Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

4.1 Earthquake Rattles Nerves in Southwest Oregon

An early morning earthquake measuring 4.1 in intensity rattled nerves from Williams to Gold Beach to south of Coos Bay Thursday.

The USGS reported the earthquake at 1:52 a.m. with an epicenter 23 miles below ground about 30 miles west-northwest of Grants Pass. According to USGS Web sites, it was most strongly felt in a cluster around Grants Pass from Glendale to Williams and Rogue River. Reports also came in from Brookings, Gold Beach and Coquille.

The epicenter was in a remote mountainous area of few residents. No damage or injuries have been reported.

Bizarro Earth

Effects of Tambora Volcanic Eruption on Iberian Peninsula Studied for First Time

An international team of scientists has presented the first-ever evaluation of the impact of the 1816 eruption of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia on the Iberian Peninsula. Historical documents and observations by Spanish and Portuguese stations have shown that emissions of gas and particulates from the volcano limited the effect of solar radiation in Spain, where temperatures that summer did not rise above 15 C.

The Tambora volcano in Indonesia erupted in April 1815, but North America and Europe did not notice its effects until months later. In 1816, known as 'the year without a summer,' gases, ashes and dust arrived over the Iberian Peninsular and reached the stratosphere, where they remained long enough to create 'an enormous sun filter.'

These are the findings of a study by an international team, with Spanish participation, which have been published in the latest issue of the prestigious International Journal of Climatology.

Bizarro Earth

Study Finds Hemlock Trees Dying Rapidly, Affecting Forest Carbon Cycle

New research by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists and partners suggests the hemlock woolly adelgid is killing hemlock trees faster than expected in the southern Appalachians and rapidly altering the carbon cycle of these forests. SRS researchers and cooperators from the University of Georgia published the findings in the most recent issue of the journal Ecosystems.

"The study marks the first time that scientists have tracked the short-term effects hemlock woolly adelgid infestations are having on the forest carbon cycle," said Chelcy Ford, SRS ecologist and co-author of the paper.

Eastern hemlock, a keystone species in the streamside forests of the southern Appalachian region, is already experiencing widespread decline and mortality because of hemlock woolly adelgid (a tiny nonnative insect) infestation. The pest has the potential to kill most of the region's hemlock trees within the next decade. As a native evergreen capable of maintaining year-round transpiration rates, hemlock plays an important role in the ecology and hydrology of mountain ecosystems. Hemlock forests provide critical habitat for birds and other animals; their shade helps maintain the cool water temperatures required by trout and other aquatic organisms in mountain streams.

Better Earth

Yellowstone Park geology remains mysterious

When Hank Heasler first visited Yellowstone National Park as a little boy, he stared at the bubbles rising up from green- and orange-ringed mud pots, colored by heat-loving bacteria that thrive in water recycled through deep underground aquifers.

"I just remember being fascinated," he said. "I always wanted to know more."

Heasler is now Yellowstone Park's geologist, one of the primary scientists responsible for tracking movement around one of the largest volcanos in North America.

It's a constant challenge, figuring out the park's ever-shifting geological puzzle, he said.

"I'm still excited," he said.

Comment: Though Heasler admits that "science can't yet explain all of the park's geological quirks" and that there so many things they don't yet understand about Yellowstone's geology, he is quick to reassure the reader that "a volcanic eruption doesn't appear to be imminent". Is this an attempt to sooth people's fears after the recent swarm of earthquakes in the area?

Bizarro Earth

Canada: Quakes Shake Kirkland Lake

The earth did in fact move this week in Kirkland Lake as three earthquakes just southwest of town shook the town.

Natural Resources Canada has a seismic measuring station north of Kirkland Lake that recorded the earthquakes. The first happened at 7:58 p. m. Monday and registered 3.4 on the Richter Scale, the second occurred at 8:10 p. m. and registered 2.0 and third took place at 8:21 registering 1.7

Natural Resources Canada equipment is not able to determine the exact locations of the earthquakes and in this case has a plus or minus accuracy of five kilometers. NRC estimates the earthquakes took place two kilo-metres southwest of Kirkland Lake.

While more data would have to be studied to determine how deep the seismic events were NRC seismologist Janet Drysdale said with the data they have studied it is probable the seismic events were five kilometers or deeper.

Bizarro Earth

Small Earthquake Rocks Eastern Oklahoma

A small earthquake has rattled an area near Savanna, Oklahoma.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude three-point-three quake hit at 10:14 p.m. Central time, Wednesday evening.

The epicenter was six miles west northwest of Savanna, a town that sits on the edge of a massive ammunition storage depot near McAlester.

No damage has been reported.


Indonesia's Psychedelic Fish Named a New Species

© AP Photo/, David Hall, HOA recently discovered fish named "psychedelica" is shown in the waters off Ambon island, Indonesia.
A funky, psychedelic fish that bounces on the ocean floor like a rubber ball has been classified as a new species, a scientific journal reported.

The frogfish - which has a swirl of tan and peach zebra stripes that extend from its aqua eyes to its tail - was initially discovered by scuba diving instructors working for a tour operator a year ago in shallow waters off Ambon island in eastern Indonesia.

The operator contacted Ted Pietsch, lead author of a paper published in this month's edition of Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, who submitted DNA work identifying it as a new species.

Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake recorded Tuesday night near McAlester, Oklahoma

A minor earthquake was recorded Tuesday night at the McAlester Ammunition Depot in Pittsburg County.

The quake rated 3.3 on the Richter scale at 10:14 p.m., the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The epicenter was at the depot, about 6 1/2 miles northwest of Savanna. A previous story said the earthquake was recorded today.

According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, the state averaged 56 quakes a year from 1977 to 2008.

Usually, fewer than five per year, if any, are felt.


Biofuels: Promise or Threat?

In the coming weeks, the Obama administration is expected to release its plans to address the dual problems of global climate disruption and excessive dependence on foreign oil. Meanwhile, in the background, the debate among environmentalists over biofuels and their contribution to future energy needs continues to intensify. Many mainstream greens actively support biofuels as a central element in an anticipated future mix of energy sources, but voices from the global South are often far more critical. They insist that fuels such as biodiesel, bioethanol and proposed "second generation" fuels be termed "agrofuels," viewing their widespread use as a potential boon for global agribusiness corporations, with potentially devastating consequences for land-based peoples. This view is now gaining widespread support from groups in the US and Europe.

Last week, the Sierra Club and Worldwatch Institute attempted to sidestep these concerns with their new report, titled "Smart Choices for Biofuels". They appear to have never even asked the more fundamental question "Are Biofuels a Smart Choice?" To this question, a growing number of environmental and human rights organizations are responding with a clear and resounding "no."


Belarusian scientist suggests frog breeding as anti-crisis measure

© Unknown
A Belarusian scientist has advised the country's businessmen to begin breeding edible frogs for export during the current economic crisis, Russia's Vesti TV channel said on Wednesday.

The former Soviet republic is home to three edible species of frogs - the Marsh Frog (Rana ridibunda), the Pool Frog (Rana lessonae) and the Edible Frog (Rana esculenta). All of them are considered a delicacy in various countries.