"Volcanologists warn world is unprepared for next major eruption"… And?

Guest pondering by David Middleton

NEWS 06 MARCH 2018

Volcanologists warn world is unprepared for next major eruption

A big blast could hobble global trade, communications and financial systems.

Alexandra Witze

The world needs to do more to prepare for the next huge volcanic eruption, a team of leading scientists says.

The devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and the Tōhoku earthquake in Japan in 2011 highlighted some of the worst-case scenarios for natural disasters. But humanity has not had to deal with a cataclysmic volcanic disaster since at least 1815, when the eruption of Tambora in Indonesia killed tens of thousands of people and led to a ‘year without a summer’ in Europe and North America. Such world-altering blasts rank at 7 or more on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) scale of eruptions, which goes to 8.

“The next VEI-7 eruption could occur within our lifetimes, or it could be hundreds of years down the road,” says Chris Newhall, a volcanologist with the Mirisbiris Garden and Nature Center in Santo Domingo, Philippines. But the time to have this discussion is now, he says, so that researchers and government officials can plan and prepare before an emergency strikes.

Newhall is the lead author of a paper published last week in Geosphere1 that explores the potential consequences of the next VEI-7 eruption. His co-authors are volcanologist Stephen Self of the University of California, Berkeley — with whom Newhall devised the VEI scale2 in 1982 — and Alan Robock, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.


Newhall’s team says that researchers should start to prepare for a VEI-7 eruption by studying potential effects on crucial communications links — such as how atmospheric moisture and volcanic ash can interfere with global positioning system signals. Others could work to improve their understanding of how large amounts of magma accumulate and erupt, helping scientists to forecast where the next VEI-7 event might occur.

The researchers already have a long list of candidate volcanoes that might be capable of a VEI-7 blast. They include Taupo in New Zealand, site of the world’s last VEI-8 eruption — 26,500 years ago — and Iran’s Mount Damavand, which lies just 50 kilometres from Tehran.



The Nature article is actually longer and more informative than the Newhall et al. Geosphere1 article:

Specifically, we focus on Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) 7 eruptions, which occur 1–2 times per thousand years.


We suggest and apply criteria to identify candidates for future VEI 7 eruptions, and discuss likely challenges for short-range forecasting of such events. Preparation for such low-probability but high-consequence events is difficult to imagine…


Yes.  It is very difficult to imagine how to prepare for the global impacts of low probability geophysical hazards if the timing and locations of such events are all but impossible to forecast until the eruptions are imminent.  Cataloging and monitoring volcanoes capable of VEI 7 and greater eruptions is a good idea.  But… serious question: How could anyone actually prepare for the global effects of a VEI 7 eruption?

The Nature article linked to a couple of other interesting articles by Ms. Wiste:

Each article included a cool graphic:

Earth’s lost history of planet-altering eruptions revealed

The fact that none of the massive Yellowstone eruptions made the cut provides some context to how truly massive these eruptions were.

World’s deadliest volcanoes identified

The take-away from this graphic is: Don’t live near stratovolcanoes, particularly if they have histories of generating nuée ardente (pyroclastic flows) and/or lahars (volcanic mudslides).

As a geologist, I’m all for monitoring active volcanic fields… But, I’m not sure I see how we could prepare for a massive eruption of any of these.

If and when Yellowstone pops off another Ultra-Plinian (>VEI 6) eruption, the best we can hope for is that we have the resources to clean up the mess…

Most people are probably unaware of the fact that Sunset Crater in the San Francisco volcanic field near Flagstaff AZ has erupted within the past 1,000 years, that the Raton-Clayton volcanic field in NE New Mexico was active as recently as 45,000 years ago or that Los Alamos National Laboratory NM sits just north of a still-active mini-Yellowstone (Valles Caldera).  These volcanic fields are not monitored.


Massive caldera-forming volcanoes like Long Valley and Yellowstone are the volcanic equivalent of an ARkStorm flood.   Very few have occurred in human history.  Of the 22 identified VEI 8 eruptions, none have occurred during the Holocene.  The most recent, Taupo Volcano in New Zealand, occurred 24,500 years ago.  Of the 128 identified VEI 7 eruptions, only 10 occurred during the Holocene and only 3 during the most recent 2,000 years.

There is a long observational history with volcanoes like Mount St. Helens, Vesuvius, Aetna, Montserrat, etc. It’s possible to predict eruptions with sufficient accuracy to order evacuations. We have no idea how much warning we will have of a major eruption of Yellowstone or Long Valley. No one has witnessed one of these types of eruptions in recorded history. There really aren’t any benchmarks for when to order an evacuation. It’s essential that these volcanoes be closely monitored… But, I don’t think there’s much we can do to prepare for or even mitigate the effects of super-eruptions.

A Plinian or Ultra-Plinian eruption of Yellowstone would be really bad.

Volcanic Explosivity Index Source: Climate S.W.A.G.

What do WUWT readers think?  Is there a way to prepare for the global impacts of the next VEI 7+ eruption?  Should tax dollars be spent on such preparation?


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Tom Halla
March 7, 2018 6:37 am

Bend over, put your head as far back as possible, and. . .

