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Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake Magnitude 4.1 - Colorado

Image
© USGS
Date-Time:
Saturday, October 03, 2009 at 18:45:31 UTC

Saturday, October 03, 2009 at 12:45:31 PM at epicenter

Location:
37.008°N, 104.856°W

Depth:
5 km (3.1 miles) set by location program

Distances:
26 km (16 miles) SW (234°) from Cokedale, CO

32 km (20 miles) WSW (248°) from Starkville, CO

36 km (22 miles) WSW (240°) from Trinidad, CO

141 km (88 miles) S (189°) from Pueblo, CO

302 km (188 miles) S (178°) from Denver, CO

Bizarro Earth

US: Remote area of eastern California shaken again by more earthquakes after temblors this week

Image
© USGS
More earthquakes have struck a remote area of eastern California that has been shaken by a sequence of tremors since Thursday.

The U.S. Geological Survey says four quakes - magnitude 3.0, 4.5, 3.0 and 3.1 - hit between about midnight and Saturday morning.

An Inyo County sheriff's dispatcher says no damage or injuries have been reported.

Friday night a magnitude-5.2 quake occurred at a very shallow depth, and was preceded by tremors of 4.7 and 4.9 in a six-minute span, according to the USGS. Early Thursday, a magnitude-5 earthquake struck the same area. Dozens of mostly tiny aftershocks followed.

Bizarro Earth

Devastating Indonesian earthquake 'still to come'

The earthquake which devastated the city of Padang in Sumatra, Indonesia, this week, killing more than 1100 people, may have been only a hint of worse to come. Since 2004, geologists have been predicting a far nastier earthquake in the region - a shallow tremor that will rip the sea floor apart, trigger a devastating tsunami and kill far more people.

"Another earthquake is on its way, and all it will take to trigger it is the pressure of a handshake," says John McCloskey, a seismologist at the Environmental Sciences Research Institute at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.

Padang experienced a magnitude-7.6 earthquake on 30 September, just after 5 pm local time. Images of terrified relatives waiting to identify dead bodies, their T-shirts clutched over their noses to mask the stench, military officials stalking between bright yellow, zipped-up body bags and centuries-old Dutch colonial mansions obliterated in an instant have flooded around the world.

Cloud Lightning

Huge Typhoon Parma bringing more rain to the Philippines

Image
© SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce
NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite captured an image of Parma's rains already affecting the Philippines on October 2 at 00:43 UTC, 8:43 a.m. local Manila Time (8:43 p.m. EDT, Oct. 1). The center is located near the yellow, green areas, which indicate rainfall between 20 and 40 millimeters (.78 to 1.57 inches) per hour.
Typhoon Parma is a huge storm and NASA's TRMM satellite sees it is already bringing more unwanted rains and gusty winds to the typhoon-weary and devastated Philippines. Parma, also called "Pepeng" in the Philippines, will bring heavy rains there today and tomorrow before moving back to sea.

Parma is expected to make landfall in or near the northeastern province of Isabela on Saturday, October 2 (local time). That is a mountainous region, and not heavily populated, however its rains will cause life-threatening mudslides. Parma is also expected slam Luzon with rain over the next two days adding to the existing flooded conditions.

NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite (TRMM), a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA, captured an image of Parma's rains already affecting the Philippines on October 2 at 00:43 UTC, 8:43 a.m. local Manila Time (8:43 p.m. EDT, Oct. 1). TRMM noticed that most of the rainfall around Parma's center is between 20 and 40 millimeters (.78 to 1.57 inches) per hour.

Bizarro Earth

Quake landslides wipe out 4 Indonesian villages, burying hundreds

Padang - At least four Indonesian villages were obliterated by earthquake-triggered landslides that buried as many as 644 people including a wedding party under mountains of mud and debris, officials said Saturday.

The full extent of Wednesday's 7.6-magnitude earthquake was becoming apparent three days later as aid workers and government officials reached remote villages in the hills along Sumatra island's western coast.

Cow Skull

Excreted Tamiflu found in rivers

ducks
© iStockphoto
Tamiflu, the primary flu-fighting drug, is getting into surface waters where ducks and other water birds may pick it up. If the birds host influenza viruses, which many normally do, those viruses may develop a resistance to the drug, scientists now worry.

