Saturday, November 23, 2013

FIRE IN THE SKY: Comet ISON Lives Up To The Hype - Marvelous Parting Shots Seen As It Makes Its Approach To The Sun; Five Days From Perihelion; NASA Images Reveal Object Is Still Intact; Interactive Model Helps Locate Current Position!

November 23, 2013 - SPACE - Comet ISON is now only 5 days from perihelion.

Taken by Fritz Helmut Hemmerich on November 22, 2013 @ Tenerife, Canary Island.

Taken by Parks Squyres on November 19, 2013 @ SaddleBrooke, Arizona.

Taken by Vince on November 23, 2013 @ Los Angeles, CA

On Nov, 28th, Thanksgiving Day in the USA, it will fly through the sun's atmosphere little more than a million kilometers above the surface of the sun. At closest approach, the temperature of ISON's core could rise as high as 5000o Fahrenheit--an existential challenge for an icy comet.

No one knows if it will survive.

As the "final countdown" ticks to zero, photographers are taking some marvelous parting shots. Here is Comet ISON plunging into the sunrise beside Mt. Fuji on Nov. 22nd:

Japanese photographer Kagaya took the picture using a Canon EOS 1D C digital camera. "This is a 3-second exposure at ISO 2000," he says. In the full-sized image, you can also see Mercury hovering to the left of the comet.

For more unique images of Comet ISON, including a Nov. 23rd daytime shot from Los Angeles and a conjunction with the Temple of Poseidon in Greece, browse the realtime photo gallery:

Realtime Comet ISON Photo Gallery

Ephemerides: Comet ISON, Comet Lovejoy, Comet Encke, Comet LINEAR X

- Space Weather.

NASA Images Reveal Object Is Still Intact
Four NASA solar observatories will watch ISON on Thanksgiving week until it slingshots around
the sun on Nov. 28, 2013. NASA/MSFC/MEO/Cameron McCarty

Comet ISON, the sungrazing space rock that has travelled for more than a million years and is fast approaching its encounter with the sun, is still in one piece, according to newly released images from NASA.

The space agency said on Friday that Comet ISON entered the field of view of the HI-1 camera on its Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, on Nov. 21, 2013, and the comet showed up clearly, appearing to be intact.

Comet ISON entered the view of NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory on Nov. 21, 2013, where it
can be seen with Earth, Mercury and comet 2P/Encke.

Catalogued as C/2012 S1, Comet ISON was first discovered 585 million miles away on Sept. 21, 2012, by two Russian astronomers, Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok. Scientists were instantly intrigued after the discovery as it is the comet’s first trip into the inner solar system.

On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 2013, Comet ISON is expected to finally slingshot around the sun. At this point, astronomers believe, ISON’s inward journey through the solar system will end -- either because it will break up due to the intense heat and gravity of the sun, or because it will speed back away and may never return.

According to NASA, during the last week of its inbound trip, Comet ISON will enter the fields of view of several of its Heliophysics observatories. The comet will be viewed first by instruments aboard NASA’s STEREO, which will later be joined by the combined European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.

Have a look at the model here:

Comet ISON interactive model.

After that, it will be NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, that will view the comet for a few hours during its closest approach to the sun, known as perihelion. That will be followed by the X-Ray Telescope on the JAXA/NASA Hinode mission that will look at Comet ISON for about 55 minutes during perihelion.

Meanwhile, folks at, a website that provides online simulation of the planets, including real-time positions and orbits, stars and constellations in the night sky, has developed an interactive model dedicated to Comet ISON. The model visualizes the current position of comet, assumed trajectory and all important moments.

The interactive model also includes a view from Earth mode, which shows the position of Comet ISON in the night sky. - IBT.

MASS FISH/BIRD DIE-OFF: Latest Incidents In Australia - Hundreds of Dead Birds Found On Craignish Beach; And MILLIONS Of Dead Fish Found In A Creek Near Darwin?!

November 23, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Hundreds of dead mutton birds have been discovered on Craignish beach at the end of Petersens Road.

Dead mutton birds on Craignish Beach at the end of Petersens Road.
Picture: Alistair Brightman

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection had received many reports about dead short-tailed shearwaters, or mutton birds, being found on Queensland beaches, a spokesman said.

"The shearwaters are on their annual migration from northern Russia to rookeries in Victoria and South Australia," the spokesman said.

