Earth Changes

Bizarro Earth

4 Northern California faults primed for major earthquakes

In this Aug. 24, 2014, file photo, pedestrians examine a crumbling facade following an earthquake at the Vintner's Collective tasting room in Napa, Calif.
Three fault segments running beneath Northern California and its roughly 15 million people are overdue for a major earthquake, including one section that lies near the dams and canals that supply much of the state's water, according to a geological study published Monday.

The three fault segments and one other in the region are loaded with enough tension to produce quakes of magnitude 6.8 or greater, according to a geological study published Monday.

They include the little-known Green Valley fault, which lies near key dams and aqueducts northeast of San Francisco. Underestimated by geologists until now, the fault running between the cities of Napa and Fairfield is primed for a magnitude-7.1 quake, according to researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and San Francisco State University.

The water supplies of the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California and the farm-rich Central Valley depend on the man-made water system that links to the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, noted James Lienkaemper, the U.S. Geological Survey geologist who was lead author of the study. The Green Valley fault is last believed to have ruptured sometime in the 1600s.
Cloud Lightning

2 dead and nearly 100 injured as Typhoon Vongfong slams Japan

Waves crash as Typhoon Vongfong approaches Japan's main islands in Kuroshio Town, Kochi prefecture, in this photo taken by Kyodo October 12, 2014.
A powerful storm that battered Japan with high winds and torrential rain, and killed two people, headed off out over the Pacific on Tuesday and was downgraded to a tropical depression. Typhoon Vongfong, at one point the strongest storm to hit Japan this year, was on Tuesday afternoon off the coast of the Tohoku region devastated by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

After the storm passed through western Japan, a 90-year-old man in was found dead in a field irrigation ditch, while a 72-year-old man drowned. Another person was missing and nearly 100 people were injured.

Vongfong brought heavy rain to Tokyo through the night and snarled traffic across much of the country on the last day of a three-day holiday weekend. More than 600 flights were canceled nationwide on Monday and more than 60 cancellations were expected on Tuesday, the NHK broadcaster said.

Body of hunter killed by bear located in Karachay-Cherkessia, Russia

A 41-year-old hunter from Kurjinovo got lost in the Petushinka forest yesterday. His body was found near Damkhurts (Urupsky District, Karachay-Cherkessia), the body of a bear with bullet holes was found a few steps away, Interfax-South reports.

According to preliminary studies, the man shot the bear but the bullet only injured the animal. The bleeding animal became enraged and killed the hunter, dying of the injury later.

Bear kills oil worker in the Tyumen region, Russia

The tragedy happened on an oil field at Ust-teguss in the Tyumen region. The worker had returned to a place of work to pick up his tools. At the same time from the forest nearby a bear approached. It attacked the man and dragged him into the woods.

As outlined by friends of the deceased electrician Igor Yarysheva, the 33-year-old male had returned to his workplace to pick up his forgotten tools. He had asked his friend to take him. He later went to a pylon, located 40 metres from the road and the parked auto. After a few minutes the driver had heard cries and a crash.

When he turned around, he saw a terrible picture. The bear had dragged the frightened Igor from the tower he had climbed up, hoping to escape. Screams came from other witnesses. The workers wanted to save their colleague by screaming and carrying on, trying to distract the bear but this did not achieve the desired result and the predator dragged Igor Yarysheva into the woods.
Ice Cube

Ice ages happen far more often than previously thought: Scientists surprised to discover Scotland had glaciers until relatively recently

© Martin Kirkbride
Snow blankets Scotland's Cairngorm Mountains.
The last glacier in Scotland may have melted within the last 400 years, not 11,500 years ago as previously believed, new research finds.

The Cairngorm Mountains of eastern Scotland are the snowiest part of the Scottish Highlands even today. But previous studies of rocks from around the United Kingdom suggested that the last glaciers vanished from the region after about 11,500 years ago, when a cold period called the Younger Dryas ended.

"Conventional wisdom is that's when Scotland had its last glaciers," said study researcher Martin Kirkbride, a senior lecturer at the University of Dundee. The new study reveals that a later cold snap brought glaciers back to the land.

The last glacier

Kirkbride discovered Scotland's last glacier inadvertently while doing fieldwork with undergraduate students in the Cairngorms. One student was working on a project about how avalanches moved debris down the mountain slopes, and the researchers were curious about where the boulders they saw littering the bottom of the hills came from. They hiked up the slope and found ridges of boulders bordering a large slab of granite.

Comment: It appears that these researchers should talk to their colleagues, who found this summer the prestage for glacier formation at Mt. Ben Nevis:

Another sign of impending Ice Age? Glacier-like hazards discovered during the summer on Ben Nevis, Scotland
A team of climbers and scientists investigating the mountain's North Face said snowfields remained in many gullies and upper scree slopes.

On these fields, they have come across compacted, dense, ice hard snow call neve.

Neve is the first stage in the formation of glaciers, the team said.

