Massive eruption of volcano in Caribbean (St. Vincent)

There has been a massive eruption on the island of St. Vincent of the Soufriere Volcano, visible from space from the GOES East satellite …

Eruption of Soufriere at just before 9am ET, Friday 9 April 2021

Here is an animation starting at 6:50am with frames every 10 minutes, through 9:30am …

Click to embiggen …

Evacuations were underway at the time of the eruption. The La Soufrière is rather notorious, having had multiple severe eruptions over the last 300 years.

Live feed of #Iceland #Volcano from RUV

Here is a link to a live camera view of Fagradalsfjall, provided by RUV TV. This morning (Sunday 21 March) there have been some pretty lava fountains …

Click to go to live feed at https://www.ruv.is/frett/2021/03/20/live-feed-from-iceland-volcano

And here’s a link to some photos I took in that area in 2019, including a trip we took inside a cinder cone (scroll down for the inside views of Thrihnukagigur).

Big #earthquake in #Japan

There has been a significant earthquake just off the coast of Japan, Magnitude 7.0 at a depth of 54 km, at 6:09pm Saturday Tokyo time (5:09am US East Coast time). A tsunami has been generated, early reports are it is small though … on the order of 1 meter (3.28 ft) or so.

click to embiggen

The initial model estimates seem a bit high – the median was $8 Billion – but I think the likely value is $1 to $4 Billion in total economic impact. There are power outages (some deliberate shutdowns), at least one injury. Damage reports are still coming in …

Also, ad update on yesterday’s eruption in Iceland:

Doomwatch for Sunday, 7 March 2021

Busy global map this morning … lots of earthquakes, four tropical systems …

Screen shot from Enki “Doomwatch” system under development …

Zooming in to just off shore from New Zealand, with hundreds of earthquakes along the Kermadec Trench boundary between the Pacific and Australia plates, just off the coast of New Zealand. Three of these were over magnitude seven, one being a magnitude eight that triggered tsunami watches as far away as Hawai’i … each icon represents an event that caused shaking at the surface (sea floor mostly in this case), most of these are M5 or greater events, the red aeras are areas where if you were standing you would have felt it:

That’s a lot of quakes. Click any graphic to embiggen …

That green swath and tropic storm symbol? That’s Cyclone Niran, which reached the equivalent of Category Five intensity before sweeping just offshore from New Caledonia, causing extensive damage across those islands (NZ Herald article).

Models estimate total economic impacts at just under $1 Billion USD. Before anyone asks, the earthquakes and cyclone are unrelated – although tropical cyclones have been associated with earthquakes due to the pressure of the storm surge causing a rupture, or in some cases infiltration of extensive rains perhaps triggering the earthquake. This is an area of ongoing research.

The other cyclones are well offshore, Cyclone Habana in the mid South Indian Ocean is a powerful Category Four (120kt) storm. The Southern Hemisphere season has been pretty active this year with several very strong storms. Naturally some are saying it is climate change related – and that’s very possible. Unfortunately our historical data sets for that region are spotty at best, so the arguments have to be largely theoretical. I hope to do a post on this at some point soon.

On the COVID front, the numbers continue to go up in some places, down in others, causing mood and behavior swings that means the pandemic continues to oscillate and travel in “waves.” Additional vaccines are being approved and distributed, based as much on politics and economics as efficacy and logistics. I find the “news” coverage in the US depressing on this topic (and, again, the real time death counters that CNN is running are misleading, BOGUS fear mongering – it takes weeks to get solid data on mortality). In any event, in big picture terms little has changed in terms of what the average person should do: continue with masking in public (despite what Texas and Mississippi are doing), distance as appropriate, if you are eligible and it makes sense for you specifically from a medical perspective get the vaccine, get it (in other words, balance the consequences of COVID, which are severe, with the unknowns and any specific vulnerabilities you might have, and your personal situation regarding risk – both higher and lower).

I had a great question come in from a reader about the difference between emergency use authorization (EUA) and the standard review and approval process. There is a big difference between “Authorization” and “Approval” in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) world. Here is a discussion with a former FDA official on the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health site. The short version is it is the difference between “might work and shouldn’t hurt” and “has been shown to work with acceptable side effects.” For the vaccines, the main differences are that the threshold for effectiveness is not the same as for an approved vaccine, and most importantly the long term side effect studies and studies on potential interactions and co-morbidity (reactions, impact on fetal or child development, and so forth) are not as extensive and have not had time to collect data. As I noted previously, there is a big difference between making a theoretical argument on those topics and saying “there is no evidence” based on a few months of results, and saying “we tried it, watched for five years, and there were no observed effects.” Given the medical and socioeconomic impacts of COVID, the FDA has made the calculation that the risk of being wrong about adverse reactions and efficacy is outweighed by the benefit of quickly getting a handle on the pandemic. I think they are mostly right about that (with a few reservations I’ve expressed previously). Again, for a lot of people, getting vaccinated makes sense. But everyone should understand the process and risks, free from either blind cheer-leading or paranoid fear mongering.