"Unfortunately, the birds can succumb to exhaustion along the way."

The spokesman said it would probably not be the last sighting of dead birds across Queensland this summer.

Anyone who sees the birds is advised, as a precaution, not to handle them.

Thousands of short-tailed shearwater birds were found dead around Moreton Bay in 2011 and Fraser Island in 2006. - Fraser Coast Chronicle.

Builder Paul VeJesus on the bank of the creek behind his Coconut Grove home where a lot of fish have died.

Authorities are investigating the deaths of several hundred baitfish found washed up in mangroves near a Darwin suburb.

The NT Environmental Protection Agency and the NT Fisheries Department have taken samples and have been investigating.

Builder Paul VeJesus, who lives in Coconut Grove, said he found the bait fish by the horrible stench from the sea near his Orchard Rd home yesterday morning.

"It was just a sheet of white fish," the 43-year-old said.

"At 9am the sun was out more and you could really smell them.

"I went down the creek and just saw millions of dead fish. "I've closed all the windows in the house."

He said some of the fish were still alive.

Mr VeJesus said he has owned the land where his house has been built for eight years. "And I've never seen anything like it," he said.

"I know this area for more then 20 years an I've never heard of or seen anything like it."

EPA spokeswoman Lesley Major said several hundred small, juvenile fish were found dead after a call to the pollution hotline.

"The cause of death is under investigation," she said.

"EPA officers found no discolouration of water, and no obvious sign of chemicals in the water.

"Larger fish at the site don't appear to be impacted.

"Both the NT EPA and Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries have taken water and fish samples for analysis." - NT News.

CLONING: Genetic Engineering and Manipulation - Spanish Scientists To Try To Bring Extinct Mountain Goat Back Through Cloning?!

November 23, 2013 - SPAIN - Scientists in Spain say they'll attempt to clone an extinct mountain goat using frozen, preserved cells taken from the last living animal before it died.

The species known as a bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex, went extinct in 2000, but cells from the last animal were collected and frozen in liquid nitrogen.

A previous attempt at cloning in 2003 saw a bucardo calf brought to term but it died shortly after birth. Despite that it was considered an an historic event, the first "de-extinction" in which a lost species or sub-species was resurrected.

Now researchers will make another attempt using the 14-year-old preserved cells from the last animal, which was named Celia.

"At this moment, we are not initiating a 'bucardo recovery plan,' we only want to know if Celia's cells are still alive after having been maintained frozen during 14 years in liquid nitrogen," Alberto Fernandez-Arias of the Center for Research and Food Technology of Aragon told BBC News.

If the cells prove to be intact, an attempt to clone embryos and implant them in female goats, researchers said.

"In this process, one or more live female bucardo clones could be obtained. If that is the case, the feasibility of a bucardo recovery plan will be discussed," Fernandez-Arias, head of the Aragon Hunting, Fishing and Wetlands Service, said.

One possible approach, researchers said, might be to cross a healthy female bucardo clone with a closely related sub-species such as the Spanish ibex and then selectively breeding the offspring to enhance traits typical of the bucardo. - Breitbart.

WAR DRUMS: "Very Dangerous" Escalation - China Creates Defense Zone Over Japan-Controlled Islands; Could Inflame The Bitter Territorial Row!

November 23, 2013 - JAPAN - Beijing on Saturday announced it was setting up an "air defence identification zone" over an area that includes islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China, in a move that could inflame the bitter territorial row.

Image taken on September 15, 2010 shows the disputed islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkakus
in Japan and the Diaoyus in ChinaImage taken on September 15, 2010 shows the disputed islands in the
East China Sea known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China

Along with the creation of the zone in the East China Sea, the defence ministry released a set of aircraft identification rules that must be followed by all planes entering the area, under penalty of intervention by the military.

Aircraft are expected to provide their flight plan, clearly mark their nationality, and maintain two-way radio communication allowing them to "respond in a timely and accurate manner to the identification inquiries" from Chinese authorities.

The outline of the new zone, which is shown on the ministry website and a state media Twitter account (, covers a wide area of the East China Sea between South Korea and Taiwan that includes the Tokyo-controlled islands known as the Senkakus to Japan and Diaoyous to China.

"China's armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions," according to the ministry.

The zone became operational as of 10:00 am Saturday (0200 GMT).

