Thursday, February 4, 2016

WORLD WAR Z: Plagues & Pestilences - WHO Sounds Zika Blood Warning As Europe Sees First Pregnancy Case In Spain!

Zika starts with a mosquito bite and normally causes little more than a fever and rash (AFP Photo/Luis Robayo)

February 4, 2016 - SPAIN - The World Health Organization on Thursday advised countries against accepting blood donations from people who have travelled to regions affected by the Zika virus, as Spain announced Europe's first known case of the disease in a pregnant woman.

With dozens of cases emerging in Europe and North America from travellers returning from affected areas, WHO stressed the potential link between Zika and microcephaly -- which causes children to be born with abnormally small heads -- and urged health authorities to take precautions.

"With the risk of incidence of new infections of Zika virus in many countries, and the potential linkage of the Zika virus infection with microcephaly and other clinical consequence, it is estimated as an appropriate precautionary measures to defer (blood) donors who return from areas with Zika virus outbreak," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP.

Meanwhile, in the first case of its kind in Europe, Spain's health ministry said a pregnant woman who had returned from Colombia had been diagnosed with the virus.

"One of the patients diagnosed in (the northeastern region of) Catalonia is a pregnant woman, who showed symptoms after having travelled to Colombia," the ministry announced, adding that she was one of seven cases in Spain.

The 41-year-old woman, of Latin American origin who lives in Spain, is 13 or 14 weeks pregnant, regional health official Joan Guix told a news conference.

She will undergo detailed medical tests to see if there is a risk to the fetus. Guix said there was only a small possibility of problems and a scan at 15 weeks would show whether the baby was developing normally.

The mosquito-borne virus has so far spread to 26 countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean and health authorities have warned it could infect up to four million people on the continent and spread worldwide.

The disease starts with a mosquito bite and normally causes little more than a fever and rash.

But since October, Brazil has reported 404 confirmed cases of microcephaly -- up from 147 in 2014 -- plus 3,670 suspected cases.

The timing has fuelled strong suspicions that Zika is causing the birth defect.

The virus has also been linked to a potentially paralysing nerve disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome in some patients.

- 'Imported cases' -

Spain's health ministry sought to ease concerns over the spread of the virus, pointing out that all seven cases in the country had caught the disease abroad.

"Up to now, the diagnosed cases of Zika virus in Spain... don't risk spreading the virus in our country as they are imported cases," it said.


Map of Europe showing the presence of the Tiger Mosquito, or Aedes albopictus, which could infect people with the Zika virus.
(AFP Photo/Laurence SAUBADU, Alain BOMMENEL)

The news comes a day after South American health ministers held an emergency meeting in Uruguay on the disease.

The meeting focused on ways to control the mosquito population spreading the virus, though reports of a US patient catching the disease by having sex fuelled fears that it will not be easy to contain.

WHO earlier this week declared the spike in serious birth defects an international emergency and launched a global Zika response unit.

Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Jamaica and the US territory of Puerto Rico have all warned women not to get pregnant.

The WHO warning on blood donations follows moves by Canada and Britain to protect their blood supplies.

Canadian blood agencies on Wednesday announced that anyone who had travelled to a Zika-risk area would be ineligible to give blood for three weeks upon their return.

The 21-day waiting period also applies to cord blood and stem cell donors who have travelled to Zika-affected areas.

In Britain, the National Health Service Blood and Transplant agency has said that from Thursday, anyone returning from Zika-affected countries would be made to wait 28 days before being allowed to donate blood, as a "precautionary measure". - Yahoo.



RATTLE & HUM: Mysterious Sounds Heard Across The Planet - Strange, Inexplicable Booms Damage Man's Home In Florida?! [VIDEO]


February 4, 2016 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - A man living in Saint James City on Pine Island is wondering what's causing his house to violently shake.

Dwayne Dyer is one of many to contact Fox 4 regarding a booming explosion sound and shaking in Southwest Florida.

Sonic booms have been felt frequently in the area for the last few weeks, but Dyer said Monday, the shaking to his home was worse than ever. "Every time it happens, it's been the exact same time. I've been keeping track of it," Dyer said.

He said it's around 10:55 AM.

Dyer's house sits up on stilts, and he said it's been shaking like an earthquake. "You can feel it more or less start downstairs and work it's way up. It was pretty violent this time. It really shook the house," he said.

He's lived in his home for 12 years and went through Hurricane Charley, but said the shaking he experienced Monday was even worse.

Dyer said he's heard about the sonic booms caused by naval training in the last couple weeks, but said what he felt this morning was different. "I really don't think it's a sonic boom. I think it's something else. I don't know what it is, I think it's more in the ground," he said.

He used to be a commercial pilot and said he's never heard a sonic boom like this one.


WATCH: Mysterious booming damaging Saint James City man's home.





Four in Your Corner's Lisa Greenberg reached out to a Navy spokesperson to see what could be going on and was told there weren't any jets operating in the area.

The twisting and shaking has been causing damage to Dyer's home. "The tiles throughout the house are actually starting to pop loose. Every time this happens, it seems like one or two more tiles are getting loose," he said.

The tile is also cracked in places.

Dyer said as much as he'd like a fix for his floor, he's searching more for answers. "What's causing this is what I want to know, he said.

Fox 4 reached out to the MacDill Air Force base in Tampa to see if the booms are coming from there, but we haven't heard back yet.

The Lee County spokesperson said she's not aware of anything going on locally that could be causing the shaking. - FOX4NOW.




WORLD WAR Z: Plagues & Pestilences - South America Holds CRISIS MEETING As Zika Virus "NIGHTMARE" Spreads!

South American health ministers focused on ways to control the mosquito population spreading the virus (AFP Photo/Marvin Recinos)

February 4, 2016 - SOUTH AMERICA - South American health ministers held an emergency meeting on slowing the spread of the Zika virus, dubbed a "nightmare" by hard-hit Brazil, where it is blamed for brain damage in babies.

With health authorities warning the disease could infect up to four million people in the Americas, ministers from 14 countries held talks in Uruguay to plot their response to the growing crisis, with fears the virus could spread worldwide.

The meeting focused on ways to control the mosquito population spreading the virus, though reports of a US patient catching the disease by having sex fueled fears that it will not be easy to contain.

