Volcanic Armageddon: An Analysis

We owe our existence to our ever-changing and yet passive climate. Unlike other planets in the universe,  here it doesn’t rain molten glass or frozen acid, nor does it have super sonic winds destroying everything in its path. However, the climate isn’t without fault as it is sensitive to very small changes with atmospheric composition. CO2 emissions are the newsmaker of this era, despite constant hyperbole, this is not a non-issue. Climate change of any kind and of any cause has the potential to end society, civilization, and even the very existence of humans but it seems that this fact hasn’t really clicked with most people. It’s been over 200 years since a substantial climate disaster, and people have no perspective on how dependent we are on the stability of  Earth’s systems. Humanity hasn’t triumphed over the elements of nature, and the existence of this society has been wholly dependent on a stable climate absent of major geological and cosmological disasters. Only one major climate disaster has plagued human civilization since the beginning and its name is volcanic winter.

Volcanic winter is one of those events that a lot of people are aware of but no one takes seriously. Nuclear or Asteroid Armageddon is more popular with not only the media but the scientific community. Of all the simulations I’ve read about asteroids and nuclear war, I have never seen a simulation of how devastating a severe volcanic winter would be to modern society. I don’t see why there is so little research into this topic considering large eruptions are more likely than asteroid impacts.

   Volcanic winter has killed countless people and brought unspeakable anxiety to the people of the past. Blue suns and endless winters make the toughest of men falter and remember that we don’t have as much control over our lives as we think. Famine and fear plagued the peoples of the past when volcanic winter reared its ugly head but that was then. Surely with our advancements in technology, knowledge, and governance, volcanic winter is of no concern to the modern man. Right? This is the assumption of many now, and it’s not without merit. We’re producing more than enough food to feed the world population, our farmers have access to more equipment, land, and other resources than ever before. Life has never been better for most people, and with more assets to fight against disasters, we can surely handle what the people of the past handled before better. Right? It’s complicated. The complexity and conditional  effectiveness of current society might be its undoing in an event like this. Recent events have shown that modern society is not as effective at handling global disasters as we might think. How vulnerable is modern society to volcanic winter and what can we do to prepare. Lets answer that question now and end the debate.

Before understanding the societal impact of volcanic winter, we must understand volcanic winter and how convoluted the science actually is. Volcanic winter is caused by sulfur-rich eruptions injecting volatiles into the stratosphere causing global cooling. It sounds simple but it’s not. Reading countless papers concerning historical events such as 536  and 1816, I’ve seen contradicting conclusions and vague statements without any conclusive data. This is made worse with the fact that volcanic winter is not linear in the slightest. A large SO2 load doesn’t guarantee a deep volcanic winter. Tree ring and ice core data give us an incomplete idea on how these events played out and there is still work that needs to be done that can give us conclusive data on the scale and limits of volcanic winter. We’ll use proxy data, historical records, and logic to break down the hazards that volcanic winter will bring and we’ll debunk some myths and misconceptions.

A common argument now is that any global cooling caused by a significant eruption would be soothed by the current global warming trend. However, large eruptions have a more significant impact on radiative forcing in comparison to CO2. Pinatubo, which wasn’t even in the top 25 eruptions of the past 2500 years, had a comparable or even larger impact on radiative forcing than even current CO2 levels.

The current warming could actually enhance the cooling impact of large eruptions thanks to the slowing of currents of the ocean and favorable impact on the aerosol microphysics. Ocean temperatures serve an important role in stabilizing global temperatures. They absorb heat in the summer and release it back in the winter with global current constantly recycling warm and cold water. Slower currents will mean that the ocean won’t be as effective at absorbing or releasing heat leading to more extreme weather. A relatively ineffective heat release will make any volcanic winter worse. Current warming has enhanced the Brewer-Dobson circulation which is responsible for circling the air from the troposphere into the stratosphere, this will take the aerosols higher and make them smaller which would again enhance the cooling from any large eruption.

I actually think that if we were to see significant volcanic winter, another variable that could make the volcanic winter worse is the current levels of water vapor and relatively high rates of evaporation. A volcanic winter would increase atmospheric baroclinic instability. This in conjunction with the excess water vapor and evaporation would lead to some massive Extra-tropical cyclones and regional flooding. I can’t actually speak on how strong these storms would be but it would make sense to see some very extreme storms.

“The Tambora eruption, the largest eruption in the past 800 years, only produced cooling of 0.5 C which is comparable to the cooling of the much smaller Pinatubo eruption and there were no major issues. So we’re going to be fine.” is something that you might hear and I’ve had something to say about that. That (0.5 C) figure)  is from a 39 year old study that is pretty outdated, current studies, historical records, and logic all point to the eruption producing a more significant dip in the range of 0.8-1.0 C with significant regional differences. 

In most historical volcanic winters, several regions are almost always singled out for the worst impacts. These are the USA, Western and Central Europe, Eastern Asia. So a volcanic winter would likely severely affect the 7 of the 10 world most food-producing countries. The regional variability for volcanic winter is insane. Some areas might see no or negligible cooling while the worst affected areas could see cooling in the range of 2-6 C, much higher than the global average. 

There aren’t any infallible numerical values on the climate change following large eruptions of the past only very fallible models but historical records all point to a scale of cooling that we’ve never come close to experiencing Cold blasts, snow and other winter precipitation were recorded in sub-tropical regions in America, China and Europe in every month of 1816.  As a person who lives in a subtropical climate (Houston, TX) this would be insane and break the meteorological community. The prospect of at least 1 deep massive freeze and/or snowstorm happening every month of the growing season would cause an insane level of damage to the agricultural industry of the countries affected and this isn’t even the only threat. Dim suns and cloudy days made growing food much harder, as the plants weren’t getting enough sunlight. The haze following Tambora was strong enough to dim the sun so much that sunspots were visible to the naked eye. Descriptions of hazes following the 535 and 1815 eruption paints a grim picture: 

 “In the year 848 [536/37 CE] there was a sign in the sun the like of which had never been seen and reported before in the world. If we had not found it recorded in the majority of proved and credible writings and confirmed by trustworthy people, we would not have recorded it; for it is difficult to conceive. So it is said that the sun became dark and its darkness lasted for one and a half years, that is, eighteen months. Each day it shone for about four hours, and still this light was only a feeble shadow. Everyone declared that the sun would never recover its original light. The fruits did not ripen, and the wine tasted like sour grapes”

“It is now the middle of July, and we have not yet had what could properly be called summer. Easterly winds have prevailed for nearly three months past … the sun during that time has generally been obscured and the sky overcast with clouds; the air has been damp and uncomfortable, and frequently so chilling as to render the fireside a desirable retreat”

It is no surprise that people were pushed to famine in these extreme conditions. But the 1816 winter isn’t the worst volcanic winter on record. The volcanic winters of 1601, 536, 1783, 541, 940, 43 BC, and 1454 were all comparable or were worse than 1816 and there are other severe events that weren’t quite as bad but still significant (1258 or 1108 are good examples). The risk is there and it is significant. I am not even considering the larger eruptions tens of thousands of years ago that produced 3-20x times as much sulfur as even the Tambora eruption whose impacts are hotly debated, the consensus is that volcanic winter can cause 8 C of cooling at the max. The consensus isn’t always right so take the value with a grain of salt.

How well modern society handles a volcanic winter would depend on how bad the cooling is and the reaction from governments and people. The prospect of the major powers of the world descending into famine for any reason barring the most extreme of events is almost unthinkable for most but not impossible. We don’t need a supervolcano to bring the world to its knees. Globalization and international trade is one of the reasons why we don’t have really major climate famines anymore. If your country’s agricultural output is dealt a severe blow, you can still receive aid and trade other items for food. Bad local harvests won’t mean your country will descend into famine. Regardless where you are in the world, you usually have something that someone else needs or wants. Can’t have a great agricultural industry? Trade your natural resources, or get into manufacturing and trade cheap items for food. Investors are always looking to make money and they’ll invest in your country’s economic expansion to fill their pockets.No one wants to stop buying and no one wants to stop selling so as long the buyer and seller continues in this song and dance, everything is going to be fine. The world is full of charities and aid just in case something does go seriously wrong so things will never get too bad normally.

This system of trade is subject to disruptions in the economy which one or more factors, unrelated to agricultural production, can cause a spike in global food prices which then leads to civil unrest and food insecurity.


 The 2008-2009 food crisis is a good example of this. Food crisis can now be caused by economic speculation and supply issues disconnected from world food production. 

The World is still producing plenty of food but that hasn’t abated the current food crisis. Mass protests and riots have plagued the world while over 345,000,000 people are food insecure and while 900,000 are facing famine conditions. All this at a time when food production is still high enough to feed the entire world population easily.

Despite advancements in farming practices, droughts and weather still cause substantial damage to crops. The 2011 la Nina produced one of the USAs costliest droughts and plunged East Africa into famine. Food prices rise quicker than the food production decreases, If food production decreases by 10%, food prices would more than double.

 The resources that farmers rely on are dependent on the quality of the economy. If farmers are suddenly left without their fertilizer or gas for their equipment, they’ll be put in a position that they are unfamiliar with and be much less effective at growing food. Without fertilizer, we’ll be stuck with inferior soil. Soil erosion is one of those issues that is much worse than people think. Over half of the topsoil has been destroyed in the past 150 years and this soil is needed for over 95% of the food we grow. This is one of the most ignored issues of this generation and is just as important, if not more important than other ecological issues such as microplastics and ACC.

Another variable is the reaction of the people and government, this  is a huge factor for how bad the event would be. Poor decision making and panic will make any bad situation worse. Unlike scientific advancement  people and governments now are probably more prone to panic,and bad decisions than ever before.  Stability and comfort breeds weakness, who will forget the wholly irrational reactions to COVID-19? Just the buzzword pandemic and the fear-stoking coverage managed to cause an unforgettable amount of anxiety. Too many people panicked and bought questionable items such as toilet paper as if the world was ending and too many governments enforced ineffective and absurd measures that did nothing to help the situation. “If we lockdown, the virus won’t spread!”  Yeah it was a complete mess but thankfully COVID-19 wasn’t quite the killer that some feared (or hoped!) it would be.

Public opinion on the virus has changed from an apocalyptic virus that would surely end the world to a mild inconvenience when it was never either. It was just a typical major respiratory pandemic that wasn’t anything that we haven’t gone through before. This event of well precedented scale threw the world into a frenzy that no one should forget, I will never forget hearing news of people killing over toilet paper and other insane nonsense. On the flipside, some people and countries might not take the event too seriously and shun any preparations that would be made. These guys would be in for a nasty surprise as preparations are needed to get through an event like this.

How will all of this relate to a hypothetical volcanic winter? How would the current system react and how bad would it get? It’s going to be complicated. There are a plethora of variables that result in a huge spread of options but the worse the winter the more likely a catastrophe is. I’ve prepared a hypothetical scenario, and remember, this isn’t a forecast or prediction, the purpose of this scenario is to highlight the hazards of volcanic winter, and the problems that modern society would face if preparations aren’t made. Don’t take this too seriously. Let’s make this scenario fun, if the eruption is too small or too big, the scenario will quickly get boring as we’ll just be going through information you’d easily figure out. Oh society might collapse in the face of a supervolcano? Who’d have thunk it?  I have gone over several volcanic winter scenarios, a one and done punch (Samalas), one punch-two punch (536-540) or eruption cluster (1107-11); tropical and extratropical and I’ve come up with one that has plenty of fun and drama.


March 25 2023: Bolshaya Udina erupts producing a large sulfur rich VEI 6 injecting 20 megatons of SO2 in the stratosphere sparking fears of volcanic winter. Following the eruption, most scientists come to the conclusion that the coming volcanic winter won’t be as bad as ”The year without a summer” somewhat soothing global anxieties but countries whose agricultural industries are underdeveloped start buying and reserving food for 2024 causing a substantial spike in food prices. All the while another volcano rumbles…

Takeaway: Just the prospect of substantial volcanic winter and some relatively minor preparations will cause disruptions to the economy and trade. Only a few countries trying to prepare along with moderate speculation will cause food prices to spike significantly.


June 21-24 2023: The  Coatepeque Caldera erupts producing a massive VEI 7 eruption ejecting over 35 km3 of magme(DRE) and injecting over 80 megatons of SO2 into the stratosphere. Over 6 million people are at immediate risk of death in the eruption.  Massive pyroclastic flows kill millions along with massive ashfall, damaging or destroying the agriculture in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Millions of refugees are immediately made and the economy of the country is all but destroyed.

Global panic begins in the days that follow, unending news shows and other fear-stirring media begin covering the prospects of a global cooling catastrophe and unlike the prior eruption, scientists are split in their conclusions and are unable to give a solid forecast. More countries and people try to buy food for the incoming volcanic winter causing global food prices to explode out of control as demand reaches levels never seen before. Seed, farming equipment, Gas, and fertilizer prices inflate out of control. With most people spending their money on food, water and energy. Luxury and other non-essential items lose their buyers and the prices deflate. The combined inflation and deflation of different sectors of the economy bring the worst of both worlds. People’s wages decrease as jobs are cut all the while essential items prices rise. Poorer countries enter famine as they don’t have money or resources to buy food in the chaos. With apocalyptic economic data, global stock markets collapse as droves of investors pull out  trillions of dollars of economic assets.  Riots and civil unrest grip the world as people desperately fight for essential items and against a real or perceived ineffective government. 

Takeaways: Due to a lack of previously made preparations, in the face of a major volcanic winter  plenty of countries would make desperate bids to gain the resources to avoid  famine but this would cause food prices to inflate out of control.  It is completely possible that global trade would collapse just due to a panicked response from the global powers. As the dominating exporting countries might  not only limit but even prohibit essential exports while still demanding imports. Countries dependent on these exports will face immediate famine and economic collapse. The dual inflation and deflation would be almost impossible to combat because if all the methods you use to fight one would just make the other worse.  On top of this, every one would know that the refusal to prepare could also make things worse in the long run. This is a lose-lose-lose situation.

The damage to critical infrastructure along with a terrible economy would make recovery from the direct impacts of the volcanic eruption in central america almost impossible. Billions of dollars of direct agricultural damage along with a crashing economy  could bring global famine before the volcanic winter would start properly. 

Autumn-Winter 2023 The first frosts and economic collapse, The cooling from the Udina aerosols would start and peak much earlier than the Coatepeque Aerosols. Damaging frost would likely begin in late September and last through the fall, drought would also start in tropical regions thanks to disrupted monsoons. Along with the first frosts, a dreadful haze would start to cover the northern hemisphere verifying  global anxiety. After a whole summer of riots and civil unrest, violence  would likely escalate to full civil war and insurrection.even in well developed countries. A balance must be made within the government, it has to be assertive and harsh enough to maintain order within the country but not so harsh that it gives mass support for rebellion. Governments would have to be run by competent and charismatic leaders in order to maintain society and prevent societal breakdown. By now tens if not hundreds of  billions of dollars in damage would be caused by the riots with potential collapse on the horizon.

A cold autumn and winter would stress the energy market of all countries. Constant storms and riots would cause massive blackouts along with the  constant demand continuing to drive up prices with the collapse of global trade. Many countries may not get the oil, gas or coal needed to maintain the electric grid, leading to a dramatic decrease in the manufacturing of essential items. Winter storms would delay and cripple the transportation of essential items throughout the winter making the existing horrible situation worse.

