Archive | March 26, 2015

USGS upgrades Aleutian volcano alert level to Yellow

Yellow Alert

Citing increased seismic intensity, the U.S. Geological Survey is upgrading the volcano alert level status for Semisopochnoi, an Aleutian Island volcano, to “advisory,” the agency said in a notice issued Wednesday morning.
Seismic activity at the Semisopochnoi volcano began in January, but “has increased in intensity over the past few days,” USGS wrote in the notice. “In addition, we have detected brief periods of seismic tremor, which can indicate movement of magma or magmatic gases.”
Semisopochnoi is remote even by Alaska standards. It lies on an island of the same name some 127 miles from Adak and 1,283 miles from Anchorage.
The volcano last erupted in 1987.
Semisopochnoi Island is shown in this November 2012 photo. The USGS upgraded the island’s volcano alert level status to “advisory” and its aviation code to “yellow” Wednesday after an increase in seismic activity.
Roger Clifford
Courtesy of Alaska Dispatch News

Huge asteroid to narrowly miss Earth

Huge asteroid to narrowly miss Earth
The 1000-metre wide mammoth asteroid has sparked fears of an unprecedented disaster. Photo: AP
A massive asteroid, capable of wiping out an entire country, is on a near-collision route towards Earth.
The 1000-metre wide mammoth asteroid has sparked fears of an unprecedented disaster, as it travels at a speed of more than 36,000km/h.
Small meteorites pass by Earth regularly, but one of this size is an occurrence that only happens once in 5000 years.
The impact would reportedly trigger earthquakes, tsunamis and devastating changes in climate.
If the asteroid, called 2014-YB35, did collide with Earth, it would unleash an explosive force equivalent to more than 15,000 tonnes.
“Smaller scale events like Tunguska are absolutely a real risk, largely they are undiscovered and so we are unprepared,” Bill Napier, professor of astronomy at the University of Buckinghamshire, told the Daily Express.
“With something like YB35, we are looking at a scale of global destruction, something that would pose a risk to the continuation of the planet,” he continued.
If an asteroid this big was to hit Earth, it is possible that plumes and debris thrown into the atmosphere would change the climate and potentially make the planet uninhabitable.
“The real risk is from comets, which even if the Earth passes through the tail, can generate a massive plume of smoke with hugely significant consequences,” Napier said.
NASA has said they expect the YB35 to pass within about four million kilometres on Friday.
The rock was detected by the Catalina Sky Survey last year and has been closely watched this week.
Astronomers have named June 30 as Asteroid Day to highlight the dangers of potentially dangerous asteroids.
“It just takes one asteroid to completely destroy life, not just humanity, but all species,” said initiative co-founder Grigorij Richters told the Daily Express.
Courtesy of Yahoo News

Australia Home to World’s Largest Asteroid Crater

Australia Home to World’s Largest Asteroid Crater
Two deep, underground scars in the earth’s crust lie in outback Australia and mark the remains of what scientists believe to be the world’s largest ever meteorite crater. Its diameter: over 250-miles. These two scars measure more than 120 miles in diameter each and are believed to represent the collision point of the meteorite which split in two before falling on Earth.
Initially, scientists had only discovered one of the two scars. At the time, they thought that the site represented the third largest crater ever discovered. The crater itself is no longer visible, however, experts have been studying samples from the twin scars which they obtained by drilling.
According to Dr. Andrew Glikson from the Australian National University School of Archaeology and Anthropology, the impact occurred some 300 million years ago. The two asteroids which finally struck Earth are believed to have been more than 10 kilometers across and such massive impacts may have caused the extinction of many life species on the planet at the time of the collision.
“Large impacts like these may have had a far more significant role in the Earth’s evolution than previously thought.”
Glikson noted
The impact zone is located near the borders of Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia and is more than 19 miles deep. Geological processes have long buried the double-impact crater, however its imprint remains. And although such a massive impact is believed to have caused a massive extinction, Dr. Glikson cannot accurately identify the date of the impact especially since there are no extinction events matching the collision.
When compared to other famous asteroid craters, the Chicxulub crater for instance, which is believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, this double-impact crater is a monster. The Chicxulub asteroid is believed to have been 10 kilometer wide. Its crater’s diameter measures 110 miles, yet the impact zone of the Warburton Basin asteroid is more than twice the size of the Chicxulub crater.
Geothermal research actually revealed the crater. As researchers were drilling out rock samples from South Australia, they came across rocks that had been turned to glass (one of the tell-tale signs of such collisions). According to Dr. Glikson, the two deep domes in Earth’s crust are huge and stem from the planet’s crust rebounding as a result of the massive impact. This rebound caused rock from the mantle below to be brought towards the surface.
“I have a suspicion the impact could be older than 300 million years.”
Dr. Glikson said, noting that the rocks surrounding the site are as old as 600 million years old, although they are not accompanied by sediment layers which could provide evidence of a mass extinction. Normally, layers of sediments accompany large meteorite strikes. And while large amounts of debris were blasted into our planet’s atmosphere at the moment of impact, there is still much work to be done in order to uncover evidence of the devastating effects that the asteroid must have had.
Courtesy of Capital Wired

Emergency Declared After Heavy Rains Hit Atacama Desert Region, Chile

State Of Emergency

The Chilean government has declared a state of emergency in the Atacama desert region after flash floods hit what is normally one of the driest regions in the world. The declaration of emergency gives control of the region to the armed forces to “safeguard public order,” a senior government official said on Wednesday, according to local media reports.
Heavy rains, which began on Tuesday, have flooded the valleys and towns in the region. Roads are blocked and power outages have been reported as authorities scramble to evacuate people. According to a government statement, over 20 people are missing in the flood-hit regions. Local media quoted police officials as saying that two people had died in the coastal town of Chanaral.
chile floods
Locals gather near a flooded road after heavy rains in Copiapo city, March 25, 2015. Reuters/Stringer
Courtesy of International Business Times