Friday, November 2, 2012

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Overlooked Southwest Volcano Threat Finally Draws Attention!

November 2, 2012 - SOUTHWESTERN UNITED STATES - More than 1,400 volcanoes dot the Southwestern United States. At least three erupted in the past 1,000 years, which is practically yesterday in geologic time. Experts and disaster officials are finally looking at the potential threats.  Though many of the region's volcanoes lie in remote corners, puncturing rainbow-hued rocks and surrounded by empty desert, some run smack up against growing Western cities.  To stay ahead of any surprises Mother Nature may be brewing underground, the U.S. Geological Survey recently brought together emergency planners and volcano experts for a conference on volcanic hazards in the Southwest. The Oct. 18 meeting marked the first time both groups had discussed their roles should an eruption occur.  "We need to get people aware of who the local experts are so we can respond more rapidly in the future," said Jacob Lowenstern, one of the conference organizers, and USGS scientist-in-charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Sunset Crater, a basalt volcano near Flagstaff, Ariz., erupted in 1085 A.D.
Low risk, big impact
Compared to Alaska or Hawaii, the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah face a low risk of eruption.  "We don't expect a volcanic eruption anytime soon in the Southwest," Lowenstern told OurAmazingPlanet. On the other hand, dangers lurk; for example, very young lava sits just up the road from Flagstaff, Ariz. "These eruptions do occur on a human time scale. Because one hasn't happened in historical times, people aren't aware it's really possible,” Lowenstern said. “But it is.”  Low risk, however, doesn't mean low impact. If an eruption occurred, it could cause significant damage. The extent of the damage would depend in part on the character of the eruption, with volcanoes and volcanic fields (cones and lava flows) in the region varying by lava type. Highly fluid basalt formed the hundreds of cinder cones and lava flows tourists see dotting the Colorado Plateau. Their legacy includes one of the world's longest lava flows, as well as the repeated damming of the Grand Canyon. Rhyolite lava, on the other hand, is sticky and more explosive, and created the great Valles Caldera. Other volcanoes sometimes spew out both types of lava, such as the tall San Francisco Peaks stratovolcanoes.

In the near-term, the most likely blast scenario is a small basaltic cone, similar to Sunset Crater in Arizona or Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, according to research presented at the meeting. Stephen Self, a volcanologist with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, laid out a possible scenario in his meeting abstract. A Sunset-style eruption could last months to years. Ash clouds could reach altitudes of up to 60,000 feet (16 kilometers) above the volcano, spreading hundreds of miles downwind. Ash fall-out would be 4 inches (10 centimeters) thick over an area of 200 square miles (500 square km), with thinner deposits over wider areas.

Top 10 volcanoes
No state in the Southwest is immune from the hazard ­— the USGS ranks volcanoes or volcanic fields with moderate to high threats in every Southwestern state, from Nevada out to Colorado. The rankings account for prior eruptions and proximity to cities and transportation routes. (California was excluded from the meeting and the following list because the state has its own volcano observatory.)

The top 10 volcanoes or volcanic fields currently on watch in the Southwest are:

    Black Rock Desert volcanic field, Utah: Moderate
    Carrizozo volcanic field, NM: Very Low
    Dotsero Volcano, Colo.: Moderate
    Markagunt Plateau volcanic field, Utah: Low
    San Francisco volcanic field, Ariz.: Moderate
    Santa Clara Volcano, Utah: Very Low
    Steamboat Springs, Nev.: High
    Uinkaret volcanic field, Ariz.: Very Low
    Valles Caldera, NM: Moderate
    Zuni-Bandera volcanic field, NM: Very Low

Tracking the threat
The conference also examined ways to better track potential hazards, Lowenstern said. For example, the Southwest has a seismic monitoring network, but it's not set up detect the subtle quivers of magma moving underground. To track a volcano’s earthquake activity, scientist typically install four to eight seismometers nearby. Researchers might also map ground deformations by satellite. The science of desert volcanoes continues to evolve, as new dating and remote-sensing techniques improve knowledge of the area's geologic history. "It seems like even in the last, just two or three years, work has been done on many volcanoes where folks have come up with new dates and new pieces to the puzzle," said David Ramsey, a geologist at the Cascades Volcano Observatory, based in Vancouver, Wash., who attended the meeting. - MSNBC.

DISASTER IMPACT: Major Societal Collapse - Staten Islanders Furious About Sandy Response, Claim That They Have Been Left FAR Behind, Where is FEMA?!

November 2, 2012 - NEW YORK - Staten Island residents are furious. They feel that in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy they’ve been ignored and left to fend for themselves.  CBS 2's Jessica Schneider toured the borough on Thursday night and saw one home on Cedar Grove Avenue that looks like it was torn to shreds by a tornado. 

Damage on Staten Island is extensive, but residents say all the attention other parts of NYC and N.J. have received
in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy has dwarfed the little help they’ve received. (Photo: CBS 2)
However, it was surging ocean waters that tore the house apart, and filled others with more than 10 feet of water.  It’s that type of apparent neglect that has left residents saying they haven’t received the attention or help they so desperately need.  “Red Cross is here with hot chocolate and cookies. We need blankets, we need pillows, we need clothing. We can get hot chocolate and cookies, we need help!” resident Jodi Hannula said.  It was almost too much for Hannula to bear. She said she had 30 years of memories washed away by flood waters.  And with no flood insurance, she said she’s been pleading for help, but finding little.  “You hope that the government does the right thing and steps in and helps us out. We have been looking for FEMA, [but] FEMA has not been here,” Hannula said.  People on Staten Island argued that they’ve been neglected while other parts of New York City, and the Jersey Shore, have been showered with attention.  “We are far from fine, and the fact that the mayor wants to have a marathon this weekend, when we’ve had people who have lost their lives or house, everything they’ve worked for their whole lives … I mean, its unbelievable to me,” Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said.
Utility trucks lined up on Staten Island – Nov. 2, 2012 (credit: Laura Cala / WCBS 880).
Amid the damage there was also death. Of the 37 known fatalities from the storm in the city, 17 were killed on Staten Island.  One of the most tragic stories became nationally known earlier in the day. Two little boys, ages 2 and 4, were swept away by a tidal surge after their mother’s car stalled and she ran for help. Their bodies were discovered in a marsh Thursday.  “It’s total devastation. It’s not just New Dorp Beach. It’s the whole shore from Tottenville to South Beach,” resident Kyle Haberstroh said.  Donna Solli confronted Sen. Charles Schumer on Thursday afternoon, demanding food and more assistance.  Later that night she got a meal — and a promise for more Friday morning.  “Yes, I have food. I haven’t had food in two days and I have food, finally,” Solli said.  Residents were organizing a huge cleanup day on Saturday. They said if no one else is going to help them restore their community — Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano was to visit Staten Island Friday in response to the community’s complaints — they’re going to do it on their own. - CBS New York.