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The planet is facing the largest volcanic eruption and humanity is nowhere near ready

The planet is facing the largest volcanic eruption and humanity is nowhere near ready 1
© Antonio Parrinello / Reuters

Since the beginning of the 21st century, more than 50 volcanic eruptions have occurred in the world. Within the next decades, a volcanic eruption may occur with consequences for the entire Earth for which humanity is not ready, according to an article published in the journal Nature.

In January 2022, there was an eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai volcano in Tonga lasting 11 hours. It was the largest magma ejection since 1991. In some regions, a shock wave formed, which caused a tsunami that reached the shores of Japan, North and South America. The total damage was estimated at 18.5 percent of Tonga’s GDP.

In June 2011, there was an unexpected explosion of the Poyahueu volcano in the Andes. Due to the wind, many settlements to the east of the location of the volcano suffered. Flights have been canceled in the capital of Argentina. In rivers and lakes, the temperature was up to 45 degrees, because of which almost all the fish died.

Another well-known volcanic explosion in recent decades was the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland in the spring of 2010 which paralyzed air traffic almost throughout Europe. On the territory of Russia there are 200 volcanoes, 56 of which are active. In some of them, magmatic processes are currently very active.

Scientists at all levels have repeatedly said that it is necessary to prepare for possible powerful eruptions in the future.

10-100 times stronger than the Tonga volcano eruption

Scientists came to this conclusion after studying ice cores from different regions of the Earth. The distribution of sulfate peaks in ice samples makes it possible to calculate the recurrence frequency of major eruptions. Such peaks are caused by gas emissions during powerful eruptions. 

In 2021, scientists analyzed cores from the Arctic and Antarctica and identified 1,113 eruptions in the Greenland ice and 737 in the Antarctic. These eruptions occurred between 60 and 9 thousand years ago. Ninety-seven events have been identified that are likely to have had a climate impact equivalent to an eruption of magnitude seven or greater. Based on this, we can conclude that eruptions of magnitude seven occur once every 625 years, and events of magnitude eight, which are often called super eruptions, occur once every 14,300 years.

As a result, scientists concluded that with a probability of 1 in 6 this century there will be an eruption of magnitude 7, which is 10-100 times stronger than the eruption of the Tonga volcano. 

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The probability of this is much higher than the fall of a large asteroid, and, unlike asteroids, volcanic eruptions can neither be prevented nor predicted for a long time at the current level of development of science and technology. 

In this regard, scientists urge to prepare for the consequences of such a crisis, to develop methods for analyzing tectonic activity and engineering the deep layers of the Earth.

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