Toba catastrophe theory

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Toba eruption theory
Artist's impression of the eruption from about 42 km (26 mi) above northern Sumatra
Volcano Toba Caldera Complex
Datec. 74,000 years BP
End time9–14 days
Type Ultra-Plinian
Location Sumatra, Indonesia
2°41′04″N98°52′32″E / 2.6845°N 98.8756°E / 2.6845; 98.8756
ImpactSecond-most recent supereruption; impact disputed
Deaths (Potentially) almost all of humanity, leaving around 3,000–10,000 humans left on the planet
Toba zoom.jpg
Lake Toba is the resulting crater lake

The Toba eruption (sometimes called the Toba supereruption or the Youngest Toba eruption) was a supervolcano eruption that occurred around 74,000 years ago during the Late Pleistocene [1] at the site of present-day Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia. It is one of the largest known explosive eruptions in the Earth's history. The Toba catastrophe theory holds that this event caused a severe global volcanic winter of six to ten years and contributed to a 1,000-year-long cooling episode, leading to a genetic bottleneck in humans. [2] [3]


A number of genetic studies have revealed that 50,000 years ago, the human ancestor population greatly expanded from only a few thousand individuals. [4] [5] Science journalist Ann Gibbons has posited that the low population size was caused by the Toba eruption. [6] Geologist Michael R. Rampino of New York University and volcanologist Stephen Self of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have supported her suggestion. [7] In 1998, the bottleneck theory was further developed by anthropologist Stanley H. Ambrose of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. [2] However, some physical evidence disputes the links with the millennium-long cold event and genetic bottleneck, and some consider the theory disproven. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

Supervolcanic eruption

The Toba eruption occurred at the present location of Lake Toba in Indonesia and was dated (in 2012) to 73,880 ± 320 years ago through high-precision argon–argon dating. [13] This eruption was the last and largest of four eruptions of the Toba Caldera Complex during the Quaternary period, and is also recognized from its diagnostic horizon of ashfall, the Toba tuff. [14] It had an estimated volcanic explosivity index (VEI) of 8 (the highest rating on the scale); it made a sizable contribution to the 100 km × 35 km (62 mi × 22 mi) caldera complex. [15]

Based on known distribution of ash fall and pyroclastic flows, eruptive volume was estimated to be at least 2,800 km3 (670 cu mi) dense-rock equivalent (DRE), of which 800 km3 (190 cu mi) was deposited as ash fall. [16] Computational ash dispersal models suggested possibly as much as 5,300 km3 (1,300 cu mi) DRE was erupted. [17] An even larger volume of 6,000 km3 (1,400 cu mi) DRE has been suggested based on lost and eroded ash from pyroclastic flows. [18] The Toba eruption was the largest explosive volcanic eruption known in the Quaternary period. [19]

The eruption was of exceptional intensity and was completed within only 9 to 14 days. [19] Toba's erupted mass deposited an ash layer of about 15 centimetres (6 in) thick over the Indian subcontinent. A blanket of volcanic ash was also deposited over the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, and the South China Sea. [20] Glass shards from this eruption have also been discovered in East Africa. [21]

Climatic effects

By analyzing climate proxies and simulating climate forcing, researchers can gain insights into the immediate climatic effects of the Toba eruption. However, there are limitations to both approaches. In sedimentary records where the Toba tuff does not serve as a marker horizon, it cannot pinpoint the exact section that records the environmental conditions immediately following the eruption. Meanwhile, in sedimentary records that do have the Toba tuff as a marker horizon, the sedimentation rate may be too low to capture the short-term climatic effects of the eruption. [22] [23] On the other hand, results of climate models entirely depend on the volatile budget of erupted magma, hence varies accordingly to the assumed volatile budget.

Climate proxy

Toba tephra layer in marine sediments coincides δ18O marine isotope stage 5a to 4 boundary, marking a climatic transition from warm to cold caused by change in ocean circulation and drop in atmospheric CO2 concentration, also known as Dansgaard-Oeschger event. Geologist Michael R. Rampino and volcanologist Stephen Self hypothesized that Toba eruption accelerated this shift. [24] [25] Testing this hypothesis required higher resolution sedimentary records.

