A supervolcano is a volcano capable of producing a volcanic eruption with an ejecta volume greater than 1,000 cubic kilometers (240 cubic miles). This is thousands of times larger than most historic volcanic eruptions. Supervolcanoes can occur when magma in the Earth rises into the crust from a hotspot but is unable to break through the crust. Pressure builds in a large and growing magma pool until the crust is unable to contain the pressure. They can also form at convergent plate boundaries (for example, Toba) and continental hotspot locations (for example, Yellowstone).
The Discovery Channel highlighted six known supervolcanoes: Yellowstone, Long Valley, and Valles Caldera in the United States; Lake Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia; Taupo Volcano, North Island, New Zealand; and Aira Caldera, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyūshū, Japan. Although there are only a handful of Quaternary supervolcanoes, supervolcanic eruptions typically cover huge areas with lava and volcanic ash and cause a long-lasting change to weather (such as the triggering of a small ice age) sufficient to threaten species with extinction.
The term "supervolcano" was originally used in the BBC popular science television program Horizon in 2000 to refer to eruptions of this type. That program introduced the subject of large-scale volcanic eruptions to the general public.
Volcanologists and geologists do not refer to "supervolcanoes" in their scientific work, since this is a blanket term that can be applied to a number of different geothermal conditions. Since 2003, however, the term has been used by professionals when presenting to the public. The term megacaldera is sometimes used for calderas with supervolcano characteristics, such as the Blake River Megacaldera Complex in the Abitibi greenstone belt of Ontario and Quebec, Canada. Eruptions that rate VEI 8 are termed "super eruptions".
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: large igneous provinces and massive eruptions.
Large igneous provinces
Large igneous provinces (LIP) such as Iceland, the Siberian Traps, Deccan Traps, and the Ontong Java Plateau are extensive regions of basalts on a continental scale resulting from flood basalt eruptions. When created, these regions often occupy several thousand square kilometres and have volumes on the order of millions of cubic kilometers. In most cases, the lavas are normally laid down over several million years. They do release massive amounts of gases. The Réunion hotspot produced the Deccan Traps about 65 million years ago, coincident with the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous. Because the largest flood basalt event (the Siberian Traps) occurred around 250 Ma and was coincident with the largest mass extinction in history (end Permian), and the second largest flood basalt event (The Deccan Traps) occurred around 65 Ma and was coincident with the second largest extinction event (end Cretaceous), research continues into the effect of these volcanic outpourings and whether they contributed to mass extinctions.
Such outpourings are not explosive though fire fountains may occur. Many volcanologists consider that Iceland may be a LIP that is currently being formed. The last major outpouring occurred in 1783–84 from the Laki fissure which is ~40 km long. An estimated 14 km3 of basaltic lava was poured out during the eruption.
Massive explosive eruptions
VEI-7 or 8 eruptions are so powerful that they often form circular calderas rather than cones because the downward withdrawal of magma causes the overlying mass to collapse and fill the void magma chamber beneath.
One of the classic calderas is at Glen Coe in the Grampian Mountains of Scotland. First described by Clough et al. (1909) its geology and volcanic succession have recently been re-analysed in the light of new discoveries. There is an accompanying 1:25000 solid geology map.
By way of comparison, the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption was at the lower end of VEI-5 with 1.2 km3, and both Mount Pinatubo in 1991 and Krakatoa in 1883 were VEI-6 with 10 km3 and 25 km3. respectively.
Known super eruptions
Estimates of the volume of ejected material are given in parentheses.
VEI 8 eruptions have happened in the following locations.
