Earth ChangesS


India: Slight intensity earthquake hits Arunachal Pradesh

New Delhi: A slight intensity earthquake, measuring 4.8 on the Richter Scale, shook parts of Arunachal Pradesh on Saturday.

Bizarro Earth

Magmatically Triggered Slow Earthquake Discovered At Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

From June 17-19th 2007, Kilauea experienced a new dike intrusion, where magma rapidly moved from a storage reservoir beneath the summit into the east rift zone and extended the rift zone by as much as 1 meter.

Kilauea Volcano
©James Foster, HIGP/SOEST
A schematic cross-section from north to south through Kilauea Volcano, showing the structure of the volcano and the mobile south flank. The June 17 dike intruded into the East Rift Zone and triggered the slow-slip event, that most likely occurred on the decollement fault between the volcano and the pre-existing sea floor, approx. 15 to 20 hours later.

Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM), Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory have now discovered that the 2007 dike intrusion was not the only action going on: the dike also triggered a "slow earthquake" on Kilauea's south flank, demonstrating how magmatism and earthquake faulting at Kilauea can be tightly connected.

Slow earthquakes are a special type of earthquake where fault rupture occurs too slowly (over periods of days to months) to produce any felt shaking. Slow earthquakes of magnitude 5.5-5.7 have been previously found to periodically occur on the flanks of Kilauea, and have been identified by ground motion data on Global Positioning System (GPS) stations. A general understanding of slow earthquake initiation, however, is still unresolved.

Cloud Lightning

Philippines: Aftershocks felt in Bicol region

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck the Bicol region Saturday evening, followed by an aftershock Sunday morning, reports from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) showed.


Baltic States Failing To Protect Most Damaged Sea

Nine Baltic sea states all scored failing grades in an annual WWF evaluation of their performance in protecting and restoring the world's most damaged sea.

Baltic Sea
©iStockphoto/Janno Vään
The poor state of the Baltic Sea environment has received attention this summer because of the extensive algal blooms caused by eutrophication and for recent scientific reports on the vast "dead zones" on the sea bottom.

The assessment, presented today at the Baltic Sea Festival, graded the countries on how well they are doing in six separate areas - biodiversity, fisheries, hazardous substances, marine transport and eutrophication - and on how they have succeeded in developing an integrated sea-use management system.

The best grade (an F for just 46 per cent) was received by Germany, followed by Denmark (41 per cent) and the worst were Poland (25 per cent) and Russia (26 per cent).

"It is a shame no country could be given a satisfactory total score," said Lasse Gustavsson, CEO of WWF Sweden. "The Baltic Sea is influenced by a multitude of human activities, regulated by a patchwork of international and national regulations and authorities.


Shot In The Arm For Sumatran Elephants And Tigers

The Indonesian government is to double the size of a national park that is one of the last havens for endangered Sumatran elephants and tigers.

© iStockphoto/Afriadi Hikmal
Encroachment by palm oil plantations into elephant habitat have greatly increased conflicts between humans and elephants.

Tesso Nilo National Park was created in 2004 with 38,000 hectares of forest. Today's declaration will see that figure increase to 86,000 by the end of this year.

"This is an important milestone toward securing a future for the Sumatran elephant and tiger," said Dr. Mubariq Ahmad, WWF-Indonesia's Chief Executive. "To ensure the commitment is effectively implemented we must redouble our efforts to eliminate poaching and illegal settlements within this special forest."

With more than 4,000 plant species recorded so far, the forest of Tesso Nilo has the highest lowland forest plant biodiversity known to science, with many species yet to be discovered.


'Lost World' Beneath The Caribbean

Scientists at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, are set to explore the world's deepest undersea volcanoes and find out what lives in a 'lost world' five kilometres beneath the Caribbean.


The team of researchers led by Dr Jon Copley has been awarded £462,000 by the Natural Environment Research Council to explore the Cayman Trough, which lies between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. This rift in the Caribbean seafloor plunges to a depth of more than 5000 metres below sea level. It contains the world's deepest chain of undersea volcanoes, which have yet to be explored.

The researchers are planning two expeditions over the next three years using the UK's newest research ship, RRS James Cook. From the ship, the team will send the UK's remotely-operated vehicle Isis and a new British robot submarine called Autosub6000 into the abyss.


Volcanic Sunsets

This weekend, observers around Europe are reporting the same "volcanic sunsets" widely observed last week in North America. "The evening sky on Aug 29th was conspicuously purple," reports Marco Langbroek of Leiden, the Netherlands.

"This was probably due to aerosols in the stratosphere spewed by the August 7th eruption of the Kasatochi volcano in the Aleutian Islands." He photographed the display using his Canon 450D:

Volcanic sunsets
©Marco Langbroek

Bizarro Earth

New Orleans ports brace for Hurricane Gustav

Houston - Ship movement along the Mississippi River south of New Orleans stopped on Saturday as powerful Hurricane Gustav churned toward the Louisiana coast, and port operators made last-minute preparations.

The landfall location for Gustav, now a Category 4 hurricane with top winds of 150 miles per hour (240 kph), was still uncertain, but forecasters said Gustav was likely to near the central Louisiana coast by late Monday or early Tuesday.

Red Flag

Gustav Now Major Hurricane - And Picking Up Steam

Declared a Category 4 storm Saturday afternoon, Hurricane Gustav continues to strengthen and will soon reach Category 5 status - the highest - according to U.S. officials.

Bizarro Earth

Historic volcanic activity and mass extinction of marine life explored

University of Alberta scientists discover volcanic eruptions on the ocean floor caused a drop in CO2 concentrations and a mass extinction of marine life

It sounds like a science fiction movie: a warm and watery North Pole, high carbon dioxide levels, giant clams trolling ocean floors, and volcanoes as large as a Canadian province. Then, a massive wipeout of ocean life.

This dystopia is not fiction, but an episode in Earth's long history, occurring 94 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. A geological mystery for years, recent discoveries have enabled two University of Alberta scientists to shed light on what caused this large-scale extinction.

Steven Turgeon, one of the leading researchers in the study that has garnered international attention and whose findings are now largely accepted, said he is "97 per cent" sure that it was volcanic activity in the ocean bed that triggered a chain reaction, ultimately resulting in the widespread extinction of marine life.

"Previously there was some speculation that it might have been caused by a meteorite," said Turgeon, who worked with Robert Creaser, also an Earth and Atmospheric Sciences professor. "Both volcanism and meteorites have the same isotopic signature. But we now know from our analysis of deposits that what caused the dinosaurs to die off did not cause this."