Reply to  David Middleton
March 7, 2018 7:50 am

LOL, Dave… Put a paper bag over your head!

michael hart
Reply to  David Middleton
March 7, 2018 8:40 am

It’s one of those days. I was about to say we should also prepare for an

“…enormous mutant star goat!”
“Oh really …” said Ford Prefect.
“Yes! A monstrous creature from the pit of hell with scything teeth ten thousand miles long, breath that would boil oceans, claws that could tear continents from their roots, a thousand eyes that burned like the sun, slavering jaws a million miles across, a monster such as you have never … never … ever …”

The truth is, of course, that we should continue to make ourselves more technologically and economically developed, using the cheapest available forms of energy production. In other words, carry on with what fossil fuels have already done for us. It is poor people in under-developed nations that suffer the most from natural disasters. More wealthy countries and peoples have the resources to cope more effectively. Everyone knows this, except, apparently, global-warmers and various assorted environmentalists.

Reply to  David Middleton
March 7, 2018 2:23 pm

michael hart “In other words, carry on…”
lol In other words keep the paper bag over your head.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  David Middleton
March 7, 2018 6:21 pm

Zazove, I’m sure all those windmills and solar panels will hold up great in the event. Perhaps you’re confusing your paper bag with someone else’s…

Reply to  David Middleton
March 7, 2018 7:54 pm

michael hart. Love this term “assorted environmentalists”. If we can have assorted chocolates, why not assorted environmentalists? Probably a mix of hard & soft centres, nuts, light & dark chocolate.

Santa Baby
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 7, 2018 9:03 pm

I think a greater or as great treath to mankind is neomarxism and postmodernism. That we can do something about.

Alan Tomalty
March 7, 2018 6:39 am

No matter how you insulate wires or reinforce buildings a VEI 9 eruption of the kind in the 1st list would wipe out anything in its past so everything that you did to prepare would just be a waste of money. Even a VEI 8 eruption like Yellowstone would obliterate everything we hold dear in its path.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
March 7, 2018 12:34 pm

Unless we learn to make homesteads underwater. Anyone remember this old movie?comment image?zz=1

March 7, 2018 6:42 am

I was actually reading this earlier, my mom linked it to me, I don’t recall seeing any specific recommendations for actions to be taken other than not living near volcanoes which may erupt. I live well outside the predicted fallout limits for Yellowstone, so not much I could do beyond not going to Yellowstone. I’ll finish reading it this afternoon, I have an idea their only solution is to give them truckloads of tax dollars. Seems to always be the “solution” to whatever “problem” crops up.

michael hart
Reply to  2hotel9
March 7, 2018 8:45 am

Yes. When the bloke says

“But the time to have this discussion is now, he says, so that researchers and government officials can plan and prepare before an emergency strikes”,

what he actually means is that he should be PAID to talk about it now.

Reply to  michael hart
March 7, 2018 2:41 pm

Exactly. This is an appeal for relevance and money. Mostly for money.

Don Bennett
March 7, 2018 6:46 am

Put jam in you pockets because all you’ll be is toast.

Reply to  Don Bennett
March 7, 2018 7:38 am

Not us preppers.
All of you bitcoin paupers…yup.

Shawn Marshall
Reply to  Don Bennett
March 8, 2018 4:29 am

Honey might be better.

March 7, 2018 6:48 am

Since “Volcanic eruptions are triggered by cosmic rays” (Ebisuzaki et al 2011*), REPELLING those rays with tested Laser Plasma Shields, will stop devastating-COOLING electro-volcanic eruptions! 8 institutions announced simulations!** *sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1342937X10001966. **phys.org/news/2017-07-scientists-laboratory-astrophysical.html Princeton, RochesterΝΥ, Michigan, New Hampshire. thewire.in/159826/tifr-tabletop-laser-plasma-omega-parker-aditya

Steve Keohane
March 7, 2018 6:50 am

That Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980 put ash on the front range in Colorado, at least in Loveland, north of Denver. Much farther than the map above shows

Dan Briggs
Reply to  Steve Keohane
March 7, 2018 6:54 am

Also, St Helen’s dropped ash on my windshield in the college parking lot in Santa Fe, NM. Made for some astounding sunsets though.

Bob Hoye
Reply to  David Middleton
March 7, 2018 7:18 am

It extended north into southern Canada. Mapmaker had a limited perspective.

Bloke down the pub
Reply to  David Middleton
March 7, 2018 11:42 am

This is all assuming that the next big one will be in the same place where one has gone off before.

NW sage
Reply to  David Middleton
March 7, 2018 5:36 pm

Once the ash made it to Canada the bureaucrats wouldn’t allow it in because the permits weren’t signed – thus no record exists of any making it to Canada. (sarc)

March 7, 2018 6:54 am

The best preparation for whatever event is to be rich. To have machines, vehicles, powerplants, stockpiled energy material & food etc, all this as solid as possible. The richer the better. And it works for just any event, volcanoes, floods, drought, crop failure, earthquake, diseases, and war. And it works for people and for countries.
The best use of tax dollar is to buy back debts, to be a rich country with assets all over the world, so you can buy help when needed.

March 7, 2018 6:55 am

Duck and Cover!

Reply to  RPT
March 7, 2018 2:42 pm

Wasn’t it, “Duck, roll, and cover?”

Reply to  RPT
March 8, 2018 8:40 am

After further review, you are correct. “Duck and cover.”

March 7, 2018 6:57 am

There are some common sense things that would apply here as well as elsewhere. Just like prudent families have a rainy day fund, try as a society to not live near the edge – i.e. have food reserves available, robust communications and infrastructure, and a rudimentary organizational structure. That way one can minimize the area of impact, retain a semblance of society, and begin the process of rebuilding. We should be able to exist through a year of enforced scarcity, such as a completely disrupted growing season.