Two marine sediment cores Toba marker horizon retrieved[ clarification needed ] from the Northern Indian Ocean and the South China Sea either showed no pronounced cooling or a 0.8–1.0 °C (1.4–1.8 °F) cooling in the centuries following eruption. [26] [27] The core resolution[ clarification needed ] was insufficient to ascertain that the cooling was caused by the Toba eruption since the two events could be decades or centuries apart in the core. [22] However, a severe cooling of only a few years is not expected to appear in these sediment records of centennial resolution. [27] Nonetheless, the marine sedimentary records support that Toba had only a minor impact on the time scales longer than a century. [27] [22]

In Greenland ice cores, a large sulfate spike that appeared between Dansgaard–Oeschger event 19 and 20 was possibly related to Toba eruption. The δ18O values of the ice cores indicate a 1,000-year cooling event immediately following the sulfate signal. [28] However, high-resolution δ18O excluded the possibility of a more-than-a-century-long cooling impact of the eruption and ruled out that Toba triggered the cooling as it was already underway. [29] [30]

Insufficient resolution in marine sediments bearing the Toba tuff has hindered the assessment of any short-term effects that may have lasted for less than a century. [31]

In 2013, a microscopic layer of Toba ash was reported in sediments of Lake Malawi. Together with the high sedimentation rate of the lake and Toba marker horizon, several team have reconstructed the local environment after Toba eruption at subdecadal resolution of ~6–9 years. The sediments in core display no clear evidence of cooling and no unusual deviations in concentrations of climate-sensitive ecological indicators. These results imply that the duration of the Toba cooling must have been either shorter than the sampling resolution of ~6–9 years or too small in magnitude in East Africa. [9] [31] [32] [33]

Climate model

The mass of sulfurous gases emitted during Toba eruption is a crucial parameter when modeling its climatic effects.

Assuming an emission of 1.7 billion tonnes (1.9 billion short tons) of sulphur dioxide, which is 100 times the 1991 Pinatubo sulphur, the modeled volcanic winter has maximum global mean cooling of −3.5 °C (−6.3 °F) and gradually returns within the range of natural variability 5 years after the eruption. An initiation of 1,000-year cold period or ice age is not supported by the model. [34] [35]

In a 2021 study, two other emission scenarios, 0.2 billion tonnes (0.22 billion short tons) and 2 billion tonnes (2.2 billion short tons) of sulphur dioxide which are 10 and 100 times of Pinatubo respectively, are investigated using state-of-art simulations provided by the Community Earth System Model. Maximum global mean cooling is −2.3 °C (−4.1 °F) for a 0.2 billion tonnes SO2 release and −4.1 °C (−7.4 °F) for a 2 billion tonnes SO2 release. Negative temperature anomalies return to less than −1 °C (−1.8 °F) within 3 and 6 years for each emission scenario after the eruption. [36]

Petrological studies of Toba magma constrained that the mass of sulfuric acid aerosols from Toba eruption represents about 2–5 times the sulfuric acid aerosols generated during 1991 Pinatubo eruption. [37] [38] The studies suggest that previous modelings of global temperature perturbations following Toba eruption were excessive. [37] Ice core records of atmospheric sulfur injection during the period during which the Toba eruption occurred contain three large injections that are 10–30 times the Pinatubo sulfur. [30]

Genetic bottleneck hypothesis

Genetic bottleneck in humans

The Toba eruption has been linked to a genetic bottleneck in human evolution about 70,000 years ago; [39] [40] it is hypothesized that the eruption resulted in a severe reduction in the size of the total human population due to the effects of the eruption on the global climate. [41] According to the genetic bottleneck theory, between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, human populations sharply decreased to 3,000–10,000 surviving individuals. [42] [43] It is supported by some genetic evidence suggesting that today's humans are descended from a very small population of between 1,000 and 10,000 breeding pairs that existed about 70,000 years ago. [44] [45]

Proponents of the genetic bottleneck theory (including Robock) suggest that the Toba eruption resulted in a global ecological disaster, including destruction of vegetation along with severe drought in the tropical rainforest belt and in monsoonal regions. A 10-year volcanic winter triggered by the eruption could have largely destroyed the food sources of humans and caused a severe reduction in population sizes. [46] These environmental changes may have generated population bottlenecks in many species, including hominids; [47] this in turn may have accelerated differentiation from within the smaller human population. Therefore, the genetic differences among modern humans may reflect changes within the last 70,000 years, rather than gradual differentiation over hundreds of thousands of years. [48]

