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GEOPHENOMENA OTHER ACTIVITY

1 Whiteout
2 Oyama still smoking
3 Flooding in central Europe
4 Pacific Northwest shakes
5 Flooding and disease in southern Africa
6 Pricing disasters
7 Second strike
8 Cleveland vents

1 Whiteout
A blizzard moved over the eastern shore of the United States and Canada on March 6. Massachusetts took the brunt of the storm with 63.5 centimeters (25 inches) of snow accumulating on Paxton, Mass. Ice and snow felled power lines, cutting electricity to 80,000 people across the state. Waves broke over seawalls, flooding coastal cities from Portland, Maine, south to Hull, Mass.
 

2 Oyama still smoking
A Feb. 22 SeaWiFS pass over Japanís Miyakejima Volcano showed smoke and ash plumes erupting from the central cone of Mount Oyama. Reports from a Feb. 5 conference in Tokyo said the volcano had been spouting 20 to 50 kilotons of sulfur dioxide a day with no sign of decrease. The smoke trails may reach heights of up to 2,000 meters above the crater. The volcano has been spewing gases since it last erupted in October. The nearly 4,000 residents that began evacuating the island last July, when Oyama first became active, still cannot return. Journalists visiting the island on March 4 reported seeing houses and roads still buried under mudslides.

[Image provided by the Sea WiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and ORBIMAGE.]

3 Flooding in central Europe
Heavy rains and melting snow have inundated the region around the Carpathian Mountains. On March 6, the Tisza River burst through its dam at the village of Palad, near the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. Floodwaters in western Ukraine, northeastern Hungary and parts of Transylvania, Romania, have left at least three people dead and immersed more than 200 villages, the Associated Press reported. Some 20,000 people were evacuated from communities along the Tisza. More than 30,000 emergency workers and military troops fought the flooding, using nearly 400,000 sandbags to strengthen dikes.
 
 

4 Pacific Northwest shakes
On Feb. 28, a magnitude-6.8 earthquake struck near Seattle at 10:55 a.m. local time and lasted 45 seconds. The quake is the strongest to hit the area in 52 years and occurred 11 kilometers northeast of the stateís capital city, Olympia, very near the location of a 1949 magnitude-7.1 earthquake. The quake originated 52 kilometers below the surface, rising from the Benioff zone. One person has died as a result of a heart attack. Newspapers have reported more than 200 people were injured, eight seriously. Thousands were without power. Structural damage to the Capitol dome, falling bricks and mudslides were of immediate concern. The estimated cost to property was $2 billion.

5 Flooding and disease in southern Africa
At least 20 people in Malawi have died from cholera since heavy rains flooded parts of the east and south, news wires reported on March 5. The swollen Zambezi River encircled some 600 families trapped on islands in the low velds of Mozambique. Rising waters killed 10 people in Zimbabwe. Rising waters also brought a marauding crocodile closer to people, and the crocodile reportedly killed one person. In Mozambique, the death toll was 62. Authorities in Zambia issued a warning that, if the rains continue, they may open the spillway gates of the Kariba Dam to prevent it from bursting, the Inter Press Service reported. If the dam burst, the downstream flow would add flooding to the Zambezi Valley. Other areas inundated with continuing downpours are Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

6 Pricing disasters
On Feb. 28, Emergency Management Australia announced the cost of natural and non-natural disasters across the country for the year 2000. The bill amounted to $A1.5 billion with 42 people dead as a result of the disasters, local papers reported. Floods in the Riverland and parts of the Barossa in South Australia cost $32.5 million. Flooding from two cyclones that hit Western Australia last year totaled $92 million.

7 Second strike
A magnitude-6.1 earthquake rattled El Salvador, leaving at least 70 people dead on Feb. 14. The quake is considered an aftershock of the Jan. 13 earthquake of magnitude 7.6. The February temblor was a shallower quake than the first quake and hit in the middle of the country rather than off the coast, said Randall Jibson of the U.S. Geological Survey. The aftershock shook the departments of San Vicente, La Paz, Cuscatlan, La Libertad and San Salvador the hardest, news agencies reported. A recently reopened section of the Pan American Highway, hit by a landslide after the Jan. 13 quake, was buried again.

8 Cleveland Vents
On Feb. 19, Cleveland Volcano in the central Aleutian Islands erupted explosively and pilots reported seeing the ash cloud top out at 35,000 feet. The plume moved at approximately 30 knots toward Dutch Harbor, Akutan, and extended north for at least 75 miles, said scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory. Satellite images showed the main part of the ash cloud drifted mostly between 55 degrees latitude north and 171 degrees longitude west. Residents of Nikolski, 45 miles east of the volcano, saw four hours of light ash fall. Mount Cleveland last erupted in 1994 and has erupted 11 times since 1893. The February eruption dumped ash on the north and east flanks of the volcano while small debris flows may have formed on the southwest flank.

[Image at right: Active Volcanoes of the Aleutian Arc, Alaska. Courtesy of ADGGS/AVO.]
 



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