Power of the past: 25 super eruptions – continued

The VC list of 25 super eruptions – continued In our quest for major eruptions, we are continuing our journey around the world, moving north from Indonesia. Kyushu, Japan Japan’s southernmost main island is volcanically highly active. Past explosions have left large calderas, separated into two groups. In the centre of Kyushu is Aso, and…

Power of the past: a compilation of 25 super eruptions

The battle of Stalingrad was among the bloodiest and most horrific of the second world war. During the cold winter of December 1942, the Commissar of Stalingrad organised open-air party meetings for local artists and musicians to encourage the exhausted and hungry soldiers. One of those musicians was the violinist Mikhail Goldstein. On New Year’s…

Prelude to Krakatau. III

In Part 1 and Part II we went over the current state of Krakatau and its history over the 300 years before the Big One. Now it is time to find out what caused the Big Bang, whether it is a recurrent offence, and to try our hand at the big question: why is such…

Prelude to Krakatau. II

In part I, we discussed the geology and current state of Krakatau. Now it is time to look at events before the Big Eruption. Was it hiding in the shadows, or did it make its intentions clear to all? History For centuries before its destruction, Krakatau was a familiar landmark. At least some of the…

Prelude to Krakatau. I

All eruptions have history. Volcanoes may sometimes appear to erupt out of the blue; the mountain may not even have been recognized as a volcano, before blowing up. But the unexpectedness stems from our lack of knowledge. In the case of monogenetic volcanoes, which only erupt once, the volcanologist will recognize from the cones in…

536: apocalypse

The legend of the horsemen of the apocalypse goes back to the first century AD. It is a gripping image, which has transcended cultures. The best-known of the horsemen is Death, riding an ashen-coloured horse. This is the only one given a name in the original. One horseman, riding a black horse, brings famine, making…

Eruptions to come

Let’s start with a question. Which country do you think has the most frequent volcanic eruptions? Before you read on (or peek below for the answer), take a minute to think about it. You can probably guess that Australia is not a front runner. In fact, only two or three countries readily come to mind.…

The Maya collapse: a history in three volcanoes

Here is the story of the beginning, when there was not one bird, not one fish, not one mountain. Here is the sky, all alone. Here is the sea, all alone. There is nothing more –no sound, no movement. Only the sky and the sea. Only Heart-of-Sky, alone. And these are his names: Maker and…

The eruptive past of Indonesia

Gunug Agung has had impressive eruptions in the past week. So far, in spite of the publicity, the event has remained relatively minor. We do not know whether these are the initial rumblings and in the next weeks and months there will be far larger explosions, or that this suffices to relieve the pressure inside…

History of Öræfajökull

Iceland has ice. Glaciers cover 10% of its landscape, including its highest volcanoes. Of its frequent eruptors, only Hekla is (almost) ice free. Katla, Bardarbunga, and Grimsvötn, which together account for the large majority of eruptions, are all hidden underneath ice sheets, which gives problems studying the volcanoes themselves. But a more serious issue is…