Monday, June 30, 2008

Beautiful island Ailsa Craig in Scotland

Ailsa Craig is an island in the outer Firth of Clyde, Scotland where granite was quarried to make curling stones. "Ailsa" is pronounced "ale-sa", with the first syllable stressed.

The island is located approximately 16 km (10 miles) west of Girvan. 2 miles in circumference and rising to 338 metres, the island consists entirely of a volcanic plug of an extinct volcano that might have been active about 500 million years ago.. It belongs to the administrative district of South Ayrshire, in the ancient parish of Dailly.

There is a lighthouse on the east coast facing the mainland and a ruined keep of uncertain origins perched on the hillside above.

Ailsa Craig is a 1,114 feet high volcanic rock that protrudes from middle of the Firth of Clyde. With the Ayrshire town of Girvan being only ten miles east of the Craig, some local boat owners offer trips around the rock.

credited to wikipedia

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Karnak temple - Egypt

The Karnak temple complex, universally known only as Karnak, describes a vast conglomeration of ruined temples, chapels, pylons and other buildings. It is located near Luxor in Egypt. This was ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut ("The Most Selected of Places"), the main place of worship of the Theban Triad with Amun as its head, in the monumental city of Thebes. The complex retrieves its current name from the nearby and partly surrounding modern village of el-Karnak, some 2.5km north of Luxor.

The complex is a vast open-air museum and the largest ancient religious site in the world. It is probably the second most visited historical site in Egypt, second only to the Giza Pyramids near Cairo. It consists of four main parts (precincts) of which only one is accessible for tourists and the general public. This is the Precinct of Amun-Re, and this it is also the main part of the complex and by far the largest part. The term Karnak is often understood as being the Precinct of Amun-Re only, as this is the only part most visitors normally see. The three other parts, the Precinct of Montu, the Precinct of Mut and the Temple of Amenhotep IV (dismantled), are closed to the public. There also are a few smaller temples and sanctuaries located outside the enclosing walls of the four main parts, as well as several avenues of human and ram-headed sphinxes connecting the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Amon-Re, and Luxor Temple.

The key difference between Karnak and most of the other temples and sites in Egypt is the length of time over which it was developed and used. Construction work began in the 16th century BC. Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen elsewhere. Few of the individual features of Karnak are unique, but the size and number of features are overwhelming. Construction of temples started in the Middle Kingdom and continued through to Ptolemaic times.

The history of the Karnak complex is largely the history of Thebes. The city does not appear to have been of any significance before the Eleventh Dynasty, and any temple building here would have been relatively small and unimportant, with any shrines being dedicated to the early god of Thebes, Montu. The earliest artifact found in the area of the temple is a small, eight-side from the Eleventh Dynasty, which mentions Amun-Re.

Major construction work in the Precinct of Amun-Re took place during the Eighteenth dynasty. Thutmose I erected an enclosure wall connecting the Fourth and Fifth pylons, which comprise the earliest part of the temple still standing in situ. Construction of the Hypostyle Hall may have also began during the eighteenth dynasty, though most building was undertaken under Seti I and Ramesses II. Merenptah commemorated his victories over the Sea Peoples on the walls of the Cachette Court, the start of the processional route to the Luxor Temple.

The last major change to Precinct of Amun-Re's layout was the addition of the first pylon and the massive enclosure walls that surround the whole Precinct, both constructed by Nectanebo I.

In 323 AD, Constantine the Great recognised the Christian religion, and in 356 ordered the closing of pagan temples throughout the empire. Karnak was by this time mostly abandoned, and Christian churches were founded amongst the ruins, the most famous example of this is the reuse of the Festival Hall of Thutmose III's central hall, were painted decorations of saints and Coptic inscriptions can still be seen.

Thebes’ exact placement was unknown in medieval Europe, though both Herodotus and Strabo give the exact location of Thebes and how long up the Nile one must travel to reach it. Maps of Egypt, based on the 2nd century Claudius Ptolemaeus' mammoth work Geographia, have been circling in Europe since the late 14th century, all of them showing Thebes’ (Diospolis) location. Despite this, several European authors of the 15th and 16th century who visited only Lower Egypt and published their travel accounts, like Joos van Ghistele or Andre Thevet, put Thebes in or close to Memphis.

