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Science & Technology

Devastating volcano could erupt this century

By T.K. Randall
April 15, 2015 · Comment icon 33 comments



A huge eruption in 1815 set off a volcanic winter that killed thousands. Image Credit: Johan Christian Dahl
Scientists have warned that a volcanic eruption could cause widespread disaster in the near future.
It's easy to think of a devastating volcanic eruption as something that has only ever happened in the distant past, but just 200 years ago in 1815 the eruption of Mount Tambora, a volcano in Indonesia, plunged much of Europe in to a year of bitter cold and darkness that came to be known as the "Year Without Summer."

During this period large amounts of crops failed, livestock died and tens of thousands of people died of starvation, disease or the cold as snow and frost gripped the continent all summer long.

Now experts have warned that there is a reasonable chance that a similar eruption could occur within the next 85 years and that if it does the toll could be much, much worse than in 1815.
"Large volcanic eruptions have the potential to impact climate, anthropogenic infrastructure and resource supplies on a global scale," a science panel wrote in a new paper on the subject.

"Under the present conditions of a global civilisation facing food, water and energy scarcity, the largest eruptions during the Holocene would have had major global consequences."

On the plus side however the chance of an eruption like this is thankfully still fairly small.

Comments (33)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #24 Posted by mynameisachu 8 years ago
Devastating comet could hit the Earth in this century. There are over million of 'could' possibilities. you know the odds are that there will be a mass extinction causing thing every other week if you take in to account how many things COULD kill us this century
Comment icon #25 Posted by Br Cornelius 8 years ago
Most people have a very poor understanding of risk. Br Cornelius
Comment icon #26 Posted by socrates.junior 8 years ago
Only one mass extinction has been caused by a cosmic impact. The odds against another one any time soon seem pretty good. Doug I assume your one mass extinction would be the K-Pg boundary one. I would argue that it's a little naive to say that cosmic impact was the sole mechanism there. Similarly, it's almost impossible to count out some element of cosmic impact for other mass extinctions. Extinction event causes are a pretty complex game to play. Arens and West have a nice one here. http://paleobiol.geoscienceworld.org/content/34/4/456.abstract Here's a cool paper about plumes and impacts: ht... [More]
Comment icon #27 Posted by Doug1029 8 years ago
I assume your one mass extinction would be the K-Pg boundary one. I would argue that it's a little naive to say that cosmic impact was the sole mechanism there. Similarly, it's almost impossible to count out some element of cosmic impact for other mass extinctions. Extinction event causes are a pretty complex game to play. Arens and West have a nice one here. http://paleobiol.geo.../4/456.abstract Here's a cool paper about plumes and impacts: http://www.mantleplu...s/Antip_hot.pdf I mean the KT boundary. Something interesting about the Great Dying: apparently it was the result of pollution of ... [More]
Comment icon #28 Posted by socrates.junior 8 years ago
I mean the KT boundary. Something interesting about the Great Dying: apparently it was the result of pollution of the atmosphere by gigantic eruptions of the Siberian Traps. At the time, the hot spot that is now under Hawaii was under the Siberian Traps. Iridium is considered a marker of cosmic impact. The Hawaiian magmas are rich in iridium. Hmmm... Interesting references. Kind of goes along with what I was saying. There was an article in EOS this morning about a possible sixth mass extinction. Doug T is now the Pg. I don't like it either. Really is annoying while reading the literature. EDIT... [More]
Comment icon #29 Posted by Raptor Witness 8 years ago
I'm inclined to consider the Bible's observation that there's a connection between the shaking of the heavens and the earth. In one part, the writer describes seeing the star field disturbed, followed by a meteor shower. A large gravity wave could accomplish this, and disturb the astroid belt. This would also have the effect of shaking the earths crust like a can of soda. The point I'm making here is the curious, possibly historic observation, connecting what happens in the sky and what happens on earth, in terms of a disturbance. Whether you choose to believe the moral component or not, it do... [More]
Comment icon #30 Posted by Doug1029 8 years ago
T is now the Pg. I don't like it either. Really is annoying while reading the literature. I keep getting obsolete. EDIT: You keep pointing to single causes. My entire first reference pointed out that single causes are contra-indicated. The iridium concentration is interesting...I'm assuming the geographic distribution change with various methods of dispersal is why they would consider/not consider it a cosmic impact marker. Single causes are about all that has been considered until those articles came out. While we're on the subject, the antipodes of the Chixulub impact site was the Deccan Tra... [More]
Comment icon #31 Posted by Sundew 8 years ago
Most people have a very poor understanding of risk. Br Cornelius For which the gambling industry is eternally grateful.
Comment icon #32 Posted by Hammerclaw 8 years ago
All we can hope is that we not live to see such interesting times. They will come inevitably, sooner or later.
Comment icon #33 Posted by Oops Monkey 8 years ago
Most people have a very poor understanding of risk. Br Cornelius Relax Br... and the monkey isn't stupid, he has a gun, so listen...


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