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Monday, September 26, 2011

Killer earthquakes on the rise

Killer earthquakes on the rise

The last decade has seen an intensification in earthquake activities. The 2004 Sumatra quake in Indonesia, which registered 9.3 on the Richter scale, has triggered stress in many areas. The Sikkim earthquake could be a manifestation of this stress. Earthquakes, some scientists believe, are on the rise. The earthquake in Fukushima in Japan had a magnitude of 8.9 and was the largest in the recorded history of Japan. The February 2010 Chile earthquake registered a similar magnitude as the Japan quake while the January 2010 quake in Haiti had a magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale. Prof D.K. Paul, an earthquake engineer with IIT Roorkee, believes the pushing of the Indian tectonic plate under the Eurasian plate (at the rate of 5 cm per year) results in stresses which over a period of time, manifest as earthquakes.

“The continents of Eurasia and the Indian sub-continent meet in the north east and the Sikkim region is located close to the fault line. This means tremendous strain is building up ever day,” said Paul. Environmentalists are not willing to buy this explanation in its entirety. Global Disaster Watch believes the Sikkim quake may have been induced by the 35 hydel projects being built across the Teesta river. The central government’s dream is to transform the north-east into ‘India’s future powerhouse’ by building about 168 dams in the region.

While the river Teesta flows in a north-south direction, the Himalayan fault lines lie in the east- west direction. A major fault line is located at Kalijhora (considered the best location to study Himalayan fault lines) and Teesta Low Dam Stage 4 is located at Kalijhora. “The sheer weight of water can trigger a seismic movement,” Paul said. This has happened in the past. In the sixties, a major earthquake in Maharashtra was triggered by the Koyna dam located on the Sahyadri Hills. Though the role of the dams on the River Teesta in the recent quake has yet to be studied, the earthquake could have been induced or accelerated by what scientists describe as ‘dam induced seismicity.’ Globally, there are over 90 identified sites of earthquakes triggered by the filling of water reservoirs.

Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan confirms that “Huge amounts of water standing in earthquake areas can aggravate seismicity. But dams are being built recklessly over the entire Himalayan belt not keeping mind that these mountains are fragile and also seismically vulnerable.”

A committee set up by the West Bengal government studying landslides had warned the West Bengal way back in 2000 against the damming of the Teesta river but these recommendations, were thrown into the dustbin.

The Sikkim earthquake has once again brought to the forefront India’s lack of disaster preparedness. This, despite the fact that India has set up a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), whose primary goal is to get to a calamity zone at the earliest. The Sikkim capital falls in seismic zone 5 and the National Disaster Management Authority had recommended an NDRF unit be stationed in Gangtok.

This suggestion was not followed and so, though, ten NDRF teams took off from Delhi and Calcutta on September 18 night, in an attempt to reach northern Sikkim which was facing the brunt of the destruction, they remained stuck in Siliguri. It was left to the army engineers and the Border Roads Organisation to clear debris from landslides at more than 20 places on the National Highway 31A, Sikkim’s only link with the rest of the country.

Why is India so poorly prepared for earthquakes especially since India has lost 23,000 people to quakes between 1990-2006. Latest technological innovations in safe seismic engineering are not being implemented and even new buildings fail to comply with building codes. Unless buildings are not made earthquake proof with the aid of deep foundations and massive shock absorbers that dampen seismic energy, buildings will remain unsafe.

Japan considered one of the world’s most quake prone countries has strict building codes in place, good engineering and has also ensured that every child is taught to participate in monthly quake drills to teach them how to behave during a quake.

The result is that despite the tsunami and a devastating quake in Fukushima, the Japanese public including school going children were taught to remain calm, wear their helmets and form lines while evacuating even as the buildings around them shook violently. Prof AS Arya, retired from IIT Roorkee and presently a member of the Bihar state Disaster Management Authority pointed out, “Till today, people have not been able to reach the far flung villages of northern Sikkim where people could still be buried under the debris.”

Involved with the massive reconstruction work that took place in Bhuj following the earthquake, Arya believes that the Sikkimese people must be taught to reconstruct their homes using appropriate technologies. There is no dearth of know how including how to construct using safe non-engineered construction.”

