Forecasting the volcanic ash plume of Iceland's volcano

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:45 PM GMT on April 19, 2010

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The eruption of Iceland's volcano with the unpronounceable name, Eyjafjallajökull, has virtually ceased over the past few hours, with ash only reaching up to 6,000 feet (1800 meters), according to the latest advisory from the UK Met Office. Lightning images from UK Met Office show no new lightning strikes from the volcano's plume since midnight local time today. The relatively small amount of ash present at low altitudes will probably not be able to make it all the way to mainland Europe before falling to the surface and dissipating, since 6,000 feet is below the altitude that the strong winds of jet stream blow. Wednesday through Sunday, the volcano emitted a towering cloud of volcanic ash 6 - 11 km (20,000 - 36,000') high in the air from its 1666 meter (5500') high peak. The jet stream blows strongly at that altitude range, which allowed for efficient transport of the ash cloud to mainland Europe.


Figure 1. Lightning lights up the night sky in this photo of Eyjafjallajökull's eruption taken on April 16, 2010. Ash particles colliding together separate electric charge, much as ice particles in a thunderstorm do, leading to spectacular lightning displays. Image credit: Marco, Fulle, Stromboli Online.

Forecasts of the movement of the ash cloud are made using trajectory models, which have a number of uncertainties to consider. Firstly, the amount of ash ejected by the volcano is highly uncertain, since our measurements of this quantity are limited. Secondly, the models must compute how high the ash cloud will rise (plume rise), based on the best available measurements of atmospheric stability. Since upper air-observations are taken just twice daily by a very coarse network of balloon soundings, our knowledge of the stability is rather crude. Finally, the trajectory models use forecast winds from a global model such as the GFS model to predict where the plume may go. The forecast winds from this model do not capture much of the complicated structure of the wind field over Europe, leading to a rather fuzzy approximation of where the ash will go. Nevertheless, these models have in general done a respectable job forecasting where the ash from Eyjafjallajökull will go over the past few days.


Figure 2. Cross section of the atmosphere over time over Paliseau, France, on April 16, 2010, as observed using ground-based lidar. Image taken using a 532nm cross polarization NFOV telescope. Note how the ash layer sinks closer to the ground as time progresses, as gravity makes the ash sink to the ground. There may also be some atmospheric subsidence occurring (downward moving air due to large-scale atmospheric processes.) Image credit: Ray Hoff, World Meteorological Organization's Global Atmosphere Watch's Aerosol Lidar Network (GALION).

For the next few days, these models continue to indicate that northwest winds at the jet stream level will continue to affect Iceland. As a result, Spain, Portugal, and Greece will offer the best locations to fly from. The northwesterly winds are expected to continue for the remainder of the week, thanks to an upper-level trough of low pressure over northern Europe. On Saturday April 24, the ECMWF model predicts that the trough will slide eastwards, and a ridge of high pressure will build over Europe. This will bring upper-level winds out of the southwest to Iceland, directing any volcanic ash northwards over the North Pole. Thus for the remainder of this week, expect continued ash clouds over much of Europe if the volcano resumes significant eruptions. But by next Sunday, the ash over Europe should decline considerably. For the latest one-day forecasts of where the ash cloud is expected to go, consult the UKMET Office. The Rhenish Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Cologne also has some excellent simulations from an atmospheric dispersion model of Eyjafjallajökull's eruption plume. The Norwegian Institute for Air Research runs a computer trajectory model called FLEXPART that has 1-day forecasts showing a cross section of the atmosphere. NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) lets you perform your own model run using their HYSPLIT model, going out up to 48 hours, using the GFS model as input.


Figure 3. NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of the eruption at 1:20 UTC on April 17, 2010. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

Links
An excellent source of links of information on the eruption is available at http://islande2010.mbnet.fr/2010/04/eyjafjallajok ul-links-liens-a-propos-de-leyjafjallajokul/. My post on Thursday discusses the likely non-impact of this eruption on Earth's climate. Finally, we need to be keeping an eye on earthquake activity at the dangerous Katla volcano next to Eyjafjallajökull. If that volcano blows, it could mean dwarf the headaches caused by Eyjafjallajökull.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


This graphic is a few days old but shows what both of you are talking about those cool waters how they are expanding. Do we know when and how strong the next kevin wave will move from west to east?