Other research has cast doubt on a link between the Toba Caldera Complex and a genetic bottleneck. For example, ancient stone tools at the Jurreru Valley in southern India were found above and below a thick layer of ash from the Toba eruption and were very similar across these layers, suggesting that the dust clouds from the eruption did not wipe out this local population. [49] [50] [51] However, another site in India, the Middle Son Valley, exhibits evidence of a major population decline and it has been suggested that the abundant springs of the Jurreru Valley may have offered its inhabitants unique protection. [52] Additional archaeological evidence from southern and northern India also suggests a lack of evidence for effects of the eruption on local populations, leading the authors of the study to conclude, "many forms of life survived the supereruption, contrary to other research which has suggested significant animal extinctions and genetic bottlenecks". [53] However, some researchers have questioned the techniques utilized to date artifacts to the period subsequent to the Toba supervolcano. [54] The Toba Catastrophe also coincides with the disappearance of the Skhul and Qafzeh hominins. [55] Evidence from pollen analysis has suggested prolonged deforestation in South Asia, and some researchers have suggested that the Toba eruption may have forced humans to adopt new adaptive strategies, which may have permitted them to replace Neanderthals and "other archaic human species". [56] [57]

Additional caveats include difficulties in estimating the global and regional climatic impacts of the eruption and lack of conclusive evidence for the eruption preceding the bottleneck. [58] Furthermore, genetic analysis of Alu sequences across the entire human genome has shown that the effective human population size was less than 26,000 at 1.2 million years ago; possible explanations for the low population size of human ancestors may include repeated population bottlenecks or periodic replacement events from competing Homo subspecies. [59]

Genetic bottlenecks in other mammals

Some evidence points to genetic bottlenecks in other animals in the wake of the Toba eruption. The populations of the Eastern African chimpanzee, [60] Bornean orangutan, [61] central Indian macaque, [62] cheetah and tiger, [63] all recovered from very small populations around 70,000–55,000 years ago.

Migration after Toba

The exact geographic distribution of anatomically modern human populations at the time of the eruption is not known, and surviving populations may have lived in Africa and subsequently migrated to other parts of the world. Analyses of mitochondrial DNA have estimated that the major migration from Africa occurred 60,000–70,000 years ago, [64] consistent with dating of the Toba eruption to around 75,000 years ago.[ citation needed ]

