October 2016 – JAPAN– Japan’s largest active volcano, Mount Aso, erupted recently sending a massive cloud of smoke and ash almost 7 miles into the air. The volcanic debris and ash column was large enough to cover surrounding cities and coat them in grey soot.
The 5,200 feet tall Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture is on the southwestern Japanese island of Kyushu. Luckily, no injuries have been reported from the eruption, but damages mainly due to ash fallout are still being assessed. The Japan Meteorological Agency raised the threat to level three near Mount Aso, warning local residents to not approach the volcano. The agency predicted heavy ash fall within 16 miles northeast of the volcano due to dominant wind direction.
“It is extremely rare for an eruption column to exceed 10,000 meters,” said Makoto Saito, the director of the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Volcanology Division. There remains the potential for another eruption to occur due to the high activity of Mount Aso. Japan has witnessed several other Level 3 alerts this year alone coming from activity at Sakurajima and Kuchinoerabujima Volcanoes. You can witness the eruption in the Associated Press video below containing raw footage during the eruption. The footage was originally played on Japan’s NHK public TV station and shows the eruption from a vantage point. –Forbes
October 2016 – CALIFORNIA – Just days after a cluster of more than 200 small earthquakes shook the Salton Sea area of Southern California, scientists have found evidence of a second fault line that runs parallel to the massive San Andreas Fault – one of the state’s most dangerous fault lines. The new fault appears to run right through the 56-km-long Salton Sea in the Colorado Desert, to the west of the San Andreas Fault. Now that we know it’s there, seismologists will be forced to reassess earthquake risk models for the greater Los Angeles area.
“This previously unidentified fault represents a new hazard to the region and holds significant implications for fault models … and, consequently, models of ground-motion prediction and southern San Andreas Fault rupture scenarios,” the team from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Nevada Seismological Laboratory reports. Now known as the Salton Trough Fault, the newly mapped fault has been hidden for all this time because it’s submerged beneath the Salton Sea – a vast, salty rift lake that formed as a result of all the tectonic activity in the area.
The team had to use an array of instruments, including multi-channel seismic data, ocean-bottom seismometers, and a surveying method called light detection and ranging (LiDAR), to precisely map fault inside several sediment layers both in and surrounding the lakebed. “The location of the fault in the eastern Salton Sea has made imaging it difficult, and there is no associated small seismic events, which is why the fault was not detected earlier,” says Scripps geologist Neal Driscoll.
Oddly enough, the fact that we now know there’s an extra fault line running parallel to the San Andreas Fault doesn’t necessarily mean the area is more prone to earthquakes than we originally thought. It might actually solve the mystery of why the region has been experiencing LESS earthquakes than expected. As the team explains, recent research has revealed that the region has experienced magnitude-7 earthquakes roughly every 175 to 200 years for the last 1,000 years. But that’s not been the case more recently. In fact, a major rupture on the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault has not occurred in the last 300 years, and researchers think the region is long overdue for a major quake.
Now they have to figure out what role the Salton Trough Fault could have played in all that. “The extended nature of time since the most recent earthquake on the Southern San Andreas has been puzzling to the earth sciences community,” said one of the Nevada team, seismologist Graham Kent. “Based on the deformation patterns, this new fault has accommodated some of the strain from the larger San Andreas system, so without having a record of past earthquakes from this new fault, it’s really difficult to determine whether this fault interacts with the southern San Andreas Fault at depth or in time.” Of course, for those living in the area, it’s cold comfort, because the southern San Andreas Fault is still “locked, loaded, and ready to go.” Let’s hope the discovery of the Salton Trough Fault will make it easier for seismologists to at least predict when that will happen. –Science Alert
October 2016 – SANTA ANA, CA. – Southern California residents should remain on heightened alert until Tuesday for the increased possibility of a major earthquake, officials said. The warning by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services follows a series of small temblors deep under the Salton Sea, which is located on the 800-mile-long San Andreas fault, the Orange County Register reported Saturday. Such warnings are typically issued once or twice a year, said Kelly Huston, the deputy director of crisis communications for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
The latest alert was issued after 142 temblors hit starting Monday near Bombay Beach at the southern end of the fault. Those quakes ranged from a magnitude of 1.4 to 4.3, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Scientists estimate the probability of a quake with a magnitude of 7.0 or higher on the southern San Andreas Fault being triggered is as high as 1 in 100 and as low as 1 in 3,000. The average chance for such an earthquake striking on any given week is 1 in 6,000. That heightened probability will last through Tuesday.
Earthquakes along the San Andreas typically occur every 300 years, said Morgan Page, a geophysicist with the USGS. Earthquake Science Center, but the southernmost end of the fault hasn’t ruptured since 1690. “There is significant stress stored on the southern end,” Page said. Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed legislation to develop a statewide warning system to inform Californians of impending earthquakes through their cell phones, radios and other devices. “California is earthquake country,” said Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the state’s Office of Emergency Services. “We must always be prepared and not let our guard down.” –Bloomberg
October 2016 – CARIBBEAN – Major Hurricane Matthew will pose severe risks to lives and property across Jamaica, eastern Cuba and Haiti by unleashing flooding rain, destructive winds and an inundating storm surge early next week. Matthew, currently a Category 4 (major) hurricane, will continue to slowly meander across the central Caribbean Sea before making an abrupt turn to the north later this weekend.