Deccan Chronicle
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Full transcript of Netanyahu speech at UN General Assembly

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.

Netanyahu speech United Nations UN General Assembly
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressesing the 66th UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 23, 2011.
Photo by: Reuters

Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, innovators, apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland -- it was then that this was braided -- branded, rather -- shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn't praised; it was denounced! And it's here year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It's singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel -- the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Well, this is an unfortunate part of the UN institution. It's the -- the theater of the absurd. It doesn't only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles: Gadhafi's Libya chaired the UN Commission on Human Rights; Saddam's Iraq headed the UN Committee on Disarmament.

You might say: That's the past. Well, here's what's happening now -- right now, today. Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the UN Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world's security.

You couldn't make this thing up.

So here in the UN, automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun sets in the west or rises in the west. I think the first has already been pre-ordained. But they can also decide -- they have decided that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.

And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me -- and ladies and gentlemen, I don't want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here. But here's what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you'll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel's prime minister, I didn't come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. (Cheers, applause.) The truth is -- the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn't let that happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, when I first came here 27 years ago, the world was divided between East and West. Since then the Cold War ended, great civilizations have risen from centuries of slumber, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, countless more are poised to follow, and the remarkable thing is that so far this monumental historic shift has largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now growing between East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy.

That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On September 11th it killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in smoldering ruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving. But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous words of the president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was an American conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have. (Applause.)

Since 9/11, militant Islamists slaughtered countless other innocents -- in London and Madrid, in Baghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in every part of Israel. I believe that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism will arm itself with nuclear weapons. And this is precisely what Iran is trying to do.

Can you imagine that man who ranted here yesterday -- can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons? The international community must stop Iran before it's too late. If Iran is not stopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Spring could soon become an Iranian winter. That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty, and no one would benefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.

This is my fervent hope. But as the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to be. We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present.

And the world around Israel is definitely becoming more dangerous. Militant Islam has already taken over Lebanon and Gaza. It's determined to tear apart the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan. It's poisoned many Arab minds against Jews and Israel, against America and the West. It opposes not the policies of Israel but the existence of Israel.

Now, some argue that the spread of militant Islam, especially in these turbulent times -- if you want to slow it down, they argue, Israel must hurry to make concessions, to make territorial compromises. And this theory sounds simple. Basically it goes like this: Leave the territory, and peace will be advanced. The moderates will be strengthened, the radicals will be kept at bay. And don't worry about the pesky details of how Israel will actually defend itself; international troops will do the job.

These people say to me constantly: Just make a sweeping offer, and everything will work out. You know, there's only one problem with that theory. We've tried it and it hasn't worked. In 2000 Israel made a sweeping peace offer that met virtually all of the Palestinian demands. Arafat rejected it. The Palestinians then launched a terror attack that claimed a thousand Israeli lives.

Prime Minister Olmert afterwards made an even more sweeping offer, in 2008. President Abbas didn't even respond to it.

But Israel did more than just make sweeping offers. We actually left territory. We withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from every square inch of Gaza in 2005. That didn't calm the Islamic storm, the militant Islamic storm that threatens us. It only brought the storm closer and make it stronger.

Hezbollah and Hamas fired thousands of rockets against our cities from the very territories we vacated. See, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza, the moderates didn't defeat the radicals, the moderates were devoured by the radicals. And I regret to say that international troops like UNIFIL in Lebanon and UBAM (ph) in Gaza didn't stop the radicals from attacking Israel.

We left Gaza hoping for peace.

We didn't freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements.

And I don't think people remember how far we went to achieve this. We uprooted thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of -- out of their schools and their kindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even -- we even moved loved ones from their graves. And then, having done all that, we gave the keys of Gaza to President Abbas.

Now the theory says it should all work out, and President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority now could build a peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire world applauded. They applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship. It was a bold act of peace.

But ladies and gentlemen, we didn't get peace. We got war. We got Iran, which through its proxy Hamas promptly kicked out the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority collapsed in a day -- in one day.

