Volcanic eruptions have caused huge losses to human life and property in the years gone by. In this article we will be taking a look at the 10 most significant volcanic eruptions in history.
The recent Tsunami and earthquakes in Japan has drawn our attention to the dangers of natural catastrophes and has reminded us about the fragility of the human race. If we think of it, no technological innovation, no forecasting technique can help us predict when nature decides to unleash its fury. Out of all the deadly killers, volcanoes have fascinated us from time immemorial. They are intriguing, yet devastating when they erupt. They have the ability to level an entire city as if it never existed. Volcanoes have made their presence felt through eruptions throughout the history of mankind. The effects of eruption of volcanoes are felt till several years after the incidence. Let us take a look at the biggest volcanic eruptions ever recorded.
1. Lake Toba - 70,000 B.C.
This eruptions happened circa 67,000 BCE and was one of the most destructive volcanic eruptions ever recorded. Although there is no written record of the eruption the geographic effect it had and the evidence it has left points to the fact that it was very destructive. The eruption, it is guessed, threw plume of volcanic ash and gases more than 25 km into the air. The eruption left a major part of Asia under a cloud of ash, estimated to be 15 centimeters thick. The event supposedly wiped out a significant percentage of human population and also caused major climatic changes. It is theorized that today's humans are the way they are because of this event, although this theory is debatable.
2. Thera, Greece - 1600 B.C.
Around 1600 B.C., the island of Thera witnessed one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in the recorded history. Researchers claim that this eruption had the power equivalent to that of thirty hydrogen bombs. The Minoan civilization, which inhabited the island, suffered losses of life and property. Archaeologists, to this date, are debating whether this event was responsible for the demise of the Minoan civilization. The eruption sent volcanic ash in the air and the intensity was such that traces of ash were found as far as Egypt and the Black Sea.
3. Mount Etna, Italy - 1669
Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy has recorded around 150 incidents of eruptions since 1500 BC and is one of the most active volcanoes of the world. In 1669, it erupted again but this time the impact was large and deadly as it ripped apart some forty towns, leaving an estimated 40,000 dead. The volcano was so powerful that it created a 6-mile-long crevice on the surface.
4. Tambora, Indonesia - 1815
One of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in the world, it led to the death of around 10,000 people. The effects of this eruption were felt till several years as the ash from the volcano destroyed vegetation and caused widespread famines. 1816 is also known as 'the year without a summer' as the climate was so disturbed that the neighboring countries were hit by famines. The temperature of the world dropped by 0.3 degree Celsius and the total death toll including the deaths from famines and floods rose to a staggering 90,000.
5. Krakatoa, Indonesia - 1883
The volcanic eruption in Krakatoa blew away the entire island of Krakatoa and caused widespread destruction. The repercussions were felt as far as Europe and it is claimed that after this eruption, colorful sunsets and sunrises were witnessed. It is reported that around 36,000 people died in this catastrophe.
6. Mount Pelee, Martinique - 1902
One of the most deadliest eruptions of the 20th century, the eruption of Mount Pelee completely wiped out the city of Saint-Pierre. The death count was around 30,000 and most of the people died of the fast-moving cloud of hot gas and volcanic particles. This eruption led researchers to name such types of eruptions as "Pelean eruptions".
7. Paricutin, Mexico - 1943
On February 20, 1943, the village of Paricutin was destroyed by a volcano but what is surprising is that there wasn't much damage to life and only three people died in this eruption. But it led to the death of a lot of farm animals, as it is said that 4,000 farm animals and 500 horses died by breathing in the volcanic ash.
8. Mount St. Helens, Washington - 1980
The volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens caused damages worth whopping $3 billion dollars to the American government. It also led to death of 57 people and is widely regarded as one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in the history of America.
9. Katmai, Alaska - 1912
Katmai eruption is most commonly linked to the formation of the 'Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes'. The blast caused the magma to fly as high as ten miles in air and the lava kept flowing out of the volcano for more than 60 hours. As the volcano is located in a remote location, there was no loss of life or property.
10. Pinatubo, Philippines - 1991
The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo killed 800 people but the death toll could have been higher had the eruption not been predicted on the days preceding it. The explosion accompanying the eruption sent debris as high as 10kms in air and homes collapsed under its weight.
In the recent times, there was the eruption of Mount Eyjafjallajökull, in Iceland. This volcanic eruption didn't cause any damage to life but it almost led to the closure of the airspace of Europe. Several flights were canceled and some military aircraft were reported to be harmed. It also had severe effects on the environment as the floating ash settled on Europe's field has the potential of harming livestock.
Scientists look at volcanic disruptions as disturbances in earth's crust. In many cultures volcanoes are personified by gods and goddess, like as in Hawaiian mythology, volcanoes are the personified by goddess Pele. In ancient Greece, it was believed that volcanic eruptions were the acts of gods. Scientists, on the other hand, are trying hard to have better prediction systems in place so that the risk to life and property is reduced. While there is no possible way to prevent a volcanic eruption, the best way, perhaps is to live with harmony with nature and let it live in harmony with us
Adapted from: www.buzzle.com