See also

Citations and notes

  1. "Surprisingly, Humanity Survived the Super-volcano 74,000 Years Ago". Haaretz.
  2. 1 2 Ambrose 1998.
  3. Michael R. Rampino, Stanley H. Ambrose, 2000. "Volcanic winter in the Garden of Eden: The Toba supereruption and the late Pleistocene human population crash", Volcanic Hazards and Disasters in Human Antiquity, Floyd W. McCoy, Grant Heiken
  4. A R Rogers, H Harpending, Population growth makes waves in the distribution of pairwise genetic differences., Molecular Biology and Evolution, Volume 9, Issue 3, May 1992, Pages 552–569,
  5. Rogers, Alan R. (1995). "Genetic Evidence for a Pleistocene Population Explosion". Evolution. 49 (4): 608–615. doi:10.1111/j.1558-5646.1995.tb02297.x. PMID   28565146. S2CID   29309837.
  6. Gibbons 1993.
  7. Rampino, Michael R.; Self, Stephen (1993-12-24). "Bottleneck in Human Evolution and the Toba Eruption". Science. 262 (5142): 1955. Bibcode:1993Sci...262.1955R. doi:10.1126/science.8266085. ISSN   0036-8075. PMID   8266085.
  8. "Toba super-volcano catastrophe idea 'dismissed'". BBC News. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  9. 1 2 Yost, Chad; et al. (March 2018). "Subdecadal phytolith and charcoal records from Lake Malawi, East Africa imply minimal effects on human evolution from the ~74 ka Toba supereruption". Journal of Human Evolution. Elsevier. 116: 75–94. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.11.005 . PMID   29477183.
  10. Ge, Yong; Gao, Xing (2020-09-10). "Understanding the overestimated impact of the Toba volcanic super-eruption on global environments and ancient hominins". Quaternary International. Current Research on Prehistoric Central Asia. 559: 24–33. Bibcode:2020QuInt.559...24G. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2020.06.021. ISSN   1040-6182. S2CID   225418492.
  11. Hawks, John (9 February 2018). "The so-called Toba bottleneck didn't happen". john hawks weblog.
  12. Singh, Ajab; Srivastava, Ashok K. (2022-06-01). "Had Youngest Toba Tuff (YTT, ca. 75 ka) eruption really destroyed living media explicitly in entire Southeast Asia or just a theoretical debate? An extensive review of its catastrophic event". Journal of Asian Earth Sciences: X. 7: 100083. Bibcode:2022JAESX...700083S. doi: 10.1016/j.jaesx.2022.100083 . ISSN   2590-0560. S2CID   246416256.
  13. Storey, Michael; Roberts, Richard G.; Saidin, Mokhtar (2012-11-13). "Astronomically calibrated 40 Ar/ 39 Ar age for the Toba supereruption and global synchronization of late Quaternary records". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (46): 18684–18688. Bibcode:2012PNAS..10918684S. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1208178109 . ISSN   0027-8424. PMC   3503200 . PMID   23112159.
  14. Oppenheimer 2002, p. 1593.
  15. Jones 2007, p. 174; Rose & Chesner 1987, p. 913.
  16. Costa, Antonio; Smith, Victoria C.; Macedonio, Giovanni; Matthews, Naomi E. (2014). "The magnitude and impact of the Youngest Toba Tuff super-eruption". Frontiers in Earth Science. 2: 16. Bibcode:2014FrEaS...2...16C. doi: 10.3389/feart.2014.00016 .
  17. Self, S.; Gouramanis, C.; Storey, M. (2019-12-01). "The Young Toba Tuff (73.9 ka) Magma Body – True Size and the most Extensive and Voluminous Ignimbrite Yet Known?". AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts. 2019: V51H–0141. Bibcode:2019AGUFM.V51H0141S.
  18. 1 2 Ninkovich, D.; Sparks, R. S. J.; Ledbetter, M. T. (1978-09-01). "The exceptional magnitude and intensity of the Toba eruption, sumatra: An example of the use of deep-sea tephra layers as a geological tool". Bulletin Volcanologique. 41 (3): 286–298. Bibcode:1978BVol...41..286N. doi:10.1007/BF02597228. ISSN   1432-0819. S2CID   128626019.
  19. Jones 2007, p. 173
