ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be WaitingBy MARGO NASH Published: March 25, 2001Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.Q. What have you found?A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault? A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement.There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.MARGO NASH
UNITED NATIONS — The United States is urging countries that have ratified a U.N. treaty to ban nuclear weapons to withdraw their support as the pact nears the 50 ratifications needed to trigger its entry into force, which supporters say could happen this week.
The U.S. letter to signatories, obtained by the Associated Press, says the five original nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — and America’s NATO allies “stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions” of the treaty.
It says the treaty “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament and is dangerous” to the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of global nonproliferation efforts.
“Although we recognize your sovereign right to ratify or accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), we believe that you have made a strategic error and should withdraw your instrument of ratification or accession,” the letter says.
The treaty requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances … develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices — and the threat to use such weapons — and requires parties to promote the treaty to other countries.
Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the nuclear ban treaty, told The Associated Press Tuesday that several diplomatic sources confirmed that they and other states that ratified the TPNW had been sent letters by the U.S. requesting their withdrawal.
She said the “increasing nervousness, and maybe straightforward panic, with some of the nuclear-armed states and particularly the Trump administration” shows that they “really seem to understand that this is a reality: Nuclear weapons are going to be banned under international law soon.”
Fihn dismissed the nuclear powers’ claim that the treaty interferes with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as “straightforward lies, to be frank.”
“They have no actual argument to back that up,” she said. “The Nonproliferation Treaty is about preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminating nuclear weapons, and this treaty implements that. There’s no way you can undermine the Nonproliferation Treaty by banning nuclear weapons. It’s the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.”
The NPT sought to prevent the spread of nuclear arms beyond the five original weapons powers. It requires non-nuclear signatory nations to not pursue atomic weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five powers to move toward nuclear disarmament and to guarantee non-nuclear states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology for producing energy.
“That the Trump administration is pressuring countries to withdraw from a United Nations-backed disarmament treaty is an unprecedented action in international relations,” Fihn said. “That the U.S. goes so far as insisting countries violate their treaty obligations by not promoting the TPNW to other states shows how fearful they are of the treaty’s impact and growing support.”
The treaty was approved by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on July 7, 2017 by a vote of 122 in favor, the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining. Among countries voting in favor was Iran. The five nuclear powers and four other countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — boycotted negotiations and the vote on the treaty, along with many of their allies.
The treaty currently has 47 ratifications and needs 50 ratifications to trigger its entry into force in 90 days.
Fihn said there are about 10 countries that are trying very hard to ratify to get to 50, “and we know that there are a few governments that are working towards Friday as the date. … We’re not 100 percent it will happen, but hopefully it will.”
Friday has been an unofficial target because it is the eve of United Nations Day on Oct. 24 which marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the U.N. Charter. The day has been observed since 1948 and this year is the 75th anniversary of the founding of the U.N.
Fihn stressed that the entry into force of the treaty will be “a really big deal” because it will become part of international law and will be raised in discussions on disarmament, war crimes and weapons.
“And I think that over time pressure will grow on the nuclear-armed states to join the treaty,” she said.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
Report: Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons
Two reports on different websites indicate that Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons despite the sanctions and the various intelligence efforts to thwart the program. It’s not a surprise
Ami Rojkes Dombe | 20/10/2020
The website of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the Iranian opposition, has published the location of sites belonging to the nuclear weapon development program in Iran. “SPND has continued its work following the JCPOA. The structure and the personnel of SPND remain intact and part of the institution has been expanded,” said Alireza Jaffarzadeh, deputy director of the NCRI U.S. Office, at a briefing. The added that Brig. Gen. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi continues to be head of the SPND.
The report disclosed the site located in Sorkh-e Hesar near Tehran. The site is located north of the Khojir missile development facility. “Around 2017, some sections of various groups of SPND, including the geophysics, known at the Chamran Group gradually moved in, as the construction of other sections of the site were later completed,” said Jaffarzadeh. “Moreover, by being located in a military area, it has found an appropriate cover to keep commutes by, and the identities of, the personnel working there a secret.”
