May 20, 2013– KAMCHATKA– A massive earthquake swarm has occurred in the region of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Russia. More than 20 earthquakes have struck the region in the last 22 hours- the strongest of which was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake, which rattled the seafloor at a depth of 16.5 km deep. The latest seismic flare-up along this region reflects growing agitation on one of the planet’s largest tectonic plates- the Pacific plate. Increasing seismic volatility along this region of Kamchatka could have serious ramifications for every tectonic plate that comes into contact with the Pacific plate- from the South Pacific to South America. A similar, more intense earthquake swarm occurred along the periphery of the Pacific Plate near the Santa Cruz Islands in February of this year. Is the Pacific plate on the verge of a large-scale change?
The geology of the region:The Kuril-Kamchatka arc extends approximately 2,100 km from Hokkaido, Japan, along the Kuril Islands and the Pacific coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula to its intersection with the Aleutian arc near the Commander Islands, Russia. It marks the region where the Pacific plate subducts into the mantle beneath the Okhotsk micro-plate, part of the larger North American plate. This subduction is responsible for the generation of the Kuril Islands chain, active volcanoes located along the entire arc, and the deep offshore Kuril-Kamchatka trench. Relative to a fixed North America plate, the Pacific plate is moving towards the northwest at a rate that increases from 75 mm/year near the northern end of the arc to 83 mm/year in the south. Plate motion is predominantly convergent along the Kuril-Kamchatka arc with obliquity increasing towards the southern section of the arc. The subducting Pacific plate is relatively old, particularly adjacent to Kamchatka where its age is greater than 100 Ma. Consequently, the Wadati-Benioff zone is well defined to depths of approximately 650 km. The central section of the arc is comprised of an oceanic island arc system, which differs from the continental arc systems of the northern and southern sections. Oblique convergence in the southern Kuril arc results in the partitioning of stresses into both trench-normal thrust earthquakes and trench-parallel strike-slip earthquakes, and the westward translation of the Kuril forearc. This westward migration of the Kuril forearc currently results in collision between the Kuril arc in the north and the Japan arc in the south, resulting in the deformation and uplift of the Hidaka Mountains in central Hokkaido. The Kuril-Kamchatka arc is considered one of the most seismically active regions in the world. Deformation of the overriding North America plate generates shallow crustal earthquakes, whereas slip at the subduction zone interface between the Pacific and North America plates generates interplate earthquakes that extend from near the base of the trench to depths of 40 to 60 km. At greater depths, Kuril-Kamchatka arc earthquakes occur within the subducting Pacific plate and can reach depths of approximately 650 km. -USGS
May 19, 2013 – ANCHORAGE - Alaska’s remote Pavlof Volcano has been shooting lava hundreds of feet into the air, but its ash plume is thinning and is no longer making it dangerous for airplanes to fly nearby. Geologist Chris Waythomas of the Alaska Volcano Observatory says a narrow ash plume extends a couple hundred miles southeast from the volcano, which is 625 miles southwest of Anchorage. The eruption that began Monday seemed to be slowing on Saturday, but Waythomas says that could change at any time. He says seismic tremors from the 8,262-foot volcano have been going up and down, but remain at a fairly high level. Scientists are not expecting the eruption to end anytime soon but so far it has not been explosive. There are mud flows racing down the summit, but no one lives close enough to the volcano to be threatened. –ABC News
April 19, 2013 – JAPAN -A strong earthquake swarm, presumably caused by a magmatic intrusion, has started Wednesday at Miyake volcano in the Japanese Izu Islands. On Wednesday alone, JMA recorded 136 earthquakes with magnitudes up to an earthquake of magnitude 5.6, which was widely felt in the region. The quakes’ hypocenters are clustered in a NNW-SSW trending area about 10 km west of the island, at depths of 5-15 km. The volcano last erupted in 2010. –Volcano Discovery
Earth reeling from tremors in the East: Massive earthquakes have hit Iran/Pakistan, the Kuril Islands, Papua, NG, the Japanese Islands, Uganda, and Sichuan China, where more than 203 people have been killed in a 6.6 magnitude earthquake.
