Saturday, March 31, 2012

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: High Strangeness - Ground Swelling and Exploding Kitchen Tiles in Watertown, Wisconsin?!

The following article and video, constitutes a story from Watertown in Wisconsin, that was reported on, earlier this week. The incident lends more credible evidence to the theory that something more than just the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) explanation of a 1.5 magnitude earthquake, is the cause for the mysterious booms that have been heard for over six months in Clintonville.

A Watertown school will reopen Wednesday after some exploding tiles forced classes to be canceled Tuesday. Tiles in the cafeteria started to buckle and explode Monday at St. Henry's Catholic School. "And I looked at the tiles on the floor. (They) were raising up and flying across the kitchen floor. So, we got out of the cafeteria and told the kids to go up to their classrooms. Eventually, they were evacuated," St. Henry's Cooking Manager Diane Dannenberg said. "It looked like the movie 'Tremors' where something was tunneling underneath the floor." Some described exploding, but the floor definitely buckled. The city's building inspector said the part of the building affected was built in 1952. Investigators are looking at all sorts of possibilities to explain why these tiles lifted off the ground. After 20 years as the city's building inspector, Joe Heimsch said he was baffled after first looking at this basement.

"My hope is it's some kind of sanitary line that was improperly abandoned, and it could have came up, and that would have caused the same type of effect," Heimsch said. "The worst-case scenario is actual foundation movement. I'm hoping that's not the case." Heimsch told 12 News Tuesday afternoon that there was nothing life-threatening or dangerous at the school, but lunches will definitely be affected, regardless of the buckling's cause. "If they return back, they're going to be bringing bagged lunches. I'm afraid this kitchen will probably be down the rest of the year," Heimsch said. Hot lunches for St. Bernard Catholic School in Watertown are also affected. Students will not have to make up the missed time because they didn't have any snow days this year." - WISN.
WATCH: Mysterious explosion and ground swell in Watertown.


MONUMENTAL EARTH CRISIS: "Planet Under Pressure" - Scientists Warn of "Humanitarian Emergency on a Global Scale"!

Leading scientists on Thursday called on the upcoming Rio Summit to grapple with environmental ills that they said pointed to "a humanitarian emergency on a global scale ." In a "State of the Planet" declaration issued after a four-day conference , the scientists said Earth was now facing unprecedented challenges, from water stress, pollution and species loss to spiraling demands for food.


They called on the June 20-22 followup to the 1992 Earth Summit to overhaul governance of the environment and sweep away a fixation with GDP as the sole barometer of wellbeing. "The continuing function of the Earth system as it has supported the wellbeing of human civilisation in recent centuries is at risk," said the statement issued at the "Planet Under Pressure" conference. "These threats risk intensifying economic, ecological and social crises, creating the potential for a humanitarian emergency on a global scale." The conference gathered nearly 3,000 environment scientists, economists, business executives and policymakers in the runup to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio. In a recorded message, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he welcomed the declaration, saying "its timing... could not be better." "Climate change, the financial crisis and food, water and energy security threaten human wellbeing and civilisation as we know it," he said.

Ban added that he was considering appointing a scientific board or a chief scientific advisor to advise him and other UN organs. The conference declaration said humanity's impact on Earth was now so great that a new era -- "the Anthropocene," a term derived from the Greek word for human -- had emerged. Globalisation has shown that economies and societies are now "highly interconnected and interdependent," it said. These changes have brought stability and innovation but created a system vulnerable to sudden stress, as the global financial meltdown and surge in food prices had shown. Tackling the problems of global environment change will mean major reforms, it said. One is the question of governance. "Existing international arrrangements are not dealing quickly enough with current global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss," said the statement. It called for a "polycentric approach" for planetary stewardship, meaning a diverse partnership between local, national and regional governments that also includes business and grassroots groups. But another need was to scrap obsessions with gross domestic product (GDP) as the only benchmark of progress. Governments should also include environment, health and social factors. "A crucial transformation is to move away from income as the key constituent of wellbeing and to develop new indicators that measure actual improvements in wellbeing at all scales," the declaration said. - Yahoo.


TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines - DARPA Funds Chainsaw-Wielding, Flesh-Eating Robot!

You don't have to be tinfoil underwear type to get uneasy about some of the bizarre projects that DARPA throws its weight behind. But the organic matter-consuming EATR robot? Oh. God.

The defense research agency has announced they'll be funding the EATR project—the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot—which aims to build a lumbering mechanical creature that lives off of flesh, both plant and animal:
EATR is an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance military missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling. The patent pending robotic system can find, ingest and extract energy from biomass in the environment, as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, diesel, propane and solar) when suitable.
It's actually a steam-powered machine, which employs a biomass furnace that can be fed by all manner of organic materials, harvested with its "gripper" claw and chainsaw. The EATR's ideal source of fuel would probably be foliage, not humans, but there are just too many red flags here. Claws? Chainsaws? "Organic matter" and "biomass" euphemisms? Not to mention this is the second death-powered machine we've seen in as many weeks. The project is set to be completed in about 90 days, so enjoy the next three months, folks. - Gizmodo.


RATTLE & HUM: "The Sounds of the Apocalypse" - USGS Cover-Up; Seismometer Station Rules Out Earthquakes as Cause of Clintonville Booms?!

Despite official claims to the contrary, early data from a seismometer station in Wisconsin rules out earthquakes as an explanation for last night’s mysterious booms in the town of Clintonville, as residents continue to clamor for answers amidst increasing suspicion.

After the US Geological Survey explained last week’s booms by noting they had found a previously undiscovered earthquake hit the town on Tuesday (despite the fact that the booms were first reported the previous Sunday), city officials declared the situation “case closed”. However, the booms returned again last night louder than before, with police receiving dozens of calls from concerned residents from 10:35pm onwards. Ignoring skepticism from residents towards the ‘earthquake’ explanation, city administrator Lisa Kuss again blamed natural seismic activity during television interviews this morning, despite the fact that Wisconsin is rarely hit by earthquakes and to have two in the space of a week is unheard of. However, with Kuss set to talk with the USGS again today, early indications suggest that last night’s booms did not correlate with any earthquake activity in the state. “A preliminary review of seismic activity recorded at two permanent seismometer stations in Wisconsin did not indicate even a low-level earthquake at Clintonville late Tuesday, a spokesman for the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., said,” reports the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Geophysicist Joe Bellini also looked at data from nearby seismometers which “detected nothing from last night.”

