Sunday, January 20, 2013

EXTRATERRESTRIAL MEMES: "Strongest Evidence Yet To There Being Life On Mars" - Martian Rocks From A Crater Hit By A Meteorite May Hold Clues To A Monumental Discovery!

January 20, 2013 - MARS - Prof John Parnell, 55, has co-written a theory with Dr Joseph Michalski, a planetary geologist at the Natural History Museum, that suggests they have discovered the best signs of life in the huge McLaughlin Crater on the surface of Mars.  The document, published today in Nature Geoscience journal, describes how they assessed the crater, created by a meteorite which smashed into the surface of Mars, flinging up rocks from miles below.

The best signs of life on Mars so far have been found in the huge McLaughlin Crater Photo: GETTY.
The rocks appear to be made up of clays and minerals which have been altered by water - the essential element to support life.  Speaking from his laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, geochemist Prof Parnell said: "We could be so close to discovering if there is, or was, life on Mars.  "We know from studies that a substantial proportion of all life on Earth is also in the subsurface and by studying the McLaughlin Crater we can see similar conditions beneath the surface of Mars thanks to observations on the rocks brought up by the meteorite strike.   "There can be no life on the surface of Mars because it is bathed in radiation and it's completely frozen. However, life in the sub surface would be protected from that.  "And there is no reason why there isn't bacteria or other microbes that were or still are living in the small cracks well below the surface of Mars.  "One of the other things we have discussed in our paper is that this bacteria could be living off hydrogen, which is exactly the same as what microbes beneath the surface of the Earth are doing too.  Unfortunately, we won't find any evidence of animals as the most complex life you might get in the sub surface would be fungi. But fungi aren't even that far removed from plants and animals, so I think you could say that life on Mars could be complex, but small." 

Prof Parnell reckons that although the next mission to Mars will have a drill to examine possibilities of life beneath the surface of Mars, he says his new study suggests looking around the edges of craters would be easier and more beneficial.  He said: "What we're really doing is emphasising that if we are going to explore for life on Mars, we need to go beneath the surface. So we need to find an approach beneath the surface.  "One approach to do that might be to drill and indeed the next European mission to Mars will have a drill on it, but that will only go down about two metres.  And although drilling two metres on Earth would be a fantastic technological achievement, it's only really scratching the surface.  So the alternative is to use what nature has done for us and that's why we are are particularly interested in the McLaughlin Crater that we have investigated in our paper.  Because when a meteor lands, it excavates a big hole in the ground and throws rocks from the bottom of the hole outside the crater to where we could conceivably go and sample them."  And while the craters on Mars may uncover secrets about the planet's possibility of supporting life, Prof Parnell also revealed the results could show us how life on Earth began.  He said: "It's very easy to draw parallels between what Mars looks like and what the early Earth might have looked like, because the rocks on Earth that we see now have been recycled a lot in ways that they have not been recycled on Mars.  "Mars has not had things like erosion and shifting of mountain ranges to destroy vital evidence from the past.  So studying meteorite craters of Mars may well actually give us an indication to how life on Earth began.  Although we all live on the surface of Earth, life did not originate here, but actually in the sub surface.  It was only when life had taken hold below the surface that it gradually expanded and came up to the surface.  In fact, there's so much life below the surface of our planet that we are actually the unusual ones living above it." - Telegraph.

ICE AGE NOW: Snowpocalypse Russia - Major "Snow Tsunami" Swallows Streets, Cars, Buildings!

January 20, 2013 - RUSSIA - Unrelenting snowfalls have caused unprecedented chaos in Russia. Over the past week, the country has seen scores of traffic accidents, flight delays and, in some cases, the complete isolation of some remote settlements and towns.

Russia snowed under. (World Wide Daily Snow and Ice Cover Map, Source: NOAA).
On Friday, Moscow was on a verge of traffic collapse as more than 10 inches of snow fell on the city, which is more than half of January’s average.  Thousands of passengers were stranded overnight in the capital’s major airports, as several dozen flights were delayed.  Muscovites woke up and found their cars, driveways and houses buried under a thick layer of snow, with city workers unable to get to smaller streets.  Moscow’s Yandex app showed traffic at level 10, the highest possible, as strong winds created blizzard conditions and built imposing snow drifts.  Falling snow and ice caused many accidents due to poor visibility and bad road conditions. Moscow witnessed a 13-kilometer jam on MKAD, one of the city's main highways, reducing speeds to 10 to 25 kph in the capital.  More than 12,000 snow removal trucks worked around-the-clock to clean up the mess, but their efforts did little, with the city coming to an effective standstill.  The chair of the Duma’s transport committee called for local transport officials to face legal sanctions for failing to cope with the winter weather. “Until local bureaucrats face the wrath of the law, winter will always be a surprise occurrence. They will continue to do nothing, as people suffer,” Mikhail Bryachak told Kommersant FM radio.  However, meteorologists have promised some good news for Moscow: The stormy conditions are expected to recede over the weekend.