The Karnak temple complex is first described by an unknown Venetian in 1589, though his account relates no name for the complex. This account, housed in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, is the first known European mention since ancient Greek and Roman writers of a whole range of monuments in Upper Egypt and Nubian, including Karnak, Luxor temple, Colossi of Memnon, Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Philae and others.

Karnak ("Carnac") as a village name, and name of the complex, is first attested in 1668, when two capuchin missionary brothers Protais and Charles François d'Orléans travelled though the area. Protais’ writing about their travel was published by Melchisédech Thévenot (Relations de divers voyages curieux, 1670s-1696 editions) and Johann Michael Vansleb (The Present State of Egypt, 1678).

The first drawing of Karnak is found in Paul Lucas' travel account of 1704, (Voyage du Sieur paul Lucas au Levant). It is rather inaccurate, and can be quite confusing to modern eyes. Lucas travelled in Egypt during 1699-1703. The drawing shows a mixture of the Precinct of Amun-Re and the Precinct of Montu, based on a complex confined by the tree huge Ptolemaic gateways of Ptolemy III Euergetes / Ptolemy IV Philopator, and the massive 113m long, 43m high and 15m thick, first Pylon of the Precinct of Amun-Re.

Karnak was visited and described in succession by Claude Sicard and his travel companion Pierre Laurent Pincia (1718 and 1720-21), Granger (1731), Frederick Louis Norden (1737-38), Richard Pococke (1738), James Bruce (1769), Charles-Nicolas-Sigisbert Sonnini de Manoncourt (1777), William George Browne (1792-93), and finally by a number of scientists of the Napoleon expedition, including Vivant Denon, during 1798-1799. Claude-Étienne Savary describes the complex rather detailed in his work of 1785; especially in light that it is a fictional account of a pretended journey to Upper Egypt, composed out of information from other travellers. Savary did visit Lower Egypt in 1777-78, and published a work about that too.

credited to wikipedia and flickr users: joanot, twose, selva, jannet_duroc, xfp, merlin_1, sonofgroucho, juanj

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When volcano gets angry

A volcano is an opening, or rupture, in a planet's surface or crust, which allows hot, molten rock, ash, and gases to escape from below the surface. Volcanic activity involving the extrusion of rock tends to form mountains or features like mountains over a period of time.

Volcanoes are generally found where tectonic plates are pulled apart or come together. A mid-oceanic ridge, for example the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, has examples of volcanoes caused by "divergent tectonic plates" pulling apart; the Pacific Ring of Fire has examples of volcanoes caused by "convergent tectonic plates" coming together. By contrast, volcanoes are usually not created where two tectonic plates slide past one another. Volcanoes can also form where there is stretching and thinning of the Earth's crust (called "non-hotspot intraplate volcanism"), such as in the African Rift Valley, the Wells Gray-Clearwater Volcanic Field and the Rio Grande Rift in North America and the European Rhine Graben with its Eifel volcanoes.

Volcanoes can be caused by "mantle plumes". These so-called "hotspots" , for example at Hawaii, can occur far from plate boundaries. Hotspot volcanoes are also found elsewhere in the solar system, especially on rocky planets and moons.

credited to wikipedia and flickr users: volcanodiscovery, photovolcanica, dmustaine, guano, sandy-leemans, ibhmc, hageonline, contactgmt, franck

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hawaii sunset

The State of Hawaii is a state in the United States, located on an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of Australia. The state was admitted to the Union on August 21, 1959, making it the 50th state. Its capital is Honolulu on the island of Oahu. The most recent census puts the state's population at 1,211,537.

credited to wikipedia

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Krakatoa eruption 1883

Krakatoa , also spelled Krakatao or Krakatowa, is a volcanic island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. The name is used for the island group, the main island (also called Rakata), and the volcano as a whole. It has erupted repeatedly, massively, and with disastrous consequences throughout recorded history. The best known eruption culminated in a series of massive explosions on August 26 - 27, 1883, which was among the most violent volcanic events in modern times. With a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 6, it was equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT — about 13,000 times the yield of the Little Boy bomb (13 to 16 KT) that devastated Hiroshima, Japan.

