Sunday, 15 July 2018

Fifteen confirmed deaths following landslide at Myanmar jade mine.

Fifteen people are known to have died and at least 45 more have been injured following a landslide at a jade mine near Hpakant in Kachin State, Myanmar, on Saturday 14 July 2018. The incident occurred on a spoil heap, where people were scavenging for any jade that may have been missed by the mine-operators, and it is feared that others may be unaccounted for in this incident as spoil-heap workers, known as Yay Ma Say, are often reluctant to discuss their activities with outsiders, even rescue workers, due to the legally dubious nature of the work.

A jade mining area near Hpakant in Kachin State, Myanmar. The mining is an open cast process, which results in numerous spoil heaps, which are searched by informal workers hoping to find fragments of jade. Reuters.

Myanmar is the world's largest producer of jade, though much of this is produced (along with other precious and semi-precious minerals such as amber) at unregulated (and often illegal) artisanal mines in the north of the country, from where it is smuggled into neighbouring China. Accidents at such mines are extremely common, due to the more-or-less total absence of any safety precautions at the site. At many sites this is made worse by the unregulated use of explosives to break up rocks, often leading to the weakening of rock faces, which can then collapse without warning. The majority of people in this industry are migrant workers from the surrounding countryside, not registered with any local authority, which can make it difficult for rescuers to identify victims following such events, or even gain accurate assessments of the number of people likely to have been involved in such accidents.

The incident occurred following several hours of rain in the area associated with the Southeast Asian Southwest Monsoon, which has also caused a series of landslips and flash floods in the area. Landslides are a common problem after severe weather events, as excess pore water pressure can overcome cohesion in soil and sediments, allowing them to flow like liquids. Approximately 90% of all landslides are caused by heavy rainfall. This year's monsoon has been particularly severe, with floods and landslips occurring across Myanmar.

The approximate location of the town of Hpakant. Google Maps.

 Monsoons are tropical sea breezes triggered by heating of the land during the warmer part of the year (summer). Both the land and sea are warmed by the Sun, but the land has a lower ability to absorb heat, radiating it back so that the air above landmasses becomes significantly warmer than that over the sea, causing the air above the land to rise and drawing in water from over the sea; since this has also been warmed it carries a high evaporated water content, and brings with it heavy rainfall. In the tropical dry season the situation is reversed, as the air over the land cools more rapidly with the seasons, leading to warmer air over the sea, and thus breezes moving from the shore to the sea (where air is rising more rapidly) and a drying of the climate.

 Diagrammatic representation of wind and rainfall patterns in a tropical monsoon climate. Geosciences/University of Arizona.

Much of Southeast Asia has two distinct Monsoon Seasons, with a Northeast Monsoon driven by winds from  the South China Sea that lasts from November to February and a Southwest Monsoon driven by winds from the southern Indian Ocean from March to October. Such a double Monsoon Season is common close to the equator, where the Sun is highest overhead around the equinoxes and lowest on the horizons around the solstices, making the solstices the coolest part of the year and the equinoxes the hottest. However Myanmar is largely protected from the Northeast Monsoon by the mountains separating the country from Yunnan Province in China.
 
 The winds that drive the Northeast and Southwest Monsoons in Southeast Asia. Mynewshub.
 
See also...

https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2018/06/thirteeen-people-killed-in-series-of.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2018/01/series-of-landslides-kill-at-least.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/nine-killed-in-landslide-at-myanmar.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/lanslide-at-myanmar-jade-mine-may-have.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/myanmar-jade-mine-struck-by-possible.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/landslide-at-myanmar-jade-mine-kills-at.html
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Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper discovers new volcanic field on Io.

Io is the innermost of the four Galilean Moons of Jupiter (the four large moons discovered by Galileo Galilei in January 1610), and is one of the most distinctive bodies in the Solar System, with a surface dominated by a series of extensive volcanic fields. The volcanism is thought to be caused by tidal forces, as Io is pulled by the gravitational forces of both Jupiter and the other large Galilean Moons, deforming and heating the moon's interior. This has led to a body unlike any other in the Outer Solar System, with no significant ice or hydrocarbon deposits (presumably lost due to the heat of the volcanic activity) and a silicate rock surface surrounding an iron or iron-sulphur core.

The Galilean Moon Io, as imaged by the Galileo Spacecraft in 1995. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/Wikimedia Commons.

In a press statement released on 13 July 2018, scientists from NASA described the discovery of a new volcanic field on Io, close to the moon's South Pole and about 300 km from the nearest previously discovered field. This was revealed in an image of Io taken by the Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper instrument on the Juno Spacecraft during a flyby on 16 December 2018. 

This annotated image highlights the location of the new heat source close to the south pole of Io. The image was generated from data collected on 16 December 2017, by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard NASA's Juno mission when the spacecraft was about 470 000 kilometres from the Jovian moon. The scale to the right of image depicts of the range of temperatures displayed in the infrared image. Higher recorded temperatures are characterised in brighter colours – lower temperatures in darker colours. NASA/JPL/Caltech/Southwest Research Institute/Agenzia Spaziale Italiana/Insituto Nazionale di Astrofisica/Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper .

See also...

https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/09/understanding-satellite-himalia.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/04/ripples-in-rings-of-jupiter.html
https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/juno-spacecraft-to-flyby-earth-on.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2012/03/united-states-geological-survey.html
https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2012/03/are-europas-seas-toxic-and-lifeless.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2011/11/new-study-of-europas-chaos-terrains.html
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Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake off the coast of Tafea Island, Vanuatu.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake at a depth of 169.2 km roughly 2 km southwest of Tafea Island, Vanuatu, slightly after 8.45 pm local time (slightly after 9.45 am GMT) on Friday 13 July 2018. There are no reports of any damage or casualties associated with this event, though people reported feeling it on Shefa and Tanna islands. This is roughly what would be expected with such a deep Earthquake, with the event being felt over a wide area, but little or no damage, as the energy of the quake is dissipated over a wide area before it reaches the surface.

The approximate location of the 13 July 2018 Vanuatu Earthquake. USGS.

Vanuatu is located on the southwestern fringe of the Pacific Plate, close to its boundary with the Australian Plate, which is being subducted along the New Hebrides Trench, to the west of the islands. The subducting Australian Plate passes under the islands of Vanuatu as it sinks into the Earth, causing Earthquakes as the plates stick together then break apart as the pressure builds up. As the plate sinks further it is partially melted by the heat of the friction combined with that of the Earth's interior. Some of the melted material then rises through the overlying Pacific Plate, fueling the volcanoes of Vanuatu.

Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand these events, and the structures that cause them. The international non-profit organisation Earthquake Report is interested in hearing from people who may have felt this event; if you felt this quake then you can report it to Earthquake Report here.

See also...

https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2017/09/island-evacuated-after-volcanic.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/03/at-least-eight-dead-as-cyclone-pam.html
https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/03/eruption-on-mount-ambrym-vanuatu.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/06/magnitude-48-earthquake-off-coast-of.html
https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2013/04/ash-eruption-on-mount-yasur-vanuatu.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2012/10/earthquake-rattles-vanuatu.html
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Friday, 13 July 2018

Queensland man rescued from sinkhole by emergency services.

A Queensland man has had to be rescued by emergency services after becoming trapped in a sinkhole on Urangan Beach in Hervey Bay on Thursday 12 July 2018. The as yet unnamed 29-year-old-man was looking for wildlife in an area of sand dunes, when the ground suddenly collapsed beneath him, trapping him up to his neck in sand. He was trapped for about two hours before managing to attract the attention of two passers by, and for several more while the emergency services worked to free him. Although showing no visible signs of injury, he was taken to the Hervey Bay Hospital to be checked out as a precaution.

Emergency services working to rescue a man trapped by a sinkhole on Hervey Beach, Queensland, on 12 July 2018. News.

Sinkholes are generally caused by water eroding soft limestone or unconsolidated deposits from beneath, causing a hole that works its way upwards and eventually opening spectacularly at the surface. Where there are unconsolidated deposits at the surface they can infill from the sides, apparently swallowing objects at the surface, including people, without trace.

See also...

https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2018/04/queensland-man-dies-after-being-bitten.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2018/03/flooding-as-draught-breaks-in-north.html
https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2017/12/britisg-tourist-attacked-by-crocodile.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2017/10/employees-evacuated-after-ammonia-leak.html
https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2017/09/giant-saltwater-crocodile-shot-in.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2017/03/cyclone-debbie-makes-landfall-in.html
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Landslide kills nine in Manipur, India.

Nine people, including several children, have died in a landslide in Tamenglong District in Manipur State, India, on Tuesday 10 July 2018. The incident happened following several days of heavy rain, associated with the Southwest Monsoon, that have caused a series of floods, landslides and other problems across northeast India. Landslides are are a common problem after severe weather events, as excess pore water pressure can overcome cohesion in soil and sediments, allowing them to flow like liquids. Approximately 90% of all landslides are caused by heavy rainfall. 

The scene of a landslide in Manipur, India, where nine people died on 10 July 2018. News 18 Assam/Twitter.

Monsoons are tropical sea breezes triggered by heating of the land during the warmer part of the year (summer). Both the land and sea are warmed by the Sun, but the land has a lower ability to absorb heat, radiating it back so that the air above landmasses becomes significantly warmer than that over the sea, causing the air above the land to rise and drawing in water from over the sea; since this has also been warmed it carries a high evaporated water content, and brings with it heavy rainfall. In the tropical dry season the situation is reversed, as the air over the land cools more rapidly with the seasons, leading to warmer air over the sea, and thus breezes moving from the shore to the sea (where air is rising more rapidly) and a drying of the climate.

 Diagrammatic representation of wind and rainfall patterns in a tropical monsoon climate. Geosciences/University of Arizona.

Much of Southeast Asia has two distinct Monsoon Seasons, with a Northeast Monsoon driven by winds from  the South China Sea that lasts from November to February and a Southwest Monsoon driven by winds from the southern Indian Ocean from March to October. Such a double Monsoon Season is common close to the equator, where the Sun is highest overhead around the equinoxes and lowest on the horizons around the solstices, making the solstices the coolest part of the year and the equinoxes the hottest. However northeast India is largely protected from the Northeast Monsoon by the mountains to its north and east, though these can also add to the severity of flooding in the region, with melting snow in the Himalayas swelling the rivers that flow through these states.

 The winds that drive the Northeast and Southwest Monsoons in Southeast Asia. Mynewshub.

See also...

https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2018/06/flooding-kills-23-in-northeastern-india.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/01/magnitude-67-earthquake-in-manipur.html
https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/08/death-toll-thought-to-have-exceeded-120.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/mysterious-eruption-in-manipur.html
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