August 11, 2003
Island Volcano (New Zealand)
Yellowstone Volcano (USA)
Scientists plan to set up a temporary network of seismographs, Global Positioning System receivers and thermometers to monitor increasing hydrothermal activity in the Norris Geyser Basin and gauge the risk of a hydrothermal explosion. The goal of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory is to pinpoint underground sources of hydrothermal steam and learn more about how seismic activity affects the basin.
Ridge Volcano (Indian Ocean)
Big Smokers Found in Indian Ocean
Scientists have discovered a "smoking" volcano 3,000 metres below the surface of the Indian Ocean.
The team on board the research vessel RRS Charles Darwin made the find when they detected a huge, dark plume of water, 600 metres thick and over 30 kilometres wide, rising hundreds of metres above a lava-strewn valley on the Carlsberg ocean ridge.
"Black smokers", often teeming with exotic lifeforms, are known to exist in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans but their discovery in the Indian Ocean is very recent. "The source of the plume is comparable to a suite of power stations churning out vast amounts of heat and smoky water," said Dr Bramley Murton, the scientist leading the research cruise.
Underwater volcanoes and the associated hydrothermal activity occur in areas of sea-floor spreading. Where the Earth's crust moves apart in the deep ocean, molten material rises to fill the gaps. Water percolates down below the seabed and is superheated before gushing out from hot springs or vents at about 300 to 400 Celsius.
Undersea Volcano Discovered in Aleutians
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner http://www.news-miner.com/Stories/0,1413,113~26794~1564444,00.html
August 11, 2003
Scientists have discovered and mapped the first confirmed undersea volcano in the Aleutian Islands region.
The volcano rises more than 1,900 feet from the floor of Amchitka Pass and may be the next Aleutian island. The black lava rock reaches within 380 feet of the surface and supports a profusion of coral, invertebrates, fish and other sea life, say the biologists and geologists working on the project.
"There's no crater in the summit that we can see, but it's just this perfect volcano shape," said Jennifer Reynolds, a marine geologist at the Global Undersea Research Unit of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the science director of the West Coast and Polar Regions Undersea Research Center. "I can see lava flows going off it downslope to the sea floor, and they're going off the map" for 8.7 miles.
Detailed mapping conducted this June by Reynolds and a team aboard the research vessel Davidson revealed the volcano to be a medium-sized cone, four miles across at the base. It lies about 12 miles southeast of Semisopochnoi Island, just across the 180-degree meridian in the Eastern Hemisphere. It's about one-third to one-half the height of its sister volcanoes above the surface on nearby Gareloi, Tanaga and Little Sitkin islands, Reynolds said.
A strong eruption with lots of lava could conceivably surge above the waves and create a new island, though no one knows yet how often the volcano erupts or when it might blow again, Reynolds said.
We’re having an unusually heavy day quake-wise. So far there have been 11 quakes of magnitude 4.8 and above reported (an average day yields about 4). Two of them have been at level 6.0 and one at 5.9. Total quake energy release has been 57.5 thus far (average is about 20). The most active areas are in Halmahera, Indonesia and Tonga. See web report at http://gldss7.cr.usgs.gov/neis/bulletin/bulletin.html.
50 Die in French Heatwave
Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/08/11/1060588323024.html
August 12, 2003
About 50 people have died of heat-related illnesses in the Paris region in the last four days, the head of France's emergency physicians' association said. Patrick Pelloux, in an interview with TF1 television, criticised France's surgeon general for characterising the deaths as natural. "They dare to talk about ... natural deaths. I absolutely do not agree with saying that," he said.
Pierre Carli, head of Paris' emergency rescue services, said it was "extremely difficult to know" at the time of death if the cause was strictly due to heat. "It is evident that the heat is an aggravating factor with the elderly, who are already sick," he told TF1.
About 40 people across Europe have died since a heat wave settled over the continent more than a week ago, fanning forest fires, destroying livestock and setting record high temperatures in many cities.
European Heatwave Sparks Nuclear Power Dilemma
PARIS, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Scorching temperatures threatened to cut output at Europe's nuclear power stations as homes and businesses cranked up air conditioners in search of relief from a second week of searing heat on Monday.