Norilsk. (Photo from bigpicture.ru).
While the snowstorms have caused inconvenience for large population centers in western Russia, they have been life-threatening further east in the country. The polar circle city of Norilsk has been buried under 10 feet of snow – entire apartment blocks, markets, stores and offices were buried under snow overnight.  Banks of snow were as high as two people put together, reaching the second-story windows of some apartment buildings. Cars, stores, garages were blocked. Norilsk metropolitan workers were forced to dig passageways through the snow banks to create access between the outside world and the barricaded city.  Meanwhile, icicles up to three feet in length have formed off the ledges of buildings, breaking at random and causing a lethal hazard for pedestrians below.  Elsewhere, the extreme weather continues. In the Altai Republic in Western Siberia, 12 Russian settlements were isolated because of the snowstorm. Seven settlements, with a total population of 1,300 people, remain cut off from the outside world due to the snow drifts. Emergency crews are currently en route to deliver needed supplies to the stranded populations.  Snow accompanied by strong winds has caused flight delays in the airport of Russia’s far eastern town of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The runway has been cleared, but planes are not risking takeoff due to strong sidewinds. Flights were also delayed in Russia’s easternmost cities of Vladivostok and Khabarovsk.  More snow storms are predicted in Western Siberia and the Western Urals over the weekend.  In the end of 2012, Russia saw extreme winter not witnessed since 1938. The coldest-ever December in Russia led to the evacuation of hundreds of people in Siberia, where temperatures fell below -50 degrees Celsius; Moscow also saw its coldest night ever for the season.  More than 90 Russians died during the cold snap, and more than 600 people were taken to hospital due to the extremely dangerous weather, which is 10 degrees below the December norm.  Nearly 200 people have died throughout Russia as a direct result of weather-related accidents and hypothermia this season, according to official statistics, although the extreme conditions have likely contributed to many more fatalities. - RT.

WATCH: Slideshow of "snow tsunami" in Russia.

FUK-U-SHIMA: The Orchestrated War On Planet Earth - Meet "Mike," The Most Radioactive Fish Ever From Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone!

January 20, 2013 - JAPAN - Almost two years after the awful nuclear disaster occurred, a fish caught near Fukushima on Friday January 18th had a record-breaking level of radioactive contamination over 2500x the legal limit.

Mike - the slightly crispy looking Marusoi.
TEPCO measured 'Mike the Murasoi' at 254,000 becquerels per kilogram (with the limit for edible seafood at 100 becquerels).

As Le Monde reports, the previous record (caught on August 21st 2012) was a mere 25,800 becquerels/kg.

As further precautions, TEPCO is installing new nets 20km around the Fukushima Daichi site to avoid highly contaminated fish gettig too far and being consumed by other species.

While Mike's family are no doubt distraught (at him being caught and being so radioactive), it appears (somewhat disappointingly) that there is no apparent third eye, lazer fins, legs, or other 'expected' 'blinky' malformations. - Zero Hedge.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Russia Starts Major Naval Drills In Mediterranean Sea Amid Syria Crisis!

January 20, 2013 - RUSSIA - Russia has launched its largest naval exercises in decades in the Mediterranean and Black Seas near the territorial waters of Syria amid the ongoing crisis in the Arab country.

Russian Black fleet ships take part in a Russian military Navy Day parade near an important navy
base in the Ukrainian town of Sevastopol, on July 31, 2011.
The drills “are held in line with the Russian Armed Forces’ 2013 combat training plan and focus on interoperability of task forces from several fleets while on a mission in a far-off maritime zone,” said an official statement by Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday.

The maneuvers will continue until January 29 and comprise more than 60 drills, including anti-submarine warfare missions, missile and artillery firing practices.

Russia’s Black Sea, Northern and Baltic fleets, strategic bombers, tactical aircraft, air defense units, paratroopers and naval infantry will take part in the naval exercises.

The task forces have four large landing ships and a variety of auxiliary vessels in their composition which enable the Russian forces to carry out simulated beach landing and convoy escort missions.
Some of naval maneuvers are expected to be conducted in the eastern part of the Mediterranean near the territorial waters of Syria where foreign-backed terrorists have stepped up their campaign against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia has criticized the Western countries’ support for the terrorists in the Arab country.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the violence. - Press TV.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: "Incredible" - Meteorologists Confounded, Another Snowless Record On Tap For Chicago?!

January 20, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Whether you like it or not, we will officially break another record for no snow today, according to the National Weather Service.  "It's pretty incredible," said NWS meteorologist Gino Izzi. "It's the middle of January and there's no snow on the ground. Dallas, Texas has had more snow than us." 

(Tribune illustration).
Izzi said the last time we have gone this far into the season without a 1-inch calendar day of snowfall was Jan. 17, 1899. If we get no snow today -- and there is none in the forecast through the weekend -- it's a record.  Additionally, it's been 326 days and counting since we've had a 1-inch snow cover on the ground. That record was officially broken nine days ago, according to Izzi.  "If you think about it, we're just a little over a month away from basically going an entire year without snow in Chicago," Izzi said.  Izzi attributes the lack of snow, in part, to luck. 

"Some of it has just been luck but there have been some pretty good storms that have missed us," he said.  While snowfall is not in the stars for the area, very cold temperatures are.  "We're watching a little system Sunday night that will bring a really, really intense cold snap – the coldest we've been in nearly two years," Izzi said.  Highs will "struggle" to reach the teens by Monday into Tuesday.  "We could have lows not very far from zero," Izzi said.  The Illinois Tollway will launch its Zero Weather Road Patrols this weekend to assist drivers stranded in their cars during times of extreme cold.  The tollway anticipates activating Zero Patrols overnight Saturday and into the day Monday, until the temperature and/or wind chill rises above zero, according to a tollway release.  The 24-hour service dedicates hourly patrols in search of motorists stranded in disabled vehicles or in response to calls that come in to *999 motorist assistance, Illinois Tollway dispatch or Illinois State Police District 15. - Chicago Tribune.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Large Seismic Tension Buildup - The Number Of Earthquakes In Azerbaijan Increased By 60% Last Year!

