Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.8 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.5 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.4 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Batan Islands in the Philippines.

5.0 Earthquake hits eastern Uzbekistan.

5.0 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

Tropical Cyclone (tc) 18p (Zena), located approximately 190 nm west of Suva, Fiji, and is tracking east-southeastward at 23 knots.

Invest 90C is an area of disturbed weather in the Central Pacific that has the potential for tropical development.


Ethiopia – The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation reported Monday that 23 people were killed and 84 more people were injured when a river that crosses Jigjiga, the regional capital of the Somali region, burst its banks on Sunday. It said intense rains in another drought-stricken region, Afar, led to floods in which five people were killed.

Fiji – Torrential rain triggered major flash flooding in parts of Fiji Monday and Tuesday, and intensifying Tropical Cyclone Zena will bring more heavy rain to the Pacific island.


Illegal mining hits Congo gorilla population

The world’s largest gorilla sub-species has seen its population fall 77 percent over the past two decades, a trend linked to illegal mining for coltan, a key mineral used in the production of cell phones and electronics, a new report has found.

Grauer’s gorilla, the planet’s biggest primate which can weigh up to 400 pounds (180 kgs), is found in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where minerals have been plundered for decades under the smokescreen of conflict and instability.

A report this week by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Fauna & Flora International found that its numbers had fallen to 3,800 from an estimated 17,000 in 1995.

“One of the primary causes of the decline in Grauer’s gorilla numbers has been the expansion in artisanal mining for coltan and other minerals. Most of these artisanal mining sites are remote, which means that the miners often turn to local wildlife for food,” the organisations said in a statement.

Artisanal mining often involves the illegal extraction of minerals by hand or other makeshift methods.


Wildfires – Oklahoma, USA

Oklahoma authorities on Tuesday urged residents of the small town of Freedom to evacuate as a wildfire flared in the same area near the border with Kansas where blazes last month scorched hundreds of square miles.

The National Weather Service warned that most of the state was under critical to extremely critical fire conditions due to dry air, warm temperatures and strong winds. Blazes also broke out across Kansas, where some small-town residents were forced to leave their homes. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Wildfires – Tennessee, USA

Cocke County fire crews teamed up with more than 100 personnel from the U.S. Forest Service and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to battle the wildfire blaze ripping across the west side of Stone Mountain.

The wildfire started on Monday afternoon, and has scorched more than 1,000 acres of land as of late Tuesday night. The U.S. Forest Service said Wednesday morning the fire is still only contained about 10 percent.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): During the past days, the volcano has been in a very active state again, producing multiple and relatively strong vulcanian explosions that showered the upper crater area with incandescent bombs and generated ash plumes that rose up to 15,000 ft (4.5 km) altitude. It seems that along with the recent increase in explosions, most activity has again returned to the Showa crater.

Bromo (East Java, Indonesia): New ash emissions resumed at the volcano again since yesterday. A plume of steam and moderate ash content been rising a few hundred meters and drifting approx. 40 km into westerly directions over East Java. No additional details about the activity from the volcano observatory are currently available.

Sangay (Ecuador): The most recent (so far mild) summit eruption of the volcano continues. A steam and ash plume rising several 100 m above the crater and extending approx. 10 km west from the summit was reported this morning by VAAC Washington and can also be found on the occasional social media picture. No close-by observations are currently available (Sangay is one of the most remote and difficult-to-access active volcanoes in South America). Seismic data show rhythmic small bursts likely from strombolian explosions in the summit crater, whereas satellite-based spectrometers detected the presence of a strong heat source at the crater, possibly from a lava flow, since 22 March.

As Culture Volcan observed, the intense heat radiation thus appeared several weeks AFTER the first known onset of mild explosive activity, and thus, is an indication that something changed around that date, producing significantly more heat. The easiest explanation would be the appearance of a new lava flow (or a small lava lake) inside the crater, or perhaps on the upper flank.