Friday, April 15, 2016

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Massive 75-FOOT By 45-FOOT Crater Swallows High School Basketball Court In Huntington Park, California! [VIDEO]

© Via Facebook/Fox11

April 15, 2016 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - The crater measures about 75 feet by 45 feet. Regardless, class remained in session Tuesday at Linda Esperanza Marquez High School in Huntington Park, California.

The school, which opened in 2013, is built on the rubble of "a former toxic concrete mountain" known as "La Montaña."


© Via Facebook/Fox11


But according to officials, there is no known correlation between the current crater and the ground beneath the school.

Sinkhole or man-made?


News channels describe the collapse in the concrete as a sinkhole. In contrast school officials argue the crater is the result of an underground water retention and recharge system built during the school's construction in 2012.


WATCH: Giant sinkhole swallows up basketball court.





La Montaña


"La Montaña de la muerte" - "the mountain of death" - was a five-story high pile of concrete debris and crushed asphalt collected from freeways damaged by the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

The 600,000 ton pile of rubble, which stood so long that trees were growing from it caused major health problems for residents of Huntington Park.

For the ground to collapse or a sinkhole to form you need at least two things: a soluble or unstable soil and water. La Montaña is very labile and the underground water retention and recharge system brings in the needed humidity.

Both are thus probably responsible for the collapse of this basketball court in Huntington Park, LA! - Strange Sounds.






SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Weather Phenomenon - Enormous Halo Seen Around The Moon In Horsham, Australia!

© Lynton Brown

April 15, 2016 - AUSTRALIA - Lynton Brown caught this 22-degree lunar halo this week and posted it to EarthSky Facebook.

We see many, many photos of this type of halo - both around the sun and moon - which happen all over the world due to the presence of ice crystals in high cirrus clouds.

Les Cowley of the website Atmospheric Optics wrote:
... 22-degree radius halos are visible all over the world and throughout the year.

Look out for them (eye care!) whenever the sky is wisped or hazed with thin cirrus clouds.

These clouds are cold and contain ice crystals in even the hottest climes.

The halo is large. Stretch out the fingers of your hand at arms length.

The tips of the thumb and little finger then subtend roughly 20 degrees.

Place your thumb over the the sun [or moon] and the halo will be near the little finger tip.
Thank you Lynton, for sharing this with us!

- Earth Sky.





PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 7.1 Earthquake Strikes Near Japan's Kumamoto - Tsunami Warnings Issued! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY + VIDEOS]

USGS earthquake location.

April 15, 2016 - JAPAN - A magnitude-7.1 earthquake has hit Japan near the city of Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu, the Japan Meteorological Agency reported. Tsunami warnings have been issued.

The epicenter of the quake in southern Japan was located at a shallow depth of 10 kilometers, near the area where a 6.5 earthquake struck on Thursday.









According to the US Geological Survey, the quake had a magnitude of 7.0 and its epicenter was located just 1 km southwest of the city of Kumamoto.


USGS shakemap intensity.


An aftershock of 5.8 magnitude has also been reported in the area.

"Tsunami warnings or advisories are currently in effect," Japan Meteorological Agency said.


WATCH: Japan quake death toll rises.




The tsunami advisory has been issued for the Ariake and Yatsushiro Seas.

The advisory warns of a possible wave of one meter in height, Japan's NHK broadcaster said.


USGS Tectonic Summary

The April 15, 2016 M 7.0 earthquake north of Kumamoto, on the island of Kyushu in southwest Japan, occurred as the result of strike-slip faulting at shallow depth. Focal mechanisms for the earthquake indicate slip occurred on either a left-lateral fault striking to the northwest, or on a right-lateral fault striking northeast. While the earthquake occurred several hundred kilometers northwest of the Ryukyu Trench, where the Philippine Sea plate begins its northwestward subduction beneath Japan and the Eurasia plate, the shallow depth and faulting mechanism of this earthquake indicate it occurred on a crustal fault within the upper Eurasia plate. At the location of this event, the Philippine Sea plate converges with Eurasia towards the northwest at a velocity of 58 mm/yr.