Reply to  David Middleton
March 7, 2018 7:56 am

That was my thought. Part of the reason we’re so dysfunctional as a society these days is because we’ve forgotten how to be self-reliant and being part of a REAL community—one which you know your neighbors, are friendly with them, keep vigilance on their property while they’re on vacation and vice versa, etc.—rather than insisting everything is turned over to some faceless, inept bureaucracy of government oversight. We have plenty of examples where communities of ordinary people do far better pulling together after a natural disaster rather than relying on outside governmental assistance to put normalcy back into people’s lives.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  MikeP
March 7, 2018 12:50 pm

Arm yourself. Those unprepared and without assets will try to steal from those prepared with assets.

peanut gallery
Reply to  MikeP
March 7, 2018 1:34 pm

Not gonna happen. After 4 days, the people in dense population areas will revert to hunter-gatherers and become marauding bands as conditions worsen.

Reply to  peanut gallery
March 7, 2018 2:30 pm

Aka, zombies!

March 7, 2018 7:00 am

Clearly this is simply a thinly-veiled appeal for research grant money…

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Derek Wood
March 7, 2018 7:16 am


Reply to  Walter Sobchak
March 7, 2018 3:06 pm

I echo your incredulity.

Ron Long
March 7, 2018 7:02 am

Good article David. I like some of the figures and maps. The Columbia River flood basalts were probably produced by a deep melting plume off the migrating Yellowstone hotspot (the hotspot is fixed and the North American Plate travels over it). The south side equivalent is the Miocene Rift basalts in Nevada. Both events are synchronous and have the same tendency to produce gold deposits. As a fellow geologist might we agree that the geophysicists responsible for these geophysical disasters should be identified and sterilized?

Reply to  Ron Long
March 7, 2018 8:17 am
Steve Richards
March 7, 2018 7:04 am

Keep your larder full.

Reply to  Steve Richards
March 7, 2018 3:03 pm

and your firearms ready.

March 7, 2018 7:06 am

I’m somewhat surprised that some alarmists haven’t suggested studying a method to trigger a 7 or 8 on purpose to reduce the temperature a little

Reply to  Greg61
March 7, 2018 7:27 am

Drill into Yellowstone caldera, widest bore possible.
That might get something happening.

March 7, 2018 7:07 am

May I correct a typo? It’s Mt. St. Helens (no apostrophe, usually written St., not Saint). It’s named after a 18th-19th century English nobleman, Lord St. Helens, who was a friend of George Vancouver, the explorer who named the mountain.

Javert Chip
March 7, 2018 7:13 am

This entire subject area is like a cheap 1950’5 Japanese si-fi movie.
The only thing saving us is some young scientist running around in a white coat and a blond in a tight sweater (those 2 worked in every is-fi movie ever made).

Reply to  Javert Chip
March 7, 2018 7:26 am

In my prepper hideout, the girl in the tight sweater is welcome to stay.
I can do my own scientifical hypothesizating.

Reply to  menicholas
March 7, 2018 10:09 am

And you already have a white lab coat!

Reply to  menicholas
March 7, 2018 10:51 am

And if you don’t, a good bathrobe will suffice.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Javert Chip
March 7, 2018 1:00 pm

Yes, call Hugh Marlowe, he’ll know what to do.

Jacob Frank
March 7, 2018 7:14 am

Are scientists allowed to investigate real threats? Of course some communist solution will be proffered

James Beaver
March 7, 2018 7:16 am

We live an hour and a half from Mt Rainer in Washington State. It is one of the most heavily instrumented volcanoes in the world, so I’m hoping for some advance warning. The lahar maps miss our location, but I don’t want to count on that.

Dan Davis
Reply to  James Beaver
March 7, 2018 11:00 am

I’m 30 miles as the cinder flies from peak of the Stratovolcano, Rainier to my house. I’m well up on a hill, not far from Orting, which is in the path of lahar/flooding/destruction.
Living dangerously….

Jack Roth
Reply to  James Beaver
March 21, 2018 10:35 am

The lahar maps for Rainier are purposely underdone. The state and King county have managed to keep the most affected part of the potential lahar field open (Electron area), but the rest has fallen prey to the developers, and more of that empty space gets built on every year. Also, the roads in the entire immediate danger zone are woefully inadequate to any kind of evacuation, and in the extended danger zone they’re not even sufficient for rush hour traffic once one gets to Puyallup. Let’s face it, if Rainier goes, few people in and south of Seattle will have much of a chance.

Walter Sobchak
March 7, 2018 7:22 am

Let me say in advance that, I hope that if one of these were to happen in my lifetime, that it would happen in a remote area with plenty of warning so that there would be no human casualties. That said, it would be really cool. And it would drive the climate change yappers off the front page by making it clear that we humans are just passengers on this bus, and that nothing humans are capable of, at least with current technologies, can have any effect on the environment.

March 7, 2018 7:24 am

The way to prepare would seem to be to follow the prepper model of having everything a person needs to be self sufficient and well armed and defended in order to avoid starving for as long as possible.

March 7, 2018 7:33 am

Just don’t rely on the New Orleans Levee Boards to protect you. The same goes for protection from LAPD in the street riots.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  ResourceGuy
March 7, 2018 5:26 pm

Or Broward County Sheriff deputies at an active shooter scene.

