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Fri, 29 Sep 2023
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Earth Changes

Bizarro Earth

One dead as Chilean volcano spews ash for third day

SANTIAGO - A volcano spewed ash over Patagonian towns in southern Chile on Sunday, two days after its first eruption in thousands of years forced authorities to evacuate some 4,000 residents.

Police wear masks to protect them from ash, in Chaiten,
©REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
Police wear masks to protect them from ash, in Chaiten, located some 1220 km (760 miles) south of Santiago May 3, 2008.

Local media said an elderly woman died as rescue teams evacuated the last remaining people from the town of Chaiten, close to where the snow-capped volcano of the same name erupted on Friday, triggering earth tremors and sending a cloud of ash two miles into the air.


Dwarf Cloud Rat Rediscovered After 112 Years

A team of Filipino and American scientists have rediscovered a highly distinctive mammal -- a greater dwarf cloud rat -- that was last seen 112 years ago. Furthermore, it has never before been discovered in its natural habitat and was thought by some to be extinct.

dwarf cloud rat
©Larry Heaney, courtesy of The Field Museum
The greater dwarf cloud rat (Carpomys melanurus) was rediscovered in April, 2008 -- 112 years after the first and only time it had ever been seen by scientists. Cloud rats are one of the most spectacular cases of adaptive radiation by mammals anywhere in the world, with at least 15 species ranging in size from 2.6 kg to 15 grams, all living only in the Philippines.

The greater dwarf cloud rat (Carpomys melanurus) has dense, soft reddish-brown fur, a black mask around large dark eyes, small rounded ears, a broad and blunt snout, and a long tail covered with dark hair. An adult weighs about 185 grams.

"This beautiful little animal was seen by biologists only once previously -- by a British researcher in 1896 who was given several specimens by local people, so he knew almost nothing about the ecology of the species," said Lawrence Heaney, Curator of Mammals at the Field Museum and Project Leader. "Since then, the species has been a mystery, in part because there is virtually no forest left on Mt. Data, where it was first found."


UK: Rare albino ray is caught in the Solent

Trawlermen have landed an albino ray thought to be the first found in British waters.

The 80cm-long fish was caught in the Solent and is now being cared for at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth.

Experts are surprised that the ray survived so long without camouflage to hide from predators.


Over 240 dead after Myanmar cyclone

Over 240 people are reported dead after a tropical cyclone hit Myanmar on Saturday, national media said on Sunday.

Authorities in Myanmar introduced a state of emergency in five regions as the Nargis cyclone struck, with wind speeds reaching some 190 km/h (118 mph). Most of the deaths came in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta.

The majority of the Southeast Asian country's largest city, Yangon, was left without electricity, and its streets were filled with overturned cars, parts of trees and other debris. Telephone and Internet communications were also severely disrupted.


Myanmar declares five regions disaster zones after Tropical Cyclone Nargis hits

YANGON - A powerful cyclone killed more than 350 people, destroyed thousands of homes and knocked out power in the country's largest city, state-run media said Sunday.

Tropical Cyclone Nargis struck early Saturday with winds of up to 120 mph, the military-run Myaddy television station said.

Yangon cyclone
©AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhang Yunfei
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, people walk past fallen trees at a street in Myanmar's biggest city Yangon Saturday, May 3, 2008. Tropical Cyclone Nargis ripped through Yangon early Saturday, tearing off roofs, uprooting trees and knocking out electricity.

Shari Villarosa, the top American diplomat in Yangon, said trees and electricity lines were down in the city after the storm's whipping winds and torrential downpour.

"Our Burmese staff have lost their roofs," she told The Associated Press. "There is major devastation throughout the city."

Five regions of the impoverished Southeast Asian country have been declared disaster zones.

At least 351 people were killed, including 162 who lived on Haing Gyi island off the country's southwest coast, state-run television said. Many of the others died in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta.


Survivors search for belongings amid Arkansas tornado wreckage

DAMASCUS - Smoke rose from burning heaps of wreckage Saturday as residents of rural Arkansas cleaned up what was left of their homes after deadly tornadoes scoured a state that has been plagued by severe weather this year.

Arkansas tornado damage
©AP Photo/Danny Johnston
A mobile home is destroyed in Center Ridge, Ark., after storms struck the area Friday, May 2, 2008. A powerful storm system packing tornadoes and heavy winds roared across the nation's midsection early Friday, killing at least seven people in Arkansas including a teenager crushed by a tree while she slept.


Officials say New Mexico wildfire has burned nearly 60 homes

ALBUQUERQUE - Firefighters worked in cooler, calmer weather Saturday to clear lines around a blaze that has burned nearly 60 homes and more than 20 square miles in the mountains of central New Mexico.

Authorities were able to confirm Saturday that 50 homes burned Wednesday in a fire caused by humans in the Manzano Mountains, southeast of Albuquerque, said Linda Peters, a fire information officer. Nine homes had burned earlier.


Oxygen-poor ocean zones are growing

Linked to global warming, these areas of the Pacific and Atlantic cannot sustain most marine life, a new study warns.

Oxygen-starved waters are expanding in the Pacific and Atlantic as ocean temperatures increase with global warming, threatening fisheries and other marine life, a study published today concludes.

Most of these zones remain hundreds of feet below the surface, but they are beginning to spill onto the relatively shallow continental shelf off the coast of California and are nearing the surface off Peru, driving away fish from commercially important fishing grounds, researchers have found.

©Erhardt Krause / Sacramento Be
NEAR SAN FRANCISCO: Scientists think that oxygen-poor zones may explain the Pacific Ocean invasion of jumbo, ƒsor Humboldt, squid. Fisherman Steve Consulo holds one.

Bizarro Earth

Quakes confuse experts, send kids under their desks

Experts are mystified by a "swarm" of earthquakes hitting Reno, Nevada.

Quakes aren't uncommon there, but analysts just do not know what has caused 344 of them in the area in the past week, the strongest of which was magnitude 4.7.

Evil Rays

On shaky ground: UH Prof finds geological faults threaten Houston, US

After finding more than 300 surface faults in Harris County, a University of Houston geologist now has information that could be vitally useful to the region's builders and city planners.

This information - the most accurate and comprehensive of its kind - was discovered by Shuhab Khan, assistant professor of geology, and Richard Engelkemeir, a geology Ph.D. student, using advanced radar-like laser technology. Although geologists have long known of the existence of faults in Southeast Texas, only recently have UH researchers produced a comprehensive map pinpointing the locations of the faults. A Houston-area map showing active surface faults is available here.

While the ground moving beneath Houstonians feet is not felt at the magnitude of recent earthquakes in San Antonio and Illinois, this shaky ground could mean trouble for buildings, roads and pipelines located on one of these hundreds of faults traversing the region's surface.

©Shuhab Khan and Richard Engelkemeir
Pictured is a Houston-area map showing the locations of salt domes and known active surface faults interpreted on lidar imagery.