The lack of earthquake activity suggests that residents were right to have doubts about naturally occurring seismic events being to blame for the booms, skepticism that was prompted by the fact that the jolts were also heard 80 miles away in a different town. A 1.5 magnitude earthquake, which the USGS says was to blame for last week’s booms, would not even be felt outside of a few blocks around its epicenter. The notion that this could produce aftershocks is also inconceivable, especially given the fact that last night’s noises were reportedly louder and lasted longer than the initial booms reported ten days ago. If the booms are being artificially created by man-made activity, the culprits are unlikely to own up to it. There are numerous potential scenarios besides seismic activity that could be responsible for the booms, including CO2 sequestration storage, which has been documented to cause “small to moderate earthquakes,” according to Stanford geophysicist Mark Zoback. Other speculation has centered around secret underground military tunneling work, improper disposal of wastewater from a natural gas fracking operation (also documented to cause earthquakes), or more exotic explanations such as the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), which is often blamed for unexplained weather and seismic events due to its highly secretive nature. - Info Wars.
WATCH: Booms return to Clintonville.



REVELATION OF THE METHOD: The Transhumanism Agenda and the Alien Gospel - Secrets of Prometheus Film Leaked!

In the following video, noted conspiracy theorist Alex Jones breaks down the revelation of the method and the transhumanism agenda behind Prometheus, the new film by legendary director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator) hitting theaters June 8.

The secret is that the elite believe they are attaining godhood and are destined for the stars. Their ancient and occultic views are reflected in the dark themes of Prometheus, the very name of which hints at the quest for eternity and power among a group who think a divine right bestowed by a higher intelligence gives credence to their meddling with the affairs of common man. - Info Wars.
WATCH: Alex Jones reveals secrets behind Prometheus.


TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines and the Robotization of Warfare - Sand Flea Robot Leaps Onto 30ft Buildings, Heads to the Afghanistan for Testing!

It doesn’t look like much, kind of a simple RC car. That is, until it jumps. Boston Dynamics just released a video of their Sand Flea robot, and man can it jump. It rolls around, then stops, rears back on its hind wheels, and springs over walls and onto roofs – up to 30 feet high! It’s jumping is accurate enough that it can even leap into a second story window. You wanna scare the neighbors?

A CO2-powered piston gives the 11 pound Sand Flea its jumping power. Boston Dynamics hopes the little jumper will improve surveillance capabilities of soldiers on the battlefield. You’ll notice in the video below that the Sand Flea does a pretty good job landing flat on its four wheels. That’s not only for stability control, but to get the best possible video feed from an onboard camera. It won’t provide useful surveillance if its spinning end over end. A gyro stabilizer helps it to keep level during flight.

If you’ve seen Alpha Dog, you know that Boston Dynamics is good at building some sturdy robots. Sand Flea can perform about 25 jumps per charging. At 30 feet a leap, that’s a lot of abuse, but it’s going to need to be sturdy on the battlefield. Funded in part by the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, nine Sand Fleas are destined for testing in Afghanistan. Whether on land or in the air, robots continue to increase their numbers on the battlefield. With their load-bearing Alpha Dog and chemical suit-testing Petman, Boston Dynamics is certainly doing their part. The robotization of warfare is sure to continue, whether it be a steady march upward, or by leaps and bounds
. - Singularity Hub.
WATCH: Sand Flea Jumping Robot.



Friday, March 30, 2012

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon: Obama Clears Sanctions to Squeeze Iran; the "Most Severe Economic Pressure Ever"!

President Barack Obama said Friday he was plowing ahead with potential sanctions against countries that keep buying oil from Iran, including allies of the United States, in a deepening campaign to starve Iran of money for its disputed nuclear program.

The world oil market is tight but deep enough to keep the squeeze on Iran, Obama ruled. The sanctions aim to further isolate Iran's central bank, which processes nearly all of the Iran's oil purchases, from the global economy. Obama's move clears the way for the U.S. to penalize foreign financial institutions that do oil business with Iran by barring them from having a U.S.-based affiliate or doing business here. Obama's goal is to tighten the pressure on Iran, not allies, and already the administration exempted 10 European Union countries and Japan from the threat of sanctions because they cut their oil purchases from Iran. Other nations have about three months to significantly reduce such imports before sanctions would kick in. Still, administration officials said that Obama is ready to slap sanctions on U.S. partners and that his action on Friday was another signal.
At issue for Obama was ruling, by Friday, whether oil supplies were sufficient to keep demanding that nations cut off Iran - not an insignificant matter in a time of high election-year gas prices at home. Obama gave his OK after considering available reserves, increased oil production by some countries and global economic conditions. The White House emphasized that he would continue to keep an eye on the oil market to make sure that it - and its consumers - could withstand shrinking purchases out of Iran. With oil prices already rising this year amid rising tensions over the nuclear dispute between Iran and the West, U.S. officials have sought assurances that pushing countries to stop buying from Iran would not cause a further spike in prices. It is not year clear, at this stage of the process, how the sanctions could affect gas prices. The U.S. sanctions are set to take effect on June 28. A European oil embargo, approved in January, starts in July. Put together, Obama administration officials contend Iran is about to face its most severe economic pressure ever.

The United States imports no oil from Iran. The main importers of Iranian oil that have not received exemptions from the U.S. are China, India, Turkey, South Africa and South Korea. The administration would be loath to hit a close friend like South Korea or India, or a NATO ally like Turkey, with sanctions, and is working with those countries to reduce their imports. Turkey announced Friday it was shrinking oil imports from Iran by 20 percent, apparently bowing to pressure from the United States and the sanctions threat. U.S. officials hope ratcheting up economic pressure will both push Iran to abandon its nuclear program and convince Israel to give sanctions time to take hold before pursuing a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The U.S. and allies believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb; Iran denies that.
Obama's diplomatic squeeze on Iran comes with strong bipartisan support from Congress, which approved the sanctions plan as part of a defense bill in December. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who co-authored the sanctions legislation with Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, said he welcomed Obama's support in targeting Iran's Central Bank. "Today, we put on notice all nations that continue to import petroleum or petroleum products from Iran that they have three months to significantly reduce those purchases or risk the imposition of severe sanctions on their financial institutions," Menendez said. - Charlotte Observer.


ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Mass Stranding and Die-Off - Ten More Dolphins Stranded at Cape Cod; Total Rises to 200 in Just 3 Months?!

At least 10 more dolphins stranded themselves on the beaches of Cape Cod this week, a Cape-based animal welfare group said. The strandings raised the annual total to more than 200 in just three months, an unusually high number that has left scientists scrambling to find a cause.

Rescue workers on Lieutenant Island in Wellfleet this afternoon, where six dolphins have stranded. At least
two have died. Ten other dolphins stranded in an area further north in Wellfleet today. Two of those were
rescued and may be released later in Provincetown.
"This week we had 10 common dolphins strand in various locations including Brewster, Wellfleet, and Orleans," Michael Booth, spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said. "We had four strand on Monday - one in Wellfleet and three in Brewster."  Six more dolphins stranded Tuesday -- two in Wellfleet, three in Brewster, and one in Orleans, Booth said. Nine of the 10 were released to the ocean; the 10th had to be euthanized because it had already sustained some injuries, he said.  In addition to rescuing and treating stranded dolphins, Booth said, the group has helped to lead nearly 100 dolphins out of dangerous situations since Jan. 1, including six that were herded out of the Herring River in Wellfleet on Monday. "Those are animals that have been in problematic areas where they would have surely stranded had we not gone out and herded these animals into deeper water," he said.

