Sunday, January 6, 2013

COSMIC MELANIN, MYSTERIES OF DARK MATTER: What's Going On Around Andromeda - Curious Structure Puzzles Scientists; 13 Dwarf Galaxies Orbiting The Andromeda Galaxy, In What Appears To Be A Fairly Narrow Ring, Making No Sense According To Current Models Of Galaxy Formation?!

January 06, 2013 - SPACE - Thirteen dwarf galaxies are playing a cosmic-scale game of Ring Around Andromeda, forming an enormous structure astronomers have never seen before and are hard-pressed to explain with current theories of how galaxies form and evolve.

New research shows a massive structure of dwarf galaxies orbiting the Andromeda galaxy (pictured).
University of Utah/AP.
According to current theories, the small galaxies, which contain as many as a few tens of billions of stars each, should be randomly arranged around the Andromeda galaxy.  Instead, they orbit Andromeda within a plane more than 1 million light-years across and about 30,000 light-years thick. For comparison, the latest estimates of Andromeda's girth put its diameter at more than 220,000 light-years. The ring, if it can be called that, represents "the largest organized structure in what we call the local group of galaxies," says Michael Rich, a research astronomer at the University of California at Los Angeles and a member of the team reporting the results in the Jan. 3 issue of the journal Nature. The local group consists of more than 54 galaxies, including dwarfs, about 10 million light-years across.  Such rings don't appear when astrophysicists run their models of galaxy evolution, or when they model the local group's formation, he says. In addition, Andromeda and the Milky Way, the two most massive galaxies in the group, appear to be headed for a collision in about 4.5 billion years. The two galaxies are but 2.5 million light-years away and closing.

"Given all of this, we don't have a clear explanation for why this structure exists," Dr. Rich says.  Coming up with an explanation will be challenging. Andromeda was the only galaxy close enough to make the observation possible. But researchers would like to find more of these extended rings.  Larger numbers would provide increasingly rigorous real-world tests of any explanations scientists devise, notes Chris Stoughton, an astronomer at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., who was not a member of the team that discovered the ring.  In particular, he says, an understanding of these structures could help researchers unravel the mysteries of dark matter – a form of matter that provides the cocoons in which galaxies form and grow, as well as the scaffolding along which galaxies are distributed in the cosmos. - CS Monitor.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Flu Epidemic In United States - Thousands Hospitalized; 41 States Reported Cases; 18 Children Dead Of Complications; And It's Going To Get Worse!

January 06, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The U.S. has been hit with a particularly aggressive early flu season this year with widespread reports of the illness across the country, hospitalizing 2,257 people and leaving 18 children dead before the end of 2012. And health officials say the numbers haven't even peaked yet. 'I think we're still accelerating,' Tom Skinner, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman, told reporters.

Viral: An early and hard-hitting flu season has swept America leaving thousands hospitalized.
The latest figures from the CDC show 29 states and New York City reporting high levels of flu activity, up from 16 states and New York City just one week prior. Overall, 41 states reported cases. 'It’s about five weeks ahead of the average flu season,' said Lyn Finelli, lead of the surveillance and response team that monitors influenza for the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. 'We haven’t seen such an early season since 2003 to 2004.' During that flu season, Joe Lastinger's daughter Emily, 3, died only five days after coming down with the flu in late January. 'That was the first really bad season for children in a while,' said Lastinger, 40. 'For whatever reason that's not well understood, it affected her and it killed her.' In that season, illnesses peaked in early to mid-December, with flu-related pneumonia and deaths peaking in early January. That season was considered a 'moderately severe' season for flu, and ended in mid-February. It's still too early to tell how bad this year's flu season will get.