- Lake Taupo, Taupo Volcanic Zone, North Island, New Zealand—Oruanui eruption ~26,500 years ago (~1,170 km³)
- Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia—~74,000 years ago (~2,800 km³)
- Whakamaru, Taupo Volcanic Zone, North Island, New Zealand—Whakamaru Ignimbrite/Mount Curl Tephra ~254,000 years ago (1,200-2,000 km³)
- Yellowstone Caldera, Lava Creek Tuff, Wyoming, United States, Yellowstone hotspot—640,000 years ago (1,000 km³)
- Island Park Caldera, Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, Idaho/Wyoming, United States, Yellowstone hotspot—2.1 million years ago (2,500 km³)
- Cerro Galan, Catamarca Province, Argentina—2.5 million years ago (1,050 km³)
- Atana Ignimbrite, Pacana Caldera, northern Chile—4 million years ago (2,500 km³)
- Heise volcanic field, Kilgore Tuff, Idaho, United States, Yellowstone hotspot—4.5 million years ago (1,800 km³).
- Heise volcanic field, Blacktail Tuff, Idaho, United States, Yellowstone hotspot—6.6 million years ago (1,500 km³).
- La Garita Caldera, Colorado, United States—Source of the enormous eruption of the Fish Canyon Tuff ~27.8 million years ago (~5,000 km³)
The Lake Toba eruption plunged the Earth into a volcanic winter, eradicating an estimated 60% of the human population (although humans managed to survive even in the vicinity of the volcano). However the coincidental agreement in above sources about percentage value of extinction is contrary to differing estimates of human population size at that time.
VEI-7 volcanic events, less colossal but still supermassive, have occurred in the geological past. The only ones in historic times are Tambora, in 1815, Lake Taupo (Hatepe), around 180 CE, and possibly Baekdu Mountain, 969 CE (± 20 years).
- Tambora, Sumbawa Island, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia—1815 (160 km³), the following year, 1816, became known as the "Year Without a Summer"
- Baekdu Mountain, China/North Korea—~969 CE (96±19 km³)
- Lake Taupo, Taupo Volcanic Zone, North Island, New Zealand—Hatepe eruption ~181 CE (120 km³)
- Kikai Caldera, Ryukyu Islands, Japan—~6,300 years ago (~4,300 BCE) (150 km³)
- Macauley Island, Kermadec Islands, New Zealand—~6,300 years ago (~4,300 BCE) (100 km³)
- Aira Caldera, Kyūshū, Japan—~22,000 years ago (~110 km³)
- Rotoiti Ignimbrite, Taupo Volcanic Zone, North Island, New Zealand—~50,000 years ago (~240 km³)
- Campi Flegrei, Naples, Italy—39,280 ± 110 years ago (500 km³)
- Aso, Kyūshū, Japan—four large explosive eruptions between 300,000 to 80,000 years ago (last one >600 km³)
- Reporoa Caldera, Taupo Volcanic Zone, North Island, New Zealand—230,000 years ago (~100 km³)
- Mamaku Ignimbrite, Rotorua Caldera, Taupo Volcanic Zone, North Island, New Zealand—240,000 years ago (>280 km³)
- Matahina Ignimbrite, Haroharo Caldera, Taupo Volcanic Zone, North Island, New Zealand—280,000 years ago (~120 km³)
- Long Valley Caldera, Bishop Tuff, California, United States—~760,000 years ago (600 km³)
- Valles Caldera, New Mexico, United States—~1.15 million years ago (~600 km³)
- Mangakino, Taupo Volcanic Zone, North Island, New Zealand—three eruptions from 0.97 to 1.23 million years ago (each > 300 km³)
- Henry's Fork Caldera, Mesa Falls Tuff, Idaho, United States, Yellowstone hotspot—1.3 million years ago (280 km³)
- Karymshina, Kamchatka, Russia—1.78±0.02 million years ago
- Pastos Grandes Ignimbrite, Pastos Grandes Caldera—2.9 million years ago (>820 km³)
- Heise volcanic field, Walcott Tuff, Idaho, United States, Yellowstone hotspot—6.4 million years ago (750 km³).