April 20, 2013 – SICHUAN, CHINA – A strong 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit a remote, mostly rural and mountainous area of southwestern China’s Sichuan province on Saturday, killing at least 203 people and injuring about 11,500 close to where a big quake killed almost 70,000 people in 2008. The earthquake, China’s worst in three years, occurred at 8.02 a.m. (0002 GMT) in Lushan county near Ya’an city and the epicenter had a depth of 12 km (7.5 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake was felt by residents in neighboring provinces and in the provincial capital of Chengdu, causing many people to rush out of buildings, according to accounts on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging service. State media said 156 people had been confirmed dead with more than 5,500 injured. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang said all efforts must be put into rescuing victims to limit the death toll. After arriving at the disaster zone by helicopter, Li directed earthquake relief efforts from a plaza in Longmen Township in Lushan, Xinhua said. Li asked that a road be opened to Baoxing County, one of the most affected by the earthquake, and that rescuers “act quickly” in their efforts, Xinhua quoted Li as saying. “The current most urgent issue is grasping the first 24 hours since the quake’s occurrence, the golden time for saving lives,” Xinhua news agency quoted Li as saying earlier. Xinhua said 6,000 troops were heading to the area to help with rescue efforts. State television CCTV said only emergency vehicles were being allowed into Ya’an, though Chengdu airport had reopened. Most of the deaths were concentrated in Lushan, where water and electricity were cut off. Pictures on Chinese news sites showed toppled buildings and people in bloodied bandages being treated in tents outside the hospital, which appeared only lightly damaged. Rescuers in Lushan had pulled 32 survivors out of rubble, Xinhua said. In villages closest to the epicenter, almost all low rise houses and buildings had collapsed, according to footage broadcast on state television. “We are very busy right now, there are about eight or nine injured people, the doctors are handling the cases,” said a doctor at a Ya’an hospital who gave her family name as Liu. The hospital was seeing head and leg injuries, she added. The China Meteorological Association warned of a possibility of landslides occurring in Lushan county on Saturday and Sunday, the agency said in a statement on its website. A resident in Chengdu, 140 km (85 miles) from Ya’an city, told Xinhua he was on the 13th floor of a building when he felt the quake. The building shook for about 20 seconds and he saw tiles fall from nearby buildings. Ya’an is a city of 1.5 million people and is considered one of the birthplaces of Chinese tea culture. It is also the home to one of China’s main centers for protecting the giant panda. “There are still shakes and tremors and our area is safe. The pandas are safe,” said a spokesman with Ya’an’s Bifengxia nature park, a tourism park that houses more than 100 pandas. Shouts and screams were heard in the background while Reuters was on the telephone with the spokesman. “There was just an aftershock, an aftershock, our office is safe,” he said. Numerous aftershocks jolted the area, the largest of which was magnitude 5.1. Sichuan is one of the four major natural-gas-producing provinces in China, and its output accounts for about 14 percent of the nation’s total. The U.S. Geological Survey initially put the magnitude at 7, but later revised it down. The devastating May 2008 quake was 7.9 magnitude. –Reuters
February 5, 2013 – SOLOMON ISLANDS - An earthquake measuring 8.0 magnitude struck southeast of the Solomon Islands on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. ABC News.net reports three villages were wiped out on the Santa Cruz Islands. The earthquake struck at the fairly shallow depth of 28.7 km (17.8 miles), and a tsunami warning was issued for the region. This is the second largest earthquake to ever strike the Solomon Island region and the strongest to hit the region in almost 40 years. The largest earthquake to ever strike the region was an 8.1 magnitude earthquake that struck 104 km from Honiara Makira, Solomon Islands on April 21, 1977. However, today’s 8.0 magnitude earthquake was some 581 km (361 miles) ESE of Honiara, Solomon Islands and represents a new geologically-agitated tension spot. The quake was followed by two powerful aftershocks, a 6.4 and 6.6. This is now the ninth major earthquake to strike this region since January 31, 203. –The Extinction Protocol – ABC
February 6, 2013 – SOLOMON ISLANDS – An earthquake measuring 6.3 magnitude struck southeast of the Solomon Islands on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The shallow quake was only 15 km (nine miles) deep and the epicenter was 330 km east-southeast of Kira Kira in the Solomon Islands. There was no immediate tsunami warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii. The earthquake was followed by a 5.3 magnitude earthquake. Today’s earthquake is the sixth major earthquake to strike the region since January 31, 2013. –Reuters
January 22, 2013 – BRAZIL – A rather shallow 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck the ocean floor just off the coast of Brazil, south of the popular tourist destination of Natal. The eastern coast of Brazil is relatively free from faults and is not located on the border of any major tectonic plates. So this earthquake is quite unusual. If we look at the seismic hazard map of Brazil (below), it’s clear to see that most of Brazil’s seismic hazards lie in the western part of the country. See local quake map of Brazil.
