Sunday, March 2, 2014

WORLD WAR III: Ukraine Is Now On The "Brink Of Disaster" As Putin Checkmates Obama By Invading Crimea, Catches World Off Guard - Sets The Stage For A Showdown; Ukraine Calls Up Reserves; Several Ukraine Military Bases Have Been Surrounded; Ukraine Head Of Navy Defects; Obama Pulls Out Of G8 Talks... UK, France Follow; NATO Says That Russia Threatens Peace; Fear Of New COLD WAR Grows!

March 02, 2014 - UKRAINE - Ukraine's new leaders accused neighbor Russia of declaring war, as Kiev mobilized troops and called up military reservists in a rapidly escalating crisis that has raised fears of a conflict.




Amid signs of Russian military intervention in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, Russian generals led their troops to three bases in the region Sunday, demanding Ukrainian forces surrender and hand over their weapons, Vladislav Seleznyov, spokesman for the Crimean Media Center of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, told CNN.  Speaking by phone, he said Russian troops had blocked access to the bases, but added, "There is no open confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian military forces in Crimea" and said Ukrainian troops continue to protect and serve Ukraine.  "This is a red alert. This is not a threat. This is actually a declaration of war to my country," Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said.  Speaking in a televised address from the parliament building in the capital, Kiev, he called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to "pull back his military and stick to the international obligations."

"We are on the brink of the disaster."

A sense of escalating crisis in Crimea -- an autonomous region of eastern Ukraine with strong loyalty to neighboring Russia -- swirled with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemning what he called Russia's "incredible act of aggression."  Speaking on the CBS program "Face The Nation," Kerry said several foreign powers are looking at economic consequences if Russia does not withdraw its forces.  "All of them, every single one of them are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia with respect to this invasion," he said. "They're prepared to put sanctions in place, they're prepared to isolate Russia economically."  But Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations said his country needs more than diplomatic assistance.  "We are to demonstrate that we have our own capacity to protect ourselves ... and we are preparing to defend ourselves," Yuriy Sergeyev said on CNN's "State of the Union." "And nationally, if aggravation is going in that way, when the Russian troops ... are enlarging their quantity with every coming hour ... we will ask for military support and other kinds of support."


WATCH: 'NATO countries unleashed forces of nationalism & fear in Ukraine.




In Brussels, Belgium, NATO ambassadors held an emergency meeting on Ukraine.  "What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the U.N. charter," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters. He later added that Russia's actions constituted a violation of international law.  He called upon Russia to honor its international commitments, to send it military forces back to Russian bases, and to refrain from any further interference in Ukraine.  Rasmussen also urged both sides to reach a peaceful resolution through diplomatic talks and suggested that international observers from the United Nations should be sent to Ukraine.


WATCH: Putin defies U.S. warning about Ukraine - Senators Lindsey Graham & Dick Durbin react to the crisis in Ukraine.



Lean to the West, or to Russia?

Ukraine, a nation of 45 million people sandwiched between Europe and Russia's southwestern border, has been plunged into chaos since the ouster a week ago of President Viktor Yanukovych following bloody street protests that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.  Anti-government protests started in late November when Yanukovych spurned a deal with the EU, favoring closer ties with Moscow instead.  Ukraine has faced a deepening split, with those in the west generally supporting the interim government and its European Union tilt, while many in the east prefer a Ukraine where Russia casts a long shadow.  Nowhere is that feeling more intense than in Crimea, the last big bastion of opposition to the new political leadership. Ukraine suspects Russia of fomenting tension in the autonomous region that might escalate into a bid for separation by its Russian majority.  Ukrainian leaders and commentators have compared events in Crimea to what happened in Georgia in 2008. Then, cross-border tensions with Russia exploded into a five-day conflict that saw Russian tanks and troops pour into the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well as Georgian cities. Russia and Georgia each blamed the other for starting the conflict.

Escalating crisis

At Ukraine's Perevalnoye base, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the regional capital of Simferopol, a CNN team saw more than 100 troops -- not Ukrainian and dressed in green with no identifiable insignia -- deployed around its perimeter, as well as a dozen or so vehicles. Some 15 Ukrainian soldiers were on guard while civilians, both pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine protesters, stood on each side of the road.  A 66-year-old man named Nikolai Petukhov marched up to the entrance of the military facility carrying a Russian flag. He told CNN that he hoped Putin would facilitate democratic elections in Ukraine.  When asked whether he thinks Crimea should be part of Russia or Ukraine, he said, "If you look at it logically, it should be part of Russia."  It is not an unpopular feeling there as 58% of the 2,033,000 residents of Crimea identified themselves as Russian in a 2001 census.  In Simferopol, men dressed in both civilian and camouflage gear and wearing red armbands were seen on the streets.  There was also a major change in Ukraine's military.  A day after being named the head of Ukraine's navy, Rear Adm. Denis Berezovsky on Sunday declared his loyalty to the pro-Russian, autonomous Crimea government and disavowed Ukraine's new leaders.  Berezovsky, who was appointed Saturday by interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov, said from Sevastopol on the Black Sea that he will not submit to any orders from Kiev.  He was quickly suspended and replaced by another rear admiral, the Defense Ministry in Kiev said in a written statement.  These scenes come one day after Putin obtained permission from his parliament to use military force to protect Russian citizens in Ukraine, spurning Western pleas not to intervene.

Putin cited in his request a threat posed to Russian citizens and military personnel based in southern Crimea.  Ukrainian officials have vehemently denied Putin's claim.  At a Ukrainian parliamentary meeting Sunday, acting Defense Minister Ihor Tenyuh said Ukraine does not have the military force to resist Russia, according to two parliamentary members present at the session. Tenyuh called for talks to resolve the crisis with Russia, they said.  The Ukrainian National Security Council has ordered the mobilization of troops and the Defense Ministry was calling for reservists to register to be on standby if needed, a senior Ukrainian official, Andriy Parubiy, said.  In Kiev, thousands of people rallied in the central Independence Square, cradle of Ukraine's three-month anti-government protests that led to Yanukovych's ouster last week. The crowd held up signs reading "Crimea, we are with you" and "Putin, hands off Ukraine."  In Moscow, about 50 protesters were detained outside a Defense Ministry building, a Moscow police spokesman said.  According to a tweet from the official Russian government account Sunday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev discussed the crisis in Ukraine in a telephone call with Yatsenyuk. According to a second tweet, Medvedev said Russia is interested in maintaining stable and friendly relations with Ukraine but reserves the right to protect the legitimate interests of its citizens and military personnel stationed in Crimea.


