M 6.7 earthquake has been observed in Vallenar, Atacama, Chile, South America on Wednesday, January 30 , 2013 at 21:40:45 (PM) UTC. The earthquake's depth was in 47.50 km (29.52 miles) and 45.03 km East of Vallenar, …
Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Saturday, 26 January 2013
January 25, 2013 - UNITED STATES - US Federal Reserve is reporting a major deposit withdrawal from the nation’s bank accounts. The financial system hasn’t seen such a massive fund outflow since 9/11 attacks.
The first week of January 2013 has seen $114 billion withdrawn from 25 of the US’ biggest banks, pushing deposits down to $5.37 trillion, according to the US Fed. Financial analysts suggest it could be down to the Transaction Account Guarantee insurance program coming to an end on December 31 last year and clients moving their money that is no longer insured by the government.
The program was introduced in the wake of the 2008 crisis in order to support the banking system. It provided insurance for around $1.5 trillion in non-interest-bearing accounts with a limit of $250,000. It was aimed at medium and small banks as the creators of the program believed bigger banks would cope with the crisis themselves.
So the current “fast pace” of withdrawal comes as a surprise to financial analysts because the deposits are slipping away from those banks which supposedly were safe. Experts expected savers in small and medium banks would turn to bigger players come December 31.
There are a number of reasons behind this unpredicted fund outflow. Some experts believe it has to do with the beginning of the year when the money is randomly needed here and there. Others have concluded the funds are getting down to business and being invested.
Another set of data from the US Federal Reserve shows some deposits may have moved within the banking system from one type of account to another. - RT.
Friday, 25 January 2013
January 25, 2013 - Italy - A strong earthquake measuring 5.0 richter and 'Italian occurred at 15:48, between Emilia Romagna and Toscana.La depth' of the earthquake and 'was the epicenter located 10 km to 50 km south of Reggio Emilia , 6 km SW Frassinoro.the earthquake 'was felt in many parts of northern Italy.
January 24, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - Thousands of dead starfish have washed up on a beach in Lincolnshire after a period of stormy weather. Shocked photographer Simon Peck estimates that 4,000 starfish - along with whelks' eggs and pieces of shell - had surfaced on Cleethorpes beach. Experts think that the animals were dislodged by rough waters in the recent wintry weather, with a similar incident happening at the same time last year. Richard Harrington, communications manager at the Marine Conservation Society, said: 'These are all common starfish Asterias rubens.
'The fact that there's what appear to be whelk eggs and different shells in these pictures, both shallow water residents, along with the common starfish, would back up the likelihood that it is simply stormy weather that has caused this big strand. 'We were aware of a strand like this in the region at this time last year, too. 'Mass strandings of starfish and sea potatoes, a kind of sand-dwelling sea urchin, happen quite regularly in different parts of the coast. 'They seem to occur most in winter, and around sandy areas, when it's likely that rough seas in shallow water dislodge them in large numbers.
'Strandings like this may be associated with breeding, indicated if all of the specimens that washed up are mature adults, but the common starfish tends to aggregate and spawn most in spring and summer - so that is unlikely.' Millions of common starfish live in British seas. About the size of a hand, they are pinky orange when alive, but turn a bright orange when dry. Their ideal feeding ground is a mussel bed, where millions of starfish will congregate at any one time. And it's here where they are most at risk. Violent storms can send terrifically strong currents through the mussel beds where they are feeding, pluck them off their prey, carry them to the shore and dump thousands at a time on to a beach. In the past, some mass strandings have been blamed on overfishing - with dredgers used to scrape the sea floor for mussels dislodging starfish or covering them with mud and sand. - Daily Mail.
Thursday, 24 January 2013
Monday, 21 January 2013
Park officials now believe they know what caused the massive landslide, which took out a football field-sized portion of Newfound Gap Road (US 441) on the North Carolina side.
Officials said they found a subsurface spring underneath the landslide site and they aren't quite sure how long its been there. They said the spring, along with last week's massive amounts of rainfall, contributed to the landslide Wednesday morning, near mile marker 22 between Collins Creek and Webb Overlook.
"We were unaware of this subsurface spring which causes embankment failure," said Acting Deputy Superintendent Alan Sumeriski.
