Sicily Is Shaken By Earthquake As Mount Etna Erupts Once Again

First came the eruption. Then, the quake.

An overnight earthquake, triggered by Mount Etna’s eruption two days ago, caused injuries and damage in Eastern Sicily early Wednesday morning. The volcano has been spewing ash and lava has flowed down its slopes since it began erupting on Monday.

The quake registered 4.8 magnitude, according to Italian news agency ANSA, which reported 600 people were displaced by the temblor. Officials said the quake was one of about 1,000 tremors — most of them small — related to Etna’s eruption, The Associated Press reports.

NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports that Italy’s Civil Protection Agency set up temporary shelters for those whose homes were damaged or who were too frightened to go home.

At least 10 people were injured, according to the AP, and others sought medical care for panic attacks or shock.

A section of a major roadway was closed, as was the railway along the Ionian coast, ANSA reported.

Images of the area showed churches and buildings strewn with rubble, fallen signs in front of shops, and toppled statues.

On Monday, ANSA reported that a new fracture had opened on Etna’s southeast crater, from which ash was spewing. Authorities closed down airspace over the airport in the nearby city of Catania.

“Etna remains a dangerous volcano, and this country of ours is unfortunately fragile,” government Undersecretary Vito Crimi said Wednesday, according to the AP. Many people reportedly slept in their cars after the quake.

Mount Etna is the most active stratovolcano in the world, according to the United Nations, which has named it a World Heritage Site. Etna has one of the world’s longest documented history of eruptions, stretching back to 1,500 B.C.

One local resident said the earthquake was worrying.

“Tremors during eruptions are pretty normal here,” Gaetano Maenza told The Guardian. “What is unusual is the level of magnitude triggered by Etna. I have no memory of such intensity. It was scary.”

Mount Vesuvius, located near Naples in a heavily populated region of Italy, has also exhibited increased seismic activity recently, according to the newspaper.

UPDATE : Rescue Efforts Underway After Tsunami Hit Indonesia Without Warning

Rescue crews are helping thousands of people who were injured or displaced after a tsunami struck the coasts of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia on Saturday night. Many residents did not receive any warning before the tsunami, which killed hundreds.

Volcanic activity on Indonesia’s famous Anak Krakatau island triggered underwater landslides that caused the tsunami, officials say. Anak Krakatau emerged from the site of an 1883 eruption that killed tens of thousands of people and has drawn tourists from around the world.

At least 373 people have died, with 128 missing and nearly 1,500 wounded, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster management agency.

Crews continue to search for survivors while retrieving bodies from the wreckage with heavy machinery and their hands, Reuters reports.

The Red Cross has dispatched 22 ambulances and more than 100 volunteers to transport the injured. Blocked streets have hindered access to health centers in Pandeglang, on the island of Java, where Doctors Without Borders volunteers are helping to treat patients injured by the tsunami and falling rubble.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo arrived at the disaster zone on Monday, while members of the military and volunteers continue to search affected areas. Authorities have warned residents to stay away from beaches because of the risk of continued volcanic activity.

The tsunami caught residents by surprise because the country’s seismic activity detectors were not functioning properly, NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reports. Nugroho acknowledged Indonesia’s detection buoys have been dysfunctional since 2012, according to The Associated Press, a result of vandalism and budget issues.

Kathy Mueller, a communications delegate with the Red Cross, was working in Indonesia when the tsunami hit — because of ongoing recovery efforts after a previous tsunami in September, which killed more than 1,700 people.

She says Saturday’s tsunami affected Java’s entire western coastline.

“There are a lot of communities we know … have not yet been accessed,” she told NPR’s David Greene. “It’s going to take some time before we get a fully clear picture of what the full extent of the damage is.”

The Indonesian Red Cross dispatched more than 117 volunteers to the affected area immediately after the disaster, Mueller says. They brought basic supplies, including blankets, clothes, food and water.

