Saturday, June 9, 2012

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: "Strange" Population Outbreak - "Starving" Crown-of-Thorns Starfish in Mass Stranding in Japan?!

Hundreds of crown-of-thorns starfish found on a beach in southern Japan in January stranded themselves because they were starving, say researchers.

More than 800 crown-of-thorns were left high and dry.
More than 800 were discovered on a 300m stretch of sand on Ishigaki island.  The starfish population "outbreak" was first identified in 2009, when masses of juveniles were seen feeding on the island's outer coral reef.  The coral-eating starfish then took three years to move onto the beach where they perished.  The reason for the starfish population boom is not clear, but the strange behaviour has shown marine scientists what can happen when these slow-moving creatures completely deplete their food source. 

"The shortage of food, corals, is a probable cause of the stranding," said Go Suzuki from the Fisheries Research Agency, who witnessed the phenomenon from his research station.  In a paper, published in the journal Coral Reefs, Mr Suzuki and colleagues described how an area once covered with up to 60% coral was reduced to 1% by the voracious starfish.  The marine scientists described how the starfish gradually moved closer to the beach, possibly in search of more coral to feed on.  Mr Suzuki suggested that the current may have helped the starfish along their doomed path, pushing the animals towards the shore.  Noting that they died on the beach, rather than in the water, the team concluded that when the starving starfish were eventually washed up they were too weak to return to the sea.  - BBC.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.0 Magnitude Quake Strikes Off Taiwan!

A strong 6.0-magnitude quake struck off Taiwan early on Sunday, US seismologists said, but no tsunami warning was issued. 

The US Geological Survey said the quake had a depth of 70 kilometres (40 miles) and hit around 5 am (2100 GMT Saturday), some 50 kilometres east of Su-ao in the northeastern Yilan county.  Taiwan's Seismology Centre recorded the quake, which was felt in Taipei and islandwide, at 6.5 on the Richter scale. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a warning.  The National Fire Agency said there were no reports of damages or injuries.  Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.  In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude tremor killed around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in Taiwan's recent history. - Yahoo.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Philippine Sea plate is unusual in that its borders are nearly all zones of plate convergence. The Pacific plate is subducted into the mantle, south of Japan, beneath the Izu-Bonin and Mariana island arcs, which extend more than 3,000 km along the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea plate. This subduction zone is characterized by rapid plate convergence and high-level seismicity extending to depths of over 600 km. In spite of this extensive zone of plate convergence, the plate interface has been associated with few great (M>8.0) "megathrust" earthquakes. This relatively low seismic energy release is thought to result from relatively weakly coupling along the plate interface. These convergent plate margins are also associated with unusual zones of back-arc extension (along with resulting seismic activity) that decouple the volcanic island arcs from the remainder of the Philippine Sea Plate.

South of the Mariana arc, the Pacific plate is subducted beneath the Yap Islands along the Yap trench. The long zone of Pacific plate subduction at the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea Plate is responsible for the generation of the deep Izu-Bonin, Mariana, and Yap trenches as well as parallel chains of islands and volcanoes, typical of Circum-Pacific island arcs. Similarly, the northwestern margin of the Philippine Sea plate is subducting beneath the Eurasia plate along a convergent zone, extending from southern Honshu to the northeastern coast of Taiwan, manifested by the Ryukyu Islands and the Nansei-Shoto (Ryukyu) trench. The Ryukyu Subduction Zone is associated with a similar zone of back-arc extension, the Okinawa Trough. At Taiwan, the plate boundary is characterized by a zone of arc-continent collision, whereby the northern end of the Luzon island arc is colliding with the buoyant crust of the Eurasian continental margin offshore China.

Click HERE for additional Details, Summary, Maps and Scientific & Technical information from the USGS.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Magmatic Intrusion of the El Hierro Island, Canary Islands - Vents of Degassing on the Submarine Cone!

