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We’ve been building bombs and killing each other and accidentally blowing ourselves up since we discovered explosives and those extra fingers (who needs ten? I’m fine with three thank you very much). But Mother Earth has been trying to blow the shit out of us ever since before we even knew what fingers were. It was once thought that these types of volcanic activites were “extinct” or inactive. Well...no such luck.

1) Mount St.  Hellens

mntsthellens1980 eruption
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_eruption_of_Mount_St._Helens

Up until the Mount St. Hellens eruption in 1980, our scientists never really knew what a pyroclastic eruption might look like. Most recorded volcanic eruptions up until that point were the slow, almost calming lava flow type...ya know, accept for the instant burning thing.

But on Sunday, May 18, 1980, an earthquake caused a large portion of the mountain to slide away, releasing the pressure that had been building up for hundreds of years beneath the surface. It sent a column of debris and ash 80,000 feet into the air and deposited ash in 11 states. Unfortunately, it was also responsible for the deaths of 57 people, along with every animal and tree for miles. But before the eruption, scientists were successful in convincing local authorities to close the park and keep it closed in spite of pressure to re-open it; saving thousands of lives.

This eruption was a wake up call to scientists and those that live near volcanos like Mount St. Hellens. They’re not all the same, and those that have been inactive for hundreds, or thousands of years, can go off at any time, and the result can be catastrophic.

The Stats:
0.05 cubic miles (208,000,000 m3) of material  in total from May 18th eruption

VEI 5

5.1 on the Richter scale

Fatalities 57


How to survive?
Either leave with the freekin’ scientists tell you to, or book it like Dave Crockett.

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/05/mount_st_helens_30_years_ago.html


Krakatoa2) Krakatoa

1883 eruption
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1883_eruption_of_Krakatoa

In 1883, Krakatoa began to erupt, venting ash from several different spots. Because this event happened in relative recent history, there are numerous written accounts that recorded the eruption that lasted a few days. They included people seeing the ash cloud 17 miles high, ash and debris landing on ships 12 miles away, on the last day, the explosions were heard 2,200 miles away, created tsunami’s 100 feet high and broke peoples ear drums about twenty miles away.

Sadly, the eruptions and the tsunami’s that followed were also responsible for the deaths of 36,600 people, but some estimate more than 120,000, including the 3,000 people  who lived on the island of Sebesi.  It destroyed more than half of the Krakatoa Island.

Now, after observing this and Mount. St. Hellens eruption, one would hope that we would do everything we can to evacuate the area as soon as possible. The problem is, scientists never really know when an eruption like this might happen. Most are not this catastrophic and wouldn’t warrant the evacuation of 3,000 people on a single island. Besides, how would you evacuate that many people in just a few days? Not sure if it’s even feasible, sure it’s possible, but you would need so many ships in one spot, all at the same time, all boarding in just a few days. It would be quite the undertaking. As our understanding of these types of eruptions continue, one would hope that we could evacuate at least a fair amount of people from the dangerous range of the volcano.

The Stats:
VEI 6

Fatalities officially 36,600 (could be more than 120,000)

How to survive?
Don’t be on the island of Kakatoa, or anywhere near it.

Mt Tambora3) Mount Tambora

1815 eruption
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Tambora

In 1815, Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia, erupted. It is regarded as the largest observed eruption in recorded history. The energy released was four times more than the Krakatoa eruption, was heard 1,600 miles away, and would be equal to an 800 megaton bomb explosion.  Ash fell as far as 810 miles away and it darkened the sky 370 miles away and sent out four meter high tsunamis.

This eruption was responsible for the deaths of 71,000 people. 10,000 due to direct pyroclatic exposure, 38,000 due to starvation on the  Sumbawa island, and 10,000 deaths due to disease and hunger on Lombok island, 48,000 deaths on Sumbawa island and 44,000 killed on Lombok island, and many more with the aftermath on near by islands.

Because of the excellent records from that time, we know what is possible with an intensely large eruption like this one. For the Krakatoa eruption, they would have had to evacuate thousands of people. In this case, they would have had to evacuate 10,000 people from the immediate area and then somehow get food and water so that people wouldn’t starve on the island with no food. The relief efforts for the Haiti earthquake pale in comparison to what would be needed to save that amount of people.


The Stats:
ejecta volume of 160 cubic kilometers or 38 cubic miles

VEI 7

Fatalities about 71,000

How to survive?
It killed 71,000 people, and ash fell as far as 810 miles away. So...I guess, be at least 810 miles away.

thera4) Thera Vulcanic Explosion

1645 BC to 1500 BC
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minoan_eruption

Although there’s no record of the eruption, the geologic record is clear that it may have been the largest volcanic eruption on Earth in the last few thousand years. It destroyed most of the island of Thera, destroyed cities on Thera and the neighboring island of Crete, and possibly lead to the downfall of the Minoan civilization.

Some historians theorize that this one event could have lead to the stories of Atlantis and the parting of the Red Sea in the Bible.