January 20, 2013 - AZERBAIJAN - An increase of 60% has been occurred in the number of earthquakes, Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) told APA. 5214 earthquake shock was recorded in Azerbaijan last year. 3380 of them are local, near earthquakes and 1834 distant earthquakes. 50% of them (ML 2.8-5.6) was felt. 37 earthquakes occurred in the northwest part of the Republic.

Earthquake map of a 6-point earthquake that occurred 15 kilometers south of Zagatala on May 18th, 2012.
Monthly distribution of the earthquakes and seismic energy release show that the rate in May was higher. It is due to earthquakes in Sheki and Zagatala. The amount of seismic energy released in October is also high. It is due to strong earthquakes occurred in Balakan and Ismayilli regions.

The south-eastern slope of the Greater Caucasus characterized by high seismicity remains active. The earthquakes in Zagatala are the most powerful seismic events of the reporting year.

Shamakhi-Ismayilli seismogenic area remains active as it was in previous years. The migration of earthquake focuses is observed in the north-north-west, south-south-east directions.  The central and southern parts (Langabiz chain) of Shamakhi-Ismayilli area are active as well as northern part (Mikhtokan chain). The growth is observed in the amount of released seismic energy compared to 2011. The most powerful-5,3 magnitude earthquake occurred on 17 km south-east from Ismayilli on October 7, 2012. - APA.

ICE AGE: Global Cooling Across The World - Parts Of North India Blanketed With Largest Snowfall In 8 Years; Heavy Snow Sends Northern Mexico Into State Of Emergency; Blanket Of Snow Covers Parts Of Europe Causing Blizzards, Traffic Delays And Deaths!

January 20, 2013 - EUROPE - Extreme winter weather swept across western Europe Saturday, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at London's main international airport and claiming several lives in Spain, Portugal and France, including those of three Mali-bound soldiers.The frigid temperatures also caused delays and cancellations on major railway lines including the Eurostar train service, and transport authorities warned of further traffic disruptions with more blizzards forecast for Sunday.In London, thousands of passengers were forced to camp out on the floors of Heathrow Airport overnight as hundreds of flights to and from the British capital were cancelled.

Desperate measures: An airplane is sprayed with de-icing fluid prior to its take-off at the Munich Airport,
where 500 staff have struggled to make aircraft and runways suitable for flying.
Europe Hit By Blizzards, Air Traffic Havoc And Deaths.
"There are lots of bodies lying around in the airport. If feels like there's been a natural disaster," Jerry Meng from Los Angeles, whose flight to New York was cancelled, told British broadcaster BBC.London's other main airports, Gatwick and Stansted, managed to operate fairly normally Saturday.For Sunday, the snow is expected to cause a 20-percent traffic reduction at Heathrow, and French air traffic authorities have ordered a 40 percent cut in take-offs and landings at Paris' Charles De Gaulle and Orly airports.The snow and ice covering large parts of France led to several fatal car crashes, one of which killed three French soldiers about to join comrades fighting in Mali, authorities said.The troops were travelling in an army car with their military packs and weapons when their vehicle crashed in an accident involving two trucks and two cars.In total, six people were killed on French roads Saturday, and the nation's weather services have forecast more snow across the northern and southeastern parts of the country over the weekend.The cold spell also led to power outages, particularly in Northern Ireland where at least 900 homes were without electricity Saturday.In southern Europe, the fierce weather claimed several lives, killing two men in Spain as a the force of the winds whipping the country's south-eastern coast caused a wall to collapse on them in the city of Cartagena.Spain's National rail operator ADIF said wind damage forced delays to high-speed trains linking Madrid with the major cities of Seville and Valencia.The country's interior ministry issued an alert for the weekend, warning of snow and rain storms nationwide with winds up to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) and rough seas in the Mediterranean.In Portugal, an elderly man was killed after strong winds hurled him into a door in the central municipality of Abrantes, leaving him with deadly head injuries. Two teenagers were hospitalised after a chimney collapsed in Agualva, in the Lisbon suburbs.The Portugese meteorological institute has issued the highest weather alert for six of its 18 districts. According to rescue services, some 3,900 weather-related incidents were reported in Portugal between Friday morning and noon Saturday.Some welcomed the icy spell.In Russia, thousands of Orthodox devotees braved the cold weather and plunged into holes cut into frozen rivers and ponds to celebrate the annual holiday of the Epiphany. - Raw Story.

WATCH: Blanket of snow covers parts of Europe. Parts of Europe, including Russia, France, Austria and the UK have seen heavy winter snowfall. According to the Austrian meteorological department, Austria is experiencing its heaviest snow in ten years.


