• VolcanosCould the New Zealand Volcanic Eruption Have Benn Predicted?

    The agency that monitors geological activity in New Zealand, GeoNet, had issued warnings that a volcano off the country’s North Island was showing signs of “moderate volcanic unrest” but it might not have been possible to predict that it would suddenly erupt on Monday, according to geologists.

  • New Zealand volcanoNo More Survivors Expected after New Zealand Volcano Erupts

    Five people were confirmed dead and eighteen others injured, with many more missing, after a volcano erupted on Monday afternoon while dozens of cruise ship passengers were exploring White Island, a small, picturesque, uninhabited island of the coast of New Zealand.

  • New Zealand volcanoWhy White Island Erupted and Why There Was No Warning

    By Shane Cronin

    White Island is one of several volcanoes in New Zealand that can produce sudden explosive eruptions at any time. In this case, magma is shallow, and the heat and gases affect surface and ground water to form vigorous hydrothermal systems. In these, water is trapped in pores of rocks in a super-heated state. Any external process, such as an earthquake, gas input from below, or even a change in the lake water level can tip this delicate balance and release the pressure on the hot and trapped water. The resulting steam-driven eruption, also called a hydrothermal or phreatic eruption, can happen suddenly and with little to no warning.

  • EarthquakesUnderwater Telecom Cables to Be Used as Seismic Detection Network

    About 70 percent of Earth’s surface lies under the sea, which means that, until now, most of the Earth’s surface had been largely without early-warning seismic detection stations. Scientists say that fiber-optic cables that constitute a global undersea telecommunications network could one day help in studying offshore earthquakes.

  • Perspective: Conspiracy theoryEarthquake Conspiracy Theorists Are Wreaking Havoc During Emergencies

    Scientists have been trying hard to be able to predict earthquakes, because accurately predicting an earthquake would save lives, decrease property damage, and allow people to have some measure of control over one of nature’s most frightening and unpredictable events. Scientific predictions of the location and time of specific tremors are modest in scope – which have created an opening for earthquake conspiracy theorists who “claim that they have discovered the key to accurate quake prediction, as well as the hidden secrets behind why these tremors happen,” Anna Merlan writes.

  • FloodsWhy Flooding Is Still So Difficult to Predict and Prepare for

    By Hannah Cloke

    Given the huge costs to people and property when it floods, it’s a reasonable question to ask why, in one of the richest countries in the world, more cannot be done to prevent flooding. And if not prevent it, to know more precisely when and where it will hit.

  • EarthquakesFirst Statewide Testing of ShakeAlert in the United States

    Earlier this month, the U.S. Geological Survey and the State of California pressed the “go” button to allow the first-ever statewide public testing of the California Early Earthquake Warning System, which is powered by USGS’s earthquake early warning alerts, called ShakeAlerts. Alerts will be delivered by two independent methods, first over the federal Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system and second through the University of California Berkeley’s MyShake smartphone app.

  • EarthquakesFaster Computing Helps in Predicting Earthquake Damage to Infrastructure

    Researchers are using high-performance computing systems to better predict how structures will respond to an earthquake along one of the Bay Area’s most dangerous faults.

  • PerspectiveTrump Pushed Staff to Deal with NOAA Tweet that Contradicted His Inaccurate Alabama Hurricane Claim, Officials Say

    President Trump told his staff that the nation’s leading weather forecasting agency – the National Weather Service (NWS), which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — needed to take back a statement NWS made on 1 September, correcting a tweet the president had sent wrongly claiming that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama. Trump’s demand was conveyed by White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (NOAA is part of the Commerce Department). Ross then threatened to fire the acting NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs unless NOAA issued a statement backing Trump’s false claim about Alabama, and admonishing the NWS’s scientists for correcting Trump’s wrong and misleading claim. Jacobs issued the statement Trump demanded in an unsigned press release on 6 September (NOAA chief scientist has now launched an investigation of Jacobs’s misleading press release, which was issued without consulting any scientists or meteorologists). Trump, talking with reporters on Wednesday, then falsely asserted that he did not direct NOAA to issue such a statement. “No, I never did that,” he said. “I never did that. It’s a hoax by the media. That’s just fake news.”

  • Perspective: Phone alertsBritain Plans Mass Mobile Phone Alerts to Protect Public from Terrorism, Major Floods and Nuclear Attack

    Britain is planning to introduce US-style mass mobile phone alerts to protect the public against terrorism, major floods and nuclear attack. Supporters of so-called ‘cell broadcasting’ claim the message alerts could have saved lives during major incidents including the London Bridge terrorist attack and Grenfell Tower fire. Senior figures have raised concerns, however, that the messages could be hijacked by hackers or malicious foreign powers to induce mass panic.

  • EarthquakesImproving ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast

    The U.S. Geological Survey has awarded more than $12.5 million to seven universities and a university-governed non-profit to support operation, improvement and expansion of the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States.

  • EarthquakesThe Big One: Back to the Future on the San Andreas Fault

    Maybe you’ve heard that the “Big One is overdue” on the San Andreas Fault. No one can predict earthquakes, so what does the science really say? Where does the information come from? And what does it mean? Earth scientists have been gathering data at key paleoseismic sites along sections of the San Andreas Fault to figure out the past timeline of earthquakes at each spot.

  • Seismic warningsPredicting the Strength of Earthquakes

    By Anna Fiorentino

    Scientists will be able to predict earthquake magnitudes earlier than ever before thanks to new research. “Our research, which is technically rather simple, provides answers relevant not only to earthquake dynamics, but to prediction of earthquake behavior before the earthquake ends,” said one of the researchers.

  • EarthquakesFaint Foreshocks Foretell California Earthquakes

    New research mining data from a catalog of more than 1.8 million southern California earthquakes found that nearly three-fourths of the time, foreshocks signaled a quake’s readiness to strike from days to weeks before the mainshock hit, a revelation that could advance earthquake forecasting.

  • False alarmsMissile Strike False Alarm Most Stressful for Less Anxious Hawaiians: Study

    After learning that a warning of a missile headed to Hawaii was a false alarm, the most anxious local Twitter users calmed down more quickly than less anxious users, according to a study of tweets before, during and after the event. “Can a false alarm of an impending disaster itself be a form of trauma? Our results suggest that the experience may have a lingering impact on some individuals well after the threat is dispelled,” says an expert.