Extreme volcanic eruptions
SupereruptionsExtreme explosive eruptions are referred to as supereruptions and just like earthquakes the distinction between extreme and regular eruptions is slightly arbitrary.
The characteristics of supereruptions are like other explosive eruptions such as the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. They are, however, much larger.Supereruptions are at least 250 times larger than the 79 AD Vesuvius eruption.The last supereruption to occur was at the dawn of human civilization about 10,000 years ago.Supereruptions are VEI 8 eruptions. This means they erupt more than 1000 km3 of tephra.
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Extreme Geological Events
Yellowstone supereruptionPerhaps the most well-known volcano that has produced a supereruption is Yellowstone in the United States. In fact, it did it multiple times, with the last one occurring about 600,000 years ago with an erupted volume estimated around 1000 km3. It is known as the Lava Creek Tuff. Extent of the Lava Creek ash bed by Metrodyne, Public DomainThe volcano has produced many eruptions since, but they are much smaller in volume and the last one occurred about 70,000 years ago. It is very common for volcanoes that produce very large eruptions, to also produce smaller eruptions.
Large igneous provincesExtreme effusive eruptions are called large igneous provinces and are defined according to the 3 parameters below.A large igneous province is an eruption (or series of eruptions) for which– The area covered by lava is greater than 0.1 million km2– The erupted volume is greater than 0.1 million km3– The duration of the eruptions is less than 50 million years.These are staggering numbers in comparison with the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō eruption we looked at in the last step.They are even rarer than their explosive counterparts and only occur once every 10 million years.
Extreme Geological Events
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