The most recent strandings come after the end of what was the largest single-species stranding event on record in the Northeast. Between Jan. 12 and Feb. 16, 179 dolphins were stranded on the shores of Cape Cod. In total this year, 208 dolphins have stranded themselves on Cape Cod beaches. Of the stranded dolphins, 94 were found alive and 114 were already dead when rescue groups got to them. After treating the live dolphins, IFAW was able to successfully release 71 dolphins into deeper water - a success rate of about 76 percent. "It's an all-time high for us," Booth said. "We have gotten better and better through the years. We did have a success rate before this of around 60 to 70 percent, but now with this particularly high stranding season, we've got that percent up to 76 percent, which is great." Booth said the month of near-daily strandings allowed the group to put its skills and resources to the test and hone the skills of its small army of volunteers. "It gave us the opportunity to put our systems in place. We have been fine-tuning that for a number of years now," Booth said. "To be able to consistently go out and rescue dolphins and have this high of a success rate is something we are very proud of." - Boston.

SIGNS & SYMBOLS: First Crop Circle of 2012 - Tula, Hidalgo, in Mexico!

In the following video, journalist and ufologist, Jaime Maussan, reports for Third Millennium on the first crop circle of the 2012 season in Mexico.

The crushing in the fields around the world have become more common. However, the February 27, 2012, weird crush appeared in a crop field in Tula, Hidalgo. The figures differ considerably from what we have seen in England. Residents of the area saw lights before such crushing appeared, so they may have been made by intelligent beings. - Third Millennium [Translated].
WATCH: Weird crop circles in Mexico.


FIRE IN THE SKY: "Comet Fever" - Bright New Comet Promises Skywatching Treat in 2013!

A year from now, it is possible that "comet fever" will be running high when a newfound comet emerges into view in the evening sky. But while some scientists have high hopes for a spectacular 2013 sky show by the comet, it is still far from certain.

 Discovery image of the newfound comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS),
taken by Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope.
When astronomers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa announced last June that they had discovered the new comet, it was a distant and inconspicuous object. But preliminary calculations at once made it clear that this new object had the potential to become a naked-eye object of considerable interest for skywatching enthusiasts in the Northern Hemisphere.  The comet was christened C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS). Comets are usually named after their discoverers, but in this case a large team of observers, computer scientists, and astronomers was involved, so the comet was named after the telescope.  PANSTARRS stands for Panoramic Survey Telescope And Rapid Response System. It's a 1.8-meter prototype for a quartet of military-funded telescopes that astronomers hope to build on the lip of the extinct volcano Haleakala.

Finding Comet PANSTARRS. The comet was initially photographed on June 6 and was confirmed the following day. Actually, the comet had been unknowingly imaged nearly two weeks earlier, on May 24 from Arizona's Mount Lemmon Observatory. When it was discovered in the constellation Libra, Comet PANSTARRS was a 19th-magnitude object - so faint that only telescopes with sensitive electronic detectors could pick it up - some 759 million miles (1.2 billion kilometers) from the sun.  Astronomers measure the brightness of objects in space on a reverse scale; the higher an object's magnitude, the dimmer it appears to observers. The comet was so far away that at first there was difficulty in pinning down the exact date of when it would arrive at perihelion - its closest point to the sun. Initial estimates suggested anytime from early next February to the middle of April of 2013.  When I first wrote about comet PANSTARRS June 27 of last year, the date of perihelion was set for next April 17. But I also said at the time: "It may yet change again, so stay tuned."   And so it did, to March 9, 2013 - less than one year from today.  The comet will pass to within 28 million miles (45 million kilometers) of the sun on that date. Such an enormous change in solar distance would cause a typical comet to increase in brightness dramatically. And indeed, the comet has responded to the increasing solar warmth as it has approached the sun. On Feb. 13, the comet had brightened to magnitude 14.5, or in other words, it had increased in brightness by more than 60 times since it was first seen last June. The comet still has a long way to go - it's still over 500 million miles (820 million km) from both the sun and Earth - out near the orbit of Jupiter. But it still appears on target to possibly become a bright naked eye object by this time next year.
How bright could Comet PANSTARRS get? Just how bright Comet PANSTARRS will ultimately be still cannot be reliably predicted. Estimates (or maybe really "guesstimates") suggest that at perihelion on March 9, the comet might become as bright as zero magnitude, placing it in the same rank as the stars Arcturus, Vega and Capella; which are some of the brightest stars in the sky. Thereafter, the comet's rapid northward motion, owing to its orbital inclination of 84 degrees to the plane of the solar system will gradually carry it away from the sun and into the western evening sky. If there is a significant tail, it would probably be seen protruding almost straight up and perhaps tilted slightly to the right, relative to the horizon. But as is the case with the comet's brightness, we can only guess just how long it will be.In the week following its closest approach to the sun, the head of the comet will be positioned less than 6 degrees above the horizon during late-twilight; about an hour or so after sunset. You can measure how low this is by recalling that your clenched fist held at arm's length measures roughly 10 degrees in width.  So Comet PANSTARRS will be only about "half a fist" above the horizon as the sky is getting appreciably dark.  On the evening of March 12, the slender sliver of a crescent moon, just one day past new, will be positioned less than 5 degrees to the right of the comet, making for perhaps a very picturesque scene. Prospective observers will need to seek the most favorable conditions possible. Even a potentially bright comet, like this one, can be easily obliterated by thin horizon clouds, haze, humid air, smoke, sunset glow or city lights. Binoculars or a small telescope are recommended for locating both the moon and the comet. - SPACE.


MYSTERY: Symbols of an Alien Sky, Man-Made or Natural Phenomena - The Latest UFO Sightings And Aerial Anomalies Around the World?!

Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.


Denver, Colorado
- 29th of March, 2012.


British Columbia, Canada - 27th of March, 2012.


Boyton Beach, Florida - 27th of March, 2012.




Trekhgorny, Russia - 23rd of December, 2011.


MONUMENTAL SOLAR CORONA CHANGES: "The Beast" - Monster Solar Tornadoes Discovered; Tempests Measure Width of Several Earths; Swirling at Speeds of up to 190,000 Miles Per Hour!

For the first time, huge solar tornadoes have been filmed swirling deep inside the solar corona — the sun's superheated atmosphere. But if you're imagining the pedestrian tornadoes that we experience on Earth, think again. These solar monsters, measuring the width of several Earths and swirling at speeds of up to 190,000 miles per hour, aren't only fascinating structures; they may also trigger violent magnetic eruptions that can have drastic effects on our planet.

