The odds are higher than you think, and we’re not ready

The CSER experts cite recent research that detects the regularity of major eruptions by analyzing traces of sulfur spikes in ancient ice samples. An eruption ten to a hundred times larger than the Tonga blast occurs once every 625 years – twice as often as had been previously thought.

“The last magnitude seven eruptions was in 1815 in Indonesia,” said co-author Dr. Mike Cassidy, a volcano expert and visiting CSER researcher, now based at the University of Birmingham.

“An estimated 100,000 people died locally, and global temperatures dropped by a degree on average, causing mass crop failures that led to famine, violent uprisings, and epidemics in what was known as the year without summer,” he said.

“We now live in a world with eight times the population and over forty times the level of trade. Our complex global networks could make us even more vulnerable to the shocks of a major eruption,” he said.

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Our complex global networks could make us even more vulnerable to the shocks of a major eruption

However, the researchers argue that steps can be taken to protect against volcanic devastation, ranging from improved surveillance to increased public education and magma manipulation.

Mani and Cassidy outlined steps that needed to be taken to help forecast and manage the possibility of a planet-altering eruption and help mitigate damage from more minor, more frequent eruptions.

These include a more accurate pinpointing of risks. As of now, we’re only aware of a handful of the 97 eruptions classed as large magnitude on the “Volcano Explosivity Index” over the past 60,000 years. This means that there could be many more dangerous volcanoes dotted over the world with the potential for absolute destruction, clueless to humanity.

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