W-E echosound profile of the submarine cone showing the degassing vents.
After the recent swarm of earthquakes, seismicity has gone back to almost no activity in recent days. Results of a recent research campaign aboard the Atlantic Explorer from the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria have been published at:  The survey shows 2 vents of degassing (one very intense) on the submarine cone at depths >140 m. In addition, it appears that ash or occasional larger particles are still being ejected from the area as well.

A submarine eruption began south of El Hierro Island in early October, following an intense period of earthquakes starting in July 2011. As of mid February 2012, it is still continuing and still raising speculation about the possibility of the eruption breaking the surface. However, it seems that this scenario is unlikely as there is a trend of decreasing intensity, suggesting the eruption might be approaching an end. However, volcanoes are unpredictable and this eruption could still go on for a very long time as well. - Volcano Discovery.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: "Odd" and Bizarre Ice Storm Lashes Donegal in June Winter-Like Scene!

Bizarre Irish weather for June has resulted in an ice storm in Donegal and pounding rain and flooding throughout the country.  The ice storm left several inches of ice near the village of Termon in Donegal the Irish Independent reported. 

The aftermath of a thunderstorm over Donegal on Thursday.
Flooding and fierce winds as recent heatwave a fond memory.
Local photojournalist Frank McGettigan stated he had never seen anything like it "No one around here has ever seen anything like this in June before. It was really odd."  A Met Eireann forecaster Joan Blackburn expalined the phenomenon "All rain starts as a frozen product," she said. "A downdraft would push the hail down quicker than it can melt, and this is not unheard of. Also, it's not particularly mild, and because the shower is so intense, the hail doesn't have time to melt and fall as rain."  Forecasters warned there is no let up in sight for the Irish with heavy rain and flooding predicted nationwide making last week’s heat wave a fond memory. The weekend will be unsettled, with some dry spells.

"It has been wet -- and it's going to be wet," Ms Blackburn said.  However she said conditions will improve "Dry weather will start to make its way up the country, but it will be windy and wet for a lot of places.  "There is going to be strong and very gusty northwesterly winds, with gales of up to Force 9. The rainfall isn't quite as bad, but it will still be wet, and Ulster will be the the last to dry out."  Police are warning of tough driving conditions. "Please be aware of all others on the road and travel a safe distance from cars in front of you," a spokesman said.  "Conditions can be changeable from area to area, so always drive at a speed suitable to conditions, and remain conscious that flooding may occur and visibility may be reduced." - Irish Central.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Strong Activity and Lava Flows at Guatemala's Fuego Volcano - Ash Plumes up to 1,000 Metres High; Shock Waves Rattle Homes in Nearby Villages!

Fuego volcano in Guatemala remains at unusually high levels of activity with frequent explosions and several active lava flows on its upper flanks. The recent reports from USGS and INSIVUMEH summarize the activity during the past days:

Guatemala's Fuego volcano spits ash and lava.
On 1 June, hot lahars traveled down the Las Lajas and El Jute drainages valley on the SE flank, carrying blocks of up to 2 m in diameter. During 3-5 June explosions produced ash plumes that rose 500-1,000 m above the crater and drifted W and S. Pulses of incandescence from the crater was observed as well as avalanches on the W flank. Lava flows traveled 700 m down Taniluyá Canyon drainage and 1 km down Las Lajas. During 4-5 June seismicity increased and the lava flow in Las Lajas reached 1.2 km long. Explosions produced ash plumes that rose 600-800 m above the crater and drifted 7 km SW. Shock waves were detected up to 7 km away.

On 5-6 June, 35 weak to moderately explosios were recorded. They produced ash plumes rising up to 500 m and drifting S-SW, and some were accompanied by shock waves felt in 10 km radius and rattling windows and roofs in the villages of Panimaché and Morelia at 8 km distance. The active lava flows in the Las Lajas and El Jute valleys on the upper reached 800-900 m and 600 m length, respectively. Blocks detaching from the lava flows reached the vegetation. Large lahars were observed in the El Jute, Las Lajas, Ceniza, Santa Teresa and Taniluyá valleys on 6 June, and INSIVUMEN reports the road leading to the town office of Yepocapa was destroyed. A third 250 m long lava flow was observed on the upper south flank on 6 June, with constantly detaching blocks that roll down towards the Cenizas valley. - Volcano Discovery.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Land Subsidence Continues in China - Sinkholes in Nanning Force Relocation of 355 Students; Pits Collapsed With Thunderous Sounds!