In the lower corona swirling magnetic fields and plasma create huge
solar tornadoes measuring several times the width of Earth.
In one example observed on Sept. 25, 2011, solar researchers from the UK used the high-definition cameras onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) to track solar gases as hot as 2 million Kelvin (3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit) getting sucked from the bottom of a solar prominence and spiral high into the corona. The solar tornado then developed for three hours, gases traveling in spiral paths for around 200,000 kilometers (120,000 miles). "Prominences are tangled magnetic fields trapping cold and dense plasma in the solar corona," Xing Li, solar physicist at Aberystwyth University, told Discovery News. "These often erupt spectacularly and fly out into space as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and large CMEs will impact our space weather and space technology in a significant way when they are heading toward the Earth. "What drives these eruptions is still not clear and is very important to gain an understanding of CME initiation (so that we can possibly predict such events)."


As mankind becomes more dependent on sensitive technology, it is critical that we develop new and more sophisticated ways to predict the sun's next "temper tantrum." As it turns out, these twisted tornadoes may hold the key to predicting when the next CME will be launched. "This unique and spectacular tornado must play a role in triggering global solar storms," said co-discoverer Huw Morgan, also at Aberystwyth University. "These tornadoes may help to produce favorable conditions for CMEs to occur," Li added, pointing out that the tornadoes his team studied coincided with CME eruptions as observed by other instruments monitoring the wider corona. Also, the tornadoes observed so far by Li and Morgan often occur at the root of where CMEs are initiated. As the dynamic structures wind-up magnetic fields and drag powerful electric currents high into the corona, these tornadoes could generate the conditions ripe for CME eruptions, they theorize. But to observe the tornadoes in the first place requires a bit of luck. Firstly, as they are magnetic structures, if the tornado is empty of radiating plasma, they will remain invisible. Only when hot plasma is being dragged high into the corona can they be seen. Conversely, should the tornado be completely flooded with plasma, you wouldn't see the motion of the material as the radiating plasma would be completely washed out.


Li highlights the need for discrete objects inside the swirling mass so they can be tracked as they move around the tornado. He likens this to the dust and bits of debris that a terrestrial tornado would pick up. Without these objects, we couldn't "see" the spinning wind currents. The same goes for solar tornadoes; discrete "blobs" of plasma can be tracked as they are accelerated and carried high into the corona by the tornado's magnetic field. "Also, we believe that the angle you view the tornado from is important," Li added. "For example, if you imagine the slinky structure mentioned above, if you view it from the side it may not appear so clearly as a tornado." In the past, observers have spotted prominences that they described as "tornadoes," but in the days before the SDO was launched, the necessary definition and rapid image capturing techniques simply weren't available.This research, including the first video of a solar tornado the researchers refer to as "the beast" (pictured top), was presented at the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) in Manchester on Thursday. Animations of the tornado, plus more imagery, can be found on Li's research page. - MSNBC.

RATTLE & HUM: "The Sounds of the Apocalypse" - Mysterious Booms Have Return to Clintonville; Residents Say Recent Shaking Worst Yet; Scientists Step up Efforts to Solve Mystery?!

Geological officials said Wednesday they are considering putting a seismometer in a Wisconsin city where a small earthquake was recorded last week after strong booms and rumblings shook residents once again. Clintonville police received 65 calls Tuesday night between 10:35 p.m. and 11:40 p.m. and another 19 calls came in between 3:25 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Clintonville Police Chief Terry Lorge said. Several of the booms were heard by officials at City Hall, he said.

Residents reported the most recent booming as the worst yet, city administrator Lisa Kuss said. Most of the previous calls came in from March 18 to March 20, when a 1.5-magnitude earthquake was detected by the U.S. Geological Survey. The calls had since decreased. Jordan Pfeiler, 21, said the booms had been getting weaker so Tuesday night's big boom — followed by smaller ones into Wednesday morning — really scared her. "People started living their lives again because they were getting little," she said. "After last night I don't know what people are doing." The U.S. Geological Survey was unable to detect anything Tuesday night and is considering putting a seismometer in Clintonville to get a better reading of potential activity, said Geophysicist John Bellini, who is in Golden, Colo. He said he suspects it's a swarm of small earthquakes. That's because the agency has ruled out human-made causes, there was one detectable earthquake and multiple events are occurring.While such events are unusual in Wisconsin in recent history, Bellini said it happens several times a year in different parts of the country. He said quake swarms last anywhere from a few days to a few months. He said experts know about the larger ones that are near populated areas with seismometers, but they likely also happen in places without equipment or people to feel them. - Post Crescent.
After more than a week of strange sounds and sensations – the residents of “normally quiet” Clintonville, Wisconsin hope to get more answers.
They have already been stunned to learn that a 1.5 magnitude earthquake caused at least some of the vibrations, but they continue. A team of scientists is preparing to install seismometers in the community 40 miles west of Green Bay. The delicate devices register “shifts” in the earth. WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence spoke with a few of the experts hoping to narrow down the location and source of the continuing seismic activity. Greg Waite is on the road when I reach him. He figures the trip from his lab in Michigan to Clintonville will take about four hours. He is less sure what is causing the seismic activity in the small Wisconsin town. It’s not that Waite doesn’t know his earthquakes. The Michigan Tech assistant professor of geophysics spends most of his time studying them. “Well actually most of my work is in other countries, in Central America and South America, I study volcanic seismicity mostly,” Waite says. Something as small as Clintonville’s 1.5 “rumbling” would normally be a blip on a monitor, but Waite’s interest was piqued by the continuing “swarm” of seismic activity. “It’s so rare to have earthquakes in the upper Midwest,” Waite says.
Waite will not only monitor ground vibration, he’s hoping special microphones will pick up the low frequency sounds residents are reporting – the creaks, cracks and rumbles. “It’s rare that there are good recordings of those sounds, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try to collect good data to get a better of that phenomenon,” Waite says. Everything Waite’s equipment detects will be funneled to U.S. Geological Survey scientists in Golden, Colorado. Dr. Harley Benz is shipping is “cell modums” to Clintonville, to link Waite’s system with the Colorado facility. “It’s kind of a fancy cell phone in that it’s always on and it’s always transmitting data. So it connects to cell towers and so we can take data straight out of these seismograph stations. And if people feel something or hear something, we can look at the data immediately and figure out what it might have been,” Benz says. Benz echoes Greg Waite’s words - that a quake as small as Clintonville’s would normally go unnoticed, but the mystery of what is happening there, is worth investigating. - WUVM.
WATCH: Mysterious booms return to Clintonville louder than before.


EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: "Weather Weirding" - Weather Runs Hot and Cold, So Scientists Look to the Ice?!

Some people call what has been happening the last few years “weather weirding,” and March is turning out to be a fine example.