  20. Lane, C. S.; Chorn, B. T.; Johnson, T. C. (2013). "Ash from the Toba supereruption in Lake Malawi shows no volcanic winter in East Africa at 75 ka". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 110 (20): 8025–8029. Bibcode:2013PNAS..110.8025L. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1301474110 . PMC   3657767 . PMID   23630269.
  21. 1 2 3 Oppenheimer 2002.
  22. Huang, Chi-Yue; Zhao, Meixun; Wang, Chia-Chun; Wei, Ganjian (2001-10-15). "Cooling of the South China Sea by the Toba Eruption and correlation with other climate proxies ~71,000 years ago". Geophysical Research Letters. 28 (20): 3915–3918. Bibcode:2001GeoRL..28.3915H. doi: 10.1029/2000GL006113 . S2CID   128903263.
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  25. Huang, Chi-Yue; Zhao, Meixun; Wang, Chia-Chun; Wei, Ganjian (2001-10-15). "Cooling of the South China Sea by the Toba Eruption and correlation with other climate proxies ~71,000 years ago". Geophysical Research Letters. 28 (20): 3915–3918. Bibcode:2001GeoRL..28.3915H. doi: 10.1029/2000GL006113 . S2CID   128903263.
  26. 1 2 3 Schulz, Hartmut; Emeis, Kay-Christian; Erlenkeuser, Helmut; Rad, Ulrich von; Rolf, Christian (2002). "The Toba Volcanic Event and Interstadial/Stadial Climates at the Marine Isotopic Stage 5 to 4 Transition in the Northern Indian Ocean". Quaternary Research. 57 (1): 22–31. Bibcode:2002QuRes..57...22S. doi:10.1006/qres.2001.2291. ISSN   0033-5894. S2CID   129838182.
  27. Zielinski, G. A.; Mayewski, P. A.; Meeker, L. D.; Whitlow, S.; Twickler, M. S.; Taylor, K. (1996-04-15). "Potential atmospheric impact of the Toba Mega-Eruption ~71,000 years ago". Geophysical Research Letters. 23 (8): 837–840. Bibcode:1996GeoRL..23..837Z. doi:10.1029/96GL00706.
  28. Svensson, A.; Bigler, M.; Blunier, T.; Clausen, H. B.; Dahl-Jensen, D.; Fischer, H.; Fujita, S.; Goto-Azuma, K.; Johnsen, S. J.; Kawamura, K.; Kipfstuhl, S.; Kohno, M.; Parrenin, F.; Popp, T.; Rasmussen, S. O. (2013-03-19). "Direct linking of Greenland and Antarctic ice cores at the Toba eruption (74 ka BP)". Climate of the Past. 9 (2): 749–766. Bibcode:2013CliPa...9..749S. doi: 10.5194/cp-9-749-2013 . hdl: 2158/774798 . ISSN   1814-9324. S2CID   17741316.
  29. 1 2 Crick, Laura; Burke, Andrea; Hutchison, William; Kohno, Mika; Moore, Kathryn A.; Savarino, Joel; Doyle, Emily A.; Mahony, Sue; Kipfstuhl, Sepp; Rae, James W. B.; Steele, Robert C. J.; Sparks, R. Stephen J.; Wolff, Eric W. (2021-10-18). "New insights into the ~ 74ka Toba eruption from sulfur isotopes of polar ice cores". Climate of the Past. 17 (5): 2119–2137. Bibcode:2021CliPa..17.2119C. doi: 10.5194/cp-17-2119-2021 . hdl: 10023/24161 . ISSN   1814-9324. S2CID   239203480.
  30. 1 2 Lane, Christine S.; Chorn, Ben T.; Johnson, Thomas C. (2013-05-14). "Ash from the Toba supereruption in Lake Malawi shows no volcanic winter in East Africa at 75 ka". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 110 (20): 8025–8029. Bibcode:2013PNAS..110.8025L. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1301474110 . ISSN   0027-8424. PMC   3657767 . PMID   23630269.
  31. Jackson, Lily J.; Stone, Jeffery R.; Cohen, Andrew S.; Yost, Chad L. (2015-09-01). "High-resolution paleoecological records from Lake Malawi show no significant cooling associated with the Mount Toba supereruption at ca. 75 ka". Geology. 43 (9): 823–826. Bibcode:2015Geo....43..823J. doi:10.1130/G36917.1. ISSN   0091-7613.
  32. Robock, Alan (2013-08-27). "The Latest on Volcanic Eruptions and Climate". Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union. 94 (35): 305–306. Bibcode:2013EOSTr..94..305R. doi:10.1002/2013EO350001.
  33. Timmreck, Claudia; Graf, Hans-F.; Zanchettin, Davide; Hagemann, Stefan; Kleinen, Thomas; Krüger, Kirstin (2012-05-01). "Climate response to the Toba super-eruption: Regional changes". Quaternary International. 258: 30–44. Bibcode:2012QuInt.258...30T. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.10.008.