Brazil said it was sending more than 500,000 personnel out to clean up mosquito breeding grounds and advise people about the disease.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said her government was directing "all resources" available toward the crisis, and vowed to do "absolutely everything" for the families of babies born with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads and brains.

The number of babies with the condition has surged since the Zika outbreak sweeping Latin America was detected last year.

"This virus, which only recently arrived in Brazil and Latin America, no longer is a distant nightmare but a real threat to all Brazilians' homes," Rousseff said in a nationally televised message.

Florida Governor Rick Scott meanwhile declared a health emergency in four counties after six new Zika cases were detected in the US state.

The new infections bring the number of Zika cases in Florida to nine.

Authorities say all caught the virus while traveling abroad, though there is concern it could spread locally because the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the virus is present in the southern United States.

- Condom advice -

The fever starts with a mosquito bite and normally causes little more than a fever and rash.

But since October, Brazil has reported 404 confirmed cases of microcephaly -- up from 147 in 2014 -- plus 3,670 suspected cases. The timing has fueled strong suspicions that Zika is causing the birth defect.

The virus has also been linked to a potentially paralyzing nerve disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome in some patients.

Authorities in Texas on Tuesday said they had confirmed a case of the virus being transmitted by sexual contact.

Health authorities in Ireland urged men to wear a condom during sex for one month after returning from a country affected by Zika.

British and Canadian authorities said returning travelers will be barred from donating blood for a month and three weeks respectively, underlining growing fears worldwide.

The South American health ministers gathered in Montevideo were reluctant to quantify the risk of sexual transmission.

"If that is confirmed, it will give a new dimension to the problem," said the head of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa Etienne.

She said Zika was now present in 26 countries across the Americas.

"What worries the ministers is the speed with which Zika virus infections have spread," she told reporters on the sidelines of the talks.

Etienne said her organization provided $850,000 to help countries fight Zika but that 10 times that amount would be needed.

- Global Zika fears -

The World Health Organization has declared the spike in serious birth defects an international emergency and launched a global Zika response unit.

Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Jamaica and the US territory of Puerto Rico have all warned women not to get pregnant.

Health experts warn that Zika poses a massive threat to Asia.

Thailand confirmed that a man contracted the infection and Indonesia has also reported a domestic case -- as has Cape Verde off northwest Africa.

The WHO warned European countries to act early to stop Zika spreading.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said the mosquito has "re-colonized" Madeira in Portugal and parts of southern Russia and Georgia in recent years after disappearing from the continent in the 20th century.

It has been spotted as far north as the Netherlands.

Indian drugs company Bharat Biotech said it was developing the world's first Zika vaccine and was ready to test it on animals.

French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi earlier said it had begun researching a vaccine for Zika, for which there is currently no specific treatment. - Yahoo.




DELUGE: More Flooding Hits Queensland, Australia - One Person Killed; 162mm Of Rainfall In Just 24 Hours In Urandangi; Mass Evacuations!

Flooding in Dajarra, Queensland.
© Queensland Police

February 4, 2016 - QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - More flooding hit Queensland earlier today, 03 February, this time in the the state's remote north west. Last week, one man died and several were rescued after floods in the Bundaberg area on 31 January.

More heavy rain this week affected communities in the Mount Isa area.

On February 3, Urandangi recorded 162mm of rain in 24 hours, with most of it falling in around 3 hours. This is just short of its highest ever of 164mm, recorded in December 1984. Surrounding areas also received large amounts of rain.

Local police reported that flooding in the township of Dajarra has led to several people being evacuated from homes this morning.

Police also reported that a number of vehicles in the area have been impacted by flood waters.

At least person had to be rescued after he was stranded in his car by floodwater. Several roads across the region were closed.



Search for 8 Missing


Eight people who were feared missing in floodwaters have been found safe and well.

The group were traveling between Urandangi and Mount Isa and were thought to have been caught up in the flooding affecting the area.

Poor weather conditions prevented police from carrying our an aerial search.

However, late on 03 February, Mount Isa police reported they had located one of the vehicles and that, following investigations and enquiries with the occupants of that vehicle and other Mount Isa residents, police are satisfied that both vehicles and all occupants have arrived safely in Mount Isa. - Floodlist.





PLANETARY TREMORS: 3.7 Magnitude Earthquake Recorded Near Helena, Montana - USGS!

USGS earthquake location.

February 4, 2016 - MONTANA, UNITED STATES - A 3.7 magnitude earthquake was recorded near Helena early Thursday morning, according to an initial report from the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake was centered six miles south of Helena at 12:47 a.m.

An earthquake of that size could be felt quite noticeably by people indoors, according to the USGS.


  • Clancy, mt - Shook the knobs on dresser
  • Helena - Windows were rattling, woke me up.
  • Clancy - happened about 1am local time, thought it was the wind or somebody in the house jumping, enough to wake up the wife
  • Clancy - Violent rattling of windows that woke us up at 12:46 AM, house shaking and creaking.
  • Clancy - About 12:35am and woke up from sleep due to shaking and our huskies howling, felt several aftershocks too. We live at the end of Halford Rd up Lump Gulch in Clancy, Mt
  • Clancy - It woke me just around 1:00 am. Felt very similar to the last one. I had to get out of bed to see if something fell over or a person was in my house.

  • Thursday's quake came on the heels of a 4.3 magnitude earthquake centered 12 miles east of Lincoln at 12:31 p.m. Saturday, according to an updated USGS report.


    USGS shakemap intensity.

    An online search of USGS archives did not show any earthquakes with a magnitude of greater than 3.4 within 40 miles of Helena in all of 2015. - IR.

    Seismicity of Yellowstone

    Earthquake epicenters in Yellowstone reveal a pattern of intense seismicity related to faults and volcanic features. Plotted here are Yellowstone's 1973-1996 earthquakes on digital topography showing their relation of epicenters to faults and post-caldera (post 631,000 year old) volcanic vents.

    Intense swarms of shallow earthquakes and occasional moderate-sized earthquakes as large as the MS = 6.1 earthquake in 1975 near Norris Junction, characterize the seismicity of Yellowstone. Norris also has the highest temperature hydrothemal system in the park. The geophysical evidence suggests that earthquakes of Yellowstone are influenced by the presence of magmas, partial melts, and hydrothermal activity at crustal depths from near surface to depths of ~5 km. Earthquakes occur on faults that form boundaries of small upper-crustal blocks and reflect a combination of deformation caused by local transport of magma and hydrothermal fluids as well as by the regional northeast extension superimposed from the Basin-Range tectonic stress field.


