Science & Technology
Devastating volcano could erupt this century
By T.K. Randall
April 15, 2015 · 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.