WATCH: Cold War II - Former US ambassador to Russia John Beyrle and Jill Dougherty discuss foreign policy implications of the Ukraine crisis?



Western governments worried

The crisis set off alarm bells in the West.  In discussions over the weekend with Putin, U.S. President Barack Obama "made clear that Russia's continued violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would negatively impact Russia's standing in the international community," according to a statement released by the White House.  Fareed Zakaria: How U.S. should respond  According to the Kremlin, Putin told Obama that Russia reserves the right to defend its interests in the Crimea region and the Russian-speaking people who live there.  Obama met Sunday with his national security team and was scheduled to call U.S. allies afterward, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. Though Earnest didn't specify who Obama would speak with, the office of British Prime Minister David Cameron said the two would talk.  Cameron also planned to talk with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.  Britain's Foreign Minister William Hague on Sunday arrived in Kiev where he will meet with Ukraine leaders.  Canada recalled its ambassador to Moscow, while the United States and Britain announced they will suspend participation in preparatory meetings this week ahead of the G8 summit that will bring world leaders together in June in Sochi, Russia. France said it made the same decision. - CNN.



Ukraine Crisis Tests Obama's Foreign Policy On Diplomacy Over Military Force.
For much of his time in office, President Obama has been accused by a mix of conservative hawks and liberal interventionists of overseeing a dangerous retreat from the world at a time when American influence is needed most.  The once-hopeful Arab Spring has staggered into civil war and military coup. China is stepping up territorial claims in the waters off East Asia. Longtime allies in Europe and in the Persian Gulf are worried by the inconsistency of a president who came to office promising the end of the United States’ post-Sept. 11 wars.


WATCH: Crimean Crucible.




Now Ukraine has emerged as a test of Obama’s argument that, far from weakening American power, he has enhanced it through smarter diplomacy, stronger alliances and a realism untainted by the ideology that guided his predecessor.  It will be a hard argument for him to make, analysts say.  A president who has made clear to the American public that the “tide of war is receding” has also made clear to foreign leaders, including opportunists in Russia, that he has no appetite for a new one. What is left is a vacuum once filled, at least in part, by the possibility of American force.  “If you are effectively taking the stick option off the table, then what are you left with?” said Andrew C. Kuchins, who heads the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I don’t think that Obama and his people really understand how others in the world are viewing his policies.”

Rarely has a threat from a U.S. president been dismissed as quickly — and comprehensively — as Obama’s warning Friday night to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. The former community organizer and the former Cold Warrior share the barest of common interests, and their relationship has been defined far more by the vastly different ways they see everything from gay rights to history’s legacy.  Obama called Putin on Saturday and expressed “deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law,” the White House said.  From a White House podium late Friday, Obama told the Russian government that “there will be costs” for any military foray into Ukraine, including the semiautonomous region of Crimea, a strategically important peninsula on the Black Sea.  Within hours, Putin asked the Russian parliament for approval to send forces into Ukraine. The vote endorsing his request was unanimous, Obama’s warning drowned out by lawmakers’ rousing rendition of Russia’s national anthem at the end of the session. Russian troops now control the Crimean Peninsula.

President’s quandary

There are rarely good — or obvious — options in such a crisis. But the position Obama is in, confronting a brazenly defiant Russia and with few ways to meaningfully enforce his threat, has been years in the making. It is the product of his record in office and of the way he understands the period in which he is governing, at home and abroad.  At the core of his quandary is the question that has arisen in White House debates over the Afghan withdrawal, the intervention in Libya and the conflict in Syria — how to end more than a dozen years of American war and maintain a credible military threat to protect U.S. interests.  The signal Obama has sent — popular among his domestic political base, unsettling at times to U.S. allies — has been one of deep reluctance to use the heavily burdened American military, even when doing so would meet the criteria he has laid out. He did so most notably in the aftermath of the U.S.-led intervention in Libya nearly three years ago.  But Obama’s rejection of U.S. military involvement in Syria’s civil war, in which 140,000 people have died since he first called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down, is the leading example of his second term. So, too, is the Pentagon budget proposal outlined this past week that would cut the size of the army to pre-2001 levels.  Inside the West Wing, there are two certainties that color any debate over intervention: that the country is exhausted by war and that the end of the longest of its post-Sept. 11 conflicts is less than a year away. Together they present a high bar for the use of military force.  Ukraine has challenged administration officials — and Obama’s assessment of the world — again.


WATCH: Ukraine's Navy chief swears allegiance to Crimea.




At a North American summit meeting in Mexico last month, Obama said, “Our approach as the United States is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia.”  But Putin’s quick move to a war footing suggests a different view — one in which, particularly in Russia’s back yard, the Cold War rivalry Putin was raised on is thriving.  The Russian president has made restoring his country’s international prestige the overarching goal of his foreign policy, and he has embraced military force as the means to do so.  As Russia’s prime minister in the late summer of 2008, he was considered the chief proponent of Russia’s military advance into Georgia, another former Soviet republic with a segment of the population nostalgic for Russian rule.  Obama, by contrast, made clear that a new emphasis on American values, after what were perceived as the excesses of the George W. Bush administration, would be his approach to rehabilitating U.S. stature overseas.  Those two outlooks have clashed repeatedly — in big and small ways — over the years.  Obama took office with a different Russian as president, Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s choice to succeed him in 2008.  Medvedev, like Obama, was a lawyer by training, and also like Obama he did not believe the Cold War rivalry between the two countries should define today’s relationship.

The Obama administration began the “reset” with Russia — a policy that, in essence, sought to emphasize areas such as nuclear nonproliferation, counterterrorism, trade and Iran’s nuclear program as shared interests worth cooperation. But despite some successes, including a new arms-control treaty, the reset never quite reduced the rivalry. When Putin returned to office in 2012, so, too, did an outlook fundamentally at odds with Obama’s.

