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Emergency declared after 7.1 quake hits New Zealand

Posted by Admin on September 4, 2010

Global earthquake epicenters, 1963 1998

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WELLINGTON | Sat Sep 4, 2010 1:36pm IST

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Authorities declared an overnight curfew for Saturday after a major earthquake hit New Zealand‘s second biggest city, Christchurch, bringing down power lines and bridges and wrecking roads and building facades.

“The damages are incredibly frightening. The only thing you can say it’s a miracle that no one lost their life,” Prime Minister John Key told Television NZ after the quake struck with a magnitude of 7.1 from a depth of 10 kms (6 miles) at around 4.35 a.m. local time (1635 GMT Friday).

He said early estimates for the cost of repairs were around NZ$2 billion ($1.4 billion).

A curfew was slapped on the central business district of Christchurch between 1900 and 0700 (0700 GMT and 1900 GMT). Earlier, a formal civil defence state of emergency was imposed in the city of around 350,000 to coordinate recovery operations.

The last time authorities declared a local emergency was in late December 2007 when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Gisborne on New Zealand’s North Island. The earthquake caused damage to some buildings but also caused no casualties.

Christchurch city and the neighbouring small towns bore the full force of the quake, which did considerable damage to infrastructure.

“The damage is immense, it’s something that has affected every family, every household…the hit on our infrastructure, the pipes that deliver the water, the waste water, the bridges, the power supplies…has been very significant,” Christchurch mayor Bob Parker told reporters.

The city’s hospital said two men had been admitted with serious injuries, one hit by a falling chimney and the other cut by glass.

Police said there were minor instances of looting, which had been quickly contained. In the suburbs many houses had broken windows, toppled chimneys, cracked walls and items thrown off shelves, with some streets and footpaths subsiding.

In late afternoon, power has been restored to 90 percent of the Christchurch urban area and 80 percent of the rural network.

Authorities were preparing to bring in water in large tankers because pumping stations were out of action and pipes broken.

RURAL EPICENTRE

The small farming community of Darfield, around 20 kms (12 miles) west of Christchurch, was near the quake’s epicentre.

The principal of the primary school there said the quake, which threw him out of bed, was terrifying.

“Our china cabinet has crashed, pictures are off the wall, anything high up has come down and the cat has gone. He is probably still heading south,” Markham McCullen told the NZ Press Association.

GNS Science, the New Zealand government seismological agency, revised the quake’s magnitude to 7.1 from an original 7.4. The U.S. Geological Survey initially reported it at 7.4 but later revised its figure to 7.0.

Christchurch airport, which was shut earlier, has been reopened and is operational, while the railway network and bridges throughout the region were also being checked for damage.

Canterbury University, which has about 22,000 students, said there has been no material structural damage on its campus, but the university will be closed until Sept 13 for health and safety assessment.

The quake was felt as a long rolling motion lasting up to 40 seconds. The area was continuing to feel aftershocks as strong as magnitude 5.3.

The quake was among the 10 strongest recorded in New Zealand, which sits between the Pacific and Indo-Australian tectonic plates, and records around 14,000 earthquakes a year, of which around 20 top magnitude 5.0.

The last fatal quake was in 1968 when an earthquake measuring 7.1 killed three people on the South Island‘s West Coast.

($1 = NZ$1.39)

(Additional reporting by Mantik Kusjanto; Editing by David Fox)

(For more news, visit Reuters India)

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Iceland volcano could have world consequences

Posted by Admin on March 23, 2010

Iceland volcano could have world consequences

1783 eruption changed weather patterns, sent poisoned air to British Isles

By Gudjon Helgason and Paisley Dodds

updated 7:30 p.m. ET March 22, 2010//

REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Blasts of lava and ash shot out of a volcano in southern Iceland on Monday and small tremors rocked the ground, a surge in activity that raised fears of a larger explosion at the nearby Katla volcano.

Scientists say history has proven that when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupts, Katla follows — the only question is how soon. And Katla, located under the massive Myrdalsjokull icecap, threatens disastrous flooding and explosive blasts when it blows.