Four Chinese coastguard boats briefly entered Senkaku waters on Friday, following multiple incursions at the end of October and start of November which revived tensions between Beijing and Tokyo.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said in late October that the repeated incursions were a threat to peace and fell in a "grey zone (between) peacetime and an emergency situation".

A few days earlier, the Chinese defence minister warned Japan that any bid to shoot down its drones would constitute "an act of war".

The move came after a report said Japan had drafted plans to shoot down foreign drones that encroach on its airspace if warnings to leave are ignored.

Sino-Japanese relations have remained at a low-ebb for more than a year as a result of the dispute, which was revived when Japan nationalised three of the archipelago's five islands in September 2012.

Since that time, China has sent regular coast guard patrols to the islands, which are 200 kilometres (125 miles) northeast of Taiwan and 400 kilometres west of Japan's Okinawa. - France 24.

The government branded as “very dangerous” China’s announcement Saturday that it has set up an East China Sea air defense identification zone that includes the Japan-held Senkaku Islands.

The Chinese Defence Ministry said the zone was created to “guard against potential air threats,” but the move will only inflame a bitter sovereignty row over the islets, which China claims as Diaoyu.

Later Saturday, China scrambled air force jets, including fighter planes, to patrol the new zone.

Its outline is shown on the ministry website and a Chinese state media Twitter account — It covers a wide area of the East China Sea between South Korea and Taiwan, and includes the Senkaku islets.

In Tokyo, Junichi Ihara, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, lodged a protest by phone with Han Zhiqiang, a minister at the Chinese Embassy, according to a statement issued by the ministry.

Ihara was quoted as telling Han that Japan can “never accept the zone set up by China,” as it includes the Senkakus. He further said the new zone will “escalate” already fraught bilateral ties over the uninhabited but potentially resource-rich islet chain, branding China’s move “very dangerous,” the statement said.

A Japan coastguard handout photo taken on November 2, 2013 shows a Chinese ccoastguard ship
cruising near the disputed islets in the East China SeaA Japan coastguard handout photo
taken on November 2, 2013 shows a Chinese ccoastguard ship cruising
near the disputed islets in the East China Sea

Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki plans to summon Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua as early as possible Monday to state Tokyo’s position on the matter.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said Saturday that the establishment of the zone, which China said entered into force as of 10 a.m. Saturday, was aimed at “safeguarding state sovereignty, territorial land and air security, and maintaining flight order.”

“It is a necessary measure in China’s exercise of self-defense rights. It has no particular target and will not affect the freedom of flight in relevant airspace,” Yang said in a statement on the ministry’s website.

“China will take timely measures to deal with air threats and unidentified flying objects from the sea, including identification, monitoring, control and disposition, and it hopes all relevant sides positively cooperate and jointly maintain flying safety,” he said.

Along with the new zone, the Chinese ministry released a set of aircraft identification rules that it says must be followed by all aircraft entering the area, under penalty of intervention by China’s military.

Aircraft are now expected to provide their flight path, clearly mark their nationality and maintain two-way radio communication in order to “respond in a timely and accurate manner to identification inquiries” from Chinese authorities.

Shen Jinke, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, reported late Saturday that it had conducted a sweep of the area using early warning aircraft and fighter jets. “The patrol is in line with international common practices, and the normal flight of international flights will not be affected,” Shen said.

Four Chinese Coast Guard boats briefly entered Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkakus on Friday, after multiple incursions at the end of October and the beginning of this month further aggravated tensions between Beijing and Tokyo.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera in late October said the repeated incursions are a threat to peace and fall in a “gray zone (between) peacetime and an emergency situation.”

A few days earlier, his Chinese counterpart had threatened Japan that any bid to shoot down China’s drones would constitute “an act of war.” That move came after a report said Japan had drafted plans to destroy foreign drones that encroach on its airspace if warnings to leave are ignored.

Sino-Japanese relations have remained icy for more than a year because of the Senkakus dispute, which was revived when Japan purchased three of the five main islets in September 2012, effectively nationalizing the entire chain. Since then, China has regularly sent coast guard vessels to the islets, which lie 400 km west of Okinawa and 200 km northeast of Taiwan. - Japan Times.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise Of The Machines - This Massive Robot Could Soon Join Marines On The Battlefield!

