When the supervolcano wakes up and is it possible to avoid a catastrophe

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(ORDO NEWS) — In December 2022, four volcanoes erupted almost simultaneously: in Italy, Hawaii, Indonesia and Kamchatka. Thousands of people were evacuated from dangerous areas.

Experts say there is no cause for concern yet. These fire-breathing mountains cannot cause a global cataclysm. A really serious threat is the activity of supervolcanoes. In 1815, Tambora volcano erupted in Indonesia.

One of the most dangerous volcanoes

Amazing footage in December was filmed by eyewitnesses during the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala – lightning hit right in the crater.

Fuego is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Central America.

It is located only 40 kilometers from the capital of Guatemala and often behaves restlessly. In 2018, hundreds of people became victims of the eruption.

“In 2018, about 200 people died, about the same number went missing.

And this volcano erupts quite often, once every 4–5 years,” says Anton Mazaev, candidate of geological and mineralogical sciences.

How to calculate the scale of a volcanic eruption

The Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma (this is the Canaries) erupts much less frequently. He used to doze for centuries. Cumbre Vieja awakened in the fall of 2021.

On September 19, the longest volcanic eruption in history began – it lasted 85 days with short periods of calm. In three months, Cumbre Vieja turned the island into a set for a post-apocalyptic movie.

Local residents fled, leaving their homes behind. In total, almost six thousand people were evacuated from the danger zone.

“About one and a half thousand buildings were damaged, most of them were human dwellings, houses and inhabited areas.

There was a house that was flooded with lava; there was a house that ended up on an island between two lava flows.

About 1,200 hectares of land were covered by such an emission”.

Scientists were able to calculate the scale of the disaster. Immediately after the start of the eruption, experts from the Institute of Volcanology of the Canary Islands warned that the release of lava and ash would last 84 days.

They were wrong by just a day.

“Firstly, it is possible to approximately determine with what frequency and duration this or that volcano will erupt.

Secondly, the volume of the magma chamber is known, which, when filled with magma, begins to pour out in the form of lava flows.

Accordingly, as the chamber empties, the eruption will end “, the expert explained.

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Consequences of the most terrible catastrophe

The eruption of a large volcano can affect the entire planet, as the activity of the “fire mountains” affects the climate.

In 1815, one of the worst disasters in the history of mankind occurred in Indonesia – the eruption of the Tambora volcano. More than 70 thousand people died from its consequences.

A powerful explosion broke the mountain apart. A huge column of ash 40 kilometers high rose into the air.

Dust particles in the atmosphere cocooned the Earth. The average temperature on the planet dropped by one degree. This led to crop failures, rising food prices and famine.

“The mechanics of lowering the global temperature is that sulfur dioxide, SO2, is emitted high enough and begins to form cirrus clouds.

They are so silvery, they reflect strongly the sun’s rays.

They do not pass to the Earth, to the earth’s surface, do not warm it, and this contributes to cooling,” said the geologist.

What is the probability of a supervolcano eruption

A volcanic eruption of this magnitude could happen again this century. The probability of such a scenario is one in six.

This disappointing forecast was made by Michael Cassidy, professor of volcanology at the University of Birmingham. There are about 20 so-called supervolcanoes on Earth.

The eruption of any of them will almost certainly lead to climate change on the planet. One of these dangerous giants is the Yellowstone Caldera, in the northwestern United States.

“Its time is just right. According to forecasts, we already know that it erupts approximately every 600 thousand years.

American volcanologists just noticed the rise of the earth’s surface, the approach of the magma chamber to the earth’s surface.

So in the foreseeable future this explosion will occur. Of course, such an explosion magnitude is already considered a cataclysm.

Of course, there will be famine, cold, crop failures, lower temperatures and atmospheric pollution.”

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How a volcanic eruption led to a cold snap

Humanity faced a similar cataclysm at the beginning of the 17th century, after the eruption of the Huaynaputina volcano in Peru.

Can mankind prevent volcanic eruptions

Humanity is not ready for a supervolcano eruption, says volcanologist Michael Cassidy. In his opinion, now the scientific community is more concerned about threats from space.

In the fall of 2022, NASA specialists changed the trajectory of the asteroid Dimorphos. At that moment, he was about 11 million kilometers from Earth.

During the experiment, a DART kamikaze probe crashed into an asteroid. NASA reported that the test of the first planetary defense system in history was successful – the trajectory of the asteroid after the ram changed.

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“Over the next century, the likelihood of powerful volcanic eruptions is hundreds of times higher than the threat of an Earth-to-celestial collision.

However, while NASA is allocating more than $ 300 million in technology to intercept dangerous asteroids, no investment in preventing or mitigating the consequences of large-magnitude eruptions until not yet,” said Cassidy.

People know how to mitigate the devastating effects of volcanic eruptions. On the island of La Palma, part of the lava flows was diverted from the buildings with the help of specially dug trenches.

But when a large volcano ejects millions of tons of ash into the atmosphere, humanity cannot yet intervene in this process.

“In 2010, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano exploded in Iceland, which threw out a very large cloud of ash, and with a large plume.

Since there was an unfavorable wind distribution, it dragged on all of Europe.

Air traffic in Europe was stopped for about two months. Fight volcano emissions impossible.

While we do not know how,” the geologist believes.

According to futurologists, over time, humanity will learn how to prevent volcanic eruptions. Perhaps scientists will be able to develop a way to drill deep wells to reduce pressure in underground magma chambers.

Now it seems something unthinkable. However, until recently, the possibility of changing the trajectory of an asteroid seemed just as incredible. Now, thanks to science, it has become a reality.


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