Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

Vanuatu: Earthquake Magnitude 6.3

Vanuatu Quake_170311
© USGSEarthquake Location
Date-Time:
Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 02:48:02 UTC

Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 01:48:02 PM at epicenter

Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location:
17.364°S, 167.696°E

Depth:
26.6 km (16.5 miles)

Region:
VANUATU

Distances:
77 km (47 miles) WNW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu

210 km (130 miles) SSE of Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

293 km (182 miles) NW of Isangel, Tanna, Vanuatu

1880 km (1168 miles) NE of BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia

Bizarro Earth

Aqua Satellite Spots Rare Southern Atlantic Sub-tropical Storm

Tropical Storm Arani
© NASA JPL, Ed OlsenOn March 14 at 1553 UTC (11:53 a.m. EST) NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Sub-Tropical Storm Arani along the Brazilian coast. Most of the convection and thunderstorms (purple) were limited to the eastern half of the storm.
NASA's Aqua satellite spotted some strong convection in a recently formed low pressure area that strengthened into Sub-Tropical Storm Arani in the South Atlantic. Arani formed near the coast of Brazil and is now moving away from it. Tropical cyclones in the Atlantic are a rare occurrence and since 2004 there have only been three of them, Arani being the third.

On March 14, 2011 at 1553 UTC (11:53 a.m. EST) the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Sub-Tropical Storm Arani moving away from the Brazilian coast. Most of the convection and thunderstorms were limited to the eastern half of the storm at the time of the image. The strong areas of convection (rapidly rising air that condenses and forms the thunderstorms that power a tropical cyclone) appeared on the imagery as a sideways boomerang, and were off-shore, paralleling the coast.

AIRS measured the temperatures in those strong areas of convection and found they were as cold as or colder than -63 Fahrenheit (-52 Celsius) indicating some strong thunderstorms with heavy rainfall. That heavy rainfall was occurring off-shore. NASA's AIRS imagery is created at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

On March 15 at 1500 UTC (11 a.m. EST), the Brazilian Navy issued a special marine warning for the Brazilian coast. The warning stated that Sub-Tropical Storm Arani was located near 24.0 South latitude and 37 West longitude. Arani had a minimum central pressure of 998 millibars and was moving east-southeast near 10 to 15 knot winds.

Nuke

U.S. Calls Radiation 'Extremely High' and Urges Deeper Caution in Japan

Washington - The chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave a significantly bleaker appraisal of the threat posed by Japan's nuclear crisis than the Japanese government, saying on Wednesday that the damage at one crippled reactor was much more serious than Japanese officials had acknowledged and advising to Americans to evacuate a wider area around the plant than the perimeter established by Japan.

Image
© NHK

Japanese television showed what appeared to be steam rising from reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant about 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The announcement marked a new and ominous chapter in the five-day long effort by Japanese engineers to bring four side-by-side reactors under control after their cooling systems were knocked out by an earthquake and tsunami last Friday. It also suggested a serious split between Washington and Tokyo, after American officials concluded that the Japanese warnings were insufficient, and that, deliberately or not, they had understated the potential threat of what is taking place inside the nuclear facility.

Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the commission, said in Congressional testimony that the commission believed that all the water in the spent fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station had boiled dry, leaving fuel rods stored there exposed and bleeding radiation. As a result, he said, "We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures."

If his analysis is accurate and Japanese workers have been unable to keep the spent fuel at that inoperative reactor properly cooled - it needs to remain covered with water at all times - radiation levels could make it difficult not only to fix the problem at reactor No. 4, but to keep workers at the Daiichi complex from servicing any of the other problem reactors at the plant.

Mr. Jaczko (the name is pronounced YAZZ-koe) said radiation levels may make it impossible to continue what he called the "backup backup" cooling functions that have so far helped check the fuel melting at the other reactors. Those efforts consist of using fire hoses to dump water on overheated fuel and then letting the radioactive steam vent into the atmosphere.

Those emergency measures, implemented by a small squad of workers and firemen, are the main steps Japan is taking at Daiichi to forestall a full blown fuel meltdown that would lead to much higher releases of radioactive material.

Mr. Jaczko's testimony came as the American Embassy in Tokyo, on advice from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told Americans to evacuate a radius of "approximately 50 miles" from the Fukushima plant.

The advice represents a graver assessment of the risk in the immediate vicinity of Daiichi than the warnings made by the Japanese themselves, who have told everyone within 20 kilometers, about 12 miles, to evacuate, and those between 20 and 30 kilometers to take shelter.

Mr. Jaczko's testimony, the most extended comments by a senior American official on Japan's nuclear disaster, described what amounts to an agonizing choice for Japanese authorities: Send a small number of workers into an increasingly radioactive area in a last-ditch effort to cover the spent fuel, and the fuel in other reactors, - with water, or do more to protect the workers but risk letting the pools of water protecting the fuel boil away - and thus risk a broader meltdown.

The Japanese authorities have never been as specific as Mr. Jascko was in his testimony about the situation at reactor No. 4, where they have been battling fires for more than 24 hours. It is possible the authorities there disagree with Mr. Jascko's conclusion about the exposure of the spent fuel, or that they have chosen not to discuss the matter for fear of panicking people.

Experts say workers at the plant probably could not approach a fuel pool that was dry, because radiation levels would be so high. In a normally operating pool, the water provides not only cooling but also shields workers from gamma radiation. A plan to dump water into the pool, and others like it, from helicopters was suspended because the crews would be flying right into a radioactive plume.