Takeaway: The cooling and haze doesn’t have to cripple the agricultural market directly, it just has to be big enough to sustain the panic and verify the anxieties of the people. Logistics and infrastructure are the drivers of a good economy and prevent famine, it doesn’t matter how much resources you have. If you don’t have the means to transport and use those resources, they’re useless. 

2024: The year without heat and the descent into hell

With two different aerosol layers in the NH with different microphysics, a severe volcanic winter  is all but inevitable, NH temperatures will fall by 1.25-1.75 C with summer cooling around 2.5 C  when the year is over and most of the top food producers would have suffered the worst cooling. Regional cooling peaks at 6 C. Floods are likely across Western Europe, Central and Eastern USA as well as Southern China. The Cold and Wet summer and spring is followed by a harsh and brutal winter that would likely dump large volumes of snow. It is the most intense volcanic winter of the past 2600 years.

Farmers have a hard choice concerning their seed stock, should they plant it and hope for a usable harvest or conserve it for the future? One option could potentially doom their seed in the most critical of moments and lead to a more protracted famine but the other option guarantees major famine while giving hopes for a quick recovery. Trapped in unfamiliar territory with limited agricultural resources most farmers are likely to opt to save most of the seed stock for later  But they may be forced to plant the seed stock in the face of public outrage and/or dictatorial government.  The farmers might form their own insurrection and fight the government or completely get away with whatever decision they make in the face of toothless and delegitimized governments. A competent government would hear both sides and weigh the potential ramifications of forcing farmers to farm in deplorable growing conditions. Countries such as the USA and Western Europe would likely see some type of violent conflict between farmers, government and the rebels. China and other dictatorships would likely force their farmers to use their seed stock. 

In this year, conflict and war is all but guaranteed, looting gangs and militias would spring up with the intention to gain resources, along with extremist political groups that would want to take advantage of government dissatisfaction to further their own agenda, and non-radicals who desire to overcome an perceived incompetent government. The scale of this violence would likely be worse than anything we’ve seen before barring the worst wars in history. In this case it would only serve to make the famine worse. Interregional conflicts are possible as desperate countries fight over dwindling resources such as freshwater and arable land but war based on some type of convoluted political ploy to unite the people against a false villain is also possible  and again this would only serve to make the famine worse.

Massive storms and freak weather in the worst affected regions, would do billions of dollars in damage and without a strong labor force and a collapsed logistical system to allow to build back. We could actually see regional power grids go down across the world. A smart but ruthless way to somewhat combat this is to promise skilled and essential laborers most of the remaining resources to maintain infrastructure and some semblance of order. Unfortunately essential workers are likely to not be in good supply and might not even be interested in preserving society.

The volcanic haze would quickly drain the morale of the people for the entire year of 2024. Discolored and weak suns would bring thoughts of armageddon, with the entire globe descending into famine, something that most people are not familiar with. The pain of losing past comfort in just a year would drive insane amounts of pessimism and defeatism that would do nothing to alleviate the situation. 

It’s not hell everywhere however. Due to significant regional differences in the volcanic winter, not everyone will see severe climate change and some areas will see benign climate impacts that won’t significantly harm domestic agricultural production. The economic consequences would still cause famine but with some anxiety soothed and the sight of other countries that are crushed by insane weather. Where these regions would be, I can only speculate but Eastern Europe and SE Asia are some good bets with how I’ve shaped this scenario. In any case, global deaths have skyrocketed this year.

Takeaway:  The conflict and the fallout following economic collapse would disrupt critical infrastructure and logistics making prospects of fighting the disaster grim. A severe contraction of food supply occurs due to a slew of factors.

2025: The Deadliest Year

Assuming the farmers in the west don’t plant their seed stock and the frosts in the east destroy the crops grown by force in the east, famine would rage on and death rates would continue to increase. The cooling would soften but still be substantial enough to discourage farmers from using their seed stock. Flooding from snowmelt and continuing extreme weather would sustain deplorable growing conditions would sustain the disaster further. This would also likely be the last year of global drought caused by the eruption. The very apparent weakening of the volcanic haze would signal the beginning of the end for the volcanic winter. Stronger suns would boost morale and some positivity would start to return to the general populace. Stronger governance and more competent leaders would’ve likely overthrown or replaced whatever ineffective leadership existed before. Interregional conflicts would likely end in this year as famine makes large scale war impossible. However despite the positive trend, the damage has been done and food production won’t rise enough to soften the famine.

Post-winter years: With most of the significant cooling and other climate effects rapidly weakening after 2025, the farmers that have preserved their agricultural resources can ramp up production. Countries that wasted their seed stock and other resources will find themselves facing protracted famine conditions. The knowledge of modern society wouldn’t be lost and with a tougher and hungry populace, the effort  to rebuild would begin immediately. Post-winter conflicts and violence would still be high. Any criminal or radicalist groups that formed during the disaster won’t disappear overnight and would still pose a grave threat to any recovery attempts. The world would be left without superpower so major wars are a possibility as well. It would be a difficult but not impossible recovery 

Global disease would rise in the face of the collapse of the medical industry giving way to local and regional disease outbreaks. The deplorable living conditions, full of filth and corpses, with little to no medicine is the prime breeding ground for disease.  The primary hazards in this case would be a variety of superbugs and HIV. Here are some diseases that I believe are likely to cause significant outbreaks.

  1. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is one of most prevalent respiratory infections worldwide, despite vaccination and antibiotics, Pneumonia kills around 2.5 million a year. Pneumonia is often caused by viruses, such as the flu, common cold, and recently, Covid. This infection preys on bad hygiene and weak immune systems.

  1. Bronchitis

Bronchitis is like pneumonia’s little brother, usually caused by the same viruses but bacterial origins also exist.

  1. Tuberculosis

One of Humanity’s greatest killers, killing 100s of millions of people throughout history. It is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It usually affects the lungs but can infect the kidneys, brain, spine, and more. It currently kills over 1.5 million people a year.

Diarrheal diseases

Diarrhea is not respected in the developed world but it is actually one of the worst killers for impoverished countries. Cholera, Giarda, and rotavirus are all just some of the causes for deadly Diarrhea. dirty water, malnutrition, and other bad living conditions are where this disease thrives

  1. Legionnaires disease

Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires Disease, reproduces in underused plumbing systems, including hot tubs, showerheads, and hot water tanks. It also thrives in filth.

These are just a few of the diseases whose mortality would likely increase as living conditions would decrease. Viral mutations driven by a large shift in human condition and rapid increase of bacteria number with the collapse of the medical industry would lead to deadly local and regional  epidemics across the world.

The death toll and cost of a scenario like this would be insane; this scenario is of a complete economic collapse and partial societal breakdown. An event like this would cost over 100 trillion dollars, thanks to the collapse of  global GDP and tens or even hundreds of millions of destroyed or damaged buildings.  Entire industries wll be destroyed as the resources needed to maintain them would be too expensive and in short supply. Recovery would take decades, and the existing cultures would be changed dramatically. It is completely possible that the world will never completely recover, as ecological degradation, corruption, and major wars could stop recovery attempts at a certain point

  The countries that are hit hardest would be the ones that got the most significant climate impacts or are almost completely dependent on other areas for food. With this scenario Canada, the USA, China, The Koreas, Japan and half of Europe would be hit with the worst climate impacts while sub-saharan Africa and the parts of the MIddle east would be devastated by the collapse of global trade. These areas would likely see the highest death rates. We’ve seen societies get stressed like this before and it wasn’t pretty. 15-40% of the population historically have died from high societal stress famines such as the 1601 Russian famine, the Kanki famine of Japan, The Great famines of the 1690s, and more. There is no reason to assume it would be any different with this scenario. Assuming these regions see similar death rates, the death toll would be 517,000,000 or 1,300,000,000 on top of the fewer but still large amounts of deaths from the remaining population. It may sound dramatic but nuclear winter studies have shown that if the global caloric intake ever gets halved, it could result in a famine that would kill 2,000,000,000 so this isn’t impossible. Life is complicated and our models don’t take everything into account and remember this scenario isn’t a forecast. This is how  bad things can realistically can go if severe volcanic winter were to take place based on my research and my perspective on the resiliency of modern society.

It has been speculated that large eruptions trigger severe El Nino’s several years after the volcanic winter ends and with this scenario. A severe El Nino event could produce another albeit less deadly global famine due to the recovery being wholly incomplete. There are some studies supporting this phenomena and others that dismiss it. Even if this hypothesis is true, there is no solid way to forecast the agricultural impact of an event without knowing how strong it is and how severely damaged the world is. It has also been speculated that severe volcanic winter can cause pandemics and while the chain of logic makes sense, the connection hasn’t been proven and we can’t figure the mortality of a pandemic without knowing the virus and its mutations.  

I may sound pessimistic but modern society is pathetic in more ways than one. A strong winter storm almost collapsed my state’s power grid in 2021. Europe is wholly dependent on other countries for energy.  People are freaking out over minor garbage that doesn’t matter and are prone to emotional and illogical responses. After butchering the responses of disasters of far less magnitude and with no one having learned the lesson I see little evidence to suggest that there will be some type of awakening in the face of such a disaster  So It’s likely that the response to any future global catastrophe might be just as bad as the disaster itself.

Regardless of what one might think of my scenario, modern society has proven to be fragile and prone to disruption. Severe volcanic winter is something that hasn’t happened in years and while some things are better since the last time, some things are worse. With a lack of preparation, severe panic is almost guaranteed the next we’ll be faced with another year without a summer or worse. There will be another VEI 7 or 8 and it might or might not happen in our lifetimes but the risk is there and we don’t want to be caught off guard

 Tallis, March 2023







229 thoughts on “Volcanic Armageddon: An Analysis

  1. There’s a small earthquake swarm at Katla. Alert level is still green.

    From IMO: “Yesterday, 10th of March at 15:59. an earthquake of magnitude 3.8 was measured 14km ENE of Grimsey island. An ongoing earthquake swarm started there last night, counting more than 230 smaller events.”

    Source: https://en.vedur.is. Select “Earthquakes” on the blue menu bar.

    There’s also activity in TFZ. So the above could “just” be the crust accommodating uplift at/near Vatnajökull.

    Anyone taking bets as to which volcano will be next?

        • Grimsvotn has defied all the predictions made of it, so I think maybe there are a lot of fundamental things there that we have simply just got plain wrong about it. 2011 was 50x as big as a sormal eruption there, the 1783 eruptions there were probably larger but also lasted over a year not 2 days… Doing an eruption 50x as big as normal usually has a little bit of a knock on impact. Only volcano I am aware of recovering from an eruption with that discrepency in a few years is Kilauea, but it completely dominates the biggest plume on the planet, none of the Icelandic volcanoes have that luxury.

          Only volcanoes in Iceland that are actually really obviously preparing for eruption are the Reykjanes group and Askja. Katla is doing… something… but at this point I am willing to put it in the same boat as Grimsvotn, a lot of broken expectations.

    • Iceland again while Merapi is erupting. Merapi looks like he could do a St. Helens one day.?

      • Merapi is not really a big erupter, more just a very persistent one, it is when the domes pile up and collapse that we get the big flows like this recent one. Although the eruption in 2010 was a proper subplinian eruption.
        Probably is a sector collapse risk yes. But there are quite a lot of other volcanoes nearby that are taller and seem to just erode and not collapse. Maybe it is something to do with the basement rock but sector collapses are not common in Indonesia while some other places (Andes, Kamchatka) seem to do them more often than doing actual caldera collapses. Which is interesting, because the stratovolcanoes in Indonesia are taller than in the Andes or Kamchatka for the most part.

        • Krakatau 2018 was a sector collapse which collapsed the entire mountain. And it wasn’t even erupting. (Strictly speaking it might have been a landslide rather than a sector collapse, but it did come from unstable lava.)

          • It was erupting though, for a half year prior, and then a week after. I also said it is uncommon not never happens.

            Anak also sat on the edge of the caldera, which is very deep and steep, so was growing in a position none of the volcanoes on land do. It was predicted in advance too just not acted on, which I am sure you know. But I have not seen major sector collapse mentioned as a primary hazard at any of the Indonesian volcanoes on land though.

  2. A severe volcanic winter would not be good. A lot of food for thought. Thank you.

    What are the effects of the ash / aerosols from such large eruptions on regional / global communications? If the internet goes down for a lengthy period over a large area, more than the supply chain would be adversely affected.

    • I don’t know, A submarine volcano would could destroy sea cable carrying internet like Tonga but there is not a lot of volcanoes that poses a direct risk to communications. The indirect effects are a different story, with this scenario global communication might collapse as communication jobs are vacated and vital equipment are left to rot. Regional communications would like still be maintained

      • Magnetic particles and acids in the ash would damage above ground communications and electricity infrastructure. If the air in buildings can no longer be filtered, computer equipment could also be harmed.

  3. through the world into a frenzy
    should read
    threw the world into a frenzy

    I believe? feel free to delete this comment, FYI only.

    • Thank you for pointing this out! An editorial oversight which has now been corrected.

  4. Not exactly the ‘climate change’ advocates envision, is it.

  5. Interesting and informative article Tallis, cheered me up no end…

    Unfortunately I cannot see what effective preparations could be done against these doomsday scenarios (volcanic winter, nuclear armageddon, Carrington event, asteroid impact…choose your apocalypse).
    Imagine a decade or two after the above volcanic winters and their associated impacts. The remaining societies struggle to come to terms with the effects until some form of climatic stability returns. The proto governments eventually form alliances, and start to co-operate to create a plan to be more prepared for any more volcanic winters.
    Such measures that are required would need high levels of control from the said proto governance, thus subjugating its citizens to high levels of socially contrived compliance. For want of a better analogy, communism. In the short term, people may well go along with this, possibly enthusiastically, as a new society is born, one with a more rigorous robustness to uncertainty (‘Man against nature…the road to victory’ .The Simpson’s )
    But of course..such revolutionary zeal wanes, and once a generation or so has passed, the new order government extends its controls ‘for the better preparedness’.
    And now the encumbered population stops believing in the altruism of the plan, goes through the motions, essentially reducing it to a tick box exercise, weakening the overall structures whilst the propoganda shouts ‘plan for preparedness’ and everyone goes to sleep again.

    The only viable and humane thing we can do is educate. If you live in a vulnerable area (to whichever disaster may apply) then be prepared, “be not there”, be aware.
    If you have access to high levels information, let those who may be in danger know what/where/how.

    Yet, let’s not over sell this. Individually we live on a razors edge, subject to the statistical whim of any number of pathogens, rogue DNA, parasites et al. Yet we cannot healthily live in constant fear lest we fall into neuroticism and paranoia.
    It is more a miracle that we live, today is, indeed, a gift that IS why it is called the the present (Kung Fu Panda)

    • Yep, You can’t account for everything, and you’d make your life miserable. I think there should be a global effort to stockpile essential items for future events, and building better infrastructure, It is a really delicate thing to balance. Asteroid deflection is possible and we can build better electrical equipment so we’re not completely helpless. Prepared but not paranoid. I love the present and love good future with it.
      Government will use any excuse to power grab and we have to be for that.