It's hard to say when, but it should be soon, as the SOI doesn't usually go up and then just stay there without reacting downward again. The SOI likes to do its work in a series of ups and downs. However, the trend is now clearly up, and the next SOI negative burst will not be as negative as the last one, which means the next Kelvin wave will be weaker. This last Kelvin wave was likely the last one that will really stall the El Nino's demise. Nino 3.4 is steadily falling now. It was Nino 1, 2, and 3 that warmed a bit with this last wave, but they will begin to cool again as well once the last of the warm subsurface water surfaces and cooler water starts to upwell from below. This may take a bit more time though. The first neutral or cool anomalies may show up in Nino 3.4 first.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26698
Quoting Levi32:


Well it may be a while before we get the next one. The SOI is being very stubborn and refuses to go back down. SOI Daily Values


This loop of the subsurface is a few days old but shows what both of you are talking about those cool waters how they are expanding. Do you know when and how strong the next kevin wave will move from west to east?

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Quoting Bordonaro:

The Northridge Quake in 1994, was 6.9Mw, off a previously unidentified fault formed because of the locked San Andreas Fault. There was major damage, 64 deaths, infrastructure failed in many areas. Billions in damage, that was not "The Big One".

I am not sure you understand the possible magnitude of destruction that may take place in the LA Basin if a > 7.0-8.0 Mw quake took place.

Thousands of deaths, tens of thousands of injuries, all infrastructure rendered useless.
Imagine that you lived there, near the epicenter. How would you feel about the quake then?


Think of 9/11 but on a 30 mile radius. not a few blocks
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yesterday the GFS hinted at an aggresive low forming around Jamaica and moving ENE towards Florida. Today the GFS (12z) doesn't show anything, guess the season will start later. The only thing I'm watching is the low pressure accompanied by a trough that will exit South Carolina in a couple days.

Notice the low exiting South Carolina 54 hours out:



Notice it 66 hours out looking a bit more impressive:



*If it does become something chances are it will become sub tropical.


The GFS has been consistently showing tropical development in either the western Caribbean or eastern Pacific in 13-16 days. It has been swinging back and forth on either side of central America. This simply indicates that the season is approaching, and the reason for the development on the model is the GFS is forecasting an upper equatorial ridge to develop over the western Caribbean and provide a low-shear environment during that time-frame. We shall have to see what the MJO is like during that period.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26698
Quoting twhcracker:


they are gonna freak out about people not being able to fly or go shopping to spend money.


lmao, they're already worrying about that with this spit of a volcano. Bottom line is the rich and wealthy have more to lose, and their hay days are coming to an end. Hope they enjoyed their millions cuz its gonna be down hill from here on out.

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Quoting aspectre:
85 Bordonaro "In 1997, an architect told me if an 8.0 Mw quake struck near downtown LA, most skyscrapers would be seriously damaged, there would be almost no bridges/overpasses left standing and many older homes and businesses would be destroyed."

In other words, there will be a HUGE building boom and property values will go UP tremendously as compared to increase over the decade prior to the BigOne.
"Did the earth move for ya, baby?"

The Northridge Quake in 1994, was 6.9Mw, off a previously unidentified fault formed because of the locked San Andreas Fault. There was major damage, 64 deaths, infrastructure failed in many areas. Billions in damage, that was not "The Big One". Link is to the Wiki article below:
Link
Pictures from the Northridge Quake:
Link

I am not sure you understand the possible magnitude of destruction that may take place in the LA Basin if a > 7.0-8.0 Mw quake took place.

Thousands of deaths, tens of thousands of injuries, all infrastructure rendered useless.
Imagine that you lived there, near the epicenter. How would you feel about the quake then?
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting Levi32:


I'll answer your question when you stop typing in capitals. Thanks.
Yesterday the GFS hinted at an aggresive low forming around Jamaica and moving ENE towards Florida. Today the GFS (12z) doesn't show anything, guess the season will start later. The only thing I'm watching is the low pressure accompanied by a trough that will exit South Carolina in a couple days.

Notice the low exiting South Carolina 54 hours out:



Notice it 66 hours out looking a bit more impressive:



*If it does become something chances are it will become sub tropical.
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Quoting Skyepony:


That last Kelvin wave had the strongest cooling upwelling we've seen in a while. cool pool building under the 3,4 region. Increasing winds from the south on the east end should help cool some of that heat from the last K-wave downwelling event that dramatically spiked the 1,2 region last week. Still waiting to see how strong the next Kelvin wave is..


Well it may be a while before we get the next one. The SOI is being very stubborn and refuses to go back down. SOI Daily Values
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26698
85 Bordonaro "In 1997, an architect told me if an 8.0 Mw quake struck near downtown LA, most skyscrapers would be seriously damaged, there would be almost no bridges/overpasses left standing and many older homes and businesses would be destroyed."