  34. Timmreck, Claudia; Graf, Hans-F.; Lorenz, Stephan J.; Niemeier, Ulrike; Zanchettin, Davide; Matei, Daniela; Jungclaus, Johann H.; Crowley, Thomas J. (2010-12-22). "Aerosol size confines climate response to volcanic super-eruptions: AEROSOL SIZE CONFINES VOLCANIC SIGNAL". Geophysical Research Letters. 37 (24): n/a. doi:10.1029/2010GL045464. hdl: 11858/00-001M-0000-0011-F70C-7 . S2CID   12790660.
  35. Black, Benjamin A.; Lamarque, Jean-François; Marsh, Daniel R.; Schmidt, Anja; Bardeen, Charles G. (2021-07-20). "Global climate disruption and regional climate shelters after the Toba supereruption". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 118 (29): e2013046118. Bibcode:2021PNAS..11813046B. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2013046118 . ISSN   0027-8424. PMC   8307270 . PMID   34230096.
  36. 1 2 Chesner, Craig A.; Luhr, James F. (2010-11-30). "A melt inclusion study of the Toba Tuffs, Sumatra, Indonesia". Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 197 (1–4): 259–278. Bibcode:2010JVGR..197..259C. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2010.06.001.
  37. Scaillet, Bruno; Clemente, Béatrice; Evans, Bernard W.; Pichavant, Michel (1998-10-10). "Redox control of sulfur degassing in silicic magmas". Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 103 (B10): 23937–23949. Bibcode:1998JGR...10323937S. doi:10.1029/98JB02301. S2CID   30681359.
  38. Gibbons 1993 , p. 27
  39. Rampino & Self 1993a
  40. Ambrose 1998, passim; Gibbons 1993, p. 27; McGuire 2007, pp. 127–128; Rampino & Ambrose 2000, pp. 78–80; Rampino & Self 1993b, pp. 1955.
  41. Ambrose 1998; Rampino & Ambrose 2000, pp. 71, 80.
  42. "Science & Nature – Horizon – Supervolcanoes". Retrieved 2015-03-28.
  43. "When humans faced extinction". BBC. 2003-06-09. Retrieved 2007-01-05.
  44. M.R Rampino and S.Self, Nature 359, 50 (1992)
  45. Robock & others 2009.
  46. Rampino & Ambrose 2000, p. 80.
  47. Ambrose 1998, pp. 623–651.
  48. "Mount Toba Eruption – Ancient Humans Unscathed, Study Claims". 6 July 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
  49. Sanderson, Katherine (July 2007). "Super-eruption: no problem?". Nature: news070702–15. doi:10.1038/news070702-15. S2CID   177216526. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008.
  50. John Hawks (5 July 2007). "At last, the death of the Toba bottleneck". john hawks weblog.
  51. Jones, Sacha. (2012). Local- and Regional-scale Impacts of the ~74 ka Toba Supervolcanic Eruption on Hominin Population and Habitats in India. Quaternary International 258: 100-118.
  52. See also "Newly Discovered Archaeological Sites in India Reveals Ancient Life before Toba". 25 February 2010. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
  53. National Geographic- Did early humans in India survive a supervolcano?
  54. Shea, John. (2008). Transitions or Turnovers? Climatically-forced Extinctions of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals in the East Mediterranean Levant. Quaternary Science Reviews 27: 2253-2270.
  55. "Supervolcano Eruption In Sumatra Deforested India 73,000 Years ago". ScienceDaily. 24 November 2009.
  56. Williams & others 2009.
  57. Oppenheimer 2002, pp. 1605, 1606.
  58. If these results are accurate, then, even before the emergence of Homo sapiens in Africa, Homo erectus population was unusually small when the species was spreading around the world. See Huff & others 2010, p.6; Gibbons 2010.
  59. Goldberg 1996
  60. Steiper 2006
  61. Hernandez & others 2007
  62. Luo & others 2004
  63. "New 'Molecular Clock' Aids Dating Of Human Migration History". ScienceDaily . 22 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-30.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lake Toba</span> Crater lake located in Sumatra, Indonesia