The 1883 eruption ejected more than 25 cubic kilometres of rock, ash, and pumice, and generated the loudest sound historically reported: the cataclysmic explosion was distinctly heard as far away as Perth in Australia approx. 1,930 miles (3,110 km), and the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius approx. 3,000 miles (5,000 km). Near Krakatoa, according to official records, 165 villages and towns were destroyed and 132 seriously damaged, at least 36,417 (official toll) people died, and many thousands were injured by the eruption, mostly from the tsunamis that followed the explosion.

The eruption destroyed two-thirds of the island of Krakatoa. Eruptions at the volcano since 1927 have built a new island in the same location, called Anak Krakatau (child of Krakatoa).This island has a radius of roughly 2 kilometers and a high point around 200 meters above sea level. The original island of Krakatoa had a high point at an estimated 2000 meters above sea level and had a radius of 9 kilometers.

Early eruptions

In the years before the 1883 eruption, seismic activity around the volcano was intense, with some earthquakes felt as far distant as Australia. Beginning 20 May 1883, three months before the final explosion, steam venting began to occur regularly from Perboewatan, the northernmost of the island's three cones. Eruptions of ash reached an altitude of 6 km (20,000 ft) and explosions could be heard in Batavia (Jakarta) 160 km (100 miles) away. Activity died down by the end of May.

The volcano began erupting again around 20 July. The seat of the eruption is believed to have been a new vent or vents which formed between Perboewatan and Danan, more or less where the current volcanic cone of Anak Krakatau is. The violence of the eruption caused tides in the vicinity to be unusually high, and ships at anchor had to be moored with chains as a result. On 11 August larger eruptions began, with ashy plumes being emitted from at least eleven vents. On 24 August, eruptions further intensified. At about 1pm (local time) on 26 August, the volcano went into its paroxysmal phase, and by 2pm observers could see a black cloud of ash 27 km (17 miles) high. At this point, the eruption was virtually continuous and explosions could be heard every ten minutes or so. Ships within 20 km (11 nautical miles) of the volcano reported heavy ash fall, with pieces of hot pumice up to 10 cm in diameter landing on their decks. A small tsunami hit the shores of Java and Sumatra some 40 km (28 miles) away between 6pm and 7pm.

Cataclysmic stage

On August 27, the volcano entered the final cataclysmic stage of its eruption. Four enormous explosions took place at 05:30 hrs, 06:42 hrs, 08:20 hrs, and 10:02 hrs - all times are local. The last explosion was the loudest. Each was accompanied by very large tsunamis and are believed to have been over 30 meters (100 ft) high in places. A large area of the Sunda Strait and a number of places on the Sumatran coast were affected by pyroclastic flows from the volcano. The explosions were so violent that they were heard 3,500 km away in Perth, Western Australia and the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, 4,800 km away; the sound of Krakatoa's destruction is the loudest sound in recorded history, reaching levels of 180 dBSPL 100 miles (160 km) away.. The pressure wave from the final explosion was recorded on barographs around the world and can be clearly identified as occurring at seven distinct intervals. Ash was propelled to a height of 80 km. The eruptions diminished rapidly after that point, and by the morning of August 28 Krakatoa was quiet.

"The Burning Ashes of Ketimbang"

Around noon on August 27, a rain of hot ash fell around Ketimbang in Sumatra. Around a thousand people were killed, the only large number of victims killed by Krakatoa itself, and not the waves or after-effects. Verbeek and later writers believe this unique event was a lateral blast or pyroclastic flow, similar to what happened in 1980 at Mt. St. Helens, which crossed the water. The region of the ashfall ended to the northwest of Ketimbang, where the bulk of Sebesi Island offered protection from any horizontal surges.

After eruptions

Small eruptions continued through October, and were reported through February 1884 (although any after mid October were discounted by Verbeek). In the aftermath of the eruption, it was found that the island of Krakatoa had almost entirely disappeared, except for the southern half of Rakata cone cut off along a vertical cliff, leaving behind a 250-meter-deep caldera.


The combined effects of pyroclastic flows, volcanic ashes and tsunamis had disastrous results in the region. There were no survivors from 3,000 people located at the island of Sebesi, about 13 km from Krakatoa. Pyroclastic flows killed around 1,000 people at Ketimbang on the coast of Sumatra some 40 km north from Krakatoa. The official death toll recorded by the Dutch authorities was 36,417, although some sources put the estimate at 120,000 or more. Many settlements were destroyed, including Teluk Betung and Ketimbang in Sumatra, and Sirik and Semarang in Java. The areas of Banten on Java and the Lampung on Sumatra were devastated. There are numerous documented reports of groups of human skeletons floating across the Indian Ocean on rafts of volcanic pumice and washing up on the east coast of Africa, up to a year after the eruption. Some land on Java was never repopulated; it reverted to jungle and is now the Ujung Kulon National Park.

