Monday, 15 January 2018

Landslide causes car to plunge into ravine in Johol State, Malaysia.

A passenger travelling in a car near the town of Mersing in Johol State, Peninsula Malaysia, on Sunday 14 January 2017 has been injured by a landslide that caused it to plunge into a ravine. The passenger has been identified as Swee Ah Peng, 60, who was one of three people in the vehicle when the road gave way beneath it, causing it to fall 15 m downslope, at about 2.30 pm local time. The incident happened following several days of heavy rain 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.

 The scene of a landslide in Johol State, Malaysia, on 14 January 2017. Bernama.
 
Malaysia 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.
 
 The winds that drive the Northeast and Southwest Monsoons in Southeast Asia. Mynewshub.
 
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.
 
Malaysia has become increasingly landslip-prone in recent years due to extensive deforestation, which leaves soil exposed to heavy tropical rainfall. Concerns have also been raised about the large number of construction sites on steep hillslopes in urban areas, where workers are particularly vulnerable to landslip events during the Monsoon Seasons.
 
See also...
 
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/family-forced-to-evacuate-home-after.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/four-dead-and-ten-missing-following.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/83-year-old-man-dies-after-being-caught.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/landslide-kills-two-bangladeshi-migrant.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/evacuations-after-landslide-in-cameroon.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/landslide-in-serendah-subdistrict.html
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Comet C/2016 A1 (PANSTARRS) makes its closest approach to the Earth.

Comet C/2016 A1 (PANSTARRS) will make its closest approach to the Earth on Wednesday 17 January 2018 reaching a distance of 4.40 AU from the Earth (4.40 times as far from us as the Sun, or 657 785 000 km). At this distance the comet will not be naked eye visible, having a magnitude of 16.37, which means it would require a good telescope to observe it, and then only in the Northern Hemisphere, as it is currently in the constellation of Lynx, which cannot be seen from south of the Equator.
 
Image of C/2016 A1 (PANSTARS) taken on 2 November 2017 from Balen in Belgium. Alfons Diepvens.

C/2016 A1 (PANSTARRS) was discovered on 1 January 2016 by the University of Hawaii's PANSTARRS telescope. The name C/2016 A1 (PANSTARRS) implies that it is a non-periodic comet (C/) (all comets are, strictly speaking, periodic since they all orbit the Sun, but those with periods longer than 200 years are considered to be non-periodic), that it was the first comet (comet 1) discovered in the first half of January 2016 (period 2016 A) and that it was discovered by the PANSTARRS telescope.
 
The orbit and current position of Comet C/2016 A1 (PANSTARRS) . The Sky Live 3D Solar System Simulator.

C/2016 A1  (PANSTARRS) has an unknown orbital period and a highly eccentric orbit tilted at an angle of 121° to the plain of the Solar System, that brings it to 5.33 AU from the Sun at perihelion (533% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, slightly inside the orbit of Jupiter); with its aphelion (distance form the Sun at the furthest point in its orbit) being unknown.
 
See also...
 
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/comet-c2017-t1-heinze-makes-closest.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/comet-c2016-r2-panstarrs-makes-closest.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/asteroid-a2017-u1-passes-earth.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/comet-c2015-v2-johnson-approaches-earth.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/comet-c2015-er61-panstarrs-reaches.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/comet-41ptuttle-giacobini-kresak-passes.html
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Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake off the coast of Arequipa Province, Peru, leaves two dead.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake at a depth of 36.3 km, roughly 40 km offshore of the city of Acari in Arequipa Province, Peru, slightly before 4.20 am local time (slightly before 9.20 am GMT) on Sunday 14 January. This event was felt across much of southern Peru, as well as parts of northern Chile. Two people are reported to have died as a result of this event, one of whom has been described as a 55-year-old man who died in a rock-fall triggered by the Earthquake in the Yauca District of Caravelí Province; no details of the second fatality have been released at this time. The Earthquake is also reported to have destroyed 63 homes across the region, injuring 65 people and making about 130 homeless.

Damaged homes following a Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake off the coast of southern Peru on 14 January 2017. Reuters.

Peru is on the west coast of South America and the western margin of the South American Plate, close to where the Nazca Plate, which underlies part of the east Pacific, is being subducted along the Peru-Chile Trench. The Nazca Plate passes under the South American Plate as it sinks into the Earth, this is not a smooth process and the plates repeatedly stick together then break apart as the pressure builds up, causing Earthquakes. As the Nazca Plate sinks further it is partially melted by the friction and the heat of the Earth's interior. Some of this melted material then rises through the overlying South American Plate, fuelling the volcanoes of Peru and neighbouring countries.