    USGS earthquake historic seismicity.

    Earthquakes reveal a pattern of seismicity over the Yellowstone-Hebgen Lake region that extends into the Yellowstone caldera along northwesting trending clusters of epicenters. Earthquakes extend ~25 km from Hebgen Lake, Montana, along an east-west trend into Yellowstone National Park where they take on a northwest trend along distinct seismic zones about 25 km long that cross the caldera boundary. Within the caldera, earthquakes have not exceeded magnitude MS = 5.0 and generally have scattered epicenters; in the western part of the caldera, northwest-trending clusters of epicenters, together with aligned volcanic vents, may be related to buried, but still active, Quaternary faults. In several cases, there are good correlations between earthquake swarms and major changes in hydrothermal activity. Local faulting along the west side of Yellowstone Lake has Holocene displacements and appears to be seismically active.

    Parts of the Gallatin and Teton normal fault systems, which generally have a northerly trends outside the Yellowstone region, presumably lie beneath the area now covered by the Quaternary volcanics of the Yellowstone Plateau. A broader view of Yellowstone seismicity and that of Teton region is shown here.

    Focal depths of earthquakes in Yellowstone reveal notable variations across the caldera that are related to variations in heat flux and rock composition.


    Earthquake historic seismicity. University of Utah.

    Maximum focal depths outside the caldera are generally less than 15 to 20 km, and mostly less than 5 km beneath the inner caldera. This pattern of earthquake- shallowing suggests a thin seismogenic brittle upper crust beneath the thermally active inner caldera. Rheologic models imply that below about 5 km, the crust is in a quasi-plastic, ductile state at temperatures in excess of 350°C - incapable of supporting large stresses. Note that the MS = 6.1 earthquake in 1975 occurred along the caldera's northwest boundary. On a regional scale, earthquakes are most intense on the west side of Yellowstone National Park. The most seismically active area is associated with the 1959, MS = 7.5, Hebgen Lake main shock that occurred within about 30 km of the northwestern side of the Yellowstone caldera. This large earthquake may have resulted from unusual lithospheric uplift and viscoelastic relaxation associated with the Yellowstone hotspot.

    Along the northwest side of the eastern Snake River Plain, earthquakes have a notable northwest alignment of epicenters in central Idaho, which is aftershock activity of the 1983, MS = 7.3, Borah Peak earthquake on the Lost River fault. This pattern contrasts with the scatter of what we have called background seismicity elsewhere in the central ISB. The "turning on" of earthquakes on the Lost River fault emphasizes the relative seismic quiescence of the neighboring Lemhi and Beaverhead faults to the northeast. All three faults are part of a domain of active, latest Quaternary basin-range normal faulting northwest of the SRP. Hence, the paucity of earthquakes between the Lost River fault and the Idaho-Montana border marks an important seismic gap in the central ISB. Seismic surveillance by the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory reveals few earthquakes within the Snake River Plain itself. The lack of earthquakes is thought to be related to increased crustal strength resisting earthquakes, to high temperatures that inhibit earthquakes, or to complex stresses related to the Yellowstone hotspot. - The Yellowstone-Teton Epicenter.





    Seismicity of Yellowstone.
    Earthquake epicenters in Yellowstone reveal a pattern of intense seismicity related to faults and volcanic features. Plotted here are Yellowstone's 1973-1996 earthquakes on digital topography showing their relation of epicenters to faults and post-caldera (post 631,000 year old) volcanic vents.

    Intense swarms of shallow earthquakes and occasional moderate-sized earthquakes as large as the MS = 6.1 earthquake in 1975 near Norris Junction, characterize the seismicity of Yellowstone. Norris also has the highest temperature hydrothemal system in the park. The geophysical evidence suggests that earthquakes of Yellowstone are influenced by the presence of magmas, partial melts, and hydrothermal activity at crustal depths from near surface to depths of ~5 km. Earthquakes occur on faults that form boundaries of small upper-crustal blocks and reflect a combination of deformation caused by local transport of magma and hydrothermal fluids as well as by the regional northeast extension superimposed from the Basin-Range tectonic stress field.


    USGS earthquake historic seismicity.

    Earthquakes reveal a pattern of seismicity over the Yellowstone-Hebgen Lake region that extends into the Yellowstone caldera along northwesting trending clusters of epicenters. Earthquakes extend ~25 km from Hebgen Lake, Montana, along an east-west trend into Yellowstone National Park where they take on a northwest trend along distinct seismic zones about 25 km long that cross the caldera boundary. Within the caldera, earthquakes have not exceeded magnitude MS = 5.0 and generally have scattered epicenters; in the western part of the caldera, northwest-trending clusters of epicenters, together with aligned volcanic vents, may be related to buried, but still active, Quaternary faults. In several cases, there are good correlations between earthquake swarms and major changes in hydrothermal activity. Local faulting along the west side of Yellowstone Lake has Holocene displacements and appears to be seismically active.

    Parts of the Gallatin and Teton normal fault systems, which generally have a northerly trends outside the Yellowstone region, presumably lie beneath the area now covered by the Quaternary volcanics of the Yellowstone Plateau. A broader view of Yellowstone seismicity and that of Teton region is shown here.

    Focal depths of earthquakes in Yellowstone reveal notable variations across the caldera that are related to variations in heat flux and rock composition.


    Earthquake historic seismicity. University of Utah.

    Maximum focal depths outside the caldera are generally less than 15 to 20 km, and mostly less than 5 km beneath the inner caldera. This pattern of earthquake- shallowing suggests a thin seismogenic brittle upper crust beneath the thermally active inner caldera. Rheologic models imply that below about 5 km, the crust is in a quasi-plastic, ductile state at temperatures in excess of 350°C - incapable of supporting large stresses. Note that the MS = 6.1 earthquake in 1975 occurred along the caldera's northwest boundary. On a regional scale, earthquakes are most intense on the west side of Yellowstone National Park. The most seismically active area is associated with the 1959, MS = 7.5, Hebgen Lake main shock that occurred within about 30 km of the northwestern side of the Yellowstone caldera. This large earthquake may have resulted from unusual lithospheric uplift and viscoelastic relaxation associated with the Yellowstone hotspot.