Approximately 90,000 cubic yards of dirt, rock and roadway crashed 45-50 feet down the side of the mountain. Officials surveying the damage said the area is still not stable as debris continues to fall.
Officials hope to have an estimate of how much it will cost to repair the road and a rough time frame of when construction could start by next week.
According to the park, about 6,000 people use US 441 to travel between North Carolina and Tennessee during the holidays.
"While it's a challenging project to think of repair solutions, it's not impossible," Park spokesperson Dana Soehn.
The park said it also has environmental concerns regarding the landslide.
About 9,000 truckloads of dirt and roadway fell just short of the Beech Flats Prong watershed below. Sumeriski said the park would be setting up soil control and erosion measures Monday to stop soil from getting into the watershed.
A shooting star accompanied by a loud boom was observed before dawn Jan. 20 across broad areas of the Kanto region, igniting intense interest on the Internet with the posting of video footage and eyewitness accounts.
Fumiaki Goto, 28, an office worker in Tokigawa, Saitama Prefecture, captured footage of the fireball by chance while taking photos of the night sky just after 2:40 a.m.
The plume was enhanced suddenly after its color turned to bluish white from light green and fell toward Ibaraki Prefecture, finally with a reddish hue, said Goto.
The fireball was likely a meteorite, experts said. Video footage taken from a car had more than 200,000 hits.
Chikara Shimoda of the Japan Fireball Network, a group of amateur astronomers, said the fireball disappeared at an altitude of about 30 kilometers.
"It may have burnt up, or perhaps it hit the sea," said Shimoda, 55.
January 21, 2013 – NEW ZEALAND – Scientists are warning Mount Tongariro may erupt again as the Department of Conservation looks at re-opening the remainder of the iconic Tongariro Crossing next month. GNS Science say emissions of steam and a gas plume have been a continuous feature of the mountain since the August 2012 eruption. Scientist Tony Hurst said the volcano is still in an “active” state. “Therefore we have to be prepared there will be other events like that without any warning,” said GNS Scientist Tony Hurst. The risk of another eruption is causing concern for the Department of Conservation as it prepares to reopen the northern section of the Tongariro Crossing which was damaged in the August eruption. GNS Scientists are also concerned neighboring Mt. Ruapehu may be due to erupt. Gas samples show there could be a blockage underneath the volcano’s surface. The blockage could burst and erupt without warning. Tourism operator Stewart Barclay from Adrift Outdoors said tourism on Mt. Ruaphu and Mt. Tongariro is reliant on the findings of GNS scientists. “We can’t do anything until the scientists scratch their heads and reckon it’s all safe to go up,” said Barclay. DOC has closed the area within 2km of the centre of crater lake at the summit of Mt Ruapehu. -TVNZ
January 21, 2013 - UNITED STATES - State and Parish leaders are on alert in Assumption Parish after the sinkhole "burped" again today. It happened at 10am and caused heightened anxiety in an already tense area.
PHOTO COURTESY: Dean Wilson.
Parish officials said hydrocarbons and debris bubbled up to the surface and caused major cracks in a well pad. All activity at that well pad had to be shut down.
"There is additional cracking that has occurred on well pad three," John Boudreaux, Assumption OEP Director said. "They are an inch wide and a ruler goes down 14 inches. It seems that land is sloughing in toward the sinkhole."
Officials will continue monitoring the situation. State Police sent their helicopter in the air to monitor the sinkhole from above. - WBRZ.
WATCH: Louisiana sinkhole burps again.
Sunday, 20 January 2013
January 18, 2013 - PLANET SATURN - Just as regions of our planet have monsoon season, or tornado season, so too does Saturn have its own stormy season. Once every Saturn year or so—which corresponds to roughly 30 Earth years—a giant, churning storm works its way through the clouds of Saturn’s northern hemisphere, sometimes encircling the entire planet like a belt. Lasting a few dozen days or more, these storms have been documented as far back as 1876.
