but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?**
LARGEST QUAKES -
Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)
This morning -
5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA
5.0 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.1 NEAR S. COAST OF WESTERN HONSHU
5.5 SOUTHERN IRAN
5.6 SOUTHERN IRAN
6.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.7 SOUTH OF AFRICA
5.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.3 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 ONTARIO, CANADA 5.7 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS
Canadian quake felt across parts of upstate New York - A 5.1-magnitude earthquake in Ontario, Canada has been felt across upstate New York from Buffalo to the Vermont border. Windows rattled, walls swayed and knick-knacks toppled from store shelves near the national capital Friday as Canadians across a wide swath of Ontario and Quebec felt the disconcerting tremors. The quake was felt in downtown Ottawa, where office workers scrambled under desks and ran for emergency exits.
Canada's government agency that monitors earthquakes says the quake occurred at 9:43 a.m. Friday. It was followed 10 minutes later by an aftershock measured at magnitude-4.1 by the Canadian agency and 3.6 by the U.S. bureau. “We don't expect to see major damage from an earthquake until it gets to around a 5.5”, said a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
As earthquakes become more intense and more frequent in the north of the Netherlands, there is mounting pressure on the government to reduce the amount of gas being extracted there. It is a curse for thousands of inhabitants of an area blessed with vast mineral wealth. Homes are crumbling as the country profits from the Groningen gas fields, the largest in Europe.
There exists a consensus among all parties - including the gas companies - that the process of extracting the gas is causing earthquakes, but the country is thriving on the proceeds. In 2012 the Dutch government made about 14bn euros (£12bn; $18bn) from the Groningen gas fields. Without these revenues, the Netherlands' deficit would be similar to that of crisis-struck Cyprus (6.3%).
"It comes rumbling towards you, louder and louder and louder. Everything starts to shake. It ends with a bang, like a massive weight dropped on the house. Boof! And that is frightening, really really frightening." The newly built neighbourhood of Middelstum is Dutch-style suburbia: a canal running down the left side of the street. But is one of the worst-hit areas. What percentage of these homes here has been affected? "At least 60% but the old ones are worse."
Approximately 60,000 homes lie within the earthquake zone. The gas companies are dealing with about 6,000 damage claims. "We want them to put our safety on top of everything, but they don't, they really don't. The government is meant to protect its citizens. We don't feel protected."
At one house a jagged split about 7cm (2.7in) wide runs through a concrete step and up the side of the house, as though lightning has struck and left an ugly, indelible mark. The floor of the utility room is clearly subsiding. It is an extraordinary concern in a region that lies almost entirely below sea level. This is not a land that can afford to sink any further.
Nor can it afford to give up its gas habit. "Almost all the people heat their houses with Groningen gas and they cook their meals with Groningen gas. It's also important because of the budget of our government." The Dutch government owns large stakes in the gas fields. While there is sympathy, few are prepared to sacrifice the relative economic prosperity generated by the Groningen gas. As one car park attendant puts it, "If the Groningers don't like it, they should just move elsewhere."
There is another reason the economics ministry has rejected some scientific recommendations to cut the scale of explorations immediately: contracts. "We have long-term contracts with other countries." Groningen gas was discovered in the 1960s. Since then, the Dutch government has reaped an estimated 250bn euros from the sale of this natural resource.
Last August there was a magnitude 3.4 tremor. Higher than any expert had previously predicted, it further sapped the residents' confidence and forced the ministers to commission an inquiry. "Until now we always knew that earthquakes could occur, now we don't know what the new maximum could be." Could lives be in danger? "You can never exclude anything. If people are in the wrong place at the wrong time…"
And that is the fear of those whose ancestors lived on the land long before the gas firms started shaking it. The Groningen Ground Movement is currently considering taking its case to the European Court of Human Rights, on the grounds their basic right to live without fear is being violated. "We sleep underneath a beam. At night I think, what if there was another earthquake and that beam was to come down on top of us? I hope I will live to tell about it." (quake map)
Alaska volcano 'fountaining' with fire, spreading expansive ash cloud - Alaskans and air travelers remained on alert Thursday due to the rumblings of Pavlof volcano emitting a "continuous ash, steam and gas cloud" that already extends up to 60 miles away. The volcano awoke Monday morning, kicking off a "low-level eruption of lava." By late Tuesday night, an ash plume reached 15,000 feet above sea level.
Pavlof, one of Alaska's most restless volcanoes, shot an ash cloud 15,000 feet into the air Friday in an ongoing eruption that is visible for miles when the weather allows. Pavlof is the second Alaska volcano to erupt this month. Both volcanos are active, in fact, they are at the highest alert level for sudden explosions with little warning.
TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical storms.
Cyclone Mahasen has spared Bangladesh from the worst extent of deaths and damage although it left 48 killed in its wake. This time there was early warning and most of the deaths occurred as victims ignored do's and don'ts issued by local authorities. More than 49,000 thatched houses were destroyed.
Indonesia - Monsoon set to break over Andamans under 'Mahasen' effect. The onset of the rains is expected to be normal this year, with raging cyclone Mahasen having played a big role facilitating it. The cyclone has churned up the seas and is trailed by strong band of southwesterly flows from South of the Equator.
Kathmandu - Cyclone Mahasen brings rain in Himalayas. It seems the Mahasen Cyclone in the Bay of Bengal has had a slight affect in the weather pattern of the Kathmandu Valley as the temperature has remained below normal for the past few days.
SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
Video - Deadly China floods kill 55.