      • You’re right Talla. The current just in time supply chain has no resilience. Unfortunately, space to stock reserve supplies costs money, especially in countries where space is at a premium. The reserves also have to be managed so they do not go past any use by dates before they are needed.

  6. I started an article on IO writing an article about one of my favorite eruptions there
    Should be a few months until its readable, its stuff that most here have never thinked about

  7. What is described here, are judgments which will happen during the 7 year long Tribulation Period which will precede the glorious Second Advent of God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Tribulation Period) of Revelation 6 involves war, massive famine and massive death. During this time a brutal dictator, the antichrist, will arise from Europe and will rule the world.

    Revelation 6:1-8 (KJV, The Four Horsemen):

    1 And I saw when the Lamb (Jesus Christ) opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
    2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
    3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
    4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
    5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
    6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
    7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
    8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

    But you can escape these things by trusting Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, as He died for your sins at the Cross of Calvary and He rose from the dead to give you eternal live in His presence. When you repent from your sins and you trust Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, you will be taken away from this planet to Heaven in order to be saved before these horrible judgments will come over the earth, this is called the Rapture of the Church. More about this, see https://www.raptureready.com/ and https://www.nowtheendbegins.com/.

      • No religious flame war, please don’t bring any portion of reddit here

        • Religion and politics are best kept for other sites, or in the bar if it stays respectful.

    • I just read the Gospel of Thomas, and I’m more than glad it was left out of the canon. Why they had to include John’s apocalypse will remain a never-ending enigma to me.

      You believe that stuff? Jesus did too it says. However, it didn’t come.

  8. Yes there are probably many effective practical precautions that can be taken, just which ones, and how can they be implemented and maintained within the profit/finance based system that has seemingly or is seemingly dominating the landscape of human endeavours?
    When there is a palpable ‘sellable’ threat then concrete measures can be put in place eg CFCs in the 80s/90s, but many apocalyptic ‘threats’ are black swan type events which are much harder to “sell” and even then, have we chosen correctly? Yes a VE7 will occur, yes an asteroid will hit, but when? How much resource should we put into defence.
    Agreed, a food storage plan etc would help mitigate, but that will still require infrastructure (and will) to implement. The film, Don’t look up, theorised on how out of touch we are with ‘reality’ tending more and more towards basing out world view on what others say.
    But neither can we be Luddites.
    And yes indeed governments will try to power grab, but therein lies another rabbit hole of ‘we get the politicians we deserve’. I suspect this is connected with some outdated outmoded principle from when we were somewhat more tribal, following strong leaderships who wish for power rather than wisdom and a more nuanced approach, helping us to understand for ourselves.
    But hey, I’m a long way from this topic now.

    • Oh darn it…sposed to be a reply to Tallis’s response above 🙄

    • Complex problems bear complex solutions, and I don’t have a definitive answer on how to largely mitigate extreme disasters. “the profit/finance based system” is something born of out luxury and will collapse in the face of major disaster. Life doesn’t have any easy answers and no matter what solution you choose there’s going to be some problems that you’ll have to deal with. Balance is key

  9. Thanks for an alarming article. So scary, you frightened Merapi into erupting!

    • Indonesia’s Mount Merapi erupted Saturday with avalanches of searing gas clouds and lava, forcing authorities to halt tourism and mining activities on the slopes of the country’s most active volcano.

      Merapi, on the densely populated island of Java, unleashed clouds of hot ash and a mixture of rock, lava and gas that traveled up to 4.3 miles down its slopes. A column of hot clouds rose 100 yards into the air, said the National Disaster Management Agency’s spokesperson Abdul Muhari.

      The eruption throughout the day blocked out the sun and blanketed several villages with falling ash. No casualties have been reported.

      It was Merapi’s biggest lava flow since authorities raised the alert level to the second-highest in November 2020, said Hanik Humaida, the head of Yogyakarta’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center.

      • That report is somewhat unclear; but “100 yards” isn’t very tall for an eruption column. This sounds like there might have been no actual eruption of fresh magma at all, but a dome collapse or similar event generating a pyroclastic flow and a co-ignimbrite cloud.

        Of course, such a dome collapse could well have uncorked the vent, so fresh magma might now be on its way …

  10. We are heading towards a cool period, despite ‘global warming’. It’s possible a small ice age will occur in a few thousand years time.

    • Based on the Milankovich cycles we are going into another glacial, but those cycles are pretty sensitive and are easily obscured by atmospheric changes. In 1960 the CO2 was 320 ppm, now it is something like 420 ppm, and back in the rest of the Holocene before the 18th century it was something like under 200 ppm. The last time there was 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere was back in the Pliocene when the recurring glacial cycles were not yet really underway, and even large parts of Antarctica were probably not completely glaciated. It remains to be seen how persistent our changes will be, which will determine what physical effects will happen, but given the only thing in the geological record to compare to lasted 100,000 years (PETM) I dont think the change will be as quick to go back as it was to start.

      The ice ages will return, those are based on the positions of the continents, and in particular the existence of the Drake Passage, so until that closes or Antarctica decides to join the rest of Gondwana, then there will be ice there in some form. But on shorter scales I think whatever we have got up to in the past 300 years has likely cancelled the next glacial cycle. Our distant legacy might be a weird spike in temperature and anomalous plant layer in Greenland, and very weird distributions of minerals.

      • Cancelled the next glacial cycle, are you sure? A VEI 8 could initiate one. Easily. The movements of tectonic plates do not coincide with glaciations. There are other factors.

        Imagine (like Emmerich) the Gulf Stream comes to an end. I moved and gave some books away. But 😉 I still have enough to feed the fireplace, but not for this reason. My Geology books would go last.

        • Plate movement is important, Antarctica is a massice labdmass that is isolated, when the Drake Passage opened about 30 mya it was surrounded by a freezing ocean and the circumpolar current formed to keep it that way. Antarctica cant really permanently unfreeze until some part of it goes north enough to push warmer water south. With a glacier cap the whole climate is then made colder and drier, which lets the other cycles show a more prominent affect.

          Also the climate effects of VEI 8s are very unclear. But general evidence I can find siggests they are not long term, the affects might last no longer than presented in the article. If a Laki sized eruption happened at Virunga, right on the equator, that might be the worst case, basalts like that have way higher SO2 than silicics do. Kilauea in 2018 erupted as much SO2 as Pinatubo. But they arent good at getting it into the stratosphere.

          I dont know anything about the gulf stream but what I have seen about it says that no one can agree on how bad it shutting down would be either. Goes from a brief cooling that doesnt do anything to instant glacial maximum but that only affects Europe while the rest of the world still burns… But I think all that CO2 we have pumped into the atmosphere will have a big influence on any cooling, its not trivial it is an almost 300% increase in as many years, pretty extreme change really.

          I think we are still not in control of nature at all, at least not of the geological forces (we have conquered the biosphere though it is a big problem) but acting as if our impacts are going to go away in a year like it never happened is crazy. We have left a big mark in the geological record. If there is something intelligent in 200 million years they will know we existed.

          • The only way for VEI 8’s to have a long lasting climate impact that makes any sense would be for it to impact or otherwise “tip” other atmospheric feedback mechanisms that reinforce surface cooling. Sulfate precipitates out over a couple years, and even a massive quantity of it will eventually fall back to baseline, even if I could see the immediate, direct cooling episode being a bit longer than 3-4 years.

            I would imagine extremely large eruptions can have pretty major downstream impacts on global teleconnections, which can have massive impacts on regional weather. Look at California and the Pacific Northwest this winter, as the PNA was stuck strongly negative all winter with reinforcing shots of cold air as trough after trough dug down to Baja. Wildly historic and unusual winter for them, while the northeast US had one of their warmest and least snowiest on record for many places including NYC.

            I thought I read somewhere that highly sulfurous eruptions can produce a strong negative NAO / AO (North Atlantic Oscillation / Arctic Oscillation) which would be one way eastern NA and Europe suffers a very cold and harsh winter. Still, there would have to be some mechanism that enables anomalous and strong cold regional anomalies to persist beyond the sulfate falling out of the stratosphere.

  11. Kilauea is up to something. From the HVO:


    A shallow earthquake swarm has been detected beneath the summit of Kīlauea Volcano, accompanied by significant surface tilt excursion. Resumption of eruptive activity at Kīlauea summit is likely imminent.

    Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
    Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

    The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continues to monitor Hawaiian volcanoes for any changes.

    • Really interesting. The swarm in two stations:

      There is a sort of tremor at the onset, followed by a lot of small fracturing earthquakes, some quiet, and then a M 3.4 hits. All the located earthquakes are shallow in the caldera area.

      The tilt changes are small. However, there is a change, which shows deformation. It is a very complicated sequence, visible at the right end of the graph. Down, up, down, up, down, up. With little cumulative change. There are no signs of a dike growing, though. A dike would push the ground up and away, causing the tilt to skyrocket by several microradians. I think is more of Kilauea “gargling” with some magma. Additionally, the M3.4 may have caused the magma chamber to slosh from side to side or up and down, This happens sometimes, making very long period earthquakes, and the tilt goes up and down rapidly (within minutes). Although there is more than that going on.

      • The 3.4 earthquake was between Halemaumau and Kilauea Iki, possibly at the ring fault. Kilauea doesn’t like quiet if it is too much and too long.

        The most recent episode of Kilauea’s eruption since January 5th was more to the east than the previous eruption. Can the eruption migrate further to the east of Halemaumau?

        • The eruption in 2020 was in Halemaumau because that was the lowest location (lower than most of the ERZ even) but as the lake has filled now things have changed. The chance of eruptions breaking out from somewhere outside of the lake goes up as it rises. So yes an eruption outside of Hamemaumau is possible.

          The lake is still the most likely place though overall.

          • You don’t need a pandemic for this effect. Anything that makes people poorer and scared will do this. A lot of the chaos in the current world can be traced to the financial crisis of 2008. (There was also a food crisis at the same time.) People in trouble want to have someone to blame, and this can be used by would-be leaders. The climate crisis is in principle manageable and survivable. Even 2 meter of sea level rise is manageable if you see it coming. (If you deny it, it becomes much harder to manage.) But can we cope with the social upheaval and migration it will bring? How long before Florida closes its borders to refugees from Texas, or the other way around, as a hypothetical example? What we need to do is obvious. CO2 emissions reduced by 90%. (100% reduction is not needed.) Education for women prioritized across the world, especially Africa, as that is found to be the fastest way to reduce population growth. Withdrawal from unprotectable coastal areas. We have had 50 years of warning. That should have been enough.

          • Yes. It was in response to your other (and volcanophil) comment. Anyway, I think you can figure it out..

          • Halemaumau was likely the weakest spot for magma to get to the surface. If it intrudes to the east of Halemaumau, it will supposedly need more pressure to overcome the anti-pressure of solid rock. The most recent summit map shows the location of the eruptive vent since January. https://www.usgs.gov/maps/february-3-2023-kilauea-summit-eruption-reference-map
            Interesting could be the future of the “Down-dropped” block. It collapsed 2018 and can still be brocken inside to let magma rise through it. The down-dropped block was in part the place of the summit fissure eruption on 30. April 1982.

          • I put all of the land inside of the caldera (including Keanakao’i and Kilauea Iki) as fair game for an eruption in the next decade.

      • HVO is saying there was an intrusion, and exactly this signal showed up immediately before the last eruptions began, and before the tremor started.

        There was no deflation, it will not be long before another happens. In fact the tilt is only going up even more.

        Would be interesting to see an eruption outside the lake, or on the rim of the caldera, a fissure feeding a massive lava fall. But such an eruption would destroy the Keanakako’i viewing area too…

        • I think the intrusion created gas bubbles, and what we are seeing is the formation and escape of this gas

        • If it is an intrusion, which I wouldn’t call it that, but I guess it may be related, it is not your typical intrusion anyway. The last 5 summit sills and dikes that have taken place since 2018 all skyrocketed the Uwekahuna Tiltmeter, this time there was absolutely no cumulative change at all. Not during the swarm. There was the earlier rise from the 3-week long DI event, someone in HVO may have been confused with that.

          • Would be interesting to speculate what this signal is then. I think it is the initial cracking before magma goes in, but in this case maybe just the cracking was not quite focussed enough. Or maybe the pressure was removed right at the critical point by the next DI.

            There is a DI going on now, smaller scale one, which should be reversing in the coming day. I would expect an eruption to begin this week, best keep watch on the webcam 🙂

          • I wrote some speculation on the VCbar about what the swarm may have been.

    • Yes, my first and ever reliable love, Chiles cerro negro. Let it bury this world in ash and snow

      • Too far south to scare me a great deal. Your Coatepeque-scenario has more potential.

        • CCN is actually far closer to the equator than Tambora so it’s still a big deal, It ain’t no Mt Hudson

          • Since its close to the equator a big BOOM could impact north & south just as much?

  12. Chiles-Cerro Negro is having another uptick in VLPs that are taking place just 3 km below the surface. It looks like magma is breaking the plug. The Seismic activity looks more concentrated than before, the quakes are more numerous but not as intense as the last swarm so far. If I am right, then the magma must be moving quickly in order to produce such a strong swarm.
    The Twin’s main core of quakes are moving east and shallowing, I am thinking a dyke as formed from Tanaga.

  13. Interesting study on volcanic apocalypse! In my opinion the danger of a nuclear winter is still on the table, as long as there are too many fools with the Apocalypse button. Historically natural disasters (f.e. by volcanic winters or Black Death) were often accompanied by bad human behaviour like persecution of Jews and witches. Corona was an example, and Putin’s war may have been accelerated by Paranoia which often follow pandemics. One natural disaster is 100% certain: Global warming. It is difficult to predict, how humans will react on this threat psychologically, sociologically and politically. Human behaviour is much more difficult to understand than volcanoes. But human made disasters can be more dangerous than many natural disasters.

    • Thanks
      The Human factor is ignored for many disaster models. Some disasters wouldn’t be famous if it wasn’t for the botched response. I don’t want the world to end from a nuclear winter or global warming, GRB, volcano or asterod are GOAT of disasters

      • After the Cold War we’ve forgotten that the nuclear bombs still exist. The present development in Ukraine and Russia is uncertain. We had a lot of luck in the 80s and early 90s that the Soviet Union collapsed without a violent end. Putin appears to be reluctant in use of the nuclear button, but there may still be possible successors who are even more aggressive.

    • Quakes seem to have migrated upward. It looks closer to an eruption than others, though the site of eruption is difficult to forecast. Geologyhub just did a video where he points out bulging to the south of Tanaga towards the coast.

  14. Well, Tallis, the two volcanoes you have chosen are slightly different from Aniakchak and Thera, about 1.600 BC as Coatepeque is near the Equator. So, on the Southern half of the globe there would be some effect as well. With a scenario lieke Thera and Aniakchak the southern half could help the northern half to a certain degree and vice versa. That’s where we are more advanced.
    But you chose the equator in a combination with Kamtchatka. Keep yout fingers crosses this won’t happen.

    I have seen s.th. like that on German TV; concerning Campi Flegrei. I think, normally, governments could do a lot. But times, it seems, have become more instable, education seems to get worse, so you are probably right with the rioting. But, btw, in a scenario like that, e.th. would change. So rioters would be shot down, at least in the US. Common sense has to adapt to circumstances.