President Abbas just said on this podium that the Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams. Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from elsewhere.

Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities. So you might understand that, given all this, Israelis rightly ask: What's to prevent this from happening again in the West Bank? See, most of our major cities in the south of the country are within a few dozen kilometers from Gaza. But in the center of the country, opposite the West Bank, our cities are a few hundred meters or at most a few kilometers away from the edge of the West Bank.

So I want to ask you. Would any of you -- would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, to your families? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens? Israel is prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we're not prepared to have another Gaza there. And that's why we need to have real security arrangements, which the Palestinians simply refuse to negotiate with us.

Israelis remember the bitter lessons of Gaza. Many of Israel's critics ignore them. They irresponsibly advise Israel to go down this same perilous path again. Your read what these people say and it's as if nothing happened -- just repeating the same advice, the same formulas as though none of this happened.

And these critics continue to press Israel to make far-reaching concessions without first assuring Israel's security. They praise those who unwittingly feed the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast as enemies of peace those of us who insist that we must first erect a sturdy barrier to keep the crocodile out, or at the very least jam an iron bar between its gaping jaws.

So in the face of the labels and the libels, Israel must heed better advice. Better a bad press than a good eulogy, and better still would be a fair press whose sense of history extends beyond breakfast, and which recognizes Israel's legitimate security concerns.

I believe that in serious peace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly addressed, but they will not be addressed without negotiations. And the needs are many, because Israel is such a tiny country. Without Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, Israel is all of 9 miles wide.

I want to put it for you in perspective, because you're all in the city. That's about two-thirds the length of Manhattan. It's the distance between Battery Park and Columbia University. And don't forget that the people who live in Brooklyn and New Jersey are considerably nicer than some of Israel's neighbors.

So how do you -- how do you protect such a tiny country, surrounded by people sworn to its destruction and armed to the teeth by Iran? Obviously you can't defend it from within that narrow space alone. Israel needs greater strategic depth, and that's exactly why Security Council Resolution 242 didn't require Israel to leave all the territories it captured in the Six-Day War. It talked about withdrawal from territories, to secure and defensible boundaries. And to defend itself, Israel must therefore maintain a long-term Israeli military presence in critical strategic areas in the West Bank.

I explained this to President Abbas. He answered that if a Palestinian state was to be a sovereign country, it could never accept such arrangements. Why not? America has had troops in Japan, Germany and South Korea for more than a half a century. Britain has had an airspace in Cyprus or rather an air base in Cyprus. France has forces in three independent African nations. None of these states claim that they're not sovereign countries.

And there are many other vital security issues that also must be addressed. Take the issue of airspace. Again, Israel's small dimensions create huge security problems. America can be crossed by jet airplane in six hours. To fly across Israel, it takes three minutes. So is Israel's tiny airspace to be chopped in half and given to a Palestinian state not at peace with Israel?

Our major international airport is a few kilometers away from the West Bank. Without peace, will our planes become targets for antiaircraft missiles placed in the adjacent Palestinian state? And how will we stop the smuggling into the West Bank? It's not merely the West Bank, it's the West Bank mountains. It just dominates the coastal plain where most of Israel's population sits below. How could we prevent the smuggling into these mountains of those missiles that could be fired on our cities?

I bring up these problems because they're not theoretical problems. They're very real. And for Israelis, they're life-and- death matters. All these potential cracks in Israel's security have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state is declared, not afterwards, because if you leave it afterwards, they won't be sealed. And these problems will explode in our face and explode the peace.

The Palestinians should first make peace with Israel and then get their state. But I also want to tell you this. After such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. We will be the first. (Applause.)

And there's one more thing. Hamas has been violating international law by holding our soldier Gilad Shalit captive for five years.

They haven't given even one Red Cross visit. He's held in a dungeon, in darkness, against all international norms. Gilad Shalit is the son of Aviva and Noam Shalit. He is the grandson of Zvi Shalit, who escaped the Holocaust by coming to the -- in the 1930s as a boy to the land of Israel. Gilad Shalit is the son of every Israeli family. Every nation represented here should demand his immediate release. (Applause.) If you want to -- if you want to pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that's the resolution you should pass. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, last year in Israel in Bar-Ilan University, this year in the Knesset and in the U.S. Congress, I laid out my vision for peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state. Yes, the Jewish state. After all, this is the body that recognized the Jewish state 64 years ago. Now, don't you think it's about time that Palestinians did the same?

