Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

7.3 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.3 earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.3 earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.2 earthquake hits Hokkaido, Japan.

5.1 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 earthquake hits near the west coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.0 earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits Vanuatu.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In. The North Indian Ocean: Tropical cyclone 01b (Mocha), located approximately 688 nm south-southwest of Chittagong, Bangladesh, is tracking north-northwestward at 03 knots.

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Sierra Leone – At least 7 people have lost their lives after storms and heavy rain caused flooding and mudslides in parts of Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone in West Africa. Stormy weather hit the city from 09 to 10 May 2023. Flash flooding swept through city streets, washing away cars and damaging buildings. Six people died and 2 were injured when a wall collapsed due to flooding in Cline Town. Another fatality was reported after a mudslide in the Moyeiba area of the city. The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) also reported flood damage to the Leone Oil Facility in Kissy.


Ecuador Makes ‘Debt for Nature’ swap to Protect the Galapagos

Ecuador has converted $1.6 billion (€1.5 billion) of debt into a loan which will free up millions for conservation in the Galápagos Islands.

Nearly 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador, many of the species seen on the Galápagos Islands – like giant tortoises and marine iguanas – can be found nowhere else on Earth. After visiting the archipelago in 1835, British naturalist Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution.

The deal, announced on Tuesday 9 May, is the largest of its kind ever made. It is known as a ‘debt for nature’ swap. Typically, debt for nature swaps are arranged to help governments fund conservation. They involve reducing debt alongside commitments to put money towards the protection of nature. Ecuador plans to start handing out conservation funding starting in September this year. The money will be used to combat climate change and overfishing which put pressure on the Galápagos ecosystem.

Piranhas Attack Tourists – Brazil

A school of piranhas attacked holiday makers playing in a stream in a Brazilian resort on May 1, leaving at least eight people injured. The fish tore at the bathers’ legs and feet with their razor-sharp teeth, driving them out of the water and onto a tourist beach in Tarumã-Açu, a region northeast of Manaus, the capital city of the state of Amazonas.

Experts think the biting frenzy was a case of “mistaken identity” and that the piranhas were actually after the food that visitors at local restaurants sometimes throw into the river. Most piranhas are harmless and don’t generally attack humans – the meat-eating species tend to scavenge rather than hunt living animals.


Australian Bushfires May Have Caused Triple La Niña

Smoke from Australia’s 2019-20 black summer fires may have resulted in the rare “triple dip” La Niña that lasted from 2020 to 2022, research suggests.

Modelling from scientists at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research has found that smoke aerosols from the bushfires interacted with clouds to cool surface waters over the south-eastern subtropical Pacific Ocean. This created favourable conditions for a La Niña to form, the researchers believe.

Smoke particles resulted in smaller cloud droplets over the southern hemisphere. That makes them brighter, and it also makes them live longer [because they are less likely to rain out of the atmosphere]. The net effect of that is more sunlight gets reflected back to space.

The result was a phenomenon akin to what’s known as June gloom in the US, where you have very cold ocean conditions but very warm atmospheric conditions above this cloud layer – that’s referred to as an inversion.

Winds carried these anomalous conditions into the deep tropics, and that instigated the feedbacks that are commonly associated with La Niña. The winds became stronger as a consequence of the surface cooling off, and then the flow going into the tropics was also drier, because a cold surface means you have less humidity in the atmosphere.

Because of that, the whole band of precipitation that usually exists in the tropics move northwards, and that’s a critical component for getting a La Niña.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week of 3 May – 9 May 2023

Bulusan – Luzon (Philippines) : PHIVOLCS reported that during 7-9 May the seismic network at Bulusan recorded a total of 17 volcanic earthquakes at depths of 0-5.2 km beneath the E flank. Six of the earthquakes were tornillo-type events associated with gas movement and the other 11 events were volcano-tectonic earthquakes associated with rock fracturing. Diffuse white steam plumes rose from the active vents in the summit crater.