    So, basically we can see why those radiant cultures around the Mediterranean broke down, esp. the Minoan Kingdom. We can probably also see, what made our ancestors get up and leave the African Rift. There was a reason, and, considering the location, it might have been a big eruption down there.

    Thank you for your piece.

    Oh btw, I visited one of your favorite areas for volcanic hazards last week: Laghi di Vico, Bracciano and Bolsena. all peaceful lakes. but only Lago di Vico might be extinct. Next time in Rome, we’ll do the southern side.

    • Definitely the scary part of a breakdown in the food chain etc. would be rioting, public disorder etc.
      People most definitely would eat each other (figuratively, hopefully not literally) in order to survive.

      Those folk who stock up and build bunkers and so forth might not be so silly after all, though they’d still need to be able to defend themselves, and have potable water etc.

      • People who stock up would be looted, not only by humans, but also by rats which would eventually bring back the Black Death. And there are historical records of cannibalism and people leaving their children alone in times of the Black Death. Humans become animals when times are bad.
        I read about a fox that killed 20 plus flamingoes in a DC zoo. A little later they shot down a fox not knowing if it is the right one though. These 20 plus is called surplus-killing and exists among wolves, bears, foxes, lions, basically all predators. At the moment we are the top predator. What Tallis didn’t even touch is the danger for animals. In a doomsday scenario some might be exstinguished.
        A doosday sceanrio in Africa i.e. might extinguish elefants, hippos and esp. ostriches.

        Another doomsday scenario is a big eruption of Changbai-San or that suspect on Taiwan that Tallis wrote about once. Easily readable in the story of the Pandemic. We are very dependant on international trade esp. with China.

        • Yes I think the areas that need to be taken into consideration in particular are the world’s breadbaskets, where most of the farming is done and exported elsewhere.

          This includes much of America and Canada, Brazil, Argentina, India, Indonesia, China, Russia and Eastern Europe.

          If you live somewhere like New Zealand, should be alright due to population density and an untapped fish/seafood supply that could replace some of the missing nutrients.

          • Would that fish thing work? Are there enough ships, enough material, enough fish? Will the people share it nicely?

            The only thing I can imagine working, and maybe it’s just in my ignorance that I think it would work, would be for people living around rainforests to burn them down. That way, rapidly acquiring a vast expanse of fertile, sunny, rainy ground for rapid food production. Although it would be a sad thing to happen. In any case, it is likely that if people get desperate, it will be an ecological disaster.

          • Since solar irradiance would be part of the problem, could we not try to bring water up into the stratosphere, lik Hunga Tonga did? The sulphate particles will act as condensation nuclei, get an ice mantle, and because they are now heavier will drop out of the atmosphere quicker. Much better than burning down the forests – if it works

          • Switching to carbohydrate only alimentation might also relieve some pressure. I expect if we stop feeding cattle to eat meat, that will make more calories available for us. That would be a health disaster, but better that than death, I guess.

          • That sounds like an elegant way to solve the solve the volcanic sulphate problem (if it works). That should certainly be studied. Although in my mind earlier I was thinking of a general economic collapse scenario, not just a VEI-7 eruption case.

  15. I consider your approach realistic in any sense. Timing is of course darn near impossible to estimate, but still I agree with your assumptions.

    History has shown this to be a fact. During the height of the roman empire Rome had apx. 1 000 000 citizens. To maintain a so lagre city import of goods was essential. Modern globalisation on a small scale if you like. In the years following 536 (and perhaps one more around 540) the population fell to apx. 30 000. Many papers are written and different numbers are calculated, but it doesn’t change the main point; even thousands of years ago cities were a bad place to live when nature struck on a global scale. There are also many good documentaries on this subject.

    In todays “dance around the golden calf” it would be no different. I fear we have spent the best climatic period in a long historic time “fearing for” all kinds of micro-problems. So when a real one emerges from an x-incident prepareness is more than lacking. Covid just scratched the surface of this. 15 years after the last financial crisis we are sleep-walking into the next. No real change is done to avoid a new. On the contrary; we’ve seen inflation ww. In billionaires. In our country (Norway) grain silos are made into art museums, appartments(!) or demolished, and have been for quite some years. “Food is cheapest stored during (global) transport”. Untill it isn’t… I am fairly sure agriculture won’t thrive in Norway in your scenario.

    More dependence on solar-energy will not do well during volcanic winter. Lack of electricity is not so good for more electrification either. A prolonged period with dust not good for transportation or production at all. Oil and gas are piped in some areas and could possibly with certain precautions be used and even transported, but how to (now) rely on more solar in front of a possible scenario like this is not very forward thought. On communications we would be without satelitedata and comm. for a prolonged time. Probably internet too. And to maintain whatever electriticy possible I guess both crypto and datacentres would quickly be rendered useless. Vast areas of forests would probably be utilized for heating, adding to sun-blocking particles in dense populated areas.

    To find the why? and when? of what could be triggering vast eruptions should be researched vastly more than it is. I’ve mentioned solar minimums before, and after this one I think it deserves more attention. As to what combined parameters (of solar activity) to search for as triggers I am still in the dark as of.

    Preparedness is an individual choice (or mostly not) in todays culture. Because “everything is fine”…. But the ramifications would be inconcieveable for most modern people. So your scenario will have to be postponed indefinately. Because I am sure there are people already having sceduled nail-saloon appointments and botox-injections for the 25th of March. Sorry. What you are theorizing is “not allowed”. 😉

    Thank you for the article. Let us enjoy the time we have on this planet. Hopefully for a long time to come.

    • The more complex society is, the harder it is to maintain. The shock from a severe volcanic winter would be insane, it’d be like living in a (good) disaster movie. Due to lack of survival skills among the general populace, I could plenty of people just giving up. Which would be good news from the environment.

  16. I think the weakness of our complex society is growing and growing…during the COVID pandemic we only (!) lost some million inhabitants of the planet, in the ’50 Asian flu made more dead, not to say of the Spanish Flu.
    Simpler societies at those times were more resilient: I remember an alarm book written by the Italian engineer/writer Roberto Vacca in the ’70, “The next future middle-ages”, in which was hypothesized a return to Middle Age conditions simply by the impossible task to maintain so complex societies like the ones he saw in those years.
    Our behavior as society is absolutely silly, think only to the “just in time” paradigma the economy imposes us is a complete madness : we have no more stores or depots for a lot of things, so any disruption of the supply line has crazy effects on the general economy and on the life of everyone. Globalization and delocalization (generally in China or Far East) has cancelled from our Western countries whole productions and supply chains, so we are no more independent and able to produce many goods, in the sense also that we have no more the people able to build many and many of the goods we (almost apparently) need for everyday life. Think even to simple technological goods, they only are produced in China or whereabout.
    Definitely, I think the our societies are no more able to sustain trials that in the past we and our ancestors (of course with sufferings!) beared.
    So, cross our fingers, and try to simplify our way of life, or Nature (or Putin !) will destroy us in the twinkle of an eye. Or longer…

    • Globalization has it’s benefits, it has lifted billions of people out of poverty and it’s more effective at preventing local and regional famines. But the current trade systems can’t handle shock, I think a bigger problem is the mindset of the people. Takeaway non-essential items such as game consoles and movies and people are going to riot. Takeaway easy access to food and people’s brains will melt,

    • Interesting thoughts, and they reflect some things I pondered a couple of years ago.

      Being narcoleptic, I need to constantly keep my mind positively engaged in something I find to be interesting, because it seems to be the most reliable coping strategy for keeping symptoms (sleep attacks) at bay. So during the UK’s pandemic lockdowns I ran what started as a thought experiment , and is still ongoing as something more than that.

      Based on various scenarios I had come across of societal collapse, I wondered… If I were to be left with a reliable water supply, the clothes on my back, an axe and a camp knife, could I rebuild from nothing to a level of tech that would offer a bearable way of life (to me ).

      I won’t labour you with all of my mental ramblings and reasonings.

      My starting point is that whilst not an expert, I am pretty good at what is now called bushcraft. I have always spent periods of time in wild places…I usually have a “stealth camp” somewhere as a retreat… a place to let the troubles of the World drift away. So I’m not concerned about shelter… I can build good shelters, and my current one is relatively comfortable even at temps of around -10 C.

      But I quickly worked out that electricity was a cul de sac. Useful, yes. But only because there is an existing infrastructure creating things that are powered by such means. If nobody is building refrigeration, making lightbulbs and so on, generating electrical power might not be a long term good use of time and resources.

      But starting out with an axe and a knife, it is possible to create all kinds of simple, robust mechanisms which can make and store mechanical energy… Clockwork being a favourite. Flywheels are another avenue I might explore.

      In following this train of thought I realised that I would need to be able to make something like a large leaf spring from available natural resources… And consequently I can now build reasonably effective longbows, so far with draw weights of up to around 50 pounds. There’s no finesse to the bows I’ve built so far, but it was an interesting diversion…and I’ve now taken up archery !

      But my biggest discovery was how little use electricity is in the absence of our current infrastructure.

      So any robust long term survival plan in the event of a catastrophe of this nature may be best if it is set out to be constructed using only resources that might be freely available in a World with no global (or even national) trading infrastructure.

      It surprised me what might be possible, just as it surprised me how little we actually need many of the things we might normally say that we “Couldn’t live without”.

      Obviously I have not made allowance for things like several years of virtually no growing season, poor air quality and so on… Because that would not have been fun.

      But my findings were surprising, and I found them interesting.

      • You should write about them, I,curious to see other people’s perspective on such issues. Just organize your “mental ramblings” into a coherent article and I’d love to read it. All of my articles spur from maniacal mental escapades, (That’s why there’s so many spelling issues!)

        • In years gone by I most certainly would have done so.

          But in years gone by I wasn’t narcoleptic (late onset in my case… at age 40).

          I used to read even reference books very avidly. I was a legal rep, and studying landmark case law decisions was (bizarrely, looking back at it) something I loved doing. Unfortunately, post onset my body decided that it found 30+ page legal decisions as soporific as the rest of society did.

          Which is (ultimately) why that career came to an end.

          The post I wrote above is somewhere close to my limit before drowsiness sets in, and once it does, trying to continue is akin to swimming through fast flowing custard … against the flow !

          I might try to record some sort of vlog.

          Or I might just carry on playing with ideas and making stuff. I’m not sure yet.

          • I have no idea how it feels to live with narcolepsy, it’s always a good idea to find some outlets for your ideas and creativity.

  17. Volcanic eruptions of VEI8 are the worst case. Yellowstone did it and Toba. Toba was a real bottleneck event, when only a few humans survived. The bible talks sometimes about a “Sabbat” which the holy land gets, and maybe once after the many environmental sins humanity have done to nature, nature may seek a “Sabbat” from human waste.

    The technical modernization hides, how vulnerable we are. We’ve only few decades of computer and digital technologies, but they’ve made us lose many analogue skills which humanity knew for millenia and would help us in case of a VEI8 volcano apocalypse.

    • The story that Toba caused a near-extinction of humanity is not supported by evidence. It combined two things, namely that the non-African world has limited genetic diversity and the expectation that such a large eruption would be calamitous worldwide. Clearly, living near Toba would not have been a good idea. But western Indonesia was much less affected, presumably because of the prevaling winds. India was badly affected, but when people returned they had the same culture as before – so clearly the locals did survive, or at least some did. The climate effects are disputed. The story about a majore cooling comes from the fact that the eruption occured shortly (centuries to millennia) before a worsening of the ice age. Are the two related? Probably not. Toba was not highly explosive and this may have limited the cooling effect – although there must have been a bad decade. So in my opinion, this story is a myth, not a fact.

    • The studies of super-volcanoes is an absolute embarrassment. Do you know how much SO2 Toba produced? Cause I don’t! Some studies give ranges from the questionable 70 megatons- to the incredible 7 gigatons! Some studies think that Toba produced 6,000 km3 of magma DRE and some think that eruption was smaller than thought. This is completely unacceptable, I understand that changes in methodology can lead to different results but the spread in values is unacceptable. The Aerosol Microphysics is arguably the most important factor in volcanic winter and no one knows how the Ice age effected the conditions of the stratosphere.
      Some people had some serious misconceptions about volcanic winter, there is no way that an explosive eruption can trigger 1.000 yr period of global cooling. The Aerosol are going to last 6 years at the absolute max and whatever post aerosol cooling will dissipate in the next few decades. Whatever climate changes Toba caused would’ve been limited to several decades after the eruption. Tropical regions have never gotten severe cooling during any volcanic winter and looking for evidence of volcanic winter in such regions isn’t what I’d call smart.
      No one knows how much SO2 Toba produced or how intense the volcanic winter was. For God’s sake, there isn’t any concrete numbers for the cooling for volcanic winters of just a few hundred to thousand years ago! I didn’t bother going over a super volcanic winter in my article because there is such little concrete information that it’s a fool’s errand to form a solid scenario based on such a ununderstood and contentious topic.

      • Best current values for Toba are 500-1500 Tera-gram of sulphur, which is 500-1500 Mton of sulphur. (Double it to get the equivalent mass of SO2, or triple to get the H2SO4 mass.) So if you want the SO2 load, it is 1-3 giga-tons.

        • That’s the current consensus but the consensus isn’t always right. The mere fact that an argument can be made for much lower SO2 values shows a disconnect on how much we think we understand and how much we really understand.

    • A scenario like this cannot be excluded. Space is the other source:

      “About 466 million years ago, long before the age of the dinosaurs, the Earth froze. The seas began to ice over at the Earth’s poles, and the new range of temperatures around the planet set the stage for a boom of new species evolving. The cause of this ice age was a mystery, until now: a new study in Science Advances argues that the ice age was caused by global cooling, triggered by extra dust in the atmosphere from a giant asteroid collision in outer space.”

          • Snowball earth was a product largely of the positioning of the continents at the time, which supported more ice growth because of their position at the polar regions. Growth in polar ice at the time became a very powerful feedback loops, and due to the continental positioning, it could grow much more than the current world would allow (even outside an interglacial period). Also, the sun back then was less radiant than it is now, so that affected atmospheric heat.

            If the continents ever drift into a position where they are more amassed on the polar regions of the planet, then that could cause problems, but that’s not the current reality.

          • This is true for ice ages, even severe ones, but it appears that for snowball earth more is needed. The continents need to be equatorial. Snow on the equator can reflect much more sunlight becaue the equator gets much more light than the poles. See https://www.volcanocafe.org/white-christmas/

          • I thought it was the opposite, all the land was equatorial so sea ice could grow until the earth albedo was high enough to allow for a self sustaining cooling. The current position of the continents is already mostly near the poles today but the fact it is on land is what prevented the ice advancing south from the north pole.

          • cbus, this is not about Snowball Earth, but about the Ordovician Glaciation aka Andean-Saharan Glaciation and other names.

          • It might be important to notice, Chad, that a really big mass consisting of Eurasia with Africa practically joined and North America sits around the North Pole whereas the southern half cannot compete.

            It seems it is the first time this happened.

