Come Hell or Supervolcano, Humanity Will Be Alright https://t.co/a1EJFICvt1
Living through a supervolcano eruption certainly qualifies as a doomsday scenario. But, humanity might fare better than we think. After all, we’ve already survived one. So, before you purchase a $6,000 pallet of bunker-ready foodstuffs from Costco, read this.
The eruption of Toba, in Indonesia, some 74,000 years ago was immense. The event spewed an estimated 720 cubic miles of rock, ash and magma into the air, and debris has turned up in India, the Arabian Sea and the South China Sea, sometimes more than 1,000 miles away. The ash from the event alone would have been deadly to life nearby, and the sulfur dioxide emitted could have had a powerful temporary cooling effect on the atmosphere. For comparison, the eruption of Mt. Tambora in 1815, much smaller than Toba, led to the “Year Without A Summer,” an especially chilly year that caused crop failures and famine in Europe.
The magnitude of the eruption has led some scientists to theorize that ancient humans may have made it through the event only by the skin of their ancient teeth. They propose that humans living at that time experienced a “population bottleneck,” an event that wipes out nearly