Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Holy Shit, the Toba Catastrophe!

I believe we've established by now that supervolcanic eruptions would suck harder than the vacuum of space. In case you needed a little extra evidence of that, let's take a look at the eruption of the Lake Toba supervolcano. It happened around 70,000 years ago, and was terrifying.

The Toba Supervolcano Eruption may have been the single largest volcanic event in the known history of the planet. It spewed so much ash into the air that all of South Asia was covered with about six inches of it. Six inches of ash. Over an entire sub-continent. That's about 800 cubic kilometers of volcano vomit.
Volcano Vomit
Why, yes, I am an adult. Why do you ask?

Even bigger were the long term effects. All that ash and sulphur dioxide is not so great for the global climate, as it turns out. There is some debate on the issue, but it has been suggested that the Earth's most recent ice age was either ushered in by, or a direct result of the Toba Catastrophe. For six years after the eruption, the planet was consumed by a volcanic winter. The following 1,000 years were a period of global cooling.
Which was just murder for the poor tauntauns

Right now, some of you are thinking, "Hey neat! A solution to global warming! Maybe a supervolcano eruption wouldn't be so bad after all!"

To you I say, "Nay." For there is a minor detail I left out before. Human beings were around before the Toba eruption. Afterward (or so goes the theory), we very, very nearly weren't. By some accounts, humanity sank into a genetic bottleneck in the aftermath of Toba. In fact, the human population of Earth may have dropped to around 10,000 people. By comparison, there are seven billion people today. That difference in population is literally too large to meaningfully display on a computer monitor.

10,000 is about one person per twenty square miles. It's not enough people to make up a city in some parts of the world. You'll find significantly more people per day in any one of the parks of Disney World than there were people in existence after the Toba Event.
Splash Mountain
And the rides in the apocalypse weren't nearly as fun.

Holy shit.

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