This bus was still moving yesterday. But today?
© Saint Lary skiresort.
Record Snowfall Closes Lifts And Roads In The Pyreness.
The Pyrenees are experiencing historic, but also terrifying moments right now. Around 200 centimeters of freshies came down in the ski resorts on the French side of the Pyrenees since Sunday. All the lifts in the resorts are closed since Tuesday morning as a precaution.  The combination of a stormy wind (100 km/h), the huge and intense snowfall and the fact that warmer air is coming in this afternoon is causing a very critical situation. Around 200 centimeters came down since Sunday and you can expect another 40-70 centimeters today. Some roads to the ski resorts were already temporarily blocked due to spontaneous avalanches on Tuesday, but in the meanwhile the local government closed some roads as a precaution. Some ski resorts are cut off from the outside world at the moment.  The highest avalanche danger is applicable in the Pyrenees since yesterday (5 out of 5). Avalanche danger 5 is threatening the public life and large avalanches can come down spontaneously. Remember Galtür in the late nineties? The emergency services worked hard yesterday to keep the roads open. But the conditions are simply too dangerous to continue that today. Same thing for the ski resorts. It's just too dangerous to keep the lifts (and the slopes) open in such dangerous conditions and as you can imagine, all the lifts are closed today. - Wepowder.


Portions Of Northern India Blanketed With Largest Snowfall In 8 Years.
The Queen of the Hills, as Shimla was fondly called by the British, recorded the highest snowfall on a single day January in the past eight years, a Met official said here Saturday. Manmohan Singh, director of the meteorological office here, told IANS that the town recorded 38.6 cm snow in the past 24 hours, the highest in the first month of the year since 2005.  "The maximum snow in a day in January was recorded was in 2005. It was 33.2 cm Jan 18," he said, adding: "On two consecutive days (Jan 17 and 18 this year) the town got 63.6 cm." Singh said snow and heavy rain in the region in the past two days was mainly due to induced cyclonic circulation with the western disturbances.  As per records of the Met office, there was no snowfall at all in Shimla for two consecutive years in January from 2006. In 2008, there was just 1 cm snow throughout the month, while it was 8.7 cm in 2009, 1.8 cm in 2010 and 8.5 cm in 2011. In 2005, there was 94.3 cm snow in January but it was spread over seven days (Jan 17, 18, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 28).  In 2004, it was 96.6 cm snow Jan 23, 26, 30 and 31. On Jan 23, 2004, alone, Shimla saw 30 cm snow. However, in January last year the town saw 95 cm snow, the second highest after 2004 (96.6 cm). "But last year the highest snow on a single day was just 11 cm (Jan 16)," Singh added. Old-timers recalled that for almost two decades, Shimla has not recorded the kind of heavy snowfall that used to paralyze life in winter for more than a fortnight in the past. M.R. Kaundal, retired government employee who settled in Shimla in 1945, said till the 1980s, heavy snowfall was a normal feature of the town.  "As far as I remember the last time it occurred was during the winter of 1990-91 when the town was cut off from the rest of the country for more than two weeks due to snow. Tourists had to hire porters to leave the town, and trudge miles," he said. According to Compendium of Environmental Statistics, Himachal Pradesh - 2012, compiled by the state's department of economics and statistics, the state's minimum average temperature, which was registered at 5.6 degrees Celsius in 1971-72, is now 5.8 degrees. - India TV News.

Cold weather in Mexico. © HispanicallySpeakingnews.com.
Heavy Snow Sends Northern Mexico Into State Of Emergency.
The Mexican government declared a emergency in 21 municipalities in the northern state of Chihuahua due to heavy snow and a cold wave blamed for six deaths there.  Federal officials said that the measure, which was requested by the Chihuahua government, will allow authorities to access resources within the national emergency fund to cover food, clothing and health care needs among the affected population. Salvador Echavarria Campos, a meteorologist with Chihuahua's UEPC civil defense agency, said that the lowest temperature registered Thursday morning was minus 11 C (12 F) in the municipality of Bocoyna, in the state's mountainous region.  On Tuesday, UEPC director Luis Lujan Peña confirmed that the snow had cut off some 150 communities in the Sierra Tarahumara mountains. So far, official figures are that six people have died in Chihuahua and two others in the western state of Michoacan from causes linked to the low temperatures. - HSN.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: "Domino Effect" At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - "Shifting Salt" Caused Major Amount Of Seismic Activity Near Giant Sinkhole "Indicating Something Might Be Failing In The Salt Structure," And Officials Are Extremely Worried About Stability Of Rest Of The Salt Dome Because Failed Cavern May Affect Other Caverns!

January 20, 2013 - UNTED STATES - Scientists are starting to map out a three-dimensional look of the ground below the Assumption Parish sinkhole as nearby residents approach the sixth month of being evacuated. The sinkhole was discovered on Aug. 3, prompting an evacuation of about 150 homes in the nearby Bayou Corne community. In the time since, state and local officials have been able to determine the cause of the now 9-acre hole but have not been confident enough with the situation to lift the evacuation order. “There are many things that are still a mystery,” said John Boudreaux, Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness director. The hole is about 660 feet wide and has grown largely because of sloughing off on the edges, Boudreaux said. “The evacuation order is still necessary because there are three benchmarks we are still looking for answers to,” Boudreaux said.