Snow on tree blossoms in Tigard, Ore., last week reflected seesawing weather patterns.
As a surreal heat wave was peaking across much of the nation last week, pools and beaches drew crowds, some farmers planted their crops six weeks early, and trees burst into bloom. “The trees said: ‘Aha! Let’s get going!’ ” said Peter Purinton, a maple syrup producer in Vermont. “ ‘Spring is here!’ ” Now, of course, a cold snap in Northern states has brought some of the lowest temperatures of the season, with damage to tree crops alone likely to be in the millions of dollars. Lurching from one weather extreme to another seems to have become routine across the Northern Hemisphere. Parts of the United States may be shivering now, but Scotland is setting heat records. Across Europe, people died by the hundreds during a severe cold wave in the first half of February, but a week later revelers in Paris were strolling down the Champs-Élysées in their shirt-sleeves. Does science have a clue what is going on? The short answer appears to be: not quite.The longer answer is that researchers are developing theories that, should they withstand critical scrutiny, may tie at least some of the erratic weather to global warming. Specifically, suspicion is focused these days on the drastic decline of sea ice in the Arctic, which is believed to be a direct consequence of the human release of greenhouse gases. “The question really is not whether the loss of the sea ice can be affecting the atmospheric circulation on a large scale,” said Jennifer A. Francis, a Rutgers University climate researcher. “The question is, how can it not be, and what are the mechanisms?”

Some aspects of the climate situation are clear from earlier research. As the planet warms, many scientists say, more energy and water vapor are entering the atmosphere and driving weather systems. “The reason you have a clothes dryer that heats the air is that warm air can evaporate water more easily,” said Thomas C. Peterson, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A report released on Wednesday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body that issues periodic updates on climate science, confirmed that a strong body of evidence links global warming to an increase in heat waves, a rise in episodes of heavy rainfall and other precipitation, and more frequent coastal flooding. “A changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events,” the report found. Some of the documented imbalances in the climate have certainly become remarkable. United States government scientists recently reported, for instance, that February was the 324th consecutive month in which global temperatures exceeded their long-term average for a given month; the last month with below-average temperatures was February 1985. In the United States, many more record highs are being set at weather stations than record lows, a bellwether indicator of a warming climate. So far this year, the United States has set 17 new daily highs for every new daily low, according to an analysis performed for The New York Times by Climate Central, a research group in New Jersey. Last year, despite a chilly winter, the country set nearly three new highs for every low, the analysis found. - NY Times.


GREAT DELUGE: The Australian Weather Anomalies - New South Wales Floods Affect Area the Size of Spain!

New South Wales' summer flood crisis was the most significant for a generation and affected an area the size of Spain, State Emergency Service (SES) Commissioner Murray Kear said.

"This has been the most significant flood event that inland New South Wales has witnessed in a generation," Mr Kear said today.  "People should not be complacent about the dangers of Mother Nature, as we've seen many people trapped in floodwater needing rescue and sadly, in some cases, lives have been lost," he said.  Mr Kear said the state's storm season ends tomorrow, but warned that flooding will continue to affect parts of the state for days to come.  About 70 per cent of NSW - an area the size of Spain - has been affected by flooding since January.

The SES says about 20,000 people were evacuated from homes at the height of the crisis.  Worst affected communities included Wagga Wagga, Forbes, Gundagai, Yenda, Urana, Barellan, Hay and Darlington Point. Sign up for your free 2 month trial  Many of these communities are now recovering but Mr Kear warned that floodwater will continue to move across NSW, with communities in the state's southwest and northwest most vulnerable.  Evacuation orders remain in place at Maude in the southwest and Condobolin in the central west
. - Herald Sun.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Alaska's Fickle Cleveland Volcano Upgraded Again - Another Lava Dome Forms in the Crater; Showing Escalating Signs of Unrest!

It's hard to believe that volcanic activity can come to seem routine, but Mount Cleveland, an active volcano located in Alaska's Aleutian island chain, is almost becoming just that.

GeoEye IKONOS image shows a faint plume issuing from Cleveland Volcano.
On Wednesday, the volcano was again upgraded by the Alaska Volcano Observatory to alert level "Orange," meaning the volcano is showing "heightened or escalating unrest" and could potentially erupt at any time. It's become a regular song-and-dance for the volcano, which had been downgraded less than a week before after a series of small explosions earlier in March appeared to settle the steady activity that had been occurring over several weeks. In all, the volcano has been upgraded to "orange" five times in the last year, with a month or two of lessened activity before a sudden spike takes it back up.
The most significant eruptive activity to actually occur at the peak in since 2010 was a minor eruption on Dec. 29 of last year, which launched an ash cloud to 15,000 feet but signalled the end of further eruptive activity. The three small explosions detected by remote seismic sensors earlier in March 2012 followed. A lava dome building in the volcano prompted the most recent elevation. There is no real-time monitoring at Cleveland volcano, making updates sporadic and often based on satellite imagery. - Alaska Dispatch.


WEATHER ANOMALIES: Unusual Late-March Tropical Cyclone Pakhar Aims Rain and Wind Towards Vietnam!

An unusual late-March tropical cyclone will send torrential rain and strong winds ashore in Vietnam over the weekend.

Typhoon Pakhar showing an impressive cloud swirl on Friday, March 30, 2012.
Southern Vietnam is to the left (west).(NRLMRY/MTSAT-2 image)
Tropical Storm Pakhar, which took shape over the southern South China Sea Thursday, could landfall in southern Vietnam by Saturday night or Sunday. Excessive rain and flooding is possible over a wide area along and north of Pakhar's direct path. Damaging winds will be possible as well. Friday, the center of Tropical Storm Pakhar was within about 300, or 480 km, east-southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At the time, highest sustained winds were 75 mph, or 120 km/h, with storm movement towards the west at about 3 mph. A stretch of coast east of Ho Chi Minh City will be at greatest risk of a storm landfall, as shown by forecast tools available to AccuWeather.com

Flooding rainfall to at least 12 inches, or 30 cm, will be possible near the storm's track, but also northward along the coast to Nha Trang or even Qui Nhon. Any widespread heavy falls of rain would be unusual, as March into April marks the latter part of the yearly dry season in southern Vietnam. For instance, normal monthly rainfall in March is less than 2 inches, or 50 mm. April is also normally a rather dry month along the coast, but can bring increasing rainfall inland. The western North Pacific Ocean tropical basin is the most prolific in terms of number of named storms each year. However, March and April are within the seasonal lull in tropical cyclones. On average, a named storm happens about once ever three years in March. April storm frequency is about two-fold that of March.
- AccuWeather.
WATCH: Tropical Storm / Typhoon Pakhar forecast update.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Number of Tornadoes Running High so Far This Year in the United States - 379 From January to March 25, Well Above the Average Number!

There have been more tornadoes so far this year compared to the same time period during the extremely active 2011. According to graphs provided by the Storm Prediction Center, there were 379 preliminary tornado reports through March 25 in 2012. Compared to past years, this is a very busy start to the severe weather and tornado season.

