Earth ChangesS


Underwater volcano near New Zealand blows its top

An underwater volcano off New Zealand has lost more than 300 feet in height, suggesting a recent "fairly catastrophic" eruption, scientists said.

The volcano, Rumble III, is about 200 miles offshore and part of the South Kermadec Ridge. The volcanic cone rises more than 7,000 feet from the sea floor.

Cornel de Ronde, one of the chief scientists on a research ship operated by GNS, a scientific agency owned by the New Zealand government, said that the volcano has changed shape since it was mapped in 2007, The Dominion Post reported. The top of the summit cone is now almost 1,000 feet below the surface, and the 2500-foot-wide crater has almost filled in.

Bizarro Earth

5.5-Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Four Regions in Chile

A magnitude-5.5 earthquake rocked four regions in northern and central Chile, including the capital, on Wednesday, but no injuries or damage were reported, officials said. The temblor occurred at 10:06 a.m. and affected the Coquimbo, Valparaiso, Santiago and O'Higgins regions, the National Emergency Management Office said.

The University of Chile's Seismology Institute, meanwhile, said the quake's epicenter was located 165 kilometers (103 miles) northeast of the town of Los Andes and some 230 kilometers (143 miles) from Santiago in the Andes mountains.

The earthquake occurred at a depth of 15.5 kilometers (9.6 miles), the institute said.

Bizarro Earth

5.0-magnitude earthquake hits central China

The U.S. Geological Survey says a 5.0 magnitude earthquake struck central China's Sichuan province near the border with Gansu province.

The agency said Thursday the quake's epicenter was 70 miles (110 kilometers) northeast of the city of Mianyang, which was one of many places in Sichuan devastated by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake on May 12.

The quake left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, but the official Xinhua News Agency said it could be felt in the provincial capital of Chengdu.

Bizarro Earth

Many shellfish struggle to survive as seawater becomes more acidic

Carbon dioxide emissions from human activities are acidifying the oceans and threaten a mass extinction of sea life, a top ocean scientist warns. Dr Carol Turley from Plymouth Marine Laboratory says it is impossible to know how marine life will cope, but she fears many species will not survive.

Since the Industrial Revolution, CO2 emissions have already turned the sea about 30% more acidic, say researchers. It is more acidic now than it has been for at least 500,000 years, they add.

The problem is set to worsen as emissions of the greenhouse gas increase through the 21st Century.


Hopes rise in puzzle of dying bees

Upcoming laboratory and field tests, coupled with a survey of beekeepers this spring, may help provide the key to scientists' search for the cause of widespread die-offs among honeybee colonies in the United States.

The problem, says one expert in the field, may be a combination of pesticides and pathogens.

"We don't have our smoking gun. ... [but] we're getting closer," said Dewey Caron, an entomologist who recently retired from the University of Delaware.

While hives may lose 10 percent of their population during an ordinary winter, in recent years those losses have shot above 30 percent, Caron said last weekend at a beekeeping workshop in Little Creek.


World population will be 7 billion in 2012

The world's population will hit 7 billion early in 2012 and cross 9 billion in 2050, with the majority of the increase taking place in developing countries, revised United Nations estimates show.

India, United States, China, Bangladesh and Pakistan are among nine countries which are projected to account for half of the world's population increase from 2010 to 2050. The others are Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania.

Cloud Lightning

World faces water crisis, UN report says

Surging population growth, climate change, reckless irrigation and chronic waste are placing the world's water supplies at threat, a landmark UN report said on Thursday.

Compiled by 24 UN agencies, the 348-page document gave a grim assessment of the state of the planet's freshwater, especially in developing countries, and described the outlook for coming generations as deeply worrying.

Water is part of the complex web of factors that determine prosperity and stability, it said.

Life Preserver

Australia: Spill threat to marine life

A toxic cocktail of fuel and fertiliser has been lost from a cargo ship off southeast Queensland, raising fears of ecological damage.

Amid fierce seas whipped up by Cyclone Hamish, 31 containers carrying 620 tonnes of ammonium nitrate toppled into the sea off Moreton Island yesterday.

Up to 30 tonnes of oil also leaked from the ship creating a slick that covers an estimated 5.5km by 500m, drifting in a northwesterly direction.

The lost containers damaged the hull of the 180m Pacific Adventurer, causing the oil to spill.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 5.7 - Costa Rica


Date-Time Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 17:24:37 UTC

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 11:24:37 AM at epicenter

Location 8.569°N, 83.278°W

Depth 10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program

Distances 15 km (10 miles) WSW of Golfito, Costa Rica

95 km (60 miles) W of David, Panama

140 km (90 miles) SW of Bocas del Toro, Panama

175 km (110 miles) SSE of SAN JOSE, Costa Rica

Better Earth

Wolf, Moose Get Autobahn Migration Bridges in Eastern Germany

Bridges for migrating wolves and moose will be built over Germany's no-speed limit Autobahn highways near Berlin as part of a wildlife corridor to Poland, officials said today.

Brandenburg, the state surrounding the German capital, wants the 200-kilometer (90-mile) corridor to help re-establish large mammals and provide them with a safe route between nature reserves, Dietmar Woidke, the state's Rural Development and Environment Minister, said at a conference in Potsdam.

The spread of wolves and moose from Poland into eastern German forests of Brandenburg and Saxony is causing a stir in a country that killed off many of its large wild animals a century ago. About 40 wolves that now live in eastern Germany are forcing a debate that pits farmers, forest-owners and hunters against conservationists.