Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.3 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

5.7 Earthquake hits the Fiji region.

5.5 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

5.4 Earthquake hits the Izu Islands off Japan.

5.3 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

5.1 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

5.1 Earthquake hits offshore Nayarit, Mexico.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Xinjiang-Xizang border region, China.

5.1 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Taluad, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical depression Four [Caloy] is located approximately 225 nm northeast of Zamboanga, Philippines. The final advisory has been issued on this system.

‘Caloy’ makes landfall, leaves 1781 passengers stranded – Tropical Depression Caloy made landfall over Mindanao Saturday morning. “Caloy” weakened into a low-pressure area after making landfall over Surigao del Sur Saturday.

In the Indian Ocean:

Tropical cyclone Gillian is located approximately 420 nm east of Cocos Island, Australia.

NewsBytes:

USA – Huge Washington Landslide Kills Three and Dams a River – Three people were killed and eight injured in a mile-long landslide near Seattle that demolished at least six houses Saturday morning, blocked roads and dammed a river, bringing fears of a major flood.

Environment

Solar Power

The world’s largest solar thermal power plant that employs generating towers opened last month on the edge of California’s Mojave Desert.

The Ivanpaw Solar Electric Generating System consists of three towers that are surrounded by an array of more than 170,000 mirrors.

Those sun-following reflectors focus enough sunlight onto a small portion of the tower to generate enough power for 140,000 homes.

The facility, owned by NRG Energy, Google and BrightSource Energy, formally opened on February 17 and has a capacity of 392 megawatts.

But pilots flying over the array have complained of “nearly blinding” glare from the vast field of mirrors.

“In my opinion the reflection from these mirrors was a hazard to flight because for a brief time I could not scan the sky in that direction to look for other aircraft,” one pilot wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Many other pilots said they have not had a problem flying over Ivanpah.

The Press-Enterprise reports that dozens of daily flights from Southern California to Las Vegas’ busy McCarran International Airport cross the California-Nevada border above or near the solar plant.

Some conservation groups have expressed concern about the plant’s threat to birds, which can be harmed or killed by the intense heat above the mirror arrays.

But proponents of this new solar energy facility say that the complex will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 400,000 tons per year.

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Wildlife

Large Dolphin Pod Dies After Becoming Trapped in Sea Ice

Canadian fisheries officials say about 40 white-beaked dolphins died after becoming trapped in jagged pack ice off the coast of Newfoundland.

The marine mammals struggled for days to stay alive in shallow water with no easy way to escape from ice that was hugging the shores of Cape Ray.

Footage taken by a resident and posted online shows the water tinted red with blood as the dolphins tried to get free.

White-beaked dolphins, which can weigh up to 660 pounds, are typically among the first marine mammals to arrive in the waters around Newfoundland as spring approaches, according to Wayne Ledwell of the region’s nonprofit group Whale Release and Strandings.

He says his records show more than 400 whales, dolphins and porpoises have been reported trapped in the ice around Newfoundland since the 1970s.

“Situations when marine animals become trapped in ice are very unfortunate, but do occur in the marine ecosystem (especially when ice conditions are extreme),” Larry Vaters of the Fishers and Oceans Department told reporters in an e-mail.

A fisheries expert said the unique geography and currents in the area form a natural trap for marine animals when there is heavy ice.

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Disease

Ebola Outbreak Spreading in Africa

An Ebola outbreak has killed up to 59 people in Africa.

The outbreak, which has been going on in the southeastern region of Guinea since February, has infected at least 80 people so far, and may have spread to neighboring Sierra Leone, according to the government.The World Health Organization is sending a team to do additional testing, as well as sending more than 30 tons of medical supplies, including isolation chambers and medicine for treating fever, Reuters reported.

Ebola is a hemorrhagic virus that spreads through bodily fluids and can cause high fevers, diarrhoea, vomiting, and internal and external bleeding. There is no vaccine or cure for the virus and it can be fatal up to 90 percent of the time, according to the National Institutes of Health. Animals are thought to be the natural hosts for the disease, which has been transmitted to humans via chimpanzees, gorillas and monkeys.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Mild strombolian activity is still continuing and ash emissions alternate with dense white vapour. A new effusive vent opened two days ago within the collapse scar alimented a lava flow but it seems no longer active today. The tremor does not show significant variations.