Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits the Samoa Islands.

5.3 Earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Mauritius-Reunion region.

4.7 Earthquake hits Poland causing a tunnel in a copper mine to collapse, trapping 19 miners 600 metres underground. The incident occurred in the Rudna mine in the western region of Lower Silesia located 400 km southwest of Warsaw. Update: Emergency services have recused all 19 miners.

Storms and Floods

Flooding in Central Bulgaria

The Danube River in Bulgaria has reached critically high level.

Code yellow has been declared for dangerous weather over the whole of Bulgarian.

Emergency situation is still effective in Gabrovo, and the towns of Dryanovo and Tryavna.

Severe Storms in the United States

A tornado in Rutherford County in Tennessee destroyed several mobile houses.

Lightning caused fire on the roof of Fairview Middle School in Franklin but it didn’t harm students.

Large hail stones injured two people in Mississippi.

Lightning Strike – New York City.

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Snowstorms in Quebec, Canada

Heavy snowstorms have hit Quebec and the Maritimes in Canada.

More than 50 schools are closed due to severe weather in Quebec.

Other News:

A tornado hit Hunan Province in China early Wednesday and has claimed three lives and injured thirty others.

Death toll from landslide north of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil has risen to 24.

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Floods in Leicestershire, England continue after heavy rains with many roads remaining closed.


World’s Largest Solar Plant Goes Online

The Shams 1 solar plant outside Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates is the world’s largest solar power facility. It started producing electricity this month and will produce 100 megawatts of electricity at full capacity.

That’s enough energy to electrify 20,000 homes and could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 175,000 tons each year — roughly the equivalent of taking 35,000 cars off the road, according to EPA emission estimates.



US Pushes for Antarctic Marine Protections

The US and New Zealand are to push for a marine protected area (or MPA) in Antarctica’s Ross Sea. If created, it would be the largest MPA in the world.

The Ross Sea is teaming with life, as the home to more than 1 million pairs of Adélie penguins; 28,850 pairs of emperor penguins; 30,000 to 50,000 Weddell seals; 5.5 million Antarctic petrels and 21,000 minke whales. And like many parts of the Antarctic ocean environment, the Ross Sea has been left relatively unscathed by human activities, with fewer pollutants and invasive species and less large-scale fishing than in other parts of the Earth’s oceans.

But global warming and increasing interest in the rich fisheries found in the Southern Ocean are putting pressure on this environment, those calling for the MPA have warned.

Adelie penguins ross sea


Anthrax in Australia

An outbreak of anthrax in New South Wales, Australia, has killed up to 40 cattle and several farms in the area have been quarantined to stop the spread of the bacterial disease.


Beached Giant Squid

Giant squid are almost never observed in the wild, but beached specimens have taught scientists about their anatomy.

Scientists estimate that giant squid can grow up to about 60 feet (18 meters) long, including their massive tentacles.

These are images of squid washed up in Australia/Tasmania:

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Beached squid 130319


Wheat Stocks Set to Recover

Farmers from Australia to Europe to the U.S. are poised to reap the second-largest wheat crop on record as fields recover from drought and heat waves, boosting global stockpiles for the first time in four years.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Beautiful snow-clad Etna remains restless. While the wait is on for a new SE crater paroxysm (which is likely to occur anywhere between days or few weeks from now), a few pronounced tremor spikes show up on the tremor graph. These probably correspond to strombolian activity from one of the summit craters, likely the Voragine.

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): So far, there have been more than 80 quakes >M2 and 4 quakes above >M3 today. A clear trend of westward migration is visible, possibly corresponding to magma moving horizontally into new areas. At the moment, the seismic swarm has considerably decreased in energy. Whether this is a pause or already a sign of an end is impossible to say. IF a magmatic intrusion is the cause (there is no proof for this, after all), a plausible scenario could be the build-up of energy while pathways are temporarily blocked. Then, some larger quakes should be expected along with re-appearance of tremor when magma starts moving again. The seismic crisis continues with little changes. A westward lateral migration of epicenters is visible, assumed to correspond to magma movements underground. Depths remain mostly at 15-18 km, with perhaps a slight upwards trend towards shallower areas, but this is not very significant if any. Volcanic tremor waxes and wanes but remains continuous.

Kliuchevskoi (Kamchatka): After some time with no new indications of continuing activity, KVERT lowered the alert status to green. The volcano has been showing low seismicity during the past weeks, after a phase of strombolian activity late 2012-earlier this year had ended.

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): Explosions that send ash plumes large enough to be detected on satellite are increasingly frequent. Another eruption today was spotted on Meteosat with an estimated ash plume height of 8,000 ft (2.4 km).

Tangkubanparahu (West Java): The alert level was back to normal (1 out of 4) yesterday. VSI reports that the recent monitoring have shown a significant decrease in seismicity since 9 March and no significant variations in ground deformation. Various other measurements undertaken by volcanologists (gas analysis, temperature measurements) also showed trends towards normal behavior.

White Island (New Zealand): Internal unrest in the form of continuous volcanic tremor has further risen and numerous earthquakes have appeared as well during the past hours. A possibility is that some phreatic activity is taking place near the surface, but we cannot verify this at the moment. So far no eruption reports or new statements from GNS about this activity have become available.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Compared to yesterday, when some explosions were large enough to eject incandescent bombs to 200 m above the crater, accompanied by eruption tremor of moderate intensity, activity has been lower today. Steaming has decreased although the numbers of small volcanic quakes remains high.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): A phase of increased ash emissions or a relatively large seems to have taken place at Santiaguito today (INSIVUMEH will likely report about this in tomorrow’s report). VAAC Washington alerts about an ash plume at 16,000 ft (about 5 km) altitude drifting east from the volcano. If the altitude is right, the eruption column reached 2.5 km in height above the dome, more than twice as much as during the larger “normal” explosions regularly observed.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Since last night, Pacaya volcano has been showing small strombolian activity, INSIVUMEH reports. The activity is from Mackenney crater and consists in weak explosions that throw incandescent bombs to up to 15 m above the crater. According to INSIVUMEH, based on past similar activity cycles, a likely evolution of the volcano’s behavior might be a gradual increase of this activity and the effusion of a new lava flow.

Telica (Nicaragua): The seismic swarm continued until this morning, then waned a bit, but has now resumed with increased apparent strength (perhaps because quakes are now nearer to the surface). In contrast to Telica, the other 2 Nicaraguan volcanoes San Cristobal and Masaya continue to be quiet.

San Miguel (El Salvador): The volcano has been relatively quiet recently. Only few volcanic quakes, weak tremor and (probably) rockfall signals show up now and then.

Machin (Colombia): Seismic unrest continues, but there is no surface activity. A swarm of low-frequency volcanic quakes during the night 17-18 March, Machin volcano has been quiet again today.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): A phase of increased seismic activity with volcanic quakes and rockfalls occurred today. SO2 emission from the volcano remains high.

Reventador (Ecuador): Seismic activity has been moderate.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): The volcano continued to remain relatively quiet with only small explosions and much reduced seismic activity.