A total of 355 students at a village in Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, have been evacuated after sinkholes opened up, local authorities said Friday.

The biggest collapse pit Hang Hau area of about 300 square meters, the naked eye can not see the bottom of the pit. Reporter Tang Huiji photo
The affected students from Tanluo No.2 Middle School were relocated to other schools or taken back home after five fissures were found at Tanluo village, Xixiangtang district, Thursday night and Friday morning, including a 300-square-meter sinkhole, an official with the district government said. Land subsidence also affected four villages in Xixiangtang district on June 1 with 844 people evacuated. The subsidence caused one building to collapse and damaged six others. - China News Center.
At 1:30 on the 8th, reporters rushed to the town of Tanluo Tanluo village, collapsed near the dark, nearby residents have been evacuated. New collapse pit 3, the first one in Tanluo town (hereinafter referred to as "in Tanluo II") in front of the Hang Hau area of ​​about three square meters, about 0.5 meters deep. By the collapse affect the pit of the school walls also appeared in the cracks of about 2 m. On-site monitoring personnel according to their most recent two or three hours of observation, the pit depth continues to increase. The collapse pit distance Tanluo, two in front of the original collapse of the pit is only 23 meters, old collapse pit backfilling is completed just in the afternoon of the 6th. Addition, two new collapse pit in the paddy fields Tanluo two diagonally opposite, about 300 meters from the school gates.

First discovered in the village cadres, the collapse pit 9:30 the evening of 7 Xu, his inspections to the sound of water to rice paddies, paddy fields to hear constant reports "crashed". Village cadres raised his flashlight according to the paddy fields, the scene before he was surprised by a large seedlings disappeared, and two dark hole appear in the the middle of the paddy fields. Who heard Tanluo town party secretary Ma significantly ball barefoot into the field, walked a few meters from the pit only position when he suddenly heard the pit came a burst of thunder sound. He thought that the new collapse, and quickly turned out of the paddy fields. As the lights dim, he failed to see the pit size and pit. At 2:00 on the 8th, the reporter stood about 100 meters from the collapse pit 005 County Road, you can clearly hear the pit came the sound of water. From time to time there is a similar thunderous sound came out, chilling.  - SOHU [Translated].

PLANETARY TREMORS: 5.1 Magnitude Quake Shakes Western Nepal - Two Houses Destroyed, Several Others Damaged!

An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale jolted Pokhara city in western Nepal on Saturday afternoon, damaging few houses, but no human casualties has been reported so far.

National Seismological Center said that the quake was centered 23 kilometers North in Thumkodanda and Namarjung Village Development Committee, some 200 km west of Kathmandu.  Police said a wall of houses belonging to a local people were cracked due to the quake. Similarly, the building of Area Police Station also suffered minor damages. - China Daily.
Two houses were destroyed and Hansapur-based Police Post developed cracks when an earthquake struck Kaski on Saturday.  Seismological National Center Chief Somnath Sapkota said an earthquake measuring 5.1 in the Richter scale with the epicenter at border area between Thumakodanda and Namarjung in Kaksi was recorded at 1:39pm today.  Sapkota informed that quake was felt for five seconds.  A two-storey house belonging to Radhakrishna Subedi at Lekhnath Municipality-10 was destroyed.  Puspa Subedi said Radhakrishna’s family are in their neighbour’s house. Likewise, Shivraj Subedi’s house at the same place was also destroyed.  No human casualties were reported. - Himalayan Times.
Click HERE for additional Details, Summary, Maps and Scientific & Technical information from the USGS.

EXTREME WEATHER: A Large Wildfire in Northern Colorado Prompts Evacuations - Ten Structures Have Been Damaged!

