Sunday, July 10, 2011

PLANETARY TREMORS: 7.3 Magnitude Earthquake hits Japan!

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Japan, close to where previous mega-quake struck on March 11 of this year.

A major earthquake struck off northeastern Japan Sunday, prompting tsunami advisories for several coastal regions, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, according to the Japanese news agency Kyodo. The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake struck at 10:57 a.m. at the epicenter, about 130 miles east of Sendai. The earthquake was more than 20 miles deep and had a magnitude of 7.3, the USGS said. The JMA measured the magnitude of the quake at 7.1. Tsunami advisories were issued for the coastal regions of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the JMA said. The areas were among the hardest hit by this year's devastating earthquake and tsunami. Officials in Ofunato, a city in Iwate, advised residents to evacuate. The JMA forecast the height of the tsunami could reach half a meter (about 20 inches). No immediate abnormalities were reported at nearby nuclear facilities, according to Kyodo. Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered meltdowns after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan. The tsunami swamped the plant and knocked out cooling systems that kept the three operating reactors from overheating, leading to the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Tremors from Sunday's quake were felt as far away as Tokyo. "It's just a continuing of the aftershocks of that devastating 9.0," said Dale Grant, a geophysicist with the USGS, referring to the March quake. "These kinds of aftershocks are likely to occur for some time." - CNN.
Small tsunami waves reached the Pacific coast of northern Japan Sunday after a major quake hit the region heavily damaged by the March earthquake and tsunami, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The port towns of Soma and Ofunato saw 10-centimetre (four-inch) tsunami waves triggered by the 7.3-magnitude earthquake that struck off the main island of Honshu at 9:57 am (0057 GMT), the agency said. No damage has been reported from the tsunami and quake, which was strong enough to sway skyscrapers in Tokyo, some 400 kilometres from the epicentre. The Japanese agency and the US Geological Survey originally estimated the quake's magnitude at 7.1, hitting the same general area as the 9.0-magnitude quake of March 11 which triggered a massive tsunami. While Japan upgraded the quake to 7.3, the US agency revised it down to 7.0, centred 212 kilometres (131 miles) east of Sendai city, Miyagi prefecture, at a depth of 34.9 kilometres. The Japanese agency lifted the tsunami advisory at 11:45 am. "Changes in sea level may occur for the next few hours. Please use caution when conducting activities near the ocean, such as swimming and surf fishing," a Japanese weather agency official told a news briefing. Television footage of Ofunato and Soma did not show any visible sign of the tsunami, with the water surface seemingly calm and flat. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said the latest quake did not cause fresh problems at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi (number one) nuclear plant and the nearby Fukushima Daini (number two) plant. "We have received reports that there has been no significant impact at the Fukushima Daiichi and the Fukushima Daini nuclear plants," a TEPCO spokesman told a news conference. Cooling of crippled reactors at Fukushima Daiichi continued, although the company told work crews near the water to seek higher ground during the tsunami advisory. The Japanese weather agency originally expected a small tsunami of up to 50 centimetres (20 inches) along the affected region. Communities along the Pacific coast issued warnings and advisories for local residents to seek higher ground or to leave areas near the water. "For a second, I thought maybe another big one will come," a middle-aged man in coastal Kesennuma, Miyagi, told national broadcaster NHK. The devastating March 11 and tsunami left about 22,000 people dead or missing and triggered an atomic crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. - AFP.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Mount Etna Volcano closes Italian Airport!

A southern Italian airport was on Saturday closed due to ash from Mount Etna, forcing traffic to be diverted to Palermo, the ANSA news agency said.

Catania airport on the east coast of the island of Sicily was not expected to re-open before Sunday morning while the runway was cleared, the report said. The volcano, which currently does not present any risk to local residents, spewed lava on to its southeastern slopes on Saturday afternoon and winds carried the ash further afield. Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe at 3,295 metres (10,810 feet). The last eruption was in May. A massive flood of meltwater from Iceland's Myrdalsjoekull glacier, meanwhile, has raised fears of an eruption from the powerful Katla volcano there. - MSN.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Thousands of Dead Fish in Vietnam?!

For the past week, thousands of fish died and floated on Hanoi’s Truc Bach Lake, causing a serious pollution problem.

