Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Archive for August, 2009

Run, if you see fire: Schwarzenegger

Posted by feww on August 31, 2009

California Gov.  Schwarzenegger has urged residents in fire evacuation zones to flee

Schwarzenegger referring to three residents in Big Tujunga Canyon who suffered  burns while trying to save their homes Saturday said:

“There will be people who don’t listen… Move as soon as [fire crews  tell you] to move.”

The Station fire, characterized as “treacherous” by U.S. Forest Service Incident Chief the has now burned more than 35,000 acres of land, destroying another handful of homes.

Schwarzenegger: Evacuate if Ordered

About 6,600 homes across the 32-km fire line were reportedly  under mandatory  evacuation as a DC-10 and other aircraft doused the area with hundreds of tons of  water and orange-colored flame retardant.

According to Gov Schwarzenegger, 12,500 structures are under threat, with 2,200 personnel tackling the fire, which is 5 percent contained.

DC-10 douses the Station fire and surrounding area with  fire retardant. This picture was taken from Soledad Canyon Road in Acton. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times. Image may be subject to copyright.

More images at LA Times Photo Album
Related News:
Station fire likely to hit historic Mt. Wilson observatory, fire officials say

Related Links and Previous Entries:

Posted in Angeles Crest Highway, Angeles National Forest, Big Meadow Fire, calif fires 2009, Cottonwood Fire, Gloria Fire, Mount Wilson Observatory, NASA JPL, Pacheco Fire, Red Rock Fire, SoCal Blazes, SoCal Fires, Tujunga Canyon | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

SoCal Blazes Blacken More Scrubland

Posted by feww on August 30, 2009

Calif Fires Beat Clunker Boost Any Day!

Sunday, August 30, 2009 at 5:48 AM PDT (12:48 UTC)

From InciWeb and other sources:

The Station Fire started off Angeles Crest Highway (SR 2) about one mile above Angeles Crest Fire Station around 3:30pm Wednesday August 26, 2009. Angeles Crest Highway, Tujunga Canyon and Big Tujunga Canyon roads are closed. As a result of extreme fire activity, and to protect public health and safety, Angeles National Forest officials implementing an area closure for lands in the vicinity of the fire. This closure is in effect until canceled.

3 injuries have been reported. Residents are advised to be ready to evacuate if they are near the fire boundary.

As of 8:00 p.m. Saturday evening the fire is moving very quickly to the north towards Acton. If the fire continues on this aggressive path it could be very near Acton by early morning.

Map Station Fire
Station Fire: Location Map. Google Map may be subject to copyright.

Flames from the Station Fire are seen above the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in La Canada, California August 28, 2009. REUTERS/Rod Seward. Image may be subject to copyright.

Fire Stats:

  • Size: 20,500 acres
  • Percent Contained: 5%
  • Estimated Containment Date:  Tuesday September 08th, 2009 approx 06:00 PM (!)
  • Fuels Involved: Very heavy fuels of ceanothus, chamise, scrub oak and manzanita across the entire fire area, 15 to 20 feet in height with Big Cone Douglas Fir in the drainage bottoms. Fuels have not experienced any significant large fire activity in the past 40 years.
  • Fire Behavior: The fire quadrupled in size driven by SE winds. Saturday behavior was extremely active with rapid rates of spread and flame lengths up to 80 feet. There is a potential for Sunday’s fire behavior to be similar to Saturday. Upslope winds are likely. Spotting may occur from 1/4 mile up to 1/2 mile.
  • Significant Events: Mandatory Evacuations are in effect for over 10,000 homes. The fire is threatening the Mount Wilson Communications Facilities and Observatory.

The Station fire in the Angeles National Forest has tripled in size today, spreading rapidly to the east and west this afternoon, and prompting the evacuation of at least 4,000 homes in a broad swath of foothill neighborhoods in areas including La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale, Altadena and Big Tujunga Canyon as temperatures reached triple digits and flames drew closer to houses.
Photo credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times. Caption: LA Times.

Other Remarks

  • Growth Potential: Extreme
  • Threatened:
    • 10,000 homes threatened.
    • 500 commercial properties
    • 2,000 other structures threatened.

Current Weather:

  • Wind Conditions 6-12 mph SE
  • Temperature 100 degrees
  • Humidity 7%

Other Fires

Gloria Fire:

  • Date/Time Started: August 27, 2009 2:57 pm
  • County: Monterey & San Benito County
  • Location: Northeast of Soledad
  • Acres Burned: 6,437 acres
  • Containment 6,437 acres – 60% contained
  • Structures Destroyed: 1 residence and 1 outbuilding destroyed
  • Threatened: There are approximately 100 homes threatened by the fire.
  • Evacuations: All evacuations have been lifted on Highway 146, Bryant Canyon and Stonewall Road.
  • Total Fire Personnel: 1,083
  • Engines: 110
  • Fire crews: 32
  • Airtankers: 3
  • Helicopters: 5
  • Dozers: 26
  • Water tenders: 8
  • Costs to date: $2.5 million [The Cheap Fire!]

Pacheco Fire

  • County: Santa Clara County
  • Location: Pacheco Pass Road near Dinosaur Point
  • Status/Notes: 1,650 acres – 50% contained
  • Date Started: August 29, 2009 2:20 pm
  • Total Fire Personnel: 389
  • Engines: 40
  • Fire crews: 5
  • Airtankers: 4
  • Helicopters: 3
  • Dozers: 4
  • Water tenders: 3

Big Meadow Fire:

  • County: Mariposa County
  • Location: Foresta Community
  • Administrative Unit: Yosemite National Park
  • Status/Notes: 3,506 acres – 30% contained
  • Date Started: August 26, 2009 12:08 pm

Cottonwood Fire:

  • County: Riverside County
  • Location: Highway 74 cross of Bee Canyon
  • Status/Notes: 2,290 acres – 30% containment
  • Date Started: August 27, 2009 5:13 pm
  • Total Personnel 698

Red Rock Fire:

  • Name: Red Rock Fire
  • County: Siskiyou County
  • Location: 15 miles west of Fort Jones, CA
  • Administrative Unit: Klamath National Forest
  • Status/Notes: 1,373 acres – 80% contained
  • Date Started: August 21, 2009 6:40 pm

Related Links and Previous Entries:

Posted in Altadena, Big Tujunga Canyon, Foresta Community, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, Mariposa County, Mount Wilson Communications Facilities, Station Fire, Yosemite National Park fire | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Athens on Fire: Satellite Images

Posted by feww on August 29, 2009

Charred Suburbs Near Athens, Greece

Images taken on August 27, and posted two days later on NASA EO website.greece_ali_2009239

Athens, Greece. Photo-like image (top) from NASA’s EO-1 satellite August 27, 2009. The image was captured several days after a large fire raced across the region, destroying 65 homes and 76 other buildings and damaging an additional 143 homes.    The lower image, also from the EO-1 satellite on August 27, shows a wider area view, combining shortwave-infrared light (shown as red), near-infrared light (shown as blue), and green light. Since the burned land reflects more shortwave-infrared light than water or plant-covered land do, it is bright red. The fire started on August 21 near the town of Grammatikos, 25 miles northeast of Athens (beyond the northern edge of the lower image). NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 Team. Caption by Holli Riebeek. [Edited by FEWW.]

Related Links:

Posted in greece brush fires, Satellite Images of athens fires, STOP Chocking Nature | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Alaska Earthquake Forecast: Update 3

Posted by feww on August 29, 2009


Alaska Earthquake Forecast: Update 2

New estimate for Alska earthquke forecast

  • NEW Magnitude: 8.4 ~ 9.2
  • Probability of occurrence: 0.8
  • Estimated date of occurrence: November 19, 2009
  • Date uncertainty: +/- 90 days.
  • NEW Estimated Location: 60°56’37.03″N 150°12’7.37″W
  • Location uncertainty: Radius of about 35 km from the estimated epicenter
  • NEW Estimated depth: 12km [+/-3.2km]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

EPA admits water contaminated near gas-drilling sites

Posted by feww on August 29, 2009

You recall this headline: “In Dimock, Pennsylvania, drilling for natural gas has clouded the drinking water, sickened people and animals and made their wells flammable.”

