Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.8 Earthquake hits the Pagan region in the North Mariana Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Kamchatka, Russia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Cyclone Mahasen was located approximately 562 nm south-southwest of Kolkata, India. Eight people have been reported killed and four others injured due to heavy rainfall caused by Cyclone Mahasen in Andhra Pradesh, India. Cyclone Mahasen is predicted to cross between the Northern Rakhine (Myanmar)and Bangladesh Coasts on evening of 16th May. Flooding caused by Cyclone Mahasen in Sri Lanka has killed two and injured eight others.

Tornado in Hungary

A rare tornado in Hungary has injured at least two persons. The north-eastern regions of Hungary bordering on Romania is reported to be hardest hit by the tornado which damaged dozens of homes and knocked down power lines and trees.

Other News:

A severe storm in Ghana which is currently at the Ghana-Togo border is expected to hit Greater Accra, other parts of Ghana today.


‘Red List’ of Endangered Ecosystems

With many of the world’s ecosystems threatened or endangered by human activities like logging and urbanization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its criteria for a new “Red List” of endangered ecosystems.

Alvar beach

The list, which measures an ecosystem’s risk of collapse, will be similar to the group’s authoritative Red List of Endangered Species, which created internationally accepted criteria for assessing extinction risk.

Here are the 20 case studies published today, from most to least endangered, with the ecosystem type noted if available.

Aral Sea — Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan: freshwater, collapsed

Raised bogs — Germany: critically endangered

Gonakier forests — Senegal River floodplain: freshwater, critically endangered

Cape Sand Flats — Fynbos, South Africa: terrestrial, critically endangered

Coorong lagoons — Australia: freshwater/marine, critically endangered

Karst rising springs — Southern Australia: freshwater, critically endangered

Coastal sandstone upland swamps — Australia: freshwater, endangered/critically endangered

Swamps, marshes and lakes in the Murray-Darling Basin — Australia: freshwater, endangered/critically endangered

Giant kelp forests — Alaska: marine, endangered/critically endangered

Caribbean coral reefs — Caribbean: marine, endangered/critically endangered

Seagrass meadows — Southern Australia: marine, endangered-critically endangered

German tamarisk pioneer vegetation — Europe: freshwater, endangered

Coolibah-Black Box woodland — Australia: freshwater/terrestrial, endangered

Tapia forest — Madagascar: terrestrial, endangered

Semi-evergreen vine thicket — Australia: terrestrial, endangered

Great Lakes Alvars — United States and Canada: terrestrial, vulnerable/endangered

Reed beds — Europe: freshwater, vulnerable

Floodplain ecosystem of river red gum and black box — southeastern Australia: freshwater, vulnerable

Tepui shrubland – Venezuela: terrestrial, least concern

Granite gravel fields and sand plains – New Zealand: terrestrial, least concern


Elephant Tramples Poacher in Zimbabwe

In a grim karmic twist, a suspected poacher illegally hunting African elephants was trampled to death by his prey in Charara National Park near Lake Kariba in northwestern Zimbabwe.

Elephant massacre

Populations of forest elephants have plummeted by 62 percent over the past 10 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Space Events

Powerful Solar Flares

A huge solar flare erupted from the surface of the sun late Sunday (May 12), followed by an even more powerful blast less than 24 hours later. The solar eruptions are the most powerful ones seen so far this year.

Sunday’s flare unleashed a wave of plasma and charged particles, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), into space. While the CME was not directed at Earth, the weekend flare triggered an hourlong high-frequency radio blackout, according to the Space Weather Prediction Centre, which is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When they are aimed directly at Earth, X-class solar flares can interfere with satellites in orbit and communications infrastructure on the ground. Powerful sun storms can also be hazardous to astronauts living aboard the International Space Station.

On Earth, solar eruptions can cause radiation storms that intensify normal aurora displays (also called the northern and southern lights) for skywatchers at high latitudes.

Solar activity ebbs and flows on an 11-year cycle. The sun is currently in an active phase of Solar Cycle 24, which began in 2008 and is expected to peak later this year.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Pavlov (Alaska Peninsula, USA): A new eruption has probably started. AVO raised the alert level to orange, following an increase in seismic activity this morning along with the presence of an intense thermal anomaly at the summit observed in latest satellite imagery. Similar patterns of seismicity and elevated surface temperatures have previously signalled the onset of eruptive activity at Pavlof. Although not yet visually confirmed, a low-level eruption of lava has likely begun from a summit vent. No ash clouds have been detected.

Kizimen (Kamchatka): Activity continues with little changes. Video data showed that the lava dome is still active and produces incandescence and hot avalanches on the western and eastern flanks. Strong and moderate gas-steam activity accompany this process. Satellite data showed a thermal anomaly over the volcano. (KVERT)

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): Although tremor continues to decrease very slowly, KVERT reports that fluid lava is still being erupted from the vent on the southern fissure. MODIS satellite data still show a large hot spot, confirming that the eruption might be longer lasting than thought.

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): The lava dome continues to be active and produce explosions and small pyroclastic flows from time to time, generating ash plumes rising to 7-10,000 ft such as today.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity at the volcano continues to increase. A relatively long phase of strong volcanic tremor today and high levels of SO2 output suggests that the rise of magma is accelerating. A continuous plume of steam and some ash was observed last night reaching 1 km high, in addition to intermittent explosions. Lava glow at night is now strong.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): A small seismic swarm, likely caused by the rise of another new small batch of magma, occurred this morning at the volcano. The hyopcenters were located 4 km SW of the Arenas crater at depths between 4-6 km, INGEOMINAS reported.