In other words, there will be a HUGE building boom and property values will go UP tremendously as compared to increase over the decade prior to the BigOne.
"Did the earth move for ya, baby?"
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115. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Levi32:


It's still going down. The subsurface water is continuing to cool, and we are not even yet seeing the full effects of the positive SOI burst on SSTs. Eventually it will come to a point where we see a dramatic and quick switch from warm anomalies to cool anomalies.


That last Kelvin wave had the strongest cooling upwelling we've seen in a while. cool pool building under the 3,4 region. Increasing winds from the south on the east end should help cool some of that heat from the last K-wave downwelling event that dramatically spiked the 1,2 region last week. Still waiting to see how strong the next Kelvin wave is..
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Latest Volcano Ash Advisory map from the UK Met Office:
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Levi32, is the demise of El Nino continue on track? I ask because El Nino 3.4 area stalled at 0.8C in the this week's CPC update,same number as last week's update.


It's still going down. The subsurface water is continuing to cool, and we are not even yet seeing the full effects of the positive SOI burst on SSTs. Eventually it will come to a point where we see a dramatic and quick switch from warm anomalies to cool anomalies.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26698
Quoting Skyepony:
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 286 (2009) 479%u2013491

Feedback between deglaciation, volcanism, and atmospheric CO2

Peter Huybers and Charles Langmuir

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.


Abstract


An evaluation of the historical record of volcanic eruptions shows that subaerial volcanism increases globally by two to six times above background levels between 12 ka and 7 ka, during the last deglaciation. Increased volcanism occurs in deglaciating regions. Causal mechanisms could include an increase in magma production owing to the mantle decompression caused by ablation of glaciers and ice caps or a more general pacing of when eruptions occur by the glacial variability. A corollary is that ocean ridge volcanic production should decrease with the rising sea level during deglaciation, with the greatest effect at slow spreading ridges.


CO2 output from the increased subaerial volcanism appears large enough to influence glacial/interglacial CO2 variations. We estimate subaerial emissions during deglaciation to be between 1000 and 5000Gt of CO2 above the long term average background flux, assuming that emissions are proportional to the frequency of eruptions. After accounting for equilibration with the ocean, this additional CO2 flux is consistent in timing and magnitude with ice core observations of a 40-ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration during the second half of the last deglaciation. Estimated decreases in CO2 output from ocean ridge volcanoes compensate for only 20% of the increased subaerial flux. If such a large volcanic output of CO2 occurs, then volcanism forges a positive feedback between glacial variability and atmospheric CO2 concentrations: deglaciation increases volcanic eruptions, raises atmospheric CO2, and causes more deglaciation. Such a positive feedback may contribute to the rapid passage from glacial to interglacial periods. Conversely, waning volcanic activity during an interglacial could lead to a reduction in CO2 and the onset of an ice age. Whereas glacial/interglacial variations in CO2 are generally attributed to oceanic mechanisms, it is suggested that the vast carbon reservoirs associated with the solid Earth may also play an important role.

Link to complete paper here: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~phuybers/Doc/volc_ice.pdf


They fail to mention that CO2 is our friend here.....as melting glaciers make the volcanoes less destructive, even if they do erupt more. That point about more eruptions is debatable too, like the story they came up with about melting ice wakening the Iceland volcanoes. A complete melting of the ice on Iceland, which is at maximum 500 meters thick, would only change the melting point of rock (when it changes to magma) by 0.5C.....which corresponds to a change in depth of about 20 meters based on the earth's normal geothermal gradient. To say that a change this small could stimulate excess volcanic activity is not that credible. And again, the net result of ice melting is it makes the volcanoes less destructive (i.e. not as dangerous to humans).

Besides, who says volcanoes always cause warming? The largest eruptions, which I'm sure they say cause the most warming, actually cause cooling by warming the stratosphere... (we're still talking about volcanoes in glaciated regions, not the tropics).
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26698
EU to resume some flights in Europe on Tuesday! Good news for stranded passengers, link to article below
Link
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Levi32, is the demise of El Nino continue on track? I ask because El Nino 3.4 area stalled at 0.8C in the this week's CPC update,same number as last week's update.
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109. Skyepony (Mod)
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 286 (2009) 479–491

Feedback between deglaciation, volcanism, and atmospheric CO2

Peter Huybers and Charles Langmuir

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.


