Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.8 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.7 Earthquake hits the southern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.6 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.5 Earthquake hits Jujuy, Argentina.

5.4 Earthquake hits the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits Antofagasta, Chile.

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

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storm Andrea

After bringing rains, heavy winds and even tornadoes to parts of Florida, Tropical Storm Andrea moved quickly across south Georgia and was speeding through the Carolinas and moving up the East Coast, USA.

Southwestern Nova Scotia and much of the Maritimes are bracing for a good soaking this weekend from the remnants of tropical storm Andrea as it is expected to weaken.

Floods in Western Cuba

Heavy rains in westernmost Cuba from what later became Tropical Storm Andrea have destroyed tons of warehoused tobacco leaves, flooded farms and cut electricity to several parts of Pinar del Rio province.

Central European Floods

The crest of the flood-swollen Danube River surged toward the Hungarian capital of Budapest on Friday and Saturday, while communities along the Elbe in Germany braced for high water as the river churned toward the North Sea.

Agriculture in Central Europe has been hard hit by floods—the worst some regions have seen in more than 500 years—while industry analysts estimate the economic damage could top that seen in similar flooding in the region in 2002.

Environment

The Amazon Rainforest’s Silent Killer – Understory Fires

Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest may capture most of the headlines, but NASA scientists have found a previously-undiscovered killer lurking under the tree tops: understory fires.

The extent of damage caused by these fires is so great that it has destroyed more of the Amazon in recent years than deforestation.

These understory fires have escaped NASA’s satellites throughout the years because they are hidden from view and all that escapes through the thick tree canopies are wisps of smoke.

Amazon forests are quite vulnerable to fire.

According to the study, understory fires between 1999 and 2010 ravaged 2.8 percent of the Amazon, or 33,000 square miles of forest. While grasses and shrubs in the Amazon savannah can handle fires that can spread up to 330 feet per minute, the trees and plants underneath the thick forest canopy cannot. Understory fires burn at a slow rate of only a few feet per minute, but destroy 10-50 percent of the burn area’s trees. A slow but efficient killer of the forest.

Amazon rainforest fires

Disease

Swine Flu Epidemic in Venezuela

Representatives from the Venezuelan Infectious Diseases Society reported on Friday that the AH1N1 virus which has infected 724 individuals has practically spread over the whole country, which expresses signs of an epidemic disease totaling 23 people dead.

Considering that events of AH1N1 have been reported in 20 out of 23 states of Venezuela in individuals of all ages, “we have shifted from an epidemic disease outbreak to epidemic disease.”

Wildfires

Wildfires – New Mexico, USA

It’s been a week since the Thompson Ridge Fire broke out in the Jemez Mountains, and it’s now the largest of three major wildfire in the state. As of Friday morning it was reported at more than 14,000 acres with 10 percent containment.

Firefighters are on their way to four new wildfires reported across the Santa Fe National Forest and near Cimarron.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Etna (Sicily, Italy): During a visit to the summit craters today, we could observe a new hot fumarole in the western pit of the Bocca Nuova, increased bluish degassing from a vent in the saddle between the old and new SE crater and hear deep-seated explosions inside the NE crater. Apart from this, Etna seems to continue its “sleep”. Tremor levels have been low during the past weeks, and no eruptive activity has been observed from any of the summit craters since early May.

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): During the past 5 days, no explosions have been recorded by Tokyo VAAC. It seems that the volcano is currently taking a rest and at very low levels of activity, with no or only very small explosions occurring.

Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea): Eruptions continue at Bagana. Occasionally, ash plumes are detected on satellite data such as on 4 June when a plume at 8,000 ft (2.4 km) altitude extended 20 nautical miles to the west. (VAAC Darwin)

Ibu (Halmahera, Indonesia): The alert level of the volcano was raised to 3 (“Siaga”, “alarm”) on a scale of 1-4 by the Indonesian Volcanological Survey. The remote volcano on Halmahera island is rarely visited, but reports from the ground suggest it has been in a state of near-permanent (mostly strombolian) activity for years.

Pavlov (Alaska Peninsula, USA): The renewed eruptive activity (since 4 June) continues at low to moderate levels, accompanied by increased seismic activity. AVO reported low lava fountaining, although webcam images of the plume are more consistent with classic strombolian-type activity. Yesterday morning, ash emissions rose to 14-18,000 ft (4.2-5.6 km) altitude and drifted about 45 km SW. Satellite images show elevated surface temperatures at the summit, consistent with mild explosive and perhaps effusive activity.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity has not changed much and remained comparably low, with about 3 weak to moderate emissions of steam and gas per hour. Occasionally, some of them contained small amounts of ash. Yesterday, 4 volcanic-tectonic quakes of magnitudes between 2.1 and 2.7 occurred.

Pacaya (Guatemala): An emission of fine ash occurred this morning at 04:00 local time, but INSIVUMEH reports no other (e.g. strombolian) activity but degassing from the crater at the moment.

Fuego (Guatemala): The level of activity has been generally very weak recently. During yesterday-today, only two small strombolian explosions were counted. Similarly, the Santiaguito lava dome has been rather calm as well.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): Seismic unrest and elevated degassing (high SO2 output) continue, but no significant eruptive activity at the surface has been observed recently.

Copahue (Chile/Argentina): Seismic unrest continues, but the number and energy of quakes has been decreasing in recent days.