Bob Hoye
March 7, 2018 7:42 am

I had to look up the date. It was Sunday, May 18, 1980, when St. Helen’s erupted. I was living on the water looking out to the Vancouver harbour. Sometime after 8:32 AM I heard a boom and looked out to the bay to see if a small boat had blown up.
Later in the day learned about the blast. Had the blast gone straight up the distribution of ash would have been greater. That the blast went sideways diminished the distribution.
I still have a booklet published shortly after that outlined how to protect a car from the ash.

Reply to  Bob Hoye
March 7, 2018 10:12 am

I was at Ft Sill OK and we got dusted with ash afterwards. Kinda spooky. Weather was typical Oklahoma spring, otherwise.

Reply to  Bob Hoye
March 7, 2018 11:25 am

I had a professor who was a kid living near the volcano when it erupted. He said that they were at church when they heard it, and when they went outside, ash was falling like snow. People half wondered if it was the end of the world.
Good day not to skip church. 😉

Sandy b
Reply to  Bob Hoye
March 7, 2018 4:11 pm

I was getting married. Didn’t find out until two weeks later at airport coming home from Italy. That’s what is called a great honeymoon!

March 7, 2018 7:48 am

I believe that Damavand sits on a plate boundary. It’s been quiet for a long time, but that means nothing in volcanic lifespans.
Why didn’t these people include the REAL problem, the ongoing eruption of Erta Ale in the Afar Rift Zone in Ethiopia? When a fissure opened in that area in 2005, because the land surface is being eroded by heat from the Earth’s interior, I guessed at a 12 year time span for a full breakthrough and a fillup of Erta Ale’s caldera, which was then about 60 feet deep with a lava lake at the bottom. I was off by about 2 years. Erta Ale is busy producing lava flows and outgassing, and the small rift (8 ft wide, 8 ft deep, 32 feet long) is now nearly 40 miles long and several hundred feet wide, producing all those noxious gases that volcanoes produce.
And the people who cook up these articles act as if they don’t even know it exists. Well, they probably don’t, so how to prepare for big volcanic eruptions?
Simple: keep the pantry and cupboards stocked. If you have room for one, go to an Amish carpenter and ask him to build a Hoosier icebox for you. Learn to cook on a woodburning stove. Try to get off the grid as much as you can. Plant your own garden, because volcanic ash is rich in soil nutrients and aerates garden soil better than anything else.
Otherwise, just stay alert to what is going on in the world.

Eric Stevens
Reply to  Sara
March 7, 2018 1:10 pm

A mega-eruption is going to kill a huge number of people not only immediately but over the succeeding years. Civilizations are going to collapse. Individuals setting themselves up to survive in the short term is all very well. What we would also need is multiple redundantly stored centers of knowledge sufficient to lift civilization back out of a very dark age. There was a science fiction story about this very thing written many years ago: ‘A Canticle for Leibowitz’ if I remember correctly.

Reply to  Eric Stevens
March 7, 2018 5:30 pm

I read that in 1974. He rode a morse, a cross between a moose and a horse. He was looking for an analog computer and finally found one.

Reply to  Eric Stevens
March 7, 2018 6:19 pm

Get in touch with your local branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism, http://sca.org/. It’s a lot more than bashing your best friends with big sticks. Not only are there blacksmiths and brewers, but people who have refined their own iron to work, and who cultivate their own beer yeasts — you know, old crafts.
And for fun,

Jack Roth
Reply to  Eric Stevens
March 21, 2018 10:48 am

Mellyrin, with respect, the last people I would want with me in an apocalypse are members of the SCA,

March 7, 2018 8:09 am

Politicians don’t have time to bother about ‘minor’ issues. They are too busy enriching themselves …

March 7, 2018 8:17 am

No surprises, really : we all have to die one day. Get used to the thought – and remember that even if an awful lot of folks die at the same time we only die one death each.

Tractor Gent
March 7, 2018 8:28 am

I’ve a feeling that global society – at least the 1st world – is so interconnected that we are a bit like the cliché of the US salaryman as two paychecks from the gutter. A VE8 would knock a lot of bricks out of the edifice. So much of the logistic chain is now just-in-time that it’s fairly fragile.

March 7, 2018 8:31 am

One thing I know…humanity has never been better prepared and capable of thriving through a massive eruption than it is now. Communication, transportation, food production, emergency management, medical facilities, water purification, and so on, have never been better than the are today. Barring a thermonuclear war, or transition to a socialist one-world government, we will be even better at dealing with explosive volcanoes in the future.
It is ironic that our obsession with catastrophe seems to increase along with our ability to overcome it.

Reply to  jclarke341
March 7, 2018 8:39 am

Why would we spend big bucks to prepare for a volcanic disaster that could wipe out a portion of the earths population when we won’t spend much to try and thwart the next big chunk of rock, metal, or ice that could do us all in? They’ve been talking about it for years and have ideas, but as for the practical development work to get a system to protect us. And is there not a growing amount of evidence that some of the super eruptions in the past followed massive strikes from space?

Reply to  RAH
March 7, 2018 9:06 am

That’s a valid question, RAH, but you have to take into consideration that the wave form rippling through the mantle and core takes a very long, serious length of time to generate the kind of eruptions you’re talking about.
It wouldn’t happen overnight at any distance from the point of impact. The shockwave through the mantle and core travels in all directions, and then rebounds at a solid barrier like the crust.

March 7, 2018 8:33 am

Pretty cool to drive through the lava field going to sunset crater. In some places the flow is so level and smooth it looks like a vast abandoned asphalt parking lot with scrub and grass and weeds growing up through it in places. At sunset besides the beauty of the crater it’s self the huge number of bats emerging from the lave tubes all around the crater is also quite a sight to behold. They seem to flock together in a big mob getting themselves oriented or perhaps hoping to thwart raptor predators before they fly off to begin feeding.