The April 15, 2016, M 7.0 event (UTC 16:25:06) occurred one day after a series of foreshocks in the same region, which included M 6.2 and M 6.0 earthquakes. The April 14 events resulted in at least 9 fatalities and over 800 injuries.

In contrast to this recent sequence of shallow earthquakes, most seismicity in the Kyushu region is related to the subduction of the Philippine Sea plate at depth. Just thirteen M 5+ earthquakes have occurred at shallow depths (< 50 km) within 100 km of the April 2016 events over the preceding century. In January and April of 1975, two shallow events with magnitudes of M 5.8 and M 6.1 - 40 km and 65 km to the northwest of the April 2016 earthquake, respectively – caused injuries, but no known fatalities. A shallow M 6.6 earthquake in March 2005, just off the north coast of Kyushu and 110 km north of the April 2016 event, caused over 1000 injuries and at least one fatality.

Mapped faults in the region generally trend east-west or northeast-southwest, in agreement with the right-lateral plane of preliminary focal mechanisms, and the trend of early aftershocks. Since the April 14, M 6.2 event (12:26:36 UTC), 19 other shocks have been located, including the latest M 7.0 earthquake.


USGS 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



- RT | USGS.







EXTREME WEATHER: More Signs Of Increasing Magnetic Polar Migration - Lightning Strikes Kill Two In Taplejung, Nepal!


April 15, 2016 - NEPAL - Two people were killed and two others injured in separate lightning incidents here in the district.

According to DSP Ram Bahadur KC, district police chief, the deceased have been identified as Bishnu Kumari Rajbhandari, 65, of Phungling Bhintuna of the district.

She felt unconscious and consequently died after the lightning struck her when she was working in the kitchen.

Likewise, Ambika BK, 22, of Taplejung Municipality-3 succumbed to death as she suffered full burn on her body when lightning struck her on March 28.

She breathed her last while being treated at BP Koirala Health Science Academy Dharan.

Similarly, two people have been seriously injured here in Phurumbu VDC of the district in a lightning incident.

The injured are Shukrabir Bhattarai, 50 and his wife whose name is yet to be ascertained. Both are undergoing treatment at District Hospital. - Republica.





 

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off The Coast Of Guatemala - USGS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

April 15, 2016 - GUATEMALA - A magnitude-6.2 earthquake has struck an area off the Pacific coast of Guatemala.

There are no immediate reports of damages or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake occurred Friday just after 8 a.m. local time (1400 GMT).


USGS shakemap intensity.

It was centered about 135 miles (219 kilometers) southwest of Guatemala City.

The head of Mexico's civil defense agency says the quake was also felt lightly in the state of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala.


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.


USGS plate tectonics for the region.

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.

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 Colombia. 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.

References for the Panama Fracture Zone:
Molnar, P., and Sykes, L. R., 1969, Tectonics of the Caribbean and Middle America Regions from Focal Mechanisms and Seismicity: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 80, p. 1639-1684.

- New Zealand Herald | USGS.







ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - 7-Foot Bull Shark Bites Diver Off Singer Island, Florida; And New Brood Of Cicadas Will Descend On Northeastern United States?! [VIDEOS]


April 15, 2016 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of animal attacks on humans.


7-foot bull shark bites diver off Singer Island, Florida

Officials say a diver was bitten by a 7-foot bull shark off South Florida's coast.

Local media outlets report that rescuers responded to the injured diver Wednesday at the Sailfish Marina. The bite had occurred about 2 miles offshore as three people were spearfishing in 60 feet of water.

Riviera Beach Fire Rescue says in a Twitter post that the diver was bitten several times on the arm and was taken to a nearby hospital with significant wounds.


WATCH: Bull shark bites diver.




The International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida says bull sharks average between 200 and 290 pounds and can grow up to 8 feet long.

