Deepest and most explosive underwater eruption ever seen happening near Samoa hotspot

Posted on October 20, 2011 by The Extinction Protocol

SAMOA – An underwater volcano bursting with glowing lava bubbles — the deepest active submarine eruption seen to date — is shedding light on how volcanism can impact deep-sea life and reshape the face of the planet. Submarine eruptions account for about three-quarters of all of Earth’s volcanism, but the overlying ocean and the sheer vastness of the seafloor makes detecting and observing them difficult. The only active submarine eruptions that scientists had seen and analyzed until now were at the volcano NW Rota-1, near the island of Guam in the western Pacific. Now researchers have witnessed the deepest active submarine eruption yet. The volcano in question, West Mata, lies near the islands of Fiji in the southwestern Pacific in the Lau Basin. Here, the rate of subduction — the process in which one massive tectonic plate dives under another, typically forming chains of volcanoes — is the highest on Earth, and the region hosts ample signs of recent submarine volcanism. “It was absolutely stunning and exciting, something we’d never seen on the seafloor before,” researcher Joseph Resing, an oceanographer at the University of Washington in Seattle, told OurAmazingPlanet. This submarine eruption is the deepest seen yet, about 2,200 feet (700 m) deeper than NW Rota-1. This was deeper than scientists had expected to see explosive eruptions. Water pressure goes up the further down you go, “so as pressure goes up, the ability of gas as it comes out of magma to cause explosions is diminished, and the thought was that you wouldn’t get explosive eruptions below about 1,000 meters (3,300 feet),” Resing said. Eruptions at centers of ocean floor spreading — where the majority of eruptions on Earth happen — generally seem to occur in relatively short episodes lasting hours to months, but West Mata appears to have erupted near continuously since it was first observed in 2008. This might be because magma is focused there, instead of being spread across many volcanoes at once. “However, this is a question that we don’t currently know the answer to,” Resing said. –OAP

Read more: http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/deepest-and-most-explosive-underwater-eruption-ever-seen-happening-near-samoa-hotspot/

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Magnitude-7.6 earthquake strikes far off Tonga in South Pacific

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga — A strong earthquake struck far off the South Pacific island nation of Tonga on Saturday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-7.6 quake struck at 5:57 a.m. (1757 GMT Friday), about 541 miles (870 kilometers) south of Nuku’Alofa on Tonga. The quake struck at a depth of 24 miles (39 kilometers).

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami alert, but its report on the quake said sea level readings indicated that a tsunami was generated.

The quake hit 112 miles (180 kilometers) from New Zealand’s remote, volcanic Kermadec Islands. The remote outpost is generally uninhabited aside from a weather station and a hostel for visiting New Zealand scientists and staff.

New Zealand Civil Defense officials issued but then quickly canceled a tsunami warning.

Another magnitude-7.6 earthquake struck the region in July, but the eight New Zealand staffers at the Raoul Island outpost at the northern end of the Kermadecs were unharmed.

The region lies on the “Ring of Fire” — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim. About 90 percent of the world’s quakes occur in the region.

By Associated Press, Saturday, October 22, 2:27 AM

Health Defects Found In Children Living Near Quake-Stricken Fukushima Prefecture

The Fukushima plants, which were severly damaged by a mag 9 quake on March 11

The Fukushima plants, which were severly damaged by a mag 9 quake on March 11

Thyroid gland irregularities have been detected in a number of young children and teenagers evacuated from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture following its nuclear plant crisis.

According to a study, 10 out of 130 children evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture showed hormonal and other irregularities in their thyroid glands, the Kyodo news agency reported. The investigation was done by a charity dedicated to help victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.

The Japan Chernobyl Foundation, which is based in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture, carried out the study in cooperation with the Shinshu University Hospital, taking blood and urine samples from individuals up to 16 years old and infants as young as one month old.

The tests took place through the end of August in Chino, Nagano, where the children were housed temporarily following their evacuation from Fukushima, where the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was crippled and caused the country’s ongoing nuclear crisis.

The study revealed that one child had a thyroid hormone level lower than normal while seven had above average thyroid stimulation hormone levels. In addition, two of the tested youths were diagnosed with slightly high blood concentrations of a protein called thyroglobulin, possibly caused by damage to their thyroid glands.

However, Japan Chernobyl Foundation chief Minoru Kamata underlined that no clear link was found between the radiation released from the nuclear plant and the children’s health condition. Nonetheless, Minoru stressed that long-term observation is necessary and key to finding any possible impact on human health due to the nuclear crisis.

Last Friday, the government of Japan lifted its evacuation advisory in certain areas within a 20 to 30 kilometer (12.4 to 18.6 mile) radius from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The lifted advisory had covered the entire towns of Hirono and Naraha, the village of Kawauchi, and parts of Minamisomo and Tamura, all located in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture which was hit hard by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis.

