Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Guatemala.

5.0 Earthquake hits Tonga.

Earthquake swarm continues around El Hierro in the Canary Islands. Around 230 earthquakes have been recorded west of Frontera, from yesterday (March 27) till today (08:00 GMT). Most of the earthquakes are less than magnitude 3.0.

Storms and Floods

Landslide in Washington State, USA.

A landslide thundered through a subdivision in Washington state’s Whidbey Island north of Seattle on Wednesday, destroying one home and threatening more than 30 others.



Landslide in Puchong, Malaysia

A landslide in Puchong, Malaysia has displaced about 300 people. However no casualties have been reported.

Hailstorm in Assam, India

Hailstorm in Assam, India has injured six people and damaged more than 50 houses.

The hailstorm caused damage in the following areas: Titabor, Rajabahar, Madhupur, Tipomia, Majuli, Numaligarh and Bongaon.

Wind Gust in Australia Claims 2

A wall collapsed due to strong wind gust on Swanston Street in Melbourne has claimed the lives of two pedestrians. A 19-year-old woman was also injured.


Floods in Malawi

Thousands of residents have been rendered homeless in the area of Traditional Authority Kilupula in Karonga district following severe floods that have destroyed their houses.

Nature – Images

Interesting Images:

An undersea volcano is seen erupting off the coast of Tonga, sending plumes of steam, ash and smoke hundreds of feet into the air on March 18, 2009.

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Mount Fuji lenticular clouds.

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Arctic Ice Loss May Drive Extreme Weather Patterns

Several researchers say that warming conditions in the Arctic may be weakening jet stream currents and causing extreme weather systems to linger in northern mid-latitudes.

Climate scientists have blamed melting sea ice for causing extreme winter in North America and Europe during this winter. Thickness of the ice is also a concern among the environmental scientists.

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The jet stream is a band of very strong winds that blow from west to east, several miles above the earth’s surface. Normally, these powerful winds push weather systems around, preventing them from staying in one place for very long.

However, the loss of sea ice in recent decades has allowed Arctic waters to absorb more heat energy from the sun, which has in turn heated the atmosphere above the water.

This heating influences atmospheric pressure and appears to be slowing the westerly jet stream. Instead of flowing quickly and in a relatively straight line, like a river down a mountain, the winds mimic a slower, meandering river.

Arctic sea ice is referred to as the planet’s air conditioner, due to its influence on global temperatures. Last year, Arctic sea ice reached its lowest level in the satellite age.

This rate of sea ice loss is faster than what models predicted. Now, some experts say, the Arctic could experience a nearly ice-free summer by 2020.


Madagascar Hit By ‘Severe’ Plague Of Locusts

A severe plague of locusts has infested about half of Madagascar, threatening crops and raising concerns about food shortages. Billions of the plant-devouring insects could cause hunger for 60% of the population.

Currently, about half the country is infested by hoppers and flying swarms – each swarm made up of billions of plant-devouring insects. About two-thirds of the island country will be affected by the locust plague by September 2013 if no action is taken.

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Two bushfires threaten Victoria towns

A fast-moving bushfire west of Melbourne has claimed several buildings, with at least 40 more houses under threat. Three firefighters and one resident have been reportedly injured.

An emergency warning was also issued for a separate bushfire at Hallston, east of Melbourne. The fast-moving, out-of-control fire was expected to threaten the communities of Hallston, Dickies Hill Junction, Allambee South, Berrys Creek.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): It seems that activity has shifted a bit from effusive to explosive. The tremor signal has shown an increase today and includes very powerful explosion signals. On the other hand, lava overflows from the NE vent have decreased during the past days.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): 10 days since the last paroxysm, tremor is still low and doesn’t suggest a new eruption is imminent. Bad weather mostly prevented observations during the past days. No glow could be seen last night from any of the summit craters.

Askja (Central Iceland): Small earthquakes have also been more frequent under and near the Askja caldera and Bardabunga volcano (to the SW of Askja) in the past few days.

