Friday, April 11, 2014

PLANETARY TREMORS: Major Global Seismic Uptick As Blood Moon Approaches - Powerful 6.6 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Nicaragua, Following The 6.1 Magnitude Tremor Earlier Today; President Daniel Ortega Place The Country On RED ALERT; 1 Dead, 200 Injured; Over 1,000 Homes Damaged, And At Least 20 Destroyed In The Capital! [PHOTOS+MAPS+ESTIMATES]

April 11, 2014 - NICARAGUA A magnitude-6.6 earthquake shook Nicaragua on Friday afternoon, sending people running frightened into the streets less than 24 hours after a magnitude-6.1 quake rattled the country, the United States Geological Survey said.


USGS earthquake location map.



There were no immediate reports of new casualties or serious damage, but the USGS said the quake was felt in El Salvador and neighboring Costa Rica.


The government raised the number of people injured in the Thursday evening quake from 23 to 200. It also said that a 23-year-old woman had died of an apparent heart attack after the quake.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.


In the capital city of Managua, 300 homes were damaged and at least 20 were destroyed by the Thursday quake, said one of the mayor's deputies, Fidel Moreno.

Authorities ordered the demolition of two old buildings that had withstood the earthquake of 1972 that killed 10,000 people. Hospitals began discharging patients with minor illnesses so they could have beds available in the event of injuries from an aftershock or new quake.


A woman walks inside a home that was damaged by an earthquake in Nagarote, Nicaragua, Thursday, April 10, 2014.
Photo By Esteban Felix/AP

Two men talk outside a home damaged by an earthquake in Nagarote.
Photo By Esteban Felix/AP

A girl passes by in a bicycle, in front a home damaged by an earthquake in Nagarote, Nicaragua.
Photo By Esteban Felix/AP

A girl walks in front a home damaged by an earthquake in Nagarote.
Photo By Esteban Felix/AP

A painting of a Nicaragua lake is seen hanging from a wall inside a home damaged by an earthquake in Nagarote.
Photo By Esteban Felix/AP

A man carries the remains of the wall of his home, damaged by an earthquake in Nagarote.
Photo By Esteban Felix/AP


"We're trying to take as many preventive measures as possible to prevent more deaths," said government spokeswoman and First Lady Rosario Murillo.

President Daniel Ortega said that he raised the country's alert level to red, meaning government officials were evacuating everyone at risk of harm from aftershocks or new quake.


On Thursday night, officials took 155 people out of neighborhoods northeast of the capital city due to risk of landslides. One of the shelters was still housing 22 families on Friday.

Schools closed in the capital and also in the northwestern city of Leon.

The government said roughly 800 homes were damaged in the town of Nagarote and surrounding areas, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of the capital.

Friday's quake struck at 3:29 p.m. local time (20:29 GMT), and was centered about 6 miles (11 kilometers) east-southeast of the town of Nandaime. It had a depth of 85 miles (138 kilometers).

The USGS said Thursday's quake struck at 5:27 p.m. local time (23:27 GMT), and was centered about 11 miles (18 kilometers) southeast of the city of Larreynaga. It had a depth of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers). - AP.



Tectonic Summary Seismotectonics of the Caribbean Region and Vicinity
Extensive diversity and complexity of tectonic regimes characterizes the perimeter of the Caribbean plate, involving no fewer than four major plates (North America, South America, Nazca, and Cocos). Inclined zones of deep earthquakes (Wadati-Benioff zones), ocean trenches, and arcs of volcanoes clearly indicate subduction of oceanic lithosphere along the Central American and Atlantic Ocean margins of the Caribbean plate, while crustal seismicity in Guatemala, northern Venezuela, and the Cayman Ridge and Cayman Trench indicate transform fault and pull-apart basin tectonics.

Along the northern margin of the Caribbean plate, the North America plate moves westwards with respect to the Caribbean plate at a velocity of approximately 20 mm/yr. Motion is accommodated along several major transform faults that extend eastward from Isla de Roatan to Haiti, including the Swan Island Fault and the Oriente Fault. These faults represent the southern and northern boundaries of the Cayman Trench. Further east, from the Dominican Republic to the Island of Barbuda, relative motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate becomes increasingly complex and is partially accommodated by nearly arc-parallel subduction of the North America plate beneath the Caribbean plate. This results in the formation of the deep Puerto Rico Trench and a zone of intermediate focus earthquakes (70-300 km depth) within the subducted slab. Although the Puerto Rico subduction zone is thought to be capable of generating a megathrust earthquake, there have been no such events in the past century. The last probable interplate (thrust fault) event here occurred on May 2, 1787 and was widely felt throughout the island with documented destruction across the entire northern coast, including Arecibo and San Juan. Since 1900, the two largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the August 4, 1946 M8.0 Samana earthquake in northeastern Hispaniola and the July 29, 1943 M7.6 Mona Passage earthquake, both of which were shallow thrust fault earthquakes. A significant portion of the motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate in this region is accommodated by a series of left-lateral strike-slip faults that bisect the island of Hispaniola, notably the Septentrional Fault in the north and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault in the south. Activity adjacent to the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault system is best documented by the devastating January 12, 2010 M7.0 Haiti strike-slip earthquake, its associated aftershocks and a comparable earthquake in 1770.

