Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.5 Earthquake hits the Cook Strait, New Zealand.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Santa Cruz Islands.

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

5.0 Earthquake hits Sumbawa, Indonesia.

Fracking Appears to Cause Quakes – USA

The deep injection into the ground of wastewater byproducts from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has caused a significant increase in U.S. earthquakes since the practice has recently become more widespread.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports that there were more than 300 earthquakes above magnitude 3.0 from 2010 to 2012, which is a five-fold increase from the average number of 21 tremors per year measured from 1967 to 2000.

There are now more than 30,000 deep disposal wells in the country, typically injecting leftover fluids from fracking wells used for natural gas extraction.

And while the actual practice of fracking has not been found to cause any significant seismic events, the far deeper injecting of wastewater from the practice has.

Sometimes the water is blasted into deep, dormant faults. USGS geologist William Ellsworth says that even faults that have not moved for millions of years can be made to slip if conditions are right.

But he points out that only a few of the approximately 30,000 wastewater wells appear to have caused the increase in tremors.

Columbia University scientists caution that powerful earthquakes thousands of miles away can trigger swarms of minor quakes near injection wells as the arriving seismic waves help release the local built-up pressure.

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Storms and Floods

Landslide in Colombia

Landslide in Colombia has claimed the lives of at least six people, injured 10 and left 26 others missing.

The landslide buried two buses, an ambulance and a tanker truck around 6 a.m. local time on a highway in southwest Colombia. The landslide washed away some 25,000 cubic meters of dirt and rubble.

Colombia landslide news rescue photo

NewsBytes:

At least 13 people are reported to have been injured in different lightning strikes in Colorado and Montana, USA.

Tropical storm Cimaron made landfall in Fujian Province in China on Thursday night with heavy rain and strong gales in Zhangpu County in the city of Zhangzhou

Heavy rain and floods have claimed the lives of at least nine people and displaced thousands of people in the Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh regions in India.

Wildlife

Russia Blocks Bid to Protect Antarctic Waters

Russia shot down a bid to create vast marine sanctuaries in Antarctica’s waters, rousing dismay among environmental groups.

Delegations from 24 countries and the European Union met in Germany this week to decide whether to adopt two proposals to designate Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around the frozen continent. But Russia, with some support from Ukraine, questioned the legal authority of the group to establish such reserves.

The MPAs would restrict fishing in certain areas and are designed to preserve habitats for iconic species, like whales and emperor penguins, and maintain sustainable stocks of commercially valuable fish in Antarctica’s fragile waters. One proposed MPA, submitted by the United States and New Zealand, would cover 2.3 million square kilometres of the Ross Sea; the other, put forth by Australia, France and the European Union, would create a group of seven protected areas in East Antarctica.

Both proposals had been submitted last October at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). When member nations failed to reach a consensus then, they called for this week’s special meeting in Germany. The delegates will take up the issue again at the next annual meeting, in Hobart, Tasmania.

Environment

Global Hottest and Coldest Temperatures

The week’s hottest temperature was 121.0 degrees Fahrenheit (49.5 degrees Celsius) at Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 104.4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 75.8 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok Antarctic research station.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Heat Wave on US East Coast.

The U.S. East Coast is sweating through a lingering heat wave this week. The sweltering heat and humidity have combined to keep temperatures hot even at night.

Heat waves are marked by at least three consecutive days of temperatures of at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).

Drought

Drought in Namibia

Northern Namibia is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years. Namibia, sub-saharan Africa’s driest country, is suffering its worst drought in a generation, with more than 100,000 children at risk of malnutrition. Drought has caused shortages of food and water mainly in Kavango, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Kunene.

Wildfires

Wildfires USA

California

A fast-growing wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains of southern California has forced the evacuation of 6000 people and hundreds of homes. No injuries have yet been reported, and authorities say so far only 15% of the blaze has been contained.

Disease

Novel Coronavirus – Saudi Arabia – Update

WHO has been informed of six additional laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Of these, two cases have been reported from Saudi Arabia and four from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Churchill (United States, Eastern Alaska): A seismic swarm with magnitudes up to 3.5 has been occurring in the Wrangell Arc about 40 km NE of Mt. Churchill volcano during the past few days. The intensity and frequency of the quakes has calmed down yesterday. While some few of the quakes are near the volcano, most are not, and the swarm is probably not linked to the volcanic system of Mt Churchill volcano.

Long Valley (California): Normal seismic activity with numerous tiny earthquakes continues to occur at the southern and western parts of the caldera as well as under Mammoth mountain. There are no signs of a possible eruption in a near future.

Colima (Western Mexico): Although the volcano is no longer making much news, a lava flow continues to effuse as a viscous flow on the upper eastern flank of the volcano.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity has been comparably low with an average of 1-2 emissions of steam and gas, sometimes some ash, per hour during the past days. The strong explosion from 12 July has effectively destroyed the new lava dome, an aerial inspection via helicopter on 15 July showed. In the past 24 hours, a number of volcanic-tectonic quakes have appeared, which could indicate that a new batch of magma is currently intruding, and lead to another phase of increased activity soon. The alert level remains unchanged at Yellow Phase 3.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Not much has changed in the generally weak activity. Occasional explosions, sometimes moderately large, occur at irregular intervals. One yesterday morning at 05:59 local time produced an ash plume of 700 m height and ash fall in areas to the SW. The lava flow on the southern flank of the dome remains active and produces small rock avalanches.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Mild strombolian activity from the Mackenney crater continues.

Fuego (Guatemala): The lava flow on the southern side has remained active and was about 250 m long this morning, producing near-constant rockfalls towards the Taniluya canyon. At the summit, there are occasional strombolian explosions with incandescent material ejected to 100-125 m height above the crater.

Telica (Nicaragua): The swarm of small earthquakes continues with little changes over the past days.

San Cristobal (Nicaragua): Some elevated seismicity was recorded at the volcano during recent days and continues. This includes phases of harmonic tremor and long-period events.

Turrialba (Costa Rica): The seismic swarm continues but has decreased in strength during the past day.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): After the strong vulcanian explosion on 14 July, the volcano calmed down first, but resumed activity on 16 July which has been characterized by ash venting and small to moderate explosions and is continuing. This activity was accompanied by the appearance of tremor and long-period earthquakes indicative of fluid movements. In addition, inflation is measured at the NW flank, suggesting that more magma is rising, and could lead to new powerful explosions similar to the one from last Sunday.

Sabancaya (Peru): A strong seismic swarm has occurred during the past days under the volcano, culminating in a magnitude 5.9 earthquake on 16 July. The swarm consisted almost entirely of volcanic-tectonic quakes, that relate to rock fracturing due to rapid pressure changes and might be caused by an intrusion of magma. IGP reports that up to 1500 earthquakes were recorded per day. At the moment, the swarm still continues, but is decreasing. No changes of activity have been noticed at the surface. The number of long-period quakes (thought to correspond to internal movements of magma, gasses and other fluids) has remained low.