  The subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American Plate, and how it causes Earthquakes and volcanoes. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center.

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.

The approximate location of the 14 January 2017 Arequipa Earthquake. USGS.

See also...

http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/magnitude-56-earthquake-on-peru-equador.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/magnitude-59-earthquake-in-barranca.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/eruption-on-mount-sabancaya.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/magnitude-64-earthquake-in-ucayali.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/magnitude-63-earthquake-in-lampa.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/magnitude-54-earthquake-in-arequipa.html
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Sunday, 14 January 2018

Laccaria squarrosa: A new species of Deceiver from a relict Beech forest in Veracruz State, Mexico.

Deceivers, Laccaria spp., are Mushroom-producing Fungi that form mycorrhizal associations (associations between Fungi and Plants in which the Fungus receives sugars produced by the Plant and the Plant receives nutrients obtained from the soil from the Fungus) with a variety of forest trees. These Fungi are unusual in that they have four mating types (sexes) with each one capable of fertilising any of the others. The common name 'Deceivers' comes from the very variable cap colour of many of these Mushrooms, which makes them hard to identify.

In a paper published in the journal MycoKeys on 27 November 2017, Antero Ramos, Victor Bandala, and Leticia Montoya of the Red Biodiversidad y Sistemática at the Instituto de Ecología, describe a new species of Deceiver from a relict Mexican Beech cloud forest in Veracruz State, Mexico.

The new species is named Laccaria squarrosa, where 'squarrosa' means 'rough' or 'scaley' in reference to the surface covering of the Mushrooms. This species produces small orange or brown mushrooms 10-82 mm in diameter.

Laccaria squarrosa, basidiomes (Mushrooms). Scale bars are 10 mm. Ramos et al. (2017).

See also...

http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/coprinopsis-rugosomagnispora-new.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/gondwanagaricites-magnificus-new.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/unravelling-diversity-of-podaxis-fungi.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/truncospora-wisconsinensis-new-species.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/helvella-sublactea-new-species-of.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/four-new-species-of-mushroom-from.html
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Australopithecus africanus: Does Sterkfontain specimen StW 352 provide evidence for arboreal behaviour?

The Sterkfontein Caves site, part of the wider ‘Cradle of Humankind’ complex in Gauteng State, South Africa, has yielded the largest known collection of specimens assigned to the Plio-Pleistocene Hominin species Australopithecus africanus. The site comprises a series of karstic caves (i.e. caves created by the action of water percolating through soft limestone) that would have been encountered by the Hominins both as cave openings at the surface that could provide potential shelter and as potholes into which they could fall. Specimen StW 352 is an isolated calcaneus (heel bone) from Sterkfontain, which has been dated to about 2.0-2.6 million years ago and attributed to Australopithecus africanus. This specimen shows an unusually large peroneal trochlea, the attachment for two of the main tendons in the foot, which in Apes is associated with arboreal behaviour, giving the foot the ability to grip branches. This has been taken as evidence that Australopithecus africanus may have been an arboreal (tree dwelling) species rather than a plains dweller as is usually envisaged.

In a paper published in the South African Journal of Science on 29 November 2017, Ellison McNutt of the Department of Anthropology and Ecology, Evolution, Ecosystems and Society at Dartmouth College, Alexander Claxton of the Department of Anthropology at Boston University, and Kristian Carlson of the Department of Integrative Anatomical Sciences at the University of Southern California, and the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, re-examine the peroneal trochlea of StW 352, by comparing it to the same structure in Modern Humans and Chimpanzees, and subjecting the specimen and representative samples of its modern relatives to CT scanning.

(Left) Dorsal and (right) plantar views of StW 352. Arrows and dashed lines highlight repaired breaks through the body of the calcaneus and separating the peroneal trochlea from the rest of the calcaneus. Note the lack of continuation of the ‘horizontal’ break through its intersection with the ‘vertical’ break in the illustration. McNutt et al. (2017).

Based upon this re-examination, McNutt et al. conclude that the apparently large peroneal trochlea of StW 352 is in fact the result of taphonomic alteration. The projection appears to have been broken off post mortem, and is attached in a more proximodistal position than was originally the case, being attached by what appears to be cortical bone on the the dorsal and distal sides, with a partial void between it and the main body of the bone in other places. 