In 2010, Brazilian seismologist João Carlos Dourado, from Universidade Estadual Paulista, explained in an interview to G1 that Brazil is located at the center of the South American tectonic plate and therefore away from the stresses on the plate edges, which cause earthquakes of the magnitude that plague Chile and countries on the western coast of South America. Today’s earthquake struck at a depth of 15.1 km (9.4 miles) under the Atlantic Ocean floor. The epicenter of the earthquake was 93 km (57 miles) E of Itamaraca, Brazil. 1
Unusual: Is this quake from a previously unknown fault this close to the shoreline or might other factors be at work here…like the area of growing weakness of the planet’s magnetic field in the South Atlantic Anomaly? Natal is virtually near the epicenter of the SAA. The South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) is an area where the Earth’s inner Van Allen radiation belt comes closest to the Earth’s surface dipping down to an altitude of 200km (124mi). This leads to an increased flux of energetic particles in this region and exposes orbiting satellites to higher than usual levels of radiation. The effect is caused by the non-concentricity of the Earth and its magnetic dipole, and the SAA is the near-Earth region where the Earth’s magnetic field is weakest. -The Extinction Protocol
January 22, 2013 – KAMCHATKA – Three volcanoes in Russia’s Kamchatka continue to send steam and ash into the air while lava flows down their slopes. Volcanic activity on the peninsula has dramatically intensified. Aviation authorities issued an orange security level in the area. The volcanoes Shiveluch, Kizimen and Plosky Talbachek are erupting in different parts of the peninsula simultaneously, causing dozens of local earthquakes, as the vibrations accompanying the eruptions of the giants continue to increase. The biggest and most active is Shiveluch, Kamchatka’s northernmost volcano and 3,283 meters high. Over the last days it made several eruptions of gases, steam and ash, the highest of which reached the 4,900 m above sea level. Unceasing earth tremors send avalanches down its slopes. Sensors installed near the volcano are registering high seismic activity with, active gas generation and thermal anomalies. Activity of Shiveluch started to grow back in 2009 when its dome split with a fissure 30 meters deep. A mere 45 km from Shiveluch there is Klyuchi settlement with 5,000 citizens. Volcanologists say at the moment there is no imminent danger to the town. Stratovolcano Kizimen 3,900 m high in the Kronotsky Reserve, famous for its Geyser Valley, is situated some 265 km from the region’s largest city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Its seismic activity also by far exceeds normal: over 80 local earthquakes have been registered near the volcano in the last 24 hours. The pillar of gas and ash rises to 4,400 m above sea level. At night the red glow could be seen in the sky above its crater. Kizimen ‘woke up’ in 2009 after the last big eruption in 1928-29 and since then its activity has only been growing. Plosky Talbachek volcano 3,140 m, a part of two-dome volcanic pile (the second dome Ostry Talbachek is 3,689m), became active on November 27, 2012, some 36 years after precisely predicted “Great fissure Tolbachek eruption” in 1975-76. Plosky Talbachek has been erupting lava for weeks now. Two openings below the crater level were sending lava flows that reached 6 and 18km. The flows are glowing in the nighttime, which means that more and more masses of lava continue to arrive, reported Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team. Though increased volcanic activity and eruptions pose a certain threat to air travel over the Kamchatka Peninsula, volcanologists closely monitoring the situation report no imminent danger to settlements close to any of the three volcanoes. –RT
January 22, 2013 – CHILE – A new (so far small) eruption began yesterday from Caulle volcano, local sources reported. Ash emissions reaching 11,000 ft (3.4 km) altitude were reported by Buenos Aires VAAC. Local news report ash fall over Puyehué, Entre Lagos and Osorno today. –Volcano Discovery
January 22, 2013 – HAWAII – Eruptive activity at the Big Island’s Kilauea volcano is picking up at the Pu u Oo vent and Halemaumau Crater. At the Pu u Oo vent, situated in the volcano’s East Rift Zone, lava flows are sporadically spilling onto the east flank of the vent. The volume of lava streaming to ocean entry is increasing slightly, with small entry points now spread along the coastline near Kupapu Point on both sides of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The current ocean-entry flow has been under way since mid-November. This month marks the 30th anniversary of Kilauea volcano’s ongoing East Rift Zone eruption. During its first three years, spectacular lava fountains spewed from the Pu u Oo vent. Since then, nearly continuous flow has built a vast plain of slow-moving pahoe hoe lava stretching from the volcano’s rift zone to the Big Island’s shoreline. Also, in recent months, at Kilauea volcano’s summit caldera, the lava lake swirling in Halemaumau Crater has been rising to record levels. Since March 19, 2008, when an explosive eruption formed the lava lake, its surface level has remained