Those who pass Hanoi’s most romantic road – Thanh Nien (Youth) road – these days have to hold their noses or their breath because of the bad smell from the lake. Newly dead fish float to the lake’s shore every morning, disintegrated and give out smell. Some fished out dead fish to make fertilize or to feed their pigs. A local man said he could collect up to 500kg of dead fish in the morning. The deaths are reported to have been caused by high levels of pollution in the water, a situation that has happened several times before. According to the Centre for Environmental Monitoring and Analysis, the lake is severely polluted with ammonia and other pollutants. Nearby residents believe the problem is created by restaurants and some households using the lake as a garbage dump for all their waste. A committee has been formed to investigate. This is not the first time this phenomenon happens. In June 2009 and March 2010, fish also died en massive in the lake, causing heavy pollution. Truc Bach Lake is located northwest of Hanoi's Old Quarter, immediately adjacent to the eastern shore of the city's largest lake, the West Lake, a former branch of the Red River whose west bank is nearby. Truc Bach Lake was separated from the West Lake by the construction of a narrow dike (Co Ngu) in the 17th century to allow raising fish. In 1957 and 1958, major Thanh Nien Road was built between the lakes. The lake front is open only along Thanh Nien Road, the other sides are occupied by houses and residential streets. The lake is among the most seriously polluted in Hanoi. Nearby historical sites include: Quan Thanh Temple to the southwest of the lake, Chau Long Pagoda to the east, An Tri Temple on Pho Duc Chinh Street, and Cau Nhi temple on a small hill near the northern corner of the lake. - Vietnam Net.

Planetary Tremors: Seismic Swarm at Kermedec Islands Region!

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake has struck the Kermadec Islands Region at a depth of 23.3 km ( 14.5 miles). The quake hit at 15:02:29 UTC Saturday 9th July 2011. The epicenter was 79 km (49 miles) east of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands. No tsunami watch, warning or advisory is in effect. There are no reports of any damage as yet.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Scientists monitor Iceland’s Katla Volcano!

Scientists are monitoring Iceland’s Katla volcano amid signs that a small eruption may be taking place.

The acting head of the Civil Protection Agency Iris Marelsdottir, says flooding is taking place near the volcano, caused by the melting of its ice cap. But she says the flooding may have other causes — such as high geothermal heat — so it not yet clear whether there is an eruption. Katla typically awakens every 80 years or so, and last erupted in 1918. Iceland, in the remote North Atlantic, is a volcanic hotspot. In April 2010 ash from an eruption of its Eyjafjallajokul volcano grounded flights across Europe for days, disrupting travel for 10 million people. Katla sits beside Eyjafjallajokul. - Washington Post.
Earth scientists who flew across Mýrdalsjökull glacier in south Iceland, which covers the volcano Katla, this morning noticed cracks in two calderas in the southernmost part of the glacier. However, there were no indications that a volcanic eruption had started underneath the glacier. “There are signs of flooding from two calderas in the southernmost part of the Katla crater and indications of activity elsewhere,” geophysicist Einar Kjartansson told He believes the glacial flood which destroyed the bridge across Múlakvísl on the Ring Road last night has subsided. The Múlakvísl flood came from underneath the glacial tongue Höfdabrekkujökull and Kjartansson said the glacial ice is considerably cracked where the flood emerged. Glacial ice is stranded in a large area which indicates that the flood is coming to an end. While there are no indications that a volcanic eruption has started in Katla, Kjartansson would not rule out that it could have happened last night. The Icelandic Meteorological Office’s automatic sensors show changes which could indicate a small eruption. But that isn’t certain. - Iceland Review.
A glacial flood affected South Iceland last night, likely caused by draining of geothermal melt water from underneath the east side of the Myrdalsjokull glacier. Scientists have been speculating that the glacial outburst may have been caused by a very small volcanic eruption; but no visual or seismic evidence to confirm that theory has yet come to light. The flood peaked last night and engineers are already working on repairing damage to local roads. The sudden outburst knocked out a bridge on the Route 1 highway, leaving the road closed. Icelandic interior minister, Ogmundur Jonasson told reporters that fixing the road is his top priority and the Icelandic Roads Administration is already working to build a temporary replacement bridge. It is hoped the road will open again in two to three days’ time. - Icenews.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Glacial Flooding as Katla Volcano Erupts!

The Civil Protection Department has lifted the danger level on the Mýrdalssandur plains in south Iceland, now only Mýrdalsjökull is off limits. The activity in the glacier, which covers the volcano Katla, has subsided significantly in the past hour.

Around 200 people who were evacuated from Álftaver and Medalland this morning have been allowed to return to the area, mbl reports. This was decided at a meeting between earth scientists and the Civil Protection Department at 3 pm. However, the situation is still considered risky and so the areas around the glacier have been downgraded to the uncertainty level and the Icelandic Meteorological Office will continue to monitor the situation closely, ruv reports. It is still not clear whether this was simply a case of glacial flooding or whether there was in fact a small eruption underneath the glacier. Scientists are preparing to fly across the glacier to learn more about the circumstances. - Iceland Review.
WATCH: Flooding along Katla Volcano.