November 23, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The future doesn't always arrive with a gasp and a boom like Skynet in Terminator. No, sometimes it's more like Office Space.

At least that's the idea I get watching this video of the Marines' testing the Legged Squad Support System. DARPA built the LS3 to act as an autonomous pack horse that "can carry 400 lbs of a squad’s load, follow squad members through rugged terrain and interact with troops in a natural way, similar to a trained animal and its handler."

Its headless form has always disturbed me in its ... headlessness. (Like, did Haruki Murakami design these things in a fever dream? Robots galloping across the plains.)

And yet, in the hands of real Marines, it sounds like they're testing a new network printer out, or maybe putting the office fob system through its paces.

"The experimentation phase is in full swing right now," said Brigadier General Kevin Killea with all the emotion of a building manager introducing new trash chutes.

"And we'll come back and we'll look at all the data and we'll get the feedback from all the Marines about how they feel it can support them best."

One can imagine the questionnaire:
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you love being followed around the forest by a massive headless pack bot?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how many nightmares did you have about the sound of its legs?
  • How likely would you be to recommend the headless pack bot to a friend?
"It's a great idea. I'm glad they're coming out," said Corporal Mitchell Arnold Anderson (as if he was talking about the latest Android operating system).

"It just shows the Marine Corps is changing and times are changing. In 15 or 20 years, stuff like this should be everywhere in the military."

No biggie.

Just what DARPA calls "the culmination of a decade of research in perception and autonomy with programs like DARPA’s Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle-Perception for Off-Road Robotics Integration (UPI) program, mobility work with DARPA’s 'Big Dog' and significant advances in natural human-robot interface such as voice recognition."

The Marines and DARPA are working through a two-year refinement and testing period, which will come to an end in summer of 2014. - Defense One.

WATCH: Marines Test Load-Bearing Robotic Mule for First Time.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: The Reign Of Terror In Iraq Continues - Twin Bombings HIt Shiite Mosque In The North; At Least 15 People Killed Nationwide In A Fresh String Of Attacks!

November 23, 2013 - IRAQ - Several attacks have hit the country's north including a twin bombing of a Shiite church, which killed at least 10 people and injured dozens. At least 15 people were killed nationwide in a string of attacks.

AFP Photo/Marwan Ibrahim

A further 54 people were wounded at the Shia mosque, police and medical sources said according to Reuters.

Tuz Khurmatu is located 170 km north of Baghdad in an area which both the Baghdad central government and the Iraqi Kurdistan autonomous region claim as theirs.

The first of the two blasts hit the Imam Ali mosque, in the middle of a crowded market and shortly afterwards a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the mosque.

“I am sure the attack was carried out by al-Qaeda. There is major destruction and damage in the area because it is located in the center of a market,” an observer called Adbul told AFP.

More violence on Saturday in Baghdad and two other cities in the north Tal Afar and Tikrit, left another five people dead.

No one has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks but Sunni militants linked to al-Qaeda often target Shiites and Sunnis in a bid to undermine the authorities.

Violence has killed 200 people this week alone and has forced Iraq to ask for international help in combating the insurgency.

Hundreds of Iraqis have been killed every month in 2013, and the frequency and severity of bomb attacks has raised fears that Iraq could descend once more into the kind of sectarian bloodshed of 2006-2007, when tens of thousands died.

Nearly two years since U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq, security forces are struggling to combat the violence. Insurgents, some linked to al Qaeda, have also benefited from the civil war in neighboring Syria. - RT.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Oxy Cavern 3 Is Almost 200 Feet Higher Than 2 Weeks Ago As Low Levels Of Sub-Surface Seismic Activity Continues! [LATEST FLYOVER VIDEO]

November 23, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The following constitutes the latest updates on the giant Louisiana sinkhole, courtesy of the Assumption Parish Police Jury.

November 22, 2013 - Update on Cavern 3

Texas Brine advised that the tagging of Cavern 3 is at 3,869′ which is 189′ higher than the tagging performed a little more than two weeks ago. As information becomes available, it will be shared here.

