October 2016 – ITALY – Italian authorities said on Monday they were taking care of more than 15,000 people left homeless by the country’s most powerful earthquake in nearly 40 years. Although Sunday’s 6.6-magnitude tremor did not result in any deaths, the third powerful quake in just over two months has left thousands of homes in ruins or structurally unsafe and emptied a string of villages and small towns across the country’s mountainous central regions. The majority of residents of the devastated villages and towns have taken refuge with friends and family as they anxiously await a green light to return to their homes.
But the national civil protection agency said on Monday it was providing assistance to 15,000 people affected by Sunday’s quake, which was so powerful it caused cracks in buildings in Rome, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) away from the epicenter near the Umbrian town of Norcia. Some 4,000 people from the worst-hit area around Norcia have been sent to hotels on the Adriatic coast with another 500 taken by bus to the inland Lake Trasimeno. More than 10,000 are being put up in converted sports halls and other temporary facilities, including tents, across Umbria and the neighboring Marche region, the protection agency said.
A further 1,100 people are still in Adriatic coast hotels as a result of the August 24th Amatrice earthquake, which left nearly 300 dead. Given the strength of Sunday’s new quake, experts said it was remarkable that it had not resulted in any more fatalities. With many roads blocked by landslips or huge boulders dislodged by the quake, civil protection chief Fabrizio Curcio and reconstruction supremo Vasco Errani were surveying the damage by helicopter. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has vowed that every damaged house will be rebuilt and that communities he described as part of “the soul of the country” would not be abandoned. But after the trauma of three major quakes in such quick succession, the future of the already sparsely populated affected areas looks bleak.
“At the moment I don’t see any possible future,’ evacuated Norcia resident Antonella Ridolfi told AFP. “Everything here will have to be rebuilt. There is nothing really solid left in the center. We have always bounced back after other earthquakes but we’ve never had to deal with one as strong as this.” – The Local
October 2016 – ITALY– A powerful 6.6-magnitude earthquake rocked central Italy on Sunday morning, injuring at least 20 people, in the strongest tremor to hit the country in more than three decades. The earthquake follows tremors last week and comes on the heels of a devastating quake in August, which killed nearly 300 people and flattened entire villages.
Residents ran onto the streets in a panic as the quake struck at 7:40 a.m. local time (2:40 a.m. ET) Sunday, and rescuers were seen soon after, helping evacuate a group of nuns from a church. They worked through aftershocks that hit every 20 minutes or so. Authorities are hopeful there may be no deaths since many residents in the region had already been evacuated to emergency camps and hotel rooms paid for by the government after the August quake and last week’s temblors, and schools had shut down in anticipation of powerful aftershocks.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome thanked rescuers and vowed to rebuild damaged villages. “Italy has many faults, but these situations bring out the best of us,” he said, adding the country would rebuild houses, churches and shops. “We will rebuild everything. We have the resources to do it.” The main road into the worst-affected area has been blocked at various points, said Curcio, the civil protection chief, and helicopters were airlifting the injured to the hospital in Foligno, around 30 kilometers to the northwest. Six aircraft were monitoring the affected regions, he added. Initial images from Sunday’s quake show devastation to some historical buildings. Many of these buildings had not been reinforced since two powerful quakes struck Wednesday.
The town center of Amatrice took another battering Sunday after most of its buildings were seriously damaged in the August quake — a lone bell tower was seen poking up among the rubble. The much-visited Basilica of San Benedetto in Norcia was leveled at its core, only its facade still somewhat intact. Central Italy is a deeply Catholic region. Many people have grown weary of the recent bout of quakes and have permanently abandoned the area. Many others, however, are refusing to leave, some sleeping in their cars that they believe offer better protection than the roofs over their heads.
The quake was felt as far north as the Alps, Curcio said, and as far south as Rome, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) away. The metro in Rome has been shut down as authorities continue to survey the area, municipal officials said. Schools in Rome will be closed Monday so buildings can be surveyed for any structural damage, according to the Rome municipality website. Several buildings have suffered minor damage from the series of earthquakes. Morgan Kasmarik, an Australian journalist on vacation in the Italian capital with a friend, said “the whole city shook” when the quake struck. “I was in bed, enjoying a Sunday lie-in, when I felt the room start to shake. Within seconds, the ground started to roll, like I was on a boat in choppy water,” she said.