- Bruneau-Jarbidge, Idaho, United States, Yellowstone hotspot—~10–12 million years ago (>250 km³) (responsible for the Ashfall Fossil Beds ~1,600 km to the east)
- Bennett Lake Volcanic Complex, British Columbia/Yukon, Canada—~50 million years ago (850 km³)
- A Campanian ignimbrite super-eruption around 40,000 years ago has been hypothesised as having contributed to the demise of the Neanderthal, based on evidence from Mezmaiskaya cave in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia 
- In 2005, a two-part television docudrama called Supervolcano aired on BBC One, the Discovery Channel, and other television networks worldwide.
- Nova featured an episode "Mystery of the Megavolcano" in September 2006 examining such eruptions in the last 100,000 years.
- In 2006, the Sci Fi Channel aired the documentary Countdown to Doomsday which featured a segment called "Supervolcano". The same year, ABC News aired the documentary Last Days on Earth, which featured a segment called "Supervolcano".
- In the episode "Humanity" of Young Justice, the Team must relieve the pressure of the Yellowstone Caldera Supervolcano caused by Red Volcano before an eruption with the potential for mass extinction takes place.
- Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth
- Toba catastrophe theory
- Timetable of major worldwide volcanic eruptions
- ^ http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/about/faq/faqsupervolcano.php#supervolcano
- ^ O'Hanlon, Larry. "Supervolcano: Yellowstone's Super Sisters". Discovery Channel. http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/supervolcano/others/others.html. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
- ^ BBC TV Horizon, 3 February 2000, Supervolcanoes
- ^ USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory
- ^ Clough, C. T; Maufe, H. B. & Bailey, E. B; 1909. The cauldron subsidence of Glen Coe, and the Associated Igneous Phenomena. Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc. 65, 611-678.
- ^ Kokelaar, B. P and Moore, I. D; 2006. Glencoe caldera volcano, Scotland. British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham. ISBN 0852725256.
- ^ Froggatt, P. C.; Nelson, C. S.; Carter, L.; Griggs, G.; Black, K. P. (13 February 1986). "An exceptionally large late Quaternary eruption from New Zealand". Nature 319 (6054): 578–582. doi:10.1038/319578a0. "The minimum total volume of tephra is 1,200 km³ but probably nearer 2,000 km³, ..." .
- ^ a b c http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/largeeruptions.cfm
- ^ Lindsay, J. M.; de Silva, S.; Trumbull, R.; Emmermann, R.; Wemmer, K. (2001). "La Pacana caldera, N. Chile: a re-evaluation of the stratigraphy and volcanology of one of the world's largest resurgent calderas". Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 106 (1-2): 145–173. doi:10.1016/S0377-0273(00)00270-5.
- ^ a b c http://bulletin.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/abstract/117/3-4/288 Lisa A. Morgan and William C. McIntosh, Timing and development of the Heise volcanic field, Snake River Plain, Idaho, western USA, GSA Bulletin; March 2005; v. 117; no. 3-4; p. 288-306; DOI: 10.1130/B25519.1
- ^ Stanley H. Ambrose, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1998
- ^ Knight, M.D., Walker, G.P.L., Ellwood, B.B., and Diehl, J.F., 1986, Stratigraphy, paleomagnetism, and magnetic fabric of the Toba Tuffs: Constraints on their sources and eruptive styles: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 91, p. 10,355-10,382.
- ^ Ninkovich, D., Sparks, R.S.J., and Ledbetter, M.T., 1978, The exceptional magnitude and intensity of the Toba eruption, Sumatra: An example of using deep-sea tephra layers as a geological tool: Bulletin Volcanologique, v. 41, p. 286-298.
- ^ Rose, W.I., and Chesner, C.A., 1987, Dispersal of ash in the great Toba eruption, 75 ka: Geology, v. 15, p. 913-917. Simkin, T., and Siebert, L., 1994, Volcanoes of the World: Geoscience Press, Tucson, Arizona, 349 p.
- ^ Williams, M.A.J., and Royce, K., 1982, Quaternary geology of the Middle Son Valley, north central India: Implications for prehistoric archaeology: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 38, p. 139-162.