    Along the northwest side of the eastern Snake River Plain, earthquakes have a notable northwest alignment of epicenters in central Idaho, which is aftershock activity of the 1983, MS = 7.3, Borah Peak earthquake on the Lost River fault. This pattern contrasts with the scatter of what we have called background seismicity elsewhere in the central ISB. The "turning on" of earthquakes on the Lost River fault emphasizes the relative seismic quiescence of the neighboring Lemhi and Beaverhead faults to the northeast. All three faults are part of a domain of active, latest Quaternary basin-range normal faulting northwest of the SRP. Hence, the paucity of earthquakes between the Lost River fault and the Idaho-Montana border marks an important seismic gap in the central ISB. Seismic surveillance by the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory reveals few earthquakes within the Snake River Plain itself. The lack of earthquakes is thought to be related to increased crustal strength resisting earthquakes, to high temperatures that inhibit earthquakes, or to complex stresses related to the Yellowstone hotspot. - The Yellowstone-Teton Epicenter. - See more at: http://thecelestialconvergence.blogspot.com/2013/03/planetary-tremors-32-magnitude.html#sthash.5tKgK5Mw.dpuf




    GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - EU On The Brink Of "TERRIFYING CRISIS" As Five Of Europe's Biggest Banks Are In Danger, Warns Expert!

    Are Europe's banks heading into meltdown?

    February 4, 2016 - EUROPE - Some of Europe’s biggest banks are on the brink for a crisis that echoes the 2008 meltdown, a finance expert warned today, as fears over the global economy escalate.

    Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Santander, Barclays and RBS are among the stocks that are falling sharply sending shockwaves through the financial world, according to former hedge fund manager and ex Goldman Sachs employee Raoul Pal.

    At the height of the financial disaster in 2008, the Government was forced to step in and rescue Lloyds Banks and RBS from liquidation, while the European Central Bank gave huge bailouts to Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy.

    Last month, the head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi raised expectations that it could undergo yet more Quantitative Easing in March – in effect printing billions of pounds worth of money – in the face of ongoing economic fears.

    France last month declared a state of economic crisis adding to worries about the stability of the euro-zone.

    Regulations now require banks in Europe to hold more cash as a buffer against market shocks, but Mr Pal said balance sheets haven’t been cleaned up and warned negative interest rates are hitting the firms hard.

    The pundit’s comments come as a number of bank shares plunged to their lowest levels for years.

    The Chancellor George Osborne has even been forced to push back Lloyds Bank’s retail share sale after stock value plunged too far.

    Mr Ral told CNBC news: “I look at the big long-term share charts of them, and I think this looks very terrifying indeed. I have not seen anything like this for a long time.

    “Negative rates are something the banks can banks cannot deal with and that’s being priced into share prices quickly.”

    Fears over low oil prices and China’s slowing economy, tumbling stock values at the start of the year were largely driven by investors selling off oil and mining companies.

    But now panic has spread into other sectors.

    And Mr Pal said banking issues could be an even bigger worry than China’s growth slowdown and cheap oil. - Express.



    OMEN: Plagues & Pestilences - Is It Alien, Fish Or Just Foul, "MUTANT" Sea Creature With A Nose, Feet, Tail And WING Baffles Caribbean Island?!

    While it has scales, the fish (shown upside down) also has two strange feet, complete with toes.
    (Photo: The Sun/Wessex News)

    February 4, 2016 - CARRIACOU - An “alien-looking” creature likened to “something out of a sci-fi horror film” has caused a stir in the Grenadine island of Carriacou.

    The fishy story began when the strange-looking specimen was caught in the port of Windward, reportedly giving some seasoned fishermen quite a fright.

    The foot-long fish reportedly had humanoid “feet” complete with toes, which allowed it to walk across the ocean floor, a “perfect human nose,” wings and scales.

    And the apparent hybrid, whether fish or fowl, had disbelieving fishermen stumped.

    One islander said “Everyone crowded round to look – nobody had ever seen anything like it.

    “Quite a few people were pretty scared and thought it looked like something out of a sci-fi horror film.”

    Veteran fisherman Hope McLawrence, 74, who found himself eyeball to eyeball with the “alien” creature when he hauled in his nets, admitted he was baffled.

    He said the foot-long beast had two feet with toes, no fin, a long bone on its back and “a perfect human nose immediately above its mouth.”

    “I have never discovered anything like this before. The wings and tail look extremely complicated,” he noted.

    McLawrence, a master fisherman with more than fifty years’ experience in the industry, added: “By the look of the creature it cannot swim but apparently walks on the sea bed.

    “This has shocked me to a considerable extent since I never thought that a creature like this even existed, much less in the harbour of these shallow, friendly waters.

    “This is like a mystery and breathes a chill with this discovery,” he indicated.


    The 'alien fish' was caught on the island of Carriacou, a few miles from Grenada (stock image)

    The attention-grabbing creature is believed to be a frogfish, an ambush predator that can eat almost anything that will fit into its mouth, which can expand to 12 times its normal size to accommodate prey such as fish, crabs and shrimp, as well as other frogfish.

    Frogfish, a type of anglerfish, are masters of disguise and have a textured exterior that aids in their camouflage. They vary in colour and often have unique spines or bumps that change with their surroundings.

    Their amazing ability to camouflage themselves serves as protection from predators and may explain why they have not been spotted by Carriacou fishermen before.

    Unlike the Carriacou discovery, however, frogfish do not have scales.

    According to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), frogfish lack a swim bladder and use their modified pectoral fins to walk or run across the seafloor.

    They can be found in tropical and subtropical oceans and seas off the coasts of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australia. - Caribbean 360.




    ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Heavy Snowfall In China Has BROKEN ALL RECORDS Of Previous Years; Stranding Nearly 100,000 At Guangzhou Station; 3rd COLDEST TEMPERATURE In Hong Kong; FIRST Snow In Guangzhou Since 1946! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

    A woman removes snow on top of a greenhouse in Dongyang, Zhejiang province, on Jan. 22.  STR/AFP/Getty Images

    February 4, 2016 - CHINA - Snowfall continued for several days have jammed the routine life in China, while millions of passengers returning to their home for Chinese New Year, stuck on stations and airports.