“We were both quite shaken as it was the first time either of us had ever experienced an earthquake. I’m pretty keen not to repeat the experience. (But) it didn’t stop us, or the many other tourists from spilling into the streets to enjoy the beautiful day.” In central Italy, the people are accustomed to seismic events in their region, but not so many in such a short space of time. CNN International meteorologist Derek Van Dam that Sunday’s quake was Italy’s strongest in 36 years and that Wednesday’s temblors were “considered fore-shocks” ahead of Sunday’s “main earthquake.” –CNN
October 2016 – SPACE – A large space rock is going to come fairly close to Earth later tonight. Fortunately, it’s not going to hit Earth, something astronomers are sure of thanks in part to a new tool NASA is developing for detecting potentially dangerous asteroids. The tool is a computer program called Scout, and it’s being tested at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Think of Scout as a celestial intruder alert system. It’s constantly scanning data from telescopes to see if there are any reports of so-called Near Earth Objects. If it finds one, it makes a quick calculation of whether Earth is at risk, and instructs other telescopes to make follow-up observations to see if any risk is real.
NASA pays for several telescopes around the planet to scan the skies on a nightly basis, looking for these objects. “The NASA surveys are finding something like at least five asteroids every night,” says astronomer Paul Chodas of JPL. But then the trick is to figure out which new objects might hit Earth. “When a telescope first finds a moving object, all you know is it’s just a dot, moving on the sky,” says Chodas. “You have no information about how far away it is. The more telescopes you get pointed at an object, the more data you get, and the more you’re sure you are how big it is and which way it’s headed. But sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to make those observations. Objects can come close to the Earth shortly after discovery, sometimes one day, two days, even hours in some cases,” says JPL’s Davide Farnocchia. “The main goal of Scout is to speed up the confirmation process.”
The rock whizzing past Earth tonight was discovered on the night of Oct. 25-26 by the NASA-funded Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) on Maui, Hawaii. Within a few hours, preliminary details about the object appeared on a web page maintained by the Minor Planet Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Scout did a quick analysis of the preliminary details and determined that the object was headed for Earth, but would miss us by about 310,000 miles.
Additional observations by three telescopes, one operated by the Steward Observatory, another called Spacewatch, and a third at the Tenagra Observatories, confirmed the object would miss Earth by a comfortable margin. Astronomers were also able to estimate the size of the object: somewhere between 5 meters and 25 meters across. In case you’re interested, full details about the object’s trajectory can be found here. Scout is still in the testing phase. It should become fully operational later this year. Now Scout is mainly dealing with smallish, very nearby objects. Complementing Scout is another system which is already operational called Sentry.
Sentry’s job is to identify objects large enough to wipe out a major city that might hit Earth in the next hundred years. “Our goal right now is to find 90 percent of the 140 meter asteroids and larger,” says Chodas, but right now he estimates they’re only able to find 25-30 percent of the estimated population of objects that size. That number should get better when a new telescope being built in Chile called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope comes on line. NASA is also considering a space telescope devoted to searching for asteroids. OK, so let’s say you find one of these monster rocks heading for Earth. What then? Astronomer Ed Lu says there is something you can do. He’s CEO of an organization called B612. It’s devoted to dealing with asteroid threats.
“If you know well in advance, and by well in advance I mean 10 years, 20 years, 30 years in advance which is something we can do, “ says Lu, “then you can divert such an asteroid by just giving it a tiny nudge when it’s many billions of miles from hitting the Earth.” NASA and the European Space Agency are developing a mission to practice doing just that. Lu says in the last decade people who should worry about such things have begun to make concrete plans for dealing with dangerous asteroids. “I believe in the next 10 to 15 years we’ll actually be at the point where we as humans can say, ‘Hey, we’re safe from this danger of large asteroids hitting the Earth,’” he says. In the meantime, we’ll just have to hope that luck is on our side. –NPR
October 2016– ITALY – A pair of strong aftershocks shook central Italy late Wednesday, crumbling churches and buildings, knocking out power and sending panicked residents into the rain-drenched streets just two months after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 people. But hours after the temblors hit, there were no reports of serious injuries or signs of people trapped in rubble, said the head of Italy’s civil protection agency, Fabrizio Curcio. A handful of people were treated for slight injuries or anxiety at area hospitals in the most affected regions of Umbria and Le Marche, he said.
