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Earth Changes

Cloud Lightning

Russia: Gadgets blamed as lightning strikes dozens

MOSCOW -- Lightning has killed and injured more than a dozen people in Russia in the past two weeks, officials say, blaming widespread use of electronic gadgets such as cell phones for an increase in deadly strikes.

Bizarro Earth

Barren Island volcano continues to remain active

The Barren Island volcano, near Andaman Islands, which rejuvenated its activity three years ago continues to be active and the series of eight earthquakes in the Andaman Sea in the last two days indicates the possibility of undersea volcanic activity.

'During the last 15 days, the volcano activity in the island has increased. Fire glow over the central cone can be seen at the night from a distance of 10 km,' according to Indian Coast Guard sources.

Barren Island volcano was reactivated following killer Sumatra earthquake of December 26, 2004 which created tsunami, killing lakhs (a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to one hundred thousand) of people in various Asian countries, including India and Indonesia.

'Barren Island volcano located at 135 km northeast of Port Blair is the northern most point of Indonesian volcanic chain and is very active,' Dr D Chandrasekharam, Volcanologist of IIT Mumbai said, confirming it.

It appears that this volcanic activity must have triggered a series of eight earthquakes since evening of June 27 in southwest of Port Blair, magnitude varying from 4.8 to 6.6 on Richter scale occurring in the same junction which was earlier considered aseismic (not an earthquake zone), Chandra Sekharam, Head, Centre of Studies in Resources Engineering, said.

Bizarro Earth

US: Okmok volcano continues to act up

Umnak Island -- The U.S. Geological Survey says Okmok Volcano in Alaska is producing more explosions and ash plumes.

The ash is coming through a newly created vent and poses hazards to area air travel.

Scientists are tracking the eruption with seismic and global positioning system instruments on the ground and weather and radar satellites in space. Ash obscures the view inside the volcano's 6-mile-diameter crater.

Eruption of Okmok
©Kelly Reeves Alaska Airlines
Eruption of Okmok, image taken on Sunday, July 13, 2008.

The volcano in the eastern Aleutian Islands erupted unexpectedly July 12, sending up a plume that reached 50,000 feet and disrupted flights.


Judge restores protection for Rockies wolves

BILLINGS, Mont. - A federal judge has restored endangered species protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, derailing plans by three states to hold public wolf hunts this fall.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula granted a preliminary injunction late Friday restoring the protections for the wolves in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Molloy will eventually decide whether the injunction should be permanent.

The region has an estimated 2,000 gray wolves. They were removed from the endangered species list in March, following a decade-long restoration effort.

©AP Photo/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, File
A gray wolf.

Environmentalists sued to overturn the decision, arguing wolf numbers would plummet if hunting were allowed. They sought the injunction in the hopes of stopping the hunts and allowing the wolf population to continue expanding.

Cloud Lightning

Dust Storms In Sahara Desert Sustain Life In Atlantic Ocean

Research at the University of Liverpool has found how Saharan dust storms help sustain life over extensive regions of the North Atlantic Ocean.

©iStockphoto/Christian Peeters
A sand storm in the Sahara desert.

Working aboard research vessels in the Atlantic, scientists mapped the distribution of nutrients including phosphorous and nitrogen and investigated how organisms such as phytoplankton are sustained in areas with low nutrient levels.

They found that plants are able to grow in these regions because they are able to take advantage of iron minerals in Saharan dust storms. This allows them to use organic or 'recycled' material from dead or decaying plants when nutrients such as phosphorous - an essential component of DNA - in the ocean are low.

Cloud Lightning

US: Tropical Storm Cristobal forms off Southeast coast

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Tropical Storm Cristobal formed off the Southeast coast Saturday, the first storm to threaten the U.S. this hurricane season, forecasters said.

©AP Photo/Weather Underground
This NOAA satellite image taken Saturday, July 19, 2008 at 2:15 PM EDT shows clouds off the Southeast Coast associated with Tropical Storm Cristobal. The storm is expected to move northeastward along the eastern seaboard with a possible landfall along the Outer Banks of North Carolina late Sunday. It is not expected to reach hurricane strength.