(A) and (B) Proximolateral views of StW 352. (A) Image highlighting the location of the peroneal trochlea (PT). (B) Arrows indicate the presence of a gap between the PT and the body of the calcaneus, which suggests that the true position of the PT should be more proximal and plantar than the current reconstructed position. (C) and (D) Lateral views of StW 352. (C) Highlighted outline of matrix infill. Notice how the proximal edge (to the left) may align fairly well with the dorsal edge (to the right), suggesting that these edges may refit if the intervening matrix was removed. (D) Unobstructed view of the splitting and expansion (underneath the star) of the middle of the PT caused by matrix. McNutt et al. (2017).

Further examination of the specimen revealed that this gap appears to be infilled with alien material, which has apparently served to both alter the shape and enlarge the projection, making it seem considerably more prominent that is likely to have originally been the case.

(A) Lateral view of StW 352 with the dotted line indicating the location of the transverse section through the middle of the peroneal trochlea (PT). (B) MicroCT image showing internal structure of the PT. Arrow indicates the area in which evidence of misalignment is best visualised. Note the presence of matrix infill located above the ‘PT’ label. (C) Repeat of image (B) with the shaded area demarking the approximate extent of the matrix infill. McNutt et al. (2017).

Based upon this analysis McNutt et al. conclude that  no evidence of arboreal behaviour in Australopithecus africanus can be derived from StW 352, and the specimen is too distorted for any conclusions about the behaviour of the species to be derived from it.

Landslides kill six in the Philippines.

Six people have died in two separate landslides in the Philippines on Saturday 13 January 2017. Four people died in the city of Tacloban on Leyte Island, when a landslide pushed over a perimeter wall onto a house at abut 9.00 pm local time. The four have been identified as village secretary Inday Hernandez, her husband, one of her children, and Delia Carzon, a 67-year old woman employed by the family as a watchman. It a separate incident two people described as pensioners were killed by a second landslide in Pantar town in Lanao del Norte Province on Mindanao Island.

Rescue teams at the site of the 13 Jabuary 2017 Tacloban landslide. Cristina Gonzalez Romuldez.

The incidents occurred following heavy rains across the Philippines associated with the Northern Monsoon. 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. 
 
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.
 
Southeast Asia has two distinct Monsoon Seasons, with a Northeast Monsoon driven by winds from  the South China Sea during the Southern Hemisphere Summer and a Southwest Monsoon driven by winds from the southern Indian Ocean in the Northern Hemisphere Summer. 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.
 
 The winds that drive the Northeast and Southwest Monsoons in Southeast Asia. Mynewshub.
 
See also...
 
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/evacuations-ordered-after-eruption-on.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/flash-flood-destroys-village-on.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/three-confirmed-dead-as-tropical-storm.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/phreatic-eruptions-on-mount-kanlaon.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/landslides-kills-two-on-luzon-island.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/landslide-kills-man-in-camarines-sur.html
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Saturday, 13 January 2018

Lepidocephalichthys eleios: A new species of Loach from the Lake Indawgyi Basin of Kachin State, Myanmar.

Loach, Corbitidae, are freshwater Cypriniform Fish related to Carp and Minnows, found across Eurasia and in parts of North Africa. They lack scales and are often vermiform (worm) shaped, and are intelligent and highly successful omnivores, capable of feeding on plants, detritus, and a wide range animal prey. The oldest fossil Loach are known from the late Early Oligocene of Shandong Province in China, with Late Oligocene Loach known from Öhningen in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Members of the genus Lepidocephalichthys, are found in slow flowing streams, lakes and marshes across South and Southeast Asia from Pakistan to western Indonesia.

In a paper published in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology on 17 November 2017, Maurice Kottelat of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore, describes a new species of Lepidocephalichthys from the Lake Indawgyi Basin of Kachin State, Myanmar.

The new species is named Lepidocephalichthys eleios, meaning 'dwelling in the marsh'. These are elongate Fish reaching an adult size of 18.1–22.8 mm, and are yellowish grey in colour with darker grey and black markings. The species was found in areas with deep water and slow currents, dense vegetation and including shore plants, floating vegetation and vegetable debris on the floor of the lake.

Lepidocephalichthys eleios, from Nam Phaung Sin Chaung (stream) near Nam Phaung Sin village, in Kachin State, Myanmar. Kottelat (2017).

See also...

http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/nanningocyprinus-wui-carp-loke-fish.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/devario-fangae-devario-myitkyinae-two.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/garra-lorestanensis-new-species-of.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/cobitis-nanningensis-fossil-loach-from.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/a-trematode-flatworm-from-intestines-of.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/a-new-species-of-river-loach-from.html
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