According to information of the Iranian opposition, the head of the geophysics group is Dr. Mohammad Javad Zaker, a lecturer at Beheshti university, and he has a deputy named Hamed Aber. “Geophysics group of the SPND works on projects related to underground nuclear tests such as discovery of underground tunnel and registration of the impact of explosion,” said Jaffarzadeh.
The second SPND site presented by the Iranian opposition, called the Marivan Site, is located near the town of Abadeh in Isfahan province. The site was reported by NCRI for the first time in 2017. “What we have found out is that this site and the area surrounding it is completely controlled by the IRGC. Locals are not allowed in the area,” said Jaffarzadeh.
This site is connected to the operations of the “Center for Research and Expansion of Technologies on Explosions and Impact (METFAZ),” a subsidiary of SPND involved in the building of nuclear weapons. An IRGC engineer named Hashemi Tabar oversees the secret projects being carried out at the site.
This report follows one at the beginning of the month on the website of the ISIS research institute (also based on information from the Iranian nuclear archive) claiming that Iran is building a new centrifuge assembly facility in Natanz, a replacement for the one that blew up at the end of June in an operation attributed to the Israeli Mossad.
“While highly useful as part of an effort to make nuclear weapons, Iran’s advanced centrifuge will remain uneconomic, compared to buying enriched uranium overseas, and an on-going threat to the international and regional communities. If Iran’s true goal is the development of a large-scale civilian nuclear power program, it would be far more likely to succeed if it abandoned its domestic centrifuge program, starting with not building a new advanced centrifuge assembly center,” the ISIS report concludes.
Russia and the United States on Tuesday were edging closer to breaking an impasse in long-running talks aimed at extending a landmark nuclear arms deal, due to expire within months. US officials said they were ready to meet Russian diplomats as soon as possible, shortly after Moscow stated it could compromise on an American demand.
The two sides have struggled to find common ground over the fate over the New START treaty, which limits both sides to 1,550 deployed warheads but is due to expire next February.
While the US wants to rework the deal to include China and cover new kinds of weapons, Russia is willing to extend the agreement for five years without any new conditions — and each side has repeatedly shot down the other’s proposals. The agreement was signed in 2010 at the peak of hopes for a “reset” in relations between the two countries.
Together with the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, it was considered a centrepiece of international arms control. However, the United States withdrew from the INF last year after accusing Moscow of violations.
As recently as last week, the US seemed unwilling to compromise on New START — officials dismissing a proposal from Russian President Vladimir Putin to extend the deal for a year without restricting new weapons development as a “non-starter”.
But with US President Donald Trump trailing in polls for next month’s election, his administration has indicated it would support preserving the treaty.
And Russia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday signalled a willingness to compromise, saying it would agree to a US demand for a one-year freeze on developing weapons.
“We appreciate the Russian Federation’s willingness to make progress on the issue of nuclear arms control,” state department spokeswoman Morgan Ortgaus said. “The United States is prepared to meet immediately to finalise a verifiable agreement. We expect Russia to empower its diplomats to do the same.”
Over the course of months of talks, Washington had demanded that tactical nuclear weapons be covered by the treaty and insisted China must be included — even though Beijing had shown no interest. But Russia is believed to hold a bigger, more varied arsenal of tactical weapons.
In general, the Kremlin sees nuclear weapons as a key strategic asset, as it is massively outspent on defence by Washington.
Russia had 6,375 nuclear warheads at the start of the year, including those that are not deployed, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk
Satellite imagery indicates that work on the controversial Burevestnik missile has resumed at a test site in the Russian Far North.
Thomas NewdickOctober 21, 2020
Recent satellite imagery suggests that Russia may be working to resume testing of its 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile program in Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago above the Arctic Circle. This highly controversial missile, which is codenamed SSC-X-9 Skyfall by NATO, has suffered a number of mishaps during development work in the past, including a deadly explosion last year.
CNN was first to report that work might have resumed at the test site, drawing upon satellite images from Planet Labs that had been analyzed by researchers Michael Duitsman and Jeffrey Lewis at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Two U.S. officials also told CNN that they were aware that Russia “has been preparing to test missiles as part of its advanced weapons program.”