Reply to  David Middleton
March 7, 2018 9:12 am

Yep. Plus the “Petrified Forest” and Painted Desert and even closer to Sunset crater the Wupatki Indian ruins.
When I was trucking across country the exit off I-40 for the Meteor Crater road was a perfect place to stop and enjoy a great view of the night sky while relieving ones self. Nice little dead end pull off on the N. side of the exit since the road only goes south from that exit.

March 7, 2018 8:43 am

It seems the Penguins know where it is safe to hide from pyro cataclysm (based on the map), but I don’t think they want to share!comment image

Reply to  ossqss
March 7, 2018 1:32 pm

Pecker vs pecker.

March 7, 2018 8:54 am

Good article.
The obvious answer is to live in an RV
and drive your “home” somewhere else,
faster than the lava flows.

Steve Zell
March 7, 2018 8:55 am

If the eruption of Tambora in 1815 led to a “year without a summer”, could a much larger eruption in the distant past have led to a massive cooling of the climate and the extinction of the dinosaurs?

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 7, 2018 8:57 am

Whille undoubtedly lots of hype and ifs, nevertheless I give more credence to volcanologists than I do to climate scientists. Let’s be fair, volcanologists often do call it right on when a volcano is about to blow and increasingly are saving human life, instead of climate change scientists who are killing poor people in both the developing world by denying electricity to millions and killing thousands of elderly impoverished people in the West by pricing energy beyond their means.
I wonder that they can look anyone,other than the people in the scam with them, in the face.
By contrast, Vulcanologists have some of their own skin in the game and do sadly occasionally lose their lives. Our climate friends award each other meaningless accolades and vast some of fraudulently acquired public money.

March 7, 2018 9:03 am

Science porn, geology branch. Could write a sciency article about virulent and transmissive influenza mutations wiping out millions in a pandemic, based on 1918 pandemic and mimicing the novel Andromeda Strain. Start the paper with 1918,then the 2009 swineflu scare, then discuss the H and N envelope proteins, then their molecular mutations and observed rates of change. Then calculate odds of a virulent pandemic. Send money for more research. (In reality, there is a well funded effort to develop an H,N starin independent vaccine just for this reason,butbitnis a difficult problem.)
In the real geology world, nothing is being done to safeguard against the Cascadia fault, which threatens British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. (Google will take you to interestig articles and papers. Wiki is not a bad start. The New Yorker peice is a must read.)
Last ‘full’ rupture/ Richter 9 earthquake was 1700 and the resulting tsunami hit Japan as well as Oregon. Return time is roughly 500 years (range based on sediment cores 280–800) and it has been over 300. No hardening of schools built before the quake potential was known. No moving of coastal towns uphill to avoid a Tohoku event. Nothing.
FEMA planning is that if 1700 repeats, everything west of I 5 is destroyed by quake/tsunami, with an optomistic casualty estimate of 100,000 dead and a more realistic estimate (in event of full 9+ rupture rather than partial 8+ rupture) about 1,000,000 dead. And this is certain to happen within the next couple hundred years. Yet Oregon and Oregon State Universities are more worried about climate change.

March 7, 2018 9:09 am

The eruption that caused the La Garita Caldera made Yellowstone look tiny. It was estimated at VEI 9.2, and spewed enough to cover the entire state of California to a depth of 40 feet (3,107 cubic miles of lava). Fortuantely, that was 27 million years ago and there’s no sign of it ever occuring again.

March 7, 2018 9:41 am

“Most people are probably unaware of the fact that Sunset Crater in the San Francisco volcanic field near Flagstaff AZ has erupted within the past 1,000 years”

I highly recommend visiting Sunset Crater!
Only visit the crater in cool weather!
All of that black ash and black lava flows get quite toasty during bright sunny hot days.

“Of the 128 identified VEI 7 eruptions, only 10 occurred during the Holocene and only 3 during the most recent 2,000 years”

Let’s review that:
Holocene -13,700 years, subtract 2,000 years leaving 11,700 years.
118 VEI 7 eruptions over 11,700 years;
That works out to a VEI 7 eruption every 100 years on average; since so many climate deluded folks love averages.
Earth has suffered a dearth of VEI 7 eruptions over the past 2,000 years.
Making the average VEI 7 eruption average since year 0 at one eruption every 200 years.
Earth’s VEI 7 ‘eruption free anomaly’ has now reached extreme levels!
Earth’s modern day VEI 7 anomaly has reached an unprecedented 203 years since Mount Tambora’s VEI 7 eruption in 1815.
It’s worse than they thought!
A return to Earth’s historical record of VEI 7 eruptions would definitely put a major crimp in CAGW religious beliefs.
Alarmists could throw themselves into volcanoes as offerings; not that alarmists are the virginal types. Instead, many alarmists certainly believe themselves to be pure, in some twisted sense.
Alarmists should be panicking in the streets!

Reply to  ATheoK
March 7, 2018 9:43 am

Rereading my post, I am embarrassed to realize I misread the eruptions sequences and frequency.
Oh well, alarmists will have to cancel their panics.

Reply to  ATheoK
March 7, 2018 5:40 pm

You’re right. Alarmists should be panicking. The Rio Grande Rift has been inactive for several thousand years but appears to be waking up.
I find it strange that they think they can control the “climate” somehow, but it doesn’t occur to them that volcanoes are more of a threat and more likely to alter things forever, and they will have no control over that at all.