November 22, 2013  -  Update from the Office of Conservation

Bayou Corne/Grand Bayou Response Activity

Friday, Nov. 22 work-

Sinkhole Activity Code 1 – indicating work is allowed on sinkhole and containment berm, seismic monitoring indicates low levels of sub-surface activity near sinkhole/Oxy 3

Air Monitoring/Sub-slab Sampling and Ventilation

- Conducting ventilation system inspections and air monitoring
- Continuing perimeter air monitoring near ORW locations in Sportsman’s Landing


- Pumping ORW 43 (north of containment berm) to enhance gas flow
- Connecting ORW  50 (Sportsman’s Landing) to flare
- Installing privacy fences around ORWs 49 and 50 (Sportsman’s Landing)
- Removing temporary wooden mats at ORW locations (Sportsman’s Landing)
- Installing CPT 122 (Bayou Corne, south of La 70)

Containment/ Roads/ Sinkhole

- Logging Oxy 3A (working from Oxy 9 well pad)
- Surveying south containment berm
- Transferring water from swamp into sinkhole via water transfer pumps
- Collecting water sample from newly installed MRAA-2S  (west of containment berm)

November 20, 2013 - Flyover Video

WATCH:  Flyover Video - November 20, 2013.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Global Volcano Report For November 23, 2013 - Strombolian Explosions, Intense Phase Of Lava Fountains And Emission Of Tall Ash Plume At Italy's Mount Etna; And Small Swarm Of Earthquakes At Askja In Central Iceland! [COMPLETE LIST OF ERUPTING VOLCANOES]

November 23, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe, courtesy of the Volcano Discovery.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): The latest paroxysm (number 17 in 2013) at the New SE crater started this morning. Strombolian explosions increased quickly and are now merging into lava fountains.

Eruption at the New SE crater (Etna Trekking webcam from Schiena dell'Asino)

Current tremor signal (ESLN station, INGV Catania)

The tremor is steeply rising. You can follow the activity live at (or if you are on a small mobile display, at the mobile optimized version).

Etna continues to produce beautiful steam rings.

Steam ring from New SE crater this morning

View of Etna from Catania

Current tremor amplitude (ECPNZ station, INGV Catania)

Current seismic signal (ESVO station, INGV Catania)

The 17th paroxysm has already ended. It was much faster and weaker than the previous ones and the intense phase of lava fountains and emission of a tall ash plume lasted only about one hour.

WATCH:  Etna volcano paroxysm and steam rings - November 23, 2013.

Askja (Central Iceland): A small swarm of earthquakes has occurred today under the eastern caldera rim. Another minor swarm took place yesterday under Þórðarhyrna volcano 20 km to the NE.

Recent earthquakes near Askja volcano in Iceland.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for November 23, 2013.

Volcano Activity Summary for November 22, 2013:

Currently erupting:

Ambrym (Vanuatu): active lava lakes in several craters (updated 16 Sep 2013)
Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea): ash explosions (updated 16 Nov 2013)
Barren Island (Indian Ocean): new eruption in mid October 2013 (updated 17 Oct 2013)
Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): strombolian explosions, ash plumes up to 500 m, extrusion of a small lava dome with rockfalls (updated 6 Nov 2013)
Cleveland (Aleutian Islands, Alaska): continuous small eruptions (updated 6 May 2013)
Colima (Western Mexico): lava flow on upper eastern flank (updated 22 Nov 2013)
Dukono (Halmahera): thermal anomaly, probably small explosive activity in summit crater (updated 23 Oct 2013)
Erebus (Antarctica): active lava lake in summit crater (updated 21 Jan 2012)
Erta Ale (Ethiopia): active lava lake in northern pit crater, active hornito with intermittend flow in southern crater (updated 11 Jan 2013)
Etna (Sicily, Italy): degassing, seismic unrest (updated 17 Nov 2013)
Fuego (Guatemala): strombolian activity at summit, lava flow emission on upper slopes (updated 22 Nov 2013)
Ibu (Halmahera, Indonesia): growing lava dome, seismic unrest (updated 23 Oct 2013)
Karymsky (Kamchatka): occasional small explosions, thermal anomaly (updated 6 Nov 2013)
Kilauea (Hawai'i): lava lakes in Halemau'uma'u and Pu'u 'O'o, lava flows on coastal flat and weakly active ocean entries (updated 13 Aug 2013)
Kizimen (Kamchatka): growing lava dome and incandescent rock avalanches (updated 15 Oct 2013)
Klyuchevskoy (Kamchatka): strong steaming, likely strombolian activity in summit crater (updated 20 Nov 2013)
Merapi (Central Java): moderate gas and ash plume on 22 july (updated 18 Nov 2013)
Nishino-shima (Volcano Islands, Japan): submarine eruption started on or before 20 Nov 2013 (updated 20 Nov 2013)
Nyiragongo (DRCongo): active lava lake in summit crater (updated 12 Jun 2013)
Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania): effusion of natrocarbonatite lava inside the crater (updated 8 Jul 2013)
Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): active growing lava dome (updated 12 Aug 2013)
Rabaul (Tavurvur) (New Britain, Papua New Guinea): sporadic mild to moderate explosions (updated 22 Nov 2013)
Reventador (Ecuador): ash explosions, occasional pyroclastic flows (updated 14 Nov 2013)
Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): constant ash emissions and strong explosions (updated 22 Nov 2013)
Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Santiaguito volcano (Guatemala): lava flow on south flank of dome becomes more active (updated 22 Nov 2013)
Semeru (East Java, Indonesia): growing lava dome, ash venting and small to moderate explosions (updated 18 Oct 2013)
Shiveluch (Kamchatka): slow dome growth, occasional explosions and pyroclastic flows (updated 6 Nov 2013)
Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): ash emissions and explosions (updated 22 Nov 2013)
Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): continuing lava overflows (updated 3 Nov 2013)
Suwanose-jima (Ryukyu Islands): Mt Ontake volcano of Suwanose-jima Island, Japan (updated 12 Sep 2013)
Telica (Nicaragua): normal (low) seismic activity (updated 26 Sep 2013)
Tungurahua (Ecuador): strombolian activity, strong ash emissions (updated 3 Nov 2013)
Yasur (Tanna Island, Vanuatu): ash emissions, weak strombolian explosions (updated 20 Nov 2013)
Zhupanovsky (Kamchatka, Russia): new explosive activity since 23 Oct (updated 6 Nov 2013)

