Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.4 Earthquake hits the South Indian Ocean.

5.7 Earthquake hits the southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

5.6 Earthquake hits the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan.

5.2 Earthquake hits Guatemala.

5.1 Earthquake hits eastern New Guinea, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits eastern Kashmir.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Eastern Pacific Ocean:

Hurricane Cristina is located about about 35 mi (60 km) NNW of Socorro island about 260 mi (420 km) SSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Cristina has maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 km/h) and its present movement is NW or 310 degrees at 7 mph (11 km/h).

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical Storm Hagibis forms approximately 183 nm east-southeast of Hong Kong, and is tracking northward at 03 knots.

Wp201407

In the Arabian Sea:

Tropical Storm Nanauk was dissipating in the Arabian Sea on Friday, June 13 as it ran into increasing vertical wind shear, dry air moving into the tropical cyclone and cooler sea surface temperatures.

NewsBytes:

Brazil – A weekend forecast for heavy rains in Paraná, where flooding has killed 11 and affected more than half a million people in the past five days.

Texas, USA – A tornado touched down in Burnet County, just outside Bertram. It even carried a home about a football field distance away with the family still inside.

Mississippi, USA – The National Weather Service said today that an EF-1 tornado touched down in Chickasaw County as a line of thunderstorms crossed the state. The tornado uprooted and snapped several trees along its path. Two homes suffered considerable damage from fallen trees.

Environment

Oil Drilling Contaminated Western Amazon Rainforest, Study Confirms

Peru’s Amazon rainforest is extensively contaminated from decades of oil and gas drilling, researchers reported Thursday at the annual Goldschmidt geochemistry conference.

In the past decade, volatile demonstrations by indigenous groups and tangled lawsuits against oil companies have exposed the toxic legacy of decades of oil drilling in the Western Amazon. People living in the rainforest say they are suffering health effects from the nearby polluted drilling and waste sites, and from eating plants and wildlife laced with heavy metals and petroleum compounds.

But lax government regulations during the early years of oil exploration, combined with a lack of environmental monitoring, mean there’s little data on the true extent of contamination in the richly diverse rainforest.

The results confirm the complaints from indigenous and green groups: Pollutant levels exceed government and international standards, the researchers said. “When we extract oil, it has a very high price for the environment, and sometimes, it’s not paid by those who use the oil.”

The data comes from Peruvian public agencies, oil companies and non-governmental organizations, but has never been collected in one place. The database contains 4,480 samples from 10 major rivers, taken between 1983 and 2013.

Nearly 70 percent of the river water samples exceed Peru’s limits for lead, and 20 percent exceed cadmium limits. “There’s clearly been impacts from discharge into the rivers.”

During the early decades of oil mining, companies dumped their drilling waste into open pits or directly into rivers and streams. Leaky pipelines and wells, as well as accidental oil spills could also produce the contamination detected in the water samples. The heavy metals and other compounds tested were at higher levels downstream of the discharge sites, as compared with levels upstream, which suggests the oil discharges had caused the contamination, the researchers said.

High levels of lead and cadmium have been found in blood taken from indigenous people living in the rainforest, and from the wildlife these groups hunt for food, according to earlier studies.

Activists believe the contamination results from such pollutants moving up the food chain, from wildlife to indigenous peoples who rely on the rainforest ecosystem for a subsistence lifestyle.

To confirm that rainforest animals eat in oil-contaminated areas, the researchers set up camera traps in the forest. The traps caught animals such as tapirs feeding directly on the chemicals from the spills, and researchers documented oil in the animals’ faeces.

Rosell-Melé thinks the animals are attracted to the taste of salty wastewater and chemicals. Soils in the rainforest are low in salt, and animals may mistake the spills for natural salt licks.

Camera trap images show tapirs feeding in an area of the Peru rainforest contaminated by an oil spill. Oil was found in animal feces in the same area.

According to the database, pollution levels in Peru’s rainforest rivers started to drop after 2007, when the government ordered drilling companies to stop dumping toxic waste into rivers.

“The situation has improved over what it used to be, but it’s not acceptable by Western standards.”

The new environmental regulations haven’t completely prevented new toxic waste spills, however. Peru’s Environment Ministry declared an environmental emergency in the Corrientes and Pastaza River basins in March 2013 due to drilling contamination.

About 30 percent of the world’s rainforests overlie fossil fuel reservoirs. Huge oil and gas reserves have been discovered under the Amazon rainforest in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and western Brazil. Oil drilling in the Western Amazon peaked in the 1970s, with exploration funded by both private companies and national governments. The rise in oil prices during the 2000s sparked a new drilling boom in the area. More than 180 areas zoned for new exploration and development now cover a section of Amazon rainforest the size of Germany.

Oil well amazon

Wildlife

Hyena Terror Grips Eastern Zimbabwe

Attacks by rabid hyenas in eastern Zimbabwe are forcing residents to remain indoors at night and leaving many too afraid to collect food even during the day.

The Herald reports that the animals had previously gone after only livestock.

But it says an expanding population and development are now bringing humans into contact with the mainly nocturnal predators.

“We used to hear hyenas laughing from a distance, and everyone knew that they would not travel all that way to attack humans,” councilman Charles Mukanwa told the Harare-based daily.

“But now the situation is different. We have people who are building their houses where the wild animals used to dominate,” Mukanwe said.

A recent attack took villagers by surprise as one of the apparently rabid animals attacked people sitting in their huts.

Hyenas in parts of Zimbabwe are turning from their usual prey to attack humans moving into their habitat.

Ew130913b

Disease

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

The National IHR Focal Points of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Islamic Republic of Iran recently reported additional laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) to WHO.

Between 11 April and 9 June 2014, 515 cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been reported from Saudi Arabia to WHO. This includes 402 laboratory-confirmed cases reported on various dates, and 113 cases that have been identified through retrospective review of hospital records, and which was reported by Saudi Arabia on 3 June. Further information on these cases will be provided as information becomes available as part of the collaboration between the Saudi authorities and WHO on the MERS-CoV response.

Outbreak of malaria in northern India

At least 20 people have died from malaria in a remote corner of India in the past week, putting medical authorities on high alert at the start of the monsoon season, an official said Friday. Tripura health minister Badal Choudhury said deaths so far in the northeast state were unusually high, with doctors ordered to contain the mosquito-borne disease before it “gets out of hand”.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Zhupanovsky (Kamchatka, Russia): The eruption at the volcano that was initially reported by a pilot who observed a 6 km ash plume continues with smaller ash emissions. While the initial report left some doubts about the eruption, confirmation was soon after provided by the presence of a SO2 plume, ash deposits visible on satellite imagery and photos taken on location. The attached photo shows ongoing ash emissions the morning of 7 June following the main explosion. Two secondary flank vents producing steam plumes and dark streaks on the lower left flank of the volcano representing mud flows that were generated by lava-snow interaction are visible.

Semisopochnoi (United States, Aleutian Islands): Another remote volcano in Alaska is showing signs of unrest or possible activity. The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) sent out the following alert: “A swarm of earthquakes at Semisopochnoi volcano that started at 10:00 AKDT (18:00 UTC) on June 9 escalated yesterday, June 12, at approximately 12:00 AKDT (20:00 UTC). The continuation of this anomalous seismic activity through the night prompts AVO to raise the Aviation Colour Code to YELLOW and the Volcano Alert Level to ADVISORY. No eruptive activity is currently indicated.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): No changes in activity have occurred. Sporadic small strombolian explosions continue from the summit crater of the New SE crater. Tremor is low.