Ash fall-out through the ages

New Scientist’s rather timely cover story this week looks at the eruption of supervolcano Toba, 74,000 years ago and the impact and scale of ash fall-out from it.

As New Scientist explains:

Toba is a supervolcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It has blown its top many times but this eruption, 74,000 years ago, was exceptional. Releasing 2500 cubic kilometres of magma – nearly twice the volume of mount Everest – the eruption was more than 5000 times as large as the 1980 eruption of mount St Helens in the US, making it the largest eruption on Earth in the last 2 million years.

And illustrating things quite effectively is the following infographic. An effective way of showing the relative size of volcanic eruptions? Should the map have been global to Get Mt St Helens, Krakatoa and others on it? It would be interesting to see the Icelandic volcano with the unpronounceable name (Eyjafjallajokull) plotted on the graphic too…

Source: New Scientist
Source: New Scientist


  1. Peter Griffin

    That would be interesting Sacha, they should have gone global with that graphic and compared more eruptions, including Taupo.

  2. Sacha

    Be interesting to see our local volcanic superhero plotted on the same scale –

    “The Oruanui eruption of the Taupo volcano was the world’s largest known eruption in the past 70,000 years

    Most of New Zealand was affected by ash fall, with even an 18 cm ash layer left on the Chatham Islands, 1,000 km away.”

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