An aerial view of the sinkhole in Assumption Parish taken earlier this week. Flooding from heavy rains mix the swamp with the 9-acre hole. Area residents have been evacuated for more than 5 months. (c) Houma Today.
"Domino Effect" Below Giant Sinkhole - Officials Concerned About Stability Of Rest Of Salt Dome - Failed Cavern May Affect Other Caverns!
Last year, scientists determined the hole was caused when a subterranean cavern owned by Texas Brine LLC collapsed. The cavern sits thousands of feet below the surface in the Napoleonville Salt Dome. Salt domes are naturally occurring deposits of salt. Private companies commonly carve out deposits in these domes to store volatile gases or waste. Texas Brine was using the failed cavern to extract brine, which is used in various industrial and oilfield applications. Boudreaux said officials want to determine how much of the earth between the sinkhole and failed cavern has settled. “There is the possibility that there are other void spaces in the ground,” Boudreaux said. These void spaces could eventually lead to the sinkhole growing or another hole as the failed cavern fills completely in. “We don't know for sure yet, that is the issue,” Boudreaux said. Following a brief conflict over what solution would work best, the state Department of Natural Resource and Texas Brine agreed that 3-D imaging of the subsurface would give researchers an exact picture of how the earth might shift in the future, said DNR spokesman Patrick Courreges. Courreges said the goal is to have the imaging complete by April.

Boudreaux said there also needs to be an effort to get the gasses trapped below the community down to safe levels. Texas Brine and the Department of Natural Resources have underground wells venting off the gas. Boudreaux said they've vented about 5 percent of the gas estimated to have accumulated near the surface. Nobody knows how much gas is below the area, he said. Texas Brine is in the process of drilling more vent wells, Courreges said. Texas Brine has been fined twice for not following a state directive to install gas monitors in local homes, Courreges said. The fines total $250,000 and were also assessed for failing to property contain oil and gas in the sinkhole. The first of the in-home monitors were installed Thursday while the rest should go in within a few days, Boudreaux said. Another concern is the stability of the rest of the salt dome. Boudreaux noted there are other caverns inside the dome and some house oil and gas. “The concern is this cavern would have a domino effect on other caverns because this one is failing,” Boudreaux said.

“It could cause a bigger problem.” Boudreaux said there isn't a time frame for lifting the evacuation order because there are still these unknowns. “There is no book to tell us what will happen over time,” Boudreaux said. Parish Police Jury President Martin Triche said the residents of about half of the 150 homes under evacuation have heeded the order. “I've always said the pace is going too slow,” Triche said. “My impression is that if Texas Brine had been more aggressive early along, we could have had this settled by now.” Aside from the residents' safety there is also concerns about property values plummeting, Triche said. He said he asked Texas Brine to consider offering buyouts to those who don't feel the area is fit to live in anymore. “Many of the residents don't want to move away,” Triche said. “We hope to restore things back to their normal environment.” It's unclear how long that might take, but in the meantime, Boudreaux said there are two public meetings scheduled in the coming weeks. The first will take place on Jan. 30 and feature scientists from Texas Brine. The next will be on Feb. 6 and feature state scientists and scientists from the Shaw Group. Both meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Assumption Parish Community Center. - Houma Today.

Official: "Shifting Salt Caused Tremendous Amount Of Seismic Activity Near Giant Sinkhole - "Indicates Something Might Be Failing In The Salt Structure"!
Director of the Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness John Boudreaux
  • Officials first began noticing an increase in seismic activity about two weeks ago
  • Scientists reported that more than 80 seismic events were monitored two days ago
  • “There was a tremendous amount of activity over the past couple of days”
  • [T]he seismic activity has been pinpointed to shifting salt deposits just east of the failed cavern, about 900 feet into the ground
  • [C]oncern to parish officials because it indicates that something might be failing in the salt structure
  • “We would assume that in order to create seismic activity, it’s something shifting … in the salt”
  • “Not knowing what that may cause is concerning”
  • [O]fficials still believe the sinkhole won’t outgrow scientists’ predictions that it would one day measure about 1,400 feet in diameter
Wilma Subra, environmental chemist who provides technical assistance to the Louisiana Environmental Action Network
  • While officials have noticed growth in the sinkhole after seismic activity in the past, this round of activity is concerning because of its severity, as evidenced by Texas Brine’s cracked well pad
  • “The issue is that it may even go further and have an impact on the integrity of the well bore” - The Advocate.
WATCH: The latest flyover video - January 19th, 2013.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Jamaica Is Preparing For Mega-Quake And Tsunami - Experts Say Massive Earthquake Is Coming To The Caribbean Island!

January 20, 2013 - JAMAICA - Jamaica's vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunamis will take centre stage at a symposium to be held at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel as part of Earthquake Awareness Week 2013 activities.  The conference, which will be held on Thursday, January 24, will explore the country’s response and preparedness mechanisms.  The event, which will be held as part of activities to mark Earthquake Awareness Week 2013, is being staged by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) for its stakeholders and partners.

ODPEM Director General, Ronald Jackson (right) speaks with Head of the Earthquake Unit at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Lyndon Brown (left), during a press conference to launch Earthquake Awareness Week 2013. Looking on is Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott.
It will involve discussions about the country’s Tsunami protocol, as well as the sharing of findings about the country’s vulnerability to earthquakes.  Earthquake Awareness Week, which is being observed from January 20 to 26 under the theme: ‘7.8 Wi ready…Yuh Ready?’ will commence on Sunday (January 20) with activities focused on churches across the island. A message is to be read at services and congregants are also to be sensitised about the hazard of earthquakes.  On Monday (January 21), activities will focus on families, encouraging them to prepare family emergency kits and communication plans. The activities will be held under the theme: ‘Earthquake Ready Families: Earthquake safe Communities".  The following day, Tuesday (January 22), the focus will shift to schools with an island-wide "shake down" encouraging all schools to conduct earthquake drills at a convenient time throughout the day. 