The Jewish state of Israel will always protect the rights of all its minorities, including the more than 1 million Arab citizens of Israel. I wish I could say the same thing about a future Palestinian state, for as Palestinian officials made clear the other day -- in fact, I think they made it right here in New York -- they said the Palestinian state won't allow any Jews in it. They'll be Jew-free -- Judenrein. That's ethnic cleansing. There are laws today in Ramallah that make the selling of land to Jews punishable by death. That's racism. And you know which laws this evokes.

Israel has no intention whatsoever to change the democratic character of our state. We just don't want the Palestinians to try to change the Jewish character of our state. (Applause.) We want to give up -- we want them to give up the fantasy of flooding Israel with millions of Palestinians.

President Abbas just stood here, and he said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the settlements. Well, that's odd. Our conflict has been raging for -- was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then the -- I guess that the settlements he's talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be'er Sheva. Maybe that's what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn't say from 1967; he said from 1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict. (Applause.)

The settlements have to be -- it's an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course of negotiations. But the core of the conflict has always been and unfortunately remains the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any border.

I think it's time that the Palestinian leadership recognizes what every serious international leader has recognized, from Lord Balfour and Lloyd George in 1917, to President Truman in 1948, to President Obama just two days ago right here: Israel is the Jewish state. (Applause.)

President Abbas, stop walking around this issue. Recognize the Jewish state, and make peace with us. In such a genuine peace, Israel is prepared to make painful compromises. We believe that the Palestinians should be neither the citizens of Israel nor its subjects. They should live in a free state of their own. But they should be ready, like us, for compromise. And we will know that they're ready for compromise and for peace when they start taking Israel's security requirements seriously and when they stop denying our historical connection to our ancient homeland.

I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That's like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why we're called "Jews"? Because we come from Judea.

In my office in Jerusalem, there's a -- there's an ancient seal. It's a signet ring of a Jewish official from the time of the Bible. The seal was found right next to the Western Wall, and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King Hezekiah. Now, there's a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew. His name was Netanyahu. That's my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back a thousand years earlier to Benjamin -- Binyamin -- the son of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Sumeria 4,000 years ago, and there's been a continuous Jewish presence in the land ever since.

And for those Jews who were exiled from our land, they never stopped dreaming of coming back: Jews in Spain, on the eve of their expulsion; Jews in the Ukraine, fleeing the pogroms; Jews fighting the Warsaw Ghetto, as the Nazis were circling around it. They never stopped praying, they never stopped yearning. They whispered: Next year in Jerusalem. Next year in the promised land.

As the prime minister of Israel, I speak for a hundred generations of Jews who were dispersed throughout the lands, who suffered every evil under the Sun, but who never gave up hope of restoring their national life in the one and only Jewish state.

Ladies and gentlemen, I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace. I've worked hard to advance that peace. The day I came into office, I called for direct negotiations without preconditions. President Abbas didn't respond. I outlined a vision of peace of two states for two peoples. He still didn't respond. I removed hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, to ease freedom of movement in the Palestinian areas; this facilitated a fantastic growth in the Palestinian economy. But again -- no response. I took the unprecedented step of freezing new buildings in the settlements for 10 months. No prime minister did that before, ever. (Scattered applause.) Once again -- you applaud, but there was no response. No response.

In the last few weeks, American officials have put forward ideas to restart peace talks. There were things in those ideas about borders that I didn't like. There were things there about the Jewish state that I'm sure the Palestinians didn't like.

But with all my reservations, I was willing to move forward on these American ideas.

President Abbas, why don't you join me? We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let's just get on with it. Let's negotiate peace.

I spent years defending Israel on the battlefield. I spent decades defending Israel in the court of public opinion. President Abbas, you've dedicated your life to advancing the Palestinian cause. Must this conflict continue for generations, or will we enable our children and our grandchildren to speak in years ahead of how we found a way to end it? That's what we should aim for, and that's what I believe we can achieve.