Saturday’s eruption at Eyjafjallajokull (AYA-feeyapla-yurkul) — dormant for nearly 200 years — forced at least 500 people to evacuate. Most have returned to their homes, but authorities were waiting for scientific assessments to determine whether they were safe to stay. Residents of 14 farms nearest to the eruption site were told to stay away.

Several small tremors were felt early Monday, followed by spurts of lava and steam rocketing into the air.

Iceland sits on a large volcanic hot spot in the Atlantic’s mid-oceanic ridge. Eruptions, common throughout Iceland’s history, are often triggered by seismic activity when the Earth’s plates move and when magma from deep underground pushes its way to the surface.

Like earthquakes, predicting the timing of volcanic eruptions is an imprecise science. An eruption at the Katla volcano could be disastrous, however — both for Iceland and other nations.

Iceland’s Laki volcano erupted in 1783, freeing gases that turned into smog. The smog floated across the Jet Stream, changing weather patterns. Many died from gas poisoning in the British Isles. Crop production fell in western Europe. Famine spread. Some even linked the eruption, which helped fuel famine, to the French Revolution. Painters in the 18th century illustrated fiery sunsets in their works.

The winter of 1784 was also one of the longest and coldest on record in North America. New England reported a record stretch of below-zero temperatures and New Jersey reported record snow accumulation. The Mississippi River also reportedly froze in New Orleans.

“These are Hollywood-sort of scenarios but possible,” said Colin Macpherson, a geologist with the University of Durham. “As the melt rises, it’s a little like taking a cork out of a champagne bottle.”

There are three main places where volcanoes normally occur — along strike-slip faults such as California’s San Andreas fault line, along areas where plates overlap one another such as in the Philippines and the Pacific Rim, and in areas like Iceland, where two of the Earth’s plates are moving apart from each other in a so-called spreading system.

Unlike the powerful volcanos along the Pacific Rim where the slow rise of magma gives scientists early seismic warnings that an eruption is imminent, Iceland’s volcanos are unique in that many erupt under ice sheets with little warning.

Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, a geologist at the University of Iceland who flew over the site Monday, said the beginning of Saturday’s eruption was so indistinct that it initially went undetected by geological instruments. Many of the tremors were below magnitude 2.6.

Using thermal cameras and radar to map the lava flow, Gudmundsson and other scientists were able to determine that the lava from Eyjafjallajokull was flowing down a gorge and not moving toward the ice caps — reducing any threat of floods.

He said he and other scientists were watching Katla but Monday’s trip was meant to assess immediate risk.

“A general expectation is that because of the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, the fissure would widen and in that sense, there’s a greater risk of extending into or underneath the glaciers and prompting an eruption at Katla,” said Andy Russell with Newcastle University’s Earth Surface Processes Research Group, who went with a team to Iceland before the eruption. “From records, we know that every time Eyjafjallajokull erupts, Katla has also erupted.”

Russell said past Katla eruptions have caused floods the size of the Amazon and sent boulders as big as houses tumbling down valleys and roads. The last major eruption took place in 1918. Floods followed in as little as an hour.

Those eruptions have posed risks to residents nearby, but most of Iceland’s current population of 320,000 live in the capital of Reykjavik on the western part of the island.

Southern Iceland is sparely populated but has both glaciers and unstable volcanoes — a destructive combination.

The last time there was an eruption near the 100-square-mile (160 square-kilometer) Eyjafjallajokull glacier was in 1821, and that was a “lazy” eruption that lasted slowly and continuously for two years.

https://i0.wp.com/www.hotelskogar.is/resources/images/Attractions/hekla2.jpg
Iceland is one of the few places in the world where a mid-ocean ridge actually rises above sea level. Many volcanic eruptions along the ocean basin often go undetected because they can’t be easily seen.

First settled by Vikings in the 9th century, Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice because of its volcanos and glaciers. During the Middle Ages, Icelanders called the Hekla volcano, the country’s most active, the “Gateway to Hell,” believing that souls were dragged into the fire below.

The last major volcanic eruption in Iceland occurred in 2004 with the Grimsvotn volcano.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Chile Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth

Posted by Admin on March 4, 2010

Chile Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth
By SPACE.com Staff

posted: 02 March 2010
10:02 am ET

This story was updated at 6:22 p.m. EST.

