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Thread: Earth Science, Potentially Dangerous Volcanoes?

  1. #1 Earth Science, Potentially Dangerous Volcanoes? 
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    Jan 2013
    Anyone out there knowledgeable about volcanoes? I've always been somewhat interested in them, more so after people told me about Mt. St. Helens (which of course was comparitively small). I do remember Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, which had been dormant for hundreds of years, and exploded in the 2nd largest eruption of the 20th century. I remember the vivid sunsets in the year or so after Pinatubo erupted. But of course there have been far worse eruptions in the past, Krakatoa, in 1883, Tambora, in 1815, which caused the "year without a summer" in 1816 as far away as the United States. To say nothing of course of horrible, cataclysmic supereruptions that happened in pre-history, like at Toba around 74,000 years ago, which was thousands of times more powerful than Mt. St. Helens and caused global cooling and possibly near-extinction of the human race. And of course Yellowstone.

    Here's my question..I guess there's no way to know, but what volcanoes should we be really worried about for huge, catastrophic eruptions in our lifetimes? Yellowstone I suppose is always a threat, and it unsettles me because it is an active, bubbling system, but the chances are so small for a super-eruption. What about one of the Cascades like Mt. Ranier? Or Mt. Fuji in Japan? Scientists say you can often predict what an individual volcano will do based on it's past history, reading in the geologic record what type of eruptions occured and predicting future ones. Scientists did this at Pinatubo in 1991, based on the huge deposits of ash in the eroded valleys below the summit, they deduced that the volcano was capable of massive eruptions, and this indeed came about. And volcanoes that stay dormant for long periods tend to have very violent large eruptions when they wake up..So which notorious ones are now overdue, aside from Yellowstone? I see Mt. Fuji with its beautiful, cone shape, and I read that it last erupted in the early 1700s, and last fall some Japanese scientists said it could be overdue for a large eruption. How about Mt. Ranier, I don't think it has had any eruption in modern memory. Have either of them had large-scale eruptions in the past? There is also Mt. Vesuvius in Italy, which last erupted in 1944, but not sure 68 years is long enough for a massive eruption. I am sure there are others out there I'm leaving out, but the two I worry about are Fuji & Ranier. Wondering if any of you have any thoughts.

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  3. #2  
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    Nov 2011
    city of wine and roses
    If you read the Volcanic Activity heading at Volcano - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia you'll see that there's no easy way to do this.

    Basically, you look to see how much activity a volcano is displaying at the moment and whether there are recent changes. Then you have to determine whether it will really do something massive. I don't know how easy (or expensive) it might be to get the bulletins from the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, but they'd probably be the most up to date on which volcanoes where are likely to erupt.

    I get the impression that you get a fair bit more warning, usually, about eruptions than you do about earthquakes, but not very helpful anyway. For the whole of my life I've heard about "the next big one" for earthquake prone Tokyo and California. They're still waiting, we know they'll be big events when they happen, but we have no way of predicting, detecting or preventing them in advance. And people who live near volcanoes have much the same problem.

    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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