mostly below the inner ledge (about 100 feet below the floor of Halemaumau Crater). It has, however, risen above and flooded the ledge in October 2012 and this month. According to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists, “the lake level responds to summit tilt changes, with the lake receding during deflation and rising during inflation.” The best and closest place within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to catch a look at eruptive activity at Halemaumau is at the Jaggar Museum, which is near the summit. After sunset, the lava lake casts a vivid glow on the ever-present plume of volcanic gases rising from the site. On-island viewing of the ocean-entry lava flow is now largely limited to the Kalapana viewing area, which is maintained by Hawaii County and located outside of the national park. –Hawaii Mag
January 22, 2013 – PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Eruptions of Papua New Guinea’s Mt Tavurvur have forced some flights in and out of New Britain to be cancelled. The ash and vapor blowing from the volcano affected flights to Tokua Airport. Air Niugini says the flight suspension came into effect on Monday and will continue for an indefinite period. Newspaper reports say low to loud roaring and rumbling noises were heard on Sunday night when the volcano erupted. 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. The last time the volcano erupted was in 2011. –Radio New ZealandWikipedia
December 11, 2012 – INDONESIA - A magnitude 7.3 (7.1 USGS) earthquake in the Banda Sea off Indonesia has been felt more than 600 kilometers away in Darwin. Geoscience Australia says there could be more aftershocks from the quake that shook the Top End of the Northern Territory overnight. Tremors were felt in Darwin and Katherine at about 2:30 am local time and were the strongest in the north for about 20 years. Overnight staff at the Darwin weather bureau evacuated their third-storey office while the building shook. Duty forecaster Angeline Prasad says the tremor was the strongest she has felt. “The building started shaking and it just became worse,” she said. “It is the worst tremor I’ve felt in Darwin. When things started falling off shelves we decided to go to an evacuation point, which is outside the building.” Geoscience senior seismologist Dr Mark Leonard says, while there have been quakes of a similar magnitude felt in Darwin before, people are describing last night’s tremor as particularly intense. “We have had a few reports from people saying they think it is the strongest, even though we know if you go back 20, 30 years there have been a number of earthquakes this size,” he said. “But there might have been some sort of focusing of the waves this time.” An engineering specialist says the tremor is a pointer to why building standards should be reviewed in northern Australia. Professor Kevin McKew from Central Queensland University says it is a warning that a large, damaging earthquake could strike at any time. “The big one is yet to come,” he said. “We haven’t had a great earthquake, as I would call it, but we’ve had plenty of warning calls. “I think it will happen; it’s just a matter of when will it happen. “We know it is probably a once in 300 or 400 year earthquake but we have no indication to say when it’s about to happen. But we just have to plan for it.” One Darwin resident says she was sleeping when her bed started moving. “The bed was really shaking violently, all my sliding doors rattling and windows were rattling, and the wardrobe was sliding violently and rattling,” she said. “It just seemed to go on and on and on, and then when it died down, it even had another violent shudder again. “It certainly got the adrenaline running.” Residents further south in Katherine, 200 kilometers south of Darwin, also felt tremors. Indonesian geophysics officials also said they had not received any reports of damage. The quake was felt only weakly in the districts of North Halamahera and Morotai which were closest to the epicenter, Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency said in an update. –Radio Australia
Eyewitnesses also described December 7 Japan quake as different…
April 29, 2011 – KAMCHATKA – Two of Far East Russia’s most active volcanoes threatened aviation and wildlife during eruptions that spewed ash above the Kamchatka Peninsula. Ash from Shiveluch soared nearly five miles high near some key trans-Pacific aviation routes. RIA Novosti reports an eruption of Kizimen volcano brought hazardous conditions to areas inhabited by wild animals, including some endangered species. The news agency said reindeer were leaving their normal habitat because their usual winter food supply of moss was buried beneath a thick crust of ash-covered snow. Experts from the Krontosky Nature Reserve told reporters that reindeer numbers may be reduced to less than 1,000 as a result of the eruption. -Earth Week
March 3, 2011 – PUERTO RICO – We see an unusual band of seismic disturbances perturbing the Cocos and the Caribbean plates. This does not mean a quake is likely only seismic tension and pent-up pressures produce favorable conditions for the eruption of a potential quake involving these plates. (Below) Seismographs for Domincian Republic (left) and the Yucatan (right).