The business community, on Wednesday (January 23), is being encouraged to hold lunch time sensitisation sessions or drills under the theme: ‘Protect your business and employees’.  An earthquake awareness seminar will be staged for the media on Friday (January 25); while a community sensitisation session and awareness desk in Montego Bay, will close the week.  Director General of ODPEM, Ronald Jackson, speaking at a recent press conference to launch the week of activities, at the agency’s headquarters in Kingston, informed of other initiatives for the period, including the production of three earthquake public service announcements (PSAs).  These are to be voiced by ‘Earthquake Ambassadors’, artiste, Alaine; TV personality and actor, Christopher “Johnny” Daley; and dub poetry group, Nomaddz.  "We will also be utilising the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus and our own ODPEM bus for advertising with an earthquake ad that will be on buses beginning January 20 and run for a period of six months," Mr. Jackson said. - JIS.

Massive Earthquake Coming to Jamaica - on the Same Scale as the One That Sank a Section of Port Royal More Than 300 Years Ago!
Jamaica is due to experience an earthquake on the same scale as one that sank a section of Port Royal more than 300 years ago, according to the Earthquake Unit at the University of the West Indies. "The past is a key to the future, so what has happened before will happen again," Dr Lyndon Brown, research fellow and head of the Earthquake Unit, told The Gleaner yesterday. Brown said that although he was certain the island would be hit by another major earthquake, he could not give an accurate time frame for his prediction. "There have been some calculations about 144 years after the 1904, some about 84 (years), but it's really not accurate," he told The Gleaner. "We believe these are cycles but we don't know the recurrent intervals. Some calculations have been done based on the history of earthquakes, we don't know what has happened before, we have not done enough research to understand the history of earthquakes prior to this. So any calculations that have been done or any recurrent interval that is calculated is just based on a short history, so it's really not accurate."

Meanwhile, Senior Deputy Superintendent in charge of operations of the Kingston and St Andrew Fire Department, Maxwell Hinds, says his division is not prepared to manage anything of the magnitude that hit the island in 1692, claiming the lives of more than 3,000 people. "The Kingston and St Andrew division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade is, I would say, equipped to respond to fires and some search and rescues, but in a major disaster, we would have problems," Hinds said. Speaking with The Gleaner at the National Simulation and Training Exercise Programme (NSTEP), Hinds said: "If it becomes a mass situation, we might have to seek multi-agency assistance but if it's just confined to a section, we might be able to manage and we would get resources from neighbouring parishes, so it all depends on the extent of the situation." NSTEP was established by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and yesterday held its National Simulation Exercise, on the challenges that would affect the education sector in the aftermath of a major earthquake, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston. - Jamaica Gleaner.

DISASTER IMPACT: Fuk-U-Shima - Japan Tsunami Debris Hits Hawaii And The Shores Of North America!

January 20, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Debris set adrift by the 2011 Japanese tsunami has made its way to Hawaii, triggering concerns over the unknown effects of the radiation it may carry from the meltdown of the Fukushima reactor.  Debris has washed ashore the islands of Oahu and Kauai and the state's Department of Health has been asked to test some of the incoming material for radiation levels. Refrigerator parts, oyster buoys, housing insulation, storage bins, soda bottles, toys, fishing nets, plastic trash cans and even Japanese net boats have all washed up on Hawaiian sands in the past few weeks, triggering serious environmental concerns over both water pollution and radiation exposure.  Long-term exposure to radiation can cause cancer, gene mutations, premature aging and in severe cases, death. The consequences of the influx of debris are unknown, causing local agencies to advocate precaution in picking up the Japanese debris. 

© Reuters / Handout.
Fukushima Debris Hits Hawaii.
After a Kona fisherman discovered a 24-foot Japanese net boat floating along the Hawaiian coast early this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began an investigation to trace where some of the items have come in from and possibly find its owners.  "On behalf of NOAA and the State of Hawaii, we ask that anyone who finds personal items, which may have come from the tsunami, to please report them to county, state and/or federal officials," William J. Aila, Jr., Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) chairperson, told Hawaii 24/7 News.  Depending on an object's weight, density and other physical characteristics, it can take months or years to travel from Japan to Hawaii, which explains why many of the same type of items are floating ashore at the same time. Although an estimated 70 percent of the tsunami debris sank offshore, millions of tons of wreckage are still adrift and slowly making landfall, reports LiveScience.  Aside from the unknown radiation risks, some of the debris is bringing invasive species to Hawaii, thereby threatening the island chain's ecosystem and introducing the possibility of consuming contaminated seafood. The 24-foot boat found by the fisherman was covered in blue mussels, which are native to Japan and harmful to Hawaii's marine life - especially the corals.

"If it does take hold, the concern is that they will just be able to populate at a fast rate and out compete some of our native species," Jono Blodgett, the aquatic species program leader at DLNR, told the Honolulu Civil Beat. And even if Hawaiians attempt to kill the invasive mussels, their attempts might be fruitless.  "When species are stressed out and about to die, they might release their eggs or sperm," he said. The fisherman who discovered the abandoned Japanese boat saw the mussels as an opportunity for a tasty meal, raising additional concerns about Hawaiian locals' exposure to radiation found in seafood. Blodgett believes the boat likely drifted to sea before the Fukushima reactors had a meltdown, making the attached mussels safe to consume - but the possibility of contamination remains, especially if the creatures are found on some of the other debris.  Even though Hawaiian officials have minimized panic by assuring residents that radiation risks are low, their investigations and detection programs indicate that the concern is still there. The state of Hawaii purchased a $15,000 portable radiation detection device in September, while the Hawaii Department of Health has conducted quarterly shoreline surveillance since the tsunami hit in 2011. This monitoring has increased since the debris began to wash upon the Hawaiian shoreline.  But some of the debris is so small that it becomes quickly buried in the sand on the beach, making it impossible to clean up or even detect.  "Many places on the beach, it's hard to differentiate the sand from the plastics on the surface," Nicholas Mallos of the Ocean Conservancy group told LiveScience.  And as long as the radiation risks are unknown, Hawaii residents should avoid collecting floating refrigerator parts or consuming Japanese mussels they might find on washed up debris. - RT.

This Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 photo provided by Olympic National Park shows a dock that washed ashore on a wilderness beach near Forks, Wash. Crews scraped off more than 400 pounds of organic material, including species native to Japan but not found in the United States. © AP Photo/Olympic National Park.
Washington Tsunami Debris: Dock Found In Olympic National Park Is from Japan.
The dock that washed ashore on a remote Washington beach last month has been confirmed as debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan.  The state Marine Debris Task Force says it was identified by the Japanese government through photos that showed a fender serial number. The dock came from the Aomori Prefecture and is similar to the dock that washed ashore last summer at Newport, Ore., also from the tsunami.  The Coast Guard spotted the dock Dec. 18 on a beach near Forks. It's within a wilderness portion of Olympic National Park and also within the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and will be removed.  A crew already has scraped off 400 pounds of marine plants and animals in an attempt to prevent any invasive species from taking hold. - Huffington Post.

WATCH: Japan tsunami debris hits Washington Beach.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Series of Moderate to Strong Tremors Across The Globe - New Zealand Rocked By Quakes, 5.6 Earthquake Rocks Southwest China, 5.5 Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Philippines, 5.5 Quake Strikes Russia, Magnitude 5.1 Hits Nicaragua, And Pair Of 4+ Magnitude Earthquakes Shakes Costa Rica!

January 20, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - Earthquakes have been felt around New Zealand during the weekend including a magnitude 5.2 tremor in Taranaki and one measuring 4.7 in Canterbury. The Taranaki quake was centred 25 kilometres west of Waverley at a depth of 138km. It was recorded at 1.45pm, local time on Sunday.  GeoNet received 2239 reports from people who felt the quake throughout the country from Southland to the Bay of Islands. 


New Zealand Rocked By Quakes - Aftershocks Likely Following 4.6 Earthquake.
The Fire Service and Civil Defence said there were no reports of damage.  More than 3000 Christchurch residents reported feeling a magnitude 4.6 earthquake on Saturday night.  It struck at 9.15pm, 20km west of the city at a shallow depth of 10km.  There were no reports of damage.  People took to social media to report their experiences, 3357 of them saying they felt the temblor on the GeoNet website.  The quake was part of a sequence the city had experienced, Mark Chadwick, the duty seismologist at GeoNet told AAP on Sunday.  He said the quake was the biggest in Christchurch this year and the aftershocks would be smaller.  "The aftershocks create aftershocks," he said.  It was followed by a quake measuring 3.6, 15km east of Methven, a township on the Canterbury plains 90km west of Christchurch, at 7.09am on Sunday. This was probably an aftershock of the original 2010 quake, Mr Chadwick said.  On September 4, 2010, at 4.35am, a quake of magnitude 7.1 struck Christchurch. It has since been followed by major earthquake events on Boxing Day 2010, February 22, 2011 and June 13, 2011.  A deep 4.7 quake also woke residents on the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington about 5am on Saturday but there were no reports of damage.  A series of light earthquakes measuring from 3.4 to 3.6 shook Tolaga Bay on the East Cape on Sunday. - Herald Sun.

Magnitude 5.2 Earthquake Near Waveley - Taranaki, North Island Has Been Shaken Again.
 The GNS website assesses the quake, at 1.45pm,  as of light intensity and a magnitude of 5.2.  The quake was initially thought to be centred 20km south of Hawera at a depth of 135km, but has since been updated by GeoNet showing it was centred 138km deep and 25km west of Waverley.  The GeoNet felt report shows people as far north at Auckland and as far south as Dunedin felt the quake.  People quickly turned to Facebook to share what they had felt and many described it as a 'sharp jolt then a rolling'.  "That was the strongest I've felt since the deep Opunake one some months ago. It certainly wasn't "light". It shook a lot of the stuff here around, and I see it was felt from North Auckland to Dunedin," Ngaire O'Leary commented on the Taranaki Daily News Facebook page  "Most definitely (felt it). Woke me up from my sleep. Thought it may have been someone playing a prank on me at first but then realised and enjoyed the ride! Fascinating stuff," Mitch Kemp said.  "Yep felt strongly in westown. House shook, woke my 8 month old and had myself and my 6 y/o running for the doorway!," Kate Johnston said.  Taranaki Civil Defence said there had been no reports of damage.  The region has been hit by several quakes since a shallow magnitude 4.3 quake struck 25 km north-west of Opunake in the early hours of New Year's Day.  Since then almost an earthquake a day has been recorded, with most centred off Opunake. - Stuff.