While the CDC is waiting for more time to pass before classifying the season, Google Flu Trends has already listed it as 'intense' by monitoring flu activity around the world based on internet search terms. And roughly 4 per cent of users on Flu Near You, a real-time tracking tool gaining about 100 new participants per week, say they're experiencing symptoms. 'That's huge,' John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston, told NBC News. 'Last year, we never got near this.' Brownstein is one of the founders of Flu Near You, a project, coordinated by Children’s Hospital Boston, the Skoll Global Threats Fund and the American Public Health Association. The project has been a great tool for generating immediate data about the ongoing flu season. 'It’s what we call ‘nowcasting,'' Brownstein said. 'It’s a more up-to-date view.' CDC data can be as much as two weeks behind real-time reports.

Brownstein's data shows cough is this year's most frequently reported symptom at 19 per cent, ahead of sore throat at 16 per cent, fatigue at 15 per cent, headache at 14 per cent, body ache at 10 per cent, and fever at 7 per cent. Three our of four people reporting flu symptoms had not been vaccinated. While Brownstein's data is more immediate, he cautioned against using it as an accurate measure of vaccine's effectiveness because of variables in reporting. During the 2010-2011 flu season, the CDC reports vaccine's were effective four about 60 percent for all age groups combined. While there were then reports of vaccinated people developing laboratory-confirmed flu strains, CDC officials said it's not yet possible to know if this year's trends match up though they are 'watching the situation closely.' Those officials also noted that this year's vaccines seem to be a good match for the two strains of influenza A and one of influenza B circulating. The H3N2 strain is dominant this year, and it can cause more serious illnesses. Flu seasons vary widely in severity with some year's totaling up to 200,000 hospitalized and between 3,000 to 49,000 dead. About 127 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed this year from the 15 million doses produced for this season. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: CDC - 41 states have widespread flu activity.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: "Horrible" Sea Level Rise Of More Than 3 Feet Is Plausible By 2100, Experts Say?!

January 06, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - Melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland may push up global sea levels more than 3 feet by the end of this century, according to a scientific poll of experts that brings a degree of clarity to a murky and controversial slice of climate science.   Such a rise in the seas would displace millions of people from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, swamp atolls in the Pacific Ocean, cause dikes in Holland to fail, and cost coastal mega-cities from New York to Tokyo billions of dollars for construction of sea walls and other infrastructure to combat the tides.  "The consequences are horrible," Jonathan Bamber, a glaciologist at the University of Bristol and a co-author of the study published Jan. 6 in the journal Nature Climate Change, told NBC News.

Experts increasingly recognize that ice melting in Antarctica could push up sea levels dramatically
higher in coming decades. Alister Doyle / Reuters file.
Estimating how much sea levels will rise from ice sheet melting is one of the more challenging aspects of climate science. Some evidence suggests recent accelerated melting is related to changes in ocean and atmospheric temperature, though natural variability may play an important role. In addition, glaciers respond to external forces such as warmer temperatures in different ways, even when they are located right next to each other. As a result, there is tremendous uncertainty in the scientific community over how the melting will affect sea levels over the next century.  Bamber and colleague Willy Aspinall attempted to find clarity in the chaos using a scientific polling technique common in fields such as predicting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but until now not applied to climate science.  The pair sent 26 of the world's leading glaciologists a series of questions about the behavior of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. About half replied to the survey in 2010. The respondents were polled again in 2012 to assess the robustness of their answers.  Bamber said this type of approach is "a lot more than an opinion poll." The experts were handpicked to get a representative perspective of world leaders from the ice sheet modeling and observational fields. "We analyzed the results in a very systematic, rigorous, and statistically robust way," he added.  The median estimate from the experts is that the melting ice sheets will contribute 1 foot (29 centimeters) to sea level rise by the year 2100 with a 5 percent chance their contribution could exceed 2.8 feet (84 centimeters). When the effect of thermal expansion (water expands as it warms) is taken into account, the high-end estimate is more than 3 feet (1 meter).