Crews are battling a wildfire in northern Colorado that has scorched 5,000 acres and prompted several dozen evacuation orders.  Larimer County Sheriff's spokesman John Schulz says the fire was reported just before 6 a.m. Saturday in the Paradise Park area.

June 9, 2012: Smoke is visible from Tie Siding, Wyo., as a wildfire burns northwest of Fort Collins, Colo. (AP).
He says at least 46 structures and likely many more have been evacuated, and an evacuation center has been set up at a middle school in Laporte.  Ten structures have been damaged, although authorities were unsure if they were homes or some other kind of buildings.  A sheriff's statement says two heavy air tankers, five single-engine air tankers and four helicopters are on the scene.  The fire appears to be burning on private and U.S. Forest Service land.  Aerial footage from Denver-based KMGH-TV showed flames coming dangerously close to what appeared to be several outbuildings and at least one home in the area, consuming trees and sending a large plume of smoke into the air.  "Right now we're just trying to get these evacuations done and get people safe," Schulz told the station, adding that "given the extreme heat in the area, it makes it a difficult time for (the firefighters)."

Temperatures near Fort Collins reached the mid-80s Saturday afternoon, with humidity between 5 percent and 10 percent.  "It was just good conditions to grow," National Weather Service meteorologist Chad Gimmestad told The Associated Press. "The conditions today were really favorable for it to take off."  He said firefighters should benefit from cooler weather this evening, but the cold front is expected to bring wind gusts as high as 40 mph.  "It's a trade off," he said. "The biggest thing might be that it will be pushing (the fire) in a different direction, and the way this is playing out, it might be in the direction of homes."  Also Saturday, KMGH reported that a grass fire destroyed at least four outbuildings near Interstate 25 and Colorado 7 in Erie. Images from the station's helicopter showed at least one car engulfed in flames. - FOX News.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Heavy Rains & Significant Flash Floods Deluge Florida and Alabama - The Second Wettest Day on Record in Pensacola, Since 1934!

A relentless stream of tropical moisture has brought significant flash flooding to Pensacola, Florida this morning and afternoon.  Since midnight, Pensacola Regional Airport has picked up 13.10 inches of rainfall through 6:00 P.M. EST. This number will continue to increase the remainder of the day as heavy rain continues to track onshore from the Gulf of Mexico. 

Photo courtesy of
The 12.99 inches is now the second wettest day on record next to October 5th, 1934 when 15.29 inches of rain fell.  Meanwhile, the Pensacola Naval Air Station has picked up 12.71 inches of rain just since midnight.  Flooding has been reported across Pensacola with numerous roads flooded and impassable.  Homes and businesses throughout downtown Pensacola are flooded, especially in the Palafox area of the city.  Reports are coming out that water has entered the first floor of a Baptist Hospital.  Rainfall rates of greater than 2 inches per hour continue to fall throughout the Gulf Coast region and there have been reports of greater than 18 inches of rain so far today in an area just north of Interstate 10 between Dawes and St. Elmo, Alabama in Mobile County. A failed dam on a 14-acre private lake near Dawes, Ala. has displaced many people from their homes.  A state of emergency is now in effect for Escambia County, Florida which is the county that houses Pensacola and vicinity. - Accu Weather.
A storm moving across the U.S. Gulf Coast battered parts of Alabama and Florida with up to 18 inches (4 6 cm) of rain on Saturday with authorities in Pensacola, Florida, declaring a state of emergency and sending out boats to rescue residents of flooded homes.  The heavy rains in the region began on Friday night. The storm is due to winds picking up tropical moisture and streaming it from New Orleans in the Gulf Coast to Jacksonville on Florida's eastern coast.  Mobile, Alabama, saw 15 inches (38 cm) of rain that stranded people in cars and caused a dam to break on a private lake, officials said.  Pensacola and Mobile, which are less than 60 miles (97 km) a part, have been the worst-hit areas, said Mike Pigott, senior meteorologist with private firm Those have "kind of been two bull's eyes to be honest with you," he said.  The two cities are along the Gulf Coast's Interstate-10 - Chicago Tribune.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 5.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Western Turkey - Bulgaria Rattled Too!