In two and a half years, we met in Jerusalem only once, even though my door has always been open to you. If you wish, I'll come to Ramallah. Actually, I have a better suggestion. We've both just flown thousands of miles to New York. Now we're in the same city. We're in the same building. So let's meet here today in the United Nations. Who's there to stop us? What is there to stop us? If we genuinely want peace, what is there to stop us from meeting today and beginning peace negotiations?

And I suggest we talk openly and honestly. Let's listen to one another. Let's do as we say in the Middle East: Let's talk "doogri". That means straightforward. I'll tell you my needs and concerns. You'll tell me yours. And with God's help, we'll find the common ground of peace.

There's an old Arab saying that you cannot applaud with one hand. Well, the same is true of peace. I cannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you. President Abbas, I extend my hand -- the hand of Israel -- in peace. I hope that you will grasp that hand. We are both the sons of Abraham. My people call him Avraham. Your people call him Ibrahim. We share the same patriarch. We dwell in the same land. Our destinies are intertwined. Let us realize the vision of Isaiah -- (speaks in Hebrew) -- "The people who walk in darkness will see a great light." Let that light be the light of peace.

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Canary Islands Government Raises El Hierro Volcanic Risk Level

By MARK DUNPHY - Mon Sep 26, 12:42 pm

El Hierro (circled) in The Canary Islands. Google Earth
El Hierro (circled) in The Canary Islands. Google Earth
The Canary Islands Government has raised the alert level for the El Hierro volcano in the Canary Islands (Spain) to ‘Yellow’, the highest alert status since an unprecedented earthquake swarm commenced in mid-July.
Spanish seismologists, accompanied by the President of the Cabildo de El Hierro and the Minister of Security and Emergency Area, held a press conference on Sunday to reassure the 10,000 residents of the smallest of the Canary Islands that the raising of the alert level does not indicate that an eruption is imminent. They indicated, however, that the number of volcanic earthquakes detected beneath El Hierro continues to increase.
Hierro, a shield volcano, has had a single historic eruption from the Volcan de Lomo Negro vent in 1793. The eruption lasted approximately one month and produced lava flows.
The Canary Islands Government commenced an in-depth geological survey of El Hierro earlier this month in an effort to determine the source of an earthquake swarm.
The unprecedented seismic activity commenced on 19 July (the activity was first reported by iWeather Online on 26 July). In excess of 6,750 earthquakes have been recorded up to Monday, 26 September 2011. More than 50 earthquakes were recorded between midnight and 6:00 a.m. GMT on Monday alone.  The earth tremors have ranged between 1 and 3 magnitude, the National Geographic Institute (IGN) reported.
The vast majority of the tremors have been recorded in the northwest of the 278.5-square-kilometre island at El Golfo, the location of a massive landslide that created a 100-metre high tsunami almost 50,000 years ago.
Speaking to the El Pais newspaper during the weekend, volcanologist Juan Carlos Carracedo suggested that an eruption on El Hierro would “not be a major surprise”.
He explained: “It is the youngest of the Canary Islands. There is a ball of magma which is rising to the surface and it is stationed at the limit of the earth’s crust. At the moment we do not know if that ball of magna will break the crust and cause an eruption.”

Earthquake Swarms

Earthquake swarms are events where a local area experiences sequences of many earthquakes striking in a relatively short period of time. The length of time used to define the swarm itself varies, but the United States Geological Survey (USGS) points out that an event may last for days, weeks, or months.