The post titled Diarrhea Water revealed what some of the local folks in Dimock, who were affected by the  drilling operations for Marcellus Shale natural gas in the area, had to say.

Now, for the first time ever, EPA scientists have revealed that drinking water wells  near natural gas [and oil] drilling operations contain chemical contaminants. They found dangerous chemicals in the water from 11 of 39 wells tested near the Wyoming town of Pavillion in March and May 2009.  Unfortunately, their report  falls shy of concluding what causes the contamination, though it admits the gas drilling is a potential source.

Researchers say these chemicals may cause cancer, kidney failure, anemia and low fertility problems, and pose serious health risks to people who live close to the drilling sites, Reuters reported.

Sole Source Aquifers: ‘One Drilling Activity from Contamination’

sole source

As of March 2009, EPA has designated 77 Sole Source Aquifers nationwide. Five of these are in Region 8 (which includes Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming). EPA defines a Sole Source Aquifer as one which supplies at least 50 percent of the drinking water consumed in the area overlying the aquifer. EPA guidelines also stipulate that these areas can have no alternative drinking water source(s) which could physically, legally, and economically supply all those who depend upon the aquifer for drinking water. Sole source aquifer designation provides only limited federal protection of ground water resources which serve as drinking water supplies. It is not a comprehensive ground water protection program. Protection of ground water resources can best be achieved through an integrated and coordinated combination of federal, state, and local efforts. (Source:  EPA website.)

Gas drilling companies maintain that the gas drilling technique they use, called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is safe, but based on observation of the drinking water in numerous drilling areas, and the fate of many people who live near the drilling rigs, and who are afflicted with serious health conditions, we know that fracking contaminates groundwater with dangerous chemicals.

“Evidence of a link between gas drilling and water contamination would set back development of a clean-burning fuel promoted by the Obama administration as crucial to the future of U.S. energy production.” Reuters reported.

Wyoming the Gas State -
Wyoming the Gas [‘n Quake] State. The red stars on the map denote some of the recent earthquakes measuring up to 4.2 Mw, which are [probably!] almost entirely gas-drilling activity related. Source of original map: Google Earth. Image may be subject to copyright.

“Some experts believe the United States holds more than 100 years worth of natural gas reserves. The new findings may raise questions about the process companies such as EnCana Corp, Halliburton Co and others commonly use to pump the gas from deep geological formations. Encana, Canada’s biggest energy company, is drilling in Pavillion.”

“There may be an indication of groundwater contamination by oil and gas activities,” Reuters quoted from the 44-page report, which received little public attention when released on August 11. “Many activities in gas well drilling (and) hydraulic fracturing … involve injecting water and other fluids into the well and have the potential to create cross-contamination of aquifers.”

Contaminants found in the wells include the organic solvent2-butoyethanol (C6H14O2), or 2-BE, which is used to extract natural gas, and  “which researchers say causes the breakdown of red blood cells, leading to blood in the urine and feces, and can damage the kidneys, liver, spleen and bone marrow.”

“Greg Oberley, an EPA scientist who has been testing the water samples, said the agency did not set out to prove that hydraulic fracturing caused groundwater contamination, but was responding to complaints from local residents that their well water had become discolored or foul-smelling or tasted bad.” Reuters reported.

“While the EPA team has not determined how the chemicals got into the water, many are associated with gas drilling, Oberley said in a telephone interview.”

“The preponderance of those compounds in the area would be attributable to the oil and gas industry,” he said.

But why can’t the EPA simply ask the drillers what they put in the water?

“Drillers such as EnCana are not required to disclose the chemicals they use because of an exemption to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, granted to the oil and gas industry in 2005.” Reuters said.

The oil and gas industry deny that their operations has anything to do with the contaminants that are found in the drinking water, and insist that they use heavily diluted fracking chemicals, which are injected thousands of meters below the drinking-water table in the aquifers. They blame the contamination on other causes such as “naturally occurring,” leaking from “ordinary household products” and “organic solvents” used in agriculture.

A representative for EnCana, which operates 248 wells in the area, told reporters that the contaminants discovered by the EPA had been “tentatively identified.” He said they came from various sources, but admitted: “One of those sources could be oil and gas development.”

“John Fenton, a farmer in Pavillion, a rural community of about 150 people, said residents blame gas drilling for a range of illnesses including rare cancers, miscarriages and nervous system disorders.” Reuters reported.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, has reportedly advised people with contaminated water wells not to drink the water. Fenton said water from some of the wells was black, oily and with a petroleum-like sheen, which also smelled of gas.

“The stress is incredible,” Fenton said. “People have built their lives and businesses here. What’s it all worth now?”

Isn’t it remarkable that two distant communities, one in Dimock, Pennsylvania, and the other in Pavillion, Wyoming, some 2,668 km (1,658 miles) apart, share a common fate by way of their contaminated drinking water, where the only common denominator between them is gas-drilling activities.

[Note: EnCana Co. is North America’s largest natural gas extractor. The company extracted 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2008. EnCana was formed in 2002 with the merger of PanCanadian Energy and Alberta Energy Company. The corporate headquarters are in Calgary, Alberta. In the United States, EnCana operates in Colorado, Louisiana, Texas and  Wyoming. The Candian company also jointly owns two oil refineries with ConocoPhillips in Louisiana and Texas.]

Related Links:

Posted in elk mountain aquifer, Encana, EPA, Greg Oberley, Halliburton | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Mars Lookalike Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Posted by feww on August 29, 2009

Image of the Day: Rancho Palos Verdes on Fire

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declares a state of emergency for Los Angeles and Monterey counties as new brush fires  consume more than 12,000 acres.

Residents watch a brush fire burn in Rancho Palos Verdes, California August 27, 2009. Photo:
REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

For the latest on California brush fires and the US “wildfire” stats see:

Related Links:

Posted in Calif governor, downtown Los Angeles, La Canada Flintridge, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, state of emergency | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

VolcanoWatch Weekly [27 August 2009]

Posted by feww on August 28, 2009

Volcanic Activity Report: 19 August – 25 August 2009

VOW: Koryaksky

Koryaksky Volcano on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula released a plume on August 27, 2009, caught by MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The volcano has released intermittent ash and/or steam plumes late August.

This true-color image shows a pale plume, which consists primarily of water vapor, blowing away from the summit east-northeast, toward the Bering Sea.

Vostok Media reported simultaneous activity at six Kamchatka volcanoes, describing  the first concurrent unrest in 60 years as rare. NASA image courtesy MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott. [Edited by FEWW.]

New activity/unrest:

Source: Global Volcanism Program (GVP) – SI/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report

KORYAKSKY Eastern Kamchatka 53.320°N, 158.688°E; summit elev. 3,456 m

KVERT reported that during 14-21 August seismic activity from Koryaksky was slightly above background levels. During 13-16 August, gas-and-steam plumes rose to altitudes of 3.5-5 km (11,500-16,400 ft) a.s.l. Based on visual observations during 16-20 August, gas-and-steam plumes containing ash rose to altitudes of 3.5-4.2 km (11,500-13,800 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. Ash plumes were also seen in satellite imagery, drifting 215 km E and W. On 23 August, a probable ash plume detected in satellite imagery drifted 50 km ESE. During 24-25 August, seismicity increased; more than 100 earthquakes were recorded. The Level of Concern Color Code remained at Orange.