|A true-color image captured by Cassini in February 2011 shows the head of the storm overtaking the fainter, turbulent tail. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI.|
The sixth giant Saturnian storm on record arrived a bit early, kicking off in late 2010, just 20 years after the previous storm. The timing proved fortuitous for planetary astronomers, who currently have a dedicated orbiter called Cassini stationed at the ringed planet. And Cassini’s ringside seat, so to speak, has afforded the NASA spacecraft quite a show. A new study summarizing Cassini observations of the giant Saturnian storm adds to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that this was no ordinary outburst. The 2010 storm reached well into 2011—at roughly 200 days in duration, it is the longest such storm on record. It produced an unprecedented vortex that could just about swallow planet Earth. And it persisted until the head of the storm advanced all the way around the planet to rear-end the slower-moving vortex; their collision appears to have terminated much of the storm’s action. Cassini recorded the storm in great detail, both with its cameras and with its Radio and Plasma Wave Science instrument, which detected electrostatic pulses from lightning strikes within the clouds. Kunio Sayanagi, an assistant professor of planetary science at Hampton University, and his colleagues describe those observations in a study that will appear in the journal Icarus. Sayanagi and his co-authors report that the storm, sometimes called the “Great White Spot,” began on December 5, 2010, and lasted until June 20, 2011, although the endpoint of the storm is somewhat ambiguous. Nevertheless, the storm’s duration solidly surpasses the great Saturnian storm of 1903, which raged for 150 days.
|False-color Cassini images from February 2011 include two mosaics of a wide swath of storm (lower panels) and detailed views of the storm's head (top left) and vortex (top right). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.|
The latest storm spread steadily across Saturn in a band that eventually encircled the planet at 33 degrees north latitude. At the front of the storm was a fast-moving bright feature, sparkling with lightning activity, called the “head,” trailed by a giant cyclonic vortex that also took shape in December and finally a “tail” of turbulent clouds. By January, the researchers report, the vortex had grown to a massive whorl 12,000 kilometers wide—roughly the diameter of Earth. That ranks as the largest vortex ever recorded in Saturn’s troposphere, the study’s authors note, although they point out that a more recent vortex detected in the Saturnian stratosphere (a higher layer of the atmosphere) is even larger—some 50,000 kilometers across. The two vortices may well have been spun up by the same storm, “most likely as a result of a ‘planetary burp’—a warm mass ascended from depth and curled around on itself in the atmospheric layer,” Sayanagi says. “It seems that the vortex sheared apart vertically into two components, the tropospheric vortex we saw in visible [light], and the stratospheric vortex” that other researchers documented in infrared radiation. By June of 2011, the fast-moving head of the storm had raced around the planet to essentially lap the tropospheric vortex, leading to a collision that effectively ended the storm. Lightning strikes became intermittent, and the bright clouds making up the head disappeared. Based on past superstorms, however, the researchers predict that the aftermath of the Great White Spot will continue to disturb Saturn’s atmosphere for years—maybe even a decade—to come. - Scientific American.
Saturday, 19 January 2013
January 18, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Tens of thousands of dead fish washed ashore on a South Carolina beach on Tuesday, for at least the second time in a week. Approximately 30,000 to 40,000 menhaden fish washed ashore along a mile-and-a-half-long stretch of beach from Georgetown County, S.C., to Pawleys Island, said Pawleys Island Police Chief Michael Fanning, according to NBC News. It seemed likely that thousands more of the 6- to 8-inch-long fish would wash ashore later. This is the second time in one week such an incident has occurred in the area, notes NBC News. Late last week, hundreds of thousands of the small, oily fish washed up near Masonboro Island, N.C. "One time I was here I saw a bunch of jellyfish," South Carolina resident Bill Vogel told NBC local affiliate WMBF News of the dead fish. "They were all on the shore but nothing like this, it's really weird." The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) tried to explain the fish die-off on Wednesday. "It's an occurrence called hypoxia," Sergeant Steve Pop told WMBF. "That is dissolved oxygen levels in the water that drop to a level that is not sustainable for the fish... We've got some deep holes off of north inlet that holds these fish. This time of year the fish congregate in these holes which is depleting the oxygen source." Mel Bell, Director of the Office of Fisheries Management for S.C. DNR, elaborated on the theory: “On Friday we had a new moon [which caused] real high high tides and real low low tides,” he told The Sun News. “Probably what happened was a school [of menhaden] got in an area of water on a high tide, in a hole or depression, and at low tide they were trapped and depleted the oxygen in the water. Then, all the fish would suffocate." On Thursday, however, the DNR ruled out low dissolved oxygen, algal bloom or cold temperatures as the culprit for the fish death, according to The Sun. Mass animal deaths made headlines back in 2011 when thousands of animals were found dead in countries around the world. The mass deaths continued into 2012. Hundreds of Humboldt squid beached themselves near Santa Cruz, Calif., in December. In September, dead seagulls and fish washed ashore on Lake Eerie.- Huffington Post.