The diver's name and condition weren't immediately released.


New brood of cicadas will descend on the northeastern United States

Cicadas. © Kevin Ambrose
The eighth biblical plague that tortured Egypt was a plague of locusts.

As described in Exodus 10:5, "And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field."

Flip the aforementioned "they" from locusts to cicadas, and that's actually a pretty apt description of what residents in some parts of Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia will experience next month when the soil warms to 64 degrees and billions of cicadas rise from the ground to mate. Fortunately, cicadas can't chew so they don't devour our plants and trees. If they manage to avoid predators long enough they suck up plant sap but not enough to any real damage.

This particular group of insects has a 17-year-life cycle that begins underground and culminates in the air as they swell and swarm and scream and sing, issuing deafening cries as the males desperately seek mates. This current 17-year-cycle, which began in 1999, begins to end next month, reports Cicada Mania.

As billions of insects emerge, they can reach a density of 1.5 million cicadas an acre in some areas.

The insects have hard, sleek shells topped with two bulb-like, red eyes. On average, they're a little over 1.5 inches in length and, don't worry, they don't bite or sting, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

The adults live above ground for four to six weeks, and the only thing that interests them is mating and laying eggs (much like salmon during the famed salmon run).

But there's the noise.

Oh, the noise.

Anyone who has experienced a swarm likely remembers the noise.

As David Snyder wrote in The Washington Post in 2004, "Words seem inadequate to describe that vaguely menacing hum-whistle that seems to be everywhere but emanates from no single place in particular."

"It feels like an alien spaceship coming in," Arlington resident Gene Miller told Snyder.


WATCH: Cicadas emerge in Virginia.




That sound, the melodic, almost frightening buzzing, wakes with the sun in the early morning and continues late into the night.

The droning is a mating cry sung by males, as they try to find willing females before their 17-year-old lives conclude.

"After the male and female cicada have mated, the female will lay fertilized eggs in slits cut with her ovipositor on small live twigs," entomologist Russ Horton told The Post in 2013. "It takes roughly six weeks for the eggs to hatch and the nymphs to emerge."

When they do, according to Ohio State University professor of entomologyDavid Shetlar the nymphs then fall from the trees and burrow anywhere from six to 18 inches in the ground, where they feed on juices from plant roots for 13 or 17 years, depending on what species they are.

Females can lay up to 400 eggs each, across 4o to 50 sites.

"But wait, I saw cicadas a few years ago!" you might be thinking. "I remember that noise!"

That's not incorrect.

There are several "broods" of cicadas, which is based on which cycle they're part of. Most of these broods are comprised of different species of cicada, and different broods emerge and swarm around different parts to the country (in different years).

These broods have been tracked since the 1800s, according to the USDA's 1907 book "The Periodical Cicada" by C.L. Marlatt.

On top of that, there are several types of cicada life cycles. Some have 13-year life spans, and some are even annual, according to Auburn University's Department of Entomology.

In fact, Brood II, which consists of cicadas on a 17-year cycle, overtook Washington in 2014, The Post reported.


- Sun SentinelWashington Post.





MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Major Global Seismic Uptick - Fears Of "THE BIG ONE" As FIVE Major Earthquakes Strike Asia In JUST 72 HOURS!

Increased seismic activity is causing fears of a major earthquake. GETTY-IG.

April 15, 2016 - ASIA - The latest quake this morning, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, injured more than 1,000 and trapped people in collapsed buildings, only a day after a quake killed nine people in the same region.

Rescue crews searched for survivors of a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck Japan's Kyushu Island, the same region rattled by a 6.2 quake two days earlier.

Around 20,000 troops have had to be deployed following the latest 7.3 earthquake at 1.25am local time on Saturday.

Roads have also been damaged and big landslides have been reported, there are also 200,000 households without power.

The death toll in the latest Kyushu earthquake is 16 people and a previous earthquake that struck the area on Thursday had killed nine people.

There have been other large earthquakes recorded in recent days, including a major one in southern Japan which destroyed buildings and left at least 45 people injured, after Myanmar was rocked on Wednesday.

Tremors were also felt as far as 500 miles away at the national park in India where the Royal couple Kate and William were visiting.

Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 7,262 people have sought shelter at 375 centers since Friday in Kumamoto Prefecture.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to do everything he could to save lives following the disaster.

He said: "Nothing is more important than human life and it's a race against time."

On Thursday, The Japanese Red Cross Kumamoto Hospital confirmed 45 were injured, including five with serious injuries after a quake of magnitude 6.2 to 6.5 and a series of strong aftershocks ripped through Kumamoto city.

Several buildings were damaged or destroyed and at least six people are believed to be trapped under homes in Mashiki. Local reports said one woman was rescued in a critical condition

Scientists say there has been an above average number of significant earthquakes across south Asia and the Pacific since the start of the year.

The increased frequency has sparked fears of a repeat of the Nepal quake of 2015, where 8,000 people died, or even worse.

Roger Bilham, seismologist of University of Colorado, said: "The current conditions might trigger at least four earthquakes greater than 8.0 in magnitude.

"And if they delay, the strain accumulated during the centuries provokes more catastrophic mega earthquakes."

Thursday's quake in Japan was followed by a 5.9-magnitude earthquake which struck off the coast of the southern Philippines.

The earthquake happened at 2.20am (Singapore time) off Mindanao island.

Local authorities said there was no tsunami risk and that they had not received reports of casualties or damage.

In Japan, a number of buildings were destroyed by the powerful 6.4 magnitude quake.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said the epicentre was in the Mashiki town in the Kumamoto prefecture.

Officials said the region's nuclear facilities were not affected.

A 6 magnitude earthquake also hit yesterday off the coast of the Pacific island of Vanuatu, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

It was 53 miles from town Port Orly and the fourth one this week in the immediate area, after a 6.4-strength tremor hit a week earlier.

Vanuatu is on the "Pacific Ring of Fire," one of the most seismic parts of the globe and known for its earthquakes and volcanoes.

Seismologists say the Himalayan region is overdue for a tremor stronger than Nepal's 7.9 strength quake last year.

Yesterday's quakes take the total to nine across Asia in a period of just over three and a half months - nearly three every month.

Just five days ago, on April 10, six people died in Pakistan when a 6.6-magnitude quake hit Kabul with aftershocks in India

Two days before, on April 8, there was a magnitude 4.2 earthquake in Nepal.

Nepal had suffered a larger 5.5 magnitude one on February 22.

A month before, on January 20, there was a 6.1-magnitude earthquake in China, and 16 days earlier 11 people died when a 6.7-magnitude earthquake hit Manipur in India.

India's disaster management experts from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in January an 8.2 magnitude quake was due in the already ruptured Himalayan region.

The 2011 Sikkim earthquake created more rupturs in the Himalayas, on top of those caused by previous quakes, and scientists have feared the area is continually weakening with each new quake.

India's National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) says stress in the mountains of the north-east and the colliding of the Himalayan plate iand the Indo-Burmese plate in the to the puts the whole region on red alert.

Techtonic plates west of the Nepal earthquake are still locked and scientists fear this is another trigger waiting to go off.

A scientific study published in Nature Geoscience said the Nepal quake: "Failed to rupture the locked portions of the Himalayan thrust beneath and west of the Kathmandu basin because of some persistent barrier of mechanical and structural origin."

Stresses locked in this area could be released, potentially causing a massive quake.

BK Rastogi, director general of the Ahmedabad-based Institute of Seismological Research, said: "An earthquake of the same magnitude is overdue. That may happen either today or 50 years from now in the region of the Kashmir, Himachal, Punjab and Uttrakhand Himalyas. "Seismic gaps have been identified in these regions.

"The accumulation of stress is going on everywhere. But where it will reach the elastic limit, we don't know nor also when. But what we do know is that it is happening everywhere."  - Express.