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,

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,

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.

Doomwatch, 20 Jan 2021

It’s been super busy and I’ve been swamped trying to reset things after major changes my organizational landscape, but we continue to have the usual share of doom stalking the Earth: it’s hurricane season in the southern hemisphere, there have been a couple of significant earthquakes. The SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 continues to be doing fine (humans not so much), and of course there is something happening in Washington DC today …

There are three active tropical cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere, two “invest” areas, and another invest area in the Philippines(!). Most of these are fairly weak systems, but Cyclone Eloise has just made landfall in Madagascar and is headed towards the African Mainland. The forecast models, as well as the official forecasts from MetoFrance (who are responsible for this area) and the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center, show it strengthening into a hurricane before the second landfall. Here’s the impact estimate …

Cyclone Eloise, headed for Mozambique.

There has been a rash of earthquakes causing moderate damage over the last week. The two most significant are a series of quakes in San Juan province of Argentina, and a major earthquake causing significant damage near Sulawesi, Indonesia. Nearly 100 are known dead, while humanitarian situation among survivors in Indonesia is becoming of concern. Damage in Argentina seems mostly confined to infrastructure.

COVID continues a slow burn through the population. It has been over a year since the first warnings were raised, and I have a longish post under construction looking back on the early predictions, as well as where we seem to be going from here. Hopefully will get posted in the next day or so, reviewing some of the latest data. It’s not good, and while it’s not the black death, it is still killing a lot of people who would not otherwise have died, and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. Period. That said, there are some interesting trends in mortality from other causes (such as influenza, which is almost non existent this year).

Due to the inauguration, the normal weekly data update won’t be out until tomorrow, which will give us our first mostly complete look at the 2020 mortality data, so the post will likely be on Friday. To rant once again, there is NO REAL TIME DATA ON COVID19! The “death counters” on TV are bogus. Johns Hopkins (the source most are using) is doing a great job, but the daily totals, especially of mortality, are very noisy estimates. This is a slow moving disaster; it takes a couple of seeks for all of the mortality data to be compiled.

It still astonishes me that people can’t seem to get grip on this thing, and how politicized it has become. Of course, it shouldn’t; sadly the reaction of people and what policies they want to enact are pretty predictable based on party. And like most things a balanced approach would do far better than either extreme. We’ll see how the “new” Administration does. Speaking of which …

The Biden Administration takes over today. A lot of things will likely become more orderly, and while their domestic polices are not accepted by almost half of the population, the rollout and implementation will be well organized given the long government pedigrees of the President and his various appointees. And given the fact the US media is largely on their side, stuff will get done and things will certainly appear to be better. But I’m extremely concerned about Foreign Policy. This group, lead by Blinken, Rice, Powers, and the new torturer in chief, Avril Haines, are responsible for inflaming many of the world’s trouble spots such as in the Middle East (especially Syria and Libya). They are largely responsible for the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, and advocate policies that are likely to create further dangerous conflicts. Unfortunately, much of that will be “under the radar” as the US public and media focus on the domestic situation.

Administrative note: I’m no longer cross posting any politically focused posts on either Facebook or Twitter. The environment just isn’t conducive for rational discussion, and I don’t want the Enki FB page to become yet another site where people I don’t know engage in poo throwing contests 😛 … I’m happy to discuss the political implications of various doom we face (and most of them do involve politics), but we need to keep the anger and emotion to a minimum, and try to keep things based on all the facts (not just the ones that support some particular point of view). All that said, the new year is starting off much better (organizationally, if not funding wise) than the last, and the reorganization should finally start to be seen in better stuff on the Patreon page and web sites any day now 🙂

Major #Earthquake in #Croatia

Over the last few days there have been a series of small earthquakes in Croatia. This morning US time (noon CET) a shallow M6.4 hit, and early reports are to have caused significant damage. At least one person has been killed, and the mayor of Petrinja reports “This is a catastrophe. My city is completely destroyed.” It is likely the death toll will be higher as the day goes on.

TAOS/EQ simulation of 29 Dec 2020 Earthquake in Croatia

Initial economic impact estimates are $4 to $5 Billion USD, with some models as high as $8 Billion. There are about 1.5 Million people in the hazard zone, and upwards of 150,000 people living in areas with a significant risk of structural collapse.

#Eta gone; AL98 headed to #Honduras/#Nicaragua, Vamco in the #Philippines, #Earthquake in #Nevada

Even though the winds are still above tropical storm strength, Eta has lost its tropical characteristics so NHC has discontinued advisories. However, on the way out flash floods from the interaction of Eta and the front that is finally seeing it off killed at least six (two are still missing) in North Carolina. The remains of the system should stay well south of the Canadian Atlantic Provinces, so we’re done with this one. Here’s the big picture in the Atlantic, the surface analysis from the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch on top of the GOES IR satellite view this morning:

TAFB Analysis, Friday Morning. Click to embiggen. AL98 is the “DVLPG GALE” (Developing Gale) below Eta.

We still have Theta (AL302020) out in the North Atlantic, no threat to land. AL98, located in the middle of the Caribbean, is expected to become a depression later today, and will be given the permanent identification AL312020 (recall that numbers starting with a nine are temporary ID’s for investigation areas). If it becomes a tropical storm as expected, it will be called Iota, the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. The tracking is pretty tight, focused on the Honduras/Nicaragua border:

Many of the techniques that also estimate intensity are pretty enthusiastic about this storm, with many reaching hurricane status before landfall.

Forecast intensity for AL98 for the next five days

And Typhoon Vamco is in the West Pacific, which just smashed the Philippines and is headed for the coast of Vietnam (which itself has had lots of flooding and damage this year) as a tropical storm.

And if that’s not enough, as further proof the earth just wants us to go away there was an earthquake overnight in Nevada. Although a shallow magnitude 5.5, it is in a pretty sparsely populated area, under 5,000 people in the area at risk of damage.

Oh, and the virus thingee is running rampant again, so maybe I’ll say something about that in the next couple of days in between all the other ways the planet is trying to kill us …