March 7, 2018 9:48 am

An event such as this, or any mega event that is capable of having regional, continent wide or worldwide implications is best handled by encouraging resilient communities that are able to act locally in a cooperative manner. Ironically, this is what the “green” elements have been calling for, though in the following exact social structure. Decentralized power generation (think modular nukes), local food production (think green revolution agro techniques), independent companies and employee contracts (producers able to work from home), communications and possible power generation based off planet (cheaper high bandwidth access from globe covering fleet of satellites put in place by private aerospace companies) are just some of the possibilities of infrastructure that could survive regionally and not completely collapse because of a widespread disaster. Give tools to people and communities and they can largely deal with their own recovery.

Bruce Cobb
March 7, 2018 10:04 am

“Such world-altering blasts rank at 7 or more on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) scale of eruptions, which goes to 8.” Are they sure it doesn’t go to 11?

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
March 7, 2018 10:19 am

I always add an 11 to any scale I use, just to be safe!

Bryan A
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
March 7, 2018 10:27 am

Looking at the scale, a 9 or greater would be extinction level event similar to the Yucatan Peninsula Chicxulub event so anything greater than 8 wouldn’t matter

Bryan A
March 7, 2018 10:21 am

Is there any way to prepare for such an event??
I suppose the most you could do is to prepare for the aftermath…
…Underground storage of materials to rebuild above ground society & infrastructure
…Underground storage of seed stock to replenish food supplies
…Underground bunker facilities to house displaced surface dwellers
…Underground fresh water stores
…Underground (Nuclear) electric generation (Solar/Wind would be out of the question due to ash)
…Frozen Animal Embryo storage (ARC like facilities)
…Stored Fuel supplies and the machines needed to rebuild
Just to name a few

March 7, 2018 10:30 am

If there is a VEI-7 of -8 eruption, Earth will cool significantly (like post-Tambora) and worldwide agriculture will probably be significantly curtailed.
To me, the issue is not so much what happens to those living close to the eruption – volcanic monitoring systems and timely evacuations are practical solutions.
I would be more concerned about widespread starvation, since we don’t apparently store large volumes of food grains any more.
Another remedial measure if we have a major food shortage is to replace the huge USA fuel corn (ethanol) crop with food corn. Converting all food-for-fuel crops to food crops worldwide would also help, and would remediate (in a minor way) the reprehensible practice of clearcutting tropical rainforests to grow food-for-fuel.
Best, Allan

Paul Penrose
March 7, 2018 10:37 am

Expect the unexpected! Prepare for the unknowable! /sarc

March 7, 2018 10:43 am

I would suggest monitoring them, then if the data shows that an eruption is likely in the next couple of years, start storing up as much food as you can.

March 7, 2018 10:52 am

“But… serious question: How could anyone actually prepare for the global effects of a VEI 7 eruption?”
By warming up the planet as much as possible, to preserve as much thermal inertia as possible in the ensuring aftermath. History is filled with the collapse of civilizations, much of it do specifically with severe Catastrophic Climate Change (CCC) due to rapid global cooling after a major VEI 7 or even a swarm of smaller stratovolcanoes that happen within a decadal timeframe. This is what is thought to have ushered in the dark ages circa 530-540 AD with multiple large volcanoes from Central America to Indonesia to Iceland.
One of our current worst nightmares to modern civilization is a severe secular cooling phase such as a repeat of the Little Ice Age, combined with either a VEI 7 event, or a swarm of Stratovolcanoes that persists one after another for a period of time that permanently cools the planet for decades and causes mayhem with cooler temperatures and climate. One major crop failure in the northern hemisphere when we basically have less than a 30 day supply of basic staples, spells catastrophic loss to a population going on 8 billion people.
We are also currently in a Precessional Winter, within the long term Milankovitch cycles. We see in the geological record that ice ages can begin right when the planetary temps are the warmest. If at the depths of a natural cooling cycle over decades, we also have severe volcanism, then perhaps things can go south very quickly with severe volcanism being the trigger or hammer that seals the deal so as the snow doesn’t melt after one winter. And presto, we are at the beginning of an ice age that becomes reinforcing with increased Albedo which just grows in extant. I have never been alarmed about the so called AGW global warming-climate change doomsday scenarios, because history tells us that humankind has always done best in warmer climates. But there is no instant cure for a sudden cooling event, and that is a distinct possibility that could start tomorrow. Even slipping into an ice age is not beyond the realm of impossibility. The geological record is riddled with false starts, until finally it catches and the northern hemisphere reverts to its current natural state, which is a long term Ice Age. Most interglacial periods end after 15,000 years.
In our short history of a fairly advanced civilization less than 150 years old, our modern world has never been tested against such an immediate catastrophic cooling. Forget global warming, or what might happen by 2100 AD, let’s worry and plan for what could happen tomorrow. We need to change the narrative of AGW from it’s bad, to it’s good, that the extra warmth is an insurance policy against catastrophic cooling. Let’s just hope that perhaps the little bit of a 1/2 degree warming C that humans have mustered the last 150 years is real, and that it tides us through any major catastrophic cooling event that significant volcanism can lead to.
It is our history that civilization sooner or later has to deal with major climate cooling, so turning the narrative around that warming is good should be part of the debate. #warming is better than cooling

Reply to  Earthling2
March 9, 2018 3:38 am

I agree. Well said.