Moving east and south, the plate boundary curves around Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles where the plate motion vector of the Caribbean plate relative to the North and South America plates is less oblique, resulting in active island-arc tectonics. Here, the North and South America plates subduct towards the west beneath the Caribbean plate along the Lesser Antilles Trench at rates of approximately 20 mm/yr. As a result of this subduction, there exists both intermediate focus earthquakes within the subducted plates and a chain of active volcanoes along the island arc. Although the Lesser Antilles is considered one of the most seismically active regions in the Caribbean, few of these events have been greater than M7.0 over the past century. The island of Guadeloupe was the site of one of the largest megathrust earthquakes to occur in this region on February 8, 1843, with a suggested magnitude greater than 8.0. The largest recent intermediate-depth earthquake to occur along the Lesser Antilles arc was the November 29, 2007 M7.4 Martinique earthquake northwest of Fort-De-France.


USGS plate tectonics map for the region


The southern Caribbean plate boundary with the South America plate strikes east-west across Trinidad and western Venezuela at a relative rate of approximately 20 mm/yr. This boundary is characterized by major transform faults, including the Central Range Fault and the Boconó-San Sebastian-El Pilar Faults, and shallow seismicity. Since 1900, the largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the October 29, 1900 M7.7 Caracas earthquake, and the July 29, 1967 M6.5 earthquake near this same region. Further to the west, a broad zone of compressive deformation trends southwestward across western Venezuela and central Columbia. The plate boundary is not well defined across northwestern South America, but deformation transitions from being dominated by Caribbean/South America convergence in the east to Nazca/South America convergence in the west. The transition zone between subduction on the eastern and western margins of the Caribbean plate is characterized by diffuse seismicity involving low- to intermediate-magnitude (Magnitude less than 6.0) earthquakes of shallow to intermediate depth.

The plate boundary offshore of Colombia is also characterized by convergence, where the Nazca plate subducts beneath South America towards the east at a rate of approximately 65 mm/yr. The January 31, 1906 M8.5 earthquake occurred on the shallowly dipping megathrust interface of this plate boundary segment. Along the western coast of Central America, the Cocos plate subducts towards the east beneath the Caribbean plate at the Middle America Trench. Convergence rates vary between 72-81 mm/yr, decreasing towards the north. This subduction results in relatively high rates of seismicity and a chain of numerous active volcanoes; intermediate-focus earthquakes occur within the subducted Cocos plate to depths of nearly 300 km. Since 1900, there have been many moderately sized intermediate-depth earthquakes in this region, including the September 7, 1915 M7.4 El Salvador and the October 5, 1950 M7.8 Costa Rica events.

The boundary between the Cocos and Nazca plates is characterized by a series of north-south trending transform faults and east-west trending spreading centers. The largest and most seismically active of these transform boundaries is the Panama Fracture Zone. The Panama Fracture Zone terminates in the south at the Galapagos rift zone and in the north at the Middle America trench, where it forms part of the Cocos-Nazca-Caribbean triple junction. Earthquakes along the Panama Fracture Zone are generally shallow, low- to intermediate in magnitude (Magnitude less than 7.2) and are characteristically right-lateral strike-slip faulting earthquakes. Since 1900, the largest earthquake to occur along the Panama Fracture Zone was the July 26, 1962 M7.2 earthquake. - USGS.



MAJOR CYBER ALERT: "Heartbleed" Computer Bug Threat Spreads To Firewalls And Beyond - NSA Knew About The Monstrous Internet Flaw For Two Years!

April 11, 2014 - THE INTERNET - Hackers could crack email systems, security firewalls and possibly mobile phones through the "Heartbleed" computer bug, according to security experts who warned on Thursday that the risks extended beyond just Internet Web servers.


Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski

The widespread bug surfaced late on Monday, when it was disclosed that a pernicious flaw in a widely used Web encryption program known as OpenSSL opened hundreds of thousands of websites to data theft. Developers rushed out patches to fix affected web servers when they disclosed the problem, which affected companies from Amazon.com Inc and Google Inc to Yahoo Inc.

Yet pieces of vulnerable OpenSSL code can be found inside plenty of other places, including email servers, ordinary PCs, phones and even security products such as firewalls. Developers of those products are scrambling to figure out whether they are vulnerable and patch them to keep their users safe.

"I am waiting for a patch," said Jeff Moss, a security adviser to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and founder of the Def Con hacking conference. Def Con's network uses an enterprise firewall from McAfee, which is owned by Intel Corp's security division.

He said he was frustrated because people had figured out that his email and Web traffic is vulnerable and posted about it on the Internet - but he can't take steps to remedy the problem until Intel releases a patch.

"Everybody is going through the exact same thing I'm going through, if you are going through a vendor fix," he said.

An Intel spokesman declined comment, referring Reuters to a company blog that said: "We understand this is a difficult time for businesses as they scramble to update multiple products from multiple vendors in the coming weeks. The McAfee products that use affected versions of OpenSSL are vulnerable and need to be updated."

It did not say when they would be released.

The Heartbleed vulnerability went undetected for about two years and can be exploited without leaving a trace, so experts and consumers fear attackers may have compromised large numbers of networks without their knowledge.

Companies and government agencies are now rushing to understand which products are vulnerable, then set priorities for fixing them. They are anxious because researchers have observed sophisticated hacking groups conducting scans of the Internet this week in search of vulnerable servers.

"Every security person is talking about this," said Chris Morales, practice manager with the cybersecurity services firm NSS Labs.


WATCH: "Heartbleed" Bug Puts Internet Security at Risk.




Cisco Systems Inc, the world's biggest telecommunications equipment provider, said on its website that it is reviewing dozens of products to see if they are safe. It uncovered about a dozen that are vulnerable, including a TelePresence video conferencing server, a version of the IOS software for managing routers. A company spokesman declined to comment on how those issues might affect users, saying Cisco would provide more information as it became available.

Oracle Corp has not posted such an advisory on its support site. Company spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined to comment on Heartbleed.

Microsoft Corp, which runs a cloud computing and storage service, the Xbox platform and has hundreds of millions of Windows and Officer users, said in a statement that "a few services continue to be reviewed and updated with further protections." It did not identify them.

Officials with technology giants IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co could not be reached. EMC Corp and Dell said they had no immediate comment.

Security experts said the vulnerable code is also found in some widely used email server software, the online browser anonymizing tool Tor and OpenVPN, as well as some online games and software that runs Internet-connected devices such as webcams and mobile phones.

Jeff Forristal, chief technology officer of Bluebox Security, said that version 4.1.1 of Google's Android operating system, known as Jelly Bean, is also vulnerable. Google officials declined comment on his finding.

Other security experts said that they would avoid using any device with the vulnerable software in it, but that it would take a lot of effort for a hacker to extract useful data from a vulnerable Android phone. - Reuters .



NSA Knew About "Heartbleed" For Two Years.
The critical “Heartbleed” bug reported earlier this week to have affected the security of most of the internet was discovered by researchers at the United States National Security Agency two years earlier, according to a new report.

On Friday afternoon, Bloomberg News journalist Michael Riley reported that the NSA knew about the monstrous flaw for at least two years ahead of this week’s announcement, but kept it hidden from technologists and instead exploited it to hack the computers and correspondence of certain intelligence targets.

Earlier in the week, the open-source OpenSSL internet security project issued an emergency advisory after discovery of the Heartbleed bug revealed a weakness that may have for years allowed hackers to access online information otherwise thought to be protected by the SSL/TLS encryption standard used by around two-thirds of the web.

But according to sources that Riley says are familiar with the matter, the NSA kept details of the bug a secret shortly after first discovering it in early 2012 so that it could be added to the agency’s toolbox of exploits and hacks.

“The agency found the Heartbeat glitch shortly after its introduction, according to one of the people familiar with the matter, and it became a basic part of the agency’s toolkit for stealing account passwords and other common tasks,” Riley wrote.

“Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost,” he added. “Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers.”

According to Bloomberg, the NSA declined to respond to their requests for comment.

In December, a five-person review group handpicked by US President Barack Obama to reassess the NSA’s intelligence gathering abilities said that the government must not stockpile details about any so-called “zero day” vulnerabilities, or flaws unknown to computer programs who have thus had “zero days” to patch them.