The tsunami struck Indonesia’s two most populous islands. Proximity to the nation’s capital, Jakarta, has facilitated the mobilization of volunteers, military and emergency personnel, compared to previous disasters.

Mueller adds that emergency respondents have become proficient at purifying drinking water since the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, which killed more than 200,000 people.

But she says three major disasters since the summer — massive earthquakes on the island of Lombok in July and again in August, followed by September’s tsunami and earthquake on the island of Sulawesi — have taxed the country, even before the latest tsunami.

“People are a little bit tired now,” she says.

On Sulawesi, thousands of residents still live in tented camps, according to Mueller.

Now this disaster has displaced 11,000 more people in Java and Sumatra, who are residing in government buildings and camping out in tents beside hospitals.

“A lot of them were holidaymakers,” Kuhn says. “The government has tried to turn the western tip of Java into a new tourist destination to rival the island of Bali. But that effort has been suspended after this disaster.”

Several of the dead were members of the local pop-rock band Seventeen, which was performing at a year-end party in Java when the tsunami struck, sweeping away performers and concertgoers.

Indonesia Tsunami Caused By Collapse Of Volcano, Experts Confirm

Saturday’s tsunami in Indonesia was caused by a chunk of the volcanic Anak Krakatau island slipping into the ocean, it was confirmed on Monday, as officials at the country’s natural disaster agency said it must develop a new tsunami early warning system.

At least 373 people were killed, hundreds injured and many buildings were heavily damaged when the tsunami struck, almost without warning, along the rim of the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra islands.

Anak Krakatau had been spewing ash and lava for months before a 64-hectare section of its south-west side collapsed, an Indonesian official said. “This caused an underwater landslide and eventually caused the tsunami,” Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of the meteorological agency, said.

Images captured by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite showed that a large portion of the southern flank of the volcano had slid off into the ocean, scientists said.

The fact the tsunami was triggered by a volcano rather than an earthquake meant no tsunami warning was triggered, scientists said. Coastal residents reported not seeing or feeling any warning signs before waves of up to three meters high surged in.

Hundreds of military personnel and volunteers spent Monday scouring beaches strewn with debris in search of survivors. At least 1,459 people were injured and more than 600 homes, 60 shops and 420 vessels damaged when the tsunami struck.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the chief spokesman for the Indonesian disaster agency, said the country had no early warning system for landslides or volcanic eruptions. “The current early warning system is for earthquake activity,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Indonesia must build an early warning system for tsunamis that are generated by underwater landslides & volcanic eruptions … Landslides triggered the 1992 Maumere tsunami and the Palu 2018 tsunami.”

He also said Indonesia’s tsunami buoy network had “not been operational since 2012”. “Vandalism, a limited budget, and technical damage mean there were no tsunami buoys at this time,” he said. “They need to be rebuilt to strengthen the Indonesian tsunami early warning system.”

Sutopo said on Twitter: “Anak Krakatau has been erupting since June 2018 until now,” he said. “Yesterday’s eruption was not the biggest. The October-November 2018 period had a larger eruption.”

The death toll is expected to rise as 128 people were still missing on Monday. At least 1,600 people have also been displaced.Dody Ruswandi, a senior official at the disaster agency, added that the rescue effort was likely to last a week.

Sutopo warned locals to stay away from the coast. “People should not carry out activities on the beach and stay away from the coast for a while,” he told reporters.

The University of Queensland volcanologist Teresa Ubide said Anak Krakatau had been erupting for the past few months, which was not unusual. “It seems like the volcano is active at the moment and it may happen again,” Ubide said.

“The volcano is very close to the shoreline so … there wouldn’t be much time to warn because it’s close and the tsunamis can travel very fast,” she said. The lack of seismic activity that would accompany an earthquake was also significant, she said.