Geologic Summary. The large symmetrical Koryaksky stratovolcano is the most prominent landmark of the NW-trending Avachinskaya volcano group, which towers above Kamchatka’s largest city, Petropavlovsk. Erosion has produced a ribbed surface on the eastern flanks of the 3456-m-high volcano; the youngest lava flows are found on the upper western flank and below SE-flank cinder cones. No strong explosive eruptions have been documented during the Holocene. Extensive Holocenefissure vents about 3900-3500 years ago reached Avacha Bay. Only a few moderate explosive eruptions have occurred during historical lava fields on the western flank were primarily fed by summit vents; those on the SW flank originated from flank vents. Lahars associated with a period of lava effusion from south- and SW-flank time. Koryaksky’s first historical eruption, in 1895, also produced a lava flow. (Source: GVP).


Based on information from the Tegucigalpa MWO, the Washington VAAC reported that ash was detected within 15 km of Fuego on 19 August. According to INSIVUMEH, rumbling sounds were accompanied by incandescent tephra ejected 75 m high on 21 August. (Source: GVP).

Ongoing Activity:

Related Links:

FEWW Links:

Volcanic Activity Report, Volcano Hazard, VolcanoWatch, volcanism, volcanoes. Tagged: , , , , , , , .

Posted in Volcanic Activity Report, volcanism, Volcano Hazard, volcanoes, VolcanoWatch | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Strong EQ Strikes Northern Qinghai, China

Posted by feww on August 28, 2009

Magnitude 6.2 earthquake shakes Northern Qinghai, China, followed by large aftershocks

Strong Earthquake measuring 6.2 Mw struck Northern Qinghai, China, about 35 km ESE of Da Qaidam, Qinghai, China, at a depth of 10 km, on Friday, August 28, 2009 at 01:52 UTC, USGS EHP reported.

The earthquake was followed by at least 4 large aftershocks at the time of writing, two of which measured 5.6 Mw.

Based on FEWW analysis, the earthquake may have been as powerful as a magnitude 6.9 shock, possibly larger, and probably misreported by USGS EHP.

China’s official news agency (Xinhua) reported the event as follows:

6.4-magnitude earthquake jolts NW China

XINING, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) — An earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale struck the remote Qinghai Province in northwest China at 9:52 a.m. Friday, the China Earthquake Administration said, but no casualties have been reported.

A total of 128 aftershocks had been registered by 11 a.m. near the epicenter in the Da Qaidam (also known as Dachaidan) district in the Mongolian-Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Haixi, with the strongest measuring 5.3 magnitude that struck at 10:14, according to the Qinghai Provincial Seismological Network.

“So far, we have not received reports of casualties or house collapses,” the provincial government said in a statement.

“The governments of the province, the Haixi prefecture and Golmud City have sent staff to investigate,” it said.

The epicenter, at 37.6 degrees north and 95.8 east, was about 140 km away from Delingha City, the capital of the Haixi prefecture, and about 160 km away from Golmud, another major city in Haixi, according to the China Earthquake Administration.

The quake was strongly felt in both cities, the administration said.

The China Earthquake Administration, the National Disaster Reduction Committee and the Ministry of Civil Affairs have all sent staff to the quake-hit region for relief work.

Da Qaidam is a sparsely populated district with an average altitude of 4,000 meters and about 16,000 people, including Mongolians, Tibetans, Muslim Hui and Han. The district covers 34,000 square km and administers three townships.

Da Qaidam, which literally means “a big salt lake” in Mongolian, is rich in mineral resources, with one of the largest lead-zinc mines in western China and several coal mines. [Emphasis added by Moderator.]

On Nov. 10 last year, a 6.3-magnitude quake struck Da Qaidam but did not cause casualties. The quake only toppled several huts and caused cracks in the walls of some mud houses.

In April 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake hit the same region but did not cause casualties, either, and only damaged old buildings. Editor: Anne Tang – copyright the news agency.

FEWW strongly believes that this earthquake was triggered by human activity, especially the extensive mining operations in the region.

10-degree Map Centered at 40°N,95°E

Earthquake Location Map. Original map: USGS EHP. Image upgraded by FEWW.

  • Magnitude: 6.2
  • Date-Time: Friday, August 28, 2009 at 01:52:06 UTC
  • Location: 37.721°N, 95.684°E
  • Depth: 10 km (6.2 miles)
  • Distances:
    • 35 km (20 miles) ESE of Da Qaidam, Qinghai, China
    • 165 km (100 miles) NNE of Golmud, Qinghai, China
    • 1815 km (1120 miles) W of BEIJING, Beijing, China
  • Location Uncertainty: horizontal +/- 8.1 km (5.0 miles); depth fixed by location program
  • Parameters: NST= 79, Nph= 79, Dmin=>999 km, Rmss=0.92 sec, Gp= 94°, M-type=teleseismic moment magnitude (Mw), Version=7
  • Source: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
  • Event ID: us2009kwaf

Historic Seismicity (Magnitude 7+ since 1900)

qinghai seismic hist
Major Tectonic Boundaries: Subduction Zones -purple, Ridges -red and Transform Faults -green

In November 2008, a mainshock measuring 6.3 Mw struck Da Qaidam area, followed by a swarm of aftershocks with the three largest shocks measuring 5.4, 5.2 and 5Mw.

Related Links:

Posted in China earthquake, earthquake report, Earthquakes, seismic activity report, Seismic event, Seismic Hazard | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Back from the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”

Posted by feww on August 28, 2009

Image of the Day: The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”

“Our human footprint is now apparent in even one of the most remote places on the planet” —Doug Woodring, director of Project Kaisei (The co-sponsors of the Seaplex study.)

In the centers of our oceans (cf, North Pacific Ocean Gyre), one liter of seawater contains about a billion phytoplankton cells, and 6 billion microscopic pieces of plastic. FEWW

Great Pacific Garbage Patch 1
On Aug. 11, while deployed in a small boat, SEAPLEX researchers encountered a large ghost net with tangled rope, net, plastic, and various biological organisms.  The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” extends across a 1,700-mile long stretch of the ocean. Photo: J. Leichter/Scripps Institution of Oceanography/Handout

Charles Moore: Sailing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch [Feb 2009]

See also:

SEAPLEX (Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition)

From August 2-21, a group of doctoral students and research volunteers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and Project Kaisei were on an expedition aboard the Scripps research vessel New Horizon exploring the problem of plastic in the North Pacific Ocean Gyre. The Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (SEAPLEX) focused on a suite of critical scientific questions. How much plastic is accumulating, how is it distributed, and how is it affecting ocean life?

More Photos:

If having 6 time more plastics than plankton in the ocean doesn’t make you want to cry, you don’t need oceans.

Related Links:

Posted in oceans are dying, phytoplankton, plankton, Scripps | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Magnitude 6.8 EQ Strikes BANDA SEA

Posted by feww on August 28, 2009

Powerful Earthquake measuring 6.8Mw strikes Banda Sea

Magnitude 6.8 underwater earthquake struck Banda Sea about 200km SSE of Baubau, Sulawesi, Indonesia, at a depth of 633.2 km, on Friday, August 28, 2009 at 01:51 UTC, USGS/EHP reported.

10-degree Map Centered at 5°S,125°E

Banda Sea Ind
Earthquake Location Map. Original map: USGS EHP. Image upgraded by FEWW.

