Minor volcanic eruptions at Vesuvius and Santorini could cause a ‘domino effect’, inducing TSUNAMIS that smash submerged cable networks and seal off the Suez Canal, scientists warn
Minor volcanic eruptions at Vesuvius and Santorini could cause a ‘domino effect’, inducing tsunamis that smash submerged cable networks and seal off the Suez Canal, a new study has warned.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge warn that it’s not only rare Hollywood-style ‘mega-colossal’ volcanic eruptions that could lead to catastrophe for humanity.
Instead, minor eruptions at ‘pinch points’ across the world could wipe out vital global infrastructure, according to the team.
The experts have identified seven pinch points where clusters of relatively small but active volcanoes sit alongside vital infrastructure that, if paralysed, could have severe global consequences.
These regions include volcano groups in Taiwan, North Africa, the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the northwestern US.
The study has been led by researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER).
‘Even a minor eruption in one of the areas we identify could erupt enough ash or generate large enough tremors to disrupt networks that are central to global supply chains and financial systems,’ said study author Dr Lara Mani at CSER.
‘At the moment, calculations are too skewed towards giant explosions or nightmare scenarios, when the more likely risks come from moderate events that disable major international communications, trade networks or transport hubs.
‘This is true of earthquakes and extreme weather as well as volcanic eruption.’
Dr Mani said it’s time for civilisation to change how we view extreme volcanic risk.
‘We need to move away from thinking in terms of colossal eruptions destroying the world, as portrayed in Hollywood films,’ she said.
‘The more probable scenarios involve lower-magnitude eruptions interacting with our societal vulnerabilities and cascading us towards catastrophe.’
It’s commonly thought that the more powerful a volcanic eruption, the worse it will be for society and human welfare.
However, the experts argue too much focus is on the risks of these ‘massive yet rare’ events and too little attention is paid to the potential domino effects of moderate eruptions.
For background, a supervolcano is defined as a volcano that has had an explosion of at least 8 on the volcanic explosivity index (VEI), with an erupted tephra volume of more than 1,000 cubic kilometers, as measured by the US Geological Survey.
Supervolcano eruptions are considered ‘extremely rare’, occurring once every 100,000 years.
But smaller eruptions ranking up to six on the VEI – rather than the 7s and 8s that tend to occupy ‘catastrophist’ thinking – could easily produce ash clouds, mudflows and landslides that scupper undersea cables, the team warn.
This could lead to financial market shutdowns or devastate crop yields, causing food shortages that lead to political turmoil.
As an example from recent history, the team point to events of 2010 at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland that caused chaos for aviation.
A magnitude 4 eruption from Eyjafjallajökull, close to the major North Atlantic ‘pinch point’, saw plumes of ash carried on northwesterly winds close European airspace at a cost of $5 billion to the global economy.
But when Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in 1991, a magnitude 6 eruption some 100 times greater in scale than the 2010 Icelandic event, its distance from vital infrastructure meant that overall economic damage was less than a fifth of Eyjafjallajökull.
The eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991 was the second largest volcanic eruption of the twentieth century, after Novarupta on the Alaska Peninsula in 1912.
Pinatubo would have a global economic impact of around $740 million (£530 million) if it occurred in 2021.
So this is a good example of how a volcano can be described as catastrophic if it’s closer to vital infrastructure, rather than measuring higher on the VEI.
The seven ‘pinch point’ areas identified by the experts – within which relatively small eruptions could inflict maximum global mayhem – also include the volcanic group on the northern tip of Taiwan.
Home to one of the largest producers of electronic chips, if this area – along with the Port of Taipei – was indefinitely incapacitated, the global tech industry could grind to a halt.
Eruptions in the US state of Washington in the Pacific Northwest, meanwhile, could trigger mudflows and ash clouds that blanket Seattle, shutting down airports and seaports.
A magnitude 6 eruption from Mount Rainier in Washington state could have potential economic losses of more than $7 trillion over the ensuing five years.