Krafla (Northeastern Iceland): A weak swarm of earthquakes has occurred at Krafla over the past days.

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): After a day of weakened activity, the seismic swarm has increased with higher energy tremor and stronger earthquakes than ever. Hundreds of earthquakes have occurred so far, including about 25 > magnitude 3 and no less than 4 above magnitude 4 (M4.1-4.6). It seems plausible that magma has once again built up pressure and has broken new fractures into the low crust beneath the NW part of the volcanic edifice. Many quakes are now at 11-15 km depth, i.e. the epicenters, or the likely present location of the intruding magma, has perhaps started to rise. The likelihood of a new eruption in a possible near future thus once again increased.

Manam (Papua New Guinea): A weak SO2 plume is visible today above Manam, indicating some ongoing activity. A hot spot at the summit is visible on MODIS data, likely indicating that a lava dome is growing there.

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): Another ash plume was reported today rising to about 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude and drifting 20-30 nautical miles to the NE.

Colima (Western Mexico): Activity has continued to increase both internally and at the surface, with frequent explosions and glowing rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows traveling down the flank of the volcano.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): The rate of steam and sometimes ash emissions climbed to over 3 per hour yesterday. The larger emissions produced plumes with some ash content up to 1 km above the crater. SO2 emission remains elevated.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Activity remains more or less unchanged, but relatively weak. The volcano observatory reported to have heard 5 explosions during the past night, and notes ongoing weak to moderate avalanches from the active lava flows on the flanks of the Caliente lava dome.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Weak explosions producing small plumes of steam and some ash and degassing were reported this morning.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity remains at weak levels, with 9 small to moderate explosions generating ash plumes rising up to 800 m above the crater and drifting W and SW where fine ash fall occurred.

Telica (Nicaragua): The earthquake swarm still continues and appears to show a slow trend towards increasing magnitude earthquakes including a magnitude 3 event two days ago.

San Cristobal (Nicaragua): A series of probably volcanic earthquakes of magnitudes between 2.8 and 4.9 shock the volcano during last Sunday evening (local time), and INETERS has increased monitoring of the volcano.


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.0 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.6 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.4 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits Hokkaido, Japan.

Storms and Floods

Russian coal mine flooding disaster: 4 missing

At least four miners are missing in a coal mine flooding disaster in the Kemerovo region, Russia. The flooding was caused by construction work at the Osinnikovskaya.

139 other miners however, managed to escape the flooding. Three of the miners sustained minor injuries.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Hekla (Iceland): The Icelandic Meteorological Office has informed authorities about unusual seismicity at Hekla volcano, which could be a precursor to a new eruption, and increased the volcanic alert level to yellow. Monitoring of the volcano will be intensified, as Hekla is not only one of the most active, but also one of the potentially most hazardous volcanoes of the country. The last eruption was in March 2000. On average, the volcano has been erupting about every 10 years, and it would statistically seen be due for a new one. “Uncertainty level” was declared by Civil Protection as the lowest of 3 alert levels in case of natural hazards.

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): Earthquakes (more than 120 > M2 today so far) and volcanic tremor continue to be intense, and inflation has reached 10 cm on stations (HI05) located in western El Hierro. The foci of the quakes remains at about 15 km depth 5-10 km NW off the western top of the island, i.e. at the boundary to the crust beneath the island, suggesting that the still moving magma is for now not rising siginficantly into the harder layers that compose the islands’ edifice. Whether and when this changes, i.e. magma starts to move vertically towards an eruption, is impossible to day, but a real possibility. The situation has not changed much. The seismic swarm continues with pulsating medium to strong tremor and frequent earthquakes, in more or less the same area as yesterday, 5-10 km NW off the island at depths mostly between 13-20 km. The average magnitudes of quakes has continued to increase: yesterday alone, there were almost 50 earthquakes >magnitude 3 – probably a record number for El Hierro, including 2 quakes of M4 and 4.1. This trend is continuing today.