Fuego – South-Central Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that activity at Fuego during 2-9 May included intense explosions, dense ash emissions, lava effusion, pyroclastic flows, and lahars. During 1-3 May there were 5-8 weak explosions per hour generating dense ash plumes that rose more than 1 km above the summit and drifted to 10-15 km W, SW, and S. Explosions were accompanied by rumbling sounds and shockwaves that vibrated nearby houses. During the morning and night incandescent material was visible 100-200 m above the crater. Avalanches descended the Ceniza (SSW) and Las Lajas (SE) drainages, sometimes reaching vegetated areas. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind including Panimache I and II (8 km SW), Morelia (9 km SW), Santa Sofía (12 km SW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), Finca Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW), and Yepocapa (8 km N). In the early afternoon (around 1500) on 2 May lahars descended the Las Lajas and El Jute (ESE) drainages, carrying branches, tree trunks, and blocks 30 cm to 1.5 m in diameter; about 30 minutes later similar lahars descended the Ceniza drainage. At 1618 a weak-to-moderate pyroclastic flow traveled down the Ceniza and an associated ash plume drifted W and SW. Within 30 minutes after the pyroclastic flow a lahar descended the Seca (W), carrying tree trunks and branches, and blocks up to 1.5 m in diameter. Activity intensified at around 0200 on 4 May with a new effusive phase; by 0510 a lava flow was traveling down the Ceniza drainage, incandescent material rose above the summit, avalanches were continuous, and ash-and-gas plumes drifted SW. At around 0700 weak-to-moderate pyroclastic flows descended the Ceniza and within 1.5 hours pyroclastic flows also descended the Las Lajas. Ashfall was reported on W-flank farms and communities including Finca La Asunción, La Rochela, Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, as well as others at a greater distance such as San Rafael Sumatán (19 km WSW) and San Pedro Yepocapa. By 1000 moderate-to-strong pyroclastic flows were descending the W-flank Seca and Santa Teresa ravines. Loud rumbling sounds and shock waves were reported by local residents. Ashfall continued in communities near the Ceniza and Las Lajas ravines. Ash plumes rose 2.2 km above summit and drifted more than 50 km W and SW. Activity continued at a high level and as of a special report posted at 1235 ash plumes were still rising more than 2.2 m above the summit. Pyroclastic flows were continuing and had traveled 5-7 km down the Ceniza, Las Lajas, Seca and Santa Teresa (W) drainages; the most intense pyroclastic flow had descended the Ceniza drainage minutes earlier. The ash plumes were identified in satellite images drifting more than 100 km W and SW. Significant ashfall continued in communities downwind and minor ashfall was reported in several municipalities of the department of Suchitepéquez. The last pyroclastic flow descended the Ceniza at 1530. Avalanches continued to be seen and heard descending multiple flanks. Ash deposits up to 2 mm thick were noted on crops, houses, and streets. Activity began to wane at about 1800, though explosions continued to produce ash plumes that rose 1.2 km above the summit. The leading edge of the ash plume was 200 km W and SW of the volcano. According to CONRED, about 1,200 residents were preemptively evacuated from their homes in San Pedro Yepocapa, Chimaltenango (21 km NNE), Panimaché I and II, El Porvenir, and Morelia. According to news articles, a section of the RN-14 highway was closed from kilometer 84 of San Juan Alotenango, Sacatepequez (9 km ENE) to kilometer 95 in Escuintla due to the pyroclastic flows. An estimated 130,000 people lived within areas exposed to ashfall. Activity during the morning of 5 May was characterized by some weak-to-moderate explosions, ash plumes that rose 850 m above the summit, crater incandescence, and ash in the air in communities around the Ceniza, Seca, and Las Lajas drainages. Ashfall continued to impact agriculture and infrastructure in Panimaché I, Morelia, Santa Sofía, La Rochela, Los Yucales, El Porvenir, Ceylon, Finca Asunción (12 km SW), Yepocapa, Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa (22 km SW), Siquinalá (21 km SSW), and other nearby communities. By 1230 data from seismic and infrasound monitoring networks, webcam images, satellite data, and reports from observers in the field all indicated that activity had returned to normal levels. Weak explosions at a rate of 5-6 per hour produced minor ash plumes that rose as high as 850 m and drifted 30 km W. On 6 May weak explosion generated ash plumes that rose 750 m and drifted 10 km W and SW. The lava flow was no longer incandescent. According to a news report, residents returned to their communities that same day. During 7-9 May weak explosions continued to produce ash plumes that rose as high as 750 m above the summit and drifted W and SW. Minor avalanches descended the Ceniza and crater incandescence was occasionally observed.

Gamalama – Halmahera : PVMBG reported that the number of deep volcanic earthquakes at Gamalama increased during 1-3 May. The seismic network recorded 11 deep volcanic earthquakes on 1 May and 14 on 2 May. During 0000-0900 on 3 May the network recorded five deep volcanic earthquakes, one shallow volcanic earthquake, five events indicating emissions, and one low-frequency earthquake. Diffuse white gas-and-steam plumes rose as high as 100 m; typically, these emissions rose as high as 300 m. PVMBG noted that the most likely hazard would be a phreatic event that could ejected material within the 1.5-km radius, though ash may be carried farther.

Kadovar – Northeast of New Guinea : Based on satellite and wind model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that at 2040 on 6 May a discrete ash plume from Kadovar rose to an altitude of 4.6 km (15,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W. The plume had dissipated by 2300.

Kanlaon – Philippines : PHIVOLCS issued a special notice for Kanlaon at 2030 on 4 May, noting increased seismicity and ground deformation, and ongoing elevated sulfur dioxide emissions. Ground deformation data from continuous GPS and electronic tilt data indicated short-term inflation of the lower and mid-flanks of the volcano since March, though during the second week of April inflation was pronounced at the SE mid-flank. Real-time, continuous gas monitoring of thermal springs on the N flank detected sulfur dioxide for the first time beginning in April. Sulfur dioxide emissions at the summit crater averaged 632 tonnes per day on 1 May, lower than the average of 1,099 tonnes per day measured the day before, but higher than the average of 124 tonnes per day emitted since March. The seismic network detected 20 shallow volcanic earthquakes (M 1.2-2.4) beneath the summit crater between 2225 on 3 May until 1600 on 4 May.

Katla – Iceland : Iceland Met Office (IMO) reported that an intense seismic swarm began at Katla at 0941 on 4 May with three earthquakes larger than M 4 occurring beneath the caldera within about 10 minutes. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Yellow, the second lowest level on a four-color scale. According to a news article the three largest events were magnitudes 4.8, 4.7, and 4.5, adjusted from previous estimates of 4.5, 4.3, and 4.2. The larger earthquakes were felt in Thórsmörk and by residents in areas S of Mýrdalsjökull glacier (the glacier that covers Katla). The intensity of the events decreased after noon, though smaller earthquakes continued. Seismicity had decreased significantly by the next day with only five events recorded during 0000-0915 on 5 May. In an update posted at 1140 the activity was described as normal. More than 40 earthquakes had been recorded during the previous day and no other data indicated significant changes or anomalies. It was noted that the magnitudes were unusually large and similar to events that last occurred in 2016.