“In almost all instances, for widely used code, it is in the national interest to eliminate software vulnerabilities rather than to use them for US intelligence collection,” the group told the president. “Eliminating the vulnerabilities — “patching” them — strengthens the security of US Government, critical infrastructure, and other computer systems.”

“We recommend that, when an urgent and significant national security priority can be addressed by the use of a Zero Day, an agency of the US Government may be authorized to use temporarily a Zero Day instead of immediately fixing the underlying vulnerability.”

Pres. Obama has since asked Congress to adhere to one of that group’s recommendations — halting the government’s bulk collection of telephony metadata — but has not publically spoken of zero days before or after this week’s discovery of Heartbleed.

Previously, however, journalists and privacy advocates working with the trove of classified NSA documents disclosed last year by former contractor Edward Snowden said that the secretive intelligence agency had been undermining the very security of the internet by exploiting other flaws to hack targets.

At a security conference in December, expert Jacob Appelbaum from Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine said that the NSA had acquired the means to compromise any Apple iPhone in the world and occasionally relied on a number of high-tech tools and implants to hack targets.

“Basically the NSA, they want to be able to spy on you. And if they have ten different options for spying on you that you know about, they have 13 ways of doing it and they do all 13. So that’s a pretty scary thing,”said Appelbaum, who previously spoke on behalf of WikiLeaks at a US conference and is a core member of the Tor anonymity project.

And since June, NSA leaks disclosed by Mr. Snowden have shown that the NSA has done everything from physically tapping into fiber optic undersea internet cables to get further access to the world’s communications, to tricking the systems administrators of private companies into installing malware that would open up their machines to American spies. - RT.




ICE AGE NOW: Snow Piles High Enough To Reach POWER LINES In Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada - Snowmobilers Warned To Stay Away From Power Lines And Poles! [VIDEO]

April 11, 2014 - CANADA - Nova Scotia Power is warning snowmobilers in the Cape Breton Highlands to watch out for power lines and poles because snowdrifts in some areas are so high they reach overhead power lines.




Snowmobilers say the situation is worst along Route 755 going up to the Wreck Cove area.

It looks to me like the snow slid down and caused this because I've never seen it this way in this area before," said Fred Lewis, who has been snowmobiling for nearly 40 years.

"Usually when you come down here it's pretty flat but it seems like the snow, maybe a mini-avalanche came down the mountain there and just the snow came up to the wires."

High volumes of snow have increased the height of the trail so power lines are now level with the snow. They look like fence posts sticking up through the snow along the trail.


WATCH: Snow reaches power lines in Cape Breton



Lewis said the snow is six to nine metres deep in some parts of the Cape Breton Highlands.

The Snowmobilers Association of Nova Scotia said Nova Scotia Power had issued a warning to stay at least four metres away from the power lines.

"There is a high-voltage power line that is level with the snow," the association wrote on its website last week.

"There is a chance of electrocution if you come in contact with this line." - CBC.



STAR WARS: The Space Race - President Putin Eyes Up Cosmonaut Uniform As His Deputy Premier Sets Out Plans To Colonise Space And Declares "We Are Coming To The Moon FOREVER"!

April 11, 2014 - RUSSIA - The West fears Russia is poised to invade Ukraine, but it seems the Kremlin has a bigger conquest in its sights - the Moon.


Vladimir Putin (left) looks at exhibits as he visits the Cosmonautics Memorial Museum in Russia. Russia
celebrates Cosmonaut Day marking Yuri Gagarin's flight into Space on April 12, 1961.

Moscow today set out plans to conquer and colonise space, including a permanent manned moon base.

Deputy premier Dmitry Rogozin said: 'We are coming to the moon forever.'

His comments came as President Vladimir Putin toured the Cosmonautics Memorial Museum in Moscow. On Saturday, Russia celebrates Cosmonaut Day marking Yuri Gagarin's pioneering flight into space on April 12, 1961.

In an article in the government's own newspaper headlined 'Russian Space', he spoke of targeting Mars and other 'space objects' as future priorities.

'Flights to Mars and asteroids in our view do not contradict exploration of the moon, but in many senses imply this process.'

He wrote of 'colonisation of the moon and near-moon space'.

In the next 50 years, manned flights are unlikely beyond 'the space between Venus and Mars'.

But 'it is quite possible to speak about exploration of Mars, flights to asteroids and flights to Mars'.

The essential first step as a base for research and experiments was the moon, said Rogozin, who is in overall charge of Russia's space and defence industries, and was recently targeted for EU and US sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis.


