(ORDO NEWS) — A single supervolcano is capable of ejecting more than 1000 cubic kilometers of hot gases, dust and lava into the atmosphere during an eruption.
This is about a thousand times more than the most powerful eruption of an ordinary volcano recorded in the history of mankind.
On average, supervolcanoes erupt once every 50-60 thousand years, and at the moment there is nothing we can do to prevent this. Just wait, observe and collect information.
Eruption like the end of the world
Supervolcanoes form when, due to the presence of a vast underground reservoir of lava, the earth’s crust begins to crack, and lava rises, seeping through it.
This phenomenon is extremely difficult to trace, and its consequences can be catastrophic. An eruption on land will cause a long “volcanic winter” followed by a biospheric catastrophe – exactly what happened 235 million years ago in Siberia before the start of the Permian mass extinction, during which 70% of terrestrial vertebrates and 96% of marine ones died.
An underwater eruption will launch a series of monstrous tsunamis, and filling the atmosphere with a huge amount of water vapor will lead to abnormal downpours and floods.
Some eruptions form a hot mixture of gases, ash and stones, rushing down the slope of the volcano at speeds up to 700 km / h. It was the pyroclastic flow during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 that caused the death of people in Pompeii.
There are no slopes in the supervolcano, but the flows will still begin to spread, burning and turning into lava everything in its path. Any life forms not caught in the fire will perish from the poisonous gases.
What is a volcanic winter? In fact, the same as the nuclear winter. When tons of gases and ash are thrown into the atmosphere, a “screen” from sunlight is formed in the stratosphere, covering most of the planet.
After the last month-long eruption of Yellowstone, which occurred 640 thousand years ago, the temperature on Earth dropped by 10 degrees for the next year and a half, and after another 20 years everything returned to normal. The very eruption of a supervolcano can kill millions of people, but its consequences are billions.
Aira Caldera, Kyushu, Japan
One of the supervolcano calderas known to us, formed about 22 thousand years ago, is located in southern Japan, on the island of Kyushu.
At its center is the Sakurajima volcano, as well as the large city of Kagoshima with a population of 600 thousand people.
Sakurajima is an active volcano, but its eruptions hardly threaten the city. If Aira awakens, most likely, the entire population of Japan will die.
Taupo Caldera, North Island, New Zealand
Supervolcano Taupo gave the world two powerful eruptions. The first – the eruption of Oruanui 26,500 years ago – was the largest in the last 70 thousand years, covering the whole of New Zealand with volcanic ash and significantly changing the terrain.
The second – the eruption of Hatepe – happened relatively recently, around 180 AD. The pyroclastic flow spread for 90 kilometers around the caldera, and the height of the eruptive column reached 50 km. Echoes of Hatepe have been seen in China and even Rome.
Toba Caldera, Sumatra, Indonesia
The owner of one of the largest calderas in the world – 1775 square kilometers – the Toba volcano last erupted 75 thousand years ago.
Many scientists are sure that it was the consequences of this eruption that destroyed most of the people on Earth (who were in Africa at that time), leaving only a couple of thousand alive and forcing humanity to go through the “bottleneck” of the gene pool. Recent studies, however, cast doubt on this theory.
Valles Caldera, New Mexico, USA
A relatively small caldera, 22 kilometers wide, formed about 1.7 million years ago on the site of the Toledo caldera, taking its place.
After that, the Valles Caldera erupted twice more, throwing out more than 600 cubic kilometers of magma to the surface. The last eruption occurred 50-60 thousand years ago, but it did not stand out in scale compared to the previous ones.
Phlegrean fields, Naples, Italy
Naples has always lived in the shadow of Vesuvius, which once wiped out Pompeii. But on the other side of the city is the Phlegraean Fields caldera with an area of 20 square kilometers.
Two large eruptions occurred 47 and 36 thousand years ago, two more, smaller ones – in the period of modern history, in 1158 and 1538.
The second formed the Monte Nuovo cinder cone. In 2013, a series of aftershocks made the inhabitants of Naples nervous, but in the end everything worked out.
Long Valley, California, USA
A huge caldera with an area of \u200b\u200babout 350 square kilometers is located near the border of the state of Nevada, south of Mono Lake.
The largest eruption occurred 760 thousand years ago, as a result of which 3 thousand times more volcanic gases entered the atmosphere than during the eruption of St. Helens in 1980.
Also in 1980, a series of earthquakes lifted the caldera by 25 centimeters, and the released poisonous gases began to kill nearby vegetation.
Yellowstone, Wyoming, USA
Not all tourists visiting the Yellowstone Caldera know that they are walking along one of the most terrible threats to humanity.
The caldera is formed by the entire park and surroundings – 4 thousand square kilometers! Tokyo could easily fit in it.
The last eruption of Yellowstone 640,000 years ago covered most of the United States in ash, and there is a chance that another will happen soon.
There will be an inevitable decrease in temperature due to a volcanic winter, and then a warming of the planet due to the greenhouse effect, as was the case during the Permian mass extinction.
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