Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global
5.0 Earthquake hits south of Java, Indonesia.
5.0 Earthquake hits the Xixang-Qinghai border region, China.
Fierce Typhoons Spread Japan’s Nuclear Contamination
An unusually active and fierce typhoon season in Japan has brought a fresh flood of hazardous cesium particles from the country’s Fukushima nuclear disaster zone to areas downstream, researchers say. A joint study by France’s Climate and Environmental Science Laboratory and Japan’s Tsukuba University finds that people who escaped the initial fallout from reactor meltdowns in March 2011 could now find their food and water contaminated by the radioactive particles as typhoon runoff penetrates agricultural land and coastal plains.
The five typhoons that struck Japan during October alone were the most ever recorded during the month. Two other named storms struck the archipelago during September.
Earlier studies found that soil erosion from the tropical cyclones can move the radioactive isotopes cesium-134 and -137 from the mountains near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant into rivers and then out into the Pacific.
The latest research concludes that typhoons “strongly contribute” to soil dispersal, though it can be months later, after the winter snow melts, that nuclear contamination finally runs off into rivers.
In the North Indian Ocean:
Tropical cyclone Madi is located approximately located about 560 km east-northeast of Chennai, India and 820 km north-northeast of Sri Lanka.
The cyclonic storm Madi situated over the southwest Bay of Bengal waned on Monday evening and moved northwards on Tuesday and will not have any major effect on Kerala, India.
Lebanon – Winter storm. The UN says it is “extremely concerned” for Syrian refugees in Lebanon as a fierce winter storm bears down. There has been snow, rain, high winds and freezing temperatures in the north of the country and the Bekaa Valley, home to more than 200 informal camps. Syrian refugees are living in makeshift homes in the harsh winter conditions. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it was “working harder than ever” to protect the more than 800,000 Syrians sheltering in Lebanon. At least 80,000 refugees will have to spend the winter in tents. Many others are living in unfinished or unheated buildings with only slightly more protection. Items have been stockpiled to help refugees whose shelters might be damaged or destroyed, including plastic sheeting, floor mats, blankets and mattresses.
RIP Comet ISON
Comet ISON broke apart during its highly anticipated solar flyby on Nov. 28, emerging from behind the sun as a diffuse cloud of dust that has since all but dissipated in the darkness of deep space.
Comet ISON, which was discovered by two Russian amateur astronomers in September 2012, was making its first trip to the inner solar system from the distant and frigid Oort Cloud. The comet skimmed just 684,000 miles (1.1 million kilometres) above the surface of the sun on Nov. 28.
Comet ISON’s perilous journey was tracked closely by skywatchers, who hoped the icy wanderer would put on a great celestial show, and scientists, who watched the gases boiling off ISON to learn more about comet composition and structure.
Both groups had hoped the viewing campaign would last beyond perihelion, or closest approach, but Comet ISON couldn’t survive the sun’s intense heat and powerful gravitational pull.
“At this point, it seems like there’s nothing left,” comet expert Karl Battams, of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., said here today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
Comet ISON comes in from the bottom right and moves out toward the upper right, getting fainter and fainter, in this time-lapse image from the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory on Nov. 28, 2013. The image of the sun at the centre is from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:
Etna (Sicily, Italy): The situation has remained more or less unchanged. Etna has been quiet except intense degassing from the NE crater and a faint plume from the NSEC. There are currently no signs of the expected next paroxysm at the New SE crater and tremor has decreased overall during the past days (of course, this can change quickly).
Klyuchevskoy (Kamchatka): Low-level ash emissions continue.
Nishino-shima (Volcano Islands, Japan): Activity has decreased significantly over the past days. A video from 10 December shows no more strombolian explosions, only degassing and no significant changes to the size of the island compared to a week ago. It is possible that there is still weak effusion of lava, but it appears that the eruption could have come to an end.
Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): No ash emissions have been detected during the past 48 hours, the crater shows only a degassing plume, but alert level remains at red, because new explosions could occur any time. The government has extended the emergency status until at least 21 December, which implies that the more than 17,000 evacuees remain in the total of 31 shelters. Their situation is difficult, with help needed in form of food, water, medicines and sanitary supplies.
Merapi (Central Java): Another small phreatic explosion occurred at the summit lava dome this morning at 08:10 local time. it produced an ash plume rising 500 m. According to VSI, rainwater infiltration into the hot rocks of the dome caused the eruption.