President Putin was taking the tour as one of his deputy premiers, Dmitry Rogozin, claimed
that Russia had an eye on the Moon once again.

The Russian President enjoyed the visit while with a group of children. Currently Russia has plans to
launch three lunar spacecraft - two to the surface and one to orbit - byt he end of the decade.

The final frontier: A Russian Soyuz rocket takes off for the International Space Station last month. The Kremlin has
announced plans to colonise the moon and set up a permanent lunar base by 2040 to harvest minerals.

'The moon is not an intermediate point in the race,' he wrote in official daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta, conjuring an impression of a new space race with America.

'It is a separate, even a self-contained goal.

'It would hardly be rational to make some ten or 20 flights to the moon, and then wind it all up and fly to the Mars or some asteroids.

'This process has the beginning, but has no end. We are coming to the moon forever.'


MEANWHILE NASA LOSES FUNDING
The International Space Station

The Kremlin's space-age boasts come less than three years after the U.S. was forced to start hitching flights on Russian rockets.

Nasa ended its space shuttle programme in 2011 and has faced years of funding cuts.

Just two weeks ago a Soyuz rocket carried two Russian cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut to the International Space Station (above), despite the crisis in Crimea.

But there could be hope of a new space race - as Nasa announced this week it hopes to land humans on Mars within 20 years.


Stellar plans: The announcement was made
by deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin
in the state newspaper
Currently, Russia has plans to launch three lunar spacecraft - two to the surface and one to orbit - by the end of the decade.

The first mission, the long-delayed Luna-25, is slated for launch in 2016, to research the moon's  south pole.

The next two missions will include an orbiter to monitor the moon in 2018, and a year later a polar lander with a drill will search for water ice.

By 2040, Russia plans to create a lunar base for long-term missions to the Earth's natural satellite.

Rogozin said that the moon is the only realistic source to obtain water, minerals and other resources for future space missions.

A lunar laboratory complex will also be used for testing new space technologies.

He promised the development of  'a super-heavy rocket for lunar missions and to the Mars in the future'.

Rogozin claimed sanctions including the termination of space cooperation announced by the US 'can contribute' to a stronger Russian space industry.

It will force Russia 'to create a strategy of development of Russian manned space flights, independent from unreliable international partners'.

He stressed: 'We should not be afraid to dream, to raise the bar as high as possible for our future development.

'Russia has everything needed for a new breakthrough in space research.

'All we need is to learn how to combine idealism and pragmatism and how to properly organise our business.' - Daily Mail.



RATTLE & HUM: "What The Hell Was That" - More Mysterious Explosions In London Suburb Baffle Experts?!

April 11, 2014 - ENGLAND - Noise experts are scratching their heads over mysterious "explosions" in Highgate - after dozens of residents reported hearing 
another loud bang this week.


Will Wheatcroft heard another loud bang on Monday night at 10pm. Picture: Nigel Sutton

People living in the Shepherd's Hill and Archway Road area of Highgate said they heard a loud explosion noise - similar to a bomb or gas explosion - just 
before 10pm on Monday.

Last week, the Ham&High reported that residents in Highgate have been hearing the loud booming sounds for about 18 months.

Officers from Haringey Council's noise team are investigating but the local authority has been left baffled by the phenomenon.

Will Wheatcroft, 31, said he heard the latest "very loud explosion" while sitting on the sofa with his fiancée Stephanie in his Stanhope Road home.

"Really it sounded like a car bomb or a gas explosion," he said. "It made us turn around and say, 'What the hell was that?'

"I expected to hear sirens a few minutes afterwards, but there weren't any. After reading the Ham&High, I can now understand why, because it happens a lot."

Residents in Muswell Hill and Crouch End have also reported hearing the noises, that are said to be so loud they shake the foundations of their homes.

One Twitter user reported hearing another loud bang on Tuesday night at about 10pm in Crouch End. A couple in Priory Gardens, Highgate, have contacted Haringey police about the sounds.

Ruled out

But after a short investigation a spokesman advised residents to alert the council's noise team 
instead, unless it is an emergency.

The National Grid has ruled out gas explosions in the area while UK Power Networks said the bangs could not be caused by an electrical substation in Shepherd's Hill Allotments.

The Met Office said there was no thunder or lightning on Monday night and Thames Water said the noises could not be caused by sewer repairs in Langdon Park Road and Northwood Road, Highgate. Haringey Council restricts building works to working hours, TfL is not carrying out explosive works at Highgate Underground station, Archway Road.