The images of Novaya Zemlya from September 2020 show that new structures have appeared at the Pankovo site, a test facility that experts believe previously hosted the weapon for at least one live flight trial in late 2017. Recent “high levels of activity” suggests that further weapons trials are now planned here.
“The activity and new construction are consistent with a resumption of test flights of the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile,” Duitsman and Lewis contend.
In their own blog post about the developments, the two researchers point to activity at three different locations at the Pankovo site.
The work includes the reconstruction of a launch pad that is believed to have been used for previous missile launches. It now appears to have been reconfigured to fire the Burevestnik in a different direction. According to The Barents Observer, in the November 2017 test, the missile headed toward a weapon range at Sukhoy Nos, north of the Matochkin Shar. This area had previously hosted Soviet-era nuclear weapons tests, including “Tsar Bomba,” the world’s most powerful nuclear detonation.
Second, “large numbers” of shipping containers have appeared at different support areas around the site, one of which the researchers identify as the likely missile checkout building. The arrival of these containers seems also to be linked to increased activity by cargo vessels in local waters.
Finally, a new helicopter pad has been built, which would allow for the transporting of crews and payloads around the site.
The first known test flight of the Burevestnik at Pankovo reportedly took place in November 2017 and U.S. intelligence sources claimed the missile had crashed in the Barents Sea. Duitsman and Lewis say that at least four Burevestnik tests took place between then and February 2018, but none were considered successful. The limited information to have emerged about the results of those four tests was discussed in more detail here.
Russia test-fired four Burevestniks in total between November 2017 and February 2018, according to the new information. The longest test flight reportedly lasted over two minutes and saw the weapon travel a total of 22 miles, while the shortest experiment saw the missile fail within seconds, but it still managed to cover a distance of five miles. The missile reportedly uses a nuclear reactor to power its propulsion system, giving it theoretically unlimited range.
In March 2018, Russia released a purported video of a Burevestnik test that showed a launch from what appeared to be the Pankovo test site. President Vladimir Putin also released details of the weapon to the Russian parliament, saying it had “unlimited range” and was “invincible against all existing and prospective missile defense and counter-air defense systems.”
Крылатая ракета с ядерным двигателем «Буревестник»
However, it appears that the Burevestnik work at Pankovo came to an end the same year and the test site was dismantled. Testing then moved to Nyonoksa, also written Nenoksa, in the northwestern Russian region of Arkhangelsk on the White Sea.
In August 2019, what may have been efforts to raise a Burevestnik missile from the seabed near the Nyonoksa test site resulted in an explosion that killed five scientists and injured three more from Russia’s state-run nuclear corporation Rosatom and left a radioactive cloud over the city of Severodvinsk. The Russian Ministry of Defense attributed the accident to the explosion of what it called a liquid-propellant rocket engine and denied that any dangerous substances were released. Rosatom later admitted its employees had been working on an experimental “isotope power source” when it exploded.
Whether or not the Burevestnik test effort has simply switched from Nyonoksa back to Pankovo or if testing is occurring at multiple locations is unclear.
A map showing the location of the Pankovo test site on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.
Overall, little is known about the exact design of this nuclear-powered cruise missile, but it’s thought to employ a nuclear-powered ramjet engine. Reportedly, the weapon uses rocket boosters to accelerate it to an optimal speed, after which the fast-moving air blows over the hot reactor, emerging from an exhaust nozzle to generate thrust.
Whatever way it works, a fully functional Burevestnik — should it prove technically feasible — offers the advantage of virtually unlimited endurance, making it extremely hard to defend against. On the downside, the missile will carry a potentially hazardous radioactive payload whether it’s flying with a warhead or unarmed. Its emissions could also be hazardous.
RUSSIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SCREENCAP
A capture from the official video released in 2018 showing a Burevestnik test round in its launch canister, plus others under tarpaulins in the background.
It may not be entirely coincidental that renewed work at Pankovo comes as Russia and the United States are negotiating the future of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) that is due to expire in February 2021. The Kremlin has indicated it would be willing to extend the deal for a year without preconditions, while the United States is seeking a freeze in the total number of nuclear warheads on both sides. There are conflicting reports about what the two countries may have agreed to so far.