Latest seismic activity on El Hierro

 4-D Plot Of El Hierro Earthquakes July-September 2011

El Hierro’s Volcanic/Seismic Past

El Hierro is situated in the most southwestern extreme of the Canaries.  The  island was formed after three successive eruptions, and consequent accumulations, the island emerged from the ocean as an imposing triangular pyramid crowned by a volcano more than 2,000 metres high.
The volcanic activity, principally at the convergence of the three ridges, resulted in the continual expansion of the island. A mere 50,000 years ago, as a result of seismic tremors which produced massive landslides, a giant piece of the island cracked off, crashed down into the ocean and scattered along the seabed. This landslide of more than 300km3 gave rise to the impressive amphitheatre of the El Golfo valley and at the same time caused a tsunami that most likely rose over 100 metres high and probably reached as far as the American coast.
According to the Global Volcanism Program, the massive Hierro shield volcano is truncated by a large NW-facing escarpment, seen here from the east, which formed as a result of gravitational collapse of the volcano. The steep-sided 1500-m-high scarp towers above a low lava platform bordering 12-km-wide El Golfo Bay, which is barely visible at the extreme left. Holocene cones and flows are found both on the outer flanks and in the El Golfo depression. The last eruption, during the 18th century, produced a lava flow from a cinder cone on the NW side of El Golfo.
El Golfo, El Hierro, The Canary Islands (Spain)
El Golfo, El Hierro, The Canary Islands (Spain)
According to ElHierro.com: “Although over 200 years have elapsed since the last eruption, El Hierro has the largest number of volcanoes in the Canaries with over 500 open sky cones, another 300 covered by the most recent outflows, and some 70 caves and volcanic galleries, notably the Don Justo cave whose collection of channels surpasses 6km in length.”
El Hierro is located south of Isla de la Palma (population 86,000), currently the most volcanically active of the Canary Islands.  About a half a million years ago, the volcano, Taburiente, collapsed with a giant landslide, forming the Caldera de Taburiente. Since the Spanish occupation, there have been seven eruptions.
Taburiente, La Palma, marked on Google Earth
Taburiente, La Palma, marked on Google Earth
Caldera de Taburiente. Image wiki
Caldera de Taburiente. Image wiki
In a BBC Horizon programme broadcast on October 12, 2000, two geologists (Day and McGuire)  hypothesised that during a future eruption, the western flank of the Cumbre Vieja, with a mass of approximately 1.5 x1015 kg, could slide into the ocean. This could then potentially generate a giant wave which they termed a “megatsunami” around 650–900 m high in the region of the islands. The wave would radiate out across the Atlantic and inundate the eastern seaboard of North America including the American, the Caribbean and northern coasts of South America some six to eight hours later. They estimate that the tsunami will have waves possibly 160 ft (49 m) or more high causing massive devastation along the coastlines. Modelling suggests that the tsunami could inundate up to 25 km (16 mi) inland – depending upon topography.

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'There's no secret plan': France bank chief denies £1.7trillion backroom deal to save the eurozone

The head of the Bank of France has denied rumours of a shady backroom deal to save the eurozone and allow Greece to default on it's debts.

Yesterday Chancellor George Osbourne was forced to issue a hastily drafted statement after a highly placed British Treasury official outlined behind-the-scenes moves allowing a Greek default.

The audacious plan would involve Europe’s banks being recapitalised with tens of billions of euros to reassure the markets.

Now Christian Noyer, chief of France's central Bank has said French banks are solid and there is no plan to recapitalise.

He told French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche: 'They are very solid.

'They have a solid capital base, comparable to other European banks and they are profitable... None of them are hiding any toxic assets.'

Asked to comment on reports about a plan to recapitalise French banks, he said: 'There is no plan, and we don’t need one.'

During an informal briefing at a restaurant in Washington – where the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are devising strategies to cope with the financial crisis – the treasury official admitted that Greece’s creditors would lose half of their money, dealing a potentially devastating blow to the global economy.

But after accounts of the briefing flashed around the world, Mr Osborne was forced to say: ‘No one here has put forward a plan for that. Greece has got a programme and needs to implement it. However, it is also clear that the eurozone needs to deal with its own issues.

‘There’s a recognition here that the global debt crisis has entered a dangerous phase, but I am also optimistic we have made steps towards resolving it.'

Although Ministers are officially still insisting publicly that the country should honour its obligations, behind closed doors, the G20 has agreed Greece will never be able to repay its staggering £350billion of government debt.

Mass protest: Police stand guard as students and teachers demonstrate in front of the Greek parliament on Thursday

Preparations are now well-advanced for a ‘managed default’ under which Athens will receive additional aid from eurozone countries of about £5billion to help pay its bills for another few months.