The estimates are higher than the controversial figures in the 2007 report  from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of up to 23 inches (59 centimeters) and higher than the unpublished estimates being prepared for the next IPCC report, said Bamber, who is a review editor for that document and has seen the estimates.  The discrepancy likely reflects added weight given to recent studies that indicate glacier melt has accelerated in recent years in Antarctica and Greenland, and that the West Antarctic ice sheet could partially collapse by the end of this century.  "The numbers we are getting out of our elicitation reflect the fact that the world leaders in this field are now cognizant of the fact that the ice sheets are quite responsive and, in particular, there is a potential for them to make a really quite dramatic contribution," Bamber said.  The greatest drama would be a more than 3-foot rise in sea levels from the combined effect of melting ice and thermal expansion, which the study indicates has a 1 in 20 chance of occurring.   How much of this drama can be attributed to human burning of fossil fuels, the study indicates, remains murky. “There is really no consensus amongst the experts we approached,” Bamber said. “That’s something that we in the scientific community need to address as a matter of urgency.” - NBC News.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: Ominous Black Iceberg In New Zealand - Image Goes Viral Online!

January 06, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - An amazingly ominous picture of a black iceberg on social media platform Reddit.com is creating quite a stir among online denizens as it went viral within hours of it being published on January 4, 2013.

This photo of a Black Iceberg was posted on January 4, 2013, on Reddit and went viral with more than
1.17 million views in less than 48 hours. (Photo: Reddit).
The iceberg stands in sharp contrast to another whitish iceberg in the photo which seems to have been taken during the day. The image has thus far been viewed some 1.17 million times, got more than 20,000 ‘up votes’ and, strangely, another 17,000 ‘down votes’, with more than 1,200 people commenting on the Reddit post.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, most icebergs are white except along freshly calved ice cliffs, which tend to appear blue. “Others may appear green, brown or black, or combinations of these colours,” it says.

“The various colorations are caused by differences in density, air-bubble content and impurities,” the encyclopedia explains. “For example, black ice is of high density and bubble free; dark layers indicate the presence of rock materials derived from the base of the parent glacier. Occasionally, rocks may be found on the original upper surface of the iceberg. As the iceberg melts, these materials precipitate into marine or lake sediments.”

The Black Iceberg picture, as it is being referred to online, was posted by Reddit user Rundboll, who did not mention where this picture was taken although other users have been speculating that the image must have been clicked somewhere in New Zealand.

Black icebergs are indeed scarcer than white icebergs, but the Tasman Glacier Lake in New Zealand is known as the ‘home of the black icebergs’. - Emirates 24/7.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For January 4-6, 2013 - Copahue, Tolbachik, Paluweh, Popocatépetl, Fuego, Santiaguito, Pacaya, Nevado del Ruiz, San Miguel, Tungurahua, Reventador, Kilauea, And Mammoth Mountain!

January 06, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Locals watch a column of smoke and ash rise from the Copahue volcano, six days ago. Picture: REUTERS.
Following an increase in shallow volcanic earthquakes and more intense degassing, including possibly venting of some ash, SERNAGEOMIN has raised the alert level of Copahue volcano in Chile/ Argentina back to Orange.

Plosky Tolbachik volcano in Kamchatka continues to erupt lava flows from the southern fissure. The eruption has stabilized and shows no signs of ending soon at the moment.

Thermal anomalies and an ash plume observed at 12,000 ft (3.7 km) on Friday and Saturday show that the lava dome of Paluweh north off Flores, Indonesia, remains active, and probably continues to produce pyroclastic flows.

The rate of emissions at Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico remains low, but an impressive SO2 plume visible today as well as continuing crater glow confirm that fresh magma is steadily rising within the volcano. Activity of the Guatemalan volcanoes Fuego and Santiaguito has not changed significantly. Both continue to slowly extrude viscous lava flows and Fuego has occasional small strombolian explosions. A small rockfall could be seen descending the slopes of the Santiaguito dome on the latest webcam image from 5 Jan morning. Pacaya volcano remains at unrest, with numerous small volcanic earthquakes, but has not had any other surface activity.