In France, temperatures have hit about 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the past few days, spelling trouble for nuclear reactors, many of which use river water for cooling. Officials held emergency talks in Paris, torn between cutting output or letting the nuclear fission plants pour hotter water into the country's depleted rivers than usual -- risking damage to fish and plant life. "The situation is very serious," Industry Minister Nicole Fontaine said. "There's no more margin for manoeuvre, it's essential that citizens are ready to accept the consequences."
Two southern German states temporarily raised permitted temperature limits on outflows of cooling water from nuclear power stations to allow the plants to remain operational. Nuclear plants pour water back into the rivers, but only once it has been cooled to a safe temperature. Capacity at the Neckarwestheim and Philippsburg stations in Baden-Wuerttemberg and the Isar 1 station in Bavaria has already been cut by as much as 60 percent as the recent heatwave limited the amount of cooling water available.
Swiss power officials, meanwhile, have cut output throughout the summer at their nuclear plants rather than put hotter cooling-off water into the Alpine country's rivers.
Europe's hot and dry summer has depleted its rivers, causing additional problems for hydro-electric power suppliers.
The Danube, which ensures 40 percent of the electricity produced in Romania's hydropower plants, has shrunk to its lowest level in a century.
From the archives (first sign of Planet X?):
Possibly as Large as Jupiter; Mystery Heavenly Body Discovered
By Thomas O'Toole, Washington Post Staff Writer
A heavenly body possibly as large as the giant planet Jupiter and possibly so close to Earth that it would be part of this solar system has been found in the direction of the constellation Orion by an orbiting telescope aboard the U.S. infrared astronomical satellite.
So mysterious is the object that astronomers do not know if it is a planet, a giant comet, a nearby "protostar" that never got hot enough to become a star, a distant galaxy so young that it is still in the process of forming its first stars or a galaxy so shrouded in dust that none of the light cast by its stars ever gets through.
"All I can tell you is that we don't know what it is," Dr. Gerry Neugebauer, IRAS chief scientist for California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and director of the Palomar Observatory for the California Institute of Technology, said in an interview.
The most fascinating explanation of this mystery body, which is so cold it casts no light and has never been seen by optical telescopes on Earth or in space, is that it is a giant gaseous planet as large as Jupiter and as close to Earth as 50 trillion miles. While that may seem like a great distance in earthbound terms, it is a stone's throw in cosmological terms, so close in fact that it would be the nearest heavenly body to Earth beyond the outermost planet Pluto.
"If it is really that close, it would be a part of our solar system," said Dr. James Houck of Cornell University's Center for Radio Physics and Space Research and a member of the IRAS science team. "If it is that close, I don't know how the world's planetary scientists would even begin to classify it."
July 26, 2003
Popocatepetl Volcano (Mexico)
The Sun continues doing its thing and is still very active. Today there were 23 C-class flares (normal is about 3-4). Solar wind speed impinging on the Earth's magnetic field reached over 5.2 million miles per hour, which is close to a record. Wayne's Solar-Terrestrial Magnetic Index (average daily magnetism for the year) continues to be at a record high, at 78.3; today's hit 84. There is a high likelihood of a major solar flare within the next couple of days from one of the solar regions (region 10410 for those interested in such things) that has been developing a compact magnetic change. This would elevate the magnetic index even further. See this morning's session with Lady Kadjina regarding the high solar activity at http://www.citiesoflight.net/kadjina.html#HighSolarEnergy.
Mostly quiet since the 6.2 quake in Java on Saturday. California quake activity seems very low at the moment.
July 19, 2003
Soputan Volcano (Indonesia)
All kinds of animals from mountain lions to groundhogs are making their presence known to people throughout the US.
July 12, 2003
We’ve had some quakes in the moderately strong category over the past couple of days:
Update on the Catalina Mountain Wildfire in Tucson
Rain has finally come! Both last night and tonight the monsoon rains have dropped refreshing water in the desert and assisted the firefighters in containing the Catalina Mountain wildfire that has burned about 100 square miles of beautiful forest and destroyed more than 300 homes and businesses on the mountain.
Hills Volcano (Montserrat)
Kea Volcano (Hawaii)