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Archive for April 23rd, 2010

Eyjafjallajökull Eruption – UPDATE 23 April

Posted by feww on April 23, 2010

Ash Fall from Eyjafjallajökull Eruption Closes Icelandic Airports

Iceland’s Keflavík International Airport was closed earlier today due to volcanic ash cloud from Eyjafjallajökull eruption.

The wind direction had reportedly changed pushing the ash cloud in southern Iceland in a southwesterly  direction; however,  little or no ash fall was forecast in the capital Reykjavik, Icelandic Review reported.

The closure of Keflavík airport was expected to affect all international flights to and from Iceland.

Webcam views of Eyjafjallajökull eruption recorded at 11:40UTC on April 23, 2010 – Click images to enlarge

Hvolsvelli View

Thórólfsfelli (Þórólfsfelli) View

The Institute of Earth Science Nordic Volcanological Center

Eruption in Eyjafjallajökull

Eruption update 22 April
Similar situation as yesterday (see 21 April report)

Seismic tremor recorded by the Icelandic Meteorological Office: Some fluctuations, with a peak shortly after midnight 22 April related to a small flood of meltwater. Since the onset of the explosive eruption the tremor has overall been gradually increasing, with superimposed fluctuations.

Visual observations yesterday: Regular explosions at intervals of few minutes were observed in afternoon, with fluctuations in intensity and tephra content. Previous entries …

The following two images are from Frettabldid-Island and may be subject to copyright.

Electric Eyjafjallajokull

Prime Real Estate

Eruption in Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland – Current events Report by Icelandic Met Office

Status as of:  23 April 2010 10:45(UTC)

Volcanic tremor has been similar the last 24 hours. GPS stations around Eyjafjallajökull showed deflation associated with the eruption.

The plume could be seen on IMO’s radar till 04:00. This morning it rose up to 16.000 feet, ca 4.8 km, and ash is blowing towards west.

Water in Markarfljot river increased slightly yesterday, probably due to continuous flow from the eruption area (Gigjökull).

Eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland as seen by RADARSAT-2 (Canadian Space Agency)

Left: RADARSAT-2 image of April 9 – RADARSAT-2 Multi-Look Fine, beam 4 – April 9, 2010, 07:34 :48 UTC, Descending orbit – Nominal resolution: 8 m.
Right: RADARSAT-2 image of April 20 – RADARSAT-2 Extended High, beam 4 – April 20, 2010, 07:13 :53 UTC, Descending orbit -Nominal resolution: 25 m.
Click image to enlarge.

Image Notes and Observations:

  • New volcano craters are evident on April 20 image (Right).
  • Glacial lake on the north slope of the volcano is now filled with volcanic sediments.
  • Local drainage network is swamped by the melt water.
  • The radar backscatter has changed drastically, probably caused by the melted ice and by the presence of ash and dust on the ice.
  • Agricultural land on the south slope of the volcano covered by volcanic ash and debris.
  • The wavelength used by RADARSAT-2 is only slightly affected by the  ash and airborne particles.
  • For larger images click here

Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management – Media team

News Release: # 22 – April 23, 2010, 06:30(UTC)

A little after midnight, the volcanic cloud became quite dark, according to the police, and the wind turned during the night.

The Weather Bureau expects southeasterly winds today, and the wind force will gradually increase. An ashen mist is expected towards the north-east of the volcano, and small quantities of ash might even reach Reykjavík. The terms “ashen mist” refer to a view impaired by the ash, according to the Weather Bureau. Some ash is falling in the direction of Fljótshlíð and will continue to do so in a northwesterly direction from the volcano.

Flights to and from the airports of Keflavík and Reykjavík are being cancelled and travellers are requested to follow the news and the websites of the flight operators and Keflavík Airport.

According to the police at Hvolsvöllur, no traffic is permitted in the vicinity of the volcano. The area closed to traffic encompasses the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, its slopes, the Fimmvörðuháls pass and Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Please respect these restrictions.