Abstract


An evaluation of the historical record of volcanic eruptions shows that subaerial volcanism increases globally by two to six times above background levels between 12 ka and 7 ka, during the last deglaciation. Increased volcanism occurs in deglaciating regions. Causal mechanisms could include an increase in magma production owing to the mantle decompression caused by ablation of glaciers and ice caps or a more general pacing of when eruptions occur by the glacial variability. A corollary is that ocean ridge volcanic production should decrease with the rising sea level during deglaciation, with the greatest effect at slow spreading ridges.


CO2 output from the increased subaerial volcanism appears large enough to influence glacial/interglacial CO2 variations. We estimate subaerial emissions during deglaciation to be between 1000 and 5000Gt of CO2 above the long term average background flux, assuming that emissions are proportional to the frequency of eruptions. After accounting for equilibration with the ocean, this additional CO2 flux is consistent in timing and magnitude with ice core observations of a 40-ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration during the second half of the last deglaciation. Estimated decreases in CO2 output from ocean ridge volcanoes compensate for only 20% of the increased subaerial flux. If such a large volcanic output of CO2 occurs, then volcanism forges a positive feedback between glacial variability and atmospheric CO2 concentrations: deglaciation increases volcanic eruptions, raises atmospheric CO2, and causes more deglaciation. Such a positive feedback may contribute to the rapid passage from glacial to interglacial periods. Conversely, waning volcanic activity during an interglacial could lead to a reduction in CO2 and the onset of an ice age. Whereas glacial/interglacial variations in CO2 are generally attributed to oceanic mechanisms, it is suggested that the vast carbon reservoirs associated with the solid Earth may also play an important role.

Link to complete paper here: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~phuybers/Doc/volc_ice.pdf
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they are gonna freak out about people not being able to fly or go shopping to spend money.

not a problem...we have no money to go shopping with out here...
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Quoting RitaEvac:
What is the media gonna do if Yellowston blows its top? or the big one hits LA?


they are gonna freak out about people not being able to fly or go shopping to spend money.
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Quoting Levi32:


I'll answer your question when you stop typing in capitals. Thanks.

Don't bother. I think his caps lock key is broken.
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Hurricane Bill in the mid-Atlantic (1.2 MB JPG) 19 August 2009
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
"Theis maja uathquake will provide tons and tons and tons of jobs :) for thee next 50 yeeears in Calaforna. we should be grateful. And stuff like that"
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Quoting RitaEvac:
LA better have enjoyed their days, and the next because that place wont be the same one day. It's simple as that. people wont be living there.


just like with any natural disaster, it is never the same.
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 3 Comments: 1712
Quoting HURRICANECAT5:
IS THE GFS STILL FORECASTING A STORM TO FORM THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY?


I'll answer your question when you stop typing in capitals. Thanks.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26698
Quoting NRAamy:
2012 was a lame lame lame lame movie....John Cusack obviously just needed some cash....


i know, it was a big disappointment. it should have been better.
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 3 Comments: 1712
Arnold Swartsnegger (hell with the spelling) will still be trying to calm the population on TV with make up and smiling while there isnt electricity, and everybody running through the streets.
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Pat...those riots were a bad bad bad tinme for us....bad memories for me...
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IS THE GFS STILL FORECASTING A STORM TO FORM THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY?
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Dats da Spirit NRAamy..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
Emergency management doesnt even want to think about it in Cali,
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One should have a Emergency/Evac Plan for any Disaster and Beans,Bandages and Booze,the 3 "B's", to survive for 2 Weeks

yes sir...I'm on it...got more than 2 weeks worth...I'm planning for the long haul....

:)
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Shucks..L.A. went Berserk and 53 Died over a Jury Verdict..on a Sunny Spring Afternoon.

I'd be working on a Prep Plan in any Metro Area and the Burbs surrounding one.

The 1992 Los Angeles Riots, also known as the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest,[1][2][3] were sparked on April 29, 1992, when a jury acquitted four Los Angeles Police Department officers accused in the videotaped beating of African-American motorist Rodney King following a high-speed pursuit. Thousands of people in the Los Angeles area rioted over the six days following the verdict. At that time, similar, smaller riots and anti-police actions took place in other locations in the United States and Canada.[4] Widespread looting, assault, arson and murder occurred, and property damages topped roughly US$1 billion. In all, 53 people died during the riots and thousands more were injured.[5]
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
One should have a Emergency/Evac Plan for any Disaster and Beans,Bandages and Booze,the 3 "B's", to survive for 2 Weeks ..instead of wondering how the Media would cover it.

We had a lil thing like that inAug-Sept 2005..


..kinda changed Merica for many..like in 3 States.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129439
The lady is from Pasadena, California. I'd like to tell her hun, LA is gonna be a unprecedented historic event
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Check this email my company just sent out, I'm pasting the last part...