Mr Wheatcroft speculated it could be sonic booms caused by aeroplanes breaking the sound barrier. But a spokesman from the Department of Transport said they would be heard across a much larger distance if they were the source.

A council spokesman said it could be "kids with bangers" playing in Queen's Wood, Muswell Hill, but none of the council's noise team officers had a probable explanation for the explosions.

The local authority will now work with Haringey police to try and identify their source.

In an online poll, Ham&High website voters thought the noises were most likely caused by a faulty substation or UFOs.

Residents should report blasts to Haringey Council's noise team on 020 8489 0000. - Ham High.



PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Bird Flu Close To Mutating Into "Global Pandemic" - Health Officials Fear Human-To-Human Transmission!

April 11, 2014 - HEALTH - All it would take is five gene mutations of the H5N1 avian influenza virus to potentially create havoc on a global scale.




Dutch researchers are reporting that if those mutations happen, the virus would become transmissible via coughing or sneezing, just like regular flu viruses. Currently, most cases of H5N1 arise after a person has had contact with sick or dead infected poultry.

To give an idea of how deadly the avian flu virus is, scientists at one point stopped conducting research on H5N1 over concerns that in the wrong hands it could be used as a biological weapon by terrorists. Of the 650 people infected since H5N1 was first identified in Hong Kong 17 years ago, 60 percent died because of the disease.




Health officials have feared that H5N1 would evolve, but they are not sure if the virus is likely to mutate outside of a laboratory. "The biggest unknown is whether the viruses are likely to gain the critical mutations naturally," says Richard Webby, a virologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

"If they can appear readily, then it is very worrisome. If not, then there's still a major hurdle that these viruses have to get over to become human-transmissible."

During the study, which was published Thursday in the journal Cell, researchers used ferrets as stand-ins for humans. They sprayed an altered version of the H5N1 virus into a ferret's nose, then put it in a special cage with a ferret who had not been exposed.

The cage was constructed to allow shared airflow without direct contact, and when the healthy ferret exhibited signs of the flu (loss of appetite and energy, ruffled fur) they knew the virus had spread through the air. Read more about the study and its findings at the Los Angeles Times. - The Week.



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Horrifying Bus Crash In California - Ten Dead, Dozens Injured! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

April 11, 2014 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - A deadly accident in northern California has taken the lives of 10 people – half of which were high school students – after a FedEx truck collided head-on with a tour bus heading towards a local university.


Massive flames are seen just after a head-on crash between a FedEx truck and a bus
carrying high school students on a visit to a college.


The collision occurred almost 100 miles north of Sacramento, near the city of Orland, and injured about 34 people. The two vehicles were driving in opposite directions on April 10 when the FedEx truck apparently crossed the divider on the interstate and slammed directly into the bus, which was carrying high school students to a tour of Humboldt State University.

"They are traumatized, absolutely," California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Tracy Hoover said to Reuters, referring to those injured. "Most of them have scratches, cuts, burns, contusions and lacerations - a magnitude of injuries."

"The big rig and the bus were both engulfed in flames,” she added. “You are talking about two vehicles that are destroyed. There is hardly anything left of the truck.”


WATCH: Deadly Northern California bus crash.




Of those who died in the accident, five were high school students and three were chaperones. Both the bus and truck drivers were also killed. The identities of the victims remain unknown as authorities seek to confirm exactly who was on the bus at the time of the accident.

It’s unclear why the FedEx driver crossed the median, or whether he lost control of his truck, but NBC News is reporting the National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into the crash.

According to witnesses at the scene, the collision sounded like multiple explosions and both vehicles burst into flames.

“It was insane,” 27-year-old Marc Smutny told the Los Angeles Times. “The bus was engulfed in flames, smoke in and out of the front,” he said. “The bus looked like it took most of the hit. ... It was horrible.”


Screenshot from AP video

Screenshot from AP video

One of the survivor’s spoke with NBC’s “Today” show about the accident, explaining that he had fallen sleep at the time of the accident. He woke up to find his fellow students screaming, and made his way out of the burning bus through one of the broken windows.

“There was an emergency exit but there were too many people in the bus trying to get out, so students that were there broke the windows, and that helped a lot of us get out safely — not safely, but get out of the bus," he said.

“When the impact hit, I flew from my seat to the seat in front of me and that caused the cut on my eyebrow. From there, I realized we were in a bad accident and the entire aisle was full of smoke, and that’s when students were trying to escape the tour bus.”

In a statement to the Times, California Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife Anne expressed "heartfelt and deep sympathies to the families, friends and loved ones of those who died in the tragic accident near Orland this evening."