The massive 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile may have changed the entire Earth’s rotation and shortened the length of days on our planet, a NASA scientist said Monday.

The quake, the seventh strongest earthquake in recorded history, hit Chile Saturday and should have shortened the length of an Earth day by 1.26 microseconds, according to research scientist Richard Gross at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. One microsecond is one-millionth of a second long.

“This change should be permanent,” Gross told SPACE.com today. There is a chance the Earth’s rotation could relax over time, but it is too early to tell, he said.

The computer model used by Gross and his colleagues to determine the effects of theChile earthquake effect also found that it should have moved Earth’s figure axis by about 3 inches (8 cm or 27 milliarcseconds).

“Perhaps more impressive is how much the quake shifted Earth’s axis,” NASA officials said in a Monday update.

The Earth’s figure axis is not the same as its north-south axis, which it spins around once every day at a speed of about 1,000 mph (1,604 kph).

The figure axis is the axis around which the Earth’s mass is balanced. It is offset from the Earth’s north-south axis by about 33 feet (10 meters).

Strong earthquakes have altered Earth’s days and its axis in the past. The 9.1 Sumatran earthquake in 2004, which set off a deadly tsunami, should have shortened Earth’s days by 6.8 microseconds and shifted its axis by about 2.76 inches (7 cm, or 2.32 milliarcseconds).

One Earth day is about 24 hours, or 86,400 seconds, long. Over the course of a year, the length of a day normally changes gradually by about one millisecond, which is 1,000 microseconds.

That variation is due to seasonal variations in the Earth’s ocean currents and the atmosphere’s jet stream, Gross said. As the jet stream shifts southward during the winter months in the Earth’s northern hemisphere, the length of the day gradually changes, he said.

In the past, Gross has said that Earth’s rotation slows down slightly in those winter months, then picks back up in the summer.

The Chile earthquake was much smaller than the Sumatran temblor, but its effects on the Earth still have an impact because of its location. Its epicenter was located in the Earth’s mid-latitudes rather than near the equator like the Sumatran event.

Gross compared the Sumatran event to a figure skater drawing her arms inward during a spin to turn faster on the ice. Since the Sumatran quake was closer to the Earth’s equator, its day-shortening effect is stronger than the Chile temblor, he said.

But the fault responsible for the 2010 Chile quake also slices through Earth at a steeper angle than the Sumatran quake’s fault, NASA scientists said.

“This makes the Chile fault more effective in moving Earth’s mass vertically and hence more effective in shifting Earth’s figure axis,” NASA officials said.

Gross said his findings are based on early data available on the Chile earthquake. He is confident in the computer model’s accuracy, with only slight tweaks expected to be required, he said.

The Chile earthquake has killed more than 700 people and caused widespread devastation in the South American country.

Several major telescopes in Chile’s Atacama Desert have escaped damage, according to the European Southern Observatory managing them.

A salt-measuring NASA satellite instrument destined to be installed on an Argentinean satellite was also undamaged in the earthquake, JPL officials said.

The Aquarius instrument was in the city of Bariloche, Argentina, where it is being installed in the Satelite de AplicacionesCientificas (SAC-D) satellite. The satellite integration facility is about 365 miles (588 km) from the Chile quake’s epicenter.

The Aquarius instrument is designed to provide monthly global maps of the ocean’s salt concentration in order to track current circulation and its role in climate change.

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Huge quake hits Chile – Tsunami threatens Pacific

Posted by Admin on February 27, 2010

Huge quake hits Chile – Tsunami threatens Pacific

By ROBERTO CANDIA and EVA VERGARA, Associated Press Writer – 58 mins ago

TALCA, Chile – A devastating earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, toppling homes, collapsing bridges and plunging trucks into the fractured earth. A tsunami set off by the magnitude-8.8 quake threatened every nation around the Pacific Ocean — roughly a quarter of the globe.

Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma said the most powerful quake to hit the country in a half-century killed at least 82 people, but the death toll was rising quickly.

In the town of Talca, just 65 miles (105 kilometers) from the epicenter, Associated Press journalist Roberto Candia said it felt as if a giant had grabbed him and shaken him.