This could change quickly, though.Volcanic earthquakes and bursts of elevated tremor appeared on seismograms at San Miguel volcano in El Salvador. Seismic unrest including small earthquakes and weak volcanic tremor continue at Nevado del Ruiz volcano volcano in Colombia. Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador has calmed down a lot recently, both in seismicity and surface activity. The main hazard are lahars (mud flows) triggered by heavy rainfalls. Nearby Reventador volcano in turn seems to be becoming more active judging from seismic activity.

Kilauea volcano on Hawai'i still has a weakly active lava flow on the coastal plain and lava is entering the ocean at multiple locations.

Another small seismic swarm occurred at Mammoth Mountain in California west of the Long Valley caldera, between 4-5 January with quakes at depth of 12-15 km. - Volcano Discovery.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Deadly & Severe Respiratory Infection Kills At Least 5 Children In The Past Few Hours In Mexico?!

January 06, 2013 - MEXICO - At least five children less than a year old have died in the past few hours and 41 others are suffering severe respiratory infections in a highly marginalized area of the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, officials said Saturday.

Severe Respiratory Infection Kills At Least 5 Children in Mexico.
The state government said in a communique that the deaths occurred in the Emiliano Zapata community of Yajalon municipality, and that health authorities are attending the children suffering from the illness.

Authorities said that these respiratory infections, brought on by the intense cold and heavy rains, are characterized by coughs and high fevers, and that the bacteria tend to spread during the winter in highly marginalized areas.

To take charge of the emergency, Chiapas Gov. Manuel Velasco designated the head of the Health Secretariat.

Three health-care brigades also arrived in the community to attend patients and apply preventive measures, including vaccinations to ward off a possible epidemic.

Meanwhile the state government offered all its support to the affected families and to the inhabitants of the community “to keep the disease from spreading.” - HSN.

MASS UFO SIGHTINGS: The Symbols of an Alien Sky, Man-Made or Natural Phenomena - The Latest UFO Sightings And Aerial Anomalies Around the World?

January 06, 2013 - WORLDWIDE UFOs - Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.


Texas, United States - 30th of December, 2012.


Cardwell, Queensland, Australia - 2nd of January, 2013.


Melbourne, Australia - 4th of January, 2013.


The Sun - 5th of January, 2013.


Johannesburg, South Africa - 5th of January, 2013.


International Space Station - 1st of January, 2013.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Over One Million Receiving Treatment At Emergency Departments In Beijing, China For H1N1 Flu - Highest Number Of Cases Since 2008, Two Deaths So Far!

January 06, 2013 - CHINA - Beijing has registered its first two H1N1-related deaths since 2010, following the death of two Chinese women, 10 days ago. A 65-year-old cancer patient died last Friday, while a 22-year-old migrant worker succumbed to the disease on Dec 27.

FILE: EPA.
Beijing Daily quoted Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Deng Ying as saying, influenza cases reported here were at its peak over the past five years, while the H1N1 strain had become the most dominant.

He said, there were 1.04 million patients receiving treatment at emergency departments of Beijing's second-level or above medical institutions between Dec 24 and 30. A total of 28,567 patients, or 2.75 per cent of the total number of patients are afflicted with a clear influenza-like illness, as indicated by the Beijing Influenza Surveillance data.

It said the number of cases were the highest recorded in the same period since 2008. It was reported that influenza usually peaked between December and January in Beijing or other places in China, due to low temperature. - Malaysian Digest.

RATTLE & HUM: Very Loud Booms & Houses Shaking Reported In Oklahoma, South Carolina And Alaska?!

January 06, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Residents of Red Bank in Lexington County appear to have gotten a loud awakening Thursday morning as multiple reports indicate a loud booming noise in the area.  WIS News 10 viewers poured onto our Facebook page this morning to report the sound.  "What was the horrific boom in the Redbank area," asked Lisa Russell Fields.