Regardless, Moscow has argued in the past that the Burevestnik does not fall within the New START framework, which is focused on limiting each country’s arsenals of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), and heavy bombers. At the same time, the Kremlin had also suggested previously that its nuclear-armed Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, which is launched using a converted ICBM rocket booster, would also not be subject to this agreement, but subsequently changed its position and allowed American officials to inspect at least one of these weapons under the auspices of the treaty.
While the exact status of the test program for Russia’s Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile remains unclear, the latest imagery and analysis does at least indicate that work on the missile is very much ongoing.
Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Hamodia Staff
Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 6:40 pm | ב’ חשון תשפ”א
Air raid sirens sounded in towns in the Gaza periphery, including Kfar Aza and Nahal Oz. The military later confirmed the reports of an attack.
Channel 12 said that at least one rocket was seemingly downed near Sderot. A security video shows what appears to be an Iron Dome interceptor missile sent skyward.
No injuries have been reported. Details as they emerge.
October 21, 2020
The latest tropical system rapidly intensified over the last 24 hours into a hurricane as the storm is now forecast to approach Bermuda on Thursday.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Hurricane Epsilon now has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, and is located about 365 miles east-southeast of Bermuda, moving west-northwest at 9 mph.
“An Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft has found that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 110 mph with higher gusts,” the NHC said. “Some additional strengthening is possible this afternoon, followed by little change in strength or gradual weakening into the weekend.”
TROPICAL STORM EPSILON FORECAST TO BECOME HURRICANE, PASS NEAR BERMUDA
The storm became a hurricane late Wednesday night, then “rapidly intensified” in the overnight hours, according to the NHC.
Hurricane Epsilon rapidly intensified over the last 24 hours. The storm is now a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph. (NOAA/GOES-East)
Eric Blake, a senior hurricane scientist at the NHC, tweeted the storm had developed at “nice eye,” and can be added to the “long list” of rapidly intensifying hurricanes so far in 2020.
Wind speeds increased from 85 mph to 90 mph by 11 a.m. EDT, then upped to 110 mph as the storm is now a Category 2 hurricane, according to the NHC.
Forecasters advise that Epsilon is still rapidly strengthening and could become a major hurricane, Category 3 or higher, by Wednesday night.
Epsilon is forecast to continue heading west-northwest before making a turn to the northwest by Wednesday night and a northward turn by Thursday night.
“On the forecast track, the center of Epsilon is forecast to make its closest approach to Bermuda Thursday afternoon or evening,” the NHC said.
Epsilon will be moving east of Bermuda over the next few days, but the island will still see some impacts.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center of the storm, while tropical-storm-force winds reach up to 435 miles, mainly north of the center.
A tropical storm warning has been issued for Bermuda, where officials said conditions will deteriorate on Thursday as the storm makes its closest approach.
Dangerous surf is also expected along the coasts of Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, and the Leeward Islands.
“These conditions are expected to spread to portions of the east coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada during the next couple of days,” the NHC said.
Epsilon represents a record for the earliest 26th named storm, beating out Nov. 22 in 2005, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.
There is just over one month left in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, but this season has broken numerous recorrds as forecasters in September ran out of traditional names and went to the Greek alphabet for storms Alpha and Beta. Delta became a Category 4 storm before weakening and swiping Mexico, then took aim and roared into Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane.
Where we are currently with tropical activity and the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. (Fox News)
NOAA forecasters had called for up to 25 named storms this season with winds of 39 mph or higher; of those, seven to 10 could become hurricanes. Among those hurricanes, three to six will be major, classified as Category 3, 4 and 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher.
That’s far above an average year. Based on 1981-to-2010 data, that is 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.
So far this year, there have been 26 named storms, including 10 hurricanes, and of those, three major hurricanes.
A look at the Greek alphabet names that are being used for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, after the hurricane center ran out of official names due to the number of storms. (Fox News)
The last time the Greek alphabet was used in the Atlantic was in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina. With a total of 27 storms that year, the first six letters of the Greek alphabet were used: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Zeta.
Fox News’ Adam Klotz contributed to this report.