The Big One: New Evidence Shows Massive Earthquake Coming to California

“It’s pretty much impossible to say when the next one will happen,” Sam Howell, a doctoral candidate in geophysics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the lead author of the report, funded by the National Science Foundation, stated. Continue reading

Red tide: Massive, ‘incredibly thick’ toxic algae bloom in Pacific now stretches from California to Alaska

SEATTLE — A vast bloom of toxic algae off the West Coast is denser, more widespread and deeper than scientists feared even weeks ago, according to surveyors aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel.

This coastal ribbon of microscopic algae, up to 64 kilometres wide and 200 metres deep in places, is flourishing amid unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures. It now stretches from at least California to Alaska and has shut down lucrative fisheries. Shellfish managers on Tuesday doubled the area off Washington’s coast that is closed to Dungeness crab fishing, after finding elevated levels of marine toxins in tested crab meat.

So-called “red tides” are cyclical and have happened many times before, but ocean researchers say this one is much larger and persisting much longer, with higher levels of neurotoxins bringing severe consequences for the Pacific seafood industry, coastal tourism and marine ecosystems.

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California oil spill: Aerial images reveal devastation after over 100,000 gallons of oil spills into ocean

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From the air the oil shimmers, dark and sinister. On the ground, it is sticky and foul.

A series of images released by environmental activists have revealed the true crisis confronting a stretch of California coastline after more than 100,000 gallons of oil were leaked into the ocean.

As Governor Jerry Brown issued an emergency proclamation declared to speed the dedication of resources to the area, clean-up teams north of Santa Barbara embarked on a third day of efforts to remove patches of oil.

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Earthquake fault heightens California tsunami threat, experts say

The earthquake fault cuts through the heart of Ventura’s quaint downtown, past the ornate hilltop City Hall and historic Spanish-era mission before heading into the Pacific Ocean.

For decades, some seismic experts believed the Ventura fault posed only a moderate threat and was incapable of producing a major temblor.

But research in recent years shows that the fault is extremely dangerous, capable of producing an earthquake as large as magnitude 8 as well as severe tsunamis that until now experts didn’t believe were possible from a Southern California quake.

Such a big earthquake on the fault estimated to occur every 400 to 2,400 years, experts said. The last sizable quake on the Ventura area hit about 800 years ago. Large temblors occur on this fault less frequently than on the San Andreas fault, which has long been considered the state’s most dangerous. Continue reading

For Drinking Water in Drought, California Looks Warily to Sea

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Every time drought strikes California, the people of this state cannot help noticing the substantial reservoir of untapped water lapping at their shores — 187 quintillion gallons of it, more or less, shimmering so invitingly in the sun.

Now, for the first time, a major California metropolis is on the verge of turning the Pacific Ocean into an everyday source of drinking water. A $1 billion desalination plant to supply booming San Diego County is under construction here and due to open as early as November, providing a major test of whether California cities will be able to resort to the ocean to solve their water woes. Continue reading