A 5.1-magnitude earthquake has struck the western parts of Turkey, including Istanbul, shaking apartment buildings, rattling windows and causing residents to rush into the streets. 

There were no immediate reports of casualties and damages, but the quake threw people into panic. File photo.
The tremor was also felt in neighboring Bulgaria, in the municipalities of Burgas, Nessebar, Plovdiv and Kardzhali.  According to the National Institute in Geophysics, Geodesy and Geography, at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, BAS, the quake occurred shortly before midnight. 

The epicenter was registered in the Marmara Sea, a few kilometers from the town of Tekirdag and Marmara Ereglisi. It was at a depth of 10 km.  The quake was followed by two light aftershocks.  There were no immediate reports of casualties and damages, but the quake threw people into panic. - Novinite.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: High Hydrothermal Pressure - Shallow Earthquake Swarm Under Katla's Southern Caldera Continues!

Earthquake swarm at Katla volcano on 7-9 June 2012 (Icelandic Met Office).
The earthquake swarm under the southern part of the icecap of Katla volcano that had started on 5 June continues with 30 more quakes recorded during the past 48 hours. The quakes are mostly very small, but a few were between magnitude 2 and 3, and most are located at shallow depths of less than 5 km.  For the list of latest quakes go to the Icelandic Met Office website. - Volcano Discovery.
According to Wikipedia, Katla is a large volcano in southern Iceland. It is very active; twenty eruptions have been documented between 930 and 1918, at intervals of 13–95 years. It has not erupted violently for 94 years, although there may have been small eruptions that did not break the ice cover, including ones in 1955 and 1999. Prior eruptions have had a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of between 4 and 6 on a scale of 0 to 8. In comparison, the Eyjafjallajökull 2010 eruption had a VEI4. The bigger VEI6 eruptions are comparable to Mount Pinatubo's 1991 eruption. Katla is one of the largest volcanoes in Iceland. It is situated to the north of Vík í Mýrdal and to the east of the smaller glacier Eyjafjallajökull. Its peak reaches 1,512 metres (4,961 ft) and is partially covered by the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The system has an area of 595 km² (230 sq mi). The Eldgjá canyon is part of the same volcanic system. The caldera of the Katla volcano has a diameter of 10 km (6 mi) and is covered with 200–700 metres (660-2,300 ft) of ice. The volcano normally erupts every 40–80 years. The flood discharge at the peak of an eruption in 1755 has been estimated at 200,000–400,000 m³/s (7.1-14.1 million cu ft/sec), comparable to the combined average discharge of the Amazon, Mississippi, Nile, and Yangtze rivers (about 266,000 m³/s (9.4 million cu ft/sec))

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: E. Coli Outbreak in 6 States in America - 14 Illnesses, Including a Child's Death!

Federal health officials say 14 people in six states have been sickened by the same strain of E. coli over the past couple of months.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman Lola Russell, 14 cases of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli 0145 infection with the same DNA fingerprint have been identified in six states.  "Their illness onsets range from April 15 to May 12," she said, adding that the most recent case was reported June 4. "Three ill persons have been hospitalized. One death has been reported in Louisiana."  Cases have been reported in Alabama (2), California (1), Florida (1), Georgia (5), Louisiana (4) and Tennessee (1), according to the CDC.  Louisiana health officials would confirm only that one child died and three adults were sickened in the New Orleans area.

