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Sun, 26 Mar 2023
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Earth Changes

Better Earth

Vast Chile volcano ash cloud partially collapses

PUERTO MONTT - A towering cloud of hot ash, gas and molten rock spewed miles into the air by a volcano in southern Chile has partially collapsed, raising fears it could smother surrounding villages, an expert said on Tuesday.

Luis Lara, a scientist with the government's geology and mining agency, said the column of ash, which had soared as high as 20 miles, was now about 4.5 miles.

The column of debris, kept aloft by the pressure of constant eruptions, could collapse entirely, smothering the ghost town of Chaiten 6 miles away with hot gas, ash and molten rocks.

"These small collapses which generate minor flows of pyroclastic material are normal, they are not that serious in that they affect a small area, the top part of the volcano," Lara said.

Bizarro Earth

New Zealand volcano more unsettled: scientists

WELLINGTON - Volcanic activity at New Zealand's Mount Ruapehu is increasing and an eruption could occur at any time, scientists warned on Tuesday. The volcano in central North Island, famed as a location in the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy, last erupted on September 25 2007, spitting 2 meter (6 feet) boulders distances of up to 2 km (1.5 miles).

Ruapehu's elevated alert level has not been changed, but scientists said on Tuesday that activity within the mountain was greater, with high levels of gas spewing out, a warmer than average crater lake and ongoing volcanic tremors.

"The volcano remains in a status of unrest and the possibility of further activity remains. If further eruptions occur, they may occur without warning," Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS) said in a statement.

Better Earth

Solar Variability: Striking A Balance With Climate Change

The sun has powered almost everything on Earth since life began, including its climate. The sun also delivers an annual and seasonal impact, changing the character of each hemisphere as Earth's orientation shifts through the year. Since the Industrial Revolution, however, new forces have begun to exert significant influence on Earth's climate.

Earth and Sun
The sun radiates huge amounts of electromagnetic energy in all directions. Earth is only one small recipient of the sun's energy; the sun's rays extend far out into the solar system, illuminating all the other planets.


Update: Death toll in China quake exceeds 12,000

Dujiangyan, China - The toll of the dead and missing soared as rescue workers dug through flattened schools and homes on Tuesday in a desperate attempt to find survivors of China's worst earthquake in three decades.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the death toll exceeded 12,000 in Sichuan province alone, and 18,645 were still buried in debris in the city of Mianyang, near the epicenter of Monday's massive, 7.9-magnitude quake.

Better Earth

Overlooked in the global food crisis: A problem with dirt

Science has provided the souped-up seeds to feed the world, through biotechnology and old-fashioned crossbreeding. Now the problem is the dirt they're planted in.

As seeds get better, much of the world's soil is getting worse and people are going hungry. Scientists say if they can get the world out of the economically triggered global food crisis, better dirt will be at the root of the solution.

Soils around the world are deteriorating with about one-fifth of the world's cropland considered degraded in some manner. The poor quality has cut production by about one-sixth, according to a World Resources Institute study. Some scientists consider it a slow-motion disaster.

©AP/Bullit Marquez
Farm laborers plant rice seedlings at the experimental plots of the International Rice Research Institute, IRRI, at Los Banos, Laguna province 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Manila, Philippines Saturday May 3, 2008. IRRI scientists are working on better ways to improve rice yields through better soil and water management. Started in 1963, IRRI, planted Saturday its 133rd crop in long term trials in plots with zero fertilizer and nitrogen.

Comment: Although the issue of soil quality is very important, this article fails to properly address the reasons WHY soil quality is deteriorating, and underplays the negative role that modern intensive farming has had in this, for example: the over-use of chemical fertilizers; large-scale monoculture; genetically modified organisms.

Cloud Lightning

UK: Family home hit by lightning

Lightning struck a house as thunderstorms hit the town.

It blasted a chimney on Hodges Street, Springfield, causing a shower of debris in a family's front room.

The lightning travelled down the aerial and into the back of a TV set-top box, which burst into flames.

Four other appliances, which were connected on a four-way plug adaptor, caught fire.

Cloud Lightning

India: Lightning kills five children in Orissa

At least five children were killed and four critically injured Monday afternoon in lightning strikes in a village of Orissa's Sundergarh district, the police said.

Cloud Lightning

UK: Boy sleeps on as lightning hits

A three-year-old boy has slept through a lightning strike which blew a hole in his bedroom wall.

Elis Roberts's parents found him fast asleep in his room, which was covered in masonry, plaster and dust.

The lightning blew all the light bulbs and electrical equipment in the house and other homes in the Flintshire road as storms hit north Wales.

"We have been so very lucky," said his mother Pat Mulreay, of Edwin Drive, Flint, after Saturday morning's strike.

"It could have been a lot worse."

The lightning hit Edwin Drive at about 0045 BST as many parts of Wales experienced thunder and lightning and some had flash flooding.

The blast, heard throughout the neighbourhood, sent debris all over the bedroom, covered in Liverpool Football Club posters and other memorabilia.

Cloud Lightning

Kansas, US: Lightning strike injures teen in shower

A teenager was injured Saturday when a bolt of lightning traveled into a house on N.W. Valencia Road and shocked her as she showered, public safety officials said.

Felicity Wishkeno, 15, didn't suffer any burns but did show all the "signs and symptoms of a lightning strike," said Assistant Fire Chief Nathan Rewerts, of Shawnee County Fire District No. 4.

Bizarro Earth

US: East Bay to face water rationing for first time in decades

The East Bay's largest water utility is expected to impose mandatory water rationing today for the first time in nearly 20 years to conserve depleted water supplies after two droughty years.

The 1.3 million customers in the East Bay Municipal Utility District will probably be prohibited from hosing off sidewalks, washing cars with a hose that doesn't have a shutoff nozzle or watering lawns two days in a row, among other measures.