March 9, 2018 3:43 am

My above post says “I agree. Well said.”and yet it is in moderation. So is my previous post on another thread which was equally inoffensive.
Have I crossed some line such that all my posts are placed in moderation? Please advise – email me if you prefer.
Thank you.

[You entered your email address incorrectly in the login field so the system treated you as a new commenter. And, all new commenters enter moderation to ensure that bots and spammers are denied access. Hope this helps. -mod]

March 10, 2018 2:38 am

moderator – thank you for your response, and apologies for my typo.

Mark Lee
March 7, 2018 10:54 am

We should build giant robot like exoskeletons, powered by cold fusion reactors, with multinational pilots and give them cool Japanese names. They should be the size of an aircraft carrier and be able to fly intercontinental distances. Then we send them into the volcano to plug vents, open vents, swim in magma, whatever works to prevent the eruption in a spectacularly thrilling manner.

Reply to  Mark Lee
March 7, 2018 11:02 am

Is there any chance that they could, like, carry swords and stuff?
Also, I’m thinking these robots would be so large they’d probably need multiple pilots who share some sort of neuro-link in order to control them. Because, you know, they’re so big.

Steve Borodin
March 7, 2018 11:01 am

I expect vulcanologists are finding that money is being spent on wind farms, carbon capture etc instead of volcanoes. I understand. Silly isn’t it. But then money is being spent on wind farms etc instead of food, medicine, proper research and all sorts of useful things that might make people healthier, happier and richer. I think the disease is called socialism.

March 7, 2018 11:02 am

I noticed that the death tolls mentioned seem to be from actual debris flows from the volcanoes. Where are the stats for the Tsunami deaths? Wasn’t the Indonesian toll up around 250,000? Or more ? Fukioka?
Living many years in Hawaii, and on the Rim of Fire, I think that a good deal of the trillion or so “Climate Change Dollars” could be used in high tech tsunami wave detection systems, some which are out there now, but not nearly enough to be considered to be adequate.
The new satellites can also be incorporated, with new ones sent up for exactly this purpose..They are able to measure Caldera swelling, wave propagation, ground movement frequency changes etc. Knowing about an incoming Tsunami wave , just a few minutes earlier, can make a Huge difference in loss of life (Again, look at the Indonesian videos of the resort areas.)
As far as Post Apocalypse, take some more of that trillion dollars, and devise systems like the old fall-out shelters from the 60’s , but on a community level. So many centers for a certain percentage of population..Food , water , emergency communication, fuel etc. , in large Bunker Type buildings. Much easier than sending in the National Guard after each one of these disasters. And , if destruction to infrastructure is so severe, they couldn’t get there anyway..These same Preparedness centers would work in Any Disaster, including Earthquakes, Ark-Type storms, hurricanes, a motorcade of Nancy Pelosi’s, whatever. Then set up a City/ County Emergency staff, train the volunteers, the kids etc., and upgrade their training every so often. Much easier to prepare as a smaller Community, than to expect FEMA to be there in a flash..
Just the beginning of my thoughts…

Jim Heath
March 7, 2018 11:52 am

If the roof blows off your house the neighbours will help.
If you’re street gets flooded your community will help.
If a wildfire wipes your suburb out the Country will help.
If your Country gets wiped out the World will help.
If a Solar Flare wipes out half the Planet, you really have a problem.
It’s OK though you will have at least a couple of hours warning.
Everyone should be able to close the door and stay alive for 3 weeks. Prep people prep.

Robert of Texas
March 7, 2018 12:14 pm

I see a win-win here… Since Solar power would suffer from decreased sunlight and Wind Turbines would fail due to getting clogged up with highly abrasive glass particles after a major eruption, we should concentrate on building highly reliable hardened electric generation utilities (i.e. Nuclear Power) to provide for power. Its our civic duty to resist using fragile technologies. (yes, this was /sarc)
Did anyone else notice the destruction of solar panels and wind turbines after hurricanes hit Puerto Rico? Seems rather obvious that one should not be relying on a technologies that are vulnerable to wind damage on that island, but they went and rebuilt them anyway. I file this in the “We never learn” category.
Preparing for a great volcanic eruption would be no different – left in the hands of our government they would pick all the wrong and most expensive, least effective methods of preparation. Better to just educate people about the local risks and let them prepare as they want. Some will not prepare at all – and they will likely be just fine. If an event does occur, you respond to it as a nation the best you can.

March 7, 2018 12:20 pm

Following the precautionary principle as it is the central idea of the CAGW-crowd, in this case we would have to leave earth, because there is not a single safe space available after a major eruption.
So, please, Elon Musk, please, take us all to Mars!

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Scarface
March 8, 2018 3:56 am

Wouldn’t a self-sufficient moon base be enough? Pretty useful, too. It also wouldn’t be so difficult to return after the dust settled.

Reply to  Rainer Bensch
March 8, 2018 8:28 am

Good point, didn’t think about the moon. One way ticket to the moon!

Reply to  Scarface
March 8, 2018 2:45 pm

Years ago someone proposed a large craft on a permanent orbit from Earth to Mars.
It does a slingshot around Mars to return to Earth, then when it gets to the Earth it does a slingshot to return to Mars.
Since the only fuel this craft would use would be to refine it’s orbit it could be much more massive, meaning it has mass available for radiation shielding.
I would image such a craft would maintain fleets of shuttles on both Earth and Mars. When it approaches either planet, on fleet of shuttles launches from the craft to either land on or go into orbit around the planet, while another fleet launches from the planet or from orbit and docks with the craft.
These shuttles would then stay with the craft until it approaches the other planet, where it would swap shuttles again.