Please call back later in the week if your travel needs do not require immediate attention. Bear in mind that Cliqbook is available and may be used as an alternative to facilitate domestic travel bookings and to conduct research of travel options and pricing.

Thanks in advance for you patience and understanding during this unprecedented historic event.


LOL, are you kidding me, the average Joes just dont know do they?


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April 10th 2005 SST Anomalies:




April 10th 2010 SST Anomalies:


Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26698
Quoting Bordonaro:

In 1997, an architect told me if an 8.0 Mw quake struck near downtown LA, most skyscrapers would be seriously damaged, there would be almost no bridges/overpasses left standing and many older homes and businesses would be destroyed.


Skyscrapers being seriously damaged, translates to implosion within itself, or must be torn down and rebuilt
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LA better have enjoyed their days, and the next because that place wont be the same one day. It's simple as that. people wont be living there.
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POLO!!!!!
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2012 was a lame lame lame lame movie....John Cusack obviously just needed some cash....
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Quoting RitaEvac:
I'm thinking those skyscrapers will collapse, all bridges down, Everybody wanted change they could believe in.... well heres Yellowstone for ya.

In 1997, an architect told me if an 8.0 Mw quake struck near downtown LA, most skyscrapers would be seriously damaged, there would be almost no bridges/overpasses left standing and many older homes and businesses would be destroyed.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting NRAamy:
78. RitaEvac 10:53 AM PDT on April 19, 2010
What is the media gonna do if Yellowston blows its top? or the big one hits LA?


pee their Huggies...

;)
Watched 2012 twice, although their scenario is probably NOT accurate concerning the Earthquakes in LA and other places, it may be a good representation of what it may be like if Yellowstone blows her top.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
I'm thinking those skyscrapers will collapse, all bridges down, Everybody wanted change they could believe in.... well heres Yellowstone for ya.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
What is the media gonna do if Yellowston blows its top? or the big one hits LA?

Well, lets hope Yellowstone doesn't blow her top, the USA will be changed, in a negative way, for many, many years.

If the big one hits LA, CA, as they're overdue for a > 7.0Mw quake, it was be mass chaos, many killed/hurt and maybe $500 billion in damages.

Spoke with an architect online many years back, about what would happen to downtown LA if a large quake struck near downtown, it was NOT a pretty picture!

The small "E" Volcano in Iceland is stopping air travel in 26 nations, costing businesses millions/billions in total losses, affecting hundreds of thousands of stranded air passengers, that is definately newsworthy.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
They'll either make it like its the end of the world, or try to throw it under the covers like it doesnt exist and isnt that bad.
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78. RitaEvac 10:53 AM PDT on April 19, 2010
What is the media gonna do if Yellowston blows its top? or the big one hits LA?


pee their Huggies...

;)
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What is the media gonna do if Yellowston blows its top? or the big one hits LA?
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Quake this morning local time in Afghanistan killing people and injuring others.

MAP 5.4 2010/04/18 20:28:50 35.697 67.654 10.0 CENTRAL AFGHANISTAN

Quake was at 3:28:50PM CDT yesterday in Afghanistan.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
70. PcolaDan 10:47 AM PDT on April 19, 2010
humorous article from the Guardian.


Volcanic ash is the new swine flu panic

Putting large, heavy bits of metal into the air is just too much for the psyche of modern regulators – they panic



like duh!!!!!

;)
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Eight killed in Afghan quake
(AFP) – 4 hours ago

KABUL — Eight people were killed on Monday when a 5.3-magnitude earthquake hit a remote area of central Afghanistan, disaster management officials said.

The quake, which struck at 00:58 (2028 GMT Sunday), was centred around 190 kilometres (120 miles) northwest of Kabul at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.

Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan are frequently hit by earthquakes, especially around the Hindu Kush range near the collision of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

Noor Badshah Kuhistani, the head of the operational centre at the national disaster management office in Kabul, said the quake's epicentre was about 125 kilometres east of Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of Balkh province bordering Uzbekistan.

Eight people had been killed in the quake with another 15 injured, he told AFP, adding that dozens of houses were damaged.

"No assistance has yet been given because of the remoteness of the damaged area," he said, adding that teams had been dispatched to determine the exact level of damage and number of casualties.

A statement issued by President Hamid Karzai's office said the president was "grieved by the losses in lives and property".

"President Karzai expressed deep condolences to the families of the victims and prays for the recovery of the injured."

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Quake this morning local time in Afghanistan killing people and injuring others.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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