Also last Friday, plutonium was detected at six locations in Fukushima Prefecture, including in the village of Iitate which is located about 45 kilometers (28 miles) northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Japanese science ministry official said the plutonium was detected as a result of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant. This was the first time the government confirmed the spread of plutonium to the village. However, officials said the amount of detected plutonium was low and poses no danger to health.

Japan has been facing an ongoing nuclear crisis since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was severely damaged on March 11 when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami devastated the country. The disaster disabled the cooling systems of the plant and radioactive elements leaked into the sea and were later found in water, air and food products in some parts of Japan.

At least 15,813 people were killed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami while 3,971 others remain missing. There are still more than 88,000 people who are staying in shelters in 21 prefectures around Japan.

By PAUL VAUGHAN – Thu Oct 06, 3:28 pm

http://www.irishweatheronline.com/news/earth-science/geology/health-defects-found-in-children-living-near-quake-stricken-fukushima-prefecture/40893.html

Exclusion Zone Set Up Around Indonesia’s Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatoa)

By MARK DUNPHY – Fri Oct 07, 2011

On July 31, 2011, a wispy ash plume rose above the volcano and drifted west (up in the below image). The natural-colour satellite image was acquired by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard Earth Observing-1 (EO-1). Dark gray areas of Anak Krakatau are composed principally of lava flows deposited in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. These flows are topped by a young cinder cone near the center of the island. Green vegetation covers older lavas along the eastern coastline.  Image NASA. Instrument:  EO-1 – ALI

On July 31, 2011, a wispy ash plume rose above the volcano and drifted west (up in the below image). The natural-colour satellite image was acquired by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard Earth Observing-1 (EO-1). Dark gray areas of Anak Krakatau are composed principally of lava flows deposited in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. These flows are topped by a young cinder cone near the center of the island. Green vegetation covers older lavas along the eastern coastline. Image NASA. Instrument: EO-1 – ALI

Anak Krakatau’s alert level has been raised to the second-highest level after the number of volcanic tremors soared from 200 a day to 7,200.  A 2-kilometre exclusion zone has also been established around the Indonesian volcano prohibiting tourists and fishermen from getting close to the volcanic island, located in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation Centre has expressed concern that an eruption could send incandescent rocks down its slopes and a considerable distance into surrounding waters.  The Center indicated, however, that a major eruption like that experienced in 1883 is unlikely.

Anak Krakatau, which is Indonesian for ‘Child of Krakatoa’, erupted briefly on Tuesday sending columns of ash and rock hurtling high into the air. The eruption was the biggest since January 2011 when ash was emitted more than 600 m into the air, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents. The volcano also erupted on 29th October 2010 leading Indonesian authorities to issue a level 2 alert.

The island exploded in 1883, killing approximately 40,000 people, although some estimates put the death toll much higher. The explosion is considered to be the loudest sound ever heard in modern history, with reports of it being heard nearly 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from its point of origin. The shock wave from the explosion was recorded on barographs around the globe.

http://www.irishweatheronline.com/news/earth-science/geology/exclusion-zone-set-up-around-indonesias-anak-krakatau-child-of-krakatoa/41012.html

Rena oil spill an unfortunate lesson

Blogpost by Nathan Argent – October 7, 2011 at 16:40

The Container ship Rena inexplicably crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about seven kilometres north of Motiti Island, near Tauranga early on Wednesday. It is carrying 1700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, some of which has already started to leak into the sea.

Since then, fears of a potential environment disaster have grown as the leaking oil has spread threatening wildlife, including whales, birds and seals. Indeed, Environment Minister Nick Smith was quoted as saying that the spill from the ship “had the potential to be New Zealand’s most significant maritime pollution disaster in decades”. This is very disturbing news.

Oiled seabirds have already been found dead close to the Rena and more birds have been spotted in the water, covered in oil. It is also potentially disastrous for the blue whales and dolphins presently calving in the area, as well as numerous other marine species.

Response teams have so far been unable to deploy oil booms to contain the spill. The response so far as been to use a dispersant called Corexit  9500 – which is being sprayed on the water to disperse the oil. Corexit is the same chemical used in the Gulf of Mexico to deal with the oil from BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill.

Unfortunately ‘dispersal’ essentially means never cleaning up the oil. It will just stay out there and continue to pollute the marine environment. The reason being that Corexit acts like a surfactant and attracts the oil. The oil then forms globules and sinks to the bottom.

Some studies have shown that Corexit 9500 is four times as toxic as the oil itself.  Both are now going into the ocean water. It’s not a good situation.

As the authorities battle to get the spill under control and mitigate against the worst environmental effects, we also hope that this incident gives the Government pause for thought with regards to it’s deepwater oil drilling plans. This accident is an unfortunate reminder of just how difficult it is to deal with oil spills at sea. It’s a slow spill in a relatively accessible place, and the weather and sea conditions have been favourable yet even so, it is testing NZ’s response capability to the limits.