There were 379 preliminary tornadoes reports from Jan. 1-March 25, 2012. That is well above
the average number of tornadoes from 2005-2011 during the same time period.
There was a total of 154 tornadoes from January through March of 2011. The three-year average number of tornadoes in January, February and March add up to 124. The only other recent year where the number of tornadoes surpassed this year was in 2008, when 491 tornadoes touched down through March 25. The March 2, 2012, Tornado Outbreak was the biggest of 2012 with 132 tornado reports and at least 61 confirmed tornadoes so far. At least 39 people were killed by the dangerous tornadoes that leveled entire towns like Marysville and Henryville, Ind.
Why Has 2012 Started Out So Volatile? The above-normal warmth of the Gulf of Mexico is a big factor in the large number of tornadoes so early this year. "Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico did not cool off this winter without cold air masses reaching the Deep South," AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said. The warmer-than-normal temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico mean any time the flow switches out of the south, warm and humid air is drawn into the U.S. Warm, moist air are key ingredients for thunderstorms that are strong enough to spawn tornadoes. "Ground temperatures are also warmer than normal... This is one of very few years of recent, where the ground was not frozen across the Ohio Valley," Kottlowski explained. When the ground is cold or frozen it creates an inversion, which means temperatures rise with rising altitude. An inversion creates a stable atmosphere and can prevent thunderstorms from forming or allow only higher-based thunderstorms to develop. "Lower-based thunderstorms create much more opportunity for tornadoes," Kottlowski added.

Will 2012 Remain Active with Tornadoes? The active severe weather has quieted down a bit over the past couple of weeks, but more active severe weather is anticipated. In fact, another peak in severe weather is anticipated later this spring. "Severe weather will get more active by the middle of April," according to Jack Boston, AccuWeather.com expert senior meteorologist and long-range forecaster. "The pattern will get more progressive," Boston said, meaning more storms will cross the country. "April is one of the more volatile months," Kottlowski weighed in. However, he cautioned that "unless we see another cold air mass come down from the north, severe weather could occur at any time this season." - AccuWeather.


ECOSYSTEM ALERT: Massive Methane Gas Leak Could be the North Sea's Deepwater Horizon!

A natural gas well in the North Sea 150 miles off Aberdeen, Scotland, sprung a massive methane leak on March 25. The 238 workers were all safely evacuated.

But the situation is so explosive that an exclusion zone for ships and aircraft has been set up around the rig, reports the Mail Online. And nearby rigs have been evacuated, reports the New York Times:
Royal Dutch Shell said it closed its Shearwater field, about four miles away, withdrawing 52 of the 90 workers there; it also suspended work and evacuated 68 workers from a drilling rig working nearby, the Hans Deul.
But that's not the worst of it. The platform lies less than 100 yards/meters from a flare that workers left burning as crew evacuated. The French super-major oil company owner of the rig, Total, dismissed the risk, while the British government claimed the flame needs to burn to prevent gas pressure from building up. But Reuters reports:
[O]ne energy industry consultant said Elgin could become "an explosion waiting to happen" if the oil major did not rapidly stop the leak which is above the water at the wellhead.
And that may not be the worst of it either. The leak is not in the well apparently but in the chalky seabed around it. No one really knows how reparable that will be - especially with the risk of explosion so high for any workers on site.

Plus, the field produces sour gas: a potent mix of natural gas, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide. Twenty years ago the cost of extracting energy from such messy stuff would have been prohibitively expensive. Now, not so much. But the true cost could be brutal, reports the BBC :
The major threat to the local ecosystem is the hydrogen sulphide, which is toxic to virtually all animal life. "You might as well put Agent Orange in the ocean," says [Simon Boxall of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK]. Because the leak is below the water's surface, the hydrogen sulphide is bubbling through the sea water. This is the worst-case scenario, says Boxall, because it could lead to mass animal and plant deaths. Boxall says Total needs to monitor the water quality to see if this is happening. - Mother Jones.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Monsterrat's Soufriere Hills Volcano Showing Increasing Seismicity - Unusual Activity With 109 Earthquakes and 9 Rockfalls!

For the first time in two years, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) monitoring the Soufriere Hills volcano noted unusual activity, with increased seismicity, accompanied by ash fall. Acting Director of MVO Roderick Stuart said the change, which was noted on Friday, is a break from a long state of pause, thus a reminder the volcano is still very active and residents there must always be cautious and aware.

The Soufriere Hills volcano is showing signs of life again, with increased seismic activity and ash fall.
Stuart reported, “Last Friday we had the first sort of activity in the volcano in over two years. It generated some ash and because it was the first activity we had in two years, it was almost a precautionary measure that we closed daytime access to Zone C just in case this activity started something bigger,” Stuart told OBSERVER Media. The authority also noted increased steam venting activity on the volcano and a new steam vent (fumarole) that appeared on the northwestern face of the lava dome behind Gages Mountain. Audible roaring associated with the venting were intermittently heard from the Observatory, 5.75 km northwest of the volcano. The seismic network recorded nine rockfalls, 105 volcano-tectonic (VT) and four hybrid earthquakes. Additionally, two swarms of VT earthquakes occurred. Earthquakes in the second swarm were described as markedly larger than those in the first. Consequently Zone C on the volcanic risk map was closed until Tuesday when there was a decrease in volcanic tectonic earthquakes below the volcano.  Zone C comprises Cork Hill, Delvins, Weekes, Foxes Bay and Richmond Hill.

Daytime access means that persons can visit these areas using a vehicle from 8 am to 4 pm while children must be accompanied by their parents. “There is nothing to worry about now but it is just a reminder that this volcano is potentially active. After two years of nothing happening people may get a sense that the eruption is over, but it is not,” Stuart said. He said there have been five pauses in activity since the first eruption in 1996 and Friday’s end to the last state of pause could mean the beginning of another period without activity or the resumption of lava extrusion, without an explosion. “We are just very wary of when something like this happens, we have to be very careful and incorporate the measures. There have been various predictions as we try to forecast what could happen since we have to be ready for anything,” Stuart said. As it relates to the new stem vent formed on the dome, Stuart said it would be monitored, though they often “go away.” The ash fall on Friday did not disrupt life on the island as it was light and most of it occurred on the uninhabited part of the island. The volcano is monitored around the clock and officials visit the dome once a week using Caribbean Helicopters, a helicopter company based in Antigua. A 1997 volcanic eruption killed 19 people and buried much of the island, including its former capital, Plymouth, which is now abandoned. Half the British territory’s 12,000 inhabitants left.
- Antigua Observer.


EXTREME WEATHER: Severe Thunderstorm Cells - "Monster-Sized" Hail Smashes Windshields in Kansas!

A storm system that could spawn twisters in the central U.S. on Thursday already did some damage overnight in Madison, Kansas, where softball-sized hail smashed car windshields.