The town’s historic center, filled with buildings of adobe mud and straw, largely collapsed, though most of those were businesses that were not inhabited during the 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. EST, 0634 GMT) quake. Neighbors pulled at least five people from the rubble while emergency workers, themselves disoriented, asked for information from reporters.

Many roads were destroyed, and electricity, water and phone lines were cut to many areas — meaning there was no word of death or damage from many outlying areas.

In the Chilean capital of Santiago, 200 miles (325 kilometers) northeast of the epicenter, a car dangled from a collapsed overpass, the national Fine Arts Museum was badly damaged and an apartment building’s two-story parking lot pancaked, smashing about 50 cars whose alarms rang incessantly.

Experts warned that a tsunami could strike anywhere in the Pacific, and Hawaii could face its largest waves since 1964 starting at 11:19 a.m. (4:19 p.m. EST, 2119 GMT), according to Charles McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Tsunami waves were likely to hit Asian, Australian and New Zealandshores within 24 hours of the earthquake. The U.S. West Coast andAlaska, too, were threatened.

A huge wave swept into a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles (660 kilometers) off the Chilean coast, PresidentMichelle Bachelet said, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.

Bachelet had no information on the number of people injured. She declared a “state of catastrophe” in central Chile.

“We have had a huge earthquake, with some aftershocks,” she said from an emergency response center. She said Chile has not asked for assistance from other countries, and urged Chileans not to panic.

“The system is functioning. People should remain calm. We’re doing everything we can with all the forces we have. Any information we will share immediately,” she said.

Powerful aftershocks rattled Chile’s coast — 24 of them magnitude 5 or greater and one reaching magnitude 6.9 — the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

In Santiago, modern buildings are built to withstand earthquakes, but many older ones were heavily damaged, including the Nuestra Senora de la Providencia church, whose bell tower collapsed. A bridge just outside the capital also collapsed, and at least one car flipped upside down.

Several hospitals were evacuated due to earthquake damage, Bachelet said.

Santiago’s airport will remain closed for at least 24 hours, airport director Eduardo del Canto said. The passenger terminal suffered major damage, he told Chilean television in a telephone interview. TV images show smashed windows, partially collapsed ceilings and pedestrian walkways destroyed.

Santiago’s subway was shut as well and hundreds of buses were trapped at a terminal by a damaged bridge, Transportation and Telecommunications Minister told Chilean television. He urged Chileans to make phone calls or travel only when absolutely necessary.

Candia was visiting his wife’s 92-year-old grandmother in Talca when the quake struck.

“Everything was falling — chests of drawers, everything,” he said. “I was sleeping with my 8-year-old sonDiego and I managed to cover his head with a pillow. It was like major turbulence on an airplane.”

In Concepcion, 70 miles (115 kilometers) from the epicenter, nurses and residents pushed the injured through the streets on stretchers. Others walked around in a daze wrapped in blankets, some carrying infants in their arms.

Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, is 60 miles (95 kilometers) from the ski town of Chillan, a gateway to Andean ski resorts that was destroyed in a 1939 earthquake.

The quake also shook buildings in Argentina‘s capital of Buenos Aires, 900 miles (1,400 kilometers) away on the Atlantic side of South America.

Marco Vidal, a program director for Grand Circle Travel who was traveling with a group of 34 Americans, was on the 19th floor of the Crown Plaza Santiago hotel when the quake struck.

“All the things start to fall. The lamps, everything, was going on the floor,” he said. “I felt terrified.”

Cynthia Iocono, from Linwood, Pennsylvania, said she first thought the quake was a train.

“But then I thought, `Oh, there’s no train here.’ And then the lamps flew off the dresser and my TV flew off onto the floor and crashed.”

The quake struck after concert-goers had left South America’s leading music festival in the coastal city of Vina del Mar, but it caught partiers leaving a disco.

“It was very bad. People were screaming. Some people were running, others appeared paralyzed. I was one of them,” Julio Alvarez told Radio Cooperativa.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center called for “urgent action to protect lives and property” in Hawaii, which is among 53 nations and territories subject to tsunami warnings.

“Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near theearthquake epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts,” the warning center said. It did not expect a tsunami along the west of the U.S. or Canada.