“All told, the information so far is that it’s not as catastrophic” as it could have been, Curcio said. The temblors were actually aftershocks to the Aug. 24 quake that struck a broad swath of central Italy, demolishing buildings in three towns and their hamlets, seismologists said. Several towns this time around also suffered serious damage, with homes in the epicenter of Visso spilling out into the street. The first struck at 7:10 p.m. and carried a magnitude of 5.4. But the second one was eight times stronger at 6.1, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Because many residents had already left their homes with plans to spend the night in their cars or elsewhere, they weren’t home when the second aftershock hit two hours later, possibly saving lives, officials said.
“It was an unheard-of violence. Many houses collapsed,” the mayor of hard-hit Ussita, Marco Rinaldi, told Sky TG24. “The facade of the church collapsed. By now I have felt many earthquakes. This is the strongest of my life. It was something terrible.” Rinaldi said two elderly people were rescued from their home, where they were trapped, and appeared to be in good condition. Some 200 people in Ussita were planning to sleep in the streets, given the impossibility of putting up tents so late at night.
Calling it “apocalyptic,” he said the town and its hamlets were “finished.” A church crumbled in the ancient Perugian town of Norcia, famed for its Benedictine monastery and its cured meats. A bell-tower damaged on Aug. 24 fell and crushed a building in Camerino, the ANSA news agency said. Elsewhere, buildings were damaged, though many were in zones that were declared off-limits after the Aug. 24 quake that flattened parts of three towns. “We’re without power, waiting for emergency crews,” said Mauro Falcucci, the mayor of Castelsantangelo sul Nera, near the epicenter. Speaking to Sky TG24, he said: “We can’t see anything. It’s tough. Really tough.”
He said some buildings had collapsed, but that there were no immediate reports of injuries in his community. He added that darkness and a downpour were impeding a full accounting. Schools were closed in several towns Thursday as a precaution and a handful of hospitals were evacuated after suffering damage. Premier Matteo Renzi, who cut short a visit to southern Italy to monitor the quake response, tweeted “all of Italy is embracing those hit once again.”
Italy’s national vulcanology center said the first quake had an epicenter in the Macerata area, near Perugia in the quake-prone Apennine Mountain chain. The U.S. Geological Survey put the epicenter near Visso, 170 kilometers northeast of Rome, and said it had a depth of some 10 kilometers (six miles). The second aftershock struck two hours later at 9:18 p.m. with a similar depth. Experts say even relatively modest quakes that have shallow depths can cause significant damage because the seismic waves are closer to the surface. But seismologist Gianluca Valensise said a 10-kilometer depth is within the norm for an Apennine temblor.
The Aug. 24 quake that destroyed the hilltop village of Amatrice and other nearby towns had a depth of about 10 kilometers. Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said residents felt Wednesday’s aftershocks but “We are thanking God that there are no dead and no injured.” The original Aug. 24, 6.2-magnitude quake was still 41 percent stronger than even the second aftershock. Wednesday’s temblors were felt from Perugia in Umbria to the capital Rome and as far north as Veneto. It also shook the central Italian city of L’Aquila, which was struck by a deadly quake in 2009. The mayor of L’Aquila, however, said there were no immediate reports of damage there.
A section of a major state highway north of Rome, the Salaria, was closed near Arquata del Tronto as a precaution because of a quake-induced landslide, said a spokeswoman for the civil protection agency, Ornella De Luca. The mayor of Arquata del Tronto, Aleandro Petrucci, said the aftershocks felt stronger than the August quake, which devastated parts of his town. But he said there were no reports of injuries to date and that the zone hardest hit by the last quake remained uninhabitable. “We don’t worry because there is no one in the red zone, if something fell, walls fell,” he said.
In Rome, some 230 kilometers (145 miles) southwest from the epicenter, centuries-old palazzi shook and officials at the Foreign Ministry evacuated the building. The quakes were actually aftershocks of the magnitude 6.2 earthquake from two months ago. Because they were so close to the surface, they have the potential to cause more shaking and more damage, “coupled with infrastructure that’s vulnerable to shaking,” said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle.
