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Planet Earth

Earth begins to “wobble” a few months before a giant earthquake

A new study by an international team of geoscientists shows that a strange turn in the Earth’s movement occurred before two of the largest earthquakes in history — the M8.8 great Maule earthquake in 2010 and the M9 Tohoku-Oki earthquake in 2011, which caused a catastrophic tsunami and the destruction of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Researchers hope that these movements, which they call “oscillations,” can warn seismologists in the future and give countries enough time to prepare for the disaster.

The 2011 earthquake in Japan was the strongest in recorded history of the country, which killed more than 15,500 people.

Long before this cataclysm, a strange “wobble” of land was recorded from east to west, and then again to the east,

These movements or vibrations occur when one of the Earth’s tectonic plates slides beneath the other, which gets stuck until it breaks, resulting in an earthquake.

“What happened in Japan was a huge, but very slow wobble – it has never been seen before,” said co-author Michael Bevis, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University.

“But are all such earthquakes preceded by such oscillations?” We do not know, because we do not have enough data. This is another thing to consider when assessing seismic risk in subduction zones such as Japan, Sumatra, the Andes and Alaska. “

Bevis added that although people standing on the island would not be able to detect or notice the wobble, since the movement is only a few millimeters per month for five to seven months, the movement was evident from data recorded by more than 1,000 GPS stations throughout Japan .

Geologists from Germany, Chile and the United States analyzed these data and found a reversal shift of about 4-8 mm east, then west and again east. The group explained that these movements are markedly different from the steady shifts that are constantly generated by land masses.

“The world is broken into plates that always move in one way or another. The movement is not unusual. It is this style of movement that is unusual,” Bevis said.

The professor noted that this wobble may indicate that a few months before the earthquake, the plate under the Philippine Sea had a “slow glide”, the soft underground effect of two neighboring ocean plates under Japan, which ultimately caused a huge westerly and downward swing. This set in motion the Pacific plate and the plate under Japan, producing powerful seismic waves that pushed the whole country.

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This event caused enormous damage to all of Japan, and also led to the fact that most of the island of Honshu was shifted several meters to the east. It caused a tsunami, which reached more than 40 m, and more than 450,000 people were left homeless. Several nuclear reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant have melted. In general, it was the worst nuclear disaster since the time of Chernobyl.

Scientists studying seismic activity and plate tectonics are trying to determine the approximate magnitude of the next powerful earthquake and to predict where and when it can occur. However, lead author Jonathan Bedford, also a researcher at GFZ, explained that GPS systems are needed in some subduction zones around the world to use the results of the study to predict earthquakes.

In 2011, Japan had one of the largest GPS monitoring systems in the world, which provided the country with sufficient data and allowed researchers to analyze fluctuations in the earth’s mass several months before the event.

Chile and Sumatra also suffered from catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis in 2010 and 2004, respectively, but in those days they had less complex systems.

The group examined similar data from the 2010 Maule earthquake in Chile. The network is not so dense, but a large part of the deforming continental plate can still be traced.

Stations on land are usually slightly removed from the subduction zone, since the continental crust is stretched and shortened. However, by analyzing the time sequences of GNSS signals, the researchers found evidence of oscillation-stations suddenly shifted towards subduction zones and again changed their direction, returning to normal movement.

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Soon after the second turn, the rupture tore, and then powerful earthquakes followed.

The group hopes that by tracking fluctuations, countries at risk will be warned and get more time to prepare for the upcoming disaster, and this requires a sensor network.

“We really need to monitor all major subduction zones as soon as possible using high-density GPS networks.”


Planet Earth

A bright fireball exploded over Armenia

Fireball over the sky of Armenia / Zohrap Yeganyan

Yesterday, a very bright fireball exploded over Armenia. This was announced by the head of the meteorological forecast department of the Hydrometeorological Center Gagik Surenyan on Facebook. The magnitude (brilliance) of a celestial body, which entered the Earth’s atmosphere with great speed, is at least 12.

Photo Source: Getty Image

On the evening of May 27, local residents saw a luminous ball flying from the sky, when it collided with the ground, an outbreak occurred.

Users of social networks began to share their guesses, but they officially gave a comment at the  Hydrometeorological Center  only the next day:

“Yesterday’s fall of a large meteorite in the Hrazdan  -Hankavan section  ,” Gagik Surenyan wrote, head of the meteorological forecast department of the Hydrometeorological Center and posted a video showing the meteorite.