    Snowfall in China has broken down all records of previous years, while the snowfall has increased problems for millions of people returning to their homes for Chinese new year ceremonies. Aerial operation and trains schedule have been affected badly due to bad weather and snowfall, while six thousand policemen have been deployed to control the people. According to Chinese officials, at least three billion people travel in different areas of China during new year vacations. - Abbtakk.



    Heavy snow has disrupted public transport in southern China, stranding tens of thousands of people outside a rail station, police say.

    The crowd outside Guangzhou station swelled to nearly 100,000 at its peak on Monday night, police said.

    Central China has experienced some of its coldest weather in years.

    The rare snow has coincided with the run-up to Chinese New Year - where hundreds of millions of Chinese travel home to see their families.


    Fishing boats are stuck in ice at a harbor in Dalian on Jan. 21. ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

    A fishing boat carrying buoys makes its way through the ice-filled harbor in Dalian on Jan. 21. ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

    People walk along a snow-covered street in Zouping County on Jan. 22. Xinhua/Zhou Ke via Getty Images

    Soldiers train in Hulunbuir. ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images


    Many trains from north and central China were delayed by the snow - leaving passengers in the south stranded with no transport.

    More than 50,000 people still remained stuck outside Guangzhou railway station on Tuesday, state media said.

    Local police said 5,200 officers had been deployed to maintain order.

    They urged passengers to check their train details online and avoid "blindly heading to the station to wait for trains", saying this would exacerbate the overcrowding.

    Officials estimate nearly three billion trips will take place over the holiday season, in what is considered the world's biggest annual human migration.

    Meanwhile, traffic jams had led to more than 400 people in Guangzhou missing their flights, Xinhua news agency reported. - BBC.



    As of Tuesday noon, over 50-thousand passengers were still stranded at Guangzhou Railway Station, after rare snow in central China caused 24 trains to be delayed.

    Yesterday nearly 100-thousand passengers were seen waiting inside and outside the station.

    Spokesperson for Guangzhou Railway Group, Chen Jianping, explained the reasons for the delays.

    "Due to bad weather, some trains were delayed and the order has been confused. The Guangzhou Railway Station is designed to hold 30-thousand passengers at a time. Passengers should arrive at the square four hours ahead of time and enter the waiting rooms two hours earlier. But now it is raining. Inside the station things are in good order, but on the square and between the square and waiting rooms, it is overcrowded."


    Thousands of travelers are stranded at Guangzhou Railway Station in South China's Guangdong province after rare snow in central and eastern Chinese provinces
    delayed train services, Feb 1, 2016. About 100,000 travelers were forced to wait outside the station ahead of Spring Festival, the most important holiday
    of the year. The local police drafted in 1,300 more security personnel to the initial 2,600 officers, and appealed to the passengers
    not to spend long hours outside the station. Reuters

    Reuters

    Reuters

    Imagine China




    The local police have added 13-hundered security staff to the railway station and closed parts of the roads around the station to hold stranded passengers.

    Chen Jianping said they have dispatched some temporary trains from Hunan province to relieve the delays and shorten the arrival/dispatch cross-over time.

    Chinese travellers are expected to make 2.9 billion trips during the 40-day Chunyun period, which began on January 21. - CRI English.


    WATCH: 3rd coldest temperatures ever recorded in Hong Kong and first snows in 60 years throughout Guangzhou, China.










    WORLD WAR Z: Plagues & Pestilences - Florida Governor Rick Scott Declares State Of Emergency In 4 Counties Over Zika Virus!


    February 4, 2016 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency today in the four counties where people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus.

    There have been nine people in total who have been diagnosed with the Zika virus in Florida, though health officials believe that all of them contracted the disease while outside of the U.S.

    Scott said he wanted the state to be prepared for the chance that the virus could start to be spread from mosquito to person within the state.

    The Aedes aegypti mosquito that is the primary vector of Zika virus infections is present in the southeast portion of the country, including Florida, though in winter the mosquito populations are low.

    "Although Florida’s current nine Zika cases were travel-related, we have to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the spread of the Zika virus in our state," Scott said in a statement today.

    "Our Department of Health will continue to be in constant communication with all county health offices, hospitals and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We know that we must be prepared for the worst even as we hope for the best.”




    There have been no reports of the virus is being transmitted from mosquitoes to people in the U.S., though officials are concerned that small outbreaks could happen as the weather warms.

    A rare case of sexually transmitted Zika virus was reported in Dallas on Tuesday by the local health department.

    Scott's executive order requires the state health officer to "take any action necessary to protect public health" and allows the commissioner of agriculture to issue a "mosquito declaration" in the affected counties to reduce populations of the insects that can spread the disease.

    The Zika virus usually results in mild symptoms including fever, rash and fatigue that last up to a week.

    However, the virus has also been associated with the rise of a dangerous birth defect in Brazil called microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head and brain. - ABC News.



    FIRE IN THE SKY: Close Call - Asteroid 2013 TX68 Could Pass Earth By Just 11,000 Miles, 95% Closer Than The Moon!


    February 4, 2016 - SPACE - A recently discovered asteroid is scheduled to fly by Earth in March, but NASA can’t quite tell how far away it will be when that happens. One estimate is as close as 11,000 miles, about 95 percent closer than the moon.

    The asteroid known as 2013 TX68, was first discovered three years ago, as its name implies, but the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey was only able to track its path for three days before it entered daytime skies, where monitoring is not possible.

    That short amount of time precluded scientists from getting a better understanding of what the asteroid’s orbit around the sun looks like.

    What is known is that the asteroid is 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter and will be in Earth’s neighborhood for quite some time, but what is not known is whether that means 11,000 or 9 million miles away from our planet by next month. For comparison, the moon is 238,000 miles away.

    "This asteroid's orbit is quite uncertain, and it will be hard to predict where to look for it," Paul Chodas of NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies said in a statement.


    Asteroid 2013 TX68 could fly past Earth as far as 14,000,000 km or as close as 17,000 km

    "There is a chance that the asteroid will be picked up by our asteroid search telescopes when it safely flies past us next month, providing us with data to more precisely define its orbit around the sun," Chodas added.