Eruption warning / minor activity:

Bezymianny (Central Kamchatka Depression): slow lava flow extrusion from dome (updated 13 Oct 2013)
Chirinkotan (Northern Kuriles): unspecified activity - possibly lava flows (updated 22 Nov 2013)
Copahue (Chile/Argentina): ash venting (updated 16 Nov 2013)
Dieng (Central Java): increased degassing (updated 28 Mar 2013)
Heard (Australia, Southern Indian Ocean): likely lava lake in summit crater (updated 14 Nov 2013)
Iliwerung (Lesser Sunda Islands): possible submarine eruption from Mt Hobal on 20 August (updated 20 Aug 2013)
Jebel Zubair (Red Sea): degassing, perhaps strombolian activity (updated 14 Nov 2013)
Karangetang (Siau Island, Sangihe Islands, Indonesia): lava extrusion at summit crater, strombolian activity, glowing avalanches (updated 4 Sep 2013)
Kerinci (Sumatra): occasional ash explosions (updated 5 Jun 2013)
Ketoi (Kurile Islands, Russia)
Kirishima (Kyushu): degassing, slightly increased seismic activity (updated 30 Jul 2012)
Langila (New Britain, Papua New Guinea): occasional ash explosions (updated 22 Nov 2013)
Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): small explosions, lava flow? (updated 24 Sep 2013)
Marapi (Western Sumatra, Indonesia): occasional weak explosions (updated 13 Nov 2013)
Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): seismic unrest (updated 7 Oct 2013)
Pacaya (Guatemala): strombolian activity and lava flow (updated 20 Nov 2013)
Papandayan (West Java): strong hydrothermal activity, increased seismicity (updated 6 May 2013)
Poas (Costa Rica): occasional small phreatic explosions from lake (updated 22 Aug 2013)
Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): steam/gas/ash emissions (updated 22 Nov 2013)
Raung (East Java): strombolian activity in summit crater (updated 5 Aug 2013)
Tangkubanparahu (West Java): occasional phreatic explosions (updated 15 Oct 2013)
Turrialba (Costa Rica): ash venting, strong degassing (updated 24 Jul 2013)
Ulawun (New Britain, Papua New Guinea): degassing, ash venting (updated 22 Nov 2013)

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Thousands Of Dead Fish Wash Up In Maitai River, New Zealand?!

November 23, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - Pilchards have been confirmed as the fish which died in their thousands in Nelson's lower Maitai River yesterday and the city council says people shouldn't fish in the area for the next few days.

