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Giant Sinkhole Opens Up on Major Saskatoon Road

© unknown
Saskatoon sinkhole
Canada - A sinkhole large enough to drive a car into opened up on a major Saskatchewan road causing traffic chaos.

The three-metre wide chunk of road opened up on Idylwyld Drive north of 39th Street just before 9 a.m. Monday forcing thousands of motorists to take several detours.

It was caused by a break in a 20-centimetre pipe under the road causing water to swirl beneath the asphalt and led to the sinkhole.

"They are totally unpredictable," said public works manager Pat Hyde to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. "This could have been happening for days or weeks."

The city received no reports of vehicles falling into the hole, but one commenter on Yahoo! Canada News joked, "I lost my car in there. It's on top of the Jeep, and under the BMW."

Holes are created because freezing and thawing cycles put pressure along underground pipes causing them to become weak and break. Snow melts forcing moisture into the cracks of roads and when it freezes it expands and makes the small cracks into bigger holes. The warmer winter across much of Canada is resulting in potholes being spotted earlier than normal.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 6.1 - Off The East Coast of Honshu, Japan

Earthquake Location
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 10:49:24 UTC

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 08:49:24 PM at epicenter

Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

40.799°N, 144.770°E

9.5 km (5.9 miles)


244 km (151 miles) S of Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan

268 km (166 miles) SSE of Obihiro, Hokkaido, Japan

279 km (173 miles) E of Hachinohe, Honshu, Japan

717 km (445 miles) NE of TOKYO, Japan

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake shakes Tokyo region hours after northern Japanese tremor causes small tsunami

A series of earthquakes rattled Tokyo and northeastern Japan on Wednesday evening but caused no apparent damage or injury in the same region hit by last year's devastating tsunami.

A magnitude-6.8 earthquake first struck the southern coast of Hokkaido island in the evening, causing a small tsunami. Tsunami advisories were issued along the northern Pacific coast, prompting some communities to advise residents to evacuate coastal homes.

A swelling of 20 centimeters (8 inches) was observed in water at the port of Hachinohe in Aomori about an hour after the tremor, with smaller changes reported elsewhere. The agency lifted all tsunami advisories within about 90 minutes.

Within about three hours, a magnitude-6.1 quake shook buildings in the capital. It was centered just off the coast of Chiba, east of Tokyo, at a rather shallow 15 kilometers (9 miles) below the sea surface.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 6.9 - Off East Coast of Honshu Japan

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 09:08:37 UTC
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 07:08:37 PM at epicenter

Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

40.899°N, 144.923°E

26.6 km (16.5 miles)


235 km (146 miles) S of Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan

265 km (164 miles) SSE of Obihiro, Hokkaido, Japan

293 km (182 miles) E of Hachinohe, Honshu, Japan

734 km (456 miles) NE of TOKYO, Japan

Bizarro Earth

Scenic Greek Island Shows Signs of Volcanic Unrest

© Maugli, Shutterstock
The crowded cliffsides of Santorini island in Greece.

The volcanic caldera on the picturesque tourist island of Santorini is showing signs of unrest. But researchers detecting the caldera's movement say it doesn't necessarily mean an eruption is imminent.

The Greek island was the site of one of the most massive volcanic eruptions in history 3,600 years ago. That eruption, which created tsunamis 40 feet (12 meters) tall, may have spawned the legend of the lost city of Atlantis. The volcano last erupted in 1950, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Global positioning system (GPS) sensors placed on the caldera have detected renewed movement after decades of peace. The earth around the caldera (a depression at the top of a volcano) is deforming, or expanding outward, researchers report in an upcoming article in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. GPS instruments on the northern part of Santorini have moved between 1.9 and 3.5 inches (5 to 9 centimeters) since January 2011, said study researcher Andrew Newman, a geophysicist at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

"What we're seeing now is the first significant deformation and the first deformation that has any significant earthquake activity associated with it," Newman told LiveScience.

Bizarro Earth

The Giant, Underestimated Earthquake Threat to North America

Just over one year ago, a magnitude-9 earthquake hit the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan, triggering one of the most destructive tsunamis in a thousand years. The Japanese - the most earthquake-prepared, seismically savvy people on the planet - were caught off-guard by the Tohoku quake's savage power. Over 15,000 people died.

Now scientists are calling attention to a dangerous area on the opposite side of the Ring of Fire, the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a fault that runs parallel to the Pacific coast of North America, from northern California to Vancouver Island. This tectonic time bomb is alarmingly similar to Tohoku, capable of generating a megathrust earthquake at or above magnitude 9, and about as close to Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver as the Tohoku fault is to Japan's coast. Decades of geological sleuthing recently established that although it appears quiet, this fault has ripped open again and again, sending vast earthquakes throughout the Pacific Northwest and tsunamis that reach across the Pacific.

What happened in Japan will probably happen in North America. The big question is when.
© Brian Atwate/USGS
The "ghost forest" of dead cedar trees at the Copalis River on the Washington coast is evidence of a major quake three centuries ago.

Cloud Lightning

NASA sees double tropical trouble in northern Australia

When NASA's Aqua satellite passed over northern Australia on March 12 at 1711 UTC and March 13 at 0539 UTC it captured the two tropical disturbances close enough to appear on one image. Tropical Cyclone Lau appears on the left side of both days of satellite imagery, while System 96P appears on the right side of the images. Lua is located in the Southern Indian Ocean, while System 96P is in the Southern Pacific Ocean. Both systems seemed to grow closer over the two days and both are affecting coastal areas in northern Australia on March 13.

Aqua captured an infrared image of both storms' cloud top temperatures using the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument. AIRS data showed that the coldest cloud top temperatures were colder than -63F/-52.7C around the center of circulation in both systems.
© NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen

Bizarro Earth

Japan's Sakurajima volcano experiences its most violent eruption in 3 years


Nitrogen Contamination Found in California Water

© Shutterstock
California farm.

One in 10 people living in a productive agricultural area of central California is at risk for nitrate contamination in their drinking water, according to a new report.

The report detailed the levels and of sources of nitrate contamination in the Tulare Lake Basin, which includes Fresno and Bakersfield, and the Salinas Valley.

Nitrogen in organic and synthetic fertilizers has dramatically increased crop production in California in recent decades. However, excess nitrate in groundwater has been linked to thyroid illnesses, reproductive problems and some cancers. The contamination seen now has likely been accumulating for decades and could pose a risk for years to come, the report said.

In the new report, researchers from the University of California, Davis examined data from wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, parks, lawns, golf courses, and farms, and from samples from more than 17,000 wells in the region.

The report found that 10 percent of the 2.6 million people in the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valley rely on groundwater that may have more nitrate than the standard of 45 milligrams per liter set by the California Department of Public Health for public water systems. About 34,000 people in the region use water from private wells or largely unregulated water systems, the report said.

Cloud Lightning

Louisiana: 15 inches of rain in five hours

States of emergency were in force Tuesday in four Louisiana parishes after torrential rain left homes and roads under several feet of water. Hundreds fled their homes and dozens of motorists had to be rescued.

Flooding closed the major highway through St. Landry Parish, and many roads across the four parishes remained closed on Tuesday.

"In my 28 years in law enforcement I have never seen the interstate closed," St. Landry Sheriff's Capt. Jimmy Darbonne told weather.com.

Dozens of homes in Carencro, a town in Lafayette Parish, were evacuated on Monday when some 15 inches of rain fell within five hours.

"We had up to 7 feet of water on some streets," said Capt. Kip Judice, the local sheriff's spokesman. "We had no deaths or injuries but a lot of near calls."