    The next flyby for 2013 TX68 will be in September of 2017, when it will have a one in 250,000,000 chance of Earthly impact.

    By comparison, the odds of winning the $1 billion Powerball jackpot last month were one in 292,000,000. NASA predicts the following flybys in 2046 and 2097 will be even less likely to end in collision.

    "The possibilities of collision on any of the three future flyby dates are far too small to be of any real concern," Chodas said. "I fully expect any future observations to reduce the probability even more." - RT.





    PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: The Zika Virus Is A "TICKING TIME BOMB" For Latin America - Up To 650,000 NEW CASES Are Expected In Coming Months!


    February 4, 2016 - LATIN AMERICA - When Brazilian health official Claudio Maierovitch in December first raised the idea of asking women to delay their pregnancies because of the Zika virus, it came as a shock. Women rights groups decried what they saw as unprecedented government meddling in what should be a private matter. Doctors questioned the practicality of the advice. And some political experts took it as a desperate sign that the country lacked a coherent strategy to fight the rapidly spreading virus.

    But then Ecuador followed suit. And Colombia, Jamaica and El Salvador. El Salvador's plea was the most drastic: asking women to avoid becoming pregnant for a full two years, until 2018.

    The situation has left many women in the region struggling with what to do.

    Latin America is where the virus — suspected of causing babies to be born with a condition called microcephaly, which results in unusually small heads and brains — is most prevalent. It is also predominantly Roman Catholic, and getting access to modern birth control methods like condoms and pills can be a challenge.


    Transito de Los Angeles Vasquez, 30, has her prenatal check-up at the National Hospital for Women in San Salvador, El Salvador, on Jan. 29. In the
    Central American nation, authorities have urged women to put off pregnancy for two years. (Salvador Melendez/AP)

    "There is a lot of fear about Zika and pregnancy, but women don't have a lot of options even if they have a desire to comply with the advice," Joshua Michaud, associate director of global health policy at Kaiser Family Foundation, said in an interview.

    Then there are the women who are already pregnant. "I'm afraid that my baby could have some problem," Kerly Rocio Ariza, 17, told the Associated Press. Rocio Ariza, from Colombia, is about five months pregnant and diagnosed with Zika. "It terrifies me, because I've seen the symptoms I had on TV, and in truth, they told me it was dangerous."

    In Ecuador, Maria de Jesus Rivera expressed similar sentiments to the AP. "We're afraid," she said. "We want the child to be born healthy with no problems of any kind."

    Experts have speculated that places like Colombia — where the Zika pathogen-carrying mosquitoes are believed to have arrived about five months after showing up in Brazil — could see the explosion of a "time bomb" of microcephaly cases in the coming months. Up to 650,000 Zika infections are expected.

    “Colombia will tell us a lot,” said Marcos Espinal, director of communicable diseases and health analysis for the Pan American Health Organization.


    Germana Soares puts socks on her 2-month-old son Guilherme Soares Amorim, who was born with microcephaly, at her house in Ipojuca, Brazil, on Monday.
    (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)


    That terrifying idea has renewed conversations about abortion in the region, despite the fact that scientists have emphasized that they have not yet found a definitive link between Zika and fetal deformities and that it's often impossible to tell how severe the impact of the deformity will be early on.

    Some children with the condition could grow up with minimal delays and intellectual impairment, an outcome that has been emphasized in recent days by Brazilian journalist Ana Carolina Caceres, who wrote in an essay for the BBC that she was diagnosed with microcephaly at birth. She said her doctors told her parents she would never walk or talk and be "in a vegetative state until she dies," but that with lots of therapy she has managed to live a normal life.

    Countries like El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua don't allow abortion under any circumstances while others like Brazil, Venezuela and Guatemala are highly restrictive, meaning they only allow it if the mother's life is in grave danger. An analysis of Michaud and his colleagues of abortion policies and contraceptive prevalence shows just how few choices women may have if they are infected with Zika while pregnant. (In the table below, modern methods of contraception include condoms and birth control pills while the "any" method category also includes withdrawal.)

    The situation has created a worry about black-market abortions.

    "Those who can afford to will be able to find a clinic. Those who don't may run the risk of submitting to an alternative intervention that could put the woman at risk of infection or even death," Maria Luiza Bezerra Menezes, president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Pernambuco state in Brazil, told the Telegraph.




    In Colombia, the health minister has broached the topic head-on, saying that a confirmation of Zika infection and possible microcephaly may allow women to qualify for abortions, which might otherwise be illegal.Michaud and other experts said that despite questions about the practicality and ethics of the efforts to delay pregnancies, they make some sense from an epidemiological standpoint. That's based on the assumption that the birth defects are linked to the mother having an active Zika infection while carrying the baby.

    At this moment, many countries have a population that has never been exposed to Zika, so no one or very few are immune and could become infected at any time.

    "This is the most dangerous position to be in right now," Michaud said. "You have widespread vulnerability, and the mosquito vectors are spreading readily."

    But the reasoning goes that after a wave of mosquitoes goes through a country, as has happened in Brazil, many women will have already been bitten and become infected, triggering the creation of antibodies. So if they get pregnant in the future, the virus will have no effect on them or their babies. That's a lot of "ifs," but health officials in countries that have issued advisories have said it's the best they can do until they know more.

    Lost in a lot of the worry about Zika is the impact such a delay in pregnancies would have on societies. Uri Friedman at the Atlantic wrote that if the outbreak lasts one or two years, "it may produce an enduring 'hole in the age structure'," but that couples would compensate for it by having more children later.

    However, if the epidemic lasts five or more years, that calculus could change dramatically, he said:
    In that (very hypothetical) scenario, a significant portion of the women who postponed getting pregnant during the health crisis will be over the age of 35, when pregnancies carry a higher risk, and some of these women “will not have the possibility to have more kids.” That drop in the birth rate might not be canceled out by a subsequent rise, leading to a substantially smaller generation than otherwise would have emerged.

    Such a shift in the age structure could present problems in Latin America, where the informal economy is massive and people tend to not save much money for the future. As a result, the elderly often depend more on material support from their kids and grandkids than on inadequate pension and social-security systems.
    Maria Erlinda Guzman, 34, is one of those, because of Zika, whose hopes of motherhood have been overwhelmed by fear.  She had been trying to conceive a child, but now plans to use birth control and worries she may be too old by the time it's safe, she told the Associated Press. "I'm going to be left childless." - Washington Post.