Those who also saw the meteorite offered to go to the site of the fall of the celestial body and “collect the pieces”, others reproached the authorities and scientists for silence, when everyone discussed the event, no one began to confirm to people that the luminous ball was a meteorite.

“A meteorite is the final act of this nightmare year,” users of social networks wrote a comment on the video, with sad irony.

The camera was installed in the vicinity of Hrazdan and was directed towards the village of Hankavan.

“The meteorite, judging by the records studied, was very large and entered at great speed the atmosphere of the planet, where it burned at an altitude of several kilometers. The risk that parts of this fireball could reach Earth is small, and the likelihood that they can be somehow found tends to zero, including the woodland and the fact that, when burned, meteors and fireballs crumble, as a rule, for particles up to several millimeters in size,” astrophysicist R. Martirosyan said.

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Planet Earth

Powerful sprites over Kansas were visible to the naked eye

Have you ever seen sprites? They say that this is impossible. Strange and fleeting forms of Red Lightning materialize over thunderclouds, usually disappearing in less time than it takes to blink. However, storm hunter Michael Havan had no problems seeing them on May 23rd.

“The extremely bright jellyfish sprites were easily visible to the naked eye at dusk!” Says Gavin. “This is one of the brightest shots I’ve captured with my modified Canon T3i.”

Gavin saw this sight from Northwest Kansas. “Clear skies provided fantastic views of the MCS (mesoscale convective system) moving through Nebraska almost 100 miles from us,” he says. “I was not the only one who saw them.” There have been reports that people also saw sprites from Interstate 70. “

The storm lasted so long that Gavin managed to attach an 85mm lens to his camera for several close-up shots. “Because I had an image of the same area without a sprite from a few seconds earlier, I was able to subtract the sky (stars, air glow, etc.) to take a photo of the structure of the sprite without any distractions.

A solar minimum can stimulate sprites. During the low phase of the solar cycle — now occurring — cosmic rays from deep space penetrate the inner solar system relatively unhindered due to the weakening of the Sun’s magnetic field. 

Some models claim that cosmic rays help sprites get started by creating conductive paths in the atmosphere.

By the way:

Today, May 25, 2020, the level of cosmic rays crashing onto the Earth, reached its maximum levels, increasing today by 10.4% of average values.

Cosmic rays 

The magnetic field of the sun is weak, which allows additional cosmic rays to penetrate the solar system. Neutron counts from the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory of the University of Oulu show that cosmic rays reaching Earth in 2020 are close to the peak of the space age.

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Planet Earth

A surge in volcanic activity threatens the Earth with a new Ice Age

Over the past few days, we have witnessed a turbulent global volcanic surge in activity. He sends us all signs that the Great Solar Minimum is approaching.

The Japanese meteorological satellite HIMAWARI-8 recorded two powerful eruptions on May 16, both of which occurred in Indonesia.

The first took place in IBU – a relatively new volcano with only 3 noticeable eruptions; in 1911, 1998 and 2008 – and was confirmed by Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), which warned that the ash plume rises to about 13.7 km.

The second high-level eruption occurred just a few hours later on Semera – a very active volcano with an eruptive history; the first happened in 1818, the most recent in 2014.

As with IBU, the Semeru eruption was confirmed by both HIMAWARI-8 and VAAC Darwin, the latter confirming the generation of a “dark ash plume that reached a height of 14 km.

In addition, active lava flows remain active on the southeastern flank of Semeru, currently about 1.5 km long (as of the morning of May 18).

Direct cooling effect

These high-level eruptions are notable for the fact that solid particles are thrown to a height of over 10 km – and into the stratosphere – are often delayed, where they have a direct cooling effect on the planet.

Volcanic eruptions are one of the key factors pushing the Earth toward its next round of global cooling, with their worldwide surge associated with low solar activity, coronal holes, a diminishing magnetosphere and the influx of cosmic rays penetrating silica-rich magma.

In addition to Indonesia, Icelandic volcanoes have intensified, and it is this high-mountain volcanic region of the world that is believed to be home to the next “big eruption” – one that will plunge the whole world into the new Ice Age almost instantly.

Katla is such a volcano here and it shows signs of activity, since a significant gas output has been recorded over the past few days. 

In addition, seismic activity under a large ice volcano has also increased, and this activity is probably caused by injections of new magma entering the chamber.

Icelandic authorities are aware of the danger posed by the next Katla eruption, and a delegation of volcanologists regularly meets with the Icelandic parliament to discuss how to respond in the event of an eruption, the likelihood of which is simply a matter of when, not if.

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