The extra cash should also stop the problem spreading to other debt-laden eurozone economies such as Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Announcement: Chancellor George Osborne insists Greece does have a recovery plan and must carry it out

If Greece was allowed to go bust immediately – with no extra cash – the markets would then turn on those other economies.

During the period the £5billion will buy, the European Union and America will attempt to put together a war chest of up to £2trillion.

As one senior source at the talks said: ‘We need time to put together the firepower to defend other eurozone countries. After that, Greek debt will probably be written down by about 50 per cent.’

It means investors holding Greek bonds would lose half their money at a stroke.

A Greek default would potentially lead to the country leaving the euro and even cause the collapse of the entire single currency project.

The panic started after a dinner at The Palm steakhouse, on Friday evening, during which financial journalists dined with G20 officials.

Yesterday morning, a Breaking News banner flashing on Sky News that ‘G20 ministers were preparing for a Greek default’, sent the Treasury into a panic, with one aide flatly denying to The Mail on Sunday that any such plan had been discussed.

Within an hour, the officials had admitted that ‘such scenarios had been aired behind the scenes’.

Mr Osborne then issued his statement in a swiftly arranged television interview in which he stressed that ‘no plan had been put forward’.

France under President Sarkozy and Germany under Chanceller Merkel are said to have devised a £1.7 trillion plan to save the eurozone

Under the behind-closed-doors strategy, being driven by the Germans and French, the ‘firebreak’ being built around Greece would also be extended to Portugal and Ireland to prevent the crisis from spreading to Italy and Spain.

Europe’s banks would also have to be recapitalised with tens of billions of euros to reassure the markets.

In return, the Germans are understood to be demanding that the private sector creditors of Greece would bear a loss of as much as 50 per cent – more than double the 21 per cent proposal currently on the table.

Officials hope the plan would stem the panic in the markets.

Th U.K. would contribute through its membership of the IMF meaning it would cost British taxpayers considerably more than the £1bn agreed under the last bail-out plan.

Britain’s banks have only limited exposure to Greece, but would face bigger writedowns if Ireland were also to default.

But Christian Noyer, head of the Bank of France denied there are no plans to recapitalise French banks saying they can cope with Greek debt.

An uncontrolled Irish default could be highly damaging across Europe.

Gerard Lyons, chief economist at international bank Standard Chartered, said: ‘If they can raise a fund big enough to fight contagion to other countries, then a Greek default could be the best of a bad job.

But it would need to be a big fund, perhaps £2trillion.’

Recent debt defaults include Russia in 1998 and Argentina in 2001, but Greece will be the first developed nation to go bust in recent times and the first default ever by a member of the European Union.

Elsewhere at the occasionally tetchy IMF meeting, Mr Osborne demanded that heavily indebted countries follow Britain’s lead and ‘put in place credible plans’ to slash their borrowings.

Treasury officials are on tenterhooks to see how investors will react to the IMF meeting when markets re-open tomorrow.

One senior City investment manager said: ‘We are treading on ever-thinner ice and I can hear it cracking.’
Definitely on the cards... and it could help


Financial markets have long regarded a default by Greece as the most likely outcome of the current crisis. A recent research note by analysts at American investment bank Citigroup suggested the chances of Greece avoiding a default were just five per cent.

But if that default can be managed in a controlled way – and be accompanied by unequivocal steps to stop the crisis spreading further or to only a limited number of other eurozone states – then it could actually help stabilise markets by bringing the uncertainty to an end.

The best outcome, according to analysts, would be a controlled default in this way.

Shocking: IMF chief Christine Lagarde has caused concern among some politicians by saying some banks need more capital

Citigroup’s analysis, released ten days ago, suggests an orderly default could be allowed to include not just Greece but also Portugal and Ireland.

For it to be orderly for financial markets it would also have to be clear that none of the countries was going to leave the eurozone.

For it to be orderly for financial markets it would also have to be clear that none of the countries was going to leave the eurozone.