Richard Teeuw of the University of Portsmouth said sonar surveys were needed to map the seafloor around the volcano, but that work usually took months. “The likelihood of further tsunamis in the Sunda Strait will remain high while Anak Krakatau volcano is going through its current active phase because that might trigger further submarine landslides,” he said.

Kathy Mueller from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said aid workers were helping evacuate injured people, bring in clean water and tarpaulins and provide shelter.

he said the group was preparing for the possibility of diseases breaking out in the tsunami zone, adding: “The situation, and the death toll, will remain fluid over the next days and even weeks.”

The water washed away an outdoor stage where a local rock band, Seventeen, were performing, killing their bassist and manager. Other people who had been watching the band on the beach were missing.

Azki Kurniawan, 16, said his first warning about the tsunami was when people burst into the lobby of the Patra Comfort Hotel shouting: “Sea water rising!”

Kurniawan, who was undergoing vocational training with a group of 30 other students, said he was confused because he had not felt a big earthquake. He said he ran to the parking lot to try to reach his motorbike but discovered it was already flooded.

“Suddenly, a one-metre wave hit me,” he said, his eyes red and swollen from crying. “I was thrown into the fence of a building about 30 metres from the beach and held onto the fence as strong as I could, trying to resist the water, which felt like it would drag me back into the sea. I cried in fear … ‘This is a tsunami?’ I was afraid I would die.”

Thousands Flee As Guatemalan Volcano Erupts Again

Thousands of Guatemalans are evacuating their homes as the Volcán de Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, erupts again near the city of Antigua.

The volcano has erupted repeatedly this year. In June, more than 100 people were killed in a violent eruption that spewed lava, ash and rocks over nearby villages.

Now, as the volcano resumes erupting once again, evacuations are underway.

Nearly 4,000 people have been cleared out of the disaster zone, including more than 2,000 housed in shelters, the government agency responsible for natural disasters says.

Whether or not local communities evacuate is up to local leaders and residents, reports Prensa Libre, a Guatemalan newspaper. The paper writes that according to authorities, all the affected communities were warned about the volcanic activity on Sunday.

The evacuations come after new lava flows were detected and following hours of mounting concern from groups monitoring the volcano’s activity.

On Sunday, the volcano was registering more than a dozen weak or moderate explosions per hour, raising concerns of hazardous lava flows.

Now those concerns have become a real risk. Glowing eruptions are rising 1,000 meters (more than 3,000 feet) above the crater. The volcano has created a column of ash stretching nearly 3 miles above sea level and multiple lava flows, with the longest more than a mile and a half long.

Ash is drifting toward Guatemala City, The Associated Press reports.

Guatemalan officials say this is the fifth eruption of the Volcano of Fire so far this year.

Underwater Volcano Chain Discovered Off Coast Of Tasmania

Scientists have discovered an underwater chain of volcanoes off the coast of Tasmania. A team from the Australian National University mapped the submerged terrain during a voyage aboard the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) research ship “Investigator.”

The underwater peaks, or seamounts, reach more than 9,000 feet high, but vary in shape and size. Researchers hope having detailed maps of the underwater area will help protect the environment, while aiding in future research.

“This is a very diverse landscape and will undoubtedly be a biological hotspot that supports a dazzling array of marine life,” Dr. Tara Martin from the CSIRO mapping team said in a statement.

So far, data from the research ship has already revealed increased marine life activity along the volcano chain.

“While we were over the chain of seamounts, the ship was visited by large numbers of humpback and long-finned pilot whales,” said Dr. Eric Woehler, who was aboard the Investigator. “Clearly these seamounts are a biological hotspot that supports life, both directly on them, as well as in the ocean above.”

According to Dr. Woehler, the whales may be using the seafloor to help navigate their way through the ocean during migration from winter breeding to summer feeding grounds.

The next step for researchers is to head back to the area, located about 250 miles east of Tasmania, off Australia’s southern coast. The Investigator has a voyage this month, and then another one in December. During the trips, researchers will be gathering high-resolution video of marine life, as well as collecting rock samples to study how this formed.