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): The volcano has again become a regular visitor in today’s eruption list. A new ash plume rising to 7,000 ft (2.1 km) was spotted today on satellite data by VAAC Darwin.

White Island (New Zealand): In recent days, seismic activity including volcanic tremor have risen again. In its latest statement, GNS Science reported that “a pattern of repeating minor activity has become established at White Island over the last month.” “Periods of passive steaming and degassing have been accompanied by very low levels of volcanic tremor. This activity has alternated with minor mud and steam explosions from the active crater when there has been strong volcanic tremor. Tremor episodes have lasted from less than one day to over a week.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity has been showing a weakly increasing trend. Yesterday, the rate of explosions climbs to almost 2 per hour, with the largest ejecting glowing bombs to up to 500 m distance and producing plumes of steam and some ash rising 1.5 km above the crater. Satellite data continue show significant degassing. Today’s seismogram shows the strong trace of some of the regional M4-5 earthquakes that hit Mexico today.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): INSIVUMEH reports no significant changes in activity. The lava dome has been a little bit less explosive recently but continues to effuse blocky lava flows that descend its flanks and produce weak to moderate avalanches.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Weak strombolian activity continues at the McKenney crater.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity is characterized by occasional weak to moderate strombolian explosions producing ash plumes rising 600-1000 m above the crater. Fine ash fall has been recorded in Panimaché I y II, Morelia and Santa Sofía.

Telica (Nicaragua): The earthquake swarm, presumably caused by a magmatic intrusion at shallow depth, still continues with hundreds of tiny quakes up to about magnitude 2 each day.

Reventador (Ecuador): Activity has remained stable at fluctuating moderate levels, but can rarely be observed directly due to near-constant cloud cover. Explosions and volcanic tremor, sometimes strong as earlier today, are visible on seismic recordings.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): The volcano has continued to calm down, both internally (seismicity) and externally. IG reported only weak steaming in recent days.

Heard (Australia, Southern Indian Ocean): The Smithsonian / GVP monthly Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network for Jan 2013 confirms that Heard Island volcano is in eruption. A series of satellite images compared side by side show that the volcano started to produce lava (over-)flows from the summit crater of the Mawson Peak on the SE flank since December past year.


Europe money crisis leads to poor health

Harsh spending cuts by debt-crippled European governments are also being partly blamed for outbreaks of diseases not normally seen in Europe and a spike in suicides, new research shows.

Since the crisis struck in 2008, state-run welfare and health services across Europe have seen their budgets cut, medical treatments rationed and unpopular measures such as hospital user fees introduced.

Those countries that have slashed public spending the hardest – Greece, Spain and Portugal – have fared the worst medically.

“Austerity measures haven’t solved the economic problems and they have also created big health problems,” said Martin McKee, a professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the research.

He said worsening health was driven not just by unemployment, but by the lack of a welfare system to fall back on.

“People need to have hope that the government will help them through this difficult time,” he said.

The paper was published online on Wednesday in a special series of the journal Lancet.

McKee said Greece in particular was struggling.

Based on government data, he and colleagues found suicides rose by 40 per cent in 2011 compared to the previous year.

Last year, the country also reported an exponential rise in the number of HIV cases among drug users, due in part to addicts sharing contaminated syringes after needle exchange programs were dropped.

In recent years, Greece has also battled outbreaks of malaria, West Nile virus and dengue fever.


Novel Coronavirus Infection – Update

The Robert Koch Institute has informed WHO of a new confirmed case of infection with the novel coronavirus (nCoV). The patient was a 73-year-old male from United Arab Emirates.

To date, WHO has been informed of a global total of 17 confirmed cases of human infection with nCoV, including 11 deaths.


Newcastle Disease Outbreak in Israel

The Israeli veterinary authorities have reported an outbreak of Newcastle disease at a breeding farm in Hazafon.

