Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet


Fruit Virus Invades U.S.

A virus that could potentially devastate the U.S. fruit tree industry surfaced during October, its first appearance in North America. No one is certain how the plum pox virus arrived in the U.S., but officials believe that it was carried in from abroad, either unwittingly or by someone unwilling to wait out the two-year quarantine period for stone fruit trees. Only fruit such as peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines are affected by the virus, which was first detected in Pennsylvania orchards. Although it does not harm humans, the disease causes the fruit to become so unsightly that it cannot be sold. Infected trees eventually stop producing fruit. The only way to stop the spread of the disease is to uproot the afflicted trees and burn them.

Nicaraguan Eruptions

Two of Nicaragua’s volcanoes, located near the capital city of Managua, roared back to life with powerful explosions. San Cristobal Volcano spewed clouds of gas and ash 10,000 feet into the sky and dusted nearby villages with debris as it ended five years of dormancy. The 5,725-foot volcano shrouded the nearby communities of La Mora, Belen, La Bolsa and San Ysidro with the volcanic dust. Masaya Volcano erupted less violently, sending out a low-level ash cloud.

Indian Inundations

At least six people have been killed and more than 45,000 others left homeless by torrential rains and flash flooding that lashed the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The hardest-hit communities were in low-lying areas along the Kudamurudi River. Heavy downpours also caused breaches in rail lines and the derailment of a train.



One child was killed and another was injured when a magnitude 5.8 earthquake wrecked buildings in Iran’s northeastern province of Golestan, near the country’s northern border with Turkmenistan.

Earth movements were also felt in the Turkish aftershock zone, northwestern Greece, Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, Taiwan and two points in Japan.

Israeli Drought

Israel is facing its worst drought in nearly a century, and the country’s environment minister has called on the government to declare a national state of water emergency. The Middle East is already two months into what is considered its winter season and no significant rainfall has been received across much of Israel. The level of the country’s major water resource, the Sea of Galilee, is critically low and expected to drop even further if the recent hot, dry weather persists.


Additional Sources: U.S. National Earthquake Information Center and the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.