Meteor

US congressman says people should abandon cities

In the documentary Urban Danger, 84-year-old Republican
Image
Congressman Roscoe Bartlett knows what's coming
, who is serving his tenth term as the representative of Maryland's Sixth District, explains why US citizens should avoid living in cities.

"There are a number of events that could create a situation in our cities where civil unrest could be a very high probability," Bartlett said in the film. "And I think that those who can and those who understand need to take advantage of this opportunity when the winds of strife are not blowing to move their families out of the city."

"It's just plain fun when you're looking at the challenge of what do I have to do so that I'm independent of the system," he added.

Before becoming a member of Congress, Bartlett worked as a professor at the University of Maryland, research scientist, small business owner, and farmer. He was awarded 19 military patents for his inventions of life support equipment.

Evil Rays

Australia: Quake adds to north's disasters

Image
© Unknown
FIRST it was a cyclone, then flooding, and then came the earthquake.

At 4.08pm yesterday a magnitude-4 earthquake struck about 30km off the coast of Innisfail, in far north Queensland, an area already hard hit by Cyclone Yasi last month and inundated by torrential monsoon rains.

Locals reported the quake to Geosciences Australia from Innisfail, Gordonvale and even Cairns, 70km away from its epicentre.

It was insufficient to cause a tsunami and there were no early reports of damage but locals took to Twitter to bemoan the recent trifecta of natural disasters. Geoscience Australia seismologist David Jepsen said it would have produced "a bit of a shake" and "some rattling of windows" in the Innisfail area.

He ruled out any connection to recent earthquakes in Christchurch or Japan, saying those incidents were too far away to generate a far north Queensland quake.

Better Earth

Heavenly haze: Remarkable rainbow cloud towers over Mount Everest

Hovering in the sky, this rainbow cloud over Mount Everest took an astonished astronomer by surprise.

Oleg Bartunov, 51, caught the spectacle on camera during a Himalayas expedition in Nepal.

His two images show almost the whole spectrum of the rainbow in a natural event rarely recorded at Mount Everest.

Image
© Oleg BartunovDazzling: A rainbow cloud dwarfs Mt Everest in the Himalayas, taking photographer Oleg Bartunov by surprise
The phenomenon is caused by light reflecting off tiny ice crystals inside the body of the cloud's water vapour.

'I only took a couple of shots as I was overwhelmed with feelings and wanted to see everything with my eyes and prolong the moment,' Mr Bartunov said.

Bizarro Earth

Congo: Nyiragongo Volcano

Lake Kivu Basin
© National Geographic

When will Nyiragongo erupt? Nyiragongo is a two-mile-high volcano towering over the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) - one of the most active volcanoes on the planet and also one of the least studied. Two million people would be affected by a potential eruption of the volcano or the neighboring lake.

According to Tedesco, there is no question the volcano will erupt again, potentially transforming Goma into a modern Pompeii. "Goma," he says, "is the most dangerous city in the world." At the base of the volcano sprawls the city of Goma, growing by the day as villagers from the countryside seek refuge from rebel and government forces.

An estimated million people are now crammed into Goma. Twice in recent years Nyiragongo's eruptions have sent molten rock flowing toward the city. In 1977 lava raced down the mountain at more than 60 miles an hour, the fastest ever observed.

Several hundred people died, even though the flow had hardened before it reached the main part of the city. In 2002 the volcano shot more than 15 million cubic yards of lava into downtown Goma, destroying 14,000 homes, burying buildings to the top of the first floor, and forcing 350,000 citizens to flee.

Bizarro Earth

Major Ring of Fire Events Yet To Come

Image
© USGS
While the horseshoe shaped belt of seismic and volcanic activity that rings the Pacific ocean has always been a focal point for earthquakes, the past 13 months have seen three high profile seismic events.
In February of 2010 an 8.8 magnitude earthquake - and resultant tsunami (generally less than 2.5 meters) - struck offshore of Chile, leaving roughly 500 people dead and several hundred thousand homes damaged.

In September of 2010, a 7.1 quake struck the Christchurch, New Zealand region causing serious damage, but little loss of life. Nearly 6 months later, a shallow 6.3 magnitude aftershock struck even closer to Christchurch, causing far more damage, and claiming a significant loss of life.

And most recently, a 9.0 earthquake and massive Tsunami struck off the coast of Honshu, Japan likely claiming thousands of lives (still uncounted) and doing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damage.

Fish

California: Dead fish = earthquake predictor?

An Azeri scientist has linked the recent incident of California's mass fish death to the earthquake in Japan.

"Animals, they feel everything. They run away from earthquakes however they can," Gurban Jalal Etirmishli, the general director of the Azerbijan Science Academy's Republican Center for Seismology, told Life News, a Russian tabloid.

More than a million sardines washed up on California's Redondo Beach last week. Scientists say they suffered from a lack of oxygen, but some reports have said they were found to have high toxin levels.

"During the first underground movements on March 8, toxic gases and even radiation could have oozed out, becoming a reason for the death of the fish," Etirmishli said. "If, in the near future, a similar thing happens, it can be a sign of a coming earthquake."

Cloud Lightning

Ten killed in south Brazil floods, thousands evacuated

Image
© Reuters/ Bruno Domingos
At least 10 people have been killed and over 21,000 evacuated in floods in the south of Brazil, civil defense officials reported.

Torrential rain caused floods and landslides and destroyed roads in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Parana.

Two people are missing. Overall, up to 60,000 residents of the South American country's south have been affected.