Monday, 18 November 2013

Scientists find new volcano rumbling under Antarctica ice: 1,370 tremors: “It may blow or it may not. We don’t know.”

November 18, 2013 – ANTARCTICA – A volcano may be stirring more than a half-mile beneath a major ice sheet in Antarctica, raising the possibility of faster base melting that could ultimately affect climate. Seismologists working in a mountainous area of Marie Byrd Land in western Antarctica detected a swarm of low-magnitude earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 similar to those that can precede volcanic eruptions, according to a study published online Sunday in Nature Geoscience. The area of activity lies close to the youngest in a chain of volcanoes that formed over several million years,
and the characteristics and depth of the seismic events are consistent with those found in volcanic areas of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, the study concludes. The tight focus of the 1,370 tremors and their deep, long-period waves helped researchers rule out ice quakes, glacial motion or tectonic activity as causes. So, too, did their apparent depth: At 15-25 miles beneath the sub-glacial surface, they are close to the local boundary between Earth’s crust and mantle. “At first I had no idea it was something volcanic, and then, as I started putting together all the pieces, it started looking more and more like I’d found a volcano,” said study co-author Amanda Lough, a seismology graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis. 

Chances of a massive fire-and-ice catastrophe are slim, however. Clusters with these wave characteristics have sometimes preceded eruptions, but not always, Lough said. And it would take a staggering release of energy to punch through more a half-mile of ice, she noted. “Does this mean that something is going to be happening in the next 20 years or so? I have no idea,” she said. “It’s not something that’s going to cause major issues. You’d have to have a huge, huge eruption.” Still, even a small eruption could increase base melting and lubricate the ice sheet. “If you have a future eruption it’s going to increase the heat flow, so you’re going to have more melting in the surrounding area, which will then lead to more water at the base of the ice sheet and cause the overlying ice flow to increase in velocity because it’s been lubricated.” How such melting could affect the vast ice sheet remains unknown. The data came from seismic equipment used to study the interaction of ice with the crust in Antarctica, part of a broader program studying polar ice caps. That data were collected in 2010-2011, but most of the events analyzed occurred in two swarms during the first two months of 2010 and in March 2011. 

Radar imaging also revealed a buried ash layer believed to be from an eruption of Mt. Waesche about 8,000 years ago. There also is evidence of small flows of magma on the sub-ice topography, and the surface closest to the swarm appears to be a mound of volcanic material, according to the study. Lough, who expects to complete her PhD work next year, has been bowled over by reaction to the discovery. “This is my first paper and people keep calling me wanting to know about it,” she said. “This is going to be one of the chapters in my thesis — probably the most exciting one.” The study was led by geophysicist and seismologist Douglas Wiens of Washington University, who is supervising Lough’s thesis. Other research team members hailed from UC Santa Cruz, Penn State University, New Mexico Tech, Colorado State University, the University of Texas at Austin, Central Washington University and Ohio State. –LA Times

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Day of Death: 50 tornadoes tear through U.S. Midwest, leaving 6 dead
Posted on November 18, 2013 by The Extinction Protocol


Emergency workers arrived at a neighborhood in Illinois after tornadoes touched down to find scenes eerily reminiscent of  the destruction seen in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan made landfall.

November 18, 2013 – ILLINOIS – A fast-moving storm system triggered multiple tornadoes on Sunday, killing at least six people, injuring about 40 and flattening large parts of the city of Washington, Illinois as it tore across the Midwest, officials said. The storm also forced the Chicago Bears to halt their game against the Baltimore Ravens and encourage fans at Soldier Field to seek shelter as menacing clouds rolled in. Chicago’s two major airports also briefly stopped traffic with the metropolitan area was under a tornado watch. The city of Washington, Illinois, was hit especially hard by what the National Weather Service called a ‘large and extremely dangerous  tornado. “It’s a sad day in Washington. The devastation is just unbelievable. You just can’t imagine. It looks like a war zone in our community,” said Washington Mayor Gary Manier. “It’s kind of widespread and went right through our community of 15,000 people,” he added, saying hundreds of homes in the town, 145 miles southwest of Chicago, had been destroyed. The state Emergency Management Agency said one person was killed in Washington. Thirty-one people injured by the storm were being treated at St. Francis Medical Center, one of the main hospitals in nearby Peoria, according to hospital spokeswoman Amy Paul. Eight had traumatic injuries. 

Two people were killed in Washington County, Illinois, about 200 miles south of Peoria, said Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson. The agency estimated that hundreds of homes were damaged and at least 70 leveled across the state. Washington County coroner Mark Styninger said the two people who died there were elderly siblings. The 80-year-old man and his 78-year-old sister suffered massive trauma when their home was demolished in the storm, Styninger said. Two people were killed in Massac County, Illinois, on the Kentucky border where a twister devastated several neighborhoods, emergency officials said. “It wiped out homes, mobile homes,” said Charles Taylor, deputy director of the Emergency Services and Disaster Agency in Massac County. “It downed trees, power lines. We have gas leaks, numerous injuries whether they were in mobile homes, or outdoors, even in the motor vehicles, people have been trapped.” “We have reports of homes being flattened, roofs being torn off,” Sara Sparkman, a spokeswoman for the health department of Tazewell County, Illinois, where Washington is located, said in a telephone interview. “We have actual whole neighborhoods being demolished by the storm.” Sparkman said the storm also had caused damage in Pekin, south of Peoria. 

Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said mobile homes were toppled, roofs torn from homes, and trees uprooted. She said officials believe some people may be trapped in their basements under debris. The American Red Cross worked with emergency management officials to set up shelters and provide assistance to displaced residents, even as rescue workers searched for more people who might have been caught and trapped in the storm’s path. The Washington tornado came out of a fast-moving storm system that originally headed toward Chicago as it threatened a large swath of the Midwest with dangerous winds, thunderstorms and hail, U.S. weather officials said. The National Weather Services’ Storm Prediction Center said the storm moved dangerously fast, tracking eastward at 60 miles per hour. This storm system had some similarities to the fast-moving “derecho” storm that knocked out power to more than 4.2 million people and killed 22 in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions in June 2012, according to Bill Bunting, forecast branch chief at the Storm Prediction Center. According to news affiliate KIII TV3, the storm system may have unleashed as many as 50 twisters.  –Reuters KIII TV3