volcanic eruption


Volcanic Ash


Volcanic ash is the ash produced when an eruption is about to or is taking place. There are several negative effects of volcanic ash on the people that live in the area and even those that are nowhere near the volcano. This type of ash can have problems as far as different continents with several instances in which it has actually dropped the overall temperature of the planet. The amount of problems that the ash will cause depends greatly on the size of the eruption but even a smaller eruption could have measurable effects on an area.

Real Danger

When a lot of people hear about volcanic ash they may think that it will be mostly a problem that has to do with cleanup. In fact, the problems could be a lot worse. In some cases the problems that can arise from the ash could be deadly. In some instances when ash has fallen it has destroyed plant and animal life. That is because plant life can get buried under volcanic ash while the animals that depend on that plant life will starve to death. Another problem could be that the animals in the area will be inhaling the ash which can interfere with their respiratory system, not allowing them to breathe properly and therefore killing them.

Another problem which volcanic ash can create in an area is when it falls on the roofs of the people who live in the area. The problem with that would be the fact that it can weigh down on weaker structures and therefore cause them to collapse under their own weight. The problem can get even worse if rain were to fall at the same location, because the rain would solidify the ash and therefore make it heavier. Finally the people in the surrounding area could suffer the same fate as the animal life. If they don’t take good care of themselves and breathe in the ashes, those ashes could solidify inside their lungs, making it a potentially deadly situation.

Pyroclastic Flow

One of the very real dangers of volcanic ash is the possibility of pyroclastic flow. That would be a mass of gas, ash and rock that could travel at speeds close to 125 miles per hour. The problem with this type of situation is not only the speed of the gas and the magnitude but also the temperature of it. It has been calculated that the temperature inside a pyroclastic flow is anywhere between 752 to 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit. That means that anything in its path would cook almost immediately. Signs of this type of event were found by archaeologists who were studying the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

Effects On Airplanes

Airplanes can be greatly affected by volcanic ash, especially because engines and ash do not mix. If ash goes into a plane’s engine it can stop the engines and cause the aircraft to crash. When the ash solidifies in the engine it will create crystals that will damage the engine and that is what stops it all together. Pilots who have flown into volcanic ash have reported the plane’s throttle system fails and as they apply more throttle the situation tends to get even worse because that is what cools down the ash, solidifying it.

Impact On Everyday Life

Volcanic ash can be as dangerous as to cause a drop in worldwide temperatures. If the eruption is big enough then that drop in temperature could impact crops and communications and cause food shortages.


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Volcanoes can be both very impressive and highly destructive. While most people are used to watching the big shows of lava spewing from volcanoes on TV and some while volcano watching during their vacations, no one can possibly be prepared to the amount of disaster that a supervolcano would cause. In recorded history no one has experienced the fury of a supervolcano first hand but it is believed the impact that such an eruption could have would be deadly not only to people in the vicinity, but even for people on the other side of the world.

Known Supervolcanoes (Yellowstone)

There are six supervolcanoes which are currently known by most people. The many visitors of Yellowstone Park may not realize it, but they are walking on top of one of the biggest threats to humanity.  To understand how massive an eruption from one of these volcanoes can be, we can look at what took place in the Yellowstone Caldera volcano that erupted 2 million years ago. The size of the eruption was so big that the amount of ash ejected was over 8,000 times the amount ejected by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Long Valley Caldera

The Long Valley Caldera is located in the eastern side of the state of California and it is second only to Yellowstone. It’s last eruption, though not as massive as the one in Yellowstone supervolcano could still cause tremendous damage to the population in the world; that eruption took place close to 760,000 years ago, and the result was 2,000 times the size of the eruption of Mount St Helens.

Valles Caldera

The Valles Caldera is located northern of New Mexico and its last supervolcano eruption happened over a 50,000 years ago. The effects of the supervolcano eruption at the Valles Caldera were felt as far as Iowa as some ash and rock landed all the way there.

Lake Toba

Lake Toba in Indonesia is big; in fact it is actually bigger than the Yellowstone caldera. The last time this supervolcano erupted was 74,000 years ago.  The eruption that was presented was 5,000 times larger than the Mount St. Helens eruption and it has been suggested by several scientists that this event was so massive that it changed the trajectory of humanity and resulted in what we see today.

Taupo Caldera

The Taupo Caldera is located in New Zealand and though now the view that you get is that s a spectacular lake, that lake was created by an eruption 26,500 years ago; the basin which was left after the eruption is what became the lake you see today. This massive monster is not a dead supervolcano. Volcanic activity can be observed in the area in the form of venting and hot springs.

Aira Caldera

This Caldera in Japan is pretty close to the city of Kagoshima. This is not a sleeping giant; in fact there are several earthquakes in the area caused by it and the Sakura-jima volcano is still active. Those are clear signs that the caldera is still active and it is a reason for concern for scientists.


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