“They have a lot of old buildings that weren’t constructed at a time with modern seismic codes,” he said. Given the size, depth and location of the quakes, the USGS estimates that about 24 million people likely felt at least weak shaking. This original quake was about 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of the original shock, which puts it on the northern edge of the aftershock sequence and two months is normal for aftershocks, Earle said. –Seattle Times
The massive volcanic dome is one of the largest ever discovered. It is higher than the tallest building on Earth. If this magmatic reservoir ever erupts, it’s going to be apocalyptic.
October 2016 – CENTRAL ANDES – An enormous dome has been discovered growing in the Central Andes above the world’s largest active magma store. Found in the Altiplano-Puna Plateau – the second highest plateau on the planet – the dome stretches more than a kilometer high (3,280 feet), making it 172 meters taller than the world’s tallest building in Dubai. Researchers say this massive structure is the result of an injection of magma from below. “The dome is the Earth’s response to having this huge low-density magma chamber pumped into the crust,’ says one of the team, Noah Finnegan from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
How did we all miss a massive dome of Earth rising a kilometer above the surface? It just so happens to be hidden within the Altiplano-Puna Plateau – a high, dry region, littered with volcanoes, that extends for some 2,000 km along the Central Andes, with an average height of 4,000 meters. The Central Andes constitutes an even larger plateau, encompassing southern Ecuador, northwestern Bolivia, and most of Peru. Together, the Central Andes, Southern Andes, and Patagonia make up the Andes, the longest continental mountain range in the world. So it’s easy to see how something could elude us in the middle of all that. Back in 2014, the researchers used seismic imaging – a tool that bounces sound waves off underground rock structures – to reveal the enormous size and extent of the Altiplano-Puna magma body.
They found that this massive zone of melted rock is a whopping 11 kilometers thick and 200 kilometers in diameter – much larger than previous estimates. They’ve since gone back to take a closer look at the internal structure of the Altiplano-Puna plateau, and have identified a kilometer-high topographical dome, with the dormant Uturuncu Volcano sitting right in the center of it. “People had known about the magma body, but it had not been quantified that well,” says one of the researchers, Jonathan Perkins. “In the new study, we were able to show a tight spatial coupling between that magma body and this big, kilometer-high dome.”
The dome is located within the Altiplano-Puna Volcanic Complex, which sits in the southern part of the Altiplano-Puna Plateau. Roughly 10 million years ago, this was one of the most volcanically active places on the planet, and was shaped by a series of super-volcano eruptions over several thousand years. Since the 1990s, satellite surveys have been conducted in the area, and have shown consistent uplifting of the surface – in some places at a surprisingly rapid rate. The Uturuncu volcano at the heart of the newly discovered dome has been rising by about 1 centimeter every year, and the team took it upon themselves to figure out why.
“We think the ongoing uplift is from the magma body,” says Perkins. “The jury is still out on exactly what’s causing it, but we don’t think it’s related to a super-volcano.” The researchers suspect that activity in two tectonic plates in the region – the South American continental plate and the Nazca oceanic plate – has allowed magma to seep into the crust and feed the volcanoes. Meanwhile, water is also being released by this activity, which changes the melting temperature of the mantle rock in the lower Nazca oceanic plate, prompting it to melt and rise into the overlapping South American continental plate.
So the same process that once created our continents has been fueling the growth of this enormous dome. “This is giving us a glimpse into the factory where continents get made,” says Perkins. “These big magmatic systems form during periods called magmatic flare-ups when lots of melt gets injected into Earth’s crust. It’s analogous to the process that created the Sierra Nevada 90 million years ago, but we’re seeing it now in real time.” –Science Alert
October 2016 – NARVACAN, Philippines – “At least eight people were killed after Super Typhoon Haima smashed into the northern Philippines with ferocious wind and rains, flooding towns and forcing thousands to flee although it slightly weakened Thursday after slamming into a mountain range on its way to the South China Sea, officials said. Haima’s blinding winds and rain had rekindled fears and memories from the catastrophe wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, but there were no immediate reports of any major damage amid spotty communications and power outages in several provinces. Thousands of villagers were moved to emergency shelters as the typhoon approached.