A twister nearly formed near the town just after midnight, the national Storm Prediction Center noted, but the biggest impact was from hail.  "That was a HUGE bow-hook, a monster funnel cloud," WxRisk.com, a private weather forecasting firm, posted on its Facebook page. "Hail in excess of 4.25 in[ches] (107.95 mm). Slightly larger than softballs at times."  The firm said one of three storm cells that moved through the town of 700 "produced monster-size hail for almost 30 minutes ... lots of reports of cars and structures being damaged due to the large hail. Tennis-ball hail, CD hail, Soft-ball hail, and even larger."

Large hail pounded other parts of Kansas overnight as well, and the forecast for Thursday had much of the region, including Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, with a high chance of severe weather, weather.com reported.   "We're getting into that time of year when we get severe thunderstorms just about every day," said Greg Forbes, weather.com's severe weather expert. The storm system will trigger strong storms in the Ohio Valley on Friday, weather.com forecast. - MSNBC.


ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Beaching, Stranding and Die-Offs - Giant Atlantic Sturgeon Mysteriously Washes up on South Carolina Beach?!

A bizarre creature that washed ashore last week in Folly Beach, S.C., sparked speculation in the area and on the Internet that a dead sea monster might have been discovered. The tan-brown animal with greenish patches was strange enough, but what really baffled beachgoers was its massive size and the dinosaur-like bony plates on its sides. It's not clear just how long it was, but photos suggest it exceeded 10 feet.

Like many washed-up carcasses it carried both a salty stench and an air of mystery. Speculation ran rampant, with commenters suggesting that the creature was everything from a dinosaurian sea monster to a toxin-spawned mutation to a chupacabra. Scientists, however, were somewhat more skeptical. One of the first to identify the monster was Dr. Shane Boylan of the South Carolina Aquarium. Two big clues allowed Boylan to identify the fish more or less immediately: the animal's shape and distinctive bony plates. The marine monster was in fact an Atlantic sturgeon. Part of the reason the giant fish's identity was difficult to determine is that sturgeon are not normally the strange brownish tan color but instead lighter colored and silvery. The South Carolina monster's flesh color had changed as it baked in the sun. The dinosaur identification was actually pretty close to accurate; sturgeon are among the oldest bony fish in existence. It's not surprising that the sturgeon scared and confused people; Atlantic sturgeon have been known to reach 15 feet long and weigh over 500 pounds; seeing the beasts close-up is not for the faint of heart. The South Carolina monster was only the latest of several creatures to wash ashore in recent months. In early February a strange, seemingly mohawked toothy monster was found on a San Diego beach. It was soon identified as an opossum.

Other normal fish besides the sturgeon have been mistaken for monsters, including oarfish and gar. Oarfish, which are long, serpentine, nearly finless fish with large round eyes, often average 20 or 30 feet but have been reported over 50 feet long. Earlier this year, in January a huge ribbon-like monstrous fish that washed ashore in Delray Beach, Florida, was identified as an oarfish. Several sightings of gar (freshwater and marine fish which can grow over 10 feet long and reach over 350 pounds) have also been mistaken for monsters. In fact, some believe that "Champ," the lake monster said to inhabit Lake Champlain (on the border between Vermont and New York), was first sighted in 1609 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain. In his journal Champlain wrote of local Indians describing a fish with "a head as large as my two fists, with a snout two feet and a half long, and a double row of very sharp, dangerous teeth. Its body has a good deal the shape of the pike; but it is protected by scales of a silvery gray color." Though often claimed as an eyewitness report of "America's Loch Ness Monster," his description is clearly that of a sturgeon-like gar fish. Another reason that the sturgeon seemed monstrous was that it's an unusually large fish. The fish most people (and certainly most urban dwellers) encounter are relatively small -- goldfish perhaps, or aquarium fish. Sport fishermen, butchers and marine biologists are far more likely to recognize large fish such as tuna, sturgeon and gar, for example, which often grow to surprising sizes. Even seeing large fish on television, in aquariums or in photographs does not necessarily prepare city-dwelling beachgoers for real-life encounters with a beached, smelly giant. - Discovery News.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreading Far and Wide - 10 Times Lethal Radiation Level Registered at Fukushima!

A recent examination at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant has revealed radiation levels up to ten times the fatal dose. The news alarmed thousands of people who have been living in constant fear of radiation exposure for over a year.

Workers are operating at the stricken Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima
Dai-ichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan
­On Tuesday, Fukushima workers inserted a remotely controlled probe into Reactor Two to assess the damage. The device is equipped with a video camera, a thermometer, and a dosimeter - which registered radiation levels much higher than expected. The probe also discovered that the level of cooling water in the reactor is significantly lower than expected. The other two melted-down reactors have not yet been examined, but some fear their condition could be even worse. The management of the Tepco company, which owns the plant, says the findings will not affect the process of cooling down the nuclear fuel. However, their assurances are unlikely to calm down local people, who are extremely concerned over radiation levels in the area.

A recent study by psychiatrists at Fukushima Medical University found that almost a quarter of Fukushima's residents hospitalized after last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami were diagnosed with a "psychiatric disorder" because of their fears over radiation. Tepco officials and Japanese authorities have been repeatedly caught lying about the real situation at Fukushima. Hence many locals live in constant stress over the possibility of radiation poisoning.  On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake shook the east coast of Japan, triggering a massive tsunami. The quake badly damaged the Fukushima plant, causing a meltdown of three reactors. In subsequent days, an enormous amount of radiation was released into the atmosphere and tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the area. - RT.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report - New Activities and Unrest From March 21st to 27th!

The following constitutes the new activity and unrest report from the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, a cooperative project between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program.


IJEN Eastern Java (Indonesia) 8.058°S, 114.242°E; summit elev. 2799 m
On 24 March, CVGHM reported that Ijen's lake water chemistry changed during 10 January-17 March, exhibiting a significant increase in carbon dioxide, especially after 5 February, and an increase in acidity. The lake surface temperature increased from 28.8 degrees Celsius on 3 March to 45.1 degrees Celsius on 17 March. The lake water temperature at a depth of 5 m also rose from 42.7 to 44.7 degrees Celsius on 3 and 17 March, respectively. Seismicity increased starting in March. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4). Map

ILIAMNA Southwestern Alaska 60.032°N, 153.090°W; summit elev. 3053 m
AVO reported that during 21-27 March seismicity at Iliamna remained above background levels, although just slightly during 25-27 March. When not obscured by clouds, satellite and web camera views showed nothing unusual. The Alert Level remained at Advisory and the Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow. Map

NEVADO DEL RUIZ Colombia 4.895°N, 75.322°W; summit elev. 5321 m
According to INGEOMINAS, the Observatorio Vulcanológico and Sismológico de Manizales reported that during 19-25 March seismicity at Nevado del Ruiz increased and gas emissions remained at significant levels. Gas plumes rose 2 km above Arenas crater and sulfur dioxide odors were reported by local people. The Alert Level remained at III (Yellow; "changes in the behavior of volcanic activity"). Map