CNN affiliate WWL reported that the child was 21-month-old Maelan Elizabeth Graffagnini, who fought the infection for weeks at a local hospital. Georgia is reporting five cases, the most in one state.  "Four of five are female, and their ages range from 18 to 52, with a median of 34. Illness onsets range from (April 15-28); one case was hospitalized overnight for this illness, and no cases have died," said Suleima Salgado, deputy director of communications for the Georgia Department of Public Health.  The cases in Georgia have been mild, according to Dr. J. Patrick O'Neal, who heads the Division of Health Protection within the Georgia Department of Public Health.  He said Thursday, "I don't think there's need for great concern. I think awareness, yes, concern, no. We have outbreaks of various diarrheal diseases quite frequently."  Neither of the Alabamans was hospitalized; both have recovered, the state's Department of Public Health said in a news release.  According to the CDC, the most common strain is E. coli O157. The strain in this outbreak is 0145. "As whole, the non-O157 serogroup is less likely to cause severe illness than E. coli O157," it said. "However, some non-O157 (Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli) serogroups can cause the most severe manifestations of STEC illness." Russell said many clinical laboratories do not regularly test for this particular strain of E. coli. However, the O145 strain is one of six additional strains for which the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Services has begun testing for in ground beef.  The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and the investigation is ongoing on the federal and local levels. Infectious disease investigators will interview the victims to determine what exposures they have in common.  The CDC says it's looking at both food and non-food exposures as a source of the outbreak.

However, Louisiana health officials say they suspect that food may be to blame, according to a statement from the state's Department of Health and Hospitals.  "People usually get sick from STEC 2-8 days (average of 3-4 days) after swallowing the organism," Russell said in a statement. She added that most people infected with the 0145 strain develop diarrhea (usually watery and often bloody) and abdominal cramps. "Most illnesses resolve on their own within seven days, but sometimes the symptoms can last longer and can be more severe."  So investigators are dependent on people accurately remembering what they ate or came into contact with before they got sick.  Food such as meat and poultry but also fruit and vegetables is often the source of E. coli infections. However, unpasteurized or raw milk, water that has not been disinfected, contact with cattle or contact with the feces of infected people are other sources of infections.  Young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people who have weakened immune systems (like cancer or HIV patients) are at greater risk for severe illness and death.  The best way to avoid getting sick is by washing hands frequently when preparing food as well as avoiding cross-contamination of food preparation areas by washing cutting boards, counters and utensils with hot, soapy water.  Properly washing hands after using the bathroom and after coming into contact with animals or being in their environments -- anywhere there may be traces of feces, where the bacteria could be lurking -- also helps.  Cooking meats thoroughly to at least 160°F or 70˚C kills the bacteria and prevents infection as well. Using a meat thermometer will most accurately help you determine that the food is thoroughly cooked. - CNN.
WATCH: E. Coli outbreak in America.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Tracking the Kilauea Volcano - Lava Flows March Across Coastal Plain!

Over the past week, lava flows on Kīlauea's coastal plain have been persistently advancing towards the ocean, though at a slower pace during a mid-week pressure decrease, increasing over the past day with renewed pressure.

Coastal lava at dawn on May 31, 2012, captured from USGS-HVO Mobile Cam 2.
The flow front is estimated to be about 2km/1mi from the ocean still, so we await the effects of this renewed pressure at the coast! A series of webcam captures from the USGS-HVO shows the progression of these flows over the past week. Meanwhile, pressure is still high across other parts of the volcano, with small lava flows and a lava pond increasingly present within Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater (not directly accessible, but glow can be seen from a distance with clear weather), and the summit lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u still at high levels and producing strong glow visible from the Jaggar Overlook after dark.

Within this newest crater but still out of sight, there have been spillovers of the lava lake as it continues to overtop its previous high-level banks! There have been many earthquakes on the south flank of the volcano, seeming to indicate continuing movement and adjustment of this huge landmass in response to this increased pressure -- first manifested as a slow-slip event last week! Things have not yet settled, so stay tuned for our next weekly report or sooner if something major changes! - Volcano Discovery.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 2 Quakes Shake Northern New South Wales, Australia - "Unusual" Tremors Were the Largest to Hit the Region Since 1969!

Two earthquakes have struck in northern NSW, Australia, and have been felt in Tamworth, Gunnedah and Coonabarabran and in areas more than 100km away.  A 4.2 magnitude quake struck at Lake Keepit, northeast of Gunnedah, at 9.31pm (AEST) on Friday, Geoscience Australia says. 