Source Of Loud Boom In Red Bank Remains A Mystery.
"People are saying it sounded like a plane crash or explosion."  "I also heard the "big boom" this morning. So did a lot of other people, it sounds like a close cannon or something and will shake the whole building/house," said Jennifer Lee Stokes Kleine.  "Does anyone have a concrete explanation for the loud boom that shook houses in Lexington County around the Redbank/YMCA/Old Barnwell Road area this morning around 8:30 a.m.," said Mary Frances Henry Bell.  So, what was it? The Lexington County Sheriff's Department doesn't know either.  "Law enforcement officers and public safety personnel have been unable so far to determine the source of the noise," said Sheriff's Department spokesman Maj. John Allard. "No explosions have been reported."  A similarly loud explosive noise happened last year in the South Congaree portion of Lexington County.  Residents reported then being woken up to the boom around 8 a.m. on a Sunday. Seismographs at the University of South Carolina even measured something in the area.  However, there was never any cause determined for that loud noise either. - WISTV.

Southcentral Authorities Silent On Cause Of Booming Noise.
Southcentral Alaska authorities didn’t have any immediate cause for a loud booming noise heard Thursday night and reported by Channel 2 viewers, but seemed to rule out sonic booms from aircraft in responses Friday.  Reports of the sounds were posted on Channel 2’s Facebook page Thursday evening by people ranging from Eagle River to the Mat-Su Valley. Some reports placed the phenomenon between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday, with Channel 2's Late Edition airing a brief update on the reports. Viewers' descriptions of the sound varied, but those who heard it generally agreed that it was a strong and persistent noise.  “I live in Peters Creek and I heard several loud noises outside and then muted the television,” Channel 2 viewer Rachel Lee wrote. “After about a minute of silence, there was a rumble and my chandelier started to shake. I thought it might have been an earthquake but I looked online and there weren't any listed at that time; it was 8:05 p.m.”  “About the only thing I can compare it to is someone going down a dirt road really fast,” viewer Deb Spaulding wrote. “(I)t was that sort of rumble.”  “I was in the garage and I heard it. It (lasted) for a while,” wrote viewer Michelle Thomas Hanks. “At first I thought it was the wind until I stepped outside… My (neighbor’s kids) looked for what was making that loud noise and they could not see anything just kept hearing the loud noise.”  John Pennell, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s chief of media operations, says the base wasn’t flying any of its supersonic fighter jets capable of causing sonic booms Thursday night, with only subsonic C-17 Globemaster III transports flying until 9:30 p.m. 

“Although they are loud, I don’t think anybody’s going to mistake them for a sonic boom,” Pennell said.  Val Jokela, a Federal Aviation Administration community-affairs representative in Anchorage, says the FAA’s regional operations center received no noise complaints overnight.  Law enforcement agencies were similarly stymied by the reports, with Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Dani Myren saying no noise complaints were listed for Thursday or Friday. Dispatchers on duty overnight didn’t relay any reports of the booms to the next shift, which came on duty at 7 a.m.  Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters says troopers also had no noise complaints from the region, with AST dispatchers also not relaying any updates during a 6 a.m. shift change.  “There wasn’t anything there big enough for them to pass on or be told about,” Peters said.  The Alaska Volcano Observatory had no reports Friday on the noise itself or any volcanic activity that may have caused it. The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center’s latest listed earthquake was a magnitude 4.6 temblor on Dec. 24, centered 40 miles northwest of Valdez.  The National Weather Service forecast office in Anchorage also didn’t have any possible causes, saying there was some shower activity in the area Thursday but nothing more severe in terms of weather conditions.  With no immediate answers on the matter Lee, the Peters Creek viewer, echoed the confusion of many people about the source of the noise.  “It's strange no one knows what caused it,” Lee wrote. - KTUU.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Mass Animal Die-Off - Deadly, Unknown And Mysterious Disease Affecting Some 1.5 Million Animals In Pakistan - 360 Domestic Animals Dead So Far?!