The storm's stregthened from a tropical depression, and promised to bring much-needed rains to the eastern Carolinas before it was predicted to slip out to sea.

At 2 p.m. EDT, the center of the storm was about 100 miles east of Charleston and about 225 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

The National Hurricane Center said Cristobal (pronounced crist-TOE'-ball) was moving northeast at about 7 mph.

Life Preserver

Australia: Pet dog saves old woman from rogue kangaroo

A family pet saved an elderly Australian woman from a rogue kangaroo that attacked her on a farm in New South Wales.

Rosemary Neal, 65, was walking through a mob of kangaroos to look after some horses in a paddock at the farm near Mudgee, 160 miles northwest of Sydney.

Her son Darren said the area was overrun with the large marsupials, which rarely attack people, and she had felt entirely safe in their company.

But then, a large male kangaroo inches taller than the 5'6 foot Mrs Neal, suddenly lunged at her.

"The kangaroo has just jumped up and launched straight at her," he told local newspapers. "He hit her once and she just dropped and rolled. My dog heard her screaming and bolted down and chased him off.


Life Preserver

Tsunami warning lifted in northeast Japan

Japan's Meteorological Agency lifted the tsunami warning it issued for northeastern Japan on Saturday after an earthquake struck off the east coast of Honshu.

There were no initial reports of damage from the quake.

The biggest tsunami measured was 20 cm (7.9 inches) along the coasts of Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, the agency said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 7.0 magnitude tremor struck beneath the north Pacific Ocean, 77 miles (123 km) east northeast of Iwaki, Japan at 0239 GMT at a depth of 25 miles (40 km).

Nuclear power facilities in the area were unharmed and were continuing to operate as usual, said officials from Tokyo Electric Power Co and Tohoku Electric Power.


Hundreds of baby penguins found dead in Brazil

Hundreds of baby penguins swept from the icy shores of Antarctica and Patagonia are washing up dead on Rio de Janeiro's tropical beaches, rescuers and penguin experts said Friday.

More than 400 penguins, most of them young, have been found dead on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro state over the past two months, according to Eduardo Pimenta, superintendent for the state coastal protection and environment agency in the resort city of Cabo Frio.

While it is common here to find some penguins - both dead and alive - swept by strong ocean currents from the Strait of Magellan, Pimenta said there have been more this year than at any time in recent memory.

©AP Photo/Ricardo Moraes
Penguins rescued off the coast of Rio de Janeiro by the Brazilian Coast Guard are seen at the Niteroi Zoo in Rio de Janeiro, Friday, July 18, 2008. According to officials, over 400 baby penguins have been found dead on the state's shores over the past two months. While large numbers of penguins arrive on Rio de Janeiro's beaches every year, swept to sea by strong ocean currents from the Strait of Magellan, this year is seeing higher numbers and more dead penguins than usual.

Bizarro Earth

US: Quakes on Wasbah, New Madrid Faults

Kennett, MO -- Parts of the region were shaken overnight as another earthquake rumbled along the Wasbah fault zone. The minor earthquake measured 3.1 on the Richter scale according to the U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center.

The quake occurred at 9:58 p.m. Thursday and was centered five miles northwest of Mount Carmel, Illinois at a depth of six miles.

Earlier this month, areas along the New Madrid Fault line have had a few minor rumbles, recorded by the New Madrid Fault Seismic Network.

Though there haven't been any earthquakes recently that should send residents and officials into panic mode, there have been several minor quakes that most people do not even know about.

A preliminary report from the Southeast Seismic Network indicates that a small 1.6 earthquake was recorded on July, 11, 2008, near New Madrid, Mo. Shortly after, a quake registering 1.5 on the Richter scale was reported to have occurred near Vonore, Tenn., which appears to be a pretty active area, according to the network report on recent earthquakes.

Just six days prior, Saturday, July 5, 2008, a small 2.0 quake occurred four miles east of Madisonville, Tenn. This quake reached areas including, Vonore, Tellico Plains and Knoxville, Tenn. as well.