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Posted in Eyjafjallajökull eruption, eyjafjallajokull map, iceland ash cloud, Iceland volcano, magma | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Valley of the Rocks Avalanche: Deafening Thunder

Posted by feww on April 23, 2010

Image of the Day:

Valley of the Rocks Avalanche: The Largest Landslide in North America

Valley of the Rocks, B.C., Canada.  A geologist says the largest landslide in North American history, a colossal avalanche of rocks and earth, occurred on a Rocky Mountain slope near the B.C.-Alberta border some 10,000 years ago. The huge avalanche permanently shifted the geography of North America.
Photo (undated): Nick Roberts, Simon Fraser University.

A detailed study of the cataclysmic event  has been carried out by researchers Nick Roberts of Simon Fraser University and Steve Evans of the University of Waterloo.

“Despite its size, this landslide has gone virtually unrecognized” in the scientific literature, Roberts told Canwest News Service. “Even basic information about the rock avalanche, including its precise dimensions, volume and age,” were unknown until now.

“Destabilized by forces associated with retreating glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age, the final cleaving of the mountain above the Valley of the Rocks might have been triggered by an earthquake or a torrential rainstorm, the researchers believe.” The report said.

What was the magnitude of the avalanche?

“When the mountain gave way, any Stone Age hunters in the vicinity might have been convinced the end of the world was unfolding.” The report said.

“Transfer of kinetic energy to sound energy through fracturing and collision of rock material would have produced a tremendous noise,” says Roberts.

“Survivors of large landslides in recent decades have described sounds similar to cannon fire or the roar of a jet engine,” he adds, noting that the blasts likely represent “initial fracturing in the first stages of failure” while the roar is generated by the rush of millions of tonnes of rock down the mountain side.

“In the case of the Valley of the Rocks avalanche,” says Roberts, “these sounds would have been deafening within a few kilometres of the landslide, and would have been audible for at least many tens of kilometres.”  More…

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Posted in earthquake, extreme rain event, Landslide, last Ice Age, retreating glaciers | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Astronomy: Science of Looking into the Past?

Posted by feww on April 23, 2010

submitted by a reader

‘LUCIFER allows astronomers to watch stars being born’

That’s the title of a news release by the university of Arizona.  With all the technology shared  between them, they had to play hard with words to come up with an acronym that has a negative image. It’s like “Challenger” versus “Explorer,” but cockier and more distasteful.

10 to 1 the person who thought of this name was a victim of Catholic Church abuse!

Original Caption:
Technicians install the LUCIFER instruments on the Large Binocular Telescope in the fall of 2008.

What’s ‘LUCIFER’

It’s described as “a new instrument for the world’s largest optical telescope, the Large Binocular Telescope on Mount Graham, allows astronomers to observe the faintest and most distant objects in the universe.”

Is an image from taken from object 8,000 light years away (7.8 x 10^16km), looking into the past, tell you anything about the future?

To understand the implication of the above question, you must first answer the following question:

What happens when 50 percent of the world population are dentists?

Because that’s exactly what has happened to astronomy, among other sciences. It has reached the ridiculous stage when science has no longer a utility value, but an economic-aesthetic value. That’s unless you come up with something no one has done before, regardless of its usefulness to human or any other animal race, you go out of business.

Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) partners in the U.S, Germany and Italy announced April 21 that the first of two new innovative near-infrared cameras/spectrographs for the LBT is now available to astronomers for scientific observations at the telescope on Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona.After more than a decade of design, manufacturing and testing, the new instrument – dubbed LUCIFER 1 – provides a powerful tool to gain spectacular insights into the universe – from the Milky Way to extremely distant galaxies. LUCIFER, built by a consortium of German institutes, will be followed by an identical twin instrument that will be delivered to the telescope in early 2011.

“With the large light-gathering power of the LBT, astronomers are now able to collect the spectral fingerprints of the faintest and most distant objects in the universe,” said LBT director Richard Green, a professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory.

LUCIFER 1 and its twin are mounted at the focus points of the LBT’s two giant 8.4-meter (27.6 foot) diameter telescope mirrors. Each instrument is cooled to -213 degrees Celsius in order to observe in the near-infrared wavelength range. Near-infrared observations are essential for understanding the formation of stars and planets in our galaxy as well as revealing the secrets of the most distant and very young galaxies.