Details of this Earthquake

  • Magnitude: 6.8
  • Date-Time:
    • Friday, August 28, 2009 at 01:51:19 UTC
  • Location: 7.117°S, 123.444°E
  • Depth: 633.2 km
  • Region:  BANDA SEA
  • Distances
    • 200 km (125 miles) SSE of Baubau, Sulawesi, Indonesia
    • 275 km (170 miles) NE of Ende, Flores, Indonesia
    • 1005 km (620 miles) NW of DARWIN, Northern Territory, Australia
    • 1845 km (1150 miles) E of JAKARTA, Java, Indonesia
  • Location Uncertainty:  horizontal +/- 7.3 km (4.5 miles); depth +/- 13.1 km (8.1 miles)
  • Parameters: NST= 69, Nph= 69, Dmin=470.3 km, Rmss=0.97 sec, Gp= 40°, M-type=teleseismic moment magnitude (Mw), Version=7
  • Source: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
  • Event ID: us2009kwae

The earthquake occurred about 76km north of  Batu Tara Volcano, located on the tiny Island of  Pulau Komba in the Banda Sea.

Historic Seismicity (Mag 7+ since 1900)

Banda Sea Ind SeisHis 1900
Major Tectonic Boundaries: Subduction Zones -purple, Ridges -red and Transform Faults -green

Tsunami Report:

There was NO tsunami reported, possibly because the quake occurred at a depth  of more than 633km.

Related Links:

Posted in Batu Tara, earthquake forecast, Earthquakes, Pulau Komba, seismic activity, seismic event report | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Earthquake Forecast: Timor Sea

Posted by feww on August 27, 2009

A Magnitude 7.4 Earthquake Could Strike Timor Sea Region

FEWW Moderators believe that a powerful 7.4 Mw earthquake followed by a large cluster of aftreshocks may strike Timor Sea Region anytime.

Timor Sea quake forecast
Map of the FEWW quake forecast in Timor Sea. Original map: Google Earth. Image may be subject to copyright.

Details of FEWW Earthquake Forecast

  • Magnitude: 7.4 or greater
  • Estimated Date:  November 30, 2009 [Uncertainty:  T±90 days]
  • Epicenter: 11°34’23.78″S,  124°45’28.10″E
  • Location: Timor Sea
  • Depth: 27km [Uncertainty: +/- 6.8km]
  • Distances:
    • 160km South of the southern coast of West Timor, province of East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.
    • 190 km ENE of Ashmore Island [Ashmore and Cartier Islands]
    • 203 km NW Kupang, West Timor
    • 281 km NNW of Troughton Island, North Kimberly Coast, NW Australia
    • 666 km WNW of Darwin Australia
  • Horizontal Uncertainty: radius of about 60 km from the forecast epicenter
  • Probability of Occurrence: 0.7 (72%)

Note: This forecast does NOT preclude the possibility of other seismic events in the area at any time.

Related Links:

Posted in East Nusa Tenggara, NW Australia, Plate boundaries, seismic event forecast, Timor sea quake | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Two Banana Diseases Spread in Africa

Posted by feww on August 26, 2009

As the world shrinks, crop diseases flourish

A shrinking world means less land to grow food, diminishing topsoil, smaller ailing forests, warmer acidic oceans… worsening climate extremes, sea level rises, drought and deluge…

Two banana diseases are threatening Africa’s staple food crop.

Bananas [and plantains] are staple food crops for at least 50 million people in the countries surrounding the Great Lakes of Africa, located in and around the Great Rift Valley.

Two banana diseases spreading in Africa would affect the staple food for at least 5o million people in a dozen or so countries on the continent according to  various agricultural research reports.

The banana bunchy top viral disease has infected 45,000 hectares of plantation in Malawi, in addition to 11 other countries that were affected last year, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has reported.

Leaves infected with Banana bunchy top virus (Photo: Ron Heu, Survey Entomologist – Hawaii Department of Agriculture)

“We found the disease to be well-established in Gabon, DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), Northern Angola and central Malawi,” CGIAR quoted a researcher at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture saying.

Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) has reportedly affected countries in central, eastern and southern Africa. The virus spreads from plant to plant by aphids, causes the leaves to sprout from the plant’s top, resulting in a “bunched” appearance and stunting its growth.

infected_fruits 3
Fruit infected with Banana bunchy top virus (Photo: Ron Heu, Survey Entomologist – Hawaii Department of Agriculture). Note height of the entire bunch is about the same as legth of a healthy banana.

[NOTE: BBTV virus attack is terminal. Normally, a banana plant infected with the virus will not produce any fruit; however, the virus harm can be mitigated in a number of ways including in-vitro propagation of banana plants through shoot tip cultures, controlling the aphids and destroying any plant that shows signs of the disease.]

Infected_plants 2
Plants infected with Banana bunchy top virus (Photo: Ron Heu, Survey Entomologist – Hawaii Department of Agriculture)

“CGIAR said another study earlier this year found banana bacterial wilt disease in Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, western Kenya, northwest Tanzania and north and South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Reuters reported.

Researchers believe that the disease could spread to Burundi.

Uganda, Africa’s largest banana grower and consumer, has experienced bacterial wilt for nearly a decade,  incurring annual losses of up to $200 million as a result, said CGIAR.

“All but the traditional varieties of bananas in sub-Saharan Africa lack tolerance to the two diseases, which necessitates more research into the continent’s local … varieties,” it said.

“The diseases require drastic and expensive control measures such as completely excavating entire banana fields and treating them with pesticides, or burning the plants in order to complete the disease.”

Related Links:

Posted in banana bacterial wilt disease, Banana Bunchy Top Virus, Bananas, BBTV, Burundi, Kivu, Uganda | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

World’s beaches turned killing fields

Posted by feww on August 25, 2009

Death on the Beach

Human activity transforming world’s beaches, coastal waters into killing fields

Saint-Michel-en-Greve, Brittany, France

Thousands of tons of noxious algae are piling up on northern beaches of France emitting deadly hydrogen sulfide. The latest reported victim was a horse which collapsed and died after inhaling the deadly gas.

The concentration of hydrogen sulfide recorded in the bay at Saint-Michel-en-Greve, produced by rotting algae, has reached 1,000 parts per million (PPM), twice the 500PPM level that is potentially fatal if inhaled, according to a report commissioned by France’s Ecology Minister.

Green algae covers the beach at Saint-Michel-en-Greve, western France, August 20, 2009. Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) produced by mounds of decomposing green algae is now a major concern across the Brittany region. (Image: ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images). Image may be subject to copyright.

The horse’s rider reportedly lost consciousness and could have died, had he not been be dragged out of  a deep pool of decomposing sludge.

Excess nitrogen [and phosphorus] farm runoff and sewage flow washed off into the world’s coastal waters [and all other water bodies,] fuel algal blooms.

“Environmentalists are demanding action to promote organic farming in the region, where 60 percent of French pigs are reared.” Reuters reported.

Green tides are usually caused by a proliferation of chlorophytas (usually ulvas, occasionally enteromorphas). These blooms develope  every spring and summer on several European coasts: in Limfjord and the fjord of Roskilde in Denmark; the Veerse Meer, the Netherlands; the lagoon of Venice. In France green tides appear in the lagoons situated on the coast of the Languedoc region (gulf of Lyon), in the Atlantic bay of Arcachon (in this case the proliferation is due to Monostroma obscurum), and on some  50 of Breton beaches. The latter eutrophication process is caused by the species called Ulva armoricana and Ulva rotundata [the edible seaweeds.]

A green tide in Brittany, beach of Saint-Michel en Grève/Saint Efflam ((photograph by J.Y. Piriou, Ifremer). Image may be subject to copyright.

Northern Beaches of the North Island, New Zealand

“Mysterious” death has claimed hundreds of animals on New Zealand Beaches, including  dolphins, penguins, pilchards and local dogs

Extensive farm runoff and sewage contamination in New Zealand coastal waters, which spurs growth of potentially deadly algal blooms [cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, or Cyanophyta,] toxic algae poisoning may prove to be the main cause of the animal deaths.

Deadly fish have been found washed up on the Petone foreshore, prompting a warning to the public to steer clear of them.  Photo: PHIL REID/The Dominion Post. Image may be subject to copyright. [Source: New Zeelend Blog.]

