Thursday, April 7, 2011

WTF is going on with world?

Swarms of rats migrate across Australia

April 7, 2011 – AUSTRALIA – A mass migration of rats is under way into the inland deserts of Australia after a run of high rainfall seasons, scientists say. The native long-haired rat, or Rattus villosissimus, normally lives in the Barkly Tableland of the Northern Territory and in western Queensland. But now it has been spotted in Alice Springs for the first time in 25 years. Peter McDonald, acting scientist with Northern Territory Biodiversity Conservation, said the phenomenon was a “huge event” which he attributed to a run of consecutive good, high rainfall seasons. ”It is unusual in the rodent world but Rattus villosissimus are unique in that way and they are pretty famous for their eruptions,” he added. “Probably the only similar expansion by a rodent is seen in the lemmings in the northern hemisphere with their irruptions. There is nothing else in Australia which irrupts over such a large area.” Alice Springs generally has no rats because of its arid climate. The long-haired rodent was first sighted around the middle of last year on the edge of the Simpson Desert, south-east of the town, Mr McDonald said. Its ability to produce 12 babies every three weeks gives it the highest reproductive potential of any rodent in Australia, he noted

Deep tremors shake large dormant volcano in Iceland

April 7, 2011 – ICELAND – A deep earthquake has occurred at Iceland’s Hofsjökull volcano. The volcano hasn’t erupted in recorded history and is said to have last had activity during the Holocene period according to geologists. The icecap in Hofsjökull volcano is deep. At its deepest point it is 650 meters deep at the most. The deepest points of the icecap are in the main caldera of Hofsjökull volcano. If Chaitén volcano in Chile has taught geologist anything, a dormant volcano doesn’t need a long time to go from dormant to an active eruption. That is why I find it worrying that deep earthquakes have started to appear in Hofsjökull volcano, even if they are extremely rare so far. Over the past ten years or so there has been a slight increase in earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano along with increase in hydrothermal activity.

In terms of Icelandic volcanoes, Hofsjökull volcano is more complex than most. South of it lies the Kerlingafjöll volcano. It is a volcano known for its heavy hydrothermal activity. Hofsjökull volcano lies along an east-west-trending area connecting the two principal rift zones of Iceland. It bridges the gap between the Reykjanes-Langjökull rift on the west, which terminates at Langjökull, and the eastern zone, which extends NE-ward across east-central Iceland. Besides being one of Iceland largest volcanoes, its location also makes it extremely dangerous. As it is located in the middle of Iceland, and a glacier flood from it could go many different ways down to the ocean and over large populated areas in Iceland. The deep earthquake is close to the caldera. The earthquake of concern under the Hofsjökull volcano took place at 10:11 UTC on 5. April 2011. That earthquake had a depth of 27.6 km. Its size was ML1.4, so it was a small earthquake. I do not believe that this depth is an error in the SIL system (though sometimes this occurs). A second earthquake took place at 10:13 UTC, its size was ML1.6 with the depth of 1.6 km. Whatever might be happening with Hofsjökull volcano; it’s worth watching even if it’s not going to erupt just yet.

Status update: Mount Baekdu, a dormant volcano in North Korea, which hasn’t erupted since 1903 is showing increased signs of unrest, especially since the 9.0 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011. In Japan, 19 dormant volcanoes are also showing signs of increased activity. Three volcanoes in the Philippines are reporting heightened activity and the Mt Ruapehu volcano in New Zealand is reported increased emissions of gases and rising temperatures in the volcanic Crater Lake. Three mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan have also erupted since the March 11 earthquake in Japan and quakes are stirring under Iceand’s network of ancient volcanoes. Either this is all one big coincidence or we’re moving into the next geological stage of this Earthchanges crisis