January 06, 2013 - PAKISTAN - Following the outbreaks of cholera and measles which have claimed the lives of more than three hundred children and sickened several thousands in the northern Sindh districts, now the outbreak of one unknown mysterious diseases in the same region has killed more than 360 domestic animals including buffaloes, cows and goats.

FILE IMAGE: A Pakistani villager lays sandbags on a flood-stricken street near a dead buffalo at Sanawa
village in Punjab province. By Banaras Khan, AFP/Getty Images.
Much to the horror of the animal bearers, the large number of deaths have been reported within a week in Ghotki, and Sukkur. According to the villagers buffaloes and cows feel congested in breathing and die in a short time span. The sudden death of buffaloes, cows and goats have forced the breeders to watch their means of livelihood die in front of their eyes. Moreover, some I.5 million domestic animals are believed to be suffering from this unknown disease.

Shockingly, the provincial livestock and animal husbandry department is in a deep slumber due to which no solution has been initiated in this regard. On the contrary, the villagers have reported the matter to the media to highlight the issue of this mysterious disease in the repeated disaster battered districts. However, I appeal to the President of Pakistan to direct the concerned provincial departments to set up campus for the treatment of the domestic animals in the affected districts and also direct the veterinary doctors to make regular visits to the villages throughout the province so as save the domestic animals which become a sole source of income and livelihood for poverty and sorrows-stricken villagers in the rural areas of Sindh province. - Pak Observer.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursor - A Surge Of Wolf Attacks Lead To State Of Emergency In Siberia Region Of Russia, "Battle Against Wolves" To Be Launched On January 15?!

January 06, 2013 - RUSSIA - Yegor Borisov, head of the Sakha Republic, a vast and sparsely populated region of eastern Siberia, has called for an urgent cull of wolves after the predators swamped populated areas in a search for food.  The local government has announced a three month "battle against wolves" to be launched on January 15. 

The sparsely populated Sakha Republic has seen several dramatic confrontations between humans and
the animals in recent years Photo: Alamy.
Special task forces will be put together and the hunting season extended all year round in a bid to tackle what the local authorities have described as a "mass migration" of the creatures.  The governor has even promised a six-figure cash prize for the hunters who bring back the most skins.  The sparsely populated Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, has seen several dramatic confrontations between humans and the animals in recent years. Last January a "super pack" of 400 wolves laid siege to the remote town of Verkhoyansk, forcing locals to mount patrols on snow mobiles until the government could send in extra help.  Wolves usually hunt in small groups of just six or seven, and naturalists believe only a serious failure of the usual food supply could have brought such a large pack together to tackle larger prey. 

This year naturalists say a shortage of the wolves' traditional pretty – especially blue hares – has seen vast numbers of the hungry animals migrating from their mountainous hunting grounds to central parts of the republic.  While scientists agree a food shortage is at the root of the problem, it is not clear what has impacted the small mammal population. Some naturalists have pointed to cyclical fluctuations in the population of small mammals, but others have suggested unusually harsh winters could have played a role.  There are thought to be about 3,500 wolves in the Sakha Republic, which covers an area larger than Argentina. The local government says the territory can realistically support no more than 500.  While no attacks on humans have been reported recently, the influx of predators into more populated regions has had a big impact on agriculture – especially the region's traditional reindeer herders.  Wolves killed 313 horses and over 16,000 reindeer in 2012, according to the agriculture ministry. - Telegraph.

EXTREME WEATHER: Dozens Missing After Wildfires In Australia's Tasman Peninsula - Over 100 Homes Destroyed, Massive Trail Of Destruction!