 ‘Reset’ roadblocks

Just months after his election, Putin declined to attend the Group of Eight meeting at Camp David, serving an early public warning to Obama that partnership was not a top priority.  At a G-8 meeting the following year in Northern Ireland, Obama and Putin met and made no headway toward resolving differences over Assad’s leadership of Syria. The two exchanged an awkward back-and-forth over Putin’s passion for martial arts before the Russian leader summed up the meeting: “Our opinions do not coincide,” he said.  A few months later, Putin granted asylum to Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whose disclosure of the country’s vast eavesdropping program severely complicated U.S. diplomacy. Obama had asked for Snowden’s return.  In response, Obama canceled a scheduled meeting in Moscow with Putin after the Group of 20 meeting in St. Petersburg last summer. The two met instead on the summit’s sidelines, again failing to resolve differences over Syria.  It was Obama’s threat of a military strike, after the Syrian government’s second chemical attack crossed what Obama had called a “red line,” that prompted Putin to pressure Assad into concessions. The result was an agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, a process that is proceeding haltingly.  Since then, though, the relationship has again foundered on issues that expose the vastly different ways the two leaders see the world and their own political interests.  After Russia’s legislature passed anti-gay legislation, Obama included openly gay former athletes in the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

New barbarities in Syria’s civil war — and the near-collapse of a nascent peace process — have drawn sharper criticism from U.S. officials of Putin, who is continuing to arm Assad’s forces.  How Obama intends to prevent a Putin military push into Ukraine is complicated by the fact that, whatever action he takes, he does not want to jeopardize Russian cooperation on rolling back Iran’s nuclear program or completing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.  Economic sanctions are a possibility. But that decision is largely in the hands of the European Union, given that its economic ties to Russia, particularly as a source of energy, are far greater than those of the United States.  The most immediate threat that has surfaced: Obama could skip the G-8 meeting scheduled for June in Sochi, a day’s drive from Crimea.  “If you want to take a symbolic step and deploy U.S. Navy ships closer to Crimea, that would, I think, make a difference in Russia’s calculations,” Kuchins said. “The problem with that is, are we really credible? Would we really risk a military conflict with Russia over Crimea-Ukraine? That’s the fundamental question in Washington and in Brussels we need to be asking ourselves.” - Washington Post.



PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful Magnitude 6.7 Earthquake Hits Off Okinawa, Japan - No Tsunami Threat! [MAPs+ESTIMATES]

March 02, 2014 - JAPAN - A magnitude 6.7 quake struck off Okinawa, Japan, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Sunday.


USGS earthquake location map.

The USGS said the quake was centered 89 miles north-northwest of Naha, Okinawa.


USGS earthquake shakemap intensity map.

USGS earthquake uncertainty ratio map.

It also hit 72 miles north-northwest of Ishikawa and 77 miles north-northwest of both Okinawa and Gushikawa.

The 6.7 magnitude quake hit at a depth of 73.3 miles, which is pretty deep for earthquakes.


USGS earthquake population exposure map.

USGS earthquake estimates and losses map.

A tsunami was not expected, the National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the Japan Meteorological Agency both reported that there is no tsunami threat.



Seismotectonics of the Philippine Sea and Vicinity.
The Philippine Sea plate is bordered by the larger Pacific and Eurasia plates and the smaller Sunda plate. The Philippine Sea plate is unusual in that its borders are nearly all zones of plate convergence. The Pacific plate is subducted into the mantle, south of Japan, beneath the Izu-Bonin and Mariana island arcs, which extend more than 3,000 km along the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea plate. This subduction zone is characterized by rapid plate convergence and high-level seismicity extending to depths of over 600 km. In spite of this extensive zone of plate convergence, the plate interface has been associated with few great (Magnitude greater than 8.0) ‘megathrust’ earthquakes. This low seismic energy release is thought to result from weak coupling along the plate interface (Scholz and Campos, 1995). These convergent plate margins are also associated with unusual zones of back-arc extension (along with resulting seismic activity) that decouple the volcanic island arcs from the remainder of the Philippine Sea Plate (Karig et al., 1978; Klaus et al., 1992).

South of the Mariana arc, the Pacific plate is subducted beneath the Yap Islands along the Yap trench. The long zone of Pacific plate subduction at the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea Plate is responsible for the generation of the deep Izu-Bonin, Mariana, and Yap trenches as well as parallel chains of islands and volcanoes, typical of circum-pacific island arcs. Similarly, the northwestern margin of the Philippine Sea plate is subducting beneath the Eurasia plate along a convergent zone, extending from southern Honshu to the northeastern coast of Taiwan, manifested by the Ryukyu Islands and the Nansei-Shoto (Ryukyu) trench. The Ryukyu Subduction Zone is associated with a similar zone of back-arc extension, the Okinawa Trough. At Taiwan, the plate boundary is characterized by a zone of arc-continent collision, whereby the northern end of the Luzon island arc is colliding with the buoyant crust of the Eurasia continental margin offshore China.


USGS plate tectonics for the region.


Along its western margin, the Philippine Sea plate is associated with a zone of oblique convergence with the Sunda Plate. This highly active convergent plate boundary extends along both sides the Philippine Islands, from Luzon in the north to the Celebes Islands in the south. The tectonic setting of the Philippines is unusual in several respects: it is characterized by opposite-facing subduction systems on its east and west sides; the archipelago is cut by a major transform fault, the Philippine Fault; and the arc complex itself is marked by active volcanism, faulting, and high seismic activity. Subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate occurs at the eastern margin of the archipelago along the Philippine Trench and its northern extension, the East Luzon Trough. The East Luzon Trough is thought to be an unusual example of a subduction zone in the process of formation, as the Philippine Trench system gradually extends northward (Hamburger et al., 1983). On the west side of Luzon, the Sunda Plate subducts eastward along a series of trenches, including the Manila Trench in the north, the smaller less well-developed Negros Trench in the central Philippines, and the Sulu and Cotabato trenches in the south (Cardwell et al., 1980). At its northern and southern terminations, subduction at the Manila Trench is interrupted by arc-continent collision, between the northern Philippine arc and the Eurasian continental margin at Taiwan and between the Sulu-Borneo Block and Luzon at the island of Mindoro. The Philippine fault, which extends over 1,200 km within the Philippine arc, is seismically active. The fault has been associated with major historical earthquakes, including the destructive M7.6 Luzon earthquake of 1990 (Yoshida and Abe, 1992). A number of other active intra-arc fault systems are associated with high seismic activity, including the Cotabato Fault and the Verde Passage-Sibuyan Sea Fault (Galgana et al., 2007).

Relative plate motion vectors near the Philippines (about 80 mm/yr) is oblique to the plate boundary along the two plate margins of central Luzon, where it is partitioned into orthogonal plate convergence along the trenches and nearly pure translational motion along the Philippine Fault (Barrier et al., 1991). Profiles B and C reveal evidence of opposing inclined seismic zones at intermediate depths (roughly 70-300 km) and complex tectonics at the surface along the Philippine Fault.

Several relevant tectonic elements, plate boundaries and active volcanoes, provide a context for the seismicity presented on the main map. The plate boundaries are most accurate along the axis of the trenches and more diffuse or speculative in the South China Sea and Lesser Sunda Islands. The active volcanic arcs (Siebert and Simkin, 2002) follow the Izu, Volcano, Mariana, and Ryukyu island chains and the main Philippine islands parallel to the Manila, Negros, Cotabato, and Philippine trenches.

Seismic activity along the boundaries of the Philippine Sea Plate (Allen et al., 2009) has produced 7 great (Magnitude greater than 8.0) earthquakes and 250 large (Magnitude greater than 7) events. Among the most destructive events were the 1923 Kanto, the 1948 Fukui and the 1995 Kobe (Japan) earthquakes (99,000, 5,100, and 6,400 casualties, respectively), the 1935 and the 1999 Chi-Chi (Taiwan) earthquakes (3,300 and 2,500 casualties, respectively), and the 1976 M7.6 Moro Gulf and 1990 M7.6 Luzon (Philippines) earthquakes (7,100 and 2,400 casualties, respectively). There have also been a number of tsunami-generating events in the region, including the Moro Gulf earthquake, whose tsunami resulted in more than 5000 deaths. - USGS.



ICE AGE NOW: Winter Storm Titan Dumps Snow On U.S. West, Midwest, Heads East - Producing Heavy, Freezing Rainfall, Sleet And Mudslides! [STATE-BY-STATE IMPACTS]

March 02, 2014 - UNITED STATES - After producing heavy rain and prompting mudslide fears in California, Winter Storm Titan continued to march east on Saturday, dumping snow in parts of the west and killing at least one person in a massive Colorado pileup. The storm is expected to deliver heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain to a broad swath of the U.S. from the West Coast to the East through Monday.


Dennis Drum clears snow from his driveway after a overnight storm near Echo Summit Calif., Thursday, Feb. 27 2014.
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)


"When forecasters analyze potential storms, the model trend in a forecast of an upcoming storm is just as important as the forecast at any given time," said weather.com senior meteorologist Jon Erdman. "We're seeing the potential heavy snow swath sink southward in the East Sunday night into Monday. Now, the Nation's Capital is sitting squarely in the heavy snow threat. Federal employees may indeed have a snow day Monday."


 WATCH:  Huge Wave Crashes Into Restaurant On Santa Barbara Pier, California.

 


The same system that caused flash flooding in California produced severe weather in the West on Saturday. For portions of the Deep South, including eastern Texas and northern Louisiana, severe storms may potentially develop on Sunday in the warm sector of Winter Storm Titan.


WATCH: Titan Brings Misery to the Midwest.



Further north, in parts of the Mid-South, Winter Storm Titan could produce a damaging ice storm for millions already affected by previous storms this winter. Power outages are likely in portions of Arkansas and Missouri to Kentucky and West Virginia.

"Unfortunately, a destructive ice storm is looking more likely for parts of western Kentucky, west and middle Tennessee, eastern Arkansas and northwest Mississippi," Erdman said.


A toppled tree is shown after it fell over in the rain-soaked earth Friday Feb. 28, 2014 in Los Angeles.
(AP Photo/Alicia Chang)

Workers try to help a woman to get her car unstuck from the mud brought by the rain along a
hillside in Glendora, Calif., Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

One person was killed in a 104-car pile up along Interstate 25 in Denver Saturday morning.
(Photo: 9News Denver)

Traffic stays behind Kansas Turnpike Authority plows clearing snow along I-70 near Lawrence,
Kan., Sunday, March 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

One person was killed in a 104-car pile up along Interstate 25 in Denver Saturday morning.
(Photo: 9News Denver)

One person was killed in a 104-car pile up along Interstate 25 in Denver Saturday morning.
(Photo: 9News Denver)



Here’s a rundown of the latest news from the areas that were impacted by Winter Storm Titan:

Arizona

A 70-day streak without any precipitation in the Phoenix area finally came to an end Saturday. An isolated severe thunderstorm downed trees northeast of Mesa and damaged the roof of an apartment complex on Saturday. At least one funnel cloud was reported with that storm system.

Rainy weather was likely to blame for two traffic accidents in Tucson. Firefighters in Tucson had to pry a 64-year-old man out of his vehicle Saturday morning after a two-car collision. The man is listed in stable condition. In another collision, a 34-year-old woman was hospitalized with minor injuries.

Winter Storm Titan caused more than 2,000 people to lose power in central Phoenix.

Arkansas

A dangerous ice storm is possible for Arkansas on Sunday. The National Weather Service has expanded a winter storm warning so that it covers the northern two-thirds of the state. KATV.com reports that power company Entergy Arkansas says the utility is prepared for Winter Storm Titan this weekend. Still, officials predict significant outages and caution residents to stay away from any downed power lines.

Adverse weather conditions in the Little Rock area forced organizers to halt the Little Rock Marathon during the middle of the race. Runners were rerouted to the finish line at approximately 11:30 a.m. CST.

Colorado

At least one person was killed and 30 people were taken to hospitals after a giant pileup on Interstate 25 during heavy snow produced by Winter Storm Titan, reports the Denver Post.  Denver police said 104 vehicles were involved in at least two accidents. The interstate was closed for several hours Saturday afternoon but has since reopened.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Transportation Department had closed the westbound lanes of a section of Interstate 70 west of Denver after treacherous road conditions triggered numerous accidents. Officials say traffic is still slow in the reopened lanes. Several other road closures and delays had been reported by Saturday night.

The CDOT said in a press release that approximately one hundred snow plows and four large tankers were dispersing product and clearing the roadways of snow and ice, but that motorists should use caution and slower speeds.
Indiana

Indiana residents who've already endured a record-breaking and punishing winter are bracing for Winter Storm Titan. Winter weather alerts stretched across most of south and central Indiana Sunday afternoon. Sgt. Todd Ringle of the Indiana State Police in Evansville says one lane of westbound Interstate 64 west of U.S. 41 has reopened a semitrailer rollover closed both lanes for about 30 minutes Sunday morning. He says troopers continue to work slide-offs in the area but conditions appear to be improving.

Kansas

Icy roads had caused multiple accidents as more wintry weather moves into the state tonight. KSN.com reports that an accident on an icy road in Reno County on Saturday morning killed at least one person and injured six more.

KWCH reported at least half a dozen injury-accidents and several non-injury accidents including road slide offs Saturday afternoon. The passenger in a truck that skidded on an icy highway and flipped was said to have sustained critical injuries.

On Saturday afternoon, a small plane landing at Mid-Continent Airport slid off the runway due to the icy conditions. No injuries were reported.

Kentucky

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said ice from Winter Storm Titan had collected on trees and vehicles, and some tree limbs started to sag under the weight.

Officials told residents to avoid unnecessary travel. In Union County, crews started salting and plowing roads to deal with slick spots.

Authorities said the ferry connecting Hickman, Ky. with Dorena, Mo. has been closed due to icy conditions. A suspension bridge over the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Kentucky was closed Sunday because of ice covering its hard-to-treat metal grid deck.

Missouri

As freezing rain and sleet moved into the state Saturday evening, the Missouri Department of Transportation was advising drivers to stay home if at all possible, KCTV 5 reported. The MoDOT has issued a "no travel advisory" starting Saturday night and extending through Sunday. Governor Jay Nixon activated the State Emergency Operations Center in anticipation for the storm, reports KMIZ 17.
Ohio

Much of the state is under a winter storm warning as of Sunday. Hazardous driving conditions were possible with icy rain falling across the state early Sunday. The Roebling Suspension Bridge, which spans the Ohio River and connects Cincinnati to Kentucky, was closed Sunday due to ice accumulation on its metal surfaces. The Ohio Department of Transportation urged drivers to give slow-moving snow plows room to clear off highways. Cincinnati officials said its crews put down a protective layer of brine.

According to WCMH-TV in Columbus, the Ohio Department of Transportation disbursed more than a 100 snow plows throughout central Ohio in anticipation of Winter Storm Titan.

Oklahoma

Snow, sleet and ice from Winter Storm Titan snarled traffic across Oklahoma into Sunday. Several flights at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City were canceled Sunday morning. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation discouraged travel across the state Sunday, due to slick roadways. - TWC.



MASS FISH DIE-OFF: The Latest Incidents Across The Earth - Hundreds Of Fish Wash Up Dead On Beaches On Reunion Island, Near Madagascar And Large Fish Die-Off In Ponds In Foshan City, China!

March 02, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest incidents of mass fish die-offs across the Earth:


Large Fish Die-Off In Ponds In Foshan City, China.


Boat cut through the water, paddle flip between, often touching one of the dead tilapia. The huge ponds, one round rancid attracted flies. Yesterday, with the weather gets warmer, a town of more sophisticated version of the village began large pond froze to death surfaced.





Yesterday afternoon, the main wheat Jian Wei insisted ponds loaded with tilapia boat, slowly move closer to the shore, filled with dead weight of the bow is almost flat with the surface of the water phase. - Shuichan. [Translated]



Hundreds Of Fish Wash Up Dead On Beaches On Reunion Island, Near Madagascar.


Hundreds of dead fish were found Wednesday on the beaches of Boucan Canot and Roches Noires. The heat could be causing this carnage. Information Antenne Réunion.

Unusual sight Wednesday morning on the west coast: hundreds of fish were found dead on the beaches of the west, lying on the sand ... These victims spend almost unnoticed because it is small "macabis". The heat of recent days could explain the carnage but at present, several assumptions are considered but no assurance can be advanced.

This morning the lifeguards (MNS) Boucan Canot and Roches Noires found these macabis stranded on the sand. Swimmers were surprised by observing this phenomenon.

This phenomenon was seen for the first time Monday, February 24 at the Hermitage password. Marine Reserve was immediately alerted. The Obseratoire marine advance an initial explanation following the carnage: the heat could kill tens of fish, causing "a fairly rapid decline in the amount of oxygen in water, which can cause the death of these animals water ". According Marine Observatory, the same phenomenon was observed last year. - Linfo. [Translated]



FIRE IN THE SKY: Spectacular Meteor Shone Brightly Over The Rift Valley In Kenya - Subsequent Explosion Burns Down A House, Creating Panic Among Residents!

March 02, 2014 - KENYA - While calm appears restored in most parts of the Rift Valley that were left shell-shocked on Thursday night following the explosion of an astronomical body, the identity of the phenomenon is still shrouded in mystery.


File illustration.


The object shone bright in the dark sky before exploding.

People scampered for safety at the sight of the body and the subsequent explosion with reports of wailing and panic reported across the more than three counties where the astronomical body was seen.
Facebook and other social network platforms were abuzz soon after the extraterrestrial incident.

The panic was felt from Kuresoi to Uasin Gishu and the areas in between while on the networks, people were making wild and educated guesses. Speculation was that the astronomical body was either a meteorite or a comet.


The Rift Valley in Kenya.
© Mendosa.com


"I saw it. It was big and spectacular," said Mike Kimani, a resident of Kericho.

There were reports that the body left some destruction on its trail.

"It has burnt a house in Kibaraa village," said Ezra Kipchirchir.

Efforts to obtain opinion from experts drew a blank with scholars arguing they did not observe the phenomenon and hence could not verify the identity of the body.

"It is possible such a star was observed but I do not have the details at the moment," said Professor Paul Baki of the University of Nairobi.

He however said the institution would conduct investigations on establishing more details regarding the sighting.


Map of the Rift Valley in Kenya.


The last time a meteor was sighted and reported in Kenya was in 2011 when an 11 kilogramme object was seen by locals falling in a spinning motion from the skies before landing in a cornfield in Kilimambogo area.

Police and Military retrieved the extraterrestrial rock which landed with a loud bang on that morning. - All Africa.



GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Almost HALF A BILLION Worth Of Bitcoins Vanish; Mt. Gov Says It Lost 750,000 Of Customers' Bitcoin To Fraud!

March 02, 2014 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - Mt. Gox, once the dominant exchange for bitcoin trading, on Friday said more than $470 million of the virtual currency vanished from its digital coffers, kicking into high gear a search for the missing money by victims and cybersleuths.




Acting alone and in groups, the people stepped up their efforts after Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan and confirmed rumors it had lost almost 750,000 of its customers' bitcoins, as well as roughly 100,000 of its own.

Mt. Gox Chief Executive Mark Karpelès said technical issues had opened the way for fraudulent withdrawals, though he didn't provide details.

"There was some weakness in the system, and the bitcoins have disappeared. I apologize for causing trouble," Mr. Karpelès said at a packed news conference at a Tokyo courthouse after the bankruptcy filing.

The disappearance underscores the risks of currencies that exist only online and aren't backed by a central bank. Mt. Gox wasn't overseen by national regulators, so there is no entity to step in and back investors' deposits.

It wasn't clear whether or how the missing bitcoins would be found. Bitcoin's underlying software code, known in developer circles as "the protocol," is believed to keep track of every transaction using a special marker that can be traced via an online ledger.

Unlike cash, which might be difficult to track if it is stolen from a bank vault and then widely dispersed, bitcoin transactions are logged in the ledger, which essentially can be accessed by anyone with a computer.

Some computing experts believed any hackers might be capable of covering the tracks of a potential computer break-in. But if each bitcoin has a marker, it would make it more difficult for thieves to try to convert a big stash into another currency, in the same way it would be difficult for an art thief to pawn off a pilfered Matisse painting quickly.

Those factors are giving hope to the wave of Mt. Gox victims and treasure hunters who have fanned out in search of the missing bitcoins. The virtual currency that disappeared represents nearly 7% of all bitcoins in circulation.

Devon Weller, a 40-year-old freelance Web developer in Nashville who said he had a "small amount" of bitcoins stashed at Mt. Gox, tossed aside his regular work Friday morning to start looking for missing bitcoins. He tapped into the public ledger from his home office and started following the trail of large transactions.


Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles bows in apology at a news conference at the Justice Ministry in Tokyo. Associated Press

"I haven't gotten very far, but it's one of those things that is going to eat away at me," said Mr. Weller.

The exchange's bankruptcy filing capped a tumultuous stretch for the five-year virtual currency. One bitcoin traded at about $549 late Friday, based on the CoinDesk price index of two leading exchanges. The value of a bitcoin started 2013 at about $13, soared above $1,100 in December and has since lost about half its value.

The price swings have hit some investors hard. Fortress Investment Group LLC on Friday recorded an unrealized loss of $3.7 million from its purchase of $20 million worth of bitcoins last year. The asset-management firm held $16.3 million worth of bitcoins at the end of 2013, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mt. Gox halted customer withdrawals three weeks ago, saying a "bug in the bitcoin software" allowed some users to alter the ID on transactions and fraudulently claim that bitcoin transfers hadn't been sent. Other exchanges also had problems but were able to provide patches so activity could resume.

Mt. Gox didn't recover, and it shut down operations Tuesday.

The defunct exchange is the target of an investigation by the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York. The scope of the probe isn't clear, but prosecutors have subpoenaed the company, ordering it to preserve certain documents, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Mt. Gox also faces lawsuits from customers. On Thursday, a customer who claims to have $25,000 worth of bitcoins tied up at Mt. Gox filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status against the exchange. Gregory Greene, who filed the claim with an Illinois District Court, is seeking damages, an injunction, restitution and other remedies.

The claim alleges that Mt. Gox, its holding company and Mr. Karpelès are guilty of consumer fraud by engaging in "unlawful, deceptive, and unfair conduct that is immoral, unscrupulous, and causes substantial injury to consumers." It claims Mt. Gox falsely represented to its customers that it would "protect their bitcoins and fiat currency a safely and quickly allow them to buy, sell, trade, or withdraw the same at any time."

The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.


A covered Bitcoin sign is hung outside a Bitcoin cafe which was scheduled to open in March at the building
housing the company operating the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange in Tokyo, Japan. Bloomberg News



Because Mt. Gox was unregulated, customers might not have much recourse unless they hunt down missing bitcoins on their own. By contrast, customers of MF Global Inc., a regulated brokerage, have nearly been made whole after they lost an estimated $1.6 billion in its 2011 collapse. U.S. customers who traded on U.S. exchanges have received about 98% of their funds, while U.S. customers who traded on foreign exchanges have received about 78%.

Federal regulators have encouraged bitcoin companies to follow money-laundering rules, but beyond that have generally been silent on whether they have legal authority to regulate companies like Mt. Gox in the future or set up rules that would protect bitcoin users. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission have held meetings in recent weeks to study the issue.

Market regulators including the SEC are still evaluating whether bitcoin falls under their jurisdiction. Agencies that oversee banks and payment systems are monitoring bitcoin, but Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said this past week that the Fed has no authority to regulate the virtual currency as long as it "doesn't touch" banks the Fed oversees.

Bitcoin enthusiasts are teaming up to pursue the cybertrail of the missing cash. Among them is Charles Shrem, a prominent bitcoin advocate and entrepreneur who was arrested in January and charged with money-laundering in connection with his bitcoin company.

Mr. Shrem, who worked with four others, said they might have discovered 90,000 of the missing bitcoins that still appear to be in the Mt. Gox coffers, despite the exchange's claim that the money is gone. He added, however, that it is a working theory and still speculative.

"We did it for the community," said Mr. Shrem, who is under house arrest and has pleaded not guilty.

Gavin Andresen, chief scientist for the Bitcoin Foundation, a trade group, isn't hopeful that amateur sleuthing will turn up the missing bitcoins. The best results, he says, might come from a far more traditional source.

"I wouldn't be surprised, if there is a theft involved here, that eventually law enforcement does figure out, using the subpoena powers, where the bitcoins went," he said.

But Adam B. Levine, who worked with Mr. Shrem, said he is optimistic. "There's lots of threads to follow, and if you start pulling on one thread, it exposes another, and eventually you start building a map," he said.

Mr. Levine, a writer at Letstalkbitcoin.com and a self-taught bitcoin sleuth, said his team formed its plan during "a 36-hour Skype call."

He was supposed to appear at a conference on March 6 but has decided to cancel his appearance.

"I should been preparing to give my speeches," he said, "but this thing is taking all day." - WSJ.



GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Report For March 2, 2014 - Major Updates On Tungurahua, Etna, Karymsky, Kelud, Dukono, Kilauea, Cleveland, Popocatépetl, Santiaguito, Pacaya, Fuego And San Miguel! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

March 02, 2014 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): The volcano had a short burst of activity on 26 Feb, producing a series of moderate explosions and small pyroclastic flows reaching up to 400 m on the northern and northwestern flanks. Ash plumes rose up to 2.5 km above the crater. Since then, the volcano has been mostly quiet and only had minor emissions.


Eruption of Tungurahua on 26 Feb and small pyroclastic flows (image: S. Storm OVT/IGEPN)

IGPEN reported continuing inflation at the top of the volcano since 15 Feb as well as long-period type earthquakes, which could indicate influx of gasses and magma in this area of the volcanic edifice.


Etna (Sicily, Italy): No significant changes have occurred at the volcano.


Current tremor amplitude (ECPNZ station, INGV Catania)


Lava continues to flow from the vents at the eastern flank of the New SE crater and produces overlapping flows, typically a few 100 m long, near the rim of and on the upper slope into the Valle del Bove.


WATCH: A small surge in lava effusion occurred during the past hours and can be seen at the end of the following time-lapse:




Karymsky (Kamchatka): The volcano continues to have strombolian to vulcanian explosions. Some of them are large enough to produce ash plumes visible on satellite imagery, such as one on 28 Feb (ash plume to 7,000 ft reported by VAAC Tokyo).


Kelud (East Java): No new explosions have occurred recently and the alert status of the volcano was lowered to 2 (Waspada, "watch") on a scale of 1-4.


Part of Kelut's crater area on 25 Feb (image: Pasang Mata)


A picture of parts of the crater area, taken from the caldera rim on 25 Feb, appeared on the net and shows what is described as a 15 m wide crater left by the 13 Feb eruption (but this seems rather small).


Dukono (Halmahera): Eruptions at the volcano continue, probably strombolian explosions of increased size. An ash plume was seen on satellite data reaching 12,000 ft (3.6 km) altitude and drifting 55 nautical miles (90 km) to the S (VAAC Darwin).


Kilauea (Hawai'i): Last night a swarm of very deep earthquakes occurred in the area of Punalu`u on the SW flank of Kilauea in the Ka`u district of the Big Island!


Cleveland (Aleutian Islands, Alaska): No further eruptions occurred since the 2 small explosions on 25 Feb, but similar events are possible at any time.

The remote volcano is not monitored on the ground, which makes it impossible to describe the status of the volcano in detail or make any forecasts.


Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): The volcano's activity increased yesterday. CENAPRED counted no less than 544 small to moderate emissions during the 24 hours between 25-26 Feb.



Aerial view of Popocatépetl's summit with the new pit crater (image: CENAPRED)

The new lava dome, about 20-30 m wide, inside Popocatépetl's crater

Current activity at the volcano is low with only occasional small puffs of ash. CENAPRED published an aerial picture showing the new (so far very small) lava dome in the crater.

The agency also reports 50 exhalations during 24 hours, which seems high compared to reported averages of 5-10 per day during recent weeks. However, it appears that the type of events included in these counts has changed and now includes ALL visible emissions of steam, gas or ash, however small.


Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): The activity has remained unchanged, dominated by slow extrusion and avalanches of blocky lava mainly from the SE and NE flanks of the Caliente dome.


Santiaguito's Caliente lava dome yesterday morning

The volcano observatory mentions occasional weak to moderate explosions with ash plumes rising up to 500 m from the dome and warns of the possibility of pyroclastic flows (generated by collapse of lava flows).


Pacaya (Guatemala): Mild strombolian eruptions occur at intervals of 5-10 minutes from the Mackenney crater.


Fuego (Guatemala): Activity at the volcano has remained similar to the previous weeks, but decreased somewhat.


Explosion at Fuego volcano this morning

Explosions of small to moderate size occur at irregular intervals (approx 1-2 per hour), eject incandescent material to up to 200 m above the crater and cause impressive glowing avalanches on the upper slopes. Shock waves can be felt in several kilometers distance. Ash plumes rise several 100 m and drift 5-10 km before dissipating.


San Miguel (El Salvador): Seismic and degassing activity at the volcano decreased during the past days at bit, but remain elevated. The gas plume reached 100 m above the crater and drifted S-SW yesterday.


Tremor intensity at San Miguel volcano (MARN)

MARN continues to record frequent micro-earthquakes concentrated below the northern flank, indicating rock fracturing by internal (possibly magma-related) pressure.


Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 2, 2014.


- Volcano Discovery.



PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Nicaragua's West Coast! [MAPS+ESTIMATES]

March 02, 2014 - NICARAGUA - A strong 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Nicaragua just off its north-western Pacific coastline, the US Geological Survey, which monitors earthquakes worldwide, reported Sunday.


USGS earthquake location map.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity map.


The epicenter of the quake, which stuck at 0937 GMT, was in the ocean 23 kilometers (14 miles) west-southwest of the town of Jiquilillo, and 160 kilometers (99 miles) west-northwest of the capital Managua, the USGS reported.

The quake epicenter is at a depth of 70.9 kilometers (44 miles) and located just south of the Gulf of Fonseca, shared by Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.

In El Salvador, government officials said that the earthquake was felt across the small Central American country.


USGS earthquake uncertainty ratio map.

Seismic waves generated from the earthquake, produced on a seismograph. Earthquake Report



"There are no reports of personal or material damage," the Salvadoran office of Civil Protection said.

No report yet from officials in Nicaragua or Honduras.

 Due to the depth of the hypocenter, we expect that this earthquake might cause maximum some slight damage (based on the epicenter off the coast). This estimate is only valid if the current earthquake data will be confirmed.

The Nicaraguan press is reporting continuous aftershocks in the greater epicenter area

It is estimated that tens of millions of people have felt this earthquake at various intensities. A lot of people will have been interrupted from their sleep. The reason that so many people have felt it is the depth of the hypocenter. At earthquake-report.com we know from our experience that earthquakes in between 50 and 80 km depth are being felt as strong up to several hundred kms from the epicenter. This is also the reason that we are receiving  “I Have Felt It” reports from all the neighboring countries (luckily without serious damage so far).


USGS earthquake population exposure map.

USGS earthquake estimates of fatalities and losses map.


The James Daniell CATDAT theoretical damage engine comes out below 1 million $ damage for this earthquake. This model is based on parameters like Magnitude, depth of the hypocenter and damage during historical earthquakes in the same region.

Maximum shaking intensity as reported by USGS (agency with the highest Magnitude) MMI VI = strong shaking. We, at Earthquake Report, are estimating Strong shaking with maximum slight damage and a minimal number of injuries. As this is a typical subduction earthquake, the main movement may have been up and down, aan earthquake movement which is less damaging than a mainly horizontal movement.

SOURCES: Economic Times | Earthquake Report.


Tectonic Summary Seismotectonics of the Caribbean Region and Vicinity
Extensive diversity and complexity of tectonic regimes characterizes the perimeter of the Caribbean plate, involving no fewer than four major plates (North America, South America, Nazca, and Cocos). Inclined zones of deep earthquakes (Wadati-Benioff zones), ocean trenches, and arcs of volcanoes clearly indicate subduction of oceanic lithosphere along the Central American and Atlantic Ocean margins of the Caribbean plate, while crustal seismicity in Guatemala, northern Venezuela, and the Cayman Ridge and Cayman Trench indicate transform fault and pull-apart basin tectonics.

Along the northern margin of the Caribbean plate, the North America plate moves westwards with respect to the Caribbean plate at a velocity of approximately 20 mm/yr. Motion is accommodated along several major transform faults that extend eastward from Isla de Roatan to Haiti, including the Swan Island Fault and the Oriente Fault. These faults represent the southern and northern boundaries of the Cayman Trench. Further east, from the Dominican Republic to the Island of Barbuda, relative motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate becomes increasingly complex and is partially accommodated by nearly arc-parallel subduction of the North America plate beneath the Caribbean plate. This results in the formation of the deep Puerto Rico Trench and a zone of intermediate focus earthquakes (70-300 km depth) within the subducted slab. Although the Puerto Rico subduction zone is thought to be capable of generating a megathrust earthquake, there have been no such events in the past century. The last probable interplate (thrust fault) event here occurred on May 2, 1787 and was widely felt throughout the island with documented destruction across the entire northern coast, including Arecibo and San Juan. Since 1900, the two largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the August 4, 1946 M8.0 Samana earthquake in northeastern Hispaniola and the July 29, 1943 M7.6 Mona Passage earthquake, both of which were shallow thrust fault earthquakes. A significant portion of the motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate in this region is accommodated by a series of left-lateral strike-slip faults that bisect the island of Hispaniola, notably the Septentrional Fault in the north and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault in the south. Activity adjacent to the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault system is best documented by the devastating January 12, 2010 M7.0 Haiti strike-slip earthquake, its associated aftershocks and a comparable earthquake in 1770.

Moving east and south, the plate boundary curves around Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles where the plate motion vector of the Caribbean plate relative to the North and South America plates is less oblique, resulting in active island-arc tectonics. Here, the North and South America plates subduct towards the west beneath the Caribbean plate along the Lesser Antilles Trench at rates of approximately 20 mm/yr. As a result of this subduction, there exists both intermediate focus earthquakes within the subducted plates and a chain of active volcanoes along the island arc. Although the Lesser Antilles is considered one of the most seismically active regions in the Caribbean, few of these events have been greater than M7.0 over the past century. The island of Guadeloupe was the site of one of the largest megathrust earthquakes to occur in this region on February 8, 1843, with a suggested magnitude greater than 8.0. The largest recent intermediate-depth earthquake to occur along the Lesser Antilles arc was the November 29, 2007 M7.4 Martinique earthquake northwest of Fort-De-France.


USGS plate tectonics map for the region


The southern Caribbean plate boundary with the South America plate strikes east-west across Trinidad and western Venezuela at a relative rate of approximately 20 mm/yr. This boundary is characterized by major transform faults, including the Central Range Fault and the Boconó-San Sebastian-El Pilar Faults, and shallow seismicity. Since 1900, the largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the October 29, 1900 M7.7 Caracas earthquake, and the July 29, 1967 M6.5 earthquake near this same region. Further to the west, a broad zone of compressive deformation trends southwestward across western Venezuela and central Columbia. The plate boundary is not well defined across northwestern South America, but deformation transitions from being dominated by Caribbean/South America convergence in the east to Nazca/South America convergence in the west. The transition zone between subduction on the eastern and western margins of the Caribbean plate is characterized by diffuse seismicity involving low- to intermediate-magnitude (Magnitude less than 6.0) earthquakes of shallow to intermediate depth.

The plate boundary offshore of Colombia is also characterized by convergence, where the Nazca plate subducts beneath South America towards the east at a rate of approximately 65 mm/yr. The January 31, 1906 M8.5 earthquake occurred on the shallowly dipping megathrust interface of this plate boundary segment. Along the western coast of Central America, the Cocos plate subducts towards the east beneath the Caribbean plate at the Middle America Trench. Convergence rates vary between 72-81 mm/yr, decreasing towards the north. This subduction results in relatively high rates of seismicity and a chain of numerous active volcanoes; intermediate-focus earthquakes occur within the subducted Cocos plate to depths of nearly 300 km. Since 1900, there have been many moderately sized intermediate-depth earthquakes in this region, including the September 7, 1915 M7.4 El Salvador and the October 5, 1950 M7.8 Costa Rica events.

The boundary between the Cocos and Nazca plates is characterized by a series of north-south trending transform faults and east-west trending spreading centers. The largest and most seismically active of these transform boundaries is the Panama Fracture Zone. The Panama Fracture Zone terminates in the south at the Galapagos rift zone and in the north at the Middle America trench, where it forms part of the Cocos-Nazca-Caribbean triple junction. Earthquakes along the Panama Fracture Zone are generally shallow, low- to intermediate in magnitude (Magnitude less than 7.2) and are characteristically right-lateral strike-slip faulting earthquakes. Since 1900, the largest earthquake to occur along the Panama Fracture Zone was the July 26, 1962 M7.2 earthquake. - USGS.