The Stats:

VEI 7

expelled 61 cubic kilometres (15 cu mi) of magma and rock into the Earth's atmosphere

Hundreds, possible thousands of deaths, and brought down an entire civilization

http://www.livescience.com/4846-eruption-thera-changed-world.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/greeks/minoan_01.shtml

How to survive?
Thera’s volcanic explosion and the tsunami that followed is blamed for many deaths on the island of Crete and the entire Minoan civilization. It’s thought to be one of the origins of the Atlantis story, and theorized to be the origin of the parting of the Red Sea, from the Bible.How do you survive that? Well..don’t be anywhere near the Mediterranean I guess.


oruanui5) Lake Taupo, Oruanui Eruption

230 AD, 26,500 years ago
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Taupo
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oruanui_eruption

 Not much is known about the Oruanui eruption which created Lake Taupo, but scientists think that it may have contributed to the Last Glacial Maximum, which is period in geologic time when the glaciers where at their furthest reach, which greatly affected the earths climate, causing droughts, increasing desserts, and drops in sea level.


If there was anyone living in the area, they’re definitely dead now.

The Stats:

It ejected an estimated 1170 cubic kilometres of material

VEI of 8

How to survive?
The Lake Taupo eruption is thought to be at least partially responsible for the last ice age. Don’t be near New Zealand, and if you DID survive, it would be freekin’ cold.


Tobaeruption6) Toba supereruption

69,000 and 77,000 years ago
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toba_catastrophe_theory

The Toba supereruption is known as one of Earth’s largest in geologic history and is blamed for a 6  to 10 year volcanic winter and a 1,000 cooling “episode”. The resulting change in the worlds climate and temperature resulted with the reduction of the human population down to 10,000 or even 1,000 breeding pairs, which, some scientists argue, created a bottleneck in human evolution.

The Stats:
2800 cubic kilometers of ash

VEI 8

Death count: at this point, it was easier to count how many survived...that’s bad.

How to survive?
This is getting tough. Ok, well, if you survived the eruption in Sumatra, Indonesia, you would still have to hold out for 6 to 10 years of darkness as much of the freekin world would be under volcanic winter. After that, you’d still have to survive the 1,000 “cooling episode”. (that’s a long episode). Well, not many of us live longer than 1,000 years, but you get my point. Surviving at this point is just dumb luck.

7) Yellowstone

yellowstone

640,000 years ago
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_Caldera

You might think Yellowstone is that place where those pesky bears come and take your food and run off and make some funny quip about humans. But that would be Jeyllystone. Yellowstone is that place where people feed bears...and then get eaten. It’s also where that awesome Old Faithful geyser is, that used to go off every freekin’ our. But then it got not quite as faithful after an earthquake. “Earthquake, in the middle of the lower 48?” you might ask. Well, yeah. Ever wonder why it smells like that? Ever wonder where all that hot water is doing shooting up into the air? Well...it’s because of the huge freekin’ lake of liquid hot magma underground.

About 640,000 years ago, it blew up. And when I say “blew up”, I’m not talking about an island sinking explosion like Thera, or even a volcanic winter eruption like Toba. No, I’m talking about an explosion that sent  240 cubic MILES of rock, dust, and volcanic ash and debris that made it 1,000 miles away and layered it a  half a meter deep. The force of the explosion was 17,000 times that of a 50 megaton bomb.
http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/about/faq/faqhistory.php


yellowstonevolcanicashcoverWill it happen again?

“Scientists are predicting that the world's largest super-volcano in one of America's most popular national parks could erupt in the near future. Yellowstone National Park’s caldera has erupted three times in the last 2.1million years and researchers monitoring it say we could be in for another eruption. They said that the super-volcano underneath the Wyoming park has been rising at a record rate since 2004 - its floor has gone up three inches per year for the last three years alone, the fastest rate since records began in 1923.”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1350340/Super-volcano-Yellowstones-National-Park-soon-erupt.html


Yep.

This type of eruption happens once every 10,000 years or so. We’re over due.
In 2009, geologist Christopher C. Sanders had this warning. "I am advising all State officials around Yellowstone National Park for a potential State of Emergency.  In the last week over 252 earthquakes have been observed by the USGS.  We have a 3D view on the movement of magma rising underground.  We have all of the pre warning signs of a major eruption from a super volcano.   I want everyone to leave Yellowstone National Park and for 200 miles around the volcano caldera." http://www.earthmountainview.com/yellowstone/yellowstone.htm

Good thing that it didn’t actually erupt then, but what WOULD happen if it did?


"An area the size of North America can be devastated and pronounced deterioration of global climate would be expected for a few years following the eruption," Professor Self explained. "They could result in the devastation of world agriculture, severe disruption of food supplies and mass starvation. These effects could be sufficiently severe to threaten the fabric of civilisation."
http://www.rense.com/general63/yellowstonesslumbering.htm

“It would explode with a force a thousand times more powerful than the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980. Spewing lava far into the sky, a cloud of plant-killing ash would fan out and dump a layer 10ft deep up to 1,000 miles away.Two-thirds of the U.S. could become uninhabitable as toxic air sweeps through it, grounding thousands of flights and forcing millions to leave their homes.”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1350340/Super-volcano-Yellowstones-National-Park-soon-erupt.html

This...would be bad to say the least. It would bury almost half the states in ash, thousands, maybe more, would die. Many more might starve as food would become scarce as farms and fields would fail because of the ash.

The Stats:
240 cubic miles of ash

Death count: everything?

How to survive?
Spaceship?

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