Archive | Supervolcano RSS for this section

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

Photo Illustration

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

Yellowstone volcano: 82 earthquakes rock US supervolcano. Is an eruption brewing? #earthquake #QuakeSwarm #Supervolcano #Yellowstone #USA

Earthquake Swarm

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

Europe’s Most Dangerous Supervolcano “Campi Flegrei” is Reawakening

Just below millions of people there is a supervolcano that has begun to show signs of reawakening. The supervolcano, Campi Flegrei, is 8 miles wide and sits beneath the Bay of Naples offshore Italy. Recent monitoring of the volcano points to a reawakening of one of the largest volcanoes in Europe.
An international team of geoscientists have monitored the volcano’s caldera for signs of activity and recently published results in the journal Nature Communications on the increased danger of an eruption.
Campi Flegrei, which means “burning fields” in Italian, is believed to have formed hundreds of thousands of years ago and has erupted on several occasions in recent geologic time. The initial eruption, which occurred 200,000 years ago triggered a “volcanic winter” from the massive amount of ash ejected into the atmosphere. The volcano then erupted again 40,000 and 12,000 years ago.
The eruption 40,000 years ago is thought to have wiped out most of the European Neanderthals and was one of the largest volcanic eruptions of all time. In recent memory, Campi Flegrei erupted in 1538 for 8 days straight, sending ash across Europe and forming the new mountain Monte Nuovo.
Recent measurements from the Campi Flegrei volcano indicate it is approaching what is called the critical degassing pressure (CDP), a pressure at which the volcano can begin a phase of volatility and volcanic unrest. The CDP is generally speaking a pressure where volcanic gas can release from the underlying magma, heat localized hydrothermal vents, fluids, and rocks. This increased pressure and heat can trigger deformation of the overburden rock and ultimately rock failure, i.e. a volcanic eruption.
Scientists have measured accelerated deformation of the volcano, which has literally risen recently due to increased gaseous pressures. Scientists have measured a 1.25 feet rise of the volcano’s ground since 2005. Gas at high pressures in the subsurface is exceptionally dangerous as it can easily and quickly lead to an unconstrained positive feedback loop. Imagine gas in solution in magma, which is relatively stable.
If that gas begins to escape and rise in the Earth’s subsurface through magma, the gas will subsequently reduce the overlying pressure of the magma below it. That in turn allows for more gas to come out of solution and rise in the magma column. In an instant, you can have a runaway situation whereby decompressed gas allows for more decompression and an eventual blowout. This is not dissimilar to some situations seen during oil and gas well blowouts.
The location of Campi Flegrei is especially alarming, located immediately near the metropolitan area of Naples, a very densely populated metropolitan area. The volcano is therefore actively monitored by the Italian National Institute of Geophysics located in Rome, where real time measurements are analyzed for increasing threat.
Despite the increasing signs of activity, it’s very hard to determine the “tipping point” at which the volcano begins erupting. However, the Italian government recently raised the volcano’s threat level from green to yellow, which requires constant scientific monitoring for changes in volcanic behavior. The most common signs of increased likelihood of an eruption are increased gas output (decreased gas pressure), elevation rise on the volcano’s surface, and increased seismicity within the volcano.
Unfortunately, the best thing we can currently do is actively monitor the volcano for signs of further increasing activity. However, an eruption could not happen for the next century, it’s impossible to accurately model when these events will occur. Similar to many geologic processes on Earth (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, etc.) the signs of decreasing stability are easy to detect but the tipping point at which the event occurs is very hard to predict.
Courtesy of