Geological Survey Discovers Active Volcano 14,000 Feet Under The Sea

There are at least 20 to 40 volcanoes erupting on Earth at any given moment, but most of that volcanic activity is hidden from view at the bottom of the ocean. It is estimated that almost 5 cubic-miles of lava erupt every year along the mid-ocean ridges and submarine fault systems associated with subduction zones, where the oceanic crust is pulled into Earth’s mantle. This is twice the lava that erupts from all volcanoes found on land.

In 1973, the submarine Alvin by chance discovered “black smokers” on the seafloor near Hawaii. These underwater hot springs, named after the smoke-like 750 °F hot fluids that billow out from their vents, were the first evidence that there is geothermal activity to be found on the bottom of the ocean. In the last 500 years, only 17 deep submarine eruptions have been known, and even then mostly identified only by indirect evidence, like changes in the bathymetry of the seabed, plumes of volcanic ash and fluids dispersed in the water and by occasional pumice rafts appearing on the ocean surface.

Deep sea volcanoes are still poorly studied and most of what we know about submarine eruptions is based on studying outcrops, where the seabed was pushed by tectonic forces above the sea. When an eruption occurs under the water, water pressure prevents the explosions as seen on land. We do know that when lava erupts beneath the sea, it develops distinctive pillow structures. Cold water instantly chills the extruded lava, forming a thin crust that stretches to resemble a tube or pillows as new hot lava enters under it. As the pillow expands, its surface cracks, allowing some lava to flow out from it and form another pillow. Geologists would like to compare what they see in an outcrop with what actually happens during an eruption under water. Observing a submarine eruption is not easy. Rarely we know in time when an underwater volcano will erupt and expensive survey technology, like manned submarines or unmanned rovers, is needed to observe the eruption.

An international research team was quite lucky, as it apparently discovered traces of a very recent eruption of a still active submarine volcano. It is also the deepest volcanic eruption ever recorded. During a survey mission near the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, typical pillow structures were discovered at a depth of 14,000 feet. The submarine lava flow, as mapped following the pillow lava, is 650 to 2,600 ft wide, almost 450 ft thick and 4.5 miles long. Milky fluids rising from the ground indicated that the lava was still warm and therefore very young. A comparison with older surveys of the seafloor suggests that the eruption occurred sometime between 2013 and 2016.

Deep-sea volcanic eruptions differ in some important characteristics from volcanic eruptions in shallow waters. In 14,000 feet the water pressure is much higher as near the surface. Volcanic gases, important in pushing the lava out from the volcanic vents, can’t expand here as much as under normal conditions. The resulting eruption style is less violent. Also, rock fragmentation, caused by exploding bubbles in the lava, should be less effective, but the researchers found large quantities of broken rocks and ash. Apparently, the bottom water in 14,000 feet plays a major role in such a case. The cold (32-38°F) water coming into contact with hot lava flash-boils and expands enormously, and the force of the steam expansion deforms and fragments the lava. The researchers were also surprised how long the lava will stay warm despite the chilling temperatures. This observation may of interest for marine biologists, as such eruptions and their aftermath could provide a habitat for various lifeforms.

Guatemala Volcano Spews Ash Months After Deadly Eruption

Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire spewed ash and lava Saturday just months after an eruption killed at least 110 people.

The country’s seismology and volcanology institute said hot lava was spilling from the crater and flowing toward a ravine.

Constant rumblings from the volcano sounded like an engine, and columns of gray ash billowed 4,600 meters (15,091 feet) into the air.

Authorities urged nearby residents to evacuate and be alert for possible lahars – flows of mud, debris, water and pyroclastic material – that could be fed by afternoon rains.

The Volcano of Fire is one of the most active in Central America.

Dozens of people were buried alive or burned beyond recognition in June when the volcano expelled smoldering gas, ash and rock, catching residents off guard.