It would be crucial in such a controlled crash to ensure that support measures were in place to stop the default sparking a series of knock-on crises in larger states such as Spain or Italy, and in the banking system. In their note, Citigroup’s analysts commented: ‘Default is the most likely in our view but how orderly?

This will be dependent on the size and scope of the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), European Central Bank (ECB) action and availability of money to recapitalise banks that are potentially made insolvent by default.’

If the authorities can convince markets that the European Financial Stability Fund will be large enough to cope with any knock-on effects, then an approved default by Greece or even one or two other smaller eurozone nations could bring more stability.

The safety measures will, however, have to be huge to be sufficiently convincing.

The EFSF will also have to have a remit capable of stemming the spread of crisis. As well as being large enough to provide bail-outs for other eurozone countries, it may also have to be ready to provide capital to banks which are hit by major losses from those defaults – a step beyond anything yet carried out by the fund.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde recently shocked some eurozone politicians by saying that Europe’s banks would need more capital.

With that concern already voiced by such a senior figure, it would be essential that capital was clearly available in the EFSF if a Greek default is to be allowed in a controlled manner.

Citigroup’s analysis was also unequivocal about the risks if a Greek default turns into a disorderly rout, which they said would lead to a ‘severe’ banking crisis.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2041522/Bank-France-chief-denies-1-7trillion-backroom-deal-save-eurozone.html#ixzz1Z457ClWi

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IMF may need billions in extra funding, says Lagarde

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde addresses a press conference, in New Delhi, India,
Christine Lagarde said the money available to the organisation “pales in comparison to the potential financing needs of vulnerable countries”.
In the wake of the global credit crisis, the funding of the IMF tripled and Britain’s exposure to it rose to £20 billion. This figure is poised to rise again if financial troubles engulf bigger economies such as Italy and Spain.

Yesterday, Alistair Darling, the former Labour chancellor who was in office during the previous crisis in 2008, warned that the problems facing the global economy were worse than three years ago.

“There are lessons to be learnt, and they are not being learnt by those responsible at the moment,” he said. “Lehmans [the investment bank that collapsed in September 2008] taught us one thing which is if you know there is a problem, take action, sort it out [in a way] that is more decisive than people expect if you are going to stop it.

“The problem with the Greek crisis is that it has been allowed to run on and on and on.”

This week could prove crucial in the attempts by European leaders to get a grip on the Greek economic crisis, and financial markets are braced for another turbulent few days. Germany and Greece will have detailed negotiations over an emergency rescue package for the Mediterranean country before a German vote on Thursday to approve a new eurozone bail-out plan. There is growing German anger at helping southern Europe, which will effectively involve taxpayers underwriting other countries’ debts unless they agree to sweeping reforms.

Greece may be allowed to go bankrupt and write off some of its debts with other loans restructured and guaranteed by a eurozone bail-out fund. Banks in several countries, including France, may also be recapitalised, although the French central bank chief insisted yesterday that taxpayers’ money would not be used.

In total, the scheme could cost up to £2 trillion, and the IMF is also expected to be involved. During talks in Washington, Mrs Lagarde warned that the IMF may need to extend it $400 billion war chest.

“The fund’s credibility, and hence effectiveness, rests on its perceived capacity to cope with worst-case scenarios,” Mrs Lagarde said in an “action plan” circulated to IMF executives. She added that lending capacity “looks comfortable today but pales in comparison with the potential financing needs of vulnerable countries and crisis bystanders”.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, has managed to keep Britain from contributing to future eurozone bail-outs, but the Government is likely to agree to any request to increase IMF funds.

The Chancellor returned from Washington over the weekend after setting a six-week deadline for European leaders to tackle the crisis.

In an interview yesterday with the American ABC television network, David Cameron said that public spending cuts would not be watered down.

“The British economy has grown this year,” the Prime Minister said. “If we hadn’t got on top of our deficit and shown the world we have a plan to make our economy pay properly for itself, then we would have seen interest rates go up and confidence sapped out of our economy.

“We have to understand this is a debt crisis, it’s not a traditional cyclical recession where you can just turn on the money tap. We’ve got to deal with the debts, we’ve got to show the world we can pay for our debts.”

The Telegraph

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