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A new study has discovered a powerful force that is now driving evolution on Earth.

Scientists warn that a 'catastrophic' supervolcano eruption is significantly more likely than previously imagined.

Scientists think that estimates about when a mega volcano beneath Sumatra's Lake Toba would erupt are incorrect. It's one of 20 known supervolcanoes on the earth, including another under Yellowstone National Park in the United States.

According to a new study, a "catastrophic" supervolcano eruption is significantly more likely than previously thought.

Existing information regarding the likelihood of eruptions is predicated on the existence of liquid magma under a volcano, but a study warns that "eruptions can occur even if no liquid magma is identified."

The definition of 'eruptible' must be reconsidered.

Lake Toba in Sumatra is a seemingly lovely body of water that really occupies the crater of a supervolcano, measuring around 100km by 30km (62 by 19 miles).

This supervolcano is thought to have erupted some 74,000 years ago, and some researchers estimate the eruption blasted six billion tonnes of sulphur dioxide into the sky, causing world temperatures to drop by 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) for three years thereafter.

While the scientific study of the eruption's impact is debatable, experts have proposed that the eruption triggered a genetic bottleneck in human evolution.

The idea is that between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, human populations shrank drastically to 3,000-10,000 people, a claim supported by genetic data.

Scientists believe that the Toba eruption was to blame, as it destroyed the forest and food sources on which the existing human populations relied.

There are 20 documented supervolcanoes on Earth, including one beneath Lake Toba in Indonesia and another beneath Yellowstone National Park in the United States.

The most recent super-eruption occurred some 26,500 years ago from the supervolcano beneath Lake Taupo in New Zealand.

While these volcanoes have erupted several times, with tens of thousands of years between massive eruptions, it remained unknown what happened to them during their semi-dormant periods.

Understanding those long-dormant periods can help us forecast future eruptions by determining what we look for in young active supervolcanoes.

Super-eruptions are among the most destructive catastrophes in Earth's history, releasing massive volumes of magma relatively instantly. They have the potential to alter the global climate to the point that the Earth enters a 'volcanic winter,' which is an extremely cold period that can lead to severe starvation and population instability.

Comprehending how supervolcanoes function is critical for understanding the future threat of an unavoidable super-eruption, which occurs approximately once every 17,000 years.

The key to the researchers' study was determining what happened to the magma left behind after the Toba super-eruption 75,000 years ago, which they did by analysing the minerals feldspar and zircon.

Based on the concentration of the gases argon and helium inside volcanic rocks, these minerals can successfully be employed as independent time recorders.

The findings called into question existing understanding and research on eruptions, which often entails searching for liquid magma beneath a volcano to estimate future hazards. We must now consider that eruptions can occur even when no liquid magma is detected under a volcano - the definition of what is 'eruptible' must be reconsidered.

While a super-eruption can have regional and global consequences, and recovery can take decades or even centuries, our findings reveal that the danger does not end with the super-eruption, and the possibility of subsequent disasters continues for many thousands of years later.

Understanding supervolcanoes requires an understanding of when and how eruptible magma builds, as well as the condition of the magma before and after such eruptions.


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