lake toba is still kicking.one day all Batak will be off to Heaven with the asshes from the volcano
What will happen to humankind when this magma chamber erupts? “A terrible truth underlies all mankind’s efforts to understand the vast mechanisms [that define supervolcano] eruptions. Ultimately trying to find out what makes supervolcanoes work may be pointless. Consider the last one. 74,000 years ago a supervolcano erupted…in Sumatra. It would have been the loudest noise ever heard by man. It would have blasted vast clouds of ash across the world. The resultant caldera formed Lake Toba, 100 kilometres long, 60 kilometres wide…We’re talking about 3,000 cubic kilometres of material coming out of that volcano. That’s about 10,000 times the size of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption which people think of as a large eruption…It was, in short, colossal. Scientists are only now beginning to understand the effects of so much ash on the planet’s climate…”*
Chemical analysis of 35 centimeters of ash located in the floor of the Indian Ocean approximately 2,500 kilometers from the Toba volcano tells us that “this eruption was rich in sulphur, [which] would have released a tremendous amount of sulphur dioxide and other gases into the stratosphere which would have turned into sulphuric acid aerosols and affected the climate of the Earth for years…The fine ash and sulphur dioxide blasted into the stratosphere reflects solar radiation back into space and stops sunlight reaching the planet. This has a cooling effect on the Earth…[T]he temperature change after Toba in degrees Celsius would have been about a 5 degree global temperature drop, very significant, very severe global cooling…causing Europe’s summers to freeze and triggering a volcanic winter. Five degrees globally would translate into 15 degrees or so of summer cooling in the temperate to high latitudes. The effects on agriculture, on the growth of plants, on life in the oceans would be catastrophic.”
In fact, human geneticists have learned through the study of accumulation of mutations in mitochondrial DNA that the human species was almost wiped out approximately 70,000-80,000 years ago. Probably only five or ten thousand people worldwide managed to survive. “As for what caused this dramatic reduction in population the geneticists had no idea. Dr. Henry Harpending began touring universities to talk about the bottleneck. He was invited by anthropologist Stanley Ambrose to give a lecture to his students. [Ambrose] sat in on the lecture and [when Harpending] started talking about this human population bottleneck…I thought what could have caused it [the eruption of Toba] and at that point I broke out into a sweat. I went up to Henry and said I’ve just read a paper [about the super eruption of Toba in Sumatra], and it’s on the top of my desk now, that may have an explanation for why this population bottleneck occurred. Harpending said, ‘I didn’t read [the paper] till a week later and when I read it you know it was like somebody kicking you in the face. There it was.’”
“Th[e] team of scientists believe the bottleneck occurred between 70 and 80,000 years ago, although this date is hotly debated. Toba erupted in the middle of this period, 74,000 years ago. If there really is a connection this research has terrifying implications for a future Yellowstone eruption. It could well be of a similar size and ferocity to Toba. Like Toba, it would have a devastating impact, not just on the surrounding region, North America, but on the whole world. If Yellowstone goes off again, and it will, it’ll be disastrous for the United States and eventually for the whole world. Vulcanologists believe it would all start with the magma chamber becoming unstable. You’d start seeing bigger earthquakes, you may see parts of Yellowstone uplifting as magma intrudes and gets nearer and nearer the surface. And maybe an earthquake sends a rupture through the brittle layer, you’ve broken the lid of the pressure cooker. This would generate sheets of magma which will be probably rising up to 30, 40, 50 kilometres sending gigantic amounts of debris into the atmosphere. Where we are right now would be gone. We would be instantly incinerated.
“Pyroclastic flows will cover that whole region, maybe kill tens of thousands of people in the surrounding area. You’re getting a, an eruption which we can barely imagine. We’ve never seen this sort of thing. You wouldn’t be able to get within 1,000 kilometres of it when it was going like this. The ash carried in the atmosphere and deposited over large areas of the United States, particularly over the great plains, would have devastating effects. The area that would be affected is the bread basket of North America…and…produces an enormous amount of grain on a global scale really. That’s, that’s, that’s the problem and you would see nothing.
“The harvest would vanish virtually overnight. All basic economic activity would certainly be impacted by this and let alone changes in the climate that could possibly be induced. The climatic effects globally from that eruption will be produced by the plume of material that goes up into the atmosphere. That’ll spread worldwide and will have a cooling effect that will probably knock out the growing season on a global basis. We can’t really overstate the effect of these huge eruptions. Civilisation will start to creak at the seams in a sense. The fact that we haven’t seen one in historic time or documented means the human race really is not attuned to these things because they’re such a rare event. It’s really not a question of if it’ll go off, it’s a question of when because sooner or later one of these large super eruptions will happen.”
Editor’s Note: Editor’s Note: Supervolcanoes are relevant to a recent disaster. The Toba supervolcano is in quite close proximity to the recent earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Sumatra (please see photos below).