The premier flu-fighting drug is contaminating rivers downstream of sewage-treatment facilities, researchers in Japan confirm. The source: urinary excretion by people taking oseltamivir phosphate, best known as Tamiflu.

Concerns are now building that birds, which are natural influenza carriers, are being exposed to waterborne residues of Tamiflu's active form and might develop and spread drug-resistant strains of seasonal and avian flu.

For their new study, Gopal Ghosh and his colleagues at Kyoto University sampled water discharged from three local sewage treatment plants and water at several points along two rivers into which the treated water flowed. Sampling started early in December 2008, as flu season got underway. The researchers sampled again at the height of the seasonal flu's onslaught in early February and again as infection rates waned.

Umbrella

Sicily mudslides leave 17 killed, scores missing

sicily mudslides
© Unknown
Two buildings have collapsed in a mudslide triggered by torrential rains in Sicily, Italy, leaving at least 17 people killed and 35 others missing.

Up to 250 millimeters (10 inches) of rain fell in the space of a few hours on Thursday, leaving ten people seriously injured and some 415 others homeless, AFP quoted emergency services spokesman Giampiero Gliubizzi as saying.

Gliubizzi confirmed the collapse of the two buildings, adding that sniffer dogs were searching for victims in the rubble.

Info

Tsunami Warning System Worked, But Not in Time

Tsunami
© Reuters
Like a tsunami: A view of the damage after the flash flood.
Samoan death toll tops 100

An early warning system introduced after the disastrous Christmas 2004 tsunami worked as planned, U.S. officials say, but failed to prevent the deaths of more than 100 people in Samoa and American Samoa on Tuesday because of the proximity of the originating earthquake.

It was the first practical test of the system, set up in response to the 2004 wave that killed more than 220,000 people in the Indian Ocean region, primarily in Indonesia.

Officials scrambled after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake shook just before dawn Tuesday, and after a flurry of phone calls within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Pacific Island offices, the first warning was issued within 16 minutes, said NOAA spokeswoman Delores Clark. She said that was well within the agency's range of 10 to 20 minutes for an acceptable warning.

Attention

US: Chemical Found in Air Outside 15 Schools

Outside 15 schools in eight states, government regulators have found elevated levels of a substance that - in a more potent form - was also used as a chemical weapon during World War I.

Those findings, based on samples collected for the Environmental Protection Agency, mark the first time the agency has expressed concern about the chemicals it detected as part of an ongoing effort to check for toxic chemicals in the air outside 63 schools nationwide.

The monitoring is part of a $2.25 million program that began in response to a USA Today investigation that identified hundreds of schools where chemicals from nearby industries appear to saturate the air. The preliminary results are meant to help determine only whether students face any immediate dangers from toxic chemicals. The EPA will use additional tests to evaluate long-term health risks.

The chemical that once was weaponized, acrolein, can exacerbate asthma and irritate the eyes and throat. It is a byproduct of burning gasoline, wood and cigarettes, but the EPA has not yet determined the specific sources for the elevated levels it found at each school.

EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said the initial readings show "more must be done to reduce the amount of acrolein the American people, especially children, are exposed to."

Bizarro Earth

Illegal toxic waste spotted from space

Image
© S. Silvestri et al.
No hiding place
Move over Erin Brockovich. Today's environmental detectives can use radar, helicopters and even satellite images to help them spot illegal toxic waste dumps and help catch those responsible.

Ironically, the tightening of restrictions on waste disposal and the enforcement of new recycling laws have made illegal dumping more likely, turning it into big business for the criminals involved.

The trouble is digging up suspect dumps to investigate their contents can release toxins into local water supplies. But with new remote-sensing techniques, such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR), you can find toxic trash without disturbing the soil. Instead, you bounce microwaves off buried materials and the strength of returning signals provides clues to what they are.

Alastair Ruffell, a forensic geologist at Queen's University, Belfast in the UK, has used GPR in 17 cases for the environment agencies of Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Most are ongoing, however three have resulted in the culprits being jailed and fined.

Ruffell's latest research shows that geophysical techniques can be used to characterise the waste (Environmental Forensics, DOI: link). GPR surveys suggested the presence of a highly conductive waste such as farmyard slurry in a peat bog in Northern Ireland, simply because the suspect pocket in the bog reflected no microwaves.