For the fifth straight day, Mount St. Helens let out a burst of steam and ash on Tuesday, similar to the earlier bursts that have risen out of the crater and perhaps larger. \nBut with that exhalation, it suddenly dozed off, and earthquakes that have shaken the area almost continually for two weeks stopped almost entirely. \n"The seismicity dropped off quite dramatically," said Steve Malone, director of the seismology lab at the University of Washington. \nThe earthquakes began Sept. 23, when Mount St. Helens began to revive, and gradually increased in intensity and pace, culminating in an eruption a cloud of steam and ash on Friday, the first eruption since 1986. \nThe earthquakes tailed off briefly, but returned in an hour or two and became stronger. On Saturday, at the peak of seismic unrest, three to four quakes a minute shook St. Helens, with the larger ones, between magnitude 2 and magnitude 3, occurring every couple of minutes. \nAfter Tuesday's steam burst, the larger earthquakes ceased completely, and the smaller ones, almost all smaller than magnitude 1, slowed to a pace of one per minute or two. \nWilliam Steele, another seismologist at the University of Washington, said, "That is an indication perhaps that it's running out of energy. Maybe it's accomplished what it's going to do." \nSo far, St. Helens has done relatively little compared to the months leading up to its cataclysmic 1980 eruption. A large bulge formed on the northern flank, rising 1.5m a day. By May 18, 1980, the bulge had been pushed upward and outward by more than 135m when a magnitude-5.1 earthquake hit, and the bulge collapsed in a landslide. That, in effect, took the lid off the magma underground, and later that day, Mount St. Helens erupted explosively. \nThis time, global positioning system sensors detect no movement on the volcano's outer flanks.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and