Earth Changes


Volcanic fissure erupted in Holuhraun, near Dyngjujökull Glacier

Screenshots from a webcam set up by Icelandic telecom company Mila show the eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014.
After an earthquake hit in the area, a volcanic eruption occurred Friday in Iceland, resulting in a temporary no-fly order.

The eruption started in Holuhraun, north of the Dyngjujökull Glacier, which is located in northern Vatnajökull, just after midnight Friday, local time, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said.

Scientists who are in the area close to the eruption estimate that the volcanic fissure in Holuhraun is about 1 km (0.62 miles) long, according to the Iceland Civil Protection Department.

Four likely scenarios exist for future seismic and volcanic activity in the area, government officials said.

They include the migration of magma stopping, which would result in a gradual reduction in seismic activity and no further eruptions; a dike could reach the Earth's surface north of Dyngjujökull causing another eruption, possibly on a new fissure; or an eruption occurs again where either the fissure is partly or entirely beneath Dyngjujökull and likely produce a flood in Jökulsá á Fjöllum and perhaps explosive, ash-producing activity, according to the Met Office website.

The fourth scenario is for Bardarbunga to erupt, causing an outburst flood and possibly an explosive, ash-producing activity.
Bizarro Earth

Unusual microbursts of downward air killed hundreds of birds in Pennsylvania county

Dead Birds
© Greg Graham
Dead robins found under a tree near Ricklin Drive in Leola several days after a violent storm on July 27 apparently spawned a microburst that killed the roosting birds.
The mystery of the hundreds of dead birds found in eastern Lancaster County the night after a violent storm on July 27 has been solved.

A deadly downward rush of air, known as a microburst, uprooted roosting songbirds from trees in the Leola, Gordonville and Bird-in-Hand areas and slammed them around.

"It appears they were literally blown into the tree branches, the ground - even into each other," says Greg Graham, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's wildlife conservation officer for northeastern Lancaster County.

"It doesn't happen often."

The unusual microburst conclusion was reached after the Game Commission sent the refrigerated carcasses of three robins and two house finches to the diagnostic section of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Lab in Athens, Georgia.

The birds were among about 150 collected by Graham on July 28 from four locations within 150 yards from each other in the Magnolia Drive and Ricklin Drive areas near Leola. Most were robins with a few wrens, sparrows and grackles mixed in.

Some birds survived the event but later died.

Comment: SOTT wonders what will happen when macro-bursts of this type begin happening?


As California drought becomes "race to the bottom", state considers regulating groundwater use for the first time

The ongoing disaster that is the drought in the West is leaving wells dry across California - which account for up to 60% of water usage. As WSJ reports, as groundwater levels plunge (100 feet or more lower than norm), wells are being driven further and further into the earth (500 feet in some cases) forcing the state legislature is considering regulating underground water for the first time. "We can't continue to pump groundwater at the rates we are and expect it to continue in the future," warns one engineer, adding "What's scary is we're not fixing anything... It's a race to the bottom."
"Everybody was pumping to their heart's content, until they realized the basin isn't that big."
As WSJ reports, "Groundwater was kind of out of sight, out of mind," said Lester Snow, executive director of the California Water Foundation, a nonprofit policy group in Sacramento, and former director of the state Department of Water Resources. But now...
With groundwater levels falling across the Golden State - causing dried-up wells, sinking roadbeds and crumbling infrastructure - the state legislature is considering regulating underground water for the first time.

Californians have long battled over rights to rivers, lakes and other surface-water supplies, but the drought is finally shifting the focus to groundwater, which accounts for about 40% of water used in normal years - and up to 60% in drought years, as other sources dry up.

Comment: The drought shows no signs of letting up and is continuing to spread. Will these new government actions help precipitate a migration out of California?


Russian Air Force plane to deliver aid cargo to flood-hit Serbia

© ЕРА/Ivan Milutinovic
Flood consequences in Serbia
A Russian Air Force transport Il-76 plane will carry a humanitarian aid cargo to Serbia, a spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry press service told reporters on Saturday.

The Il-76 was being loaded in Chkalovsky. Electricity supply stations, motor pumps, water tanks and about 250 thermoses would be brought on board, he said.

It is not the first humanitarian cargo for Serbia from Russia, he added.

Russia provided humanitarian aid for Serbia in May this year after the devastating flood.

Comment: This year Serbia suffered the worst flooding since records began 120 years ago.

Earlier this month: Deadly floods return to Serbia and Bosnia
Floods in May: Floods wipe out entire towns in Balkans
Floods in April: Floods in Serbia prompt evacuation of more than 400 families

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:


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."

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.


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