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Supervolcanoes Around the World

Priya Johnson May 11, 2019
Supervolcanoes are volcanoes characterized by catastrophic eruptions. On eruption, they spew volcanic ash over thousands of miles, capable of burying entire cities. However, there are so many misconceptions about them.

What Is a Supervolcano?

Volcanoes that are recorded to have a magnitude of 8 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, and expel over 1000 cubic km of volcanic material are referred to as supervolcanoes.

They don't look like mountains; instead collapse into large craters in the earth’s crust, in which water collects and forms lakes.

Greatest Supervolcanoes in the World

Taupo, New Zealand

New Zealand’s famous lake Taupo sits on a supervolcano whose eruption is the most recent of all. It erupted about 26,500 years ago. An eruption of 7 magnitude took place 5000 years ago, which is the most recent super-eruption.

Yellowstone Supervolcano, USA

Has erupted three times; the first one was over 2 million years ago, the second time was over 1 million years ago, and the third one of comparatively lower magnitude erupted over 0.6 million years ago.

Today the Yellowstone caldera is filled with water to form the Yellowstone Lake.

Toba, Indonesia

Situated on the island of Sumatra, Lake Toba fills the supervolcanic caldera that is the result of 4 supervolcanic eruptions that took place over a million years ago. The most recent mega-eruption occurred 74 thousand years ago.

Long Valley, USA

This supervolcano exploded over 0.76 million years ago, and according to volcanologists the ash spewed from it covered most of the western United States.

Valles, New Mexico

Erupted twice; 1.6 million years ago and 1.2 million years ago, Valles in the north of New Mexico also comes under the supervolcano category.

Other Volcanoes

Southern Japan’s, Aira caldera and Italy’s Campi Flegrei are also volcanoes that have spewed over 1000 cubic km of volcanic matter in the past.

Global Effects of a Supervolcanic Eruption

Supervolcanic eruptions are believed to cause volcanic winter, wherein, the ash would block the Sun's rays, thereby dropping the temperatures drastically.

Such eruptions will not only affect the climate and terrain of nearby cities but will also have a global impact.

Misconceptions

Supervolcanoes are definitely mega-destructive and super powerful; nevertheless, they aren’t something we need to panic about right now.

There is no evidence of them erupting for another half a million years or more. Volcanologists will be alerted several thousand decades in advance before an eruption of this magnitude takes place.