Also, highly active volcanic centres along the Indonesian archipelago – from Sumatra to Central Java – also line the Strait of Malacca, which is one of the busiest shipping passages in the world, with 40 per cent of global trade traversing the narrow route each year.
The Luzon Strait in the South China Sea, encircled by the Luzon Volcanic Arc, is another key shipping route,.
Researchers warn it’s the crux of all the major submerged cabling that connects China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.
Courtesy of dailymail.co.uk
Satellite image of Fuego volcano by (c) Google Earth View
Explosive activity continues with volcanic ash plumes at Fuego Volcano in Guatemala
Courtesy of volcanodiscovery.com
A third eruption fissure cracked open on April 6, in between the two already existing ones.
Drone footage filmed on Friday (April 9) showed the second fissure surrounded by a blanket of snow.
The volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula, some 30 kilometres southwest of the capital Reykjavik, started to erupt on March 19 and has become a tourist attraction, drawing thousands of visitors.
Volcanologists have no idea how long the eruption will continue, saying it could stop soon or continue for years, possibly even decades.
Courtesy of news.yahoo.com
Iceland volcano Fagradalsfjall between capital & main airport ERUPTS, triggering halt to air traffic
A volcano has erupted in southwest Iceland following heavy seismic activity and a series of small earthquakes in the area. All inbound and outgoing flights have been halted amid the eruption.
The Fagradalsfjall volcano, located around 20 miles (32km) south of the country’s capital of Reykjavik, erupted late on Friday night, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office (ICO), which noted that all flights to and from the neighboring Keflavik International Airport had been paused.
A video captured from the Coast Guard helicopter and shared by the ICO showed a stream of glowing lava snaking down the mountain, with the office adding that the lava flow is only some 1.6 miles (2.6km) away from the town of Suðurstrandarvegur.
Photos of the eruption have circulated on social media, turning the night sky red.
Authorities from Keflavik were sent to assess the situation, the ICO said, while local media reported that a Coast Guard helicopter had also been dispatched to the area, bringing along two scientists to help determine next steps.
A local government spokesperson also announced that all main roads around the volcano had been closed “so that people do not get too close.”
Located on a peninsula in southwest Iceland, the volcano sits in a seismic hotspot which has seen some 40,000 small quakes since late February, putting the region on high alert for a volcanic episode. However, as noted by a local seismologist, activity in the area “died down almost completely” in the lead-up to Friday’s eruption.
Courtesy of rt.com
The Guatemalan Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology, and Hydrology (Insivumeh) has reported increased levels of volcanic activity at the Fuego Volcano, located approximately 40 km (25 miles) west-southwest of Guatemala City. The eruptive events took place the morning of Feb. 14. Observations indicate that plumes have reached approximately 4.6 km (3 miles) above sea level, and lava has flown as far as 1.5 km (1 mile). Ashfall has reportedly occurred in several nearby municipalities in Sacatepequez Department, including Alotenango.
Despite the increase in activity, there are currently no evacuation orders in effect; however, authorities have issued an ashfall advirory for areas and urged residents to remain vigilant.
Additional eruptions could cause low-level seismic activity, further lava flows, ash clouds, and landslides in the surrounding area. The Fuego Volcano will likely continue to emit frequent gas and ash clouds in the coming days.
Courtesy of crisis24.garda.com
Intense activity at Etna’s SE crater this morning (image: LAVE webcam)
Europe’s most active volcano remains highly active, erupting from at least two of its summit craters: although visibility has been very poor, intermittent clear views allow to see intense strombolian-type activity from the New SE crater and the Voragine central crater.
The latter is less frequent and not as strong as the activity at the protagonist New SE crater. Tremor has been high and showing a steady increasing trend, indicating that magma is currently flowing towards the surface at increased rate.
Whether there will be another paroxysm with lava fountains soon is open to speculation at the moment.
Courtesy of volcanodiscovery.com