Scientists have spotted “huge, active volcanoes” deep within the Himalayas, that could unleash “big eruptions” and “possibly erupt to produce the biggest megastorm ever,” according to a recent study in the journal Nature Communications.
While the location remains unknown, the scientists say this “extinct volcano was probably active from about 10,000-14,000 years ago, around the time of the biggest Eruption event in Earth history, called the Volcanic Eruption.”
The findings by a team of scientists from South Africa suggest that while this was a “potentially catastrophic event” it could only have had one cause: climate change. They also suggest the Volcanic Eruption wasn’t particularly massive.
“This is the largest known and most rapid volcanic eruption in history, but due to lack of information, it’s a bit of a mystery,” said team member Martin Degenstaedt from the University of Adelaide’s School of Earth Science and Sustainability.
While the Volcanic Eruption probably took approximately 2-3 million years to erupt — the time it took the last ice age — it “curiously lasted for between 50 and 150 million years,” according to Degenstaedt. For comparison, the Eruption of Mount St. Helens, in Washington State earlier this month, lasted around 200 million years, and occurred around 15,000 years ago.
The scientists say it’s unknown whether climate change is acting as a trigger for future eruptions. And while Earth should ideally be dry by this time next year (when the volcano should return for “super-epochal” volcanoelectric reactions, during which powerful pyroclastic flows are believed to cool the Sun down and release an influx of oxygen), and no volcanoes are known to be active in the last ice age, it’s still possible that they could have erupted within the next 50 years.
It’s unclear at this point what the next big eruption will be, but researchers say what’s clear is that Earth’s volcanoes are more complex than they’ve been previously understood to be, and the researchers say scientists should be paying more attention to the Earth’s volcanoes.
“Since the first eruptions [were recorded], we’ve been dealing with different rates and different temperatures, but a fundamental insight into how volcanoes move and how they go into different states isn’t clearly understood,” Degenstaedt said.