Worms rain down from cloudless sky in Galashiels Scotland

April 7, 2011 – Galashiels, SCOTLAND - A PE class had to run for cover as it started raining worms. Teacher David Crichton was leading a group of pupils playing football at Galashiels Academy when dozens of the invertebrates began plummeting from the sky. The 22 second-year boys had to abandon their lesson. Mr. Crichton said the children had just completed their warm-up when they began to hear “soft thudding” on the ground. The class then looked to the cloudless sky – and saw worms falling on to them. Mr. Chrichton, 26, said he was baffled by the incident, with teachers later finding more worms spread across a tennis court almost 100 yards away. Mr. Crichton said: “We went out to one of our outdoor areas – an all-weather Astroturf pitch. “We were out playing football and had just done our warm-up and were about to start the next part of the lesson. “We started hearing this wee thudding noise on the ground. “There were about 20 worms already on the ground at this point. Then they just kept coming down. “The kids were laughing but some were covering their heads and others were running for cover for a while. “The just scattered to get out of the way.” The teacher scooped up handfuls of the worms that had fallen from the sky as proof they had landed on his class. Mr. Crichton said he and his colleagues eventually found about 120 worms after checking the artificial football pitch and tennis courts… The incident in Galashiels is believed to have been caused by freak weather over a nearby river lifting water and worms and dumping it over the road. Similar events were recorded in 1872 in Somerville, Massachusetts, in 1877 in Christiana, Norway, and in 1924 in Halmstad, Sweden. In July 2007 a woman was crossing a road in Louisiana when large clumps of tangled worms dropped from above.

Philippines major volcanoes now all showing signs of increased unrest

Taal Volcano - Restive Taal Volcano continued to show signs of activity, as state volcanologists recorded at least five volcanic quakes there in the last 24 hours. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Wednesday said it also observed weak steaming activity at the thermal area of the main crater-lake. Phivolcs also reiterated its warning against carbon dioxide in the area, saying gas measurements in March amounted to 4,670 tons per day – double the 2,250 tons per day in January. “The remarkable increase in C02 [Carbon dioxide] concentration indicates anomalous gas release from the magma at depth,” it said. It added Alert Level 1 remains over Taal Volcano, saying no eruption is imminent but the public should strictly observe some safety precautions.
Bulusan Volcano - Phivolcs also recorded at least three volcanic quakes around Bulusan Volcano in Bicol in the last 24 hours. It also noted a “wispy to weak emission of white steam” at the southeast and northwest thermal vents while the summit crater was cloud-covered during the past observation period. No lahar event was reported or observed. Phivolcs said Bulusan Volcano’s status remains at Alert Level 1, meaning the source of activity is hydrothermal and shallow. “Entry to the 4-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) is strictly prohibited, since the area is at risk to sudden steam and ash explosions. Due to the prevailing wind direction, residents in the northwest and southwest sectors of the volcano are reminded to take precautions against ash falls,” it said. Civil aviation authorities were also urged to warn pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ejected ash and volcanic fragments from sudden explosions may be hazardous to aircraft.
Mayon Volcano – Phivolcs said Mayon Volcano in Albay did not detect any volcanic earthquake during the past 24 hours, while steam from the crater varied from wispy to weak and drifted towards west-southwest. But it said a fair crater glow (Intensity II, can be seen by naked eye) was observed Tuesday night. Alert Level 1 is also in effect over Mayon Volcano, Phivolcs said. “Although this means that no eruption is imminent, it is recommended that the public should not enter the 6-kilometer radius PDZ due to the continuing threat from sudden small explosions and rockfalls from the upper and middle slopes of the volcano,” it said. -GMA News -April 7, 2011

Scientist warns South Island’s earthquake nightmare may be just beginning

April 7, 2011 – CHRISTCHURCH – People in Canterbury are being warned of more earthquakes and aftershocks for years to come. The Natural Hazards Manager at GNS Science, Kelvin Berryman, says it is impossible to tell for sure how long the aftershocks will continue. But he says previous earthquakes, in this country and overseas, have been followed by seismic activity for up to 30 years. Dr. Berryman says while the current sequence of aftershocks will eventually drop off, there is a possibility it could trigger further earthquakes, beginning the cycle again.

Kashmir plagued by tremors, landslides and extreme weather

April 6, 2011 – KASHMIR – At least 11 houses and another dozen structures were damaged due to landslides caused by incessant rains in Baramulla district of north Kashmir today, officials said. Eleven residential houses and 12 cowsheds were partially damaged due to the landslides triggered by rains on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road in the villages of Checki Kudpora, Lateefabad and Kawhar in Sheeri, 65 kms from here, they said. The landslides also partially damaged orchards in these villages but there was no report of any casualty. Senior revenue and police officials have visited the landslide-hit villages to assess the damage, the sources said, adding that the affected population has been evacuated and has taken shelter at safer places. While high altitude areas of the Kashmir Valley including the famous ski resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam experienced moderate snowfall over the past one week, incessant rains lashed the plains including Srinagar. However, there was no immediate threat of floods in the Valley. The MeT department has predicted more rains or snowfall during the next six days in the Valley, much to the concern of the farming community which has started agricultural activities with the advent of spring. An intense cold wave gripped the Valley following the inclement weather as the mercury plummeted seven to eight degrees below normal for this part of the season.

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