Stellar Nursery

Original Caption:
Where stars are born: The first LUCIFER observations of star-forming regions are giving scientists an idea of the new instrument’s enormous potential. This image depicts a stellar nursery in the Milky Way about 8,000 light years from Earth. Such clouds are typically opaque to visible light. However, infrared light detected by LUCIFER can penetrate the dust. Photo: Arjan Bik

LUCIFER’s innovative design allows astronomers to observe in unprecedented detail, for example star forming regions, which are commonly hidden by dust clouds.

The instrument is remarkably flexible, combining a large field of view with a high resolution. It provides three exchangeable cameras for imaging and spectroscopy in different resolutions according to observational requirements.

Astronomers use spectroscopy to analyze incoming light and answer questions such as how stars and galaxies formed and what they are made of.

The instruments were built by a consortium of five German institutes led by the Center for Astronomy of Heidelberg University, together with the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, the Astronomical Institute of the Ruhr-University in Bochum, and the University of Applied Sciences in Mannheim.

The LBT is a collaboration among the Italian astronomical community (National Institute of Astrophysics), the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, the LBT Beteiligungsgesellschaft in Germany (Max-Planck-Institut fϋr Astronomie in Heidelberg, Zentrum fur Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Astrophysikalisches Institut in Potsdam, Max-Planck-Institut fϋr Extraterrestrische Physik in Munich, and Max-Planck-Institut fϋr Radioastronomie in Bonn), and the Ohio State University and Research Corporation (Ohio State University, University of Notre Dame, University of Minnesota and University of Virginia).

Galaxy NGC1569

Original Caption:
These two images show the starburst galaxy NGC 1569, which is forming stars at a rate that is 100 times faster than what is typically observed in the Milky Way. LUCIFER’s sensitive infrared vision reveals glowing red clouds of dust enshrouding newly formed stars. Photo: Anna Pasquali

Additional Technical Background:

  • LUCIFER is an acronym for: Large Binocular Telescope Near-infrared Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research
  • LUCIFER’s three exchangeable cameras are available for direct imaging, long-slit-spectroscopy and multi-object-spectroscopy. Two of them are optimized for seeing-limited conditions, a third camera for diffraction-limited cases will be used after completion of the LBT adaptive secondary mirror system.
  • Using a four Mega-pixel Hawaii2-camera the instrument covers a comparatively large field of view of 4×4 arc minutes (about 1/50th of the full moon on sky).
  • According to observational requirements, presently a set of five broad-band filters (z, J, H, K, Ks), 12 medium and narrow-band filters and three different high-resolution spectroscopic gratings are available.
  • A special feature of the LUCIFER is 10 fixed and up to 22 exchangeable masks which can be used for longslit and multi-object spectroscopy (MOS). This multiplex-technology developed at MPE allows the spectroscopy of about two dozen objects simultaneously and reduces the costs per photon and observing time at the telescope dramatically. All laser-cut MOS-masks are stored in a separate magazine which can be replaced with new masks at fully cryogenic temperatures using an external cryostat and a vacuum interlock to the main instrument. This work can be done within a few hours during a normal service-interval in day-time and avoids a several days lasting warming-up and cooling-down cycle of the complete LUCIFER-instrument preserving valuable observing time.
  • Contact: Daniel Stolte
    University of Arizona

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System 91S becomes Tropical Cyclone 24S

Posted by feww on April 23, 2010

TC 24S Rainfall Captured by NASA’s TRMM

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite’s analysis of rainfall within Tropical Storm 24S on April 22 at 0708 UTC (3:08 a.m. EDT) showed areas of light to moderate rainfall. Image and caption: NASA

NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM satellite has been flying over the low pressure area known as System 91S in the Southern Indian Ocean and providing estimates of rainfall within the storm. The storm has now strengthened enough to be reclassified as the twenty-fourth southern hemispheric tropical cyclone, “24S.”

TRMM found that there were some areas of light to moderate rainfall between .78 to 1.57 inches per hour.

Rain rates are created from different instruments aboard TRMM. The rain rates in the center of TRMM images are derived from the TRMM Precipitation Radar, the only space borne radar of its kind, while those in the outer portion are from the TRMM Microwave Imager. The rain rates are then overlaid on infrared data from the TRMM Visible Infrared Scanner to create the entire image.

