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Earth Changes


Dramatic Image Shows Volcano's Lightning

volcano lightning
© Bretwood Higman
Scientists have pierced the veil of clouds around a volcanic plume to "see" lightning
For the first time, scientists have been able to "see" and trace lightning inside a plume of ash spewing from an actively erupting volcano.

When Alaska's Mount Redoubt volcano began rumbling back to life in January, a team of researchers scrambled to set up a system called a Lightning Mapping Array that would be able to peer through the dust and gas of any eruption that occurred to the lightning storm happening within. Lightning is known to flash in the tumultuous clouds belched out during volcanic eruptions.

The lightning produced when Redoubt finally erupted on March 22 was "prolific," said physicist Paul Krehbiel of New Mexico Tech.

"The lightning activity was as strong or stronger than we have seen in large Midwestern thunderstorms," Krehbiel said. "The radio frequency noise was so strong and continuous that people living in the area would not have been able to watch broadcast VHF television stations."


Aftershock shakes Italy quake zone

A strong aftershock rattled central Italy early Thursday as thousands of Italians in the region were still coping in the aftermath of Monday's deadly quake in nearby L'Aquila.

Thursday's 5.2-magnitude temblor occurred at 2:53 a.m. (12:53 a.m. GMT) about 45 km (28 miles) from L'Aquila, the epicenter of Monday's 6.3-magnitude quake that killed at least 260 people this week, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the latest aftershock.

Better Earth

Wild Chimpanzees Exchange Meat For Sex

© Cristina M. Gomes
Utan, an adult male, holding a piece of meat of a red colobus; with Kinshasa, an adult female chimpanzee with her infant Kirikou on her back, begging from Utan.
Wild female chimpanzees copulate more frequently with males who share meat with them over long periods of time, according to a study led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE April 8.

How females choose their mating partners and why males hunt and share meat with them are questions that have long puzzled scientists. Evidence from studies on human hunter-gatherer societies suggest that men who are more successful hunters have more wives and a larger number of offspring. Studies on wild chimpanzees, humans' closest living relative, have shown that male hunters frequently share meat with females who did not participate in the hunt. One of the hypotheses proposed to explain these findings is the meat-for-sex hypothesis, whereby males and females exchange meat for mating access. However, there has been little evidence in both humans and chimpanzees to support it.


Philippines: Rare Megamouth Shark Caught Near Donsol

Megamouth shark - Philippines
© Unknown
Only 41st Worldwide and First in Luzon

So rare are these sharks that each of them is designated with a number.

Fishermen based in Donsol were trawling for mackerel along the eastern coast of Burias Isle on the morning of 30 March when they caught a strange-looking shark from a depth of approximately 200 meters. World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) satellite tagging initiatives have already shown that pelagic filter feeders such as whale sharks and manta rays regularly prowl through the region. It was only a matter of time before something else was discovered.

The shark was brought to Barangay Dancalan in Donsol, Sorsogon for assessment. WWF Donsol Project Manager Elson Aca immediately arrived to assess the haul - and promptly identified it as a megamouth shark.

Bizarro Earth

New Zealand Coast: Earthquake Magnitude 5.3

© US Geological Survey
Date-Time Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 11:13:01 UTC

Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 11:13:01 PM at epicenter

Location 38.776°S, 178.241°E

Depth 35 km (21.7 miles) set by location program


Distances 25 km (15 miles) ESE of Gisborne, New Zealand

135 km (85 miles) NE of Napier, New Zealand

370 km (230 miles) SE of Auckland, New Zealand

405 km (250 miles) NE of WELLINGTON, New Zealand

Bizarro Earth

Peru: Earthquake Magnitude 4.6

© US Geological Survey
Date-Time Wednesday, April 08, 2009 at 03:06:22 UTC

Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 10:06:22 PM at epicenter

Location 7.937°S, 74.311°W

Depth 150.9 km (93.8 miles) set by location program

Distances 55 km (35 miles) NNE of Pucallpa, Peru

190 km (120 miles) W of Cruzeiro do Sul, Acre, Brazil

300 km (185 miles) NE of Huanuco, Peru

550 km (340 miles) NNE of LIMA, Peru


Death toll in Italy earthquake rises to 250

Italy quake
© AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
Colored sheets are seen hanging on a clothesline in this aerial view of the village of Onna, a day after a powerful earthquake struck the Abruzzo region in central Italy, on Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The Civil Protection Department says that the death toll in Italy's earthquake has risen to 250.

The department said Wednesday that 11 of the victims remained to be identified.

The magnitude-6.3 quake hit L'Aquila and several towns in central Italy early Monday, leveling buildings and reducing entire blocks to a pile of rubble and dust.

Strong aftershocks have caused further fear for residents, as rescue efforts continue.


Powerful sonar causes deafness in dolphins: study

© Unknown
Very loud, repeated blasts of sonar can cause a dolphin to temporarily lose its hearing, according to an investigation into a suspected link between naval operations and cetacean strandings.

Numerous beachings of whales, dolphins and porpoises have occurred over the past decade, prompting a finger of blame to be pointed at warship exercises.

A theory is that the mammals' hearing becomes damaged by the powerful mid-frequency sonar used by submarines and surface vessels, prompting the creatures, which themselves use sound for navigation, to become disoriented.

A paper published in the British journal Biology Letters on Wednesday provides the first lab-scale investigation into this idea, although its authors stress it does not provide proof that warship sonar is to blame.

Bizarro Earth

Colorado: Dust Covers High Country, Creates Danger

Summit County - The high country is covered in a layer of dust after it blew in from Arizona. It was caused by a huge dust storm.

Experts say the layer of dust has created a very unstable situation in the snowpack and it might even have a long-lasting effect.

Bizarro Earth

Oaxaca, Mexico: Earthquake Magnitude 4.7

Date-Time Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 21:49:33 UTC

Tuesday, April 07, 2009 at 04:49:33 PM at epicenter

Location 16.450°N, 96.398°W

Depth 35 km (21.7 miles) set by location program

Distances 75 km (45 miles) SSE of Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico

90 km (55 miles) N of Puerto Angel, Oaxaca, Mexico

130 km (80 miles) WNW of Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, Mexico

440 km (275 miles) SE of MEXICO CITY, D.F., Mexico