It’s shaping up to be a significant disaster but, bad as it is, it will be a walk in the park compared to what would happen if we had a Deepwater Horizon type spill.

Greenpeace has offered Maritime NZ the support of our inflatable boats, experienced drivers and volunteers to assist in the oil clean up and the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre is calling for volunteers to assist in the recovery and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife but as yet there is little anyone can do.

Despite the best intentions, the oil spill response team in Tauranga will not be able to do enough. There is no ‘enough’.

The tools we have to respond to oil spills are orders of magnitude too small to combat the damage they do. We can’t fix oil spills; we can only prevent them. And we can only prevent the really catastrophic spills by saying no to deep sea oil drilling.

Sign the no deep sea oil petition here

http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/en/news/blog/rena-oil-spill-an-unfortunate-lesson/blog/37226/

Fukushima: It’s much worse than you think

Scientific experts believe Japan’s nuclear disaster to be far worse than governments are revealing to the public.

“Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera.

Japan’s 9.0 earthquake on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. It also led to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns that forced evacuations of those living within a 20km radius of the plant.

Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the US, says the Fukushima nuclear plant likely has more exposed reactor cores than commonly believed.

“Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed,” he said, “You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively.”

TEPCO has been spraying water on several of the reactors and fuel cores, but this has led to even greater problems, such as radiation being emitted into the air in steam and evaporated sea water – as well as generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive sea water that has to be disposed of.

“The problem is how to keep it cool,” says Gundersen. “They are pouring in water and the question is what are they going to do with the waste that comes out of that system, because it is going to contain plutonium and uranium. Where do you put the water?”

Even though the plant is now shut down, fission products such as uranium continue to generate heat, and therefore require cooling.

“The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor,” Gundersen added. “TEPCO announced they had a melt through. A melt down is when the fuel collapses to the bottom of the reactor, and a melt through means it has melted through some layers. That blob is incredibly radioactive, and now you have water on top of it. The water picks up enormous amounts of radiation, so you add more water and you are generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive water.”

Independent scientists have been monitoring the locations of radioactive “hot spots” around Japan, and their findings are disconcerting.

“We have 20 nuclear cores exposed, the fuel pools have several cores each, that is 20 times the potential to be released than Chernobyl,” said Gundersen. “The data I’m seeing shows that we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be declared no-man’s-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can’t clean all this up. We still have radioactive wild boar in Germany, 30 years after Chernobyl.”

Radiation monitors for children

Japan’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters finally admitted earlier this month that reactors 1, 2, and 3 at the Fukushima plant experienced full meltdowns.

TEPCO announced that the accident probably released more radioactive material into the environment than Chernobyl, making it the worst nuclear accident on record.

Meanwhile, a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government reported that about 966 square kilometres near the power station – an area roughly 17 times the size of Manhattan – is now likely uninhabitable.

In the US, physician Janette Sherman MD and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano published an essay shedding light on a 35 per cent spike in infant mortality in northwest cities that occurred after the Fukushima meltdown, and may well be the result of fallout from the stricken nuclear plant.

The eight cities included in the report are San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and Boise, and the time frame of the report included the ten weeks immediately following the disaster.

“There is and should be concern about younger people being exposed, and the Japanese government will be giving out radiation monitors to children,” Dr MV Ramana, a physicist with the Programme on Science and Global Security at Princeton University who specialises in issues of nuclear safety, told Al Jazeera.

Dr Ramana explained that he believes the primary radiation threat continues to be mostly for residents living within 50km of the plant, but added: “There are going to be areas outside of the Japanese government’s 20km mandatory evacuation zone where radiation is higher. So that could mean evacuation zones in those areas as well.”

Gundersen points out that far more radiation has been released than has been reported.

“They recalculated the amount of radiation released, but the news is really not talking about this,” he said. “The new calculations show that within the first week of the accident, they released 2.3 times as much radiation as they thought they released in the first 80 days.”

According to Gundersen, the exposed reactors and fuel cores are continuing to release microns of caesium, strontium, and plutonium isotopes. These are referred to as “hot particles”.

“We are discovering hot particles everywhere in Japan, even in Tokyo,” he said. “Scientists are finding these everywhere. Over the last 90 days these hot particles have continued to fall and are being deposited in high concentrations. A lot of people are picking these up in car engine air filters.”

Radioactive air filters from cars in Fukushima prefecture and Tokyo are now common, and Gundersen says his sources are finding radioactive air filters in the greater Seattle area of the US as well.

The hot particles on them can eventually lead to cancer.

“These get stuck in your lungs or GI tract, and they are a constant irritant,” he explained, “One cigarette doesn’t get you, but over time they do. These [hot particles] can cause cancer, but you can’t measure them with a Geiger counter. Clearly people in Fukushima prefecture have breathed in a large amount of these particles. Clearly the upper West Coast of the US has people being affected. That area got hit pretty heavy in April.”

Read more: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/06/201161664828302638.html