisa Zuniga, right, Paul Vigil, and Raul Alatorre, left, load cases of water on a dolly to deliver homes in East Porterville, Calif., Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. Nearly 1,000 people whose wells have gone dry due to drought received an emergency allotment of bottled water Friday.
Hundreds of people in a California town have no water after wells ran dry during the state's drought.The small town of East Porterville in Tulare County has about 7,300 residents, and at least 300 homes have been without water for weeks.

"We can't shower. We're wearing dirty clothes. My kids had to wear dirty clothes to school this morning," said Elizabeth Baker. "I had to go across the street last night to get water for my kids from the fire department."

The county set up a 5,000-gallon water tank for residents to help with flushing toilets and irrigation, but now drinking water is the problem. They had to distribute more than 15,000 gallons of drinking water last week.

There are fears the problem could be even worse as people believe some people aren't reporting their wells have gone dry out of fear their landlords will evict them, or their children will be taken away. In fact, the county didn't know how dire the problem was until they were tipped off by a nonprofit group.

Donna Johnson has been delivering water to those in need for months. She's even taken out a loan to pay for the water.

Comment: This situation is continuing to widen and is getting worse.

Windsock

Hurricane Marie could swallow smaller storm Karina

© Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project
Hurricane Marie, at right, is about to devour an ex-tropical cyclone named Karina to the west
Images from space show the massive Hurricane Marie poised to swallow another tiny storm off the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Newly released photos from NASA show the big and little storms swirling side by side. The images were taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Earth-watching GOES-West satellite yesterday (Aug. 26) at around 8 a.m. EDT (5 a.m. PDT).

But Karina may not be such a substantial snack by the time Marie devours her. With winds that slowed to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h), Karina weakened from a tropical depression into a remnant low-pressure system last night, after roaming the Pacific for two weeks, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced.
Ice Cube

Driver dies after freak summer hail storm turned road into 'sheet of ice' in UK

© Solent
Tragic: Aaron Frost, 25, was travelling home from work when he was caught in a freak ice storm
Aaron Frost, 25, was travelling home from work when he was caught in a freak ice storm which caused him to lose control of his BMW and crash into a concrete barrier

A motorist died when a hail storm turned a busy road into a thick sheet of ice, an inquest heard.

Aaron Frost, 25, was travelling home from work when he was caught in a freak ice storm.

He lost control of his BMW saloon and crashed into a concrete barrier at the side of the road.

The car then hit a lamp post and overturned before coming to rest on its side in a ditch.

The inquest heard the kitchen fitter was travelling back home to Bognor Regis, West Sussex on the on the A27 near Emsworth, Hampshire.
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