January 18, 2013 - PLANET EARTH - Sudden stratospheric warming has split the polar vortex in two. The polar vortex, which forms and deepens as the atmosphere loses heat to space in the darkness of the long Arctic winter night, was split in two by massive heating from below. A series of intense storms in the far north Pacific intensified a very long wave in the lower atmosphere. Energy on that planet sized wave went upwards from the lower atmosphere around the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau and broke into the stratosphere, causing major sudden warming. It rapidly reversed the strong cyclonic winds in the stratosphere around the pole, creating a central dome, breaking the vortex into two smaller vortices. We can see the splitting by making a map of the heights a weather balloon rises to to reach the very low atmospheric pressure of 50 mb. A standard atmosphere is 1013mb.
|The polar vortex was intact at 50 millibars (heights in m) on January 1 to 3. NOAA.|
|The polar vortex had broken in two (50millibar heights in m) on January 10 to 13. NOAA.|
|The dynamical activity in recent winters reveals that the frequency of MWs (Major Warmings) in the Arctic is increasing (e.g. Charlton Perez et al., 2008)...|
|Animation of temperature anomalies at the 30mb pressure surface in the |
stratosphere shows the magnitude of this massive event.
The swell will generate massive waves on the north and west shores of the Hawaiian Islands. NOAA's outstanding surf forecaster, Pat Caldwell is forecasting 24 foot wave face heights without the amplifying effects of refraction by the sea floor. In surf spots refraction can double these wave heights. 50 foot wave faces are possible on Friday at outer reefs on Kauai and Oahu.
|Ocean prediction center.|
|U.S. Navy WWIII model.|
January 19, 2013 – SYDNEY - Sydney endured its hottest ever day on Friday, with records smashed across the city and thousands of people suffering from the heat. The mercury topped 45.8 at Sydney’s Observatory Hill at 2.55pm, breaking the previous record set in 1939 by half a degree. The city’s highest temperature was a scorching 46.5 degrees (115.7°F), recorded in Penrith at 2.15pm, while Camden, Richmond and Sydney Airport all reached 46.4 degrees. More than 220 people had been treated for heat exposure or fainting by late afternoon, the Ambulance Service of NSW said. The heatwave also stranded thousands of commuters, with dozens of trains delayed as steel wires buckled and a hose used to run a key signaling system melted. On the central coast, the heat caused an overhead wire to buckle onto a train at about 1.30pm, trapping about 250 passengers for half an hour. The monorail ground to a halt, spitting sparks that started a soon-extinguished grass fire next to Darling Harbour. More serious fires raged across NSW and Victoria, including about a dozen blazes that burned out of control in coastal regions of NSW from the Hunter Valley to the south coast. In Victoria a man’s body was found in a burnt-out car in the town of Seaton in Gippsland. The victim, who is yet to be identified, was the first victim of the bushfires this summer. The conditions in NSW were hellish, firefighters said. “This has made for very difficult conditions and there are a lot of very active fires. There has not been the cloud cover we expected,” said the commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service, Shane Fitzsimmons. As temperatures cooled and the southerly approached, lightning strikes sparked multiple small fires across the state, adding further stress to the firefighting effort. By nightfall huge fires were still burning near Cessnock, Coonabarabran, Young and around Bega, but there were no reports of properties destroyed. In Victoria one house was incinerated by a bushfire about 200 kilometres east of Melbourne, which had doubled in size to cover more than 45,000 hectares. Even as thousands of front-line personnel battled the flames, the nation’s peak emergency body – the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council – lodged a Senate inquiry submission warning of worse to come. The capacity of fire and emergency services to respond to major natural disasters will need to be increased if extreme weather events become more frequent and intense due to climate change, its submission to an inquiry into extreme weather events said. A bigger “surge capacity” was needed to deal with extreme events, such as those seen in the past two weeks. The council’s manager of operations, Paul Considine, said it had sought scientific advice in 2009 on the impacts of climate change on extreme weather. “We’ve been careful. We are not climate science experts,” Mr Considine said. “Our position is the science is there, we have accepted the science that has been presented to us, and if it is correct we can predict these certain results. At the Big Day Out music festival at Olympic Park, some people were treated for heat stress, while others partied under public showers. “We’re almost dying it’s so hot,” said Brittany Markey, 18, from Newcastle. “We’ve been standing under all of the showers and drinking water but it’s so expensive – $4.50 a bottle. When it rained for just a bit, that was awesome but otherwise waiting more than two hours without going under the showers is death. “The water showers and the sprays are keeping us cool. Without them, the heatstroke would definitely be coming on.” -SMH
Friday, 18 January 2013
One mission aims to take a Bruce Willis approach in the movie Armageddon, by deflecting any future asteroids that might be headed towards Earth.