“Touching a dead animal on the beach could be enough to endanger human life, said Cawthron Institute algae specialist Paul McNabb.” NZHerald earlier reported.

“People can die from this,” Mr McNabb said.

“If you put a slug in your mouth, you’d be vomiting and your entire body would be tingling.

“Within minutes you’d be paralysed. Your heart and lungs would shut down and you’d be dead within the hour.

“Or if you touched it and it was all over your hands and you went and ate a sandwich …” [Source: NZ Beach poison will kill you in an hour]

Related Links:

Posted in 1080, algal blooms, auckland beaches, Brodifacoum, cyanobacteria, death from toxic poisoning, Mysterious Deaths, New Zealand Beaches, rodenticides, Sodium fluoroacetate, toxic algae poisoning | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

El Niño Update [24 Aug 2009]

Posted by feww on August 25, 2009

ENSO Cycle: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions

The following UPDATE is prepared by

Climate Prediction Center / NCEP – 24 August 2009

The latest weekly SST departures are:

  • Niño 4   ~ 0.8ºC
  • Niño 3.4  ~ 0.7ºC
  • Niño 3 ~ 0.9ºC
  • Niño 1+2 ~ 0.8ºC

El Niño Map. [SOURCE: NOAA/ Climate Prediction Center / NCEP]

Niño Region SST Departures (ºC) –  Recent Evolution

sst anom 24 aug 2009

SST Departures (°C) in the Tropical Pacific During the Last 4 Weeks:
During the last 4-weeks, equatorial SSTs were at least 0.5°C above-average across the Pacific Ocean and at least 1.0°C above average near the Date Line and in the eastern Pacific.

Global SST Departures
During the last four weeks, equatorial SSTs were above-average in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Also, above-average SSTs covered large areas of the Northern Hemisphere mid-to-high latitudes.

Weekly SST Departures for the Last Four Weeks

  • During the last four weeks, SST anomalies have been positive across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • During the last month, there has been little change in SST anomalies across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Sub-Surface Temperature Departures in the Equatorial Pacific

  • During late-June through mid-August 2009, positive sub-surface temperature anomalies weakened in the eastern half of the Pacific Ocean.
  • The most recent period shows positive anomalies across the equatorial Pacific, with the largest anomalies near 125m depth in the west-central Pacific.

Pacific Niño 3.4 SST Outlook

  • Most ENSO models indicate El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2009-10.
  • The models disagree on the eventual strength of El Niño (SST anomalies ranging from +0.5°C to +2.0°C), but a majority of the models indicate at least a moderate strength El Niño (greater than +1.0°C) during November-December-January 2009-10.

model forecasts of enso

Figure provided by the International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society (updated 18 Aug 2009).


  • El Niño is present across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • Sea surface temperatures (SST) remain +0.5 to +1.5 above-average across much of the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • Current observations and dynamical model forecasts indicate ElNiño is expected to strengthen and last through Northern Hemisphere winter 2009-10.

See  El Niño Home Page for previous entries and related links.

Related Links:

El Niño Updates

Posted in El Niño, Indian Ocean, Ocean SST, Pacific Ocean, Positive SST | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Australian Oil Disaster May Get a Lot Worse

Posted by feww on August 23, 2009

No Worries, It’s Only Crude Oil!

Leaking offshore Australian oil well will probably spill into Timor Sea until October

A leaking offshore Australian oil well will probably spill crude  oil into the Timor Sea for the next two months before it can be plugged, according to the Rig operator PTTEP Australasia.

According to various reports the crew of 69 aboard the rig were evacuated shortly after the leak was detected.

The leak would cause tremendous harm to the wildlife in the region.

Australia Oil Spill
In this image taken from a footage shot by AuBC/CH7/CH9 as pool and distributed via APTN, white smoke billows from an oil rig 2 off northwest coast in Australia, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009. A plane loaded with chemical dispersants rushed Saturday toward a slick spilling from an oil rig in remote waters off Australia’s northwest coast. (AP Photo/AuBC/CH7/CH9, POOL via APTN). Image may be subject to copyright.

The leak began on Friday after the well was ruptured some  3,500 meters below sea level, PTTEP Australasia said, adding that they plan to drill a relief well to intersect the existing well and stop its flow by pouring in mud to cement the leak.

The company said that it would take 20 days to bring a new offshore drilling rig from Singapore, and another four weeks to drill the new well.

The spill is now about 25 km long and at least 45 meters wide. The operator refuses to say how much oil is being spilled into the Timor Sea.

Australia Oil Spill
In this image taken from a footage shot by AuBC/CH7/CH9 as pool and distributed via APTN, white smoke billows from an oil rig 2 with a slick of oil off northwest coast in Australia, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009. A plane loaded with chemical dispersants rushed Saturday toward a slick spilling from an oil rig in remote waters off Australia’s northwest coast. (AP Photo/AuBC/CH7/CH9, POOL via APTN). Image may be subject to copyright.

“Environmentalists have expressed concern about the giant slick, saying the entire area is ecologically significant and part of an ‘ocean super highway’ for migrating animals between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.” Reuters reported.

“Many breathe air and could surface in the oil, an official of WWF Australia said.”

“From a global scale this is one of the most important places on the planet for ocean wildlife,” Reuters reported Gilly Llewelyn, WWF Australia’s director of conservation as saying.

The area is regarded as  “critical migration routes,”  like an “oceanic super highway,” she said, adding that three endangered species of turtles, as well as sea snakes, and pygmy blue whales may be affected.

The spill reportedly occurred at the Montara development, which was scheduled to start  production by the end of 2009.  “The West Atlas drilling unit is owned by Norway’s SeaDrill Ltd, but operated by PTTEP Australasia.” Reuters reported.

oil slick
Oil leak coming from the offshore West Atlas oil rig (top), Montara Project, about 255km off the north Kimberley coast of Western Australia state. Image: AFP. Image may be subject to copyright.

According to an aerial photo released by AFP the center of the slick is located at  12° 35.645′ S, 124° 49.000’E, about 255km off the north Kimberley coast of Western Australia state.

The Montara Project: A Leaky Dream?

The following information is from Coogee Resources website


The Company intends to develop the Montara Project via an FPSO located at the Montara field with tie-backs to the Skua and Swift/Swallow fields via flowlines. The development plan for the Montara Project involves nine producing wells, of which six will be drilled in Phase 1 (currently scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2008) and three will be drilled in Phase 2 (currently scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2009). Coogee Resources has commenced work on the design, engineering and procurement activities for the Montara Project. Facility construction began in July 2007 and development drilling is scheduled to commence in early 2008.

Location and geography

The Montara, Skua and Swift/Swallow oil fields are located in the southern Timor Sea approximately 650km west of Darwin. This section of the Timor Sea is administered by the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry Fisheries and Mines (NTDPIFM) within Australian territory and is free from any potential issues of sovereignty.

The Montara oil field is approximately 82 kilometres south-west of the existing operations at Challis. The Skua oil field is located 25 kilometres north-west of the Montara oil field and the Swift/Swallow oil field is located 9 kilometres south-east of the Skua field.

Montara Project Development Schematic

Image and introduction material may be subject to copyright.

Coogee Resources Exploration Focus Areas. Image and introduction material may be subject to copyright.

What caused the rupture?

Timor Plate
Map of Timor Plate. Original map license:  CC-BY-SA

Drilling at the edge of abyss. FEWW believes that the rupture in the well occurred as a result of the recent intense seismic activity in the northern and central sections of Sunda Trench to the northwest of the Montara oil field, as well as ongoing moderate seismic activity on Timor Plate boundaries. The region is one of the most active segments of the Pacific Ring of fire, the one place you wouldn’t want to drill for oil. NO sane geologist or geophysicist/field seismologist would recommend drilling activity in the area. You have been warned!

