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For the docudrama, see Supervolcano (docudrama)

A supervolcano is a volcano that produces the largest and most voluminous kinds of eruption on Earth. The explosivity of such eruptions varies, but the volume of ejected tephra is enough to radically alter the landscape and severely affect global climate for years, with cataclysmic consequences for life (see also volcanic winter).


[edit] Word origin

The term was originally coined by the producers of the BBC popular science program, Horizon, in 2000 to refer to these types of eruption.[1] [2] That investigation brought the subject more into the public eye, leading to further studies of the possible effects.

  • At first, supervolcano was not a technical term used in volcanology, but more recently, in 2003 and 2004, the term has been used in articles.
  • Though there is no well-defined minimum explosive size for a "supervolcano", there are at least two types of volcanic eruption that have been identified as supervolcanoes: massive eruptions and large igneous provinces.

[edit] Large igneous provinces


A large igneous province (LIP) is an extensive region of basalts on a continental scale, resulting from flood basalt eruptions. When created, these regions often occupy several million km² and have volumes on the order of 1 million km³. In most cases, the majority of this is laid down over an extended but geologically sudden period of about several million years.

[edit] Massive eruptions

Eruptions with a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8 (VEI-8) are mega-colossal events that eject at least 1,000 km³ of pyroclastic material.

VEI-8 eruptions are so powerful that they form circular calderas rather than mountains because the downward collapse of land at the eruption site fills emptied space in the magma chamber beneath. The caldera can remain for millions of years after all volcanic activity at the site has ceased.

[edit] Known eruptions

VEI-8 volcanic events have included eruptions at the following locations. Estimates of the volume of erupted material are given in parentheses.

The Lake Toba eruption plunged the Earth into a volcanic winter, eradicating an estimated 60%[3] [4] [5] [6] [7]of the human population (although humans managed to survive even in the vicinity of the volcano[8] ), and was responsible for the formation of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere.

Many other supermassive eruptions have also occurred in the geological past. Those listed below measured 7 on the VEI scale. Most of these were larger than Tambora's eruption in 1815 (160 km³), which was the largest eruption in recorded history.

For large flood basalt eruptions, see large igneous province.

[edit] Media portrayal

A National Geographic documentary called Earth Shocks portrayed the destructive impact of the rapid eruption of Lake Toba some 75,000 years ago, which caused a phenomenon known as the Millennial Ice Age that lasted for 1000 years and wiped out more than 60%[10][11][12] [13][14] of the global population of the time.

An eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano was originally one of the scenarios depicted in the docu-drama End Day, but was excluded from all airings to date for unknown reasons and is only presently mentioned at the show's BBC website (dead as of May 18, 2007; Internet Archive version).

In 2005, a two-part television docudrama entitled Supervolcano was shown on BBC, the Discovery Channel, and other television networks worldwide. It looked at the events that could take place if the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted. It featured footage of volcano eruptions from around the world and computer-generated imagery depicting the event. According to the program, such an eruption would have devastating effect across the globe and would cover virtually all of the United States with at least 1 cm of volcanic ash, causing mass destruction in the nearby vicinity and killing plants and wildlife across the continent. The dramatic elements in the program were followed by Supervolcano: The Truth About Yellowstone, a documentary about the evidence behind the movie. The program had originally been scheduled to be aired in early 2005, but it was felt that this would be insensitive so soon after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The program and its accompanying documentaries were released on DVD region 2 simultaneously with its broadcast.

In 2006, the Sci Fi Channel aired the documentary Countdown to Doomsday which featured a segment called "Supervolcano".

In the Stargate Atlantis episode Inferno, the main characters are caught in the eruption of a supervolcano and escape using an Ancient warship.

[edit] See also

[edit] References


[edit] External links

es:Supervolcán fr:Supervolcan it:Supervulcano nl:Supervulkaan no:Supervulkan pl:Superwulkan pt:Supervulcão ru:Супервулкан fi:Supertulivuori sv:Supervulkan zh:超级火山

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