March 7, 2018 12:22 pm

Interesting folks, those volcanologists. They rush towards erupting volcanoes when everyone is going the other direction as fast as they can. I well remember Steve Self’s bloodcurdling description of being caught high up Mt Ngaruhoe when it erupted, back in the 1970’s; so it’s good to see that he has survived the intervening years an eruptions to co-author this paper

Reply to  Velcro
March 7, 2018 12:56 pm

Sadly he appears to not have developed any sense since his earlier brushes with catastrophe.

Gerald Machnee
March 7, 2018 12:32 pm

Volcanic warnings are more realistic than the climate garbage.

March 7, 2018 12:54 pm

No problem, tell us when and where the next event will occur and we’ll start making plans for mitigation and recovery.
Shall we prepare for tsunamis? How much more is necessary? Massive volcanic flows and fall-out?
Until then we really can’t do much preparations other than be prepared for something big and bad or maybe not.
We might have a better chance preparing for the next big earth/asteroid collision.
How about in the mean time we run in circles screaming and shouting until an event occurs and then we can continue.

Gary Pearse
March 7, 2018 1:14 pm

so with 100,000 deaths in the balance, say, within half a millennium what should we spend? The present controllers of science would count the deaths as a net benefit!.

March 7, 2018 1:27 pm

Likewise, should we be preparing for the next Carrington Event?

March 7, 2018 1:30 pm

Isn’t there a homeopathic solution for this?

Joel O’Bryan
March 7, 2018 1:59 pm

NEWS FLASH: FEMA already spends large sums of US taxpayer dollars for such unpredictable events like volcanoes and earthquakes.

March 7, 2018 2:33 pm

As will everything, there are risk/reward analysis that can be undertaken. Since the probability of the largest volcanic events VE8 are small and the probability of survival is also small no matter what is done, putting a lot of effort into preparation does not make sense.
On the other hand, the probability that some disaster will impact a family during their lifetime is much higher. Thus, it does make sense to be at least somewhat prepared for whatever disaster might occur.
Basic preparation means having extra food, fuel, water, simple medical supplies (bandage materials, simple disinfectants, and whatever else the family usually uses), batteries and a battery operated radio. Be prepared to purify water if needed. It happens quite often when there is a flood or long outage of electricity that water even out of city water supplies is not safe. Simple purification can be filtering water that is not clear (can even use a coffee filter), then adding 3 drops of bleach (unscented and uncolored) basic bleach to the water will make the water safe. The water should set 30 minutes after putting the bleach in. Or if possible, boil the water instead for at least 1 minute at a full boil.
Basic prepping for any kind of disaster makes it more likely to survive major volcanic events or whatever else might strike. Having basic supplies on hand also mean that if some more minor disaster hits – such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, blizzard, earthquake, smaller volcanic event happens, you won’t be one of those rushing to the store to buy bottled water, batteries or can goods. You will already have sufficient to last several days.

Reply to  BobG
March 8, 2018 11:12 am

One problem is that the Globalist types have forced so many into the inner cities and surrounds (easier to Tax and control votes), that the individual Prepper, away from the cities, is generally one who does these things.
Those in the cities generally are the ones that are going to running up and down the street, with their GoPros, Tweeting” Save Me” !!!!! Where is the help? The national Guard? I am going to sue someone , fast!! The other half will be doing the time honored tradition of Looting themselves out of poverty.

March 7, 2018 2:44 pm

They need to do modeling. That’s where the money . . . uhh . . . science . . . is.
And declare we’ll be doomed by 2,100 if we don’t stop using sugar. Wait . . . what?

March 7, 2018 3:07 pm

Surprising that the list of major volcanic eruptions left out the midcontinent rift (1.1 bya) in the US. Extending from TX-OK up to Lake Superior, then down into TN. The eastern portion is obscured by the Grenville orogeny while the Ouachita orogeny overlay southern portion of the midcontinent rift.

Patrick MJD
March 7, 2018 3:23 pm

Having lived in New Zealand and been to Taupo (Pronounced “toe pour”), if there is another VEI-8 event then humanity is doomed.

March 7, 2018 9:13 pm

In the event of a major catastrophe will the EPA/government suspend ethanol mandates for a short time until crop production returns? Will the taxing agencies still demand my payment of taxes even though they are not removing the deceased zombies from the street in front of my house? Will the bank foreclose on me if I’m late on the payment? Can I eat the neighbor’s cats if she is no longer around ? LOL
What am I going to do without cold beer? I need to plan for these issues today!

March 8, 2018 2:11 am

We aren’t even preparing for an EMP attack, so that we could or would have the will to prepare for a volcanic event is ludicrous.

Reply to  Roy
March 8, 2018 2:46 pm

We are prepared for an EMP attack. The danger was never as high as some have claimed.

March 8, 2018 3:50 am

Apparently, from the very sketchy records that remain, around 500 AD there was a volcanic explosion so violent that it led to a decade without a summer. In Indonesia local memory says it was so violent that its caldera split an island into two. The only candidate that I know of is the Sunde Strait, in the middle of which sits … Krakatau. (I wonder what VEI number would append to that explosion.)
How would even the “advanced” nations prepare for something like that?

March 10, 2018 4:52 am

But it’s natural! I’m sure it will be completely fine. Mother Nature knows better than us ignorant, foolish humans. Or do you dare to question her infinite wisdom?

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