Magnitude 5.1 Hits Nicaragua.
A strong 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit southwest of Jiquilillo, Nicaragua at 19:10:11 UTC. The tremor was located at 12.629°N 87.737°W with a depth of 87.3km (54.2miles). The epicentre was 61km (38miles) west of El Viejo, Nicaragua; 63km (39mi) northwest of Corinto, Nicaragua;  65km (40miles) west of Chinandega, Nicaragua; and 170km (106miles) southwest of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

However, some buildings of local residents surrounding the
epicentre were damaged in the quake, the report said. AP.
5.6 Earthquake Rocks Southwest China.
A moderate intensity earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter Scale tonight hit a Tibetan county in southwest China, state media reported. The earthquake hit the Baiyu County in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze at 8:42 pm, said China Earthquake Networks Center. There have been no reports of casualties, as the epicentre is located in a remote region where traffic is backward and telephone communication is unavailable, state-run Xinhua reported quoting local government officials.  However, some buildings of local residents surrounding the epicentre were damaged in the quake, the report said. - First Post.


5.5 Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Samar, Philippines.
A 5.5 magnitude earthquake shook Samar island at 9:48 p.m. Saturday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.  There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the quake that struck 15 kilometers southwest of Balangkayan, Eastern Samar.  It was felt at varying intensities in the following areas: 
  • Intensity V- Borongan, Eastern Samar; Llorente, E. Samar        
  • Intensity IV- Tacloban City; Palo. Leyte; Basey, W. Samar
  • Intensity III- Abuyog, Leyte
  • Intensity II – St. Bernard, S. Leyte
  • Intensity I- Surigao City - Inquirer.
Archive image.
Pair Of 4+ Magnitude Earthquakes Shook Costa Rica Last Night.
 A pair of earthquakes, one measuring 4.6 and the other 4.1 on the Richter scale, shook Costa Ricans last night.  Dozens of residents immediately reported the earthquakes via social media to the National Volcanology and Seismology Observatory and the National Seismology Network.     According to the National Seismology Network, the first quake, measuring 4.6 magnitude, occurred at 7:50 pm. The epicenter was located southwest of Samara, in Guanacaste, at 11 kilometers of depth. It was felt in the entire Osa Peninsula.     The second quake was reported at 8:21 pm, with a magnitude of 4.1 on the Richter scale, and its epicenter was located southwest of Quepos. Both earthquakes were caused by subduction of the Cocos plate. - Inside Costa Rica.

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Russia.
A magnitude 5.5 earhquake struck east of Ust'-Nera, Russia today at 10:48:47 UTC. The quake was located at 64.791°N 146.601°E with a depth of 12.2km (7.6miles). The epicentre was at a distance of164km (102miles) east of Ust'-Nera, Russia; 621km (386miles) northwest of Magadan, Russia; 890km (553mi) northeast of Markha, Russia; 893km (555miles) northeast of Yakutsk, Russia; 3010km (1870miles) northeast of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Villarrica Volcano In Chile - New Deep-Seated Weak Explosive Activity Detected!

January 20, 2013 - CHILE - Terrestrial and satellite observations confirm that for about 2 weeks weak explosive activity deep within the summit crater has resumed and indicates that magma might have begun to rise again within the volcano.


This ends a period of more than six months of remarkable inactivity. It is expected that in the coming weeks or months incandescence will be visible again at the crater during the nights. The activity levels are so low, that without the help of satellites it would not have been possible to detect the increase in heat from the crater. In addition, about 2 weeks ago, the seasonal melting of ice and snow on the volcano began and produced large volumes of meltwater that drained within and at the base of glaciers.

A critical mass of water might have entered the volcano's hydrothermal system. The internal heat evaporates the water in the immediate area of ​​the volcanic conduit and forms condensation on the inner walls above. The condensation phenomenon has been observed in good weather, notably on 16 and 17 January after noon. The detailed analysis of more than 12,000 daily sequential images indicates that no ash emissions have occurred nor landslides in recent months. - Volcano Discovery.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Earthquakes Are On The Rise In Oklahoma And Researchers Are Asking Why?!

January 20, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Homeowners living in quiet neighborhoods never expect the tremors of an earthquake to destroy their homes. But from January 2011 to now, 261 earthquakes have rocked Oklahoma. With numbers like that, Insurance Commissioner John Doak wants his state to get prepared with earthquake insurance.


"Oklahomans need to be aware that this is a potential risk for them which could be a significant financial loss," said Doak. Homeowners can buy earthquake insurance as part of their homeowners insurance policy. Premiums range from about $100 dollars to $300 dollars a year. Deductibles are calculated as a percentage of the property value--often between 5 and 10 percent.

So if you own a home for 100 thousand dollars and you have the low end of the deductible at 5 percent, you'd be responsible for the first $5,000 worth of earthquake damages.  Hydraulic fracturing has received some blame for the increased number of earthquakes, but John Laws -- a seismologist and geologist who consults for oil and gas companies-- said the fracturing isn't the answer.  "Here in Oklahoma, even though we've had this increase in seismic activity there's not been an increase in fracturing," said Laws.  Whatever the cause, lacking insurance can crack your wallet if a quake comes. - KXII.

More than 1,000 earthquakes were recorded in Oklahoma in 2010. The next year, there were more than 1,400 earthquakes, making 2011 the state’s most seismically active year on record. A 5.6-magnitude quake was recorded that year — Oklahoma’s largest in at least a century — and researchers, regulators and the public are starting to ask questions about the state’s seismic risks. - State Impact.

Listen to more on the earthquake problem in Oklahoma HERE (MP3).