          • Antarctica is massive, most of our maps are biased towards the north in size so make Antarctica (and Australia) look a lot smaller than it really is, and northern Canada and Greenland much bigger. Basically all of the Antarctic circle is on land or at least on ice grounded on land. There are parts of Antarctica that are further from the south pole than northern Sweden is from the north pole 🙂

            But yes, there is more land in one hemisphere than the other. This did happen in about the time your post covers back in the Ordovician although in the opposite cinfiguration to now being south focussed with Laurentia (North America) at the equator and basically nothing in the northern hemisphere aside from hypothetical islands which leave no records.

  18. Tallis has a pic up there wth people hoarding toilet paper.
    In my town that meant back then in early 2020 that I couldn’t get any toilet paper because we suffered from the same misbehaviour. I could get paper towels though and also Kleenex. I bought these and ordered 100 rolls of toilet paper in China!!!. They arrived timely by amazon, thank you very much.
    People said: China! your toilet paper might come with the virus. BS.

    In a more serious situation those guys on the picture – when they approach their cars – would be asked less politely to hand out 90% of their purchase, in America possibly with guns. They would take home one or zero packs of their purchase. The gun scenes at gas stations from the oil crisis back then are unforgettable.

    Such behaviour doesn’t make sense. In a crisis situation you have to think of others as well. As we always point out here education is the clue. And a decent education has to include morales and reason.
    If people hoard they make themselves no friends. This is another point. Friends, groups of people sticking together and thinking about others is what helps most in crises. A friend can warm you when it is cold, you can sleep close together like cattle. Toilet papers don’t warm anybody up. It is just stuff for the bottom, and those people hoarding it were from the bottom, the pit of mankind. Unfortunately there are too many of them and not enough decent education.

    • My dad now orders them from groupon, far cheaper for a large quantity.
      I may start bulk buying things somewhere like Makro as it appears far more cost-effective.
      Depending on what you buy of course.

  19. Sadly I fear that it will be worse.
    Previous famines have been hugely localised.
    A volcanic winter is not.
    If it was realised in time how drastic the situation was, and it was just after a normal harvest the things could be handled well. I think this is improbable.
    Otherwise, if we assume june frosts in europe and america and presumably in indochina as well (india may escape) the resultant yields are likely to be down by 90%, probably compounded with a late, cold wet harvest that modern equipment struggles to deal with.
    This means that likely only 20% of the population could survive if perfectly managed. It won’t be.
    100 years ago, world populations were low, and a significant area of land was used for grass-fed animal agriculture which would survive relatively unharmed with fewer at the end than the start. Further most crops other than grain were leafy and would produce something under these conditions. Not so today..
    Its highly likely that modern society would regress to feudal conditions with a few strong men holding control, of smallish areas where food and energy would be distributed with some level of efficiency (not fairness).
    It would be fighters first, their women and children second and everyone else at serf levels.
    Sadly, absolutely nothing that could be done.

    • Too pessimistic.
      China as the rest of the Far East would fare best because of discipline. The South of Africa and of South America possibly second as a consequence of being further away and closer to oceans. Also New Zealand and Australia.
      Europe, densely settled, would be a disaster zone, also North Africa. The American citizens you see on the pic would fight for themselves. New York City would be a catastrophe, the other cities as well. But then, as we can see in every Hollywood film about catastrophes, some would stick together and do their very best to survive and help others. I think that is realistic for Americans who wouldn’t survive a large eruption of Yellowstone though.

      The main survivor would be the climate if – and that is a big if – climate warming results solely from human activity. In this case half the global population or less would help. But nobody is longing for this possibility.

      The Germans and the British would run out of beer. That would help them stay sober, and Lanzarote’s problems with drunk tourists would be solved 😉
      Hygiene would be a big problem. Yersinia pestis might be finished, but not Salmonella Typhi. Anne Frank wasn’t gassed, but died of Typhus, as hygiene wasn’t what they were taking care of at the end of WWII.
      My worst imagination is that some stupid state would release the smallpox virus out of a BSL4 labatory to get rid of hungry rioting folks. Getting rid of the vacc. against smallpox while keeping it in labs is a mistake imho.

      When I looked at Lake Vico about a week ago (last eruption about 250 000 years ago), crater lake, my first thought was: “What if it erupts again? Will it affect Rome?” I guess so, depending on the VEI. But then, it might as well erupt 800 000 years from now.
      It is important to keep a good balance between optimism and vigilance. What Tallis does here I only accept on VC. On TV it is as desastrous for people’s minds as John’s (or worse Petrus’) apocalypses. It made some painters paint it on church ceilings, and people were sitting under them, being religious and obediant out of irrational fear.
      I just don’t like irrational fear which results in mass hysteria. The Hillsborough disaster shows very well the fruits of mass hysteria.

      • Maybe, but discipline soon breaks down when people are starving, and everyone (pretty much) would be in dire straits.
        They would certainly eat seed corn. All of it if need be.
        Even isolated farms in wales and scotland are likely to have had visits from people who would take and remove all the livestock by force.

        • Isolated farms in Wales… Hmm… Not sure if I agree with that.
          This also came up in that thought experiment I mentioned.
          They’re going to use fuel which they may not be able to replace on a journey which may not provide the desired outcome ?
          Water for their journey in this context is not a given, even in Wales. Journeys may have to be planned from water source to water source rather than along roads (which may well have other militias moving along them or guarding them).
          Ammunition for firearms… May well be a short lived and precious commodity. Who is going to be making it, and how ?
          Wanna buy a longbow ?
          As long as there are sticks, there’s ammunition !

          • Food for fuel is not a problem. You only need five people walking up the valley with clubs who have one person who knows how to catch sheep (or threaten farmer and family). There is no such thing (outside unoccupied parts of scotland) that are less than a day or two walk from a significant (starving) town.
            As you sat, there will be more than enough stocks of fuel (diesels work on kerosene) and weapons for any food stocks to be ‘liberated’.
            Severely isolated areas of the americas will likely survive, and parts of africa and oceania.

  20. Tallis, very sorry:

    As I have travelled down the whole South American coast a while ago – on google 😉 – in order to figure out whether you can do this by car and in what time, I unfortunately have to correct you: CCN is 5.536 km from Quito, Ecuador and on the latitude 51° 49´ 19´´ S, whereas Tambora is on 8° 14′ 43″ S.
    Tambora is much closer to the equator than Cerro Negro in Chile. CCN is closer to the South Pole than to the equator.

      • Chiles-cerro negro is 107 km away from Quito not 5 km away.

        • C’mon. Five thousand.
          And Cerro Negro, Peru, 1.300. One thousand three hundred-

        • Okay. You mean a different volcano, not in Chile.
          You mean Chiles-Cerro Negro on the border of Bolivia and Ecuador.
          Not easy-

          • Hey it’s okay! I am wrong, you’re right Albert can settle the bet. We’ll bet 100,000

          • It was fun Tallis. You were right although 460 km from the epicentre of Cerro Negro, Chile there was an earthquake as well, though not a swarm. All this proves I was wrong:


            You are only wrong in one single Thing: Writing Chile in your original article. That made me go to Chile, of course.
            We learn from our own mistakes. What did I learn? That there are numerous Cerro Negroes in South America. And that it is fun to learn on VC as VC forgives mistakes. 🙂 🙂 🙂

            We don’t need Albert for this, but I have a message for Albert:
            Venus is further away on our sky from Jupiter now. It was a spectacle. Venus just disappeared behind one of the mountains, and the Southern stars like Orion and Canis Mayour with Sirius are more visible all of a sudden. The night sky is beautiful, and you have a beautuíful profession.

          • There are many ‘Black Mountains’ in the world. A name that is distinctive to the locals may be mired in confusion for others.

          • Well in the UK we can go even better than most places with respect to confusion. We have Black Mountain in the Black Mountains ….

          • ..do you mean the one in Wales or the one in Northern Ireland?

  21. Looks like some uplifted glowing mounds on the live Kilauea camera. But, if you look back on the video, they move. I think they maybe lens flare?


  22. Thanks Tallis for a most informative article.
    But note, the planet is now in a mode of extreme whiplash events, and if an eruption were to occur at the wrong time during one of these extreme events, then the resulting impacts could be magnified many fold.
    In the past I’ve written about the extreme heat and drought that had been plaguing the West Coast NA for many years, and I’m not sure how much info has made it out via global media, but here In California were are now experiencing perhaps one (if not the #1) coldest and massive snow seasons in over a century…and maybe longer. At my place near Redding (elv. ~ 600 ft. in the northern Sacramento Valley), there have been 4 significant snowstorms and two more with non-accumulating snow…with two snows being the largest totals ever recorded…both nearly a foot. Plus, there have been two snows in the month of March (with 12″ falling last Friday in Redding during a super-rare daytime snowstorm), which has never happened before. Elsewhere in California, snow has fallen on several occasions down to sea level with many feet of snow just 1,500′ a.s.l..
    For the Cent and Southern sections of the State, many locales now have over 200% of their average annual rain, with the rainy season still expected to continue well into April and maybe May. Many places may see their highest annual rain totals in a century, with the snow-water equivalent (SWE) in the southern Sierra now at records amounts with almost 5 ft. of liquid water now stored in the snowpack…which when it melts will be creating a major flood potential along many of the main rivers and lower elevations.
    In the Sierra and mountains of Southern Calif., some people are still without power and remain essentially trapped after nearly two weeks by snow over 20′ in the highest mountains above ~ 8k’ with nearly 6-10′ of snow still remaining at only 5k’ in elevation. Houses and other buildings that were built for snow are now collapsing from the massive weight, and landslides/avalanches are creating major travel disruptions and additional threats to life and property such as the Salinas Valley (about 60 miles south of San Francisco) where the Pajaro River broke through a levee and is now inundating several towns and forcing 1,000’s to evacuate.
    But is our off-the-charts anomalous pattern a result of the transition from La Nina to El Nino (as many are suggesting), or has Hunga Tonga played a role as others are also noting/speculating?
    It’s worth noting, that our deep cold and snows are not being experienced everywhere…and in fact the eastern US (as an example) is seeing one of the warmest and snow-free years on record…so it’s obvious that overall cooling or warming is not present planet-wide.
    Rather, my theory is the HT altered conditions in the southern hemisphere that in turn has helped shift north-Pacific High Pressure to set up in unusual positions…most likely by altering the equatorial trade winds and/or promoting a very strong and persistent SSW event where H.P. in the GoA bridged with Greenland High pressure thus forcing the mean jet stream southward to it’s current position that continues to bring massive rains in the form of atmospheric rivers to the Golden State.
    Hence, HT was the “butterfly wing” that in turn has set off a chain of weird atmospheric responses, rather than being the direct source of the cold air that’s been plaguing us all Fall and WInter.
    If HT is indeed at least in part responsible for the crazy weather pattern that has lasted for over half a year here, then we need to re-think the potential effects of an eruption beyond a simple “cooling” or “warming” effect, IMHO of course.

    • Not as chaotic as not too far from normal, but same thing here in Bavaria: Five months of snow and rain with only short periods of sunshine, very cold, esp. the nights. As the Southern Half is said to have had a more severe winter before, I tend to believe it is HTHH and there was more sulphur after all, besides very high up, in the Ionosphere it was said.
      A bigger eruption in Iceland now or in the course of the year would make it very bad. So let us hope that Grimsvötn et al wait a while.

      • And btw the winter in the UK was far from normal and is still going on.

        • I’d say the winter in the UK has been pretty warm on average, not seen a lot of frost this year, but not ridiculously warm. Otherwise nothing usual going on here.

          Not sure how other UK residents here would assess this winter, but I’ve seen worse and not sure HT is materially affecting us.

          • I am expecting it to be a wet year.
            Cricket season is going to be a stop-start one unfortunately.

          • Winter in the south of the UK (wash to bristo)l, has been characterised by warmth and dryness. Water table is not replenished. If 2022 was a 1975 then we need to hope 23 is NOT a 1976, because ag production plummeted. Current UK wheat yields typically ~7.6T/Ha ave, if nothi9ng is limiting this can be 8.6+ but in 76 water was limiting and 4T/Ha was good/normal. When I farmed I once lucked the right variety in the right year and averaged 12.5T/Ha as sold, in 1976 it was entirely water limited and we averaged under 3T/Ha (shocking even then).

          • In this conversation about weather patterns, Andy’s comment about “cricket season” left me puzzled for a moment. Fun.

          • I’m guessing he means the game, rather than the very noisy creepy-crawly.

        • Thank you for your input on weather weirdness elsewhere in the world…I hope some other VC folks will kindly chime in with their local seasonal observations as well and would be greatly appreciated!
          BTW, I frequently write for weatherwest.com blog as hosted by climatologist Dr. Daniel Swain which focuses on Calif. weather as well as a host of side-bar issues like VC does…and HTHH is a hot topic of discussion whether or not it’s involved (in part) the extraordinary Winter we’re having.
          But as I said, there is a climate whiplash that may have also occurred post HTHH (perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not)…which was first evidenced by the historic and extended heatwave(s) of early Summer 2022 that hit both large portions of the US and Europe at the same time…which can only be explained by a major planetary (northern hemisphere) disruption in the mid-upper latitude circumpolar flow…so it is possible that this Winter is a whiplash year with it’s prolonged coldness (in places) being an equally high amplitude counter-response to last Summer’s relentless heat?
          The main point, is whether it’s hotter or colder or wetter or drier, the current weather patterns we’re seeing are anomalously high St.Dev events virtually everywhere across the planet….so maybe HTHH is merely fanning the flames of a major global pattern change that was going to happen anyway…i.e. what would have been maybe a few degree cooldown normally is now many degrees cooler due to HTHH . Only time will tell…assuming we survive the next AR that’s due to hit tonight that will first drop over a half-foot of rain in the mountains around south of Lake Tahoe then re-deposit 8′ of new snow by 10 days from now.

          • I’m with you on the secondary effects from. HTHH triggering anomalous N.E.Pacific highs (cannot see a direct stratospheric connection yet) and also that simple binary heating/cooling doesn’t explain much.
            Here in north eastern England, average to warmer winter, very dry too. Late cool spell attributed to SSW but nothing particularly out the ordinary.

          • Here in the Venice mainland (Veneto, Italy) and in all northern Italy this winter has been mild (never used heavy coats), and this was good for Natural Gas consumption, but overwhelming DRY. Today we had two drops of rain for the first time since an early January day, and before that maybe some shower in october.
            What is forecasting is a drought (in a region which is the richest in continental Europe for water !), very few snow on the Alps, here is circulating the idea, in the head of Administration, to build water makers from sea water to ensure the touristic season on the beaches. It is also forecasted a rationing in water systems, even if human use is less than 10% of the total, the remaining 90% is for agricultural and industry. Yet last summer some harvests were lost ( rice, maize etc), and wine production has decreased. And 2021 and 2022 were horribly hot summers, with far less than usual showers..
            It has been calculated that we would need about 50 days with rain to replenish the underlying aquifers with had lost their level.
            We are really “California dreaming’ ” in these days…

    • Spent last winter in Chios, Greece and that was a cold one with March 2022 apx. 3 deg. C. below avg. there. The whole year came in apx. 0,5 deg. C. below normal on the eastern islands in the Aegean. This year has started better from what I have seen (meteo/gr).

      This winter we’re in western Norway where we live, and it’s been average overall, but with a very cold december, normal January, mild February and a very cold March thus far. We’ve experienced more N-winds over the later years than what we can remember from the past.

