Super Volcanos from the Future: Are we Prepared?

What are Super Volcanoes?

A supervolcano is a large volcano that has had an eruption with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 8, the largest recorded value on the index. This means the volume of deposits for that eruption is greater than 1,000 cubic kilometers (240 cubic miles).

Supervolcanoes occur when magma in the mantle rises into the crust but is unable to break through it and pressure builds in a large and growing magma pool until the crust is unable to contain the pressure. This can occur at hotspots (for example, Yellowstone Caldera) or at subduction zones (for example, Toba). Large-volume supervolcanic eruptions are also often associated with large igneous provinces, which can cover huge areas with lava and volcanic ash. These can cause long-lasting climate change (such as the triggering of a small ice age) and threaten species with extinction. The Oruanui eruption of New Zealand’s Taupo Volcano (about 26,500 years ago) was the world’s most recent VEI-8 eruption.

Preventing a Disaster.

It maybe possible to apply a rogue wave theory and some mathematical formulas of fluid dynamics to the problem of superplumes ( (Super Plume) : A super plume is a proposed mechanism of convection of abnormally hot rock within the Earth’s mantle.) (theory) of volcanic activity to get them to erupt outside areas of high populations. This would be done by triggering events into the liquid magma underneath the surface. Would it be worth setting off four or five 50 Megaton nuclear detonations, if we knew we could save a Tokyo, Shanghai, Seattle or Mexico City? Well know you see the validity of the debate.

It maybe possible to spike four or five points at the top of a volcanic super plume some 250 miles apart along the points of an artificially drawn square or pentagon, then set off a disruption underground, forcing the center to erupt. This could be done by finding an old volcanic vent, which is away from populations, and then causing the eruption there. Making sure the trade winds or localized winds aloft were in fact drifting away from areas of dense populations. One could use the example of a teenager popping a zit. As the pressure builds up under the earth and threatens to take out a large populated area such as a Mt. Renier exploding near Seattle or causing lava flows into Tacoma and then the ocean, we might be able to choose our preferred spot and save the population from tragic loss of life, limb and property.

We know from prior years and volcanic events from tree trunks and various means of paleoclimatelogy that such events did reshape the landscape to a large degree and were major disruptions to the ecosystem in those periods. Today mankind belongs to that ecosystem and we have a lot at stake. If we look at a Mexico City, Manila, Hawaii, Tokyo, Seattle, we see huge populations very near very active volcanoes, which are at severe risk. We also see in areas of known volcanic activity that there are more than one volcano, often somewhat active at similar times, perhaps due to high water flows, seismic events, plate tectonics, Earth’s normal cycles of wobbling, electromagnetic energy, etc. When such conditions are right we notice activity and as we study these things we get better at predicting what will happen.

Now that we are nearly to the point of prediction, perhaps intervention is possible, which allows the earth to do it’s thing without overly impacting our needs as dwellers of the surface of the planet. One possibility is to cause an eruption under the ocean, which will certainly cause gas plumes to emerge and cause heating of the water and even perhaps causing increased surface temperatures of El Nino effects, which are something we know we can deal with. Covering all of Seattle with 10-18 inches of soot, maybe good for the car washing industry but it will also fowl the water supplies, cause serious disease to our species, destroy hundreds of square miles of civilization and render much of an area unable to support populations for years to come. This of course is a severe volcanic eruption, which can happen on a not so close timeline interval. We have super computers to track super plumes and a research branch already set up to do it!

If we go back and study the most devastating volcanoes of all time we may find that many small seismic events triggered rogue waves within the earth causing a superplume which may have slowly dwindled back down to size on it’s own, to erupt with such violent forces that it reshaped continents or caused large permanent changes in one of the Continental Shelves. It appears that there have been many such events which have virtually changed the entire globe and there may even be a cycle of 700,000 years, the last one occurring 74,000 years the prior. So we are not expecting such a big event however many smaller events do occur from time to time. We see major volcanoes every 5-10 years and have written records of huge events on Earth every 500-1000 years. Some recent Volcanoes in our Hemisphere near Mexico City, have warned us we are not invincible on the surface of Earth. Mexico city and the Southwestern Mountainous terrain of Mexico is in a region of the world which has had much climactic unrest in the past 40,000 years which is quite evident from the signs of the topography.

With the population of Mexico City pushing some 20 plus million people and watching the city closely and taking serious all seismic and volcanic activities, how can we protect such large populations from catastrophic Earth Events? Is the rogue wave fluid dynamic effect a way to do this? By sending disruptions on the perimeter of where we wish an eruption to occur we maybe able to force the rising liquid and pressure to let off it’s energy away from populous regions. Imagine a Jacuzzi where there are four or five jets, which are pushing water into the round pool, connect those jets by a line and you have the shapes perimeter, now figure out the center. Now watch the huge waves created there in the center of the Jacuzzi. By sending one, two, three pulses simultaneously at each jet you can increase the pressure in the center an cause an eruption. If you pick a volcanic vent of known eruption or weak point you can send the magma skyward and alleviate the pressure in those volcanoes near population bases. This is possible with our current technology, through large discharges of explosives, pulsating radio waves or nuclear discharges under the earth.

The Super Plumes when they erupt can cause huge warming of the water, changing global climates if under water, or can discharge huge clouds of CO2, which could cover entire continents for years. The Department of Applied Science at New York University has done a study on the Carbon Dioxide release which would come with a Super Plume associated with a mid-Cretaceous size event. There is some evidence of this occurring previously. This would have caused global warming. They have developed a carbonate-silicate cycle model to try to quantify the possible climatic effects of such insanely huge CO2 gas releases. They say;

“utilizing four different formulations for the rate of silicate-rock weathering as a function of atmospheric CO2. We find that CO2 emissions resulting from super-plume tectonics could have produced atmospheric CO2 levels from 3.7 to 14.7 times the modern pre-industrial value of 285 ppm. Based on the temperature sensitivity to CO2 increases used in the weathering-rate formulations, this would cause a global warming of from 2.8 to 7.7 degrees C over today’s global mean temperature. Altered continental positions and higher sea level may have been contributed about 4.8 degrees C to mid-Cretaceous warming. Thus, the combined effects of paleogeographic changes and super-plume related CO2 emissions could be in the range of 7.6 to 12.5 degrees C, within the 6 to 14 degrees C range previously estimated for mid-Cretaceous warming. CO2 releases from oceanic plateaus alone are unlikely to have been directly responsible for more than 20% of the mid-Cretaceous increase in atmospheric CO2.”

Super plume CO2 releases are only one problem associated with such events the devastation to those regions where eruptions occur are in immediate danger of annihilation, from poisonous clouds, Earthquakes, lava flows, etc. If those areas are within high-density populations the issues for loss of life and property make this last Florida’s Hurricane Season look like a pussycat. Perhaps we ought to open our minds and imagination and see what we can do to control our environment and provide protection to Earth’s populations.

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