January 06, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Australian authorities were searching Sunday for a number of people reported missing in wildfires that destroyed more than 100 homes in southeast Tasmania, officials said.  Police and rescue workers were going door to door in the southern Tasmanian towns of Dunalley and Boomer Bay to try to account for dozens missing after the fires hit the region on Friday, acting Police Commissioner Scott Tilyard said, according to CNN affiliate Network 10. 

A scene from Bicheno, as the fire swallows up the town of Dunalley. Photo: Hannah Woolley.
While there have been no casualties reported so far, Tilyard said he was "fearful that someone may have died in this fire."  "It is a very distinct possibility still, and I think people need to brace themselves that that may be the case," Tilyard told reporters in Tasmania's capital of Hobart.  Hundreds of people have been evacuated by sea and air from the Tasman Peninsula because the fires have blocked roads in and out of the rural communities, officials said.  Evacuee Pam Macfarlane told Network 10 she didn't know whether her home had survived the blaze. The fire reached her neighborhood less than an hour after she learned it had skipped over a nearby canal.  "It was terrifying. ... I saw flames and I saw ashes coming," she said.  Dazed residents sought shelter at relief centers.  "We've got people who are just walking in who've got absolutely nothing," Tammy Mason, a relief coordinator, told Network 10. "They're bewildered. A lot of them just want clean underwear and just a change of clothes."

This aerial photo shows homes destroyed by a wildfire near Boomer Bay, in southern Australia, on Saturday. Pic: AP.
On Sunday, the Tasmania Fire Service warned a dangerous wildfire was advancing on Taranna, a small town known for the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park.  "If your home is well constructed, prepared and actively defended, it may provide shelter," the fire service said in a emergency warning message issued Sunday night. "If you don't have a plan or your plan is to leave -- leave now only if the path is clear."  About 65 homes and an elementary school were destroyed when the fire scorched Dunalley on Friday, authorities said.  Dozens more homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged in neighboring communities, including the hamlet of Boomer Bay, they said.  Aerial photographs taken by CNN affiliate Nine News showed the fire's fury as it hopscotched homes in Dunalley and Boomer Bay, burning two homes, leaving one standing and then burning another.  Tasmania's fire chief told reporters Sunday that firefighters hope to bring the blaze under control by Tuesday.  Part of the problem is the rugged nature of the Tasman Peninsula, where the fires have been burning since last week, Chief Fire Officer Mike Brown said.  "There is still some problems getting fire vehicles into the Tasman Peninsula to work more on protecting properties and protecting assets,'' he said. - CNN.

WATCH: Dozens missing following wildfire in Australia's Tasman Peninsula.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: 30-Year-Long Constant Eruption Of Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano - Longest Since The 15th Century!

January 06, 2013 - HAWAII - The 30-year-long eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is its longest since the 15th century and it has added 500 acres of land to the island, researchers say. The long-term and constant activity has given scientists a greater knowledge of how volcanoes work, they said.

This first ocean entry of 2012 is already creating a small lava delta, a.k.a. bench, growing the island..
Image: Volcano Discovery.
The U.S Geological Survey’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory uses a network of cameras, seismic stations and field sampling to study the volcano and allows it to predict the path of lava flows much like floods.

“We have a much better understanding of the system as a whole,” HVO scientist Jim Kauahikaua said. “We know a lot more about the tectonic mechanics of how Kilauea works, about where earthquakes occur and why, and what types of earthquakes occur, and gas emissions and what they indicate.”

For the past 2,500 years Kilauea has seen periods of sporadic explosive eruptions about 60 percent of the time and stretches of extrusive, or quiet, eruptions — like the current one — about 40 percent of the time, researchers said.

“Kilauea will be a very different place when it reverts to an explosive period, the latest of which lasted for 300 years between about 1500 and 1800,” USGS scientist Don Swanson told OurAmazingPlanet. “The explosive eruption in 1790 probably killed several hundred people, making Kilauea the most lethal volcano in the United States.” - PLD.