Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits Reykjanes Ridge.

5.2 Earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits south of Fiji.

Storms and Floods

Tornado in China – Update

The death toll from yesterday’s tornado in Dongguan City, Hunan Province has risen to 8 with at least 136 people injured.

Rainstorm in Walewale, Ghana

A heavy rainstorm in Walewale in Mamprusi district of Ghana has killed four and injured 41 others.


Wave of Prawn Deaths Baffles Chile City of Coronel

Thousands of dead prawns have washed up on a beach in Chile, sparking an investigation.

Hundreds of dead crabs were also washed ashore in Coronel city, about 530km (330 miles) from the capital, Santiago.

Fishermen suggested the deaths may have been caused by local power stations that use seawater as a cooling agent. The power firms have not commented.

Experts are looking into water temperature and oxygen levels and other details to explain the deaths.

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On a lighter note:

A Rat May Have Caused Outage at Fukushima

A rat may have been to blame for a power cut that knocked out cooling systems at the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, in an episode that highlighted the jerry-rigged nature of the fix.

Equipment keeping used nuclear fuel at a safe temperature in four different pools was out for up to 39 hours from Monday, with Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) admitting their recovery work was sometimes less than perfect.

The incident served as a reminder of the precarious state of the plant two years after the tsunami which sparked meltdowns in three reactors, spewing radiation over the land and sea and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

“We suspect a small animal may have caused a short circuit in a switchboard” leading to the outage and disabling cooling systems for spent fuel pools, a spokesman for TEPCO said.


Helicopters Collide – Germany

Two helicopters have clipped each other in a mid-air collision near Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, leaving one of the pilots dead and at least four people injured.

According to reports the helicopters hit each other during a police exercise.

Footage from the scene showed one black helicopter on its side in the snow. Reports say police were conducting football violence training when the accident happened in snowy weather.

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Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): Activity has dropped progressively during yesterday and has been almost zero today. This probably means that the intrusion (or whatever caused the quakes) has already stopped, and formed just another couple of basaltic dikes deep (16-20 km) under the island.

Kizimen (Kamchatka): KVERT reports no changes: moderate seismic activity, continuing lava dome growth at the summit, visible incandescence, hot avalanches on the western and eastern flanks, and strong gas-steam activity.

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): The growth of the lava dome continues, accompanied by moderate seismic activity, and is visible as a large hot spot on MODIS satellite data.

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): No changes were reported by KVERT about the ongoing eruption: tremor accompanying the lava flow effusion and strong degassing remains strong. A big thermal anomaly on satellite images corresponds to the fresh lava flow field.

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): After some days with less explosions, activity has once again picked up with no less than 6 explosions during the past 24 hours. The largest produced an ash plume rising to 3 km altitude.

Manam (Papua New Guinea): An important SO2 plume was detected on today’s satellite image, suggesting a phase of increased lava emission. No ash plume have been alerted of (so far).

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): An larger explosion again produced an ash plume rising to approx. 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude and drifting 60 nautical miles northwest today.

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): The lava dome continues to grow and produce avalanches and explosions. Another ash plume was seen rising to about 3 km altitude (10,000 ft) and drifting 40 nautical miles to the northwest today.

Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): Just after we had mentioned that there has not been an eruption for some time, the volcano erupted again this morning around 7am local time. An explosion produced an ash column rising 2 km above the crater, easily visible from Manado, the regional capital to the NE, and was heard in up to 6 km distance. The description of the ash being dark brown and black in local news suggests that it contains fresh magma, i.e. a new batch of magma has just surfaced at the volcano. The official volcano alert level and aviation color code have been raised to orange.

White Island (New Zealand): Continuous volcanic tremor mixed with frequent earthquakes remains high, suggesting strong degassing and perhaps minor phreatic activity. In addition, a magnitude 3.5 quake occurred yesterday at 16:33 local time 10 km east of White Island.

Long Valley (California): Small earthquakes continue to occur clustered near the SW margin of the caldera and Mammoth Mountain. The earthquake are tiny to small (less than magnitude 2) and show nothing unsual going on.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity increased yesterday. CENAPRED reported 95 small to moderate gas-steam-sometimes ash emissions, a 5 times steep increase compared to the previous day. Some explosions ejected incandescent material to up to 500 m distance from the crater, and created ash plumes rising up to about 1 km drifting east.

Pacaya (Guatemala): The volcano continues to wake up progressively and “shows symptoms typical of generating new explosions and opening a new effusive vent for a lava flow” (INSIVUMEH) in the near future. In the last 48 hours, there have been a series of small explosions within the active crater, and constant degassing sustaining a white-gray plume reaching between 2700-2800 m above sea level and drifting south. Fine ash of fragmented rock is contained in this plume, suggesting that magma rising within the volcanic edifice is breaking its way upwards.

Fuego (Guatemala): The volcano has once again entered a (brief?) phase of stronger effusive and explosive activity. The Activity has increased since yesterday 14h20 local time, INSIVUMEH reports. A new lava flow has started to descend from the summit crater towards the Ceniza drainage and has reached a length of 1300 m. Weather conditions did not allow direct observations, but it seems that associated explosions and/or possibly pyroclastic flows (which often are triggered by collapses of Fuego’s steep lava flows) have created an ash plume rising to 5 km altitude. So far, however, no evidence of actual pyroclastic flows have been found, although they could (and likely will) happen any time.

Telica (Nicaragua): The seismic swarm has intensified a bit. Some of the quakes are now listed by INETER on their earthquake list. The largest is apparently a magnitude 2 earthquake at 1.2 km depth a few km to the east of the summit.