The team has also encountered sheets of snow weighing hundreds of tonnes and tunnels and fissures known as bergschrunds.

The large, deep cracks in the ice are found at the top of glaciers.

The team of mountaineers, geologists and botanists is recording wildlife and rock forms on the North Face.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Midland Valley Exploration and the Nevis Partnership, an organisation based at Torlundy, near Fort William, are involved in the three-year project.

So far, many new populations of rare fauna such as highland saxifrage, tufted saxifrage and wavy meadow grass have been recorded.

Bizarro Earth

El Salvador magnitude 7.4 temblor strikes off coast

A powerful earthquake hit late Monday off the Pacific coast of El Salvador, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The temblor was recorded about 66 miles south-southeast of the city of Usulutan with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4

An earlier report from the NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said "hazardous tsunami waves" were possible along the coasts of Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. That report was later amended to note that there was "no longer a tsunami threat."

The USGS also issued a "yellow alert" for possible shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. Wilfredo Salgado, mayor of the city of San Miguel in El Salvador, said on his Twitter account that a man was killed when an electricity post fell on him. He also posted images of damage in the area:
© Will Salgado via Twitter
Grandes roca obstruyen gran parte de carretera entre Santiago de María y Alegría, Usulután; es en curva El Cuyapo”
Additional images
USGS data

Brazil drought crisis deepens in Sao Paulo and other areas

Brazil drought
© Associated Press
Water levels at the Atibainha dam, part of the Cantareira system, are extremely low.
The governor of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo has asked for emergency clearance to siphon the remaining water out of the main reservoir serving Sao Paulo city, which has almost run dry.

After nine months of unprecedented drought, 95% of the water has gone.

Geraldo Alckmin, re-elected in last week's elections, has been criticised for not imposing water rationing to tackle the crisis.

Twenty-nine other Brazilian cities have been affected by the drought.
Bizarro Earth

Is New England's seacoast ready for an earthquake?

© Northeast States Emergency Consortium
Since 1975 moderate size earthquakes have occurred in New Brunswick, New Hampshire, northern New York and Quebec.
"Drop, cover and hold on."

It's a message that likely hasn't reached most New Englanders who rarely worry about the dangers of a major earthquake happening here. But the threat is real.

"Definitely the risk in this area is significantly greater than most people think," said Margaret Boettcher, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of New Hampshire who has researched the physics of earthquakes and the mechanics of fault slip.

Seacoast emergency officials agree there is a danger and people should take it seriously. While strong earthquakes are rare here, history has shown that they can happen and could pose a significant threat to many of the region's historic buildings that were constructed long before codes were put in place to protect against seismic activity. The old brick buildings in places like Exeter and Portsmouth are at greatest risk, officials say.
Bizarro Earth

Indonesia's Mt. Slamet continues to erupt - hundreds of tremors are recorded every 24 hours

© ABC News
Mt Slamet
An expert has warned that Mount Slamet's seismic activity remains high although it has not spewed lava in the past month.

The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry's Geology Agency head, Surono, said Mt. Slamet's constantly high volcanic activity made it unsafe, forcing authorities to maintain its alert status at "siaga" (level 3).

"Its activities are still high. Hundreds of tremors are recorded every 24 hours; thus, the situation is not yet safe," he told journalists in Purwokerto, Central Java, on Monday.

Surono further said that due to such fluctuating conditions, Mt. Slamet was still closed to climbers. No activity is allowed within a 4-kilometer radius of the mountain.

Mt Slamet's increased volcanic activity during the past month has caused panic among residents in five regencies located on the slope of the volcano in Central Java. Among the five regencies located on the slope of Mt. Slamet are Banyumas, Brebes, Pemalang, Purbalingga and Tegal.

Tremors and harsh sounds have emanate dozens of times a day from the volcano, which in the past has also spewed volcanic ash up to 50 km away from the peak.
Cloud Lightning

Severe storm system blamed for 2 deaths in Southern U.S.

Fallen Tree
© AP Photo/The Shreveport Times, Henrietta Wildsmith
Brittany Garner, right, shows Toshia Laing the tree that fell in her backyard during the storm Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, in Monroe, La.
A severe storm system rolled across the South for a second day Tuesday, knocking out power to thousands as it made a mess of the morning commute in Atlanta and other Southern cities.

The storm, which claimed two lives a day earlier after spinning off tornadoes in Arkansas and Missouri, sent heavy thunderstorms across much of Georgia. Large areas of the state were under a tornado watch.

The Storm Prediction Center estimated that more than 36 million people were in the path of damaging storms that formed in the Midwest earlier in the week and left several injured.

Cars crawled through heavy rain around Atlanta in morning rush hour as water collected on some low-lying roadways, including part of a heavily traveled interstate through downtown Atlanta. Georgia Power reported more than 29,000 customers without electricity early Tuesday, the bulk of the outages in the hard-hit metro Atlanta area.