- ^ Michael Petraglia et al., Science v.317, p.114 (2007)
- ^ a b Wilson, C. J. N.; Ambraseys, N. N.; Bradley, J.; Walker, G. P. L. (1980). "A new date for the Taupo eruption, New Zealand". Nature 288 (5788): 252–253. doi:10.1038/288252a0. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v288/n5788/abs/288252a0.html.
- ^ Horn, Susanne; Schmincke, Hans-Ulrich (2000). "Volatile emission during the eruption of Baitoushan Volcano (China/North Korea) ca. 969 CE". Bulletin of Volcanology 61 (8): 537–555. doi:10.1007/s004450050004. "The 969±20 CE Plinian eruption of Baitoushan Volcano (China/North Korea) produced a total tephra volume of 96±19 km³ [magma volume (DRE): 24±5 km³]."
- ^ Latter, J. H.; Lloyd, E. F.; Smith, I. E. M.; Nathan, S. (1992). Volcanic hazards in the Kermadec Islands and at submarine volcanoes between southern Tonga and New Zealand, Volcanic hazards information series 4. Wellington, New Zealand. Ministry of Civil Defence. 44 p.
- ^ "Macauley Island". Global Volcanism Program, Smithsonian Institution. http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=0402-021.
- ^ Froggatt, P. C. and Lowe, D. J. (1990). A review of late Quaternary silicic and some other tephra formations from New Zealand: their stratigraphy, nomenclature, distribution, volume, and age, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 33, 89-109.
- ^ I. A. Nairn; C. P. Wood and R. A. Bailey (December 1994). "The Reporoa Caldera, Taupo Volcanic Zone: source of the Kaingaroa Ignimbrites". Bulletin of Volcanology 56 (6): 529–537. Bibcode 1994BVol...56..529N. doi:10.1007/BF00302833. http://www.springerlink.com/content/mu1970l8163tp006. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
- ^ Karl D. Spinks, J.W. Cole, & G.S. Leonard (2004). Caldera Volcanism in the Taupo Volcanic Zone. In: Manville, V.R. (ed.) Geological Society of New Zealand/New Zealand Geophysical Society/26th New Zealand Geothermal Workshop, 6th–9th December 2004, Taupo: field trip guides. Geological Society of New Zealand miscellaneous publication 117B.
- ^ Bailey, R. A. and Carr, R. G. (1994). Physical geology and eruptive history of the Matahina Ignimbrite, Taupo Volcanic Zone, North Island, New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 37, 319-344.
- ^ Izett, Glen A. (1981). "Volcanic Ash Beds: Recorders of Upper Cenozoic Silicic Pyroclastic Volcanism in the Western United States". Journal of Geophysical Research 86 (B11): 10200–10222. Bibcode 1981JGR....8610200I. doi:10.1029/JB086iB11p10200.
- ^ Briggs, R.M.; Gifford, M.G.; Moyle, A.R.; Taylor, S.R.; Normaff, M.D.; Houghton, B.F.; and Wilson, C.J.N. (1993). "Geochemical zoning and eruptive mixing in ignimbrites from Mangakino volcano, Taupe Volcanic Zone, New Zealand". Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 56: 175–203. doi:10.1016/0377-0273(93)90016-K. .
- ^ Shipley, Niccole; Bindeman, Ilya; Leonov, Vladimir (2009). "Petrologic and Isotopic Investigation of Rhyolites from Karymshina Caldera, the Largest "Super"caldera in Kamchatka, Russia". http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2009AM/finalprogram/abstract_162281.htm.
- ^ Ort, M. H.; de Silva, S.; Jiminez, N.; Salisbury, M.; Jicha, B. R. and Singer, B. S. (2009). Two new supereruptions in the Altiplano-Puna Volcanic Complex of the Central Andes.
- ^ Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park. "The Ashfall Story". http://www.ashfall.unl.edu/ashfallstory.html. Retrieved 2006-08-08.