The largest earthquake ever recorded struck the same area of Chile on May 22, 1960. The magnitude-9.5 quake killed 1,655 people and left 2 million homeless. The tsunami that it caused killed people in Hawaii,Japan and the Philippines and caused damage to the west coast of the United States.

___

Eva Vergara reported from Santiago, ChileAssociated Press Television News cameraman Mauricio Cuevas in Santiago and AP writer Sandy Kozel in Washington contributed to this story.

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American Red Cross must explain $175 million in unallocated Haiti donations

Posted by Admin on February 20, 2010

American Red Cross must explain $175 million in unallocated Haiti donations

One month ago, singer Wycef Jean’s “NGO” (for”Non-Governmental Organization) called “Yelle Haiti” raised just over $1 million to help victims of the 7.0 Haiti Earthquake. At the time, scores of non-profit organizations sprang up to announce some kind of effort to assist the quake-damaged country.

But of all of them, Yelle Haiti received the most attention because of alleged past spending patterns, leading to the awful and unfounded accusation that Wycef Jean was using the money for personal use. In this video made one month ago, Wycef Jean answered his critics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDE8YJac0Wc&feature=player_embedded

Just after The Smoking Gun and The Washington Post blog posts were issued (and with no evidence of having attempted to personally contact Wycef Jean to give him a chance to respond to the accusations) and the rescue efforts ramped up, suddenly the American Red Cross became mentioned in commercial after commercial as the “go-to” nonprofit for donations.

Ok, but where’s the $175 million?

Some newspapers, like The San Francisco Chronicle, included the American Red Cross in a list of recommended organizations to donate to in the effort to help Haiti. The message, and thus the common assumption or “conventional wisdom”, was that the American Red Cross was the “safe” organization to donate to.

It’s not.

According to CNN Money, The American Red Cross had to ask for a $100 million cash infusion after its emergency fund was depleted. Today, reports are that the American Red Cross spent or committed nearly $80 million to “meet the most urgent needs of earthquake survivors.”

But wait. Where did the cost of $80 million come from? Or is it that the American Red Cross received that much in donations and while all of it is committed, only part of it is spent? According to the American Red Cross’ own one month report, it has raised $255 million for the Haitian Relief effort.

That’s as much money as was raised to finance the upgrade construction of the Miami Dolphins’ stadium for Super Bowl XLIV.

But here’s where the reports gets really confusing and disturbing. While $255 million was raised, only $80 million was spent or committed, leaving $175 million in donations that’s neither spent nor committed to Haiti.

Where’s the $175 million the American Red Cross collected? Where’s The Washington Post and The Smoking Gun to look at this?

The complete American Red Cross Haiti one month report does not help because it fails to even mention the $175 million collected but not spent or committed to Haiti.

Why?

The logical mind would think that if the American Red Cross gained $255 million in money that donors believed was going to the Haiti effort, then all of the $255 million should be committed to Haiti, not some of it.

This is a major outrage. But more outrageous is the media’s blind eye to the American Red Cross’ activities. One would think a reporter would not be so lazy that they could avoid subtracting $80 million from $255 million, get $175 million, read the Red Cross’ online documents, and start asking about the unallocated $175 million?

But that’s what’s happened in the case of the only mainstream media organization to look at donation spending progress to date, The Miami Herald. The report in the business sectionmentions the $255 million and the $80 million in one sentence – this one:

For Haiti, the Red Cross has raised more than $250 million and has plans for some $80 million of that so far, said Red Cross spokesman Jonathan Aiken.

But disturbingly, The Miami Herald fails to ask the “What happened to the $175 million in donations” question.

Everyone deserves an answer, especially Wycef Jean and those who’ve ran Yelle Haiti, and who continue to be dogged by a PR attack that seems to have benefitted organizations like the American Red Cross and allowed them to submit sloppy reports of their own.

Indeed, The Miami Herald picked up the “something’s wrong with Yelle Haiti” theme and repeated it in the same story where they give the American Red Cross a blind pass. That is awful and must be explained ASAP.

Stay tuned.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/abraham/detail?blogid=95&entry_id=57227

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What is Happening in the Gulf of Aden?

Posted by Admin on February 1, 2010

“GULF OF ADEN” RELATED VIDEOS FEED FROM YOU TUBE

Read the rest of this entry »

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