Second M7 earthquake off of New Zealand; magma moving under Iceland?

This one further offshore to the northeast …

No significant tsunami expected from this one either. Normally there are about 15 Magnitude 7 or higher earthquakes in a year. In this case, the two lie along the Kermadec Trench, a plate boundary between the Pacific and Australia plates:

By Mikenorton – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10735284

In other “Mother Earth Hates Us and Wants Us To Die” (and, seriously, who can blame her) news, there has been a number of earthquake swarms under the Reykjanes peninsula. There is an increasing likelihood this is magma moving around and the Krysuvik volcano …

this is what an EQ swarm looks like; © Veðurstofa Íslands

… which is now code orange …

© Veðurstofa Íslands, http://icelandicvolcanos.is/?volcano=KRI#

If you are planning a trip to Europe this year, keep an eye on this since if it blows the ash could shut down air traffic over the North Atlantic and Western Europe.

Major #Earthquake in #Greece

Major earthquake in Greece this morning (5:16am ET), just after noon Greece time, with multiple aftershocks that are still ongoing …

Earthquake just after noon 3 March 2021 in Greece

The quake was felt all over central Greece as well as in Macedonia, and Albania. It is likely there is extensive structure damage in the the area in purple on this map and economic impacts will likely exceed $2 Billion ($2.7 is the current estimate). Fortunately there are few major cities in the area of most likely damage, the largest being Larissa, a city of just over 160,000 people. So far fortunately no reports of injuries or deaths. Damage reports are coming in this morning US time, mostly of structural damage …

#Fukushima Followup

There are reports that water levels in both the Unit 1 and Unit 3 reactors at the wrecked Fukushima Nuclear Plant are falling as a result of additional damage from the earthquake a few weeks ago. (Nobody really knows what is going on in Unit 2, the sensors are offline.) This is Not Good(tm), since that water is essential for keeping the damaged reactors cool during the long decommissioning process, and it indicates further damage to the primary containment system. This is requiring Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO, the owners of the reactors) to pump in more water to try to keep levels up. That means even more contaminated water coming out that has to be captured and stored or otherwise dealt with, and there just isn’t any place to put it. TEPCO received preliminary permission to slowly release the contaminated water offshore (to allow for dilution), but there is fierce opposition both by local fishermen and the international community and a final decision has not been made. The problem is, that decision might well be moot with this new damage: they will have to do controlled releases, because it’s about to get out of control. And, given the roughly 1.4 million gallons already stored, any additional quakes could result in a massive uncontrolled release. It’s a classic difficult decision: do you accept small harm over a long period of time from the slow releases, or risk massive catastrophe of an uncontrolled failure while you figure out something smarter to do.

Here’s an AP article with some comforting quotes from TEPCO officials …

FILE – This Sept. 4, 2017, aerial file photo shows Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant’s reactors, from bottom at right, Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3, in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. The utility operating a wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, it has detected cooling water levels at two of its three melted reactors have fallen over the past few days apparently due to additional damage done to its reactors from a powerful earthquake that shook the area last weekend.(Daisuke Suzuki/Kyodo News via AP, File)

Magnitude 7 #earthquake near #Fukushima, #Japan

There has been a M7 earthquake just offshore from Fukushima. Fortunately the geometry is not favorable for a tsunami, and it’s somewhat deep at 54km, and about 85km offshore (33 miles deep and 52 miles offshore for those of you still stuck in the Middle Ages). Effects onshore should be power outages (significant outages are being reported) and structure damage to varying degrees in the area marked orange in the map below. But the biggest fear is for the structural integrity of the thousands of tanks of contaminated, radioactive water stored on the site of the former Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Station. Here’s a view from last year showing, well, look for yourself … click to embiggen. Yes, all those round things are full of radioactive water.

Let’s store radioactive water in corroding tanks in an earthquake zone. What could go wrong?

Lots of these tanks are already leaking, and many show signs of structural degradation from the years of holding contaminated water. Subjecting them to MM VII earthquake conditions as happened a couple hours ago is potentially a recipe for disaster. There are no reports from on-site yet, and it’s the middle of the night Japan time (the earthquake was at 11:07 PM, and as I write this it’s only 1am local time so there hasn’t been time to assess the damage). Hopefully this won’t be a big story in the coming days … but it’s a dangerous situation, and with a quake this size there is a strong potential for aftershocks (or even that this is a foreshock of something bigger on the way). Here’s the impact area map …

Economic impact is expected to be around $1 Billion USD – assuming nothing broke that shouldn’t. Which is a big assumption at this point.