- ^ Lambert, Maurice B. (1978). Volcanoes. North Vancouver, British Columbia: Energy, Mines and Resources Canada. ISBN 0-88894-227-3.
- ^ Liubov Vitaliena Golovanova; Vladimir Borisovich Doronichev; Naomi Elancia Cleghorn; Marianna Alekseevna Koulkova; Tatiana Valentinovna Sapelko; M. Steven Shackley (2010; 51 (5): 655). "Volcanoes Wiped out Neanderthals, New Study Suggests" (news release). ScienceDaily. Journal Current Anthropology (University of Chicago Press Journals). doi:10.1086/656185. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006094057.htm. "Significance of Ecological Factors in the Middle to Upper Paleolithic Transition"
- ^ Mystery of the Megavolcano website by PBS
- Mason, Ben G.; Pyle, David M.; Oppenheimer, Clive (2004). "The size and frequency of the largest explosive eruptions on Earth". Bulletin of Volcanology 66 (8): 735–748. doi:10.1007/s00445-004-0355-9.
- Timmreck, C.; Graf, H.-F. (2006). "The initial dispersal and radiative forcing of a Northern Hemisphere mid-latitude super volcano: a model study". Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 6: 35–49. doi:10.5194/acp-6-35-2006. http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/6/35/2006/acp-6-35-2006.html.
- Overview and Transcript of the original BBC program
- Yellowstone Supervolcano and Map of Supervolcanoes Around The World
- USGS Fact Sheet - Steam Explosions, Earthquakes, and Volcanic Eruptions - What's in Yellowstone's Future?
- Discovery Channel's site on "Supervolcano"
- Scientific American's The Secrets of Supervolcanoes
- Supervolcano at the Internet Movie Database
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Supervolcano — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Supervolcano est le mot anglais pour supervolcan. Supervolcanoes, un documentaire de 2000 de la série de la BBC Horizon (en) qui a créé et vulgarisé le… … Wikipédia en Français
supervolcano — noun A powerful volcano, often having an explosive or cataclysmic eruption … Wiktionary
supervolcano — /supəvɒlˈkeɪnoʊ/ (say soohpuhvol kaynoh) noun (plural supervolcanoes or supervolcanos) a large volcano created when rising magma is unable to break through the earth s crust and builds enormous pressure until the crust finally breaks, the… … Australian English dictionary
Supervolcano (film) — Supervolcano (téléfilm) Supervolcano est un téléfilm diffusé en 2005? C est un docufiction catastrophe de la BBC consacré à l éruption fictive de la caldeira volcanique du parc national de Yellowstone. Sommaire 1 Synopsis 2 Fiche technique 3 … Wikipédia en Français
Supervolcano (téléfilm) — Supervolcano est un téléfilm diffusé en 2005. C est un docufiction catastrophe de la BBC consacré à l éruption fictive de la caldeira volcanique du parc national de Yellowstone. Sommaire 1 Synopsis 2 Fiche technique 3 Distribut … Wikipédia en Français
Supervolcano (docudrama) — Infobox Film name = Supervolcano caption = Scientists know it as the deadliest volcano on Earth. You know it...as Yellowstone writer = Edward Canfor Dumas Julian Simpson starring = Michael Riley Gary Lewis Shaun Johnston Adrian Holmes Jennifer… … Wikipedia
Yellowstone Caldera — The northeastern part of Yellowstone Caldera, with the Yellowstone River flowing through Hayden Valley and the caldera rim in the distance … Wikipedia
Volcano — This article is about the geological feature. For other uses, see Volcano (disambiguation) … Wikipedia
Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth — This article is about the near and very far future. For past civilizations, see Societal collapse. Contents 1 Types of risks 2 Future scenarios 2.1 … Wikipedia
End Day — Genre Docudrama Written by Gareth Edwards Directed by Gareth Edwards Starring Glenn Conroy Composer(s) Gavin Skinner … Wikipedia