    PLANETARY TREMORS: Very Strong Magnitude 6.8 Earthquake Rattles Northeastern Taiwan - Not Reported By The USGS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

    Central Weather Bureau earthquake location.

    February 4, 2016 - TAIWAN - An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale occurred off the coast of northeastern Taiwan at 10:19 p.m. Tuesday, the Central Weather Bureau reported shortly after the temblor.

    The quake's epicenter was located at sea about 185.4 kilometers east of Keelung City Hall in northern Taiwan at a depth of 212.7 km, the bureau said.

    The strongest tremors, which had an intensity of 3 on Taiwan's 0-7 seismic intensity scale, were felt in Nan'ao in Yilan County and Yenliao in Hualian County.

    Taichung, Nantou County, Taitung County and Hsinchu County recorded an intensity of 2, while an intensity of 1 was reported in Taipei, New Taipei and Taoyuan, the bureau said. - Focus Taiwan News Channel.




    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.

    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.

    More information on regional seismicity and tectonics

    - USGS.



    PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Zika Virus - Britain's National Health Services Ban Travelers From Donating Blood Or Organs After Returning From Countries Hit By The Infection!


    February 4, 2016 - BRITAIN - Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) has banned travelers from donating blood for 28 days after returning from countries hit by Zika in order to prevent the virus from spreading.

    Doctors have also blocked organ donations from donors who have recently traveled to countries with a high incidence of Zika. The NHS has banned transplanting organs from living donors carrying the disease, as well as those who died while infected.

    “We are putting a deferral on people donating blood for 28 days after they have been to Zika infected countries,” a spokesperson for the NHS said.

    “Most of the countries affected by Zika already have a similar deferral because of other diseases, so we are expecting it will have a minimal impact.

    “There are reports of possible Zika virus transmission by blood transfusion and it is probably that infection may also be transmitted by organ transplantation.”

    The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the warmer spring and summer months may heighten the risk of Zika spreading to Europe.

    So far six people in the UK have been diagnosed with the virus. Most people infected with Zika are asymptomatic, with just one in five developing any symptoms.Symptoms are generally mild and are characterized by the onset of fever, rash and conjunctivitis. However, the virus, which is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, is believed to be responsible for thousands of birth defects in Brazil, which has been hardest hit by the virus.

    Thousands of infants born to women carrying the disease suffer from microcephaly, a congenital condition associated with abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development.

    Earlier this week, the WHO declared the Zika virus a global public health emergency. - RT.





    ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Dead Sperm Whale Washed Ashore At Ganjam, India; Blue Whale Rescued Off Dapoli, India; And Rare Wild Jaguar Spotted Living In Arizona, United States! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

    The body of the sperm whale.

    February 4, 2016 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

    Dead sperm whale washed ashore at Ganjam, India

    The sight of dead body of a 35 feet long and 10 feet round sperm whale washed ashore shocked locals on Tuesday near Kantiagada village that under Ganjam block.

    The whale is suspected to have died five days back.

    Informing about the body that washed ashore, Khalikote Forest Ranger, Dilip Kumar Martha, said, "We doubt that the whale died four or five days back. Initial investigations suggest that the whale died after being hit by a ship. The Odisha museum has also been informed about the whale if they ever want to preserve it. If they don't, the whale will be buried near the coast." - Iamin.



    Blue whale rescued off Dapoli, India

    The whale, weighing approximately 25 tonnes, was seemingly stranded in the shallows during the night because of the high tide and was then trapped in the sand.

    Sightings of whales along the coastline of Maharashtra seem to have become a common occurrence. Three days after a 45-feet-long Bryde's Whale was found dead on the Juhu beach, another behemoth whale was spotted around 200 km away from Mumbai.
    A 40-feet-long blue whale was spotted stranded in the shallow waters of Dapoli beach in Ratnagiri district by members of the Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra on February 1, who successfully rescued it and sent it back into deeper seas.

    According to the environmental group, on a chilly morning at around 6 am, a volunteer of the group saw the whale struggling to keep itself in the waters, almost 100 metres from the shore. The whale, weighing approximately 25 tonnes, was seemingly stranded in the shallows during the night because of the high tide and was then trapped in the sand.

    "Immediately, the volunteer alerted other members of the group and we informed the forest officials," Project Director, Mohan Upadhye from Dapoli said. The distress call by the group was heeded by around 25 men of the village, alongside a strong force of forest officials as well.

    Upon reaching the spot, they saw that the whale stuck in the sand. Efforts started to keep it in water, while a veterinarian checked the mammal for any injury.


    Volunteers of Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra and forest officials rescuing the stranded blue whale on Dapoli beach in Ratnagiri district.© Mohan Upadhye

    © Mohan Upadhye

    "The vet found that the whale was suffering from some infection, he administered an injection and then the whale started beating water with its tail," Upadhye added.

    A herculean task involving watering the whale and checking its vitals was carried out for more than five hours.At 5 pm, during the high tide, the group brought two trawlers to tow the whale back into deeper waters. They safely attached a thick rope to the tail of the whale and started to tow it into the deep sea.

    "The rope broke twice because of the sheer weight of the whale. However on the third attempt, we were successful in putting it in deep waters,"
    Upadhye told.

    Swimmers untied the rope from the whale which gracefully dived in the Arabian Sea, before surfing up once. - DNA India.



    Rare wild jaguar spotted living in U.S.

    Researchers in Arizona have released video showing jaguar living near Tucson. It is thought to be the only living jaguar in the United States.

    WATCH: Rare wild jaguar spotted living in U.S.



    - CNN.







    GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Big Ben - Rare Australian Volcanic Eruption Captured On Film!

    The still-smoking peak of Big Ben volcano, shortly after the eruption.© Pete Harmsen

    February 4, 2016 - AUSTRALIA - Australia's only two active volcanoes have both erupted - and scientists on board a ship conducting research nearby caught the rare event on film. The Big Ben volcano on remote Heard Island in sub-Antarctica, almost 1800 kilometres north of Australia's Antarctic base at Davis Station, erupted a combination of poisonous gases and red-hot lava.

    It was the first time it had done so in decades.
    We witnessed the lava descending Big Ben interacting dramatically with the snow and ice cover of the mountain.