Tsunamis and distant effects

Ships as far away as South Africa rocked as tsunamis hit them, and the bodies of victims were found floating in the ocean for weeks after the event. The tsunamis which accompanied the eruption are believed to have been caused by gigantic pyroclastic flows entering the sea; each of the five great explosions was accompanied by a massive pyroclastic flow resulting from the gravitational collapse of the eruption column. This caused several cubic kilometers of material to enter the sea, displacing an equally huge volume of seawater. The town Merak was destroyed by a 46 metre-high tsunami. Some of the pyroclastic flows reached the Sumatran coast as much as 25 miles (40 km) away, having apparently moved across the water on a "cushion" of superheated steam. There are also indications of submarine pyroclastic flows reaching 10 miles (15 km) from the volcano.

A recent documentary film showed tests made by a research team at Kiel University, Germany of pyroclastic flows moving over water. The tests revealed that hot ash traveled over the water on a cloud of superheated steam, continuing to be a pyroclastic flow after crossing water; the heavy matter precipitated out of the flow shortly after initial contact with the water, creating a tsunami due to the precipitate mass.

Smaller waves were recorded on tidal gauges as far away as the English Channel. These occurred too soon to be remnants of the initial tsunamis, and may have been caused by concussive air waves from the eruption. These air waves circled the globe several times and were still detectable using barographs five days later.

Geographic effects

As a result of the huge amount of material deposited by the volcano, the surrounding ocean floor was drastically altered. It is estimated that as much as 18-21 km³ of ignimbrite was deposited over an area of 1.1 million km², largely filling the 30-40 m deep basin around Krakatoa. The land masses of Verlaten and Lang were increased, and volcanic ash continues to be a significant part of the geological composition of these islands. Poolsche Hoed ("Polish Hat") disappeared. A new rock islet called Bootsmansrots ('Bosun's Rock', a fragment of Danan) was left.

Two nearby sandbanks (called Steers and Calmeyer after the two naval officers who investigated them) were built up into islands by ashfall, but the sea later washed them away. Seawater on hot volcanic deposits on Steers and Calmeyer caused steam which some people mistook for continued eruption.

The fate of Krakatoa itself has been the subject of some dispute among geologists. It was originally proposed that the island had been blown apart by the force of the eruption. However, most of the material deposited by the volcano is clearly magmatic in origin and the caldera formed by the eruption is not extensively filled with deposits from the 1883 eruption. This indicates that the island subsided into an empty magma chamber at the end of the eruption sequence, rather than having been destroyed during the eruptions.

Global climate

In the year following the eruption, average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 degrees Celsius. Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years, and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888. The eruption injected an unusually large amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas high into the stratosphere which was subsequently transported by high-level winds all over the planet. This led to a global increase in sulfurous acid (H2SO3) concentration in high-level cirrus clouds. The resulting increase in cloud reflectivity (or albedo) would reflect more incoming light from the sun than usual, and cool the entire planet until the suspended sulfur fell to the ground as acid precipitation.

Global optical effects

The eruption darkened the sky for days afterwards, and produced spectacular sunsets throughout the world for many months. British artist William Ashcroft made thousands of colour sketches of the red sunsets half-way around the world from Krakatoa in the years after the eruption. In 2004, researchers proposed the idea that the blood-red sky shown in Edvard Munch's famous 1893 painting The Scream is also an accurate depiction of the sky over Norway after the eruption. Munch said: "suddenly the sky turned blood red ... I stood there shaking with fear and felt an endless scream passing through nature." Also, a so called blue moon had been seen for two years as a result of the eruption.

Possible causes

The cause of the violent explosions has also attracted debate. Four theories are:

  • Contemporary investigators believed that the volcano's vents had sunk below sea level on the morning of 27 August, letting seawater flood into it and causing a massive series of phreatic (interaction of ground water and magma) explosions.
  • The seawater could have chilled the magma, causing it to crust over and producing a "pressure cooker" effect relieved only when explosive pressures were reached.

