Earth

Thousands of people are still stranded by flash floods in India, where the death toll has risen to 182. Over 10,000 army personnel, 18 helicopters and an Air Force transport plane have been deployed for relief and rescue operations, as residents are stranded at tourist spots and pilgrim centers. With the weather set to improve, the government is moving to supply additional emergency food to the flood-stricken region.

Tectonic Plate movements break up supercontinents: Could signal the start of a new phase of the Wilson Cycle

Tectonic Plate movements break up supercontinents: Could signal the start of a new phase of the Wilson Cycle

A new subduction zone forming off the coast of Portugal heralds the beginning of a cycle that will see the Atlantic Ocean close as continental Europe moves closer to America. Published in Geology, new research led by Monash University geologists has detected the first evidence that a passive margin in the Atlantic ocean is becoming active. Subduction zones, such as the… Read more →

Mexico’s active Popocatepetl volcano has registered a massive explosion spewing ash and incandescent rock almost 4 kilometers high. Authorities have warned that winds could blow the ash cloud as far away as Mexico City.

Inhabitants of villages up to 25 kilometers from Popocatepetl (colloquially known as ‘Don Popo’) rushed out of their houses when the massive explosion reverberated through their homes.

Esther Matinez, resident of Amecameca municipality, told Mexican publication La Jornada that the blast was like a rocket explosion. Around 4.5 million people live within a 50-kilometer radius of the active volcano, 650,000 of whom are considered to be at high risk.

According to authorities in the state of Puebla, where the second-tallest volcano in Mexico is located, the incandescent fragments released in the blast fell as far as 2 kilometers from the crater. Director of Puebla’s Civil Protection department Jesus Morales said that burning rocks sparked small fires around the volcano.

“There were clouds at the time of the eruption so it was possible to observe the large shock wave accompanied by a plume of ash and incandescent material,” Morales said.

 

RT has the full article

Floods in northern India wash away a whole apartment block. Read more…

The three-storey building in Uttarkashi was hit on Sunday night amid heavy flooding that has inundated large swathes of Uttarakhand state.

Dramatic footage filmed on a mobile phone and broadcast on local television showed the building collapsing and tumbling into the river.

Black Forest Fire Dept. officers burn off natural ground fuel in an evacuated neighborhood, prepping the area for the encroachment of the wildfire in the Black Forest area north of Colorado Springs, Colo., on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. The number of houses destroyed by the Black Forest fire could grow to around 100, and authorities fear it's possible that some people who stayed behind might have died. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A wildfire burning northeast of Colorado Springs has destroyed at least 360 homes, making it the most destructive in state history.

El Paso County sheriff Terry Maketa said Thursday that deputies still haven’t been able to verify the condition of 79 homes as the wildfire continues to burn. So it’s possible the figure could rise even higher.

The fire is burning near where the Waldo Canyon fire burned 347 homes last year and killed two people. It was previously the most destructive in Colorado history.

Fueled by hot temperatures, changing gusts, and thick, bone-dry forests, the Black Forest Fire earlier prompted evacuation orders and pre-evacuation notices to more than 9,000 people and to about 3,500 homes and businesses, sheriff’s officials said.

 

Yahoo News has the full article

(CNN) – Heavy rains and 60 mph winds pounded the west coast of south Florida from the Keys to the Tampa area Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center reported.

The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season — Andrea — could bring gusts that approach hurricane-force (74 mph or stronger) in the afternoon, but forecasters said in an 8 a.m. alert that the system won’t have enough opportunity over water to strengthen into a hurricane before its center reaches the coast north of Tampa.

 

CNN has the full article

Photo Gallery: Floods Sweep through Central Europe

As flooding continues across Central Europe, the eastern German city of Dresden is bracing for near record high water levels. Some residents have already evacuated their homes.

Though some areas reported improved conditions, flooding continued across Europe on Wednesday, with the eastern German city of Dresden bracing for near record water levels.

Officials in the baroque city said that they expect the Elbe River to continue to swell, though it is unlikely exceed levels seen in the disastrous flood of 2002, which caused widespread damage in eastern Germany and neighboring countries. Authorities are preparing for evacuations all along the Elbe, and some residents have already been forced leave their homes in Dresden, where electricity was shut off as a precautionary measure in some places.

Northwest of Dresden, the Saale River has reached its highest level in 400 years, said officials in Halle, where volunteers are working to stabilize a weakened dam with sandbags. Flooding has also reached a critical point in nearby Dessau, which has been put on the highest level of flood alert.

 

Spiegel.de has the full article

Severe floods are crippling large parts of central Europe. The Czech Republic, Austria and Germany are the worst affected, with at least eight deaths reported.

"This time, the range of ash fall is much wider than usual," says Behncke. A...

(Photo: Corbis) Mount Etna is spitting lava more violently than it has in years, and scientists are baffled as to why. Despite being the world’s most-studied volcano, the Sicilian mountain is also its most unpredictable.

The volcano is raging. Fountains of lava, some taller than the Eiffel Tower, shoot from its mouth every few weeks, flowing in red-hot streams into the surrounding valleys. There have been 13 eruptions since the beginning of February.

Mount Etna, 3,329 meters (10,922 feet) high, towers majestically above the Sicilian city of Catania. In June, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will decide whether to list it as a World Heritage Site. Etna is considered the most heavily studied volcano in the world, and it is thoroughly wired with sensors. In addition to lava, Etna spits out vast amounts of data — several gigabytes a day, coming from magnetic field sensors, GPS altimeters and seismic sensors.

Despite this wealth of data, Etna still poses a conundrum to scientists. “The eruptions in recent weeks have been unusually fierce and explosive,” reports German volcanologist Boris Behncke, who monitors the mountain together with a few hundred colleagues at Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV). “There have been lava fountain events in the past, but rarely in such rapid succession.”

For many geologists today, Etna is still the most inscrutable volcano in the world. The mountain is located at precisely the spot where the African and European tectonic plates rub against each other like two giant ice floes. At this plate margin, lava with low viscosity flows upward from a depth of 30 kilometers into a reservoir of magma two kilometers beneath the summit.

“The stream of magma doesn’t move uniformly, but in spurts, vibrating as if it were in a hydraulic pump,” explains Stuttgart geophysicist Rolf Schick. “This makes Etna so unpredictable.” Schick has been a star among volcanologists since 1972, when he caused a stir with his new discoveries about Etna. Using seismic sensors, he discovered a “pulse rate” of sorts in the stream of magma, which is forced through the vent at a rate of 72 beats per minute — coincidentally, at a rate similar to that of the human heartbeat.

“There have been violent eruptions like this once every few thousand years, as, for example, in the year 122 B.C.,” says Behncke. The scientist also expects a destructive outbreak on the eastern flank in a few months or years. “This is relatively normal for Etna, but society has changed tremendously. It’s become much more difficult today to carry out an evacuation.”

 

Spiegel.de has the full article