PACAYA Guatemala 14.381°N, 90.601°W; summit elev. 2552 m
INSIVUMEH noted in a special report that on 20 March patterns of seismicity and emissions from Pacaya's MacKenney cone changed, although remained characteristic of normal behavior for the volcano. On 26 March avalanches were detected and during 26-27 March gas plumes drifted S and SW. The report noted that after the eruption on 27 May 2010 only fumarolic emissions, mainly composed of water vapor, rose from MacKenney cone. Map

SOUFRIERE HILLS Montserrat 16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m
MVO reported that during 16-23 March activity at the Soufrière Hills lava dome was at a low level, although seismicity increased. Two swarms of volcano-tectonic earthquakes occurred, the first between 1604 and 1651 on 22 March (49 events) and the second between 0310 and 0527 on 23 March (54 events). Earthquakes in the second swarm were markedly larger than those in the first. Several changes on the volcano were observed on 23 March; fumarolic activity had increased and a new fumarole had appeared on the NW face of the lava dome behind Gages Mountain. In addition a vent producing pulsing steam emissions with a small amount of ash had formed in the back of the February 2010 collapse scar. Ash plumes rose 1.8 km (6,000 ft) a.s.l. and very light ashfall occurred on the W flank of the volcano. Audible roaring associated with the venting was heard intermittently from MVO, 5.75 km NW of the volcano. The Hazard Level remained at 2.

Based on a METAR weather report and analyses of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that on 24 March a gas-and-ash plume drifted 65 km WSW. Later that day the VAAC reported a detached area of ash drifting NW and a second small emission of ash drifting WNW. The next day haze and vog W of Soufrière Hills was detected in satellite imagery and a pilot reported ash at altitudes of 1.5-3 km (5,000-10,000 ft) a.s.l. drifting NW. On 26 March MVO noted that activity returned to a low level following the ash-venting on 23 March. The report noted that Zone C on the volcanic risk map, which was temporarily closed the previous week due to an increase in volcano-tectonic earthquakes below Soufrière Hills, re-opened for day-time entrance on 27 March. Zone C is to the WNW of Soufrière Hills and includes Cork Hill, Weekes, Foxes Bay, Richmond Hill, and Delvins, and extends 500 m out to sea. Map

For the complete list of ongoing volcanic activity and additional geological summary, click HERE or select the specific volcano name below for additional details:

ONGOING ACTIVITY:  Cleveland, Chuginadak Island | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Kilauea, Hawaii (USA) | Kizimen, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Puyehue-Cordón Caulle, Central Chile | Reventador, Ecuador | Sakura-jima, Kyushu | Sangay, Ecuador | Santa María, Guatemala | Shiveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Tungurahua, Ecuador.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines - New Sprinting Humanoid Robot Will One Day Come with Flexible Arms and Tactile Skin!

It’s hard to watch these robotic legs — courtesy of Meka Robotics and the Human Centered Robotics Lab at the University of Texas, Austin — and not think about the sprinting T-1000 from Terminator 2.

According to Hizook, the robot was designed “to study planar rough-terrain locomotion with very little perception.” Translation: This robot will one day run you down with little regard to its surroundings. In all seriousness, that means it can move much like a human can, automatically adjusting to uneven terrain on the fly instead of having to stop and calculate its movements. The robot, named Hume, can do this because it has elastic actuators that allow it to perform deep knee bends perfect for climbing over rocks and other obstacles. As it’s built now, it weighs around 33 pounds and measures a little over five feet tall. Still, a pair of scrambling metal legs isn’t exactly the stuff of science fiction legend. The fact that Meka is planning to outfit Hume with the elastic arms of its M1 Mobile Manipulator, however, should get you more excited.

The M1 Mobile Manipulator is an adorable robot straight out of a Disney movie, which currently wheels around on top of a large metal base. Its arms are about the size of small human’s arms, featuring seven degrees of freedom and a strong grip. So, Meka is developing advanced robotic arms and legs, but it’s missing that last touch that puts its future humanoid robot in creepy-Data-from-Star-Trek territory. Ah yes, that would be tactile skin, which it’s working on with the Georgia Tech Healthcare Robotics Lab. The pressure-sensitive blue “skin” was able to measure the impact of a 1.1-gram almond and could sense multiple points of contact at once. In the future, that could help it become more responsive to human touch, which in turn would make it a lot safer for environments like hospitals since it would know to pull back immediately once someone touched its arm. Right now this is just a loose assortment of technologies that might one day be joined together, but, Terminator hyperbole aside, it’s a promising step towards utilizing robots in our everyday lives. - TIME Techland.
WATCH: Hume - The Rough Terrain Biped.



SUPER-EARTHS: "Habitable" Planets Found Orbiting Red Dwarf Stars in Our Galaxy - There Could be Billions, Including 100 "Next Door" to Earth?!

Billions of potentially habitable planets may exist in our galaxy, the Milky Way - including 100 'super Earths' within 30 light years from our solar system. A survey of red dwarf stars in the Milky Way found nine super-Earths - and two in the 'habitable zone' where liquid water could exist.

An artist's impression of the surface of a planet orbiting a red dwarf. The new discovery hints
there may be billions of habitable worlds in the Milky Way.

Red dwarf stars account for 80% of the 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way - and the scientists now believe that 40% of those might have a planet in the habitable zone. They calculate that around 40% of red dwarfs have a rocky planet not much bigger than Earth orbiting the ‘habitable zone’ where liquid surface water can exist. Where there is water, there could be life - although being in the habitable zone is no guarantee that life has evolved on a planet. Dr Xavier Bonfils, from Grenoble University in France, who led the international team, said: ‘Because red dwarfs are so common - there are about 160 billion of them in the Milky Way - this leads us to the astonishing result that there are tens of billions of these planets in our galaxy alone.’ These data were combined with other observations, including those of stars which did not have planets. The astronomers worked out that habitable zone super-Earths orbiting red dwarfs occurred with a frequency of around 41%.

A simplified diagram showing the sizes of stars. 80% of stars in our Milky Way galaxy are red dwarf stars.
On the other hand massive planets similar to Jupiter and Saturn were rare around red dwarfs. Less than 12% of the stars were expected to have such ‘gas giants’. Because red dwarfs are common near the sun, many ‘super-Earths’ may not be far away in astronomical terms. The scientists estimate there could be around 100 habitable zone planets within 30 light years. Red dwarfs are cooler than the sun, which means planets must orbit close to their parent stars to be warm enough to be habitable. This might not be good news for life. ‘The habitable zone around a red dwarf, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on the surface, is much closer to the star than the Earth is to the sun,’ said team member Dr Stephane Udry, from Geneva Observatory. ‘But red dwarfs are known to be subject to stellar eruptions or flares, which may bathe the planet in X-rays or ultraviolet radiation, and which may make life there less likely.’ The research is reported in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. - Daily Mail.