Two construction workers died when a landslide buried their shanty in La Trinidad town in the mountain province of Benguet, officials said, while two villagers drowned in floodwaters in Ifugao province, near Benguet. The typhoon slammed into shore in Cagayan province late Wednesday, and lashed the mountainous province of Apayao at dawn with slightly weaker sustained winds of 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour and gusts of 285 kph (176 mph). It was blowing northwestward at 25 kph (15 mph) toward the tobacco-growing Ilocos Norte, the last province before it exits toward the South China Sea, according to forecasters.
In Narvacan town in northern Ilocos Sur province, rice fields resembled a brown lake under waist-high floodwaters. Despite the still-strong wind and rain, government workers have started clearing roads blocked with toppled trees and all kinds of debris. “We can’t go out because the wind is so intense, trees are being forced down,” Councilor Elisa Arugay told DZMM radio late Wednesday from Camasi village in Cagayan province. Officials were concerned because the powerful typhoon struck at night and was expected to hit towns and cities amid power outages. The government’s weather agency lowered it storm warning to level five, down from the highest level of six.
Many of the provinces hit by the storm were still recovering from a powerful typhoon that killed two people and displaced tens of thousands of villagers last weekend. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, on an official visit to China, urged people in the typhoon’s path to heed orders by disaster agencies, including abandoning coastal communities prone to storm surges. Duterte is on a state visit to China and is to fly home Friday. “We only pray that we be spared destruction such as in the previous past which brought agony and suffering to our people, but we are ready,” Duterte told a news conference. About 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, adding to the many burdens in a country that is also threatened by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and considered one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines with ferocious power, leaving more than 7,300 people dead and displacing more than 5 million others after leveling entire villages. –Duquoin
October 2016 – SPACE – Solar storms threaten Earth about every 100 years and experts warn we are overdue. Now, researchers have released the first ever map that shows which areas of the US are at high risk of being hit by the next intense storm. The map was built using geomagnetic storm measurements and data from magnetic materials beneath the Earth – revealing Minnesota is particularly at risk of being blasted by solar material.
Solar storms have the ability to disrupt Earth’s magnetic field and wreak havoc on our electric power grids. Officials warn that the massive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from solar flares could cause $2.6 trillion in damages across the globe and bring an end to modern civilization as we know it. Solar Storms are eruptions of magnetic energy from the sun’s surface. Hot gases are accelerated when this magnetic energy is suddenly released and travels quickly towards the Earth. A solar flare’s killer electrons’ can travel at up to several million miles per hour towards Earth.
The latest researcher comes from Jeffrey Love, a geologists with the United States Geological Survey, and his colleagues, who have been working on this project called Space Weather Operations, Research and Mitigation (SWORM) for the past year. This project was first initiated by the White House’s National Science and Technology Council in 2015. Love and his colleagues believe knowing which power grids could be hit the hardest is key for survival, reports Science Alert. To create an accurate map, the team plotted the geomagnetic activity above certain areas and then gathered ground magnetometer data, or magnetotelluric survey.
The geomagnetic data was collected by the International Real-time Magnetic Observatory Network (INTERMAGNET), an organization that monitors Earth’s magnetic field. And the magnetotelluric survey data was taken from the US National Science Foundation’s EarthScope, which monitors electrical conductivity in the ground using hundreds of sensors located across the US. Solar storms could wreak havoc on Earth (pictured) and surges could be up to 100 times more powerful in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin than in other parts of the United States. However, experts say more than half of the US has yet to be plotted due to lack of funding
The US government revealed just last year that they are preparing for a catastrophic solar flare which could wipe out power across the world for months. The last powerful geomagnetic solar storm to hit the earth was in 1859, which caused telegraph lines to explode, setting fire to some telegraph offices, and power to fail across Europe and North America. In today’s far more advanced and technological world, experts the effects would be devastating. The massive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from solar flares could wipe out power grids, bringing an end to modern civilization as we know it as cell phones, credit cards and the internet were rendered useless. –Daily Mail
The following “signs” are a series of analyzed trigger-events or catalysts that could precipitate a sequence of catastrophic scenarios which could pose significant risks or threats for the inhabitants of planet Earth. While some of these events may not occur as prescribed – certain inevitability factors associated with these events may still remain.