"As we mourn the loss of those who died, we join all Californians in expressing our gratitude for the tireless work of the Red Cross and emergency personnel who responded bravely to this terrible tragedy.” - RT.



PLANETARY TREMORS, GLOBAL VOLCANISM AND GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Seismic Swarm Under Mount Hood And Mount Rainier - Over 100 Earthquakes Reported In The Last Two Weeks In Washington, Oregon!

April 11, 2014 - OREGON, UNITED STATES - The ground is moving under your feet. You probably won't notice a thing, but a series of earthquakes has been hitting the Pacific Northwest.


More than 130 earthquakes have been recorded in Washington and Oregon over the last two weeks. Most are centered
under Mt. Hood in Oregon and Mt. Rainier here in Washington, but state seismologist John Vidale said it's
nothing to get too concerned about. (MyNorthwest.com Photo/File)


More than 130 earthquakes have been recorded in Washington and Oregon over the last two weeks. Most are centered under Mt. Hood in Oregon and Mount Rainier here in Washington, but state seismologist John Vidale said it's nothing to get too concerned about.

"There's nothing out of the ordinary in our region," he said. "There's been little swarms under several of the volcanoes, but those happen several times a year and been going on for decades without any significant activity," he said. "We're really not on edge at the seismic network."

Vidale spoke with KIRO Radio's Jason Rantz Show. "We probably record 10 or 20 times as many earthquakes than people can feel," he said. There are earthquakes all around us. We just never feel them."

The biggest quake in this seismic swarm came April 7. It was centered near the town of Sherwood, southwest of Portland, and it registered 3.3 on the Richter scale.

Most of the quakes hitting the Pacific Northwest right now are too small to feel. Vidale said they are studying the swarm to see if they can find any way to predict when a large one will hit.

"We just have no leads whatsoever," Vidale said. "We just know where there are more earthquakes and less earthquakes," he said.

All seismologists can do is study the faults under the ground and look for clues.

"We're sort of looking for the faults winding up as the stress builds," Vidale said. "But we just don't have any clues from when they're ready to let loose."

Vidale said all you can do to prepare for a big earthquake is to get your emergency kit ready.

He said the Pacific Northwest is due for a large one, something of the 9.0 variety, but Vidale said those only happen about every 500 years.

We're in that window right now, but Vidale said there's no way to know if the faults beneath our feet are ready to move.

According to the City of Seattle, there was a 9.0 off the Washington Coast in 1700. The ocean floor dropped several feet. In more recent history, Seattle experienced a 6.8 in 2001 - the Nisqually earthquake. The city estimates it caused about $2 billion worth of damage. - MYNorthwest.



PLANETARY TREMORS: Global Seismic Uptick - Powerful 7.3 And 6.7 Magnitude Earthquakes Strike Near Papua New Guinea! [MAPS+ESTIMATES]

April 11, 2014 - PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Two major earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.3 and 6.7 were recorded off Papua New Guinea's remote Bougainville Island, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Friday, but there were no immediate reports of damage.


USGS earthquake location map.


The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a destructive widespread tsunami was not expected but said waves could be generated along coasts in the area from an earthquakes of that magnitude.

"This is a highly active area seismically," said Chris McKee, the assistant director at the Port Moresby Geophysical Observatory in the Papua New Guinea capital. "The population is strung out along the coast in a number of centers, but it's not densely populated."

The first quake was initially measured at 7.4 but was later revised down to 7.3. It was centered in the sea about 75 km (45 miles) southwest of the town of Arawa on Bougainville, at a depth of about 50 km (30 miles), the USGS said.

The 6.7 magnitude quake occurred just over an hour following the first and had a depth of 50.6 km (31.5 miles), centering about 81 km (50 miles) southwest of Panguna.


USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

In 1998, a magnitude 7 earthquake triggered a tsunami that smashed into villages near Aitape on Papua New Guinea's north coast and killed more than 2,000 people.

Resource-rich Bougainville, which neighbors the Solomon Islands, fought for a bloody war for independence from Papua New Guinea in the 1990s, leading to the closure of the Panguna copper mine, majority-owned by Rio Tinto Ltd

Residents in Bougainville's second-largest town of Buka and Gizo in the north of the Solomon Islands reported feeling tremors but said there was no immediate signs of any damage. - Reuters.



Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the New Guinea Region and Vicinity.
The Australia-Pacific plate boundary is over 4000 km long on the northern margin, from the Sunda (Java) trench in the west to the Solomon Islands in the east. The eastern section is over 2300 km long, extending west from northeast of the Australian continent and the Coral Sea until it intersects the east coast of Papua New Guinea. The boundary is dominated by the general northward subduction of the Australia plate.

Along the South Solomon trench, the Australia plate converges with the Pacific plate at a rate of approximately 95 mm/yr towards the east-northeast. Seismicity along the trench is dominantly related to subduction tectonics and large earthquakes are common: there have been 13 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded since 1900. On April 1, 2007, a M8.1 interplate megathrust earthquake occurred at the western end of the trench, generating a tsunami and killing at least 40 people. This was the third M8.1 megathrust event associated with this subduction zone in the past century; the other two occurred in 1939 and 1977.


Strong 6.1 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Southeast Of Lorengau, Papua New Guinea!
USGS plate tectonics for the region.


Further east at the New Britain trench, the relative motions of several microplates surrounding the Australia-Pacific boundary, including north-south oriented seafloor spreading in the Woodlark Basin south of the Solomon Islands, maintain the general northward subduction of Australia-affiliated lithosphere beneath Pacific-affiliated lithosphere. Most of the large and great earthquakes east of New Guinea are related to this subduction; such earthquakes are particularly concentrated at the cusp of the trench south of New Ireland. 33 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900, including three shallow thrust fault M8.1 events in 1906, 1919, and 2007.

The western end of the Australia-Pacific plate boundary is perhaps the most complex portion of this boundary, extending 2000 km from Indonesia and the Banda Sea to eastern New Guinea. The boundary is dominantly convergent along an arc-continent collision segment spanning the width of New Guinea, but the regions near the edges of the impinging Australia continental margin also include relatively short segments of extensional, strike-slip and convergent deformation. The dominant convergence is accommodated by shortening and uplift across a 250-350 km-wide band of northern New Guinea, as well as by slow southward-verging subduction of the Pacific plate north of New Guinea at the New Guinea trench. Here, the Australia-Pacific plate relative velocity is approximately 110 mm/yr towards the northeast, leading to the 2-8 mm/yr uplift of the New Guinea Highlands.

Whereas the northern band of deformation is relatively diffuse east of the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border, in western New Guinea there are at least two small (less than 100,000 km²) blocks of relatively undeformed lithosphere. The westernmost of these is the Birds Head Peninsula microplate in Indonesia's West Papua province, bounded on the south by the Seram trench. The Seram trench was originally interpreted as an extreme bend in the Sunda subduction zone, but is now thought to represent a southward-verging subduction zone between Birds Head and the Banda Sea.

There have been 22 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded in the New Guinea region since 1900. The dominant earthquake mechanisms are thrust and strike slip, associated with the arc-continent collision and the relative motions between numerous local microplates. The largest earthquake in the region was a M8.2 shallow thrust fault event in the northern Papua province of Indonesia that killed 166 people in 1996.

The western portion of the northern Australia plate boundary extends approximately 4800 km from New Guinea to Sumatra and primarily separates Australia from the Eurasia plate, including the Sunda block. This portion is dominantly convergent and includes subduction at the Sunda (Java) trench, and a young arc-continent collision.

In the east, this boundary extends from the Kai Islands to Sumba along the Timor trough, offset from the Sunda trench by 250 km south of Sumba. Contrary to earlier tectonic models in which this trough was interpreted as a subduction feature continuous with the Sunda subduction zone, it is now thought to represent a subsiding deformational feature related to the collision of the Australia plate continental margin and the volcanic arc of the Eurasia plate, initiating in the last 5-8 Myr. Before collision began, the Sunda subduction zone extended eastward to at least the Kai Islands, evidenced by the presence of a northward-dipping zone of seismicity beneath Timor Leste. A more detailed examination of the seismic zone along it's eastern segment reveals a gap in intermediate depth seismicity under Timor and seismic mechanisms that indicate an eastward propagating tear in the descending slab as the negatively buoyant oceanic lithosphere detaches from positively buoyant continental lithosphere. On the surface, GPS measurements indicate that the region around Timor is currently no longer connected to the Eurasia plate, but instead is moving at nearly the same velocity as the Australia plate, another consequence of collision.

Large earthquakes in eastern Indonesia occur frequently but interplate megathrust events related to subduction are rare; this is likely due to the disconnection of the descending oceanic slab from the continental margin. There have been 9 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded from the Kai Islands to Sumba since 1900. The largest was the great Banda Sea earthquake of 1938 (M8.5) an intermediate depth thrust faulting event that did not cause significant loss of life. - USGS.