      The real take from this winter is still the massive snows in western US, NH snowcover and the bitter lasting cold in Siberia and NE-Asia earlier this winter with multiple cold records. These could be effects from HT but I’m really not sure. The so called (former) Canary Svalbard has “cooled” from an avg. of 5-6 deg. C above normal around 2016 to apx. 2-3 deg. above normal now (Norw. Met. data). And the small trend might rime with statistical yearbook-data from the 1930’s and onwards for Svalbard. We’ll see.

      I saw two YT-videoes last night of volunteers with heavy equipment helping out in the San Bernadino area, and boy did it give some renewed faith in mankind. Both the emotions on the giving and the recieving end of the help was heart warming. We have it in us if we seek it. 😉

      Firewood for next winter is this months project, so i’m (sort of) happy spring is waiting. At least till I’m done. In apx. 12 kbm….

      • I expect that the three-year la-nina is having an effect on the weather. It is hard to know whether there is still a Hunga Tonga effect. Certainly not ruled out. Was this an exceptional winter? Not in the UK. It followed the predictions from autumn pretty well, with a cold december and mild winter. That prediction was based on la nina. The cold March was not in that forecast but it has been fairly common in recent years (that March is variably cold). Compared to 30 years ago, the weather was of course exceptionally mild but that is the new normal.

        • Thanks Albert, and to the other’s who’ve commented on their local climate the Winter.
          Interesting you noted about the model-based seasonal forecasts pretty much verified out your way, but over here, the forecasts were anything but.
          The “big flop” started when ALL the major global models failed to identify a long-duration SubTropical-sourced teleconnection that resulted in a series of highly anomalous East Pacific hurricanes to spread moisture and dynamics over much of the western NA from Mexico to past the Canadian border in September…normally a month that usually features a oneoffer type of southern moisture surge that maybe drops 1/4 – 1″ of precip once every couple of years…but in Sept. 2022, rainfall was measured in double digits in SoCal, with almost 6″ falling in the foothills way up north just west of Redding.
          In fact, one hurricane made it all the way to San Diego as a tropical storm, only the third time in recorded history that a named storm made it all the way to California.
          The forecast at the time was for a dry Fall with rains coming in December (which verified), then the tap would shut off in January 2023 and we go back to a drought-like precip dearth.
          By the end of a very wet December, the dry 2023 forecast was still being predicted by the models, but in reality, a very El Nino-ish teleconnection was setting up across the entire Pacific basin (we called it the “Mango Connection” since the source of the moisture was near Indonesia instead of the much more benign “Pineapple Connection” that originates near Hawaii ). This pattern brought another series of powerful and wet AR’s to California (mostly Cent and SoCal) that pummeled the western U.S. for almost the entire month.
          By the start of Feb, we were reeling from heavy snow, wayyy below normal temps and heavy low elevation precip, yet the models continued to show a below average outlook for the rest of Feb. and into Spring….which turned out to be one of the biggest forecast busts in memory as high pressure that normally sets up off the NA west coast got displaced about 1,000-1,500 miles further west and north than usual, with major cold troughs and storms riding down the coast of North America straight out of the Arctic, thus continuing a parade of storms that raked California (which is continuing at this moment).
          The point is that while La NIna was still technically present, the emerging teleconnections out here were already not La Nina-ish as far back as last Fall…and since our seasonal forecasts were also heavily weighted towards a La Nina teleconnection pattern (like yours in the UK), what has actually transpired over the last 6 months strongly suggests that there is something going on in the atmosphere that our models are missing…and in a big way. The conditions I’m describing are not single Black Swan events, but rather a synoptic scale pattern that a modern climate model SHOULD have had little difficulty in resolving….but even as I write, the forecasts even past a couple of days is “almost” worthless.
          Anyway, the key takeaway is what has/is happening weather-wise out my way (which includes the entire north Pacific) is for some reason beyond our current capabilities to model accurately.
          While it may be possible that climate whiplash is so extreme in today’s GW environment that’s resulting in off-the-charts anomalies in many parts of the world, it is also possible that there are some other physical processes going on in the atmosphere that the laws of fluid dynamics aren’t resolving well. Obviously, it’s not the physical laws that are in question…they are locked in, but the raw data that’s being plugged into the computers must be missing something?
          But what that missing “something” is, I gotta think that HTHH is somehow involved…but as of now, there is little/none technical data to support such a conclusion (though I do have a working theory but with little more than weak correlations to work with), I’ll be content to just watch and wait for the data to accumulate over the next year (or so) and make sure I keep my mind open to all possible explanations…except for the time-worn axiom that the weather is unpredictable anyway so what’s the big deal?
          With so many people’s lives and property at ever increasing risk. the last thing we need is a population explosion of Ostriches (there are unfortunately too many IMHO already.

        • The cold March both here in the US and over on your side of the Atlantic is no doubt from the sudden stratospheric warming event mid Feb that apparently downwelled to enact a surface response (flipping the North Atlantic Oscillation negative and setting up Greenland blocking, again as Dec had).

          Despite modeling SSW are not generally well predicted especially beyond a few weeks, but I’ve seen a couple writeups (think it was shared here as well) predicting a NH SSW event this winter due to HTHH’s stratospheric cooling in the SH. Unable to say if that makes sense beyond a superficial level, but it’s interesting.

  23. Great article and following discussion. I bought a dehydrator for food and grow under lights in my basement in winter and have acerage for summer production. Apparently it is a source of fun for family who ask if I am still in my prepper stage as thought it is so much foolishness. I see posts on line titled ” the boomer skills that are no longer needed. I can make a meal from the most meager ingredients, can and preserve food, can sew, knit and crochet let’s see those scoffers figure it out when they can’t order a meal kit by mail.

    • Better to store rice and beans for the winter of crop failure year than try and grow under artificial light. Woefully inefficient and low production. Its surprising how little you need. Approx 1kg/family means 200kg for a winter. A few sackfuls. Grow cabbages for your vitamin C and digestive system and stock up on vitamine pills!

      • Barley? That should grow better in poor summer weather? And we would still have beer which after all derives its name from barley

        • The problem is late frost. Winter barley is early and tends to be hit with a late frost. Spring barley is not frost resistant. Probably oats is best, if your soil is not too alkaline. Unfortunately only idiots grow oats, they pay off every century or so ….

      • Yeah, cabbage will clean out your digestive system pretty effectively, the moment it comes into contact with your taste buds.

    • The older ones among us can still do many things from sewing and cooking meals from a near empty fridge to fixing furniture and walls and sockets. We have forgotten some, but would relearn it.

      The problem are the younger people. They are good at glewing themselves to great art works or throwing tomatoes at butchers, so they would riot. And they are stronger. They wouldn’t ask to fix s.th. for them, but take e.th. as they were educated to a feeling of entitlement.

      And that is the real problem.
      Plus lack of education or only one-sided education with math-skills only. My kids ask me to sew their buttons.
      We are well off here- We will all move to Carl’s house, poor Carl. Carl will show us how to survive 😉
      Albert will come too and explain the cosmos to us. Sounds romantic.
      Don’t take it too seriously.

  24. The beauty of volcanoes lets us often forget that earthquakes are a much larger and more frequent geological threat.
    Imagine an accidental period of deadly earthquakes like Tokyo, San Francisco, Istanbul, Messina …

    The last big earthquake in Messina Strait killed more than 100.000 people, while Etna usually kills no one. Crete is a possible area for megathrust quakes which can send tsunamis to Alexandria and Tel Aviv.

    • They can be hugely damaging, as we have seen. But earthquakes don’t affect the atmosphere, so no effects on the climate. A magethrust sending a tsunami into the South China Sea would be devastating, but not a worldwide catastrophe (apart from a lack of iphones!)

      • It’s true. Earthquakes don’t inluence climate. They have the potential to kill a lot of people, to target entire cities and to do disrupt the global economy.

  25. It is also easy to forget a mag 9 earthquake feleases the same amount of energy as a VEI 8. The 2004 Boxing Day quake that ruptured basically all of the Java trench, probably released more energy than even the largest estimates for how big Toba was, and it did it in 10 minutes. And since then several mag 8 (~=VEI 7) quakes have happened. This was less than 20 years ago… and in that 20 years another 9 happened too, in Japan in 2011. Its just not even comparable the amount of energy earthquakes release compared to volcanoes.

    The only thing I can think of relating to volcanism at all which might compare theoretically is if the whole side of Mauna Loa fell off, 10,000 km3 of rock falling into the ocean. And that is literally the only place in the world a landslide that big can happen today. Even if that excavates the deep rift and induces some sort of supervolcano sized lateral blast scenario (which is probably impossible) it probably falls short of a mag 9.

    Someone probably has some real numbers for this though, i might well be off by a lot, but that doesnt change the concept.

    • While it is true, that earthquakes produce just as much, if not more energy than volcanoes. Only a small portion of that energy makes it to the surface. The 2011 Japan earthquake produce around 50-100 megatons of surface energy, which is surpassed by just one of the Krakatoa explosions (200 megatons). The Tambora eruption produced around 10,000-20,000 megatons worth of energy, all of it surface related.. We’ve seen some of the worst earthquakes can do and while it wasn’t pretty, it’s nothing compared to what volcanoes can do.. A modest VEI 7 will kill everyone in a 80-120 km radius with even more deaths extending beyond that.
      Looking at the population surrounded by certain VEI 7 volcanoes.
      Corbetti- 11,000,000+
      Coatepeque: 6,800,000+
      Tatun: 10,000,000+
      Campi Flegrei: 6,000,000 +Tsuanmi deaths.
      These are all from the direct impacts.

      • True, but you can see it coming, and prepart or at least be aware of it. The most that can be done for a big quake is to expect it and prepare from that but with no way to know when it will happen or how big. In practice earthquakes are much more dangerous. Just a month ago was a disaster that took the lives of more people than probably any single volcanic eruption in centuries.

        I guess it is very hard to compare the two.

      • I wonder what the authorities would do if Campi Flegrei erupted or showed strong signs of unrest. Would they evacuate all of Naples and other surrounding towns in case the worst-case scenario happens? Or would they just evacuate for a smaller VEI 3-4 eruption? Would they wait to see how big the eruptive activity gets? But if they wait, the eruption may suddenly escalate into a huge event, and there may not be enough time to evacuate. An eruption may start with a few months/weeks of smaller activity and then suddenly escalate to a VEI 6-7, a bit like Hunga Tonga or Krakatau did it. How careful will they be?

        The Campanian Ignimbrite of Campi Flegrei only reached to a distance of 50 km, beyond that people should have been fine, unless they were affected by the tsunamis, but those are also likely to have been relatively local, like Krakatau’s. Destroying a radius of 80-100 km seems to be something only powerful rhyolite calderas do, like Taupo, Kikai, or Atitlan. Campi Flegrei is a more fluid trachyte magma.

        Also, is there any reason the Tatun Group would be considered a VEI-7 capable volcano? I did a quick look at EarthChem, and one article, and it seems this volcano only erupts crystal-rich basaltic andesites with 50 wt% crystals, probably the most common type of subduction zone magma. Nothing too remarkable about it. Without highly evolved magmas, I doubt a caldera can be expected from Tatun.

          • I personally don’t see Tatun or Chiles-Cerro Negro as caldera-type volcanoes, but that is just my point of view, and of course, could be wrong.

          • I don’t expect a caldera-forming eruption with Tatun in the near future, the system is building towards it but I don’t think it’s there yet. Chiles-Cerro negro is a different story. The nearby caldera, Potrerillos is part of the same system and Chalpatn is probably also related to CCN. Large uplift, long dormancy, felsic system, and a past caldera-eruption give significant evidence for large eruption potential,

          • That doesnt necessarily mean CCN has present day capability to have a caldera forming eruption. Also linking neighboring systems is very hard to confirm.

            I think possibly there is some erroneous believe a volcano that has not erupted in a long time must have a big eruption when it does go. But likely case is such a volcano was basically dead, its magma system cooling and becoming non eruptable. Most volcanoes dont have continuous supply and most of the ones that do are mafic.

            Lots of very large calderas with known capability to do huge eruptions are actually very active, and erupt frequently. What needs to happen is a large accumulation of magma. For the most extreme example we saw that with Kilauea, erupting constantly at over 1 km3 a decade for almost 4 decades, woild be expected that would drain out any magma available, but then it erupted over 1 km3 in a couple months at the end. Yes, in this context the comparison is valid. Maybe another crazy example is Yasur, which has erupted fluid lava for almost a millennium as an open conduit but still has resurgence that is faster than at Iwo Jima…

            CCN has had large influx of magma in the last couple years but given no eruptions in the Holocene are known certainly and definitely nothing large, it is safe to assume the long term supply is probably almost nonexistant or is at best extremely intermitent. That probably means this ongoing activity actually will result in an eruption, which is significant, but I just dont see it being more than a new dome forming, the magma to do a large caldera probably isnt there. But until it happens we dont really know.

          • Only non-mafic volcano with consistent supply that does actually go very long intervals between eruptions is Yellowstone, off the top of my head.

          • When CCN had swarms, Portrerillos was part of it, and when Potrerillos uplifted, CCN rose. Not few years after, not a few months after, and not a few weeks after. Exactly when it CCN became restless, Potrerillos become restless. This isn’t a coincidence, and a major connection seems extremely likely. There is significant evidence for large magma accumulation at the system. Deep LPs (30km+ in depth) have took place over 8 km to the northwest of Cerro Negro de Mayasquer, to widely spaced to be caused by an incoming intrusion. These LPs are probably the result of ascending magma from the deep reservoir. The area that the volcano influences is over 680 km2, that doesn’t sound like a typical stratovolcano.
            The reasons why the system hasn’t erupted in so long, it doesn’t have to be low supply, a strong plug could also force such a long dormancy.
            I have been saying the for years, there is a caldera not 5 km sway from CCN that has been experiencing the same if not greater amounts of earthquakes and deformation than CCN. For over almost 10 years.

          • This time I was prepared. Googling Portrerillos I first get Chile, then San Salvador. Many Portrerillos in SA.

          • Potrerillos is dormant caldera just couple of km away from CCN. https://www.igepn.edu.ec/interactuamos-con-usted/1949-instalacion-de-una-red-temporal-de-estaciones-sismicas-y-campana-de-mediciones-gravimetricas-en-los-alrededores-de-los-volcanes-chiles-cerro-negro-y-la-caldera-potrerillos-carchi
            if you look at the insar data, the fastest uplift is at Potrerillos and not CCN. It’s bizarre how little information we have on this volcano. The IGEPN is acting like it doesn’t exist, and I don’t why. No gps data or seismographs have been installed, I have seen no data on how old it is or when it was formed. For a suddenly restless volcano, It’s weird

          • There might not be much information available that is durectly translated. A search in Spanish might come up with more.