Out of a total of 10680 susceptible birds, 30 deaths were reported. The remaining 10650 birds were destroyed.


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.2 Earthquake hits Guatemala.

5.7 Earthquake hits south of the Kermedec Islands.

5.5 Earthquake hits the Sumba region, Indonesia.

5.4 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.3 Earthquake hits offshore Oaxaca, Mexico.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Oaxaca, Mexico.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Alaska peninsula.

5.0 Earthquake hits Antofagasta, Chile.

Storms and Floods

Waterspout in Maguindanao, Philippines

Waterspout in Liguasan River in Maguindanao region of Philippines has killed 10 people including two children when a passenger boat sank.

There were altogether 18 passengers in the boat. Six passengers managed to survive but two are still reported to be missing

Avalanche in Glacier National Park of Canada

An avalanche in Canada’s Glacier National Park near Revelstoke has claimed the life of one skier.

Canadian Avalanche Centre has rated this avalanche 2.5 (from 1 to 5).


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): The likelihood of a new submarine eruption in the near future is increasing. Earthquakes and pulsating strong tremor continued with little changes, indicators of magma intruding into new dikes in the western rift zone. There is also a trend towards stronger quakes (about 20 magnitude 3+ events including a M4 this morning) and shallower earthquakes (many at around 11-12 km depth today). This suggests that magma is slowly breaking pathways upwards, i.e. towards the seafloor. The area has remained about 5 km off shore NW from the western tip of the island, ie. under the submarine prolongation of the volcano’s western rift zone. This is where now a new eruption should be expected, if the magma does not decide to migrate laterally once again.

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): (25 Mar) Our friend Rainer Albiez just sent us the following report from Sakurajima, which is currently in a comparably lower phase of activity: “… just to give you short eruption update from Sakuajima volcano. Thursday it had 2 eruptions (according to visitor center info) in the period from Friday to Sunday 9 pm no eruption. Just mild strombolian activity in the crater, very few times 2-3 stones came over the rim. Very loud degassing and severe ash emissions. Weather conditions were not good (very misty, often cloudy partly raining) With high iso camera a a glow was visible within the crater (orange reflections in the clouds) but with eyes it was nearly not possible to see the glow (very light shine sometimes). Observation position was east of the crater.”

Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea): An explosion produced an ash plume rising to 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude which drifted 25 nautical miles to the east. (VAAC Darwin)

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): More explosions have been recorded by satellite data. This morning, an ash plume rose to 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude and drifted 25 nautical miles to the east. (VAAC Darwin)

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): The lava dome remains active and regularly produces explosions and collapses with possible pyroclastic flows. VAAC Darwin reported an ash plume to 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude and extending 30 nautical miles to the west this morning.

Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): A series of 3 moderately large explosions occurred this morning between 05:12 and 07:30 local time, and was followed by small ash emissions during the whole morning. The largest eruption produced an ash column rising about 2 km above the crater.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity has remained similar to previous weeks. The number of small explosions has risen a bit yesterday (1-2 per hour), and some of them were strong enough to eject glowing bombs to up to 500 m distance from the crater and creating ash plumes rising to about 23,000 ft (7 km) altitude or 1-1.5 km above the crater, drifting east. At night, glow continues to be visible, and a significant SO2 emission, both of which confirm that fresh magma is rising into the growing lava dome.

Telica (Nicaragua): Earthquake activity in the ongoing seismic swarm remains very high and there have been a few magnitude 2+ quakes at shallow depths today as well. There has not been any report from INETER yet.

Heard (Australia, Southern Indian Ocean): A significant heat source continues to show up on MODIS satellite data. A recent (9 March) EO1-Hyperion (NASA) satellite picture shows what could be a lava lake in the summit crater of Mawson Peak. This would be something in the line of the little what is known about the typical activity of Heard volcano, which has now been in eruption probably since end of September 2012.