At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC) this morning, April 22, Tropical Cyclone 24S had maximum sustained winds near 35 knots (40 mph) making it of tropical storm strength. 24S was about 570 nautical miles north of Learmonth, Australia, near 13.1 South and 115.4 East. It was moving in a southerly direction at 6 mph (5 knots) but it is forecast to turn westward and head into open waters and away from Australia.

Animated infrared satellite imagery shows increased central convection (thunderstorm development) and improved banding of thunderstorms around the center of the cyclone. Because 24S is in an environment of low vertical wind shear, it is expected to further intensify for a couple of days. After that, the wind shear will kick up again and weaken the storm. Source:  NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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Deepwater Horizon Sinks

Posted by feww on April 23, 2010

Major Environmental Disaster Looms!

The oil well may be bleeding more than 8,000 barrels of crude oil into the Gulf each day

After burning for 36 hours, Deepwater Horizon, a semisubmersible oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico finally sinks, threatening to cause a major oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

”It certainly has the potential to be a major spill,” said David Rainey, a vice-president of BP Gulf of Mexico exploration, the company that was leasing the rig.

The state-of-the-art Korean-built offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon finally sank. Photo Credit: The US Coast Guard.

The state-of-the-art oil platform on lease to BP, was carrying out exploratory drilling about 66km (41  miles) southeast of Venice, Louisiana.

The US Coast Guard said the rig may be leaking more than 8,000 barrels (342,000 gallons) of crude oil per day.

There’s no sign of the 11 missing crew members, despite frantic air and sea rescue efforts. An employee of Transocean, the company who owns the rig, said the initial blast may have killed the 11.

Four of the 17 crew members who were injured are said to be in critical condition.

Oil Rig Spec

The ‘state-of-the-art’ oil platform owned by Transocean was built in South Korea in 2001. Measuring about 121 x 78 meters (41m deep), it was designed to operate in water to the depth of about 2,440 meters  ( 8,000 feet), drilling  9,144 meters deep. The rig was a semisubmersible platform which accommodated a crew of 130.

News Release: Transocean Ltd. Provides Update on Semisubmersible Drilling Rig Deepwater Horizon

ZUG, SWITZERLAND, Apr 22, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) –Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) (SIX: RIGN) provided an update today regarding a fire and explosion onboard its semisubmersible drilling rig Deepwater Horizon and reports that the rig sank late in the morning, today. The combined response team was not able to stem the flow of hydrocarbons prior to the rig sinking, and we are working closely with BP Exploration & Production, Inc. and the U.S. Coast Guard to determine the impact from the sinking of the rig and the plans going forward. The U.S. Coast Guard has plans in place to mitigate any environmental impact from this situation.

The incident occurred April 20, 2010 at approximately 10:00 p.m. Central Time in the United States Gulf of Mexico. The rig was located approximately 41 miles offshore Louisiana on Mississippi Canyon block 252.

The cause of the fire and explosion is unknown at this time. An investigation into the cause of the incident and assessment of the damage will be ongoing in the days or weeks to come.

Statements regarding any future aspect of the incident on the Deepwater Horizon, the effects, results, investigation, damage assessment relating thereto mitigation of environmental impact, as well as any other statements that are not historical facts, are forward-looking statements that involve certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. These include but are not limited to results of searches, investigations and assessments, actions by the Coast Guard and other governmental agencies, actions by customers and other third parties and other factors detailed in Transocean’s most recent Form 10-K and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which are available free of charge on the SEC’s website at Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those indicated.

Transocean is the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor and the leading provider of drilling management services worldwide. With a fleet of 139 mobile offshore drilling units plus three ultra-deepwater units under construction, the company’s fleet is considered one of the most modern and versatile in the world due to its emphasis on technically demanding segments of the offshore drilling business. Its worldwide fleet is more than twice the size of the next-largest competitor. The company owns or operates a contract drilling fleet of 45 High-Specification Floaters (Ultra-Deepwater, Deepwater and Harsh-Environment semisubmersibles and drillships), 26 Midwater Floaters, 10 High-Specification Jackups, 55 Standard Jackups and other assets utilized in the support of offshore drilling activities worldwide.  For more information about Transocean, please visit our website at

SOURCE: Transocean Ltd.

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Posted in big oil, BP, Deepwater Horizon, Hyundai, Transocean | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »