Saturday, March 21, 2015

GLOBAL COASTAL EVENT: French Coast Hit With The Biggest "Tide Of The Century"!

© AFP 2015/ PHILIPPE HUGUEN

March 21, 2015 - FRANCE
- After the excitement of Friday's solar eclipse, thousands of visitors have flocked to France's coastal areas for the chance to see the biggest tide in 18 years.

Thousands of visitors made their way to coastal areas in Brittany and Normandy on Saturday morning to catch this year's spring tides, which are billed to rise as high as 14 meters above their usual level following Friday's solar eclipse, which saw the Earth, moon, and sun in alignment.

Referred to as the 'tide of the century' in the French press, the phenomenon actually takes place every 18 years; this week's is the first of this millennium, and follows exceptionally high tides seen on March 10, 1997.

The picturesque 11th century fortified island of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, which is usually buffeted by high tides, was a popular destination, with ten thousand people going to see the UNESCO-listed monastery surrounded by rising water before the tide receded from sight, exposing areas of beach and rock which will next be visible in 2033.

On Friday the tidal coefficient, which ranges from 20 to 120 and measures the height between consecutive high and low tides, was recorded at 118 on Brittany's Atlantic Coast, and reached 119 on Saturday, the joint highest ever recorded. The super high tide is also expected to affect coastlines along the North Sea, the English Channel and to a lesser extent, the Mediterranean. - Sputnik.




PLANETARY TREMORS: Mexico City Shaken By Earthquake That Struck More Than 100 Miles Away!

Mexico City locals flooded the streets after the quake. © Reuters

March 21, 2015 - MEXICO
- An earthquake that caused buildings to sway and forced people to flee onto the streets in the Mexican capital happened more than 100 miles away.

The quake hit at 4.30pm local time in the state of Puebla near Tulcingo del Valle - around 100 miles away from Mexico City.

But residents of the faraway capital were forced to flee shaking buildings.

The city is vulnerable to distant earthquakes because much of it sits atop the muddy sediments of drained lake beds that iggle like jelly when quake waves hit.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said many evacuations were reported in the capital but officials received no reports of damage or injuries.

The quake had a depth of 31 miles.

A magnitude-8.1 quake in 1985 that killed at least 6,000 people and destroyed many buildings in Mexico City was centered 250 miles away on the Pacific Coast.   - The Express.


Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of Mexico

Located atop three of the large tectonic plates, Mexico is one of the world's most seismically active regions. The relative motion of these crustal plates causes frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. Most of the Mexican landmass is on the westward moving North American plate. The Pacific Ocean floor south of Mexico is being carried northeastward by the underlying Cocos plate. Because oceanic crust is relatively dense, when the Pacific Ocean floor encounters the lighter continental crust of the Mexican landmass, the ocean floor is subducted beneath the North American plate creating the deep Middle American trench along Mexico's southern coast. Also as a result of this convergence, the westward moving Mexico landmass is slowed and crumpled creating the mountain ranges of southern Mexico and earthquakes near Mexico's southern coast. As the oceanic crust is pulled downward, it melts; the molten material is then forced upward through weaknesses in the overlying continental crust. This process has created a region of volcanoes across south-central Mexico known as the Cordillera Neovolcánica.


USGS plate tectonics for the region.

The area west of the Gulf of California, including Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, is moving northwestward with the Pacific plate at about 50 mm per year. Here, the Pacific and North American plates grind past each other creating strike-slip faulting, the southern extension of California's San Andreas fault. In the past, this relative plate motion pulled Baja California away from the coast forming the Gulf of California and is the cause of earthquakes in the Gulf of California region today.

Mexico has a long history of destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In September 1985, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake killed more than 9,500 people in Mexico City. In southern Mexico, Volcán de Colima and El Chichón erupted in 2005 and 1982, respectively. Paricutín volcano, west of Mexico City, began venting smoke in a cornfield in 1943; a decade later this new volcano had grown to a height of 424 meters. Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl volcanos ("smoking mountain" and "white lady", respectively), southeast of Mexico City, occasionally vent gas that can be clearly seen from the City, a reminder that volcanic activity is ongoing. In 1994 and 2000 Popocatépetl renewed its activity forcing the evacuation of nearby towns, causing seismologists and government officials to be concerned about the effect a large-scale eruption might have on the heavily populated region. Popocatépetl volcano last erupted in 2010. - USGS.



PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Sierra Leone Orders Ebola Lockdown - Will Affect 2.5 MILLION People; More Aid Workers Evacuated!



March 21, 2015 - SIERRA LEONE
- Despite recent gains in battling Ebola, Sierra Leone's government today announced a new quarantine for the western part of the country, a move that it says could help meet a mid-April goal of eliminating the disease.

In other developments, more US health workers were evacuated from Sierra Leone amid new details about how they may have been exposed to the virus, and a vaccine expert pushed for governments and donors to pull together to develop vaccines against Ebola and other emerging disease threats.

Lockdown ordered for Mar 27-29


Palo Conteh, head of Sierra Leone's National Ebola Response Centre, said the lockdown will be conducted from Mar 27 to 29, similar to one it conducted in September, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today.
Last fall the government ordered a nationwide lockdown to help outbreak responders go door to door to identify people with symptoms and provide information about the disease. The step was criticized by some as likely to do more harm than good.

The new quarantine will affect about 2.5 million people in western Sierra Leone, where most of the country's cases are still being reported, according to the AFP report. The area includes Freetown and Bombali and Port Loko districts to the north.

In mid-February, leaders from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone met and set a goal of reducing cases to zero in 60 days, which United Nations Ebola response leaders said at the time would be extremely difficult.

Since then, cases have dramatically tapered off in Liberia, and Sierra Leone has made notable progress against the disease. However, Guinea—a country that has seen the disease rebound several times—last week reported its highest number of cases so far the year, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) update yesterday.

More aid workers return to US for monitoring


Meanwhile, two more American health workers who were potentially exposed to Ebola in Sierra Leone have been flown back to the United States for monitoring, raising the total to 17 over the past week, the Associated Press (AP) reported today, citing an official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The two latest workers flown home are considered at low risk and will spend the 21-day monitoring period in their homes, according to the report.

Several of the others have been positioned near specialized treatment centers, and so far only one of them has been placed in a biocontainment unit. He or she is a patient at Nebraska Medical Center who developed symptoms on Mar 15 but was better the next day, hospital officials said.

The hospital said today that the individual is now out of the biocontainment unit and has returned to active monitoring along with four others who were potentially exposed in Sierra Leone.

The exposures are linked to teams working in Sierra Leone for Partners in Health (PIH), a Boston-based aid group. A physician working with PIH in Sierra Leone was sickened by Ebola and is being treated at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he is in critical condition.

PIH said yesterday that four clinicians who arrived back in the United States on Mar 17 for active monitoring may have been exposed while helping one of their Sierra Leonean clinician colleagues, who later tested positive for Ebola. The clinician from Sierra Leone is being treated at a specialized health facility run by the British military.

PIH said the four workers exposed to the Sierra Leonean clinician were transferred as a precaution, and none have shown symptoms. The group added that none of 10 clinicians who cared for the sick US doctor and were brought back for monitoring have tested positive for Ebola.

Sharing vaccine development risk


Though the world has had ample time to develop an Ebola vaccine, one wasn't ready in time to help battle West Africa's outbreak, because it was too financially risky, Seth Berkley, MD, chief executive of the GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization), said yesterday in a Nature editorial. Instead of blaming industry for not developing a vaccine that has little market, governments, public funders, and private donors should step up and invest in Ebola vaccines, he added.

Berkley urged groups to work on a strategy to quickly produce and distribute adequate quantities of effective vaccines when an outbreak of Ebola or any other infectious disease occurs. He said the first step is to invest in surveillance systems that can pinpoint the biggest threats and new threats.

He also said having a generic vector tested and prepared in advance that can deliver new vaccines in a new outbreak could help tackle a range of diseases. For example, he noted the four of the five Ebola vaccines in development use vectors that have been developed and tested for HIV.

"It demands a different attitude to disease control. We need to stop waiting until we see evidence of a disease becoming a global threat before we treat it like one," Berkley wrote. "Governments and donors need to invest in public-health capability, and they need to take on more of the risk of investing in vaccine development."

Case count rises


In other developments, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the totals in the Ebola outbreak have grown to 24,743 confirmed, probable, and suspected illnesses and 10,216 deaths.

The latest numbers include data as of Mar 17 for all three countries. Today's tally reflects an increase of 77 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases and 37 deaths since the WHO's update yesterday. - CIDRAP.



Tracking the EBOLA Virus Outbreak