The European Space Agency is looking for research ideas to help guide the development of an asteroid deflection mission study.
ESA is asking for concepts based on both ground- and space-based investigations that could improve the understanding of the physics of very high-speed collisions involving man-made and natural objects in space.
The space agency said it will be calling on help to guide future studies linked to the Asteroid Impact and Deflection mission (AIDA).
This low-budget transatlantic partnership between ESA and U.S. researchers involves the joint operations of two small spacecraft sent to intercept a binary asteroid.
The first Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft is designed by the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and will collide with the smaller of the two asteroids.
ESA's Asteroid Impact Monitor (AIM) spacecraft will survey these bodies in detail, both before and after the collision.
The impact could help to change the pace at which the objects spin around each other, and AIM's close-up view will "ground-truth" these observations.
“The advantage is that the spacecraft are simple and independent,” Andy Cheng of Johns Hopkins, leading the AIDA project on the US side, said in a statement. “They can both complete their primary investigation without the other one.”
Andrés Gálvez, ESA AIDA study manager, said that by working in tandem, the quality and quantity of results will increase greatly.
“Both missions become better when put together – getting much more out of the overall investment," Gálvez said. “And the vast amounts of data coming from the joint mission should help to validate various theories, such as our impact [modeling].”
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DARMSTADT, Germany — ESA’s Mars Express imaged the striking upper part of the Reull Vallis region of Mars with its high-resolution stereo camera last year. Reull Vallis, the river-like structure in these images, is believed to have formed when running water flowed in the distant martian past, cutting a steep-sided channel through the Promethei Terra Highlands before running on towards the floor of the vast Hellas basin.
This sinuous structure, which stretches for almost 1500 km across the martian landscape, is flanked by numerous tributaries, one of which can be clearly seen cutting in to the main valley towards the upper (north) side.
The new Mars Express images show a region of Reull Vallis at a point where the channel is almost 7 km wide and 300 m deep.
The sides of Reull Vallis are particularly sharp and steep in these images, with parallel longitudinal features covering the floor of the channel itself. These structures are believed to be caused by the passage of loose debris and ice during the ‘Amazonian’ period (which continues to this day) due to glacial flow along the channel.
The structures were formed long after it was originally carved by liquid water during the Hesperian period, which is believed to have ended between 3.5 billion and 1.8 billion years ago.
Similar lineated structures, believed to be rich in ice, can also be found in many of the surrounding craters.
In the wider context image, the tributary intersecting the main channel appears to be part of a forking of the main valley into two distinct branches further upstream before merging back into a single main valley.
The right (northern) part of the main image is dominated by the Promethei Terra Highlands with their high and soft-rounded mountains shown in these images, rising around 2500 m above the surrounding flat plains.
The perspective view below shows one of these mountains with nearby sediment-filled impact craters.
This region shows a striking resemblance to the morphology found in regions on Earth affected by glaciation. For example, we can see circular step-like structures on the inner walls of the sediment-filled crater in the foreground of the second perspective view. Planetary scientists think that these may represent former high water or glacial levels, before ice and water sublimated or evaporated away in stages at various times.
The morphology of Reull Vallis suggests it has experienced a diverse and complex history, with analogies seen in glacial activity on Earth. These analogies are giving planetary geologists tantalising glimpses of a past on the Red Planet not too dissimilar to events on our own world today.