    Richard Arculus, ANU volcanologist
    The other volcano, on the neighbouring McDonald islands, erupted gas only. Scientists on board the CSIRO's RV Investigator were visiting the islands to conduct research into the concentration of iron in Antarctic waters.

    "We witnessed the lava descending Big Ben as it interacted dramatically with the snow and ice cover of the mountain," said ANU volcanologist Professor Richard Arculus, who witnessed the eruption first hand.

    "It is possible that a quenched carapace of glass is formed over the lava allowing the flow to descend considerable distances downhill, forming lava tubes." Big Ben volcano is one of the most active in the world. Changes in appearance of the lava flows on the summit of Big Ben during successive days indicate active eruptions have been taking place over the past week, Professor Arculus said.


    The summit, Mawson Peak, of Big Ben volcano on Heard Island. © Pete Harmsen

    Very high penguin rookery and smoke drifting out of the vent. © CSIRO


    Volcanoes erupt when the Earth's magma, which is lighter than surrounding rock, rises and collects in subterranean chambers. Eventually some of the magma pushes through vents and fissures and erupts as lava on the surface.

    "The lava types erupting from Big Ben are the end-products of extensive processes of selective crystal withdrawal from alkali-rich basalts within crustal magma chambers," he explained.

    The end-product of this process is a lava type characteristic of other hot-spot volcanoes like Mt Erebus, Kilimanjaro and Gran Canaria. "The eruptions were once-in-a-lifetime events for scientists on board," said Monash University geologist Associate Professor Steven Micklethwaite.


    © Brisbane Times


    "Although it was difficult to do much more than watch and observe, the insights gained into the eruption behaviour of such a furiously remote volcano are important.

    "Monitoring these types of eruptions tells us about how lava interacts with ice, which can be quite spectacular," Associate Professor Micklethwaite said.


    WATCH: Big Ben erupts.




    Expeditioner Jodi Fox, whose doctoral thesis is on Heard Island volcanism, said observing lava flowing down the flank of Big Ben over a glacier was incredible. "Given persistent cloud cover and generally foul weather, I didn't think we'd observe much of the volcano on this voyage," she said.

    The team spotted the eruption while circling the islands to map the sea floor to identify hydrothermal systems driven by underwater volcanoes. Scientists believe these are driving the Southern Ocean ecosystem from the bottom-up.

    They are testing the hypothesis that hydrothermal systems release iron, a fertiliser for planktonic blooms, which create half of the planet's oxygen.

    The research sheds light on global fluctuations in nutrients. It will also help determine the merits of artificially seeding the oceans with iron in order to increase the uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the main driver of climate change. - Brisbane Times.




    ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Tourist Gored And Trampled To Death During Elephant Ride In Thailand?!

    The elephant is said to have attacked its handler first, before turning on Mr Crowe. This is another elephant on the same park where Mr Crowe was killed

    February 4, 2016 - THAILAND - Thai authorities said Tuesday that a Scottish tourist was gored by an enraged elephant and trampled to death during a trekking tour on the resort island of Koh Samui.

    Gareth Crowe, 36, and his stepdaughter, Eilidh Hughes, 16, were riding the adult elephant when they were thrown from the animal, police told Agence France-Presse. Crowe's stepdaughter and the elephant's handler were able to escape, but Crowe — who had a prosthetic leg, police said — could not outrun the elephant, Samui District Chief Paiboon Omark told AFP.

    Crowe was wounded by the elephant's tusk and trampled. He died after being transported to a local hospital.

    According to Thai news reports, the elephant — named Rambo but also known as Golf — became upset when his handler, called a mahout, climbed down to take a picture for the tourists. "We suspect that the hot weather made the elephant angry and that he was not accustomed to his mahout," Paiboon told AFP.

    Crowe's stepdaughter was injured in the fall and the mahout was gored; both were treated at a hospital, according to the Associated Press.Jonathan Head, a South Asia correspondent for BBC News, told "Good Morning Scotland" that police said the elephant apparently became upset when the handler got down. Crowe and his stepdaughter were thrown from its back — "it's quite high up on an elephant," Head noted — and then the animal "attacked Mr. Crowe on the ground, where he was apparently gored and trampled."


    Rambo the elephant, also known as Golf, is chained to a tree on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand on Tuesday.© AP

    Police told reporters the elephant may have been in heat. But one Thai official — Cherdchai Jaroenwech, with the Office of Livestock Development — told the Associated Press that those claims were not accurate.

    Whatever the case, once the animal became enraged, the BBC's Head reported, its handler "was clearly having some trouble controlling the elephant. They have a sort of iron spike that they use — it looks rather brutal — but they use it to strike the elephant's head, not usually very hard, but at least to let it know what to do. He was struggling a bit with that, so there were indications that things were wrong."

    After the incident, Rambo was given a tranquilizer and taken to his corral, officials said. The animal will be given a 15-day rest from tours and will then be moved to another branch in the trekking company, Island Safari, either in Krabi or Phang Nga.

    Crowe's death spotlighted the controversial and often dangerous world of animal tourism in Thailand.

    About 4,000 domesticated elephants — and fewer than 3,000 wild elephants — work in the industry, according to reports. The use of animals for tourism "is under increased scrutiny following a string of scandals and investigations by rights groups," AFP noted.

    BBC News reported that there have been "about a dozen incidents similar" to Monday's deadly attack in the past 15 years.

    Conservationists are set to meet Wednesday with the Thai government to talk about animal rights in the tourism trade.

    "In my view, male elephants should not be in the tourism industry," Edwin Wiek, of Wildlife Friends of Thailand, told AFP. "They're simply too unpredictable."


    WATCH: British tourist killed by rampaging elephant.




    Last year, a wild elephant rammed a car at Khao Yai National Park near the Thai capital, Bangkok, according to BBC News. Soon after, another elephant invaded a nearby shop and a restaurant. No one was injured in those incidents. Park chief Kanchit Srinoppawan told BBC News at the time that the animal's behavior could be blamed on the mating season.

    Following Crowe's death, Britain's Foreign Office said it was providing help for the man's family.

    "We are offering support to the family of a British national who has sadly died following an incident in Koh Samui, Thailand," a spokesman told BBC News, "and are making contact with the local authorities to seek further information." - The Washington Post.