It had a depth of 17km.  A similar sized earthquake nearby struck about two minutes earlier, the Australian Seismological Centre says.  The centre's director Kevin McCue said these were the first earthquakes greater than magnitude 4 to strike inland northern NSW since December 1969, when a magnitude 5 quake struck near Coonabarabran.  Mr McCue said the Friday night quakes were felt as far as Coonabarabran, 120km from the epicentre, as well as in Tamworth and Gunnedah.  "I was talking to people up there. All the glass was jiggling in cupboards," he told AAP.  "It's unusual to have an earthquake of this size." 

He said it's unlikely the quakes caused structural damage to homes in major towns, but some may have cracked walls or chimneys.  Twitter accounts have come in from Tamworth, Manilla and Gunnedah.  Seismologist Dr Michael Phillips, who lives 5km from Coonabarabran, said his wife Claire Milton, a doctor, and their eight-year-old son Max felt the earthquakes in their farmhouse.  "They heard and felt it," he told AAP.  "The china in the cabinet was rattling and my son's bunk bed was banging on the wall.  "The whole house was rattling and shaking - it lasted 30 seconds."  Dr Phillips, who is also a physicist, said the size of the earthquakes had overwhelmed his seismological measuring equipment.  "It was too much for the instrument," Dr Phillips said, adding it was likely that one of the earthquakes was an aftershock. - Stuff.
Click HERE for additional Details, Summary, Maps and Scientific & Technical information from the USGS.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: New Volcanic Unrest Detected at the Tavurvur Volcano in Papua New Guinea!

Rabaul's Tavurvur volcano has been showing signs of unrest. The RVO reported white steam emissions during May and several high-frequency volcano-tectonic earthquakes although seismicity overall was still very low. The last eruptions of Tavurvur were in August 2011. - Volcano Discovery.

According to Wikipedia, Tavurvur is an active volcano that lies near Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. It is a sub-vent of the Rabaul caldera and lies on the eastern rim of the larger feature. The volcano is most well known for its devastating eruptions over Rabaul.  Mt Tavurvur is the most well known volcano in Rabaul caldera, and has erupted as recently as January 2009. In 1937, Tavurvur and another nearby volcano, Vulcan, erupted, killing 507 people.  On the 7th of October 2006 the volcano erupted again, and an initial blast shattered windows up to 12 kilometres away and sent an ash plume 18 km into the stratosphere. Fortunately this time winds blew most of the ash away from Rabaul.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Disturbance Continues in Italy - Another 4.5 Magnitude Quake Hits Northern Italy!

A 4.5-magnitude earthquake struck off northern Italy early Saturday at a depth of 7.1 km, Italy’s Agi news agency reports.

Photo: EPA
The quake hit the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions at 04:04 a.m. local time, Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) says. Its epicenter was located not far from the town of Claut.
People rushed into the streets in panic as their houses began to shake. There have been no reports of casualties or damage.

Today’s quake is the latest in a series of tremors that hit northern Italy over the past three weeks. Previously, two quakes erupted in the Emilia Romagna region on May 20 and 29, killing 25 people and creating havoc.

Another 4.5-magnitude earthquake struck Italy off its northeast coast out in the Adriatic Sea. The total death toll amounts to 26 people, with over 400 Italians injured and 15,000 left homeless.
- Voice of Russia.
Click HERE for additional Details, Summary, Maps and Scientific & Technical information from the USGS.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Italy's Stromboli Volcano - Strong and Frequent Explosions at the Summit Crater!

Stromboli volcano is in a phase of strong activity. Reports by visitors and images taken with the webcams show that in particular the northwestern vent in the summit crater often produces strong explosions that shower the crater terrace with incandescent lava. Since the last lateral eruption in March 2007, Stromboli has been in a heightened state of activity overall during most of the past years, indicating that magma levels inside the conduit are relatively high. The question is when again the magma finds its way out through a fissure on the flank on Sciara del Fuoco to produce another effusive eruption with a new lava flow. - Volcano Discovery.