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The Yellowstone Caldera, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano, is a volcanic caldera and supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park in the Western United States. The caldera and most of the park are located in the northwest corner of Wyoming. The caldera measures 43 by 28 miles, and postcaldera lavas spill out a significant distance beyond the caldera proper.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Volcanic winter</span> Temperature anomaly event caused by a volcanic eruption

A volcanic winter is a reduction in global temperatures caused by droplets of sulfuric acid obscuring the Sun and raising Earth's albedo (increasing the reflection of solar radiation) after a large, sulfur-rich, particularly explosive volcanic eruption. Climate effects are primarily dependent upon the amount of injection of SO2 and H2S into the stratosphere where they react with OH and H2O to form H2SO4 on a timescale of a week, and the resulting H2SO4 aerosols produce the dominant radiative effect. Volcanic stratospheric aerosols cool the surface by reflecting solar radiation and warm the stratosphere by absorbing terrestrial radiation for several years. Moreover, the cooling trend can be further extended by atmosphere–ice–ocean feedback mechanisms. These feedbacks can continue to maintain the cool climate long after the volcanic aerosols have dissipated.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yellowstone hotspot</span> Volcanic hotspot in the United States

The Yellowstone hotspot is a volcanic hotspot in the United States responsible for large scale volcanism in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Wyoming, formed as the North American tectonic plate moved over it. It formed the eastern Snake River Plain through a succession of caldera-forming eruptions. The resulting calderas include the Island Park Caldera, Henry's Fork Caldera, and the Bruneau-Jarbidge caldera. The hotspot currently lies under the Yellowstone Caldera. The hotspot's most recent caldera-forming supereruption, known as the Lava Creek Eruption, took place 640,000 years ago and created the Lava Creek Tuff, and the most recent Yellowstone Caldera. The Yellowstone hotspot is one of a few volcanic hotspots underlying the North American tectonic plate; another example is the Anahim hotspot.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lava Creek Tuff</span> Rock formation in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho

The Lava Creek Tuff is a voluminous sheet of ash-flow tuff located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, United States. It was created during the Lava Creek eruption around 630,000 years ago, which led to the formation of the Yellowstone Caldera. This eruption is considered the climactic event of Yellowstone's third volcanic cycle. The Lava Creek Tuff covers an area of more than 7,500 km2 (2,900 sq mi) centered around the caldera and has an estimated magma volume of 1,000 km3 (240 cu mi).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of volcanism on Earth</span>

This timeline of volcanism on Earth includes a list of major volcanic eruptions of approximately at least magnitude 6 on the Volcanic explosivity index (VEI) or equivalent sulfur dioxide emission during the Quaternary period. Other volcanic eruptions are also listed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Volcanic hazard</span>

A volcanic hazard is the probability a volcanic eruption or related geophysical event will occur in a given geographic area and within a specified window of time. The risk that can be associated with a volcanic hazard depends on the proximity and vulnerability of an asset or a population of people near to where a volcanic event might occur.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Campanian Ignimbrite eruption</span> Volcanic eruption about 40,000 years ago

The Campanian Ignimbrite eruption was a major volcanic eruption in the Mediterranean during the late Quaternary, classified 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI). The event has been attributed to the Archiflegreo volcano, the 12-by-15-kilometre-wide caldera of the Phlegraean Fields, located 20 km (12 mi) west of Mount Vesuvius under the western outskirts of the city of Naples and the Gulf of Pozzuoli, Italy. Estimates of the date and magnitude of the eruption(s), and the amount of ejected material have varied considerably during several centuries the site has been studied. This applies to most significant volcanic events that originated in the Campanian Plain, as it is one of the most complex volcanic structures in the world. However, continued research, advancing methods, and accumulation of volcanological, geochronological, and geochemical data have improved the dates' accuracy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Michael R. Rampino</span> American geologist

Michael R. Rampino is a Geologist and Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at New York University, known for his scientific contributions on causes of mass extinctions of life. Along with colleagues, he's developed theories about periodic mass extinctions being strongly related to the earth's position in relation to the galaxy. "The solar system and its planets experience cataclysms every time they pass "up" or "down" through the plane of the disk-shaped galaxy." These ~30 million year cyclical breaks are an important factor in evolutionary theory, along with other longer 60-million- and 140-million-year cycles potentially caused by mantle plumes within the planet, opining "The Earth seems to have a pulse," He is also a research consultant at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City.

Christine Susanna Lane is a physical geographer and Quaternary researcher. She has held the Professor of Geography (1993) chair in the University of Cambridge, Department of Geography since 2016.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Whakamaru Caldera</span> A large volcanic caldera in New Zealand

The Whakamaru Caldera was created in a massive supereruption 335,000 years ago and is approximately 30 by 40 km in size and is located in the North Island of New Zealand. It now contains active geothermal areas as well as the later Maroa Caldera.

Stephen Self is a British volcanologist, best known for his work on large igneous provinces and on the global impacts of volcanic eruptions.


Further reading