            But I guess this is what happens when a volcano stops being extinct, there being no reason to suspect anything before when there are active volcanoes in the area that present more logical risk. And then if the hazard changes it is not an instant process to build a detailed study. Also possibly, that because of the new eruption risk no one wants to spend any time there. And even that aside I expect a tall barren mountain like this is not a place many would volunteer to live on for a few weeks… 🙂

          • There is practically no research on the history of Chiles-Negro, in any language. And there is basically no information at all on Potrerillos and Chalpatan. Because of this, I’m not even sure they are real calderas. Someone may have assumed that because Potrerillos is inflating, it must be a resurgent caldera structure, which is too far-fetched. Chalpatán is sort of shaped like a caldera, but that alone is not enough. Erosional features can sometimes resemble caldera structures. Identifying ignimbrites, the presence of rhyolites, or some negative graivty anomaly, is needed to confirm tit is a caldera structure. The area is in serious need of research. I haven’t seen a single geochemical sample of Chiles-Cerro Negro, which is surprising given that almost all Ecuadorian volcanoes have published geochemical data.

          • I mean, I know I’ve crapped all over IGEPN but I am pretty sure they’d recognize a caldera when they’d see it. Potrerillos has been active since CCN so it’s been almost 10 years and even though I’d like a detailed study concerning the magma chambers, regional tectonic setup and relation to the surrounding volcanoes, that’s not what I am expecting. In the past years no instruments or hazard maps have been made for Potrerillos. Even barring my large magma chamber hypothesis, A major eruption could in fact take place at Potrerillos instead CCN and you need to have plans ready. Map high risk pyroclastic flow and lahar areas, come up with evacuation plans, and make sure the public and government understands the threat the volcano possess.

    • Agulhus Slide off South Africa was 20,000 Km3. Must have caused a heck of a tsunami in the Maldives.

  26. A very different topic: Volcanic Bombs. https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vsc/glossary/bomb.html

    Which volcanoes are good in “bombing”? I’d guess that the mild to moderate explosive volcanoes do many bombs. How much do plinian eruptions? Usually everyone focusses on their ash, but the explosive power should also be able to throw blocks/bombs over a long distande.

    • Someone was hit by a lava bomb from Hekla over 50 km away from the volcano during one of its eruptions. But I dont know if that is actually unusual or if bombs go this sort of distance all the time and in many common eruptions and that person in Iceland was just very unlucky… maybe a bit of both 🙂

      Probably look at large maar craters to find some record holders. They are the most explosive of all volcanoes.

      • Yes. I think it is a difference whether a volcano throws a bomb of old rock or of fresh lava. Plinian and phreatic eruptions often shoot rocks which block the path of gas/steam. But that’s different to bombs which are made of new magma f.e. in lava fountains or strombolian eruptions.

        There is a variety of lava bombs, how liquid/solid they are. Lava fountains usually eject liquid lava drops which become completely flat after they fall down. Solid bombs are like canon balls. In between are partially liquid and solid bombs which change their shape but remain a solid core. This should be typical for bombs of Etna and Stromboli.

  27. Chiles-Cerro Negro has produced over 37,000 earthquakes over the past 5 days, this is the most intense swarm that the volcano has had since the unrest has begun. There is also been a shift in the deformation, this swarm isn’t behaving like the others, this swarm started incredibly intense with almost no build-up. Magma is once again on the move. and it looks like the plugs is starting to break.
    This volcano hasn’t erupted in over 100,000 years, it’s felsic, with 2 other nice-sized calderas part of the system. This doesn’t bode well. This is likely the most dangerous volcano on the planet right now and an eruption looking more and more likely. This volcano is a threat and needs to be taken seriously, no more B.S.

    • I would think the extreme length of the recurring episodes of unrest warrants concern in and of itself. For what exactly, or precisely what we can expect from the volcano / system, I have no idea. But I’ve definitely had my eye on local news sources down there for a while now.

      Eventually something has to give, right? Either the pressure releases and it erupts, or the unrest has to eventually cease. And it’s been rockin’ and rollin’ now for what, well over a decade?

      • To clarify with my first sentence I meant the fact that the volcano has had consistent episodes of unrest for many years now. Each time it has calmed down, it eventually starts back up again.

      • I am honestly surprised, no one finds it odd that despite the bulk of the seismic activity is at CCN, the most intense deformation is at a completely different volcano. Out of all the long-dormant volcanoes that have recently become restless. CCN has shown the most progression, magma has risen just 3 km from the surface and is battling a plug of unknown strength.

        • Yes, that is interesting. Volcanoes often have side shoots. Pressure looks for the weakest spot. If there is a plug, that may well be sideways, in the direction of least stress.

          • That’s just raises the question of how these volcanoes are connected, Shared shallow or deep magma reservoir or is one plugged and the magma entering the other? So many questions!
            The volcano is having it’s most significant seismic swarm so far, almost 10 years since the unrest has started and it’s not like the last 3 swarms were weak either. Something of interest is that quakes seem to be taking place at where several faultlines connect

  28. Writing a two part article about IO and my favorite Ionian eruption ( a spectacular event that needs an article )

    As Albert can figure out Im IO addicted its a Moon of volcanoes after all, and the volcanoes Dwarfs Earths

    • IO is one huge rabbit hole really for me 😂 insanely attractive/addictive for my mind

  29. And on Venus.



    For the first time, scientists have observed direct geological evidence of an active volcano on Venus. 🌋

    The @UAFGI and JPL team made the discovery after scouring archival radar images taken by @NASA’s Magellan mission more than 30 years ago. http://go.nasa.gov/3mR6wgG

    The images revealed a volcanic vent changing shape and increasing significantly in size in less than a year. Using computer models, the scientists concluded that only an eruption could have caused the change.

    • One of the crater pits have enlarged, and looks like a viscous lava flow have been emplaced on Venus

  30. If a bunch of quakes show up on this then get the lifestreams up and wait for the lava geyser 🙂

    Should note there seems to be some sort of daily cycle, what it is I dont know, but if said quakes start at about 8 AM local time perhaps judge with a grain of salt as it might not be what it seems. But really, all the signs I can see generally point to the eruption resuming within the week, for those of us who want their live lava fix, and the start of these eruptions is always the best part 🙂

    • The big signals that start at 8 AM and end around 4 PM seem to be human made. But the smaller signals that can be seen at RIMD right now seem volcanic. They last through the entire night, and are also recorded on another caldera station, UWB. The other caldera stations are not working. They look like small frequent bursts of tremor and LP earthquakes, sometimes happening every minute, sometimes several minutes apart. There may also be a continuous background tremor. This activity started at some point after the 11 March swarm and before 13 March, and has been continuous since then. I don’t recall seeing this activity before, but I haven’t been as attentive to the seismograms as I was in 2019 and 2020. Typical LP swarms of Kilauea look very different in the seismograms. One of my guesses is that gas could be nucleating within the March 11 intrusion.

      • Interesting hypothesis. I actually thought this background noise looked like tremor, not eruption tremor but something is moving.

        If there is gas coming out of solution in whatever intrusion was started the other day, then it is very much just a matter if time. And that first burst might be particularly powerful compared to other recent starts. But of course all theoretical until it begins.

        I did notice since the 11th a lot more really small quakes show on the map, smaller than the usual cutoff magnitude. My only guess is these have been manually verified or that the settings have been turned up in sensitivity in anticipation of more activity. The same thing has happened before the last few eruptions too, or at least in 2020 and 2021. Perhaps it is an attempt from the system to put a point source on the tremors.

        • I am concerned with the possibility that magma might be trying to open up the 2018 ring fault, given that it could lead to explosive activity. Unfortunately, tremor can’t be located easily, and much less when most summit stations are broken. So I don’t think the exact location of these tremors can be known.

          The eruption conduit at Halema’uma’u seems blocked, it did not reactivate when magma pressure rose well above previous levels on March 10th. And a new Halema’uma’u dike has not formed. A dike would have pushed up the Uwekahuna tiltmeter while making abundant earthquakes on the west side of the caldera. The 11th event wasn’t that. I think it is too soon for a dike to grow given that there hasn’t been much earthquake activity in the south caldera area, but who knows.

          • Given how much the 2018 caldera has filled in and the elevation, it seems not too unlikely that the ring fault should serve as a potential vector for an eruption. I dont think Halemaumau is gas rich enough to do explosive eruptio s though, not after venting 4000 tons/day of SO2 for a decade. This probably only applies to Halemaumau, an eruption from Kilauea Iki could be much more ppwerful fountains. But all the eruptions since 2018 have topped out at about 50 meters, 20th century eruptions from Halemaumau would typically go into the hundreds, and the 1952 fountain might have briefly been as tall as 500m, it was well observed at 240 and still described to have shrunk.

            If the whole caldera fault ruptures though, then the mile high fountains are a real possibility…

          • Personally I think the most likely locations of a new vent other than under the lake are: 1. the downdropped block (maybe even reusing the April 1982 fissure); 2. Keanakakoi; 3. Kilauea Iki; 4. Rift zones

          • That is more or less my idea too. Although I lump Kaenakako’i and Kilauea Iki into one. The structure of the south caldera area is a sort of hybrid between a rift zone and a caldera ring fault, and added to the complexity are the existence of multiple magma chambers and conduits that are not directly alligned with the surface faults. Although both of the 20th century eruptions at the two craters were local to only one of them each, in the 19th century several eruptions occurred within both at the same time as well as from vents inbetween.

            There seems to be a tectonic structure that goes from Kilauea Iki through the south caldera and becomes the seismic SWRZ/ SWRZ connector. This area also is distinct for its eruptions of very high intensity and often extremely primitive lava, the stuff in 1974 has a Mg content as much as 15%, komatiite is 18%, for comparison. The 1974 lava flowed up to 9 km as a pahoehoe sheet flow, at Nyiragongo the 2021 lava is all a’a after 4 km, shows hot and fluid that stuff is…

          • Thing is that the 1982 fissure was created by a dike that formed on the side of a shield structure, it was within the broader caldera structure but that hasnt been actively moving for 200 years, so there was only radial and rifting forces acting on eruptiosn at the summit. Now, after 2018, a new caldera has formed, it just happens the 1982 fissure was on a droped block that stayed intact, but the forces on it are completely different to when it formed.

            I would expect any eruptions that are within the 2018 caldera will be oriented based on circumferential fissures, including on the downdropped block. if an eruption happens on the south caldera area near Keanakako’i, it might be more typical, although this area did almost collapse too so it could be a wildcard.

            Looking at the way earthquakes have behaved, I dont think the ERZ is about to erupt soon. The ERZ connector, whatever it is, hasnt been active during pressurization since August of 2021. That happened to coincide with an intrusion on the SWRZ, which has since been active before eruptions or intrusions. The ERZ is much larger and more open so will become a preferred location in time but for the next intrusion on the flank I would expect it to be southwest, likewise for an eruption.

          • The most recent earthquakes happened close to the “Crater Drim Drive” between Halema’uma’u and Keanakakoi Crater. There is the southeastern border of both the “Drown Dropped Block” and the whole Kilauea Caldera.

            1974 had three short eruptions (one to three days). In July a three day eruption in Keanakako’i Crater. On this page the National park shows a photo from this eruption: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/keanakakoi.htm
            In September followed an eruption (less than one day) in the area, where the present earthquakes happen. On December 31 a short (less than one day) eruption on the upper SWRZ closed the same year.
            1874 Keanakako’i erupted purely effusive, but before 1790 it was responsible for the production of a lot of ash/tephra. This crater can erupt explosively.

          • Keanakako’i is a collapse crater, the tephra of the same name is from eruptions in the caldera, but mostly from larger caldera collapses (much larger than 2018). I dont think any of the pit craters at the summit or the ERZ are explosive although there might be some minor deposits. There are some pit craters next to Leilani Estates that are explosive in origin though, at Pu’ulena and Pawahi craters. I dont know how old they are, but they seem to be pretty old, possibly representing a large tephra cone that has since been buried on the north side.

            The July 1974 eruption was immediate response to Mauna Ulu failing. The eruption in September was in Halemaumau, and because summit eruptions dont relieve pressure much.
            The eruption in December was a major rifting event, a 10 day long intrusion along the entire length of the rift and probably being over 0.1 km3 of magma. The eruption was only about 4 hours long, but erupted something like 15 million m3 of lava and possibly significantly more that returned to cracks, it was a brief but very powerful eruption, there hasnt been anything else like it since. The eruption rate from the above numbers is on average almost 5 million m3/hour, or about 1300 m3/s, if not more as this is an average not a maximum peak value. The lava flowed 12 km in a few hours, and 10 km before turning to a’a, and on a relatively flat slope of only a about 2 degrees, it was probably one of the fastest lava flows observed.

            Unfortunately there are almost no pictures of this eruption, except for this one:

            Looks like a picture of the end of the world…

      • Actually Mauna Loa is inflating extremely fast. But because it has merely been 3 months since the eruption, the pressure slow and it’s not making much earthquakes. If Mauna Loa keeps that rate up, it could very well erupt before the year is over. This inflation greatly exceeds anything seen at Mauna Loa in the past three decades. It is expected, however, that a volcano will inflate more rapidly in the aftermath of an eruption, so the rate might decrease over time.


        Mauna Loa got most of the Hawaiian supply from 1850 to 1950, while Kilauea has enjoyed most of the Hawaiian supply from 1950 to present day. But the short term is different, Kilauea and Mauna Loa have usually undergone pulses of inflation and deep rift spreading together. For example, during the Pu’u’o’o eruption, the two big phases of inflation of the volcanoes were contemporaneous. Kilauea inflated slowly starting in 2004, then underwent a massive surge of inflation during 2006. Mauna Loa inflated from 2004 to 2009, with a peak in inflation rates during 2005. In the 2009-2015 period, Mauna Loa received little magma, while Kilauea inflated slowly, like in 2004. But then, both volcanoes accelerated in 2015. Since 2015, Mauna Loa has been almost continuously inflating. At the same time, Kilauea increased inflation rates from 2015 to the start of the 2018 eruption.

        • 10 cm in 3 months, compared to Kilauea that has inflated by 10 cm in 1 month and 35 cm year to date 🙂

          But Mauna Loa to be fair is also inflating vertically by this amount too, Kilauea doesnt have that as a neat graph but UWEV and CRIM have gone up by 10 and 8 cm respectively year to date.

          • My impression is that the inflation of Mauna Loa is happening at similar rates to that of Kilauea. But it is hard to compare.

          • Inflation after the 1984 eruption began fast too but slowed. My idea of this is that the inflation at Kilauea is driven by the deep supply from the plume but the inflation at Mauna Loa by contrast is driven by magma moving up from deeper levels within its crustal storage not by increases in its basal supply rate. That doesnt mean Mauna Loa cant erupt soon again, but I dont think it is related to a swap of the activity levels of the volcanoes like was the case in 1950.

            I do wonder if this might be how those massive shield eruptions on Mauna Loa happen, those have eruption rates way higher than the plume supply ever is, so are clearly not fed the same way as Pu’u O’o was. Mauna Loa is very tall and its magma system is much deeper than Kilauea as a result of its age and the degree of sinking into the crust it has experienced, so its magma storage potential at deep levels should be much more in theory. Perhaps in practice it is variable but I can imagine on occasion large magma bodies develope at a depth that is too deep to allow collapse through creation of a caldera, so when they do drain they can only do so through slower elastic deformation, but still at a much higher rate than the generation of magma in the mantle can be. An eruption like Pu’u O Keokeo, involving over 10 km3 of lava and a decade of eruption, potentially followed by a real drainout lava flood, this would be a worst case scenario although I dont believe it is a likely case. But, these style of eruption have happened about every few centuries, it has been about 500 years since the last one, so perhaps not as unlikely as it seems.

            This is also what I imagine fed Laki, a massive magma body that grew underneath Grimsvotn and Thordarhyna, or even beyond that and involving the deep feed of Bardarbunga too. Eventually it found a rift in tension and all hell broke loose. In that case it might have been more of a flat structure, so could collapse faster to drive the massive eruption rates, but this was an extreme example of this sort of activity.

            I think the eruption on La Palma in 2021 was probaby an example of this too, eruption rates were not extremely high but were about an order of magnitude faster than Pu’u O’o. So Kilauea is where the plume is focussed but Mauna Loa could throw a wildcard.

            This style is similar to what I proposed in my article on the ‘Hell Machine’. I dont think that the hell machine is really a thing anymore, at least not in its original sense of exponential decompression melt, but the mechanism I think functions very well in draining crustal magma chambers that are not shallow enough to form calderas, at least to a point.

          • Yes, I don’t think activity has switched to Mauna Loa either. It could very well be that a deep reservoir is supplying the shallow system of Mauna Loa.

            It is not impossible, though, that both volcanoes are simply getting a high supply. This has happened already. 1975 had the highest recorded inflation rates of Mauna Loa, and it was also among the years with the fastest recorded inflation at Kilauea. Both volcanoes had rapid deep rifting too around this time, which led to the November 30, 1974, M 5.5 earthquake of Mauna Loa, and to the Novemeber 29, 1975, M 7.7 earthquake of Kilauea. So it can happen that both sustain a high supply at the time. Although that seems to have happened only once in recorded history, at least up until now.

            There are many factors, and it is too complicated. The Pu’u’o’o eruption has ended, and for whatever reason, neither of the two volcanoes are growing their deep rifts too much right now. Despite the M 6.9 hitting Kilauea in 2018, which should have encouraged rift growth. So more magma might go into shallow inflation and eruptive activity.

        • USGS has been using the same stations, MOKP and MLSP, to measure cross caldera distance since 1973 or so. So I thought I could compare the present rate of cross caldera distance increase to past rates. This is what I do in the following graph. The green line is the inflation rate during 2023 so far if it kept going for a whole year. This rate is only surpassed by the extremely fast immediate buildup of the 1975 eruption. If it holds, it will be impressive.

          • Another similar image, but with the total amount of inflation that has happened since the 2022 eruption of Mauna Loa. It includes a brief surge in spreading that happened as the eruption ended that I hadn’t included in the extrapolation above, so it is somewhat faster. The deformation has been much greater than after the 1984 eruption for the same interval of time:

        • After the eruption of 1975 Mauna Loa like now inflated a lot and the scientists expected the next (flank) eruption soon. It was a surprise that Mauna Loa waited long eight years for the NERZ eruption. It is now a long time since Mauna Loa did a real summit eruption. Once this must happen again. A summit eruption can last more than 100 days and remind a bit to Kilauea’s longterm eruptions. 1940 and 1949 were the last summit eruptions. In volume they were smaller than flank eruptions, but they endured much longer. Before both last summit eruptions Mauna Loa did a pause of 4-7 years.

          The present inflation happens without earthquake activity. It looks like the intrusions are only filling the gaps after the eruption in December.

  31. Tallis,

    “…and too many governments enforced ineffective and absurd measures that did nothing to help the situation. “If we lockdown, the virus won’t spread!””

    Hang on, that’s exactly what we did, and it worked. NZ locked down for 5 weeks, so effectively we eliminated the virus. We lived largely normal lives for the next 18 months with mostly no precautions and no covid. We didn’t relax our precautions until pretty much everyone was vaccinated. We had seen what happened when this virus was let loose on an unvaccinated population, and rejected that as an option for NZ.

    As a result we were the about the only country where average life expectancy *increased* during the pandemic!

    Lockdown was absolutely key to our success – but it had to be done *right*, and it didn’t solve the problem alone. So don’t diss it; it was an extremely effective measure and a stroke of genius, hardly “absurd”!

    • Was the same in Tasmania, and most of the states in mainland Australia too, very restricted access until the end of 2021. Was not so effective in Melbourne, nor Sydney eventually, but all other cities were controlled until deliberately opened. The waves did happen after and got pretty bad in 2022 but was relatively short lived and manageable. It was also a factor that opening the borders was not done until 70% vaccination of the population was achieved, but even without that the methods used would have been helpful.

    • https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/new-zealand/
      Population of NZ: Around 5m

      Population of Germany: Around 85m

      Half the death rate in NZ. So far. Starting one year ago. Everybody vaccinated. I (and with me the whole family) got infected after the third vax.
      So don’t yell at Tallis. The relationship between the vax. and myocarditis is being looked at. Hard to tell without autopsy.

      • Even if the vacines have long term detrimental effects covid would have been much worse without it. The reaction to the vaccine is the same response to the virus but subdued so those who got sick from being vaccinated probably would have died if they caught the real thing.

        I also feel like people have a perception vaccines make you immune to the disease, they make you resistant and reduce the severity. Also that this was the first vaccine developed against a coronavirus, it was very effective.

        But this is a forum to discuss volcanism and geology, not vaccines.

      • And UK data confirms that you are more likely to die if you are unvaccinated and that’s also true of deaths not classed as involving covid.


        COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group @COVID19actuary
        Feb 21

        ONS have today updated their analysis of mortality rates in England based on vaccination status.

        Key result is that whether we consider all-cause deaths or deaths with COVID, the age-standardised mortality rate is higher for unvaccinated people.

        And here’s total deaths registered in England and Wales 1838-2021. Note the large spikes for “Spanish Flu”, Hitler and Covid and only reason the covid spike wasn’t even bigger was because of lockdown. Total deaths registered in England and Wales in 2020 was the highest since 1918.

        • If that graph shows total deaths, it is pretty meaningless; the death rate per thousand population is what should be shown.

          • Well you can go and calculate that from published figures if you want but the main point of that chart is simply to show the magnitude of the absolute change year to year – it is not as if the total population changes massively from one year to the next. Of course the population was lower back in the first part of the 20th century but annual deaths were roughly similar to now due to people not living so long,

          • Quite right. In 1920 the world population was a little unter two billion, so about a forth of today.

            I have never had a vaccination and the disease right afterwards plus side effects (probably) from an extremely high amount of antibodies afterwards.

          • Well I’m not one to force people to get vaccinated but all the stats I’ve seen continue to say you are likely to remain healthier if vaccinated than unvaccinated and even if you do catch covid after vaccination the damage to the body is less than if unvaccinated. Of course there are a very small number of people who have suffered very serious reactions all the way up to death but the risk factor is very much in favour of vaccination in all the data I’ve seen from respectable sources.

            Btw in the early 1900s the UK annual birth rate was higher than it is now even though population was lower. Vaccination and modern medicine helps keep us alive longer which is why the population is higher now even though birth rate is lower. I leave people to make their own choice but I look at the data and choose vaccination. Your mileage may vary…

          • see this to compare birth and death rates for the UK https://closer.ac.uk/data/births-deaths/ Death rate is roughly population size divided by life expectancy: the ratio has remained fairly constant. The covid death rate from the first wave was about the same as that of the blitz. Note that the total covid death is around half a million in the UK, mostly from later waves. We still seem to have a higher rate now, likely somehow related to long covid. Covid deaths were mainly among the elderly, so it was expected that there would be a reduced death rate for some years after the epidemic. We are not seeing that.

          • There is a persistent excess death rate in almost all countries now. Something is going on and it needs to be investigated and pinned down urgently. This investigation is not being undertaken and it is a travesty that it isn’t being done.

            There is a huge lack of urgency which is very suspicious. It raises the spectre of deliberate cover-ups. Unfortunately after the disgraceful behaviour and lies of the last few years there is essentially zero trust in public health authorities left. Since trust is the biggest asset public health authorities have this is catastrophic.

            We are talking about tens of thousands extra dying in the UK alone. As Albert said death rates should still be lower due to the removal of a lot of the sickliest of the population by COVID. We need answers about this urgently.

          • No cover up. That is an unwarranted suggestion. There is a lot of discussion going on but it is not easy to pin down the numbers. Winter death rates are always higher and also rather variable. There is an economic crisis and that raises death rates. The UK has a hospital care crisis: how is that affecting the numbers? Is there a problem with people postponing medical care during the pandemic? Fabricated numbers can be rushed out instantly, but truth takes time. We know that long covid increases the risk of stroke and heart failure for at least 18 months. But we don’t yet know the impact.

          • @David Newton

            Of course there are excess deaths in most countries; the pandemic isn’t over!

            Based on the best evidence of the last time a novel coronavirus entered the human population (OC43) we will probably continue to see excess deaths for another year or so.

            I’m not sure what exactly you think needs to be investigated that isn’t being?

            There are huge numbers of researchers working on all aspects of the pandemic and our response to it.

          • “No cover up. That is an unwarranted suggestion.”

            Trouble is that’s not true. I wish it weren’t this way, but it is not unwarranted to suggest a cover up may be involved. Look at what SAGE did. Look at what Hancock did. Look at what Fauci did.

            Some of what SAGE did rises to the level of torture. What Hancock did was misconduct in public office. Both those offences carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Fauci covered up the commissioning of dangerous virology research in a hostile nation because that sort of research was and is illegal in the United States. He lied under oath about it. That’s perjury. He also did many other vile things during the pandemic.

            Next to those a cover up of embarrassing reasons for excess deaths is small potatoes. Like I said the public health authorities have squandered trust which is their most valuable resource. It is not guaranteed that a cover up is going on, but it is also not out of the question either.

            “Winter death rates are always higher and also rather variable.”

            Irrelevant. We are talking about excess deaths. As in deaths above the statistical average for the same period over the last five years. So since “winter death rates are always higher” that’s built into the data. Excess deaths are still occurring and consistently occurring. We are talking months and months and months of consistent excess deaths occurring in the UK.

            Excess deaths in the UK have been between 5% and 15% for for most of the last YEAR. The last time that there was a week with lower than expected deaths in England was the week ending 8th April 2022. That week saw 300 fewer deaths than expected. The most recent week of data available is the week ending 24th February 2023. That saw 318 more deaths than expected. That’s quoting the ONS statistics. Oh and they did adjust the data to remove the effects of the pandemic’s distortions for 2020 and 2021.

            The single worst week of the recent run of excess deaths was the week ending 13th January 2023. 3,474 excess deaths during that week. That’s 30% extra deaths.

            This has been happening continuously for almost a year. That’s more than enough time to do some calculations to find out what’s going on. What causes of death are higher than usual? Why are these particular causes of death higher than usual?

            It does appear that some proper analysis of which causes of death are higher has been done by the ONS. Why those causes of death though? We urgently need to know that. How much is caused by the NHS imploding at the moment? How much is caused by delayed treatment due to the lockdowns? How much is caused by vaccine side effects? How much is caused by delayed effects of COVID itself?

            Almost all countries in the world are seeing consistent excess deaths. That means there’s a universal cause across all countries which is at least a significant part of what is going on. This needs to be tracked down and it needs to be tracked down as a matter of urgency.

          • This reply to Albert.
            At the start of the epidemic I began to do some simple stats for excess death. First we had to know the expected deaths. OK lets look at 2009 to 2019.
            Not a problem this data is freely available and on inspection its VERY clear that its NOT constant but to best approximation a straight line (spurious accuracy).
            DEATHS = + 6009*Year – 11591492
            This puts the cumulative excess as of Dec 2021 at 54k. and the expected deaths for 2022 at 616k. My figures are actually broken down by month, with a month adj so may not fit a simpler analysis.
            SO obviously using govt figs, excess deaths will go on increasing because their analysis is oversimplified.
            I am happy to upload the figs to a dragon for posting here if anyone cares.
            The govt uses the ten year average between these dates so immediately its missing 5 years of expected deaths or 30,000 and getting worse at ~6000/annum. So in 2022 we should expect 558700 deaths
            This error has been flagged by The Economist and other reliable sources.

          • Do note that the figures I referred to are for all of the UK, while the data you use is only for England and Wales. The trend is the same, by and large, but the total numbers will differ a bit

          • albert.
            Actually I am using “ENGLAND, WALES AND ELSEWHERE [note 1]”
            note 1 Non-residents of England & Wales include those whose usual residence is outside England and Wales, as well as where the place of usual residence is either missing or not yet fully coded.
            It makes little difference, the excess total death of ~50k for 2021 AND 2022 is far less than the badly analysed figures normally quoted/

    • TVZ have large ammounts of Sillic melts so it probaly can do obsidian flows that reach up to 10 km3, been souch glass flows before in TVZ looking at Google Earth

    • Will be there in two months, looks like there might be a small eruption creating a new hot spring again soon. Rotorua volcano though is inactive, it might be revived or absorbed into a future volcano close byone day, like how Taupo grew from the remnants of Whakamaru, but no impending catastrophe yet 🙂

      Will be making an article on New Zealand afterwards.

      • Actually looming at maps, this is maybe related to rifting but not magma necessarily. Might in the worst case create a new lava dome like mt Edgecumbe, but these eruptions arent started with an explosive phase like the lava domes in Okataina are. They seem to get pretty big though, a new mountain isnt inaccurate

        But, the likely cause if these quakes is still nothing related to volcanism, just a shallow tectonic swarm close to people.

      • Chad, all these earthquakes are purely tectonic.

        There’s no relationship between Whakamaru and Taupo, other than that they’re both calderas in the TVZ. The most that can be said is that their margins overlap slightly.

      • Rifting is tectonic, it becomes volcanic when an intrusion enters it but that is usually only the case with major rifting. But rift zones can spread without this and probably do so more often than in aby was associated with eruption.

        The surfaxe calderas are just the thyolitic part if the system, deeper down are more mafic magmas (mostly basalts) which probably serve mostly to accomodate rifting but also evolve into the rhyolite abd supply it with the enormous heat to keep it molten in such volumes. I would imagine the deep system of Whakamaru is the same as for Taupo but a new rhyolite center had to develope which is what we see at the surface. With this much large scale volcanism in such a relatively small area both in time and extent, it is hard to imagine there isnt some sort if common element between them. Not the same thing as there being a direct connection, which there isnt here.

    • The USGS magnitude is off; you’re MUCH better going to Geonet for accurate solutions to local NZ EQs:


      And they’re closer to Tarawera that Rotorua – but are purely tectonic in any case. Swarms like this are not uncommon in this area, they occurred in 2018 and 2019 too.

  32. I am concerned about the effects a volcanic winter would have on the generation and distribution of renewable energy, much reduced sunlight and heavy snow covering the solar panels will drastically reduce available power and also the same may apply to wind tower blades being damaged or shut down due to high winds, I would like to hear the thoughts of those who are far learned than me

    • Solar panels don’t produce much in winter anyway so that would not be the main problem. There could be reduced wind, as wind is powered by temperature differentials. That can reduce wind power. The opposite, high winds, would be good, not bad. In practice, we will need backup power plants for emergencies. Having a diversity of energy sources is good (as we found out last year when we relied too much one one energy source and saw it cut off), but there has to be a margin of excess capacity. It is fine though to use fossil fuels for that. The rule is that polluting energy sources should be prohibitively more expensive than the good ones. That ensures they are only used for emergencies

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