SEEKING THE CAUSE: Nelson City Council environmental team leader Neil Henderson collects
dead fish for testing. MARTIN de RUYTER/Fairfax NZ

The deaths are unexplained but seem to have affected just the one species, with Fish & Game field officer Lawson Davey suspecting a chemical spill into Saltwater Creek, which joins the Maitai beside the Queen Elizabeth II Dr bridge.

Nelson City Council communications manager Angela Ricker said yesterday that, based on the good health of other species in the river, the public health risk was "probably low". The council was taking a cautionary approach.

Samples of fish, water and sediment had been sent for testing, with results expected late next week, and council staff would continue to monitor the area as a precaution over the weekend. Temporary signs would also be put up, she said.

Mr Davey, who along with others had at first glance thought the dead fish were mullet, said a Niwa scientist had confirmed them as pilchards.

Having since had time to examine them closely he said they seemed to have haemorrhaged from the gills and anus.

"It looks like it's acute toxicity, given it's only a very localised area, rather than a general event, but we're not sure at this stage."

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology aquaculture programme co-ordinator Dr Mark Burdass had also gathered samples. First assuming that any fish in the area would have died, he had since seen live eels, whitebait and other small fish that didn't appear to have been affected, and said no dead trout had been sighted.

"There are no dead fish further upstream, and there seem to be lots of fish downstream swimming quite happily, and moving back in with the tide."

At least one person had been seen gathering up the dead fish. It would be unwise to eat them, he said. - Stuff.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.5 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes The Fiji Region!

November 23, 2013 - PACIFIC OCEAN - According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Fiji region was rocked by a large earthquake today, the sixth 6.0 or over magnitude tremor to hit the Earth in the month of November.

USGS earthquake location.

The 6.5 magnitude tremor, struck 322 kilometres (220 miles) northwest of Neiafu, Tonga early Saturday at 07:48:32 UTC and 438 kilometres (272 miles) east of Lambasa, Fiji.

The epicentre, with a depth of 377.07 kilometres, was initially determined to be at 17.0971 degrees south latitude and 176.5618 degrees west longitude.

There were no initial reports of any damage.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a warning, as earthquakes of this size do not usually produce destructive tsunamis. However, small sea level changes may be observed in the vicinity of the epicentre. Tsunamis capable of producing damage or casualties are rare in this magnitude range but have occurred due to secondary effects such as landslides or submarine slumps.

The Fiji region, lies on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where continental plates collide causing frequent seismic activity.

Seismotectonics of the Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate.
The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand.

Since 1900 there have been 15 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded near New Zealand. Nine of these, and the four largest, occurred along or near the Macquarie Ridge, including the 1989 M8.2 event on the ridge itself, and the 2004 M8.1 event 200 km to the west of the plate boundary, reflecting intraplate deformation. The largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand itself was the 1931 M7.8 Hawke's Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people. The last M7.5+ earthquake along the Alpine Fault was 170 years ago; studies of the faults' strain accumulation suggest that similar events are likely to occur again.

North of New Zealand, the Australia-Pacific boundary stretches east of Tonga and Fiji to 250 km south of Samoa. For 2,200 km the trench is approximately linear, and includes two segments where old (>120 Myr) Pacific oceanic lithosphere rapidly subducts westward (Kermadec and Tonga). At the northern end of the Tonga trench, the boundary curves sharply westward and changes along a 700 km-long segment from trench-normal subduction, to oblique subduction, to a left lateral transform-like structure.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 60 mm/yr at the southern Kermadec trench to 90 mm/yr at the northern Tonga trench; however, significant back arc extension (or equivalently, slab rollback) causes the consumption rate of subducting Pacific lithosphere to be much faster. The spreading rate in the Havre trough, west of the Kermadec trench, increases northward from 8 to 20 mm/yr. The southern tip of this spreading center is propagating into the North Island of New Zealand, rifting it apart. In the southern Lau Basin, west of the Tonga trench, the spreading rate increases northward from 60 to 90 mm/yr, and in the northern Lau Basin, multiple spreading centers result in an extension rate as high as 160 mm/yr. The overall subduction velocity of the Pacific plate is the vector sum of Australia-Pacific velocity and back arc spreading velocity: thus it increases northward along the Kermadec trench from 70 to 100 mm/yr, and along the Tonga trench from 150 to 240 mm/yr.

The Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone generates many large earthquakes on the interface between the descending Pacific and overriding Australia plates, within the two plates themselves and, less frequently, near the outer rise of the Pacific plate east of the trench. Since 1900, 40 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded, mostly north of 30°S. However, it is unclear whether any of the few historic M8+ events that have occurred close to the plate boundary were underthrusting events on the plate interface, or were intraplate earthquakes. On September 29, 2009, one of the largest normal fault (outer rise) earthquakes ever recorded (M8.1) occurred south of Samoa, 40 km east of the Tonga trench, generating a tsunami that killed at least 180 people.

Across the North Fiji Basin and to the west of the Vanuatu Islands, the Australia plate again subducts eastwards beneath the Pacific, at the North New Hebrides trench. At the southern end of this trench, east of the Loyalty Islands, the plate boundary curves east into an oceanic transform-like structure analogous to the one north of Tonga.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 80 to 90 mm/yr along the North New Hebrides trench, but the Australia plate consumption rate is increased by extension in the back arc and in the North Fiji Basin. Back arc spreading occurs at a rate of 50 mm/yr along most of the subduction zone, except near ~15°S, where the D'Entrecasteaux ridge intersects the trench and causes localized compression of 50 mm/yr in the back arc. Therefore, the Australia plate subduction velocity ranges from 120 mm/yr at the southern end of the North New Hebrides trench, to 40 mm/yr at the D'Entrecasteaux ridge-trench intersection, to 170 mm/yr at the northern end of the trench.

Large earthquakes are common along the North New Hebrides trench and have mechanisms associated with subduction tectonics, though occasional strike slip earthquakes occur near the subduction of the D'Entrecasteaux ridge. Within the subduction zone 34 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900. On October 7, 2009, a large interplate thrust fault earthquake (M7.6) in the northern North New Hebrides subduction zone was followed 15 minutes later by an even larger interplate event (M7.8) 60 km to the north. It is likely that the first event triggered the second of the so-called earthquake "doublet". - USGS.

DELUGE: Storm Supersoaks Arizona With Record Rainfall - Most In A Single Day Since 1973; Area of Yuma Broke A 129-Year-Old Single-Day Mark!

November 23, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Rain records are falling like, well, rain, around Arizona on Friday, the start of a what is expected to be a very wet weekend.

A wash in Mesa. (Twitter Photo/@abc15)

More than an inch of rain has dropped on Sky Harbor Airport, the most in a single day since 1973. The previous mark was a half-inch.

The airport rain gauge hadn't measured any rain since Sept. 9. Rain began falling Thursday night.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix has issued a flood watch, which will be in effect until 11 p.m. Heavy rain has already forced closure of southbound Loop 303 from Peoria Avenue to Camelback Road. Motorists had already been trapped in flooded areas before 7 a.m.

Weather map. (Screenshot)

Snow and whiteout conditions were reported on State Route 87 north of Flagstaff. Locations around Flagstaff reported 1 to 4 inches of snow by 7:30 a.m.

Thursday, Yuma broke a 129-year-old single-day mark with more than a third of an inch.

Forecasters said the storm system from the West could last 18 hours.

In Tucson, firefighters were trying to recover a person who was swept away by high water in the Santa Cruz River. Tucson Fire Department officials said they believed the person was dead but the body has yet to be recovered.

In Prescott, city officials said road crews will be ready to plow snow and treat ice if necessary.

A flooded parking lot. (Twitter Photo/@abc15)

Snow in Flagstaff. (Twitter Photo/@ArizonaDOT)

Flagstaff, early morning Nov. 22, 2013. (Twitter Photo/@mrobisonfox10)

The storm on Friday, Nov. 22, knocked down a saguaro at a Phoenix resident's home. (Twitter photo/@Jspea)

Elsewhere in northern Arizona, State Route 67 to the north rim of the Grand Canyon was temporarily closed due to drifting snow and poor visibility.

On Lake Mohave in northwestern Arizona, workers were removing mud, boulders and other debris that closed the access road to Willow Beach in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The state Department of Public Safety advised motorists driving on wet highways to refrain from abrupt steering changes and braking to avoid loss of control. Motorists also were urged to allow extra space between vehicles.

The weather service said rain will gradually diminish Saturday through Sunday, though flowing washes and continued ponding in low-lying areas were possible into Saturday night. - KTAR.