What Happens if a Supervolcano Blows Up?

What Happens if a Supervolcano Blows Up?

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The Earth is a gigantic ball of semi-molten rock, with a heart of iron as hot as the surface of the Sun. Titanic amounts of heat left over from its birth and the radioactive decay of trillions of tons of radioactive elements find no escape but up. Currents of rock spanning thousands of kilometers carry this energy to the surface. Earth’s crust is the only thing in their way. It feels solid to us, but it is only a fragile barrier, an apple skin around a flaming behemoth. True apocalypses can break through and unleash eruptions tens of times more powerful than all of our nuclear weapons combined, subjecting the climate to centuries worth of change in a single year, while drowning continents in toxic ash and gases: supervolcanoes. How big can they get? And will they put an end to humanity?

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34 Responses

  1. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell says:

    Go ‘beyond the nutshell’ at https://brilliant.org/nutshell by diving deeper into these topics and more with 20% off an annual subscription!
    This video was sponsored by Brilliant. Thanks a lot for the support!

  2. James Dominguez says:

    The really interesting thing about Krakatoa, in my opinion, is that the biggest bang wasn’t really volcanic. A smaller eruption blew out the side of the volcanic cone, allowing millions of litres of seawater to rush inside. It hit the magma, turned instantly to steam, and the force of that steam expanding is what blew the mountain apart and made a noise so loud it was heard in South Australia.

  3. the JaYoe Nation says:

    I’ve walked on Krakatoa and swam in lake Toba. They are incredible physical remnants of chaotic events in our past.

  4. Luigi’s Accountant says:

    My favorite fun fact about Krakatoa is that there’s a fair amount of evidence that it was the main inspiration for Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. In a journal entry, he described how he was walking with two friends when a sort of “artificial sunset” (caused by the amount of debris kicked into the air) occurred. It was so impactful on him that he made his most famous work because of it.

    • Rory Cannon says:

      @VideoDotGoogleDotCom theres at least some discussion on an aurora borealis.- munch scream connection (although not much, especially when people started metaphorically smoking krak) so its not too outlandish to claim that.

    • Piotr Carafa says:

      @Rory Cannon Quite, my bad on that.
      I misstated what I wanted to mean and thus misled the thought a little.
      A genuine mistake in different languages and connotations, tho still a mistake.

    • Rory Cannon says:

      @Piotr Carafa that makes sense. I think the ‘Polar lights’ you are referring to is “Aurora Borealis”.

    • Piotr Carafa says:

      @Rory Cannon Said in another comment, I’m not a meteorologist, but studied art a lot, at university and by myself.
      It’s not Polar lights, but more specifically something on the polar stratospheric clouds.
      At least I think it’s callad like that, since I studied the event in other languages than English.
      I didn’t specify bc I can’t explain well the phenomena myself.

      Yes, but he never wrote about it as a long event or similar, as far as I know.
      So it’s improbable, not impossible of course.
      Without considering that something like this happened in a fjord, it’s even more unlikely.
      That way not that many stay with the Vulcan eruption possibility.

    • Piotr Carafa says:

      @VideoDotGoogleDotCom No but I studied history and art.
      And Polar lights was an abbreviation for a phenomena.
      Polar stratospheric clouds, which I didn’t specify bc I’m not a meteorologist.
      And such a sensation in the artist?
      *Obviously you never studied or been an artist, peculiar sensations and inspiration can come from literally anything* , even a freaking, single, drip of rain during a heavy downpour.

  5. BallisticDamages says:

    If you’re at all worried by the concept of volcanos/super-volcanos, the best thing I can recommend is to continue to educate yourself about them, and support the scientists who dedicate their time to continually improve our ability to predict such events! Thanks for more great content!

  6. Juan Alberto G says:

    As a geologist, i feel so happy that a channel like this make videos that can transmit the knowledge of our planet in such a beautiful way, i hope everyone feel the same emotion that i feel watching this.

    Greetings from Colombia! 🌋⛏️

    • VideoDotGoogleDotCom says:

      Colombia together with geology instantly remind me of the Armero tragedy.

    • OBINNA Chris says:

      I know right thats exactly what I was thinking

    • John Doe says:

      Hey geologist, can harvesting geothermal energy near a volcano cool it down and either stop or hinder it’s eruption? If so it would kill two birds with a mountain sized stone, renewable energy and volcanic disasters.

  7. Terra Mater says:

    Super interesting, and as you guys pointed out, supervolcanoes are definitely not the biggest natural disaster threat to us right now. One big issue is natural disasters that used to happen but now are getting out of proportion. For example, our crew registered how small wildfires are a part of a natural cycle that helps the environment regenerate itself. But because we kept on suppressing these natural wildfires, now the fires happen so intensively that it is not beneficial for us or other species. And this is an actual threat that we need to be concerned about.

    • Razzle1964 says:

      @*Mute After some thought, I still have trouble believing that this global ‘phenomenon’ was carried out on such a large scale & for so very long to have had as great an effect as suggested:

      … up until 50yrs ago there was no satellite technology to be able to identify & suppress enough fires & up until about a century ago the global population was less than 2b. Added to these two factors are the limited resources & methods of the time required to support the claims. Also, wood was (and remains) a valuable building material and, as such, it would’ve been considered daft to burn such a resource. The claims have no foundation.

    • Laerin says:

      @Sahil P Burning is good for some environments. A lot of forests evolved around periodic natural wildfires. They would burn away space that lets new trees grow without being choked by existing trees and vegetation. That’s why some tree species only germinate when their seeds are exposed to high temperatures. Others have evolved fire resistance to survive wildfires.

    • Sahil P says:

      @RedRocket4000 instead of burning (which obviously is not good for the environment), why not cut the trees leaving enough space between them so wildfires can occur less and the tree used can be used for housing instead of using bricks or something worse like concrete/cement? You can also plant new trees in areas without a threat of wildfires like the rainforests. Simple solutions but people don’t do these things.

  8. Textureless Horse says:

    A note about the Siberian Traps – one of the reasons they were so deadly is that they touched a deposit of coal, creating a massive cloud of fly ash that circled the Earth multiple times.

  9. yash garg says:

    God I love the effort they put into the art and the sounds. Please never stop being as amazing as you are.

  10. Voc says:

    Having videos like these, filled with absolutely incredible information and beautiful animations is so so amazing. Thank you to all imvolved in these. And thank you to those that can donate to this channel and buy their cool merch 😀

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