LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
5.2 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA
5.0 EASTERN HONSHU, JAPAN
5.0 PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION
5.2 EASTERN NEW GUINEA REG., P.N.G.
5.0 HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN
5.0 NORTH OF MACQUARIE ISLAND
6.8 BANDA SEA
U.S. Nuclear Panel Expanding Team to Check for Quake Damage - The earthquake last Tuesday in Virginia may have produced stronger shaking at the North Anna nuclear plant than the reactors were designed to withstand.
NEW ZEALAND - Earthquake Commission out of cash. The cost of the Canterbury earthquakes to the Government has risen by $4 billion, as the damage to homes is more severe than earlier estimated. Many brick houses were reduced to rubble by the quakes. Liquefaction damage was widespread.
Japan earthquake 'increases likelihood of Tokyo disaster' - The likelihood of a massive earthquake directly beneath Tokyo has significantly increased thanks to the March 11 disaster in northern Japan.
Mexico volcano blasts out ash - Popocatepetl volcano near Mexico City is shooting blasts of ash from its crater, prompting authorities to warn residents that ash could start falling on the city overnight. The Popocatepetl volcano spewed ash more than a kilometre into the sky four times on Tuesday. The agency was urging people to stay at least 12 kilometres from the crater. The volcano is located about 65 kilometres southeast of the Mexican capital.
INDONESIA - Signs of unrest at the famous Tambora Caldera. A new report from the volcanological survey in Indonesia raises the alert level at one of Indonesia's most famous volcanoes, Tambora. In 1815 Tambora produced one of the largest eruptions in the past few thousand years. This eruption threw enough material and aerosols into the atmosphere to cause significant global cooling, producing the "Year without a Summer" documented across the globe. What most people don't know is that after the 1815 eruption, Tambora has erupted at least 3 known times, all in the scale of VEI 0-2 (rather than the VEI 7 of 1815). With any news of increased seismicity and steam plumes at a volcano like Tambora, you can be sure the fear/panic-mongers will come out in full force. The report says that since April 2011, the volcano has seen intermittent swarms of earthquakes and now at the end of August, there seems to be an increase in these shallow, volcanic earthquakes along with the presence of tremor plus observations of steam plumes rising tens of meters over the edge of the caldera rim. Thus the elevation of the alert status from Level I to II. Most likely we would expect something small in terms of activity, akin to the VEI 0-2 eruptions in 1819, 1880 and 1967, which were mainly lava flows and domes confined to the caldera floor, and most definitely not another VEI 7 event like the 1815 eruption.
INDONESIA - Mount Lokon activity declines as Marapi spews out white cloud. Mount Lokon, located on the northern tip of the island of Sulawesi, showed declining activity on Monday after erupting several times last week. Meanwhile, new activity has been reported at Mount Marapi.
Mount Lokon erupted as many as 12 times on Sunday, but it only erupted once on Monday at around 10.35 a.m. local time, spewing out volcanic materials about 250 meters (820 feet) high. On Sunday, monitoring staff recorded 65 deep volcanic earthquakes and 93 shallow earthquakes. During the first six hours of Monday, only seven earthquakes were registered in the area near the volcano. Officials at the Volcanic and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center kept the volcano's alert status at Alert as of early Tuesday morning, but the alert could be lowered if activity continues to decline. On August 17, Mount Lokon began to spew volcanic ash which fell as far away as the Kinilow I village and the Tinoor areas in North Tomohon sub district, which is a short distance from Lokon's crater. Mount Lokon has shown constant volcanic activity since June, prompting authorities to raise its status to Alert on June 27 and Watch on July 10. A series of eruptions in mid-July forced at least 5,269 locals from the villages of Kinilow, Kelurahan Kinilow I and Kakaskasen 1 to evacuate the area.
While most residents returned to their homes later that month, some 222 people remain at temporary refugee camps because their homes are in Mound Lokon's red zone - 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from its crater. After July's activity, Mount Lokon's alert level was lowered from Watch to Alert, and has remained at this level since.
Meanwhile, officials reported thick white smoke coming from Mount Marapi in West Sumatra on Sunday morning. Smoke could be seen gushing out of the crater and reaching up to 100 meters (328 feet). Mount Marapi's alert level remains at level II, banning anyone from being closer than 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) to its crater. Marapi became active in early August. It is located in the Tanahdatar sub-district, of West Sumatra and has been spewing volcanic ash with sulfuric smell up to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) high.
Dozens of active volcanoes in Indonesia are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, known for frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Next to Mount Lokon is its volcanic twin, Mount Empung, just 2.2 kilometers (1.3 miles) away. One of Indonesia's most active volcanoes is Mount Merapi, which is located on the island of Java near Jogjakarta. Last year, more than 300 people were killed in a series of eruptions between October and November which also displaced over 300,000 people.
Alaska Volcano Observatory lowers alert level for remote Aleutian Islands volcano. The eruption appears to have been predominantly effusive rather than explosive and confined to the summit crater. It was likened to an oozing pile of toothpaste. The alert level was raised in July.
TROPICAL STORMS -
-Tropical storm Katia is racing west-northwestward over the tropical Atlantic about 885 mi...1425 km W of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands. Katia could become a hurricane today.
-Tropical depression 14w (Nanmadol) was located approximately 135 nm west-southwest of Taipei, Taiwan. This is the final warning on this system by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
-Tropical storm 15w (Talas) was located approximately 510 nm south-southeast of Kyoto, Japan. It is expected to intensify and to make landfall along the coast of Honshu, Japan. The system will weaken considerably as it tracks over the rough terrain of Mainland Japan.
Flood waters surge as states come to grips with Irene's damage - The size of the task still at hand began to sink in as states in the Northeast struggled to rebuild roads and bridges, restore power and tame waterways still coursing with floodwaters brought by Hurricane Irene. Hurricane Irene by the numbers - state by state damage reports.
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES / CLIMATE CHANGE -
OKLAHOMA - Oklahoma City fire sends horses, people fleeing. A wildfire in a wooded area of Oklahoma City forced hundreds of homes to be evacuated on Tuesday, destroying some and causing panicked horse owners to let their livestock loose. 12 structures have been destroyed and 600 acres of land burned.
HEALTH THREATS -
Iinvestigation finds gaps in egg safety system - An investigation has revealed gaps in state and federal egg safety systems, despite new federal regulations designed to reduce Salmonella in shell eggs. A review of records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act found that some of the state's biggest egg producers aren't meeting minimum federal standards designed to reduce the risk of Salmonella enteritidis contamination. For example, the investigation found that egg farm inspections are announced days in advance and that egg producers aren't required to tell government inspectors or state officials when tests for Salmonella are positive. Inspectors at one farm, which was visited by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors in May for the first time, had "immediate concerns" about its written Salmonella prevention plan. In other instances, they found that the FDA redacted some findings, such as the size of rodent infestations and brand names under which the eggs are sold. FDA officials did not comment for the story. Iowa, the nation's top egg producer, has had no egg recalls since the massive one in 2010 that sickened nearly 2,000 people in multiple states. New federal egg safety rules started taking effect in 2010 for the largest farms, those that have 50,000 or more laying hens.