Both these ideas assumed that the island subsided before the explosions; however, the evidence does not support that conclusion and the pumice and ignimbrite deposits are not of a kind consistent with a magma-seawater interaction.

  • A massive underwater land slump or partial subsidence suddenly left the highly pressurized magma chamber wide open.
  • The final explosions may have been caused by magma mixing caused by a sudden infusion of hot basaltic magma into the cooler and lighter magma in the chamber below the volcano. This would have resulted in a rapid and unsustainable increase in pressure, leading to a cataclysmic explosion. Evidence for this theory is the existence of pumice consisting of light and dark material, the dark material being of much hotter origin. However, such material reportedly is less than 5% of the content of the Krakatoa ignimbrite and some investigators have rejected this as a prime cause of the 27 August explosions.
Verbeek investigation

Although the violent engulfment phase of the eruption was over by late afternoon of August 27, after light returned by the 29th, reports continued for months that Krakatoa was still in eruption. One of the earliest duties of Verbeek's committee was to determine if this was true and also verify reports of other volcanoes erupting on Java and Sumatra. In general, these were found to be false, and Verbeek discounted any claims of Krakatoa still erupting after mid October as due to steaming of hot material, landslides due to heavy monsoon rains that season, and "hallucinations due to electrical activity" seen from a distance.

No signs of activity were seen in the next several years until 1913, when an eruption was reported. Investigation could find no evidence the volcano was awakening, and it was determined that what had been mistaken for renewed activity had actually been a major landslide (possibly the one which formed the second arc to Rakata's cliff).

Anak Krakatau

Verbeek, in his report on the eruption, predicted that any new activity would manifest itself in the region which had been between Perboewatan and Danan. This prediction came true in June 1927 when evidence of a submarine eruption was seen in this area. A few days later, a new island volcano, named Anak Krakatau ("Child of Krakatoa"), broke water. Initially, the eruptions were of pumice and ash, and it (and 2 more islands) was quickly eroded away by the sea; but eventually Anak Krakatoa #4 produced lava flows faster than the waves could erode them. Of considerable interest to volcanologists, this has been the subject of extensive study since the new island broke water permanently in August 1930

Current activity

The island is still active, with its most recent eruptive episode having begun in 1994. Since then, quiet periods of a few days have alternated with almost continuous eruptions, with occasional much larger explosions. Since the 1950s, the island has grown at an average rate of five inches (13 cm) per week. This volcano started erupting again in October and November 2007, when hot gases, rocks, and lava were released. Scientists monitoring the volcano have warned people to stay out of a 3 km zone around the island.

credited to wikipedia and flickr users: hida, flydime, nothingdestroyed, nadinexf, volcanoes

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Valley of the Kings - Egypt

The Valley of the Kings is a valley in Egypt where for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed for the kings and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom (the Eighteenth through Twentieth Dynasties of Ancient Egypt). The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile, across from Thebes (modern Luxor), within the heart of the Theban Necropolis. The wadi consists of two valleys, East Valley (where the majority of the royal tombs situated) and West Valley.

The area has been a focus of concentrated archaeological and egyptological exploration since the end of the eighteenth century, and its tombs and burials continue to stimulate research and interest. In modern times the valley has become famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun (with its rumours of the Curse of the Pharaohs), and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. In 1979, it became a World Heritage Site, along with the rest of the Theban Necropolis

The types of soil where the Valley of Kings is located are an alternating sandwich of dense limestone and other sedimentary rock (which form the cliffs in the valley and the nearby Deir el-Bahri) and soft layers of marl. The sedimentary rock was originally deposited between 35 - 56 million years ago during a time when the precursor to the Mediterranean Sea covered an area that extended much further inland than today. During the Pleistocene the valley was carved out the plateau by steady rains. There is currently little year-round rain in this part of Egypt, but there are occasional flash floods which hit the valley, dumping tons of debris into the open tombs.

The quality of the rock in the Valley is inconsistent, ranging from finely-grained to coarse stone, the latter with the potential to be structurally unsound. The occasional layer of shale also caused construction and conservation difficulties, as this rock expands in the presence of water, forcing apart the stone surrounding it. It is thought that some tombs were altered in shape and size depending on the types of the layers of rock the builders encountered.

Builders took advantage of available geological features when constructing the tombs. Some tombs were quarried out of existing limestone clefts, others behind slopes of scree, or were at the edge of rock spurs created by ancient flood channels.

The problems of tomb construction can be seen with tombs of Ramesses III and his father Setnakhte. Setnakhte started to excavate KV11, but broke into the tomb of Amenmesse, so construction was abandoned and he instead usurped the tomb of Twosret, KV14. When looking for a tomb, Ramesses III extended the part-excavated tomb started by his father. The tomb of Ramesses II returned to an early style, probably due to the quality of the rock being excavated.

Between 1998-2002 the Amarna Royal Tombs Project investigated the valley floor using ground-penetrating radar and found that below the modern surface the Valley's cliffs descend beneath the scree in a series of abrupt, natural "shelves", arranged one below the other, descending several metres down to the bedrock in the valley floor.

The Valley of the Kings has been a major area of modern Egyptological exploration for the last two centuries. Before this the area was a site for tourism in antiquity (especially during Roman times). This areas illustrates the changes in the study of ancient Egypt, starting as antiquity hunting, and ending as scientific excavation of the whole Theban Necropolis. Despite the exploration and investigation noted below, only eleven of the tombs have actually been completely recorded.

Most of the tombs are not open to the public (16 of the tombs can be opened, but they are rarely open at the same time), and officials occasionally close those that are open for restoration work. The number of visitors to KV62 has led to a separate charge for entry into the tomb. The West Valley has only one open tomb – that of Ay – and a separate ticket is needed to visit this tomb. The tour guides are no longer allowed to lecture inside the tombs and visitors are expected to proceed quietly and in single file through the tombs. This is to minimize time in the tombs, and prevent the crowds from damaging the surfaces of the decoration. Photography is no longer allowed in the tombs.

In 1997, 58 tourists and 4 Egyptians were massacred at nearby Deir el-Bahri by Islamist militants from Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya. This led to an overall drop in tourism in the area.

As of 2005, on most days of the week an average of four to five thousand tourists visit the main valley. On the days on which the Nile Cruises arrive the number can rise to nearly ten thousand. These levels are expected to rise to 25,000 by 2015. The West Valley is much less visited, as there is only one tomb that is open to the public.

credited to wikipedia and flickr users: hjmf21, juanj, tianzhou, anecia, shelbyroot, kambizkamrani, shelbyroot, microkitten, tonayo, kerken

Rising Mississippi River threatens Midwestern towns

A small Illinois town was evacuated this morning after a levee breach along the Mississippi River. About 50 people in Meyer, Ill., have had to leave their homes.

The evacuation order is likely not the last in Illinois or in neighbouring states. Towns along the Mississippi River were bracing for more floods Wednesday.

The Mississippi broke through a levee near Gulfport, Ill., Tuesday, covering about 5,000 acres in the region. The floodwaters got so dangerous for boats in the area, that officials used a helicopter to rescue at least three people.

The surging water in the town was just the latest in a spate of floods to hit the region over the past several days.

About 25,000 people left their homes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after floodwaters there rushed through large parts of the city, damaging buildings and water treatment plants throughout the region.

The rising Mississippi will likely threaten communities in several states for the rest of the week, leaving many residents on edge. Lois Russell, 83, a Gulfport resident, says he was forced out of his farmhouse after 57 years.

"What else am I going to do? Where else am I going to go," he asked.

Other communities are preparing to follow Gulfport's lead. Officials in towns along the Mississippi are considering evacuation plans and have bolstered defences against rising floodwaters. In Clarksville, Mo., the U.S. National Guard, students, inmates, and residents have been sandbagging around historic buildings and businesses to minimize damage.

However, the potential damage may not be as bad in this round of floods than in the past. Over the past few years, the federal government has bought out homes in some of the most vulnerable flood areas. But not everyone has sold their properties to move to higher ground.

The Mayor of Chelsea, Iowa, says residents in the area have learned to cope.

"For the most part, it's another flood," Roger Ochs said. "For Chelsea, it's more of an inconvenience

The National Weather Service fears the worst may yet be ahead for some communities along the Mississippi. Officials say the river near Canton, Mo., may reach 8.5 metres Thursday. That's four metres above the flood stage. Crests near the towns of Quincy, Ill., and Hannibal, Mo., are expected to be about 4.5 metres above the flood stage.

The flooding in eastern Iowa and surrounding areas has already caused US$1.5 billion in damages.

credited to