Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

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

Storms and Floods


Avalanche in Bulgaria’s Rila Mountain has claimed life of a 54-year-old military pilot. The Mountain Rescue Service found the body of the man covered with snow.


Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

On 20 December 2013, WHO has been informed of four additional laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Etna (Sicily, Italy): The volcano has remained mostly calm. Ash emissions from the NE crater decreased and tremor fluctuated at low levels over the holidays.

Kizimen (Kamchatka): Activity has picked up at the volcano again. An ash plume was reported this morning by VAAC Tokyo to 17,000 ft (5 km) altitude extending north. Webcam images show a significant steam plume which possibly contains ash.

This suggests that the lava dome might be entering a new phase of growth. KVERT still maintains the volcano at status “Green” (normal).

Karymsky (Kamchatka): Strombolian to mild vulcanian explosions continue at the volcano. VAAC Tokyo reported an ash plume at 15,000 ft (4,5 km) altitude drifting NW this morning.

Nishino-shima (Volcano Islands, Japan): The recently born new Niijima island merged with the main island Nishino-Jima yesterday. Both are in fact two summits of the same volcanic edifice. Activity continues to enlarge the new land by lava flows and occasional strombolian explosions.

Suwanose-jima (Ryukyu Islands): A small explosion occurred this morning (JST time) at the volcano; VAAC Tokyo reported an ash plume at 4,000 ft (1,2 km) altitude.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): The volcano has been relatively calm and only produced a steam plume sometimes mixed with ash, but no new significant explosions. Local media talk about a new lava dome spotted at the summit, but evidence (weak red glow at night and blurred photos etc) is still very weak and should be confirmed.

On the other hand, it is a perfectly realistic scenario that the volcano, after having “cleared its throat” during the recent explosions, continues to erupt viscous lava that rises slowly and builds a lava dome at the vent(s).

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): After several months with little activity, an ash plume was spotted again by VAAC Darwin yesterday, with an estimated altitude of 10,000 ft (3 km). The new lava dome probably continues to produce occasional collapse events and explosions.

Dukono (Halmahera): Explosive activity continues to be elevated. Several ash plumes to estimated 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude were spotted on satellite imagery by VAAC Darwin over the past days.