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
Yellowstone volcano: 82 earthquakes rock US supervolcano. Is an eruption brewing? #earthquake #QuakeSwarm #Supervolcano #Yellowstone #USA
The US Geological Survey (USGS), which monitors Yellowstone volcano for signs of activity, has published its monthly activity report for August. Between August 1 and September 1, 2020, a total of 82 earthquakes were recorded, including five eruptions of Yellowstone’s Steamboat Geyser. The update comes amid unfounded fears and social media rumours the US supervolcano is overdue an eruption.
One Twitter user said: “Sometimes I remember Yellowstone may erupt at any moment, and then it takes longer to fall asleep.”
Another person said: “You’ve only got one life so, enjoy the delicious food, embrace every awesome moment, and live your life on your terms.
“Besides, there’s a caldera in Yellowstone National Park that’s about 40,000 years overdue to erupt, so yeah, just live it up!”
A third Twitter user said: “Oh Lord, 2020 boiling up another surprise up…
“Don’t forget Yellowstone IS a super-volcano that will one day erupt and impact the majority of the continental US scientists say…”
READ MORE: USAF scrambled to Yellowstone after terrifying 7.3 magnitude quake
Throughout the month of August, University of Utah Seismograph Stations recorded 82 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park region, northwest US.
The strongest earthquake was a magnitude 2.6 event just seven miles west of Old Faithful geyser.
The earthquake struck on August 20 at about 11.12pm local time.
And just two days earlier, a swarm of tremors was felt about 12 miles north-northeast of the geyser.
However, the strongest of these tremors was a “micro” quake of magnitude 0.9.
The USGS said: “August was a spectacular month for geysers in Yellowstone.”
The agency added: “Geyser activity like this is common and is not a reflection of deeper volcanic processes, but it is a spectacular sight to behold.”
So, is any of this activity a sign of Yellowstone awakening from its slumber?
According to the USGS, all activity at the supervolcano remains at background levels and there is not a single shred of evidence to support claims of an overdue eruption.
The USGS said: “Almost all earthquakes at Yellowstone are brittle-failure events caused when rocks break due to crustal stresses.
“Though we’ve been looking for years at Yellowstone, no one has yet identified ‘long-period (LP) events’ commonly attributed to magma movement.
“When they are observed, that will not mean Yellowstone is getting ready to erupt.
“LP earthquakes are observed commonly at other volcanoes in the world, including California, which have not erupted for centuries or millennia.
Courtesy of financial-press.uk