That will put the major hurricane on a path to track over or dangerously close to Jamaica or Haiti before threatening to make a direct hit on eastern Cuba. “There is a potential for Matthew to bring devastating winds, a deadly storm surge and flooding rain to parts of Jamaica, far western Haiti and eastern Cuba,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Mike Doll said. After moving away from the Caribbean, Matthew threatens to approach the U.S. East Coast during the middle and latter half of next week.
Matthew is the second major hurricane of the season, following Gaston from August. On Friday night, Matthew briefly became the first Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin since Hurricane Felix in 2007. While Matthew is no longer a Category 5 hurricane and could weaken to a Category 3 hurricane prior to reaching land, residents in its path should not let their guard down.
“If Matthew weakens to a Category 3 hurricane at any point into Monday, it could strengthen back to a Category 4 hurricane on its approach toward Jamaica,” Doll said. Rough seas, dangerous surf, stiff winds and gusty, drenching squalls will impact Aruba and the northern coasts of Venezuela and Colombia into Saturday evening. As Matthew turns to the north, hurricane conditions will ramp up across Jamaica, Haiti and eastern Cuba on Sunday night into Tuesday before eventually spreading into the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos later on Tuesday into Wednesday. Major Hurricane Matthew poses severe risk to lives in Caribbean.
How quickly Matthew turns to the north will determine whether the worst of the impacts track closer to Jamaica or Haiti on Monday. A slower turn to the north will take Matthew farther west toward Jamaica, while a faster turn to the north will take the storm farther east toward Haiti, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Ed Vallee. Latest indications take the center of Matthew closer to Jamaica than Haiti. –Accuweather
October 2016 – MEXICO – Hundreds of people have been forced to leave their homes after the eruption of the Colima volcano in western Mexico. The volcano has continued to produce glowing lava flows, spewing a column of ash into the air. The Colima volcano, also known as the Volcano of Fire, erupted on Friday in western Mexico, but has continued to spew lava and ash throughout Saturday, prompting the evacuations of three hamlets.
Glowing-hot lava continued to flow down its southern and southeastern slopes while the volcano continued to spew ash and vapor into the air, reported the civil defense office in Jalisco state. On Twitter, the Mexican National Civil Protection System posted a map of the areas nearest the volcano which are potentially in danger.
Within Jalisco state, 26 people were evacuated from the hamlet of Juan Barragan, the state office reported. The government of the nearby state of Colima evacuated 230 people from the “high risk” areas of La Becerra and an additional 80 people from Yerbabuena. Images of the first eruption on Friday show glowing rocks shooting out of the volcano, with lava flowing steadily down the volcano’s slopes. Citizens near the volcano have been advised to keep their windows shut to protect against falling ash. The 12,533-foot (3,820-meter) high volcano is located 430 miles (690 kilometers) west of the capital, Mexico City. –DW
October 1, 2016 –ICELAND – Another quite powerful earthquake swarm hit Katla volcano at 12.03 (12.03 pm) September 30th when several quakes larger than magnitude 3 struck at the volcano. The Iceland Met Office (IMO) has raised the aviation color code from green to yellow in accordance with recommended International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) procedures. This alert is issued when a volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background level.
The police commissioner of South Iceland has sent out units to visit Þakgil canyon and other popular travel destinations close to Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the home of the sub-glacial volcano, to warn people who might be in the area. Scientists are concerned as the volcano’s behavior is quite unusual. The earthquakes’ points of origin are shallow and there are no signs of volcanic tremors, but the experts say the quakes might nevertheless be a sign of an impending eruption. The experts will meet with Iceland’s Civil Protection at 14 (2 pm) to assess the situation.
Color codes are intended to inform the aviation sector about a volcano’s status. Notifications are issued for both increasing and decreasing volcanic activity, and are accompanied by text with details (as known) about the nature of the unrest or eruption, especially in regard to ash-plume information and likely outcomes. –Iceland Magazine
October 1, 2016:Since midnight, about 22 tremors have registered around Katla volcano, South Iceland, which is considerably less than yesterday, RÚV reports. The largest tremor registered shortly after 3 am and was of magnitude 2.7. By comparison, 230 tremors registered in Katla yesterday, including four earthquakes between noon and 12:15 pm in excess of magnitude 3.
Reporter Gísli Einarsson is in the vicinity of Vík í Mýrdal. He stated the recent seismic activity reminds locals of the days preceding the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. Sigþrúður Ármannsdóttir, natural hazards specialist at the Icelandic Met Office, told RÚV it’s impossible to predict whether the seismic activity continues to decrease. Electrical conductivity in Múlakvísl River remains high, but the water level has subsided. –Iceland Review