Related Links:

Posted in australian oil spill, Kimberley coast, Montara development, SeaDrill Ltd, Sunda Trench | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

NZ Dairy Goliath FONTERRA Killing Rainforest

Posted by feww on August 23, 2009

Our thanks to TEAA for supplying the links

New Zealand dairy Goliath Fonterra and NZ farmers fed their national herd one-quarter of the world’s palm kernel stock food supply in 2008

A new scandal involving Fonterra, New Zealand’s dairy Goliath, and the country’s unscrupulous farmers has broken out.

Fonterra and NZ farmers imported more than one million tonnes of palm kernel expeller (PKE) in 2008 from Indonesia and Malaysia, where the tropical rainforest is being lost leading, among a plethora of looming ecological disasters, to the destruction of orang-utan and tiger habitat.

To produce palm kernel (and palm oil) vast tracks of tropical rainforest in Indonesia and Malaysia are clear-felled to make room for plantations, destroying a primary carbon sink, in addition to creating a major source of carbon emissions, and accelerating the extinction of thousands of species.

the Sumatran orang-utan.
The Sumatran orang-utan is losing its habitat to New Zealand farmers. Photo: Oka Budhi/Greenpace

“An international body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, has been set up to ensure sustainable supply of palm product, but secretary-general Dr Vengeta Rao said last week that ‘very little’ of what entered New Zealand would have been certified.” NZ’s Sunday Star Times reported.

Roundtable say only a total of about 330,000 metric tons of PKE on the global market since August 2008 may be considered certified. New Zealand imported 1,104,387 ton, nearly the same amount as the combined consumption of the 27 EU countries.

Two weeks ago, the Sunday Star-Times travelled to Indonesia with Greenpeace communications manager Suzette Jackson and Waitakaruru farmer Max Purnell to see, first hand, the impact of this trade that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says has increased one thousand-fold since 2000.

We spoke to community leaders who said they had been jailed in their fight to keep land from palm companies, and conservationists who feared for the future of animals such as the Sumatran orang-utan.

“Not only is this trade damaging to the environment on the ground here, it’s also really damaging to how we are trying to portray ourselves internationally, as a country that does care, that does give a damn, and wants to live up to what we trade on our clean, green identity,” said Jackson.

Are New Zealand farmers telling the truth about “the spike in imports” being due to a harsh drought in 2008 compelling them to import supplementary feed?

Not so!  Says Jackson, “the figures have climbed really steadily over the past 10 years. Drought has a little bit to do with it, but the major reason this increase has come about is through the intensification and corporatisation of New Zealand’s dairy sector.

Purnell said he had witnessed the “systematic, deliberate, studied rape and desecration of land and the local people’s ability to have a future with it”.

New Zealand palm kernel imports jumped from a third of a ton in 1999 to about one-half of a million ton in 2007 and then more than doubled to over 1.1 million tons in 2008.

According to an article published in the  Sri Lankan daily newspaper, Heladiwa Irida Sangrahaya, Fonterra milk products are adulterated with palm oil or other vegetable oils. “On March 15, the newspaper printed an article and editorial alleging the milk products did not contain full cream, but instead added palm oil and vegetable oil.”  Fonterra didn’t like the article and is seeking a billion rupee (about $17 million) and a gagging writ over the newspaper and its editor.

Fonterra part owns the rural supply chain RD1, which sells palm kernel expeller to the farmers. RD1 buys its bulk imports from Wilmar International, the world’s largest trader of palm oils and kernel, a company known globally for rainforest destruction.

Be fair to the rainforest, tiger, orang-utan, and countless other species that are going extinct.

Boycott New Zealand Dairy and Meat Products!

Related Links:

Posted in fonterra kills, industrial farming, NZ Dairy products, NZ lamb, palm oil industry, Sumatran rainforest | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Greece on Fire!

Posted by feww on August 23, 2009

Athens Fires May Torch Marathon!

At least 100 forest blazes have started throughout Greece in less than a day torching the worst record set in 2007, officials said.

Fires in Greece
Up to 80 large forest fires torch Greece. The worst blazes are occurring in areas where homes are built among trees, reducing the forests, natural resistence to fire. Photo AP. Image may be subject to copyright.

Summary of events:

  • Fires are spreading through northern suburb of  Athens, the Greek capital.
  • The government has  declared a state of emergency in the area.
  • The fires have spread as far north as the towns of Grammatiko and Varnavas, and are also threatening the town of Marathon.
  • Thousands of hectares of forest, farmland  and olive groves have been blackened; many homes and structure have been destroyed.
  • Gale-force winds are intensifying the blazes, which started late Friday, intensifying  overnight through Saturday
  • Fire crews are trying to prevent the fires from reaching Pendeli, a famous suburb of the capital with spectacular view of Athens.
  • “Much of Pendeli mountain was destroyed in 2007, and further erosion of the treeline would be an ecological disaster,” the BBC’s reporter in Athens said.
  • The 2007 forest fires on mainland blackened 6% of Greece’s tree cover, killing 70 people.
  • “The fires are further contributing to the deforestation of the mountains around Athens. Three of the four mountains surrounding the capital have already been stripped of their trees by fire,” BBC added.
  • In July thousands of hectares of forest and farmland were incinerated across the Mediterranean in France, Greece, Italy and Spain, aided by heat waves and dry conditions.

Related Links:

Posted in Collapsing Cities, collapsing ecosystems, Gorbachev revolution, Mediterranean drought, Mediterranean heat waves, Pendeli mountain | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

VolcanoWatch Weekly [20 August 2009]

Posted by feww on August 22, 2009

Volcanic Activity Report: 12 August-18 August 2009

VoW: Talang

The Indonesian volcano Talang on the island of Sumatra had been dormant for centuries when, in April 2005, it suddenly rumbled to life. A plume of smoke rose 1000 meters high and nearby villages were covered in ash. Fearing a major eruption, local authorities began evacuating 40,000 people. Caption: James A. Phillips, NASA.

And just to confuse the readers a little, the following caption is by

Talang is a stratovolcano with 8 confirmed eruptions between 1833 and 1968. The volcano may have had a phreatic eruption in 1986 but the activity has not been confirmed. Most of the eruptions are moderate in size (VEI=2) and explosive. Eruptions in 1833, 1843, 1845, and 1876 were from flank vents. An eruption in 1967 and two different eruptions in 1968 were from radial fissures. The distance from the city of Padang to Talang is about 35 km. Image courtesy of the Landsat Pathfinder Project.

Country: Indonesia
Region: Sumatra
Last Known Eruption: 2007
Summit Elevation: 2,597 m (8,520 feet)
Latitude: 0.978°S  (0°58’42″S)
Longitude:  100.679°E (100°40’46″E)
Source: GVP

Talang, which forms a twin volcano with the extinct Pasar Arbaa volcano, lies ESE of the major city of Padang and rises NW of Dibawah Lake. Talang has two crater lakes on its flanks; the largest of these is 1 x 2 km wide Danau Talang. Most historical eruptions have not occurred from the summit of the volcano, which lacks a crater. Historical eruptions from Gunung Talang volcano have mostly involved small-to-moderate explosive activity first documented in the 19th century that originated from a series of small craters in a valley on the upper NE flank. Photo by Ruska Hadian, 1986 (Volcanological Survey of Indonesia). Caption: GVP.

Authorities raise Mt. Talang alert level to highest

The vulcanology and disaster mitigation office in West Sumatra has raised the alert status for Mt. Talang to the highest level following a 6.9-magnitude earthquake and a series of aftershocks that struck the province.

Vulcanologist Dalipa Marjusi said Tuesday the tremors had sparked a volcanic earthquake and temblors, although eruption of the volcano remained undetected.

“Since Sunday’s earthquake we have recorded 1,600 volcanic quakes and 700 tectonic quakes, but only 23 of them were felt,” Dalipa said.

Fog has blanketed the summit of the 2,597-meter volcano for the last two days, making it difficult to see ash or lava that might be erupting from its crater.

The volcano last spewed hot ash last April.

A seven-strong team from the directorate general of vulcanology and disaster mitigation have arrived in Padang from Bandung to monitor the volcano’s activities.

Talang is the 6th listed volcano from top left.

New activity/unrest:

Source: Global Volcanism Program (GVP) – SI/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


IG reported that on 4 August seismicity from Reventador increased and periods of tremor frequently saturated the seismic stations. On 6 August, incandescent blocks were ejected from the crater. Thermal images revealed a linear area of higher temperatures, confirming the presence of a new lava flow on the S flank.

Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that on 14 August a 2-hour-long thermal anomaly detected over Pagan was followed by a small emission. The emission, hotter than its surroundings, drifted NW and quickly dissipated. [Source: GVP]

Ongoing Activity:

Related Links:

FEWW Links:

Posted in Volcanic Activity Report, volcanism, Volcano Hazard, volcanoes, VolcanoWatch | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hurricane Bill Chemically ‘Neutered?’

Posted by feww on August 21, 2009

Finally MODIS Rapid Response Team releases an ‘up-to-date’ [only one day old!] image of Hurricane Bill

And so pleased with the work, they moved the image acquisition date forward by 30 days to September 30, 2009!

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this photo-like image of Hurricane Bill northeast of Puerto Rico at 10:55 a.m., local time (14:55 UTC) on August 20, 2009. Bill is large, sprawling across hundreds of kilometers from end to end, and has so has a clear eye. The National Hurricane Center expected Hurricane Bill to track northwest between the United States’s East coast and Bermuda, possibly crossing over Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on August 23.  The high-resolution image provided is at MODIS’ full spatial resolution (level of detail) of 250 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response System provides this image at additional resolutions.  NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Holli Riebeek. [Edited for brevity by FEWW.]

Bill one day earlier
Bill, a day earlier (or 30 days later!). Hurricane Bill
captured by MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite  at 12:40 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on August 18, 2009.
Credits:  See top image. [Image added to the post on August 22, 2009]

Bill - abnormal lines

As for the chemical treatment [ ‘re-engineering’] hint, notice the thin, curvy line which emerges at 8  o’clock and rejoins Bill’s  ‘mane’ at 10 o’clock [there are also two shorter similar lines starting at about 6 o’clock just south of the eye] appear to be an abnormal aberration.  Could it be that Bill is chemically sprayed in an attempt to  ‘control’ and  ‘re-engineer’ it—to slow it down and make it disintegrate?

Related Links:

Posted in atlantic hurricanes 2009, CAPE HATTERAS, category 4 hurricane, hurricanes 2009, MODIS Rapid Response Team | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mercury Found in Every Fish Tested in the US

Posted by feww on August 20, 2009

“as mad as a hatter” syndrome, now a deadly US reality

Researchers Found Mercury Contamination in Every Fish Sampled in 291 Streams Across the United States: USGS

Since 1980, the amount of mercury in the atmosphere has risen by about 56 percent, our colleagues at EDRO have estimated.

Mercury contamination in quarter of the samples tested  exceeded “the criterion for the protection of people who consume average amounts of fish, established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”  And nearly 70 percent  of the fish exceeded the U.S. EPA safety level for fish-eating mammals.

Mercury levels in fish are determined by (1) mercury sources, such as atmospheric emissions from burning coal; (2) methylation efficiency, which is controlled by certain biological, chemical, and environmental characteristics; and (3) food-web complexity, the totality of feeding interactions—from algae to predatory fish—in an ecological community. USGS

“This study shows just how widespread mercury pollution has become in our air, watersheds, and many of our fish in freshwater streams,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “This science sends a clear message that our country must continue to confront pollution, restore our nation’s waterways, and protect the public from potential health dangers.”

Mercury contamination is widespread globally, originating from natural and human-related sources, including air transport from coal combustion, waste incineration, and mining. (Photograph by Phillip J. Redman, U.S. Geological Survey). Caption USGS.

Mercury is released to the environment from natural and anthropogenic sources. Volcanoes,  natural mercury deposits, and volatilization from the ocean are among the main natural sources. The main anthropogenic sources include: coal combustion, chlorine alkali processing, waste incineration, and metal processing [gold and mercury mining.] USGS estimates that human activities have about tripled the amount of mercury in the atmosphere, and that “the atmospheric burden is increasing by about 1.5 percent per year.”  [Source EDRO based on USGS data. ]

“Some of the highest levels of mercury in fish were found in the tea-colored or “blackwater” streams in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana — areas associated with relatively undeveloped forested watersheds containing abundant wetlands compared to the rest of the country. High levels of mercury in fish also were found in relatively undeveloped watersheds in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest. Elevated levels are noted in areas of the Western United States affected by mining. ” US Department of interior said.

Studies of sediment cores show that younger sediments deposited since industrialization have mercury concentrations that are [up to] 5 times that of historical sediments. Thus, the fact that these sediments are primarily composed of dead microorganisms that were once the bottom of the food chain would suggest that modern levels of mercury in the food chain are elevated over preindustrial times. USGS.

aquatic mercury cycle
Mercury cycling pathways in aquatic environments are very complex. The various forms of mercury can be converted from one to the next; most important is the conversion to methylmercury (CH3Hg+), the most toxic form. Ultimately, mercury ends up in the sediments, fish and wildlife, or evades back to the atmosphere by volatilization. Reprinted with permission from Mercury Pollution: Integration and Synthesis. Copyright Lewis Publishers, an imprint of CRC Press.

For a US listing of fish advisories from the Environmental Protection click here.

mercury pie

Combustion from coal-fired utilities and industrial boilers accounts for more than 85 percent of the transmission of inorganic mercury to the atmosphere (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1997). USGS findings will provide a better understanding of what drives methylation of inorganic mercury in certain environmental settings, and thereby help to clarify appropriate strategies regarding mercury emissions. Pie chart and caption USGS

“This study improves our understanding of where mercury ends up in fish in freshwater streams,” said USGS scientist Barbara Scudder. “The findings are critical for decision-makers to effectively manage mercury sources and to better anticipate concentrations of mercury and methylmercury in unstudied streams in comparable environmental settings.”

The USGS study included testing for “mercury contamination in fish, bed sediment and water from 291 streams” across the country, spanning over an 8-year from 1998 to 2005.

USGS found that “coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury emissions in the United States.” Additionally, 59 of the streams sampled were also “potentially affected by gold and mercury mining.”

Why study mercury?

Mercury can adversely affect humans and wildlife through consumption of contaminated fish, particularly by sensitive individuals, such as children and women of childbearing age. Mercury is currently the leading cause of impairment in the Nation’s estuaries and lakes and was cited in nearly 80 percent of fish-consumption advisories (2,242 of 2,838) reported by states in 2000. The geographic extent of mercury advisories covers more than 10 million acres of lakes and more than 400,000 stream miles—increases of about 7 and 48 percent, respectively, over advisories reported in 1998 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2002a).

Facts about mercury:

  • Highly toxic to the nervous system
  • Persistent in the environment
  • Bioaccumulates (higher concentrations in tissues of aquatic plants and animals than in water)
  • Biomagnifies (higher concentrations at increasingly higher levels in the food chain)
  • Numerous chemical forms in air, water, sediment, and biota
  • Responsible for nearly 80 percent of U.S. fish-consumption advisories

Mercury Cycle links:

Water Pollution and Related Links:

Posted in BLACKWATER STREAMS, gold mining, mercury contamination, mercury pollution, methylmercury | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hurricane Bill Shifts Up Into Cat 4

Posted by feww on August 19, 2009

For updates see Atlantic Hurricanes 2009

Bill strengthens into category 4 hurricane, eying top level

rgb - bill at cat 4
Hurricane Bill strengthened to a Cat 4 on Saffir-Simpson scale. Click image to enlarge and update. See also FEWW New Hurricane Scale.

[Meanwhile NASA’s MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center, is still measuring Bill as he was on August 17.]

NHC: Hurricane BILL Data  – Summary

5:00 AM AST Wed Aug 19 (9:00 UTC)
Location: 18.0°N 54.9°W
Max sustained:  215 km/h (135 mph)
Moving: WNW at 26 km/h (16 mph)
Min pressure: 71.1 cmHg (948 mb)

Hurricane Bill is expected to strengthen further, NHC said.  Adding that, bill will create large swells which would  impact the islands of  the northeast Caribbean sea in the next 48 hours. Bermuda and parts of  the SE coast of the US would be affected similarly, Friday and Saturday.

For background information,  details of Bill’s progress and additional images, see Atlantic Hurricanes 2009.

FEWW Comments: There’s a small probability of about 0.15  that Bill could move in a westerly direction toward the Gulf of Mexico, making his first landfall on the coast of Alabama.

Related Links:

Posted in BERMUDA, Caribbean Sea, gulf of mexico, hurricane report, landfall in Alabama | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

New Round of Geo-Assualt at Kermadec Trench

Posted by feww on August 19, 2009

Magnitude 6.3 Quake South of Fiji Isles May Herald New Round of ‘Geo-Assault’ at Kermadec Trench

Following the powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the tip of the Fiordland, South island, New Zealand, followed by a large cluster of aftershocks (still ongoing), another round of geo-assault appear to be gearing up at the southern end of the Kermadec trench.

The Fiordland quakes occurred as a result of a large reverse faulting motion caused by the subduction of the Australian subplate under the Pacific plate, on which Fiordland rests,  in Puysegur Trench, at the Alpine Fault.

The new wave of earthquakes would instead be caused by the ‘mirror image’ action, with Pacific plate subducting beneath the Australian protoplate.

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck south of the Fiji Islands on August 18, 2009 at 21:21 UTC may herald a new round of intense [and unprecedented] seismic activity at Kermadec Trench to the north, NE, and East of the North Island, as well as the north, NE, and east of the South Island, New Zealand.

Details of the latest quake in the region:

fiji isles
Earthquake Location Map. Source of original map: USGS

  • Magnitude: 6.3
  • Date-Time:  Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 21:20:47 UTC
  • Location: 26.014°S, 178.390°W
  • Depth:  269 km (167.2 miles)
  • Distances:
    • 360 km (225 miles) N of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
    • 595 km (370 miles) S of Ndoi Island, Fiji
    • 1365 km (850 miles) NNE of Auckland, New Zealand
    • 1800 km (1120 miles) NNE of WELLINGTON, New Zealand
  • Location Uncertainty:  horizontal +/- 6 km (3.7 miles)
  • Parameters:  NST=236, Nph=236, Dmin=362.1 km, Rmss=0.95 sec, Gp= 29°,  M-type=centroid moment magnitude (Mw), Version=8
  • Source:  USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
  • Event ID: us2009klcj

[Caution: Data provided by the USGS  Earthquake Hazard Program may be subject to large margins of error as well as ‘ghost reporting,’ and therefore may be unreliable. ]

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Posted in Australian subplate, Fiji Isles Quake, Fiordland quakes, Mt Ruapehu Eruption Alert, Ndoi Island quake | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Another Ocean Record Broken

Posted by feww on August 19, 2009

Congratulations! We’ve broken another ocean record!

Warmest Global Ocean Surface Temperatures on Record for July: NOAA

Our planet experienced the  warmest ocean surface temperature on record for July, exceeding the previous record established in 1998, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., reported.

As for the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature records, July 2009 ranked fifth-warmest since 1880 when world-wide records began,  NOAA said.

Atlantic Ocean Daily Sea Surface Temps – POES Composite. Source: NOAA

East Pacific Ocean Daily Sea Surface Temps – POES Composite. Source: NOAA

The following stats were provided by NOAA:

Global Climate Statistics

  • The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the fifth warmest on record, at 1.03 degrees F (0.57 degree C) above the 20th century average of 60.4 degrees F (15.8 degrees C).
  • The global ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the warmest on record, 1.06 degrees F (0.59 degree C) above the 20th century average of 61.5 degrees F (16.4 degrees C). This broke the previous July record set in 1998. The July ocean surface temperature departure of 1.06 degrees F from the long-term average equals last month’s value, which was also a record.
  • The global land surface temperature for July 2009 was 0.92 degree F (0.51 degree C) above the 20th century average of 57.8 degrees F (14.3 degree C), and tied with 2003 as the ninth-warmest July on record.

Notable Developments and Events

  • El Niño persisted across the equatorial Pacific Ocean during July 2009. Related sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies increased for the sixth consecutive month.
  • Large portions of many continents had substantially warmer-than-average temperatures during July 2009. The greatest departures from the long-term average were evident in Europe, northern Africa, and much of western North America. Broadly, across these regions, temperatures were about 4-7 degrees F (2-4 degrees C) above average.
  • Cooler-than-average conditions prevailed across southern South America, central Canada, the eastern United States, and parts of western and eastern Asia. The most notably cool conditions occurred across the eastern U.S., central Canada, and southern South America where region-wide temperatures were nearly 4-7 degrees F (2-4 degrees C) below average.
  • Arctic sea ice covered an average of 3.4 million square miles during July. This is 12.7 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent and the third lowest July sea ice extent on record, behind 2007 and 2006. Antarctic sea ice extent in July was 1.5 percent above the 1979-2000 average. July Arctic sea ice extent has decreased by 6.1 percent per decade since 1979, while July Antarctic sea ice extent has increased by 0.8 percent per decade over the same period.

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Posted in dying oceans, oceans warming, POES, Record Ocean Surface Temps, Reynolds SST Analysis, Sea Surface Temp | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Mesopotamian Dust Bowl

Posted by feww on August 18, 2009

Image of the day: Another Dust Storm Over Iraq and Kuwait

Thick clouds of dust blew from the agricultural lands between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers in Iraq on August 15, 2009. The pale dust obscures most of Kuwait and culminates in a distinct plume over the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. One plume on the east side of the storm is darker than the rest of the airborne dust. This plume either comes from a different type of source—exposed agricultural soil instead of desert, perhaps—or it is a plume of smoke from a fire. Red dots mark where the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) detected fires, but in this case, a fire may be hidden from the sensor by the dust storm. Ongoing drought may be contributing to the frequent and severe dust storms Iraq has experienced in 2009.

The MODIS sensor flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image on August 15, 2009. Twice-daily images of Iraq and Kuwait are available from the MODIS Rapid Response System.  NASA image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.

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Posted in desertification, Environmental Catastrophe, global climate change, soil erosion, World’s Collapsing Cities | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

California: Retardant Orange, Red and Fire

Posted by feww on August 18, 2009

Images of California Fire Retardant Nightmare!

One day soon, California would be all retardant orange, red and fire!

bushfire LATIMES
An aerial tanker drops a load of retardant on the northern flank of a fire near Castaic, Calif. Photo: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times. Image may be subject to copyright.

bushfire LATIMES 2
Another aerial tanker, too,  drops its load of retardant on fire near Castaic. Photo: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times. Image may be subject to copyright.

For regularly updated California bushfire news click here.

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Posted in California Bushfires, Castaic, Corral Fire, La Brea Fire, Yuba Fire | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »