Volcanic Winter. Hypothesis and Candidates

A guest post by Tallis Rockwell

No one in the Byzantine empire knew why the sun didn’t shine in 536, why the weather was so cruel. Some thought that this was the day of judgment and angels would descend soon. That year it had snowed heavily in the southern dynasty in China which is the same latitude as northern Mexico. This year is considered to be the worst year to be alive. This event was the worst short term cooling event in 2000 years.

This event like the Byzantine empire doesn’t get the respect it deserves, and is the most fascinating (Likely) volcanic winter. What made this winter so much more worse than the others? The sulfur emitted was large but not as big as some other eruptions. Why is volcanic winter so variable in the first place?

Volcanic winter is the short term cooling caused be aerosols or other particulates blocking out the sun’s rays, the rather simple concept hides its infuriating complexity in real world application. Volcanism is an important variable in climate, just as much as CO2 or any other climate variable. The variables combine to make an equation, and the equation gives you a result. Short term cooling caused by large eruptions overpower certain variables particularly ones that cause warming but these eruptions don’t erase these other variables entirely. It makes since though their effects are masked or small, that these other variables either enhance or weaken climate effects of volcanoes.

The El Nino of 1982 is thought to have canceled out the effects of aerosol cloud birthed from El Chichon. What would have happened if there was a La Nina? Could the volcanic winter have been stronger than it was if the waters were neutral? This just shows that other climate variables do cancel out smaller volcanic eruptions, so it seems likely that the other variables have more subtle affects on volcanic winter.

The transport and environment of he aerosols and particulates that cause volcanic winter is usually governed by upper level winds. Active upper level winds would quicken the pace of the aerosols and effect there effectiveness to reflect light, concentration, as well as their lifetime in the atmosphere. This is a poorly studied subject as I could find very little information on this subject but hypothetically faster upper winds could lead to the aerosols being in constant state of instability leading to a longer duration but poorer concentration, likewise for slower winds more stability and greater concentration but poorer duration.

I believe this is why Mt Samalas didn’t have the extreme climate effect that some would think given how much sulfur was emitted. Due to this taking place in the medieval warm period, upper level winds weren’t as fast and the aerosols lifetime was shortened due to this. Nevertheless due to the sheer size of the eruption, it produced severe climate changes. My own personal hypothesis admittedly is based on little data.

Sea currents and volcanic winter have a well established relationship, the cooling from the aerosols affects the sea temperature and currents and capable of sustaining cooler temperature for decades but has anyone studied how sea currents and temperatures could affect a future volcanic winter? Warmer sea surface temperatures before the onset of a volcanic winter could lead to greater snowfall or land ice at higher latitudes due to increased moisture. Warmer oceans could also weaken climate effects from smaller VEI 5 to VEI 6 eruptions. The ocean is thought to moderate regional climate impacts from volcanic winter, this one of the reasons why some areas don’t suffer any changes, I think it is very possible that, while not as extreme, global sea temperatures could greatly affect the winter. Sea currents are a different story and a lot more complex so I am going avoid that entirely.

External affects on volcanic winter plays a more important role in the scale in volcanic winter then some might think. There is not a lot of data on this subject so we can use our imagination on how the other variables affect volcanic winter until another Pinatubo happens.

The aerosols of from volcanic eruptions are the dominant cause for climate changes, without them volcanic winter wouldn’t be a real threat. Each eruption has its own signature, is it possible that the aerosols emitted could have their own more subtle signature? Could aerosols from phreatomagmatic eruptions be more rich in water? Will the difference even matter? These are very small variables and the tiniest difference could lead a variety of effects.

How bad can a volcanic winter from an explosive eruption get? The best example I think of is the Toba super eruption. The climate effects are impossible to pin down as the Earth was in a period of long term global cooling and glaciation was in process, the climate at the time of the eruption was radically different then now.The cooling from the eruption is probably buried due to this and it’s consequences are hotly debated. It could’ve brought humanity near extinction or just dimmed the sun for a few years but for me neither side really has brought any conclusive evidence.

Well this sucks, the climate effects of the largest eruption in 2 million years are unknown and we don’t really want to analyze it through experience. According to some studies larger VEI 7 and VEI 8 eruptions could inject volatiles into the mesosphere. How would this affect the climate? I haven’t a clue.

Quite frankly, volcanic winter is a poorly studied concept and I don’t have any funding so I can’t actually test or proof any of my propositions. Some would think that a truly global disaster capable of collapsing empires and civilizations in a couple of years would get better research and respect.

Back to the 536 winter, I believe preexisting climate condition were perfect for volcanic winter. The sulfate spike for this event was not as big as Samalas but had worse consequences. Volcanic winter is much more complex then just how many aerosols there are but there is very little studies on why that is. This is my personal hypothesis on why volcanic winter is so variable.

How would a large scale volcanic winter effect modern society? This is a scenario of events based on my unfunded research on catastrophic events. This event is a Laki style eruption happening at the same year as a VEI 7 eruption. This isn’t impossible or terribly unlikely, Laki was just 30 years shy of Tambora and there was even shorter time frame between Eldja and Paektu. The volcanoes I will be using for this example are Katla (favorite Icelandic volcano) and Nevado de Toluca (Underrated volcano).

The build up phase of Toluca would be receive ample warning and study. Media attention would be rampant and full of warnings. A large eruption would be on top on scientist’s minds. The exact scale however would be harder to forecast and the government’s preparations without a clear forecast would be far too basic for a VEI 7 eruption. Katla’s phase would be much longer in duration and be taken more seriously by Iceland, and would inspire more anxiety as it would have direct effects on Europe.

The direct effects from the volcanoes would lead to thousands of deaths over a period of months, regardless of preparations. The scale of the eruptions would become top news and fears of volcanic winter would lead to a small or moderate global economic recession. The media would be split between people who say the climate effects will be moderate and ones who say that this is the end of the world.

The effects of the eruptions would be disastrous, The aerosols from the two eruptions would inhabit two different layers of the stratosphere and be very effective at reflecting light in the northern hemisphere. The winter following the eruption is cold but not disastrous and the populace’s anxiety would go down as result. The next year when spring comes along and temperatures don’t go up will inspire more fear. In tropical regions a severe drought encompasses farming regions. As a result harvests go down worldwide. This leads to a severe global recession surpassing the great depression. The red skies and faint suns decrease morale. Large scale riots take place in western countries as food no longer readily accessible and the recession causes soaring unemployment, the erasure of savings and instability within the government. The winter after the failed summer would be a brutal winter and with the unstable economies across the world leads to more fatalities and major damage to infrastructure. However there would be hope that the next year will be better.

The next year the populace across the world would be anxious and increasingly angry some people from higher latitudes would migrate down to escape glaciation or stubborn snow. The riots and storms lead to such damage that it could not be sufficiently repaired with the recession. Major businesses would start to go bankrupt and most private institutions would become nonexistent. That spring when another weak harvest takes place the governments would try get the angry populace under control. Civil unrest would take place and damage even more infrastructure especially the power grid. Some governments would collapse completely and most other countries would become ruthless in dealing with its people or its neighbors.. Basic necessities would disappear and famine would take over. Some would think that this is judgment day and God is coming. Communities of radical left wing and right wing ideologies would form leading to a division in some countries.

The bulk of the intense cooling would likely be over by the end of the second year but cool temperatures would be sustained for at least 3 or 4 more years. Even after the winter ends, there would be still extreme damage and the world would be changed. This would easily be the deadliest and costliest event in world history, thankfully a volcanic winter of this scale is unlikely and not something that should be expected with every dormant volcano’s awakening. Volcanic winter is something that should be studied much more than it is now, it is something that should be taken seriously and prepared for. Finally there are some candidates for large scale volcanic winter I would like to bring up. These are not volcanoes that I believe are an imminent threat but ones I think should be monitored and studied more.

Los Humeros

Los Humeros

A very overlooked volcanic field 180 km to the east of Mexico city was the center of several large caldera forming eruptions. The largest expelled 115 cubic km of magma around 460,000 years ago, smaller caldera forming eruptions took place afterwards. The last eruptions took place 20,000 years ago. This area is a geothermal goldmine and houses a very active hydrothermal field. The system however is still very much alive and has a massive 1,200+ cubic kilometer magma chamber. There has been no restless activity lately as such it is not a significant threat for the near future.(At the moment)

Alban hills

Alban Hills


This beautiful complex near Rome is a dangerous volcano and is starting a new eruptive cycle that is probably going to lead to large eruption. The shallow chamber 4-5 km below the surface has been growing for years. The region has been uplifted 50 m in the past 200.000 years and is rising at the rate of 2 mm a year. Still a large eruption is not imminent and this volcano could take a 1000 years to erupt. However volcanoes don’t erupt on easily predictable timescales, they erupt whenever they feel like it and this volcano is no different.

Ischia

Ischia

Another complex in the Mediterranean, I would call it the Ioto of Europe and unlike the others it has had a historical eruption. A very small one at that but this volcano is not to be taken lightly. This volcano has uplifted 800 meters in the past 33,000 years and has a very large plug. It does have a large magma chamber and extensive historical activity. No significant activity has been reported as of late and a large eruption may not happen for a while.

Tatun Volcano Group

Tatun

Taiwan is not the place some people look for volcanism but it has a particularly interesting area. This area has two shallow hydrothermal reservoirs and a lack of good monitoring. There was phreatic eruption in 2014 but still there is not much information on this volcano. This area desperately needs more attention as just a moderate VEI 5 eruption could cause significant damage. Regardless of future activity this area is perfect for scientific study.
 

Volcanic winter is one of the biggest threats to modern society and essentially a guaranteed event but has no respect within the populace. Large scale volcanic winter is something to be taken lightly. Please tell me what your candidates for a large scale volcanic winter.

231 thoughts on “Volcanic Winter. Hypothesis and Candidates

  1. Piton De la Fournasie is highly active
    And does small frequent short lives fissure eruptions.
    Radial dykes from the central magma system
    And cinder cones everywhere.
    The steep slopes are explained by eruptions rarely last long and lava dont flow very far.

    Hawaiis and Icelands magma supplys are over 10 times stronger

    • Indeed, the magma chamber at Kilauea is supposed to be ten times larger than that of Piton.

  2. Piton is likley the worlds 4 th most powerful hotspot

    1 Hawaii comes first, the strongest on the planet
    2 Iceland thats also a very powerful plume
    3 Galapagos thats quite powerful too
    4 Reuinion thats very active but much smaller than the latter
    5 Canaries thats a strong hotspot over a very thick old oceanic litosphere
    6 Azores thats a weak hotspot near the mid ocean ridge

  3. If the eruption continoues there will be an Aa lava flow into the indian ocean

  4. Piton De La Fournasie is overall absoutley tiny compared to Kilauea

    • I tried to make a comparison between the two, and the best i could do is that if you put the pu’u o’o flow field on pjton it woukd fill its entire caldera and then some, the eruption now is about as big as when a lot of flows on pu’u o’o started too. Piton is a lot taller, but if you put it next to kilauea both the size and scale of the eruptions as well as the overall physical size would be far smaller, pitons biggest eruption in centuries happened in 2007 and that eruption is still less than a year of what kilauea was doing at pu’u o’o and overall dwarfed by last year.

      I think most people see maps of hawaii dominated by mauna loa and forget how absolutely enormous kilauea actually is or just how big the islands themselves are, the bare minimum volume for a hawaiian volcano to even reach sea level is already 10 times higher than most terrestrial volcanoes and kilauea has already far exceeded that point at currently around 50,000 km3 of lava and rapidly growing.

        • Mauna Kea is quite a surprise to me! I thought its volume would be comparable to that of Mauna Loa’s, given its slightly higher summit elevation compared to ML’s.

          • There’s a better chart in here (page 107) that includes all of the current Hawaiian islands.

            https://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1801/downloads/pp1801_Chap3_Clague.pdf

            Added up, that is an estimated total volume of approximately 560,600 km3 for Hawaii. The erupted volume of lava that created Hawaii must have been considerably larger considering how much would have directly entered the ocean and been blasted into mud and sand and then just washed out to sea.

          • They have considered that the Hilo Ridge (a submarine rift zone east of Mauna Kea) belongs to Kohala volcano. I had long been wondering to who did the Hilo Ridge belong to, I am not sure wether there is conclusive evidence that it is part of the SE rift of Kohala but if it is right then Mauna Kea grew on top of the SE rift and summit of Kohala. Mauna Kea then lacked major rift zones which caused it to grow a steep conical edifice rather than elongated or pyramidal rift zone dominated edifices (like Kilauea, Mauna Loa or Haleakala). Unlike Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa has a major rift zone the SWRZ which covers a very large surface and holds an important part of the volcano’s volume.

          • Well, in that pdf that would be the conclusive evidence.

            “The Hilo Ridge was long thought to be a rift zone
            of Mauna Kea volcano, but more recently Holcomb and others
            (2000) and Kauahikaua and others (2000) have shown that it
            is a rift zone of Kohala volcano. Lava samples collected from
            the distal Hilo Ridge have 40Ar/39Ar ages of about 1.1 Ma and
            are therefore older than any dated subaerial flows from Kohala
            (Lipman and Calvert, 2011)”

            Apparently then Kohala had just transitioned into its shield stage at about the same time Haleakala was transitioning out of its shield stage into post-shield. That is very interesting since it might mean that the hotspot simply “jumped” Mahukona for some reason.

            The volume estimates of the older volcanoes however seem too low to me. The contact between the volcano and the oceanic crust is placed much shallower in the volcanoes of Maui Nui than Mauna Loa, I find that unreasonable. As far as I know seismic surveys before the time of Robinson and Eakings (2006) publication had only been done on Oahu and the Big Island, I will try to find out more regarding that but I think the volumes of the volcanoes making up Maui Nui may be underestimated.

          • Plus there are at least 2 missing volcanoes in Hawaii. The entire north side of both Oahu and Moloka’i were blown apart and scattered across the ocean. Not sure how you would accounted for the part of the volume of those volcanoes that must have been completely shattered when that happened.

          • I would expect maui nui to have similar values to the big island, which would make it about 50% more voluminous based on the rough translation of it being 50% bigger in area. Not perfect but it gives about the volume they described except my guess doesnt include oahu or kauai. Kauai might not be enormous, but oahu seems to be similar to the current volcanoes so that might add a significant extra mass maybe another 150,000 km3. All up oahu+maui nui+hawai’i is about 700,000 km3 now and with erosion the total since 3 million years ago could be over 1 million, which is getting well into LIP territory. This is all the more impressive when you consider all other active provinces of similar size are on nearly stationary crust or much slower rates than the pacific plate, any other hotspot would struggle to even make islands in hawaii’s place let alone the second biggest volcanic landmass on earth.

      • Most recent published materials I have read put Kilauea’s current volume at 10,000-11,000 km3 and give more credit to the volume of Kilauea that is built of the flank of Mauna Loa.

        Still, by global standards,10,000-11,000 km3 is still staggeringly big and it is still growing.

        • The number 11000 km³ makes sense to me, Kilauea is after all a young volcano with most of its shield stage left.

        • @BadWolfTX – you mentioned: “Plus there are at least 2 missing volcanoes in Hawaii. The entire north side of both Oahu and Moloka’i were blown apart and scattered across the ocean. Not sure how you would accounted for the part of the volume of those volcanoes that must have been completely shattered when that happened.”

          They didn’t get blown apart, actually. Rather, they underwent truly massive landslides right into the Pacifici in the past, probably hundreds of thousand years ago. These 2 volcanoes aren’t missing at all. Rather, those two volcanoes, Ko’olau on O’ahu and Molokai, are simply missing about half their subaerial volumes. There are many other large landslide deposits surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. These landslides must’ve triggered truly serious tsunamis all around the Pacific Rim. That would have been extremely serious if these tsunamis were to happen today.

          • Valid point. Falling off does not equal explosive eruption…

            Just like Australopithecus coming down from the trees to walk the Savannah was probably not a conscious decision. But, in retrospect, it was a VERY human thing to do. Lucy’s actions still manifest in every human being alive. We all owe our general ability to screw up to her.

            In short, it wasn’t brilliant intellect that put us on the ground… it was our natural ability to fall out of, or from things. Dealing with the aftermath of the fall is what probably made us start thinking. If you can’t get back up in the tree in short order, you have to figure out how to deal with it.

          • To me there is a big difference in the pattern of the actual landslide deposits all over the Hawaiian seafloor and the carnage north of Oahu. That is clearly a blast signature with blocks thrown as much as 200 miles. Just take the Tuscaloosa seamount alone…it makes no sense to claim that a nearly 1,000 km3 chunk just “slid” 50 miles.

            To me, the area north of Oahu has the obvious appearance of a blast pattern.

            The scale would have been staggering.

          • The slide deposits north of Oahu and Molokai are gravitational in origin, there is no deposit of tephra or brecchia within the islands that would have been formed through a large explosive event. The flank slid, that shows how dangerous gravitational failures are, there are many suberial volcanoes that could go through a large landslide with few or no warning, and if there happens to be a city in the way…

          • Gravity may have initiated the slides north of Oahu and Molokai but gravity could not have been the whole story….period.

            Putting on my CSI ….er ….VSI Hawaii hat here’s probably how it went down.

            1. FACT – At the time of the disaster 1 to 1.5 million years ago, Koolau would have been the dominant active volcano in the Hawaiian chain (and on the planet). Along with the older (post-shield) Waianae, they would have been twin towers that combined to form what is currently Oahu. Molokai would have been the new kid at the time but already also substantial (the Kilauea of the day). The big island would have been Loihi sized at the time.
            2. FACT – The massive Koolau (and East Molokai) would have had equally massive magma reservoir structures 2-4 km beneath the summits.
            3. FACT – Koolau, Waianae and East Molokai had rift zone structures similar to current Haleakala and Kilaeua but oriented NW to SE.
            3. FACT – Large chunks of these massive volcanoes along with their equally massive magma reservoir structures went away one very bad day a while back.
            4. FACT – It is inconceivable that busting open the Koolau and East Molokai rift zones did not instantly expose MANY km3 of magma to seawater.

            Reconstructing the crime …er…volcano scene probably goes something like this:

            1. Rapid and SIGNIFICANT inflation of the Koolau magma chamber puts pressure on the whole island, widening faults on the south flank of the post-shield Wainae (Waianae Slump) to the point of failure.
            2. One day the Waianae Slump fails with the equivalent thump of a magnitude 8.5 or greater earthquake.
            3. The shock wave from the Waianae Slump failure rips open the heavily inflated Koolau rift zone like popping a balloon. It starts as a second massive landslide on the north side of the island but, unlike Waianae, Koolau has an active magma chamber that is already over inflated.
            4. Instant degassing from the MANY km3 of fresh magma exposed seawater causes a second off the charts (but easily magnitude 9.5+) shock wave pushing massive chunks of Koolau out as far as 200 km and creating a second even larger tsunami wave.
            5. The massive shock wave from the Koolau is so large that it rips open what would otherwise have been a more stable East Molokai rift zone causing the third large rift failure that day and a second large explosion.

            The waves from competing mega-tsunamis would have obliterated any dust or other lightweight debris from that day. Only the largest chunks remain as evidence.

          • I can see problems from FACT 1. You got the timing of events wrong, I had no idea up until now of any date regarding the formation of the debris avalanches of Oahu and Molokai but I know what was going on with the volcanoes 1-1.5 million years ago. Wikipedia does put the Nuʻuanu Slide as being of that age, which I find surprising and had no idea, I don’t know what source they used though. Assuming this is right then lets see what was going on with the hawaiian family of volcanoes at that time. It is quite a long interval of time in which things can change dramatically. I have to dissapoint you because Waianae was long exting (and by long I mean 1.5-2 million years), Koolau had also been dead for quite some time. Their conduits and magma chambers long cooled and solidified, gullies slowly carving into the ancient basalt as the island gradually sinks into the crust, their rift zones no longer spreading. West and East Molokai had also recently gone extinct, maybe 1.5 million yrs ago East Molokai was in its last legs throwing its final gasps of highly alkaline lavas. During this period even the southern part of Maui Nui completed its formation. It was the time of rapid growth of the massive Haleakala volcano which shared its shield stage with the nearby smaller volcanoes. By approximately 1.2 my all the volcanoes of Maui Nui and Oahu were extinct except Haleakala which was starting the transition into its ever-lasting post-shield stage. 1 million years ago Kohala had already broken the surface of the ocean, starting the existence of the Big Island.

            As you can see if the age of the collapse events is right then the volcanoes of Oahu and Molokai were quite dead by that time, they were then incapable of magmatic processes, leaving the gravitational collapse of the mountains as the most likely scenario. I recommend this link to anyone interested on the individual growth of the older volcanoes of the chain, it is the most complete that I know: https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1089/Hawaii_expl_pamphlet.pdf

          • Posted too soon ….amending Fact 1 as follows…..based on additional research.

            Paleomagnetism gives an ambiguous age, > 2.58 or 1.8 Ma, but well within the shield stage of Ko’olau

          • It seems likely that the timing of the end of the Ko’olau shield building phase and the timing of he Nu’uanu slide are not remotely coincidental. ….both likely occurring on the exact same day roughly about 1.8 million years ago.

          • Then there’s this ….also right about 1.8 million years ago.

            Eh….probably all just another crazy coincidence.

          • This one is even better.

            The Calabrian period starts 1.8 million years ago.

            If my VSI Hawaii investigation is even 1/2 right, this would have been bigger than Toba.

          • Remember to consider in your VSI that there are no tephra deposits in Oahu or Molokai that could be linked with the flank collapse and that doing explosive is not Hawaii’s strong point.

            According to that age the collapse does appear to have taken place towards the end of Koolau shield stage and during the late shield of East Molokai. It still doesn’t seem clear wether the Nuuanu and Wailau landslides were the same event or just closely followed each other. The summit caldera complexes of East Molokai and Koolau are intact so the landslide doesn’t seem to have reached the summit of the volcanoes and just affected the flanks. Even if the landslide would have reached the summit there is nothing to suggest that the scar would be deep enough to expose a magma body nor that it was below sea level.

          • Quoting directly from the TAMU pubication (cited above)……

            The vitric tuffs that are present below the sands and at the top and in the middle of the claystones and siltstones are also problematic. Hypotheses for their origin must address the following questions:

            Why are they indurated at such a shallow depth?
            Why are they so glass rich?
            Why do they have so much fresh olivine?
            Why is their general character tholeiitic?

            Were they warm to fairly hot at, or shortly after, deposition?

            A possible scenario for a Hawaiian source is that a very large eruption of Hawaiian tholeiite occurred when a deep magma reservoir was breached by catastrophic failure of the flank of a volcano, similar to the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens (Fig. F27) (Moore and Albee, 1981). This may have occurred on Oahu when the northeast flank of Koolau Volcano collapsed, producing the giant Nuuanu debris avalanche. Sudden decompression caused pressure release, vesiculation, and expansion of the magma. The magma erupted as a directed blast and passed over the collapsing blocks now strewn on the seafloor as a submarine pyroclastic debris flow that reached over the Hawaiian Arch. In this scenario, if the material reached the area of Site 1223 (300 km away) quickly enough in a bottom-hugging density flow, it may have retained enough heat to cause the alteration and induration of the two crystal vitric tuffs. Water surrounding a hot pyroclastic flow may become vaporized, creating a water vapor barrier around the flow which helps to insulate the flow and prevent mixing (Kato et al., 1971; Yamazaki et al., 1973).

            Subaerial pyroclastic flows have been observed with velocities ranging from 14 km/hr (Tsuya, 1930) to 230 km/hr (Moore and Melson, 1969). They have traveled great distances (>100 km) and surmounted obstacles >600 m high (Fisher and Schmincke, 1984). Their mobility has been attributed to several factors, namely exsolution of gas from glassy particles, gas being released when particles are broken, and the heating of the medium causing thermal expansion (e.g., Sparks, 1979). The gas reduces the friction between particles, allowing the flow to travel faster. In addition to moving at tremendous speeds, pyroclastic flows are very good at retaining heat. Boyd (1961) calculated that cold air has a minimal effect on a hot pyroclastic flow. Therefore, a hot pyroclastic flow may remain at almost magmatic temperatures during transport and even after deposition.

          • I guess I just moved the discussion to the comment line farther down.

          • Nah…I posted it out of order the first time.

            My main point is still that it appears that the Nu’uanu slide is way more complicated than just an ordinary gravity landslide.

            I agree that it needs more research.

        • With a volume like that it pretty much indirectly confirms one of my ideas that kilauea has really picked up in growth rate very recently. 11000 km3 in 200,000 years is only a bit over 1/10 of the sort of supply rates it has been showing in recent time so something js up. My guess that starting around 3000 years ago but especially the past 1500 years kilauea has really picked up its growth enormously as a result of obtaining dominance over the hotspot from mauna loa maybe as recently as 1500 years ago and as such it is basically taking the brunt of all that magma that it is still adjusting to which could also be why it has so many large long duration effusive eruptions recently. Currently if that volume is to be used then maybe about 1/5 of the volume of the volcano has formed in the past 10,000 years, and that is impressive to say the least when you are talking about something that big.
          2000 years ago is also when kilauea appears to have largely abandoned the puna ridge. With what it said about kohala and the hilo ridge and how the distal end of the ridge is much older than the subaerial part of the volcano this could be a common occurrence

          • This analysis calculates the long-term Hawaii supply rate at around .21 km3 / year for the past million years or so. I read a Swanson article from 2011 that postulates a long term rate of .14/yr. Either is a lot over the long term especially since it hits these run rates in bigger chunks….typically..

          • I think what happens is that most of the volcanoes are actually pretty old by the time they become distinct seamounts, loihi is probably at least 100,000 years old and it is possible a successor to loihi even exists already but is nearly invisible.
            The volcanoes have very low eruption rates until they are able to end up over the hotspot as kilauea has done recently, at which point they basically go into flood basalt mode. Mauna loa probably largely ended this stage at the start of the holocene, with the 1500 years ago events being a last vestige of that and maybe a last gasp before fading slowly into the post-shield stage. Every now and then it will take the hotspot for maybe a century or so as it did before 1950 but never with enough vigor to render kilauea inactive or to significantly increase its own volume. Kilauea has grown in height by a full 200 meters since 1500 years ag.
            Basically we might be seeing kilauea do what I originally thought it would be doing in the more distant future but right now… 11000 km3 in 250,000 years is only 0.04 km3/year average which is way lower than what has been observed since 1952 (which is much more representative of kilaueas typical activity than the 1840-1950 lull), while the hotspot averages probably over 0.2 km3/year and kilaueas average output since 1969 is about the same as the hotspot, just slightly less because of the period between 1975 and 1983 when eruptive activity was low. The fact most of mauna loas eruptions 1500 years ago were slow effusive pahoehoe flows as well probably means it was being fed direct from the source the same as kilauea is now, so it was likely erupting at the base rate of supply.

            There has been talk of mauna loa being about to wake up and take over the hotspot like it did in the 1840s. I dont agree with this at all, if mauna loa really was going to become more active in the way I have seen it theorised by comparison of last years eruption with the 1840 eruption, then there would already be a lot of signs of mauna loa reawakening in such a manner, and while there are signs of it being ready to erupt it is not being supplied at a huge rate from depth it is more just because it hasnt erupted for 35 years and the small supply it does have builds up. This period we are in now is pretty similar to the times after 1955 and 1960, 55 was followed by 4 years of dormancy but when it ended it literally took off like a rocke with kilaueas biggest summit eruption since the early 1800s, and then immediately afterwards there was the much bigger eruption in 1960 that was only followed by less than 1 year of dormancy and then eruptions almost yearly after that. After 1975 there was speculation kilauea would be dormant for a long time because the rift opened wide and could stor lots of magma, less than 10 years later pu’u o’o was in full force… Even right now after all that magma draining and the south flank continuing to move, the ERZ is still inflating rapidly, 30 cm in 5 months, this is not over by any means.

          • Lavas of Mauna Loa still have a strong tholeeitic composition so it hasn’t started the transition into post-shield yet. Late shield lavas of other volcanoes of the chain are tipically sort of in between the alkaline and tholeeitic trends, like the current activity of Hualalai that I would consider rather to be of the last gasps of its shield stage. Of course it is not the same for all volcanoes, Lanai for example went from shield to nothing, it had no transitional nor post-shield stage.

          • Well given that mauna loa has probably not grown much at all in the holocene I would say it is not exactly shield building, but not as far as the alkali lava stage volcanoes beyond it, while hualalai erupts alkali lava but probably still retains some of its shield stage system. I guess post-shield probably starts not when a volcano actually begins erupting alkali lava, but when its eruption rate falls below the rate needed to exceed the rate of erosion and subsidence, and mauna loa is probably right on the edge of this. Sometimes it might also be way more complicated like on haleakala which apparently erupted a lot of andesite, which means it was evolving magma that was not alkali basalt but also not erupting it immediately, mauna kea might have also done this, mauna kea is maybe pretty atypical of a hawaiian volcano and could be more similar to a flat stratovolcano with maybe some similar behaviors, but haleakala is pretty much like mauna loa but older so it is strange that it had this stage and also managed to stay active up until the present while younger volcanoes are long dormant.

            In any case mauna loa is past its peak, and will (very) soon be completely outclassed by kilauea if it hasnt already.
            At the rate it is going now kilauea could have formed entirely in the last 20,000 years, but we know it is 10 times older than that, so some point in the very recent history of the volcano it has increased its eruption and supply rate by an order of magnitude and that might have happened so recently that it has not shown all the effects of such a large supply yet.
            It obviously isn’t really possible to completely confirm this, but if it really was as recently as only 1500 years ago that kilauea truly managed to capture the hotspot from mauna loa for good, then kilauea is going to be a very scary volcano in the future, if at least from being underestimated. I expect that kilauea will change greatly over the course of this century and beyond, the current caldera will probably either be gone or a lot more lava will erupt on the east rift, or even both, or maybe something else entirely like a migration to the south of the caldera. Maybe it will surprise everyone by doing a massive deep sourced 1959-style radial eruption in Volcano for all we know.

          • Quoting directly from the TAMU pubication (cited above)……

            The vitric tuffs that are present below the sands and at the top and in the middle of the claystones and siltstones are also problematic. Hypotheses for their origin must address the following questions:

            Why are they indurated at such a shallow depth?
            Why are they so glass rich?
            Why do they have so much fresh olivine?
            Why is their general character tholeiitic?

            Were they warm to fairly hot at, or shortly after, deposition?

            A possible scenario for a Hawaiian source is that a very large eruption of Hawaiian tholeiite occurred when a deep magma reservoir was breached by catastrophic failure of the flank of a volcano, similar to the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens (Fig. F27) (Moore and Albee, 1981). This may have occurred on Oahu when the northeast flank of Koolau Volcano collapsed, producing the giant Nuuanu debris avalanche. Sudden decompression caused pressure release, vesiculation, and expansion of the magma. The magma erupted as a directed blast and passed over the collapsing blocks now strewn on the seafloor as a submarine pyroclastic debris flow that reached over the Hawaiian Arch. In this scenario, if the material reached the area of Site 1223 (300 km away) quickly enough in a bottom-hugging density flow, it may have retained enough heat to cause the alteration and induration of the two crystal vitric tuffs. Water surrounding a hot pyroclastic flow may become vaporized, creating a water vapor barrier around the flow which helps to insulate the flow and prevent mixing (Kato et al., 1971; Yamazaki et al., 1973).

            Subaerial pyroclastic flows have been observed with velocities ranging from 14 km/hr (Tsuya, 1930) to 230 km/hr (Moore and Melson, 1969). They have traveled great distances (>100 km) and surmounted obstacles >600 m high (Fisher and Schmincke, 1984). Their mobility has been attributed to several factors, namely exsolution of gas from glassy particles, gas being released when particles are broken, and the heating of the medium causing thermal expansion (e.g., Sparks, 1979). The gas reduces the friction between particles, allowing the flow to travel faster. In addition to moving at tremendous speeds, pyroclastic flows are very good at retaining heat. Boyd (1961) calculated that cold air has a minimal effect on a hot pyroclastic flow. Therefore, a hot pyroclastic flow may remain at almost magmatic temperatures during transport and even after deposition.

          • I still don’t get 2 or 3 things about their theory, why is then vitric tuff underlying the turbidite deposits? If the landslide that formed the turbidite deposits triggered a Saint Helens mode explosion then the tuff should have fallen on top of the landslide deposits. Second, how could an eruption powerfull enough to send an still hot 7 m thick layer of pyroclastic material 300-250 km away into the abyssal depths not have left a trace or layer of some kind in the island of Oahu? It could be that it was simply missed but I don’t that is likely since there hasn’t been much activity to cover such a deposit since the presumed time of the events. I guess it may have been a submarine pyroclastic flow, but I dont know if that is even possible, and it still has to deal with why aren’t the tuffs on top of the sequence. It is also a question wether the usually small magma bodies of hawaiian volcanoes are even capable of this. It is overall hard to explain how the tuffs of composition similar to a deep-rift hawaiian magmas got there, could it have been sedimented from a distal source like lets say eruptions in the submarine east rift of Molokai volcano? or is it maybe just a local eruption in that area and with an unusual composition?

            My opinion is that it needs and deserves more research to locate the source, but I would say that there are some obvious flaws and it is far from confirmed.

    • I have tried to search, but I think that is the most updated study on the topic.

      There have been a lot of small eruptions in the last 50 ky, 87 exposed monogenetic vents. Some of them have plinian deposits but most are from effusive activity so it is most likely that the next eruption of the volcano will not be particularly large or explosive though the potential for large caldera-forming events in the long term is there.

      • If the los humeros system is experiencing an intrusion, i think there should more research into that. How big is the intrusion? Is the volcano restless? Regardless of activity this would be the perfect area to research how large chambers react to an influx of magma.

  5. Mars razorthin atmosphere cannot retain much heat
    Thats why its so cold and dry.
    And temperature swings like crazy between day and night. At Marsian equator it can be +30 C in the shadow during the day.. and then when night comes it drops down to – 45 C. The thin atmosphere not good at trapping heat

    • Add sulfur hexafluoride, its a big enough molecule that solar wind cant strip it off the planet and it is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. If you added enough to make the pressure above the triple point of water then yiu are set, as long as an artificial magnetosphere can be made somewhere to prevent loss of water. Obviously an atmosphere of SF6 and CO2 would not be breathable but then all you would need u
      is an oxygen supply not a full vacuum suit.

      SF6 is actually dense enough that it is stable on the moon too.

  6. Kilauea is an enormous volcano
    She is 190 km long from South Rift to Puna Ridges tip
    And she is 6,3 km tall from seafloor to summit.
    Her total height is around 15 km as she sags down the litosphere. Kilauea is 50 000 to 55 000 km3
    Larger than all other non hawaiian volcanoes combined
    And she have not even reached her peak in the main shield building stage.
    She will become much larger than Mauna Loa when she grown to maxium size as the hotspots output have increased.
    In far future if hawaiian hotspot keeps getting stronger in current boost. In far future Hawaiian shields may become like the huge venusian shields on Venus.
    Each hawaiian shield is already a miniatyre flood basalt province

    • I just did a fast and very conservative estimate of the volume of the volcanoes of Galapagos less than 2.5 my old where I was not considering volume above sea level nor volume subsided beneath sea floor, just the stack 0-3 km deep. The result is 75000 km³, considering that the volume you gave for Kilauea is an overestimation and that the volume I am giving to the recent Galapago’s volcanoes is an underestimation then it is clear that Kilauea does not hold more volume than the non-hawaiian volcanoes combined.

      The Hawaii hotspot strength varies and has gone through long periods of low and high activity, it had a peak of activity about 12 my ago, it is currently peaking since about 3 million yrs ago and it may eventually just subside down.

      • Likley is larger than all other NON ocean island hotspot volcanoes combined ; )

  7. Im planning to move to Iceland
    Its a much easier goal than USA – Hawaii
    My moving Kilauea goal since 4 years old I puts aside.

    Instead
    Moving to Iceland beacuse IF an eruption takes place
    I will see that with my own eyes.
    Iceland erupts every 5 years on avarge.
    Iceland is the next best thing after Hawaii.
    Its much easier to move to Iceland, Scandinavia works togther making souch a move easy.
    My parents and friends there will help me with getting jobs there.

    I am indeed sickly addicted to volcanoes
    The bigger the eruptions get the happier I gets
    The only thing I wants is to stand close ifront of a huge basaltic hawaiian style fountain
    And watch huge open channels of lava pour like crazy.
    I enjoys both, Hawaiian, Strombolian, Vulcanian, Plinian, Flood Basalts, Pleean, Ultraplinian, Pheratoplinian, Surtseyan style loves them all.

    • and there are no killer slugs in iceland…. can You take long dark winters?? and long dark cold winters?? just something to consider.
      And Best! motsfo or nitsfi if fingers are on the wrong keys…

      • I have a niece who lived there on an accompanied tour with her husband. She still curses Iceland to this day.

        (A Florida/Louisiana girl who did NOT appreciate the loss of Sun)

  8. OT a really scary reading can be obtained by applying the blood pressure wrist cuff on backwards……………………………. 🙂

  9. Have in mind that I already lives in a bitterly cold place
    Im in middle Sweden thats as far North as Iceland
    Winters here are much colder than Iceland due to continentality

  10. Vatnajökull volcanic system is monsterious
    It will be fun to live under its spell
    Likley the only basaltic system alive today togther with Hawaii that haves capacity of + 100km3 flows
    Hawaii haves the North Arc flows of outside ohau

    Iceland haves husavik flows and some others seriously large thick nterglacial lava flows near Vatnajökull and neovolcanic zone in gullfors

    • I would like a safe distance from whatever flows from vatnajökul.
      Wouldn’t want to live below Öræfajökull, that is for sure..

      • If you look at where people don’t live in Iceland, you can see where the big eruptions have been. Much of the south coast was densely farmed before Eldgja and Öræfajökull. Note that southern Iceland is a LOT wetter and windier than Sweden. The north is drier.

  11. Have in mind that I already lives in souch a ghastly cold place
    Iceland is much warmer than my home

    • Jesper, don’t just go by what the thermometer says. Sure, Sweden generally gets colder temperatures during winter than Iceland, but in Iceland the wind and moisture is a lot worse. During summer you seldom get the really warm days. It’s a good thing that in Iceland there are warm baths available almost anywhere you go. I guess in your case you will keep warm just by enjoying all the volcanic features 😉

      • Yup you are right
        Iceland is a oceanic subpolar climate
        Never very cold in winter
        Never really warm in summer

      • Yup Iceland being in a cold open ocean that cools the air
        Completely lacks nice summer temperatures

    • Listed as an M7.5. It was deep and in an almost unpopulated area at the top of the Amazon, near the border with Peru. Hopefully few people will be affected.

  12. For me thats completely addicted to J.R.R Tolkiens legendarium and world
    There is nothing else thats better than Iceland
    Iceland is the real Middle Earth in so many ways, Tolkiens Midgård haves elements taken directly from our Scandinavian and western european folklore and legends and fairytales.
    Iceland is all that and the true Mordor in my opinions.

    Iceland haves this dark fantasy middle earth – Mordor feel that you simply dont get anywhere else.
    The landscapes are dark and stark and moody these gloomy skies and moss covered volcanic wastelands.
    Iceland is the true Mordor in many ways.
    When Hekla goes off it truely looks like Orodruin, maybe the volcanos hould be remnamed Amon Amarth or Orodruin aka mountain of red flame.
    Iceland also haves distinct Warcraft and Game Of Thrones feel

  13. https://www.unavco.org/highlights/2018/kilauea-BakerAmelung-2015-Kilauea-GRL.pdf

    This on sentence, ‘recently discovered magma reservoir in the oceanic crust under mauna ulu’, really intrigues me.

    Maybe this is part of the deep rift system, it would make sense for the system to be deeper closer to the main feeder. I think most maps of kilauea are way too simplistic and take some assumptions from smaller volcanoes that have nowhere near the supply or enormous heat flux of kilauea. Most likely the entire area from the summit out to maybe even as far as highway 130 has a continuous connection to the main feeder through magma bodies like this, not a magma pipe per say but the rock is very hot and partly molten like the stuff that the bottom of lava lakes are made of. This is intruded easily. The possibility of direct mantle intrusion to the deep rift is now also a real possibility, and this might be happening now with the observations. Etna is known to do occasional deep eccentric eruptions which are fed from its deep source and have little effect on its main system, like in 1974 and 2002, so maybe kilauea can do this too and it has been historically overriden by the more typical activity. It is possible that if this deep stuff is more prone to explosive eruption then maybe that is what drove some of the more unusual explosive events on kilauea, like the supposedly phreatomagmatic formation of alae crater that was nowhere near any source of water. Just a theory and one that will never be proven but it makes you think.

  14. The world was much warmer before
    55 million years ago Greenland and South Pole had tropical climates
    Fossils of tropical leaves been found in ellesmere island that was in same polar latitude 55 million years ago.
    The Eocene world was completely covered in tropical forests.
    Sweden was a tropical swamp back then and coral reefs fringed South Greenland.

    Was the Paleocene – Eocene thermal maxium caused by the huge co2 outgassing from the North Atlantic Igenous province flood basalts?

      • The Early Eocene was hot and humid everywhere little diffrence between poles and equator and Co2 above 2800 to 3100 ppm
        Equator was hotter than today but not very much
        but likley climbing to around 38 to 40 C daily
        Extreme Global warming

      • Poles where warm and tropical
        around 27 C in summers
        and around 18 C in winters

      • Eocene co2 was around 1000 ppm and went into maybe 2700 ppm during PTEM co2 gas injections

        • The thermal maximum during the early Eocene was around 10-12C warmer than current temperatures. Methane may have been involved in addition to CO2. The equatorial regions indeed is believed to have had temperatures of 38-40C (average), also far above current levels.

          • Albert your ( English Home ) was a tropical svamp back then
            With mangroves and coconut trees and huge rainforest trees 70 m tall
            Day temperatures hovered at 37 C daily huge snakes and crocodiles lived in London Clay Deposits

    • “55 million years ago Greenland and South Pole had tropical climates”

      No they didn’t. A tropical climate, at least under the Köppen classification, requires all 12 months of the year to have mean temperatures of warmer than 18 Celcius. Even under Eocene maximum conditions July at the south pole or January at the north pole would not have had mean temperatures of warmer than 18 Celcius.3 months of no sunshine kind mitigates against that possibility.

      • The North pole ocean warmed to 23 C in Eocene maxium that strongly suggest true tropical conditions .. proven by sediment cores

        • I say again that cannot be the case. Under the Köppen classification the average air temperature for all 12 months of the year must be 18 Celcius or higher for a climate to be tropical. That is not the maximum air temperature, but the average air temperature.

          In the centre of Antarctica, even at the climate optimum maximum, the continental climate would not have allowed a tropical climate to exist. Sub-tropical quite possibly, but NOT tropical. Three months without sunshine at all in the heart of a continent would lead to plunging temperatures.

          The Arctic is slightly more plausible given the sea heat transfer mechanisms. After all look at the effect on the climate in western Europe of the North Atlantic Drift. However I am still extremely skeptical that average air temperature for all twelve months would have been above 18 Celcius at the pole itself. Again it’s the three months of complete darkness which mitigates against it. Heat in the air would be lost to space and there would be no radiative source to replace the heat, just convective replacement from the ocean. Bear in mind how cold deserts can get during the night. Now think of a three month long night and its effect on air temperature.

  15. Extreme global warming during early Eocene
    Animals in Early Eocene was small as they where forced to live in crammed rainforests
    They rapidly got smaller during the extreme PETM global warming 55 million years ago
    thats likley was caused by the enromous volcanic co2 output from North Atlantic Igeous Province Flood Basalts. A smaller body loose heat faster.
    This was a fabolous time for early primates and snakes and crocdillians that thrived in the global rainforests.
    This was when the modern rainforests evolved and appeared around 64 million years ago
    The heat and humidity of the early Eocene epoch made it a excellent time for dense jungles and rainforests, it stretched all way to the poles. England and Greenland and Antarticas coasts became swamps
    The typical PETM enviroment is like South east Asia but everywhere on the planet.

  16. The very very very very very scary thing is
    That we humans rises the co2 faster than it climbed during the Eocene extreme warming 55 million years ago.
    If our co2 emissions dont stop… we are soon back into the PETM
    Our automotive and industrial activities cause some 24 billion tons of CO2 emissions every year worldwide.
    Thats similar to a fairly large flood basalt event.
    LOL soon my house ends up underwater and rainforests pops up in Greenland.. again…
    eeeeh where is Swift Tuttle so he can give our greedy species a lesson.. haha lol

  17. I hates cold weather…. yet volcanoes draws me to Iceland
    But a return to PETM conditions woud I welcome alot.
    Bring back the early eocene please
    But I also knows that the worlds cities ends up underwater and thats the problem

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