Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

813 Quakes in 11 Days at Yellowstone

Yellowstone caldera
© Unknown

Yellowstone National Park is a restless place, even in the calmest of times. Tiny earthquakes - and sometimes not so tiny - are part of life in one of the world's most seismically active and mysterious regions.

But scientists said Monday that one of the biggest earthquake swarms ever recorded in the park took place in the last week of 2008 into early 2009, with 813 quakes in 11 days, most of them deep under Yellowstone Lake and felt by almost no one. Only one other swarm, in 1985, was more intense. Records go back to 1973.


Volcano erupts near Tokyo raining ash down on city

Mt. Asama
© Associated Press/Kyodo News, Shigeyuki InakumaSmoke billows from a crater of Mt.Asama, central Japan early Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. The mountain spewed volcanic smoke earlier this morning. The country's Meteorological Agency warned Sunday that the volcano was in danger in erupting after detecting an increase in seismic activity.
A volcano near Tokyo erupted Monday, shooting up billowing smoke and showering parts of the capital with a fine ash that sent some city residents to the car wash and left others puzzled over the white powder they initially mistook for snow.

Mount Asama erupted in the early hours of Monday, belching out a plume that rose about a mile (1.6 kilometers) high, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

There were no reports of injuries or damage from the eruption of the volcano, 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Tokyo. It last erupted in August, 2008, causing no major damage.


Ten new amphibian species discovered in Colombia

© REUTERS/Marco Rada-Conservation International Colombia/Handout An undated handout image shows a glass frog of the Nymphargus genus, which is potentially new to science, that was discovered in the mountains of the Darien region in Colombia. Ten new species of amphibians -- including three kinds of poisonous frogs and three transparent-skinned glass frogs -- have been discovered in the mountains of Colombia, conservationists said on February 2, 2009.

Ten new species of amphibians -- including three kinds of poisonous frogs and three transparent-skinned glass frogs -- have been discovered in the mountains of Colombia, conservationists said Monday.

With amphibians under threat around the globe, the discovery was an encouraging sign and reason to protect the area where they were found, said Robin Moore, an amphibian expert at the environmental group Conservation International.

The nine frog species and one salamander species were found in the mountainous Tacarcuna area of the Darien region near Colombia's border with Panama.


Ecuador's First Large-scale Jaguar Census

© Santiago EspinosaA jaguar recently captured in a camera trap in Ecuador.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has released photos from the first large-scale census of jaguars in the Amazon region of Ecuador - one of the most biologically rich regions on the planet.

The ongoing census, which began in 2007, is working to establish baseline population numbers as oil exploration and subsequent development puts growing pressure on wildlife in Ecuador's Yasuni National Park and adjacent Waorani Ethnic Reserve. Together, these two protected areas make up some 6,500 square miles (16,800 square kilometers) of wilderness.

The research is being carried out by a team led by WCS research fellow Santiago Espinosa. Espinosa's team, which includes several members of the Waorani indigenous group, set up a complex system of "camera traps," that photograph animals remotely when they trip a sensor that detects body heat. His work is being funded by WCS, WWF, and the University of Florida.

So far the team has taken 75 pictures of jaguars, which can be individually identified through their unique pattern of spots. Other images show jaguar prey species, such as white-lipped peccaries, and other rarely seen species, including two pictures of a short-eared dog, a relative of foxes and wolves.


Tigers 'Took The Silk Road' To Russia

Caspian tigers
© Wikimedia CommonsIllustration of two Caspian tigers. New research shows that the Caspian tiger from Central Asia, which became extinct in 1970, was almost identical to the living Siberian, or Amur, tigers found in the Russian Far East today.

DNA from an extinct sub-species of tiger has revealed that the ancestors of modern tigers migrated through the heart of China - along what would later become known as 'the Silk Road' - a team of scientists from Oxford University and the NCI Laboratory of Genomic Diversity in the USA report.

In a study recently published in PLoS One the team show that the Caspian tiger from Central Asia, which became extinct in 1970, was almost identical to the living Siberian, or Amur, tigers found in the Russian Far East today.

The discovery not only sheds new light on how the animals reached Central Asia and Russia but also opens up the intriguing possibility that conservationists might repopulate tiger-less Central Asia with Siberian tigers from Russia or China.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.5 - Near Coast of Central Peru

coast of peru earthquake

Monday, February 02, 2009 at 17:53:23 UTC

Monday, February 02, 2009 at 12:53:23 PM at epicenter

Location 13.502°S, 76.508°W

Depth 25 km (15.5 miles) set by location program

Distances 40 km (25 miles) W of Chincha Alta, Peru

95 km (60 miles) NW of Ica, Peru

165 km (105 miles) SSE of LIMA, Peru

210 km (130 miles) SW of Huancayo, Peru


Heavy snow in Britain means travel chaos

london snow
© AP Photo/Akira SuemoriPeople walk in the snow on as they cross Westminster Bridge, backed dropped by the Houses of Parliament's St Stephens Tower, in central London, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009.
London - The British capital ground to a halt on Monday after the worst snowstorm in 18 years caused hundreds of flight cancellations and virtually halted public transportation.

Shops, schools and courts shut down and long trails of commuters trudged through the streets looking for scarce taxis or ways to work after more than four inches (10 centimeters) of snow fell overnight.

"We're not in Russia here," said Guy Pitt, a Transport for London spokesman. "We don't have an infrastructure built for constant snow."

Heavy snow continued Monday afternoon, with more forecast for the evening along with rain and sleet overnight, which could lead to hazardous icy conditions Tuesday morning.


Riddle of Liberian insect plague

A devastating plague of caterpillars ravaging part of West Africa is not armyworms, as previously believed, but an unidentified species, experts say.

A UN emergency co-ordinator told the BBC the insects in Liberia and Guinea were very different from armyworms.

He said experts had noted the insect has distinct feeding patterns, life cycle, habits, movement and appearance.

Specialists are studying the pest to find a way of controlling the swarm, which has affected 400,000 residents.

Bizarro Earth

Australia: Heat kills 30, fires destroy homes

More than 30 Victorians have died in the record heatwave while 29 homes have been destroyed by bushfires that are still threatening. The deaths of more than 30 Victorians will be investigated as authorities count the toll from last week's record-breaking heatwave.

A shell-shocked Premier John Brumby toured bushfire-ravaged Gippsland yesterday and admitted the scorching heat had taken its toll on the state. "I know it has not been a perfect week," he said.

The State Coroner will today start investigating the deaths from the heatwave when the mercury soared past 43C for three days in a row in Melbourne. Police said at least 30 people died but the toll could be much higher.

Cloud Lightning

Heaviest snow in 20 years brings large parts of Britain to a halt

The heaviest snowfall in 20 years has closed thousands of schools and caused transport chaos up the eastern side of Britain, with London and the surrounding areas the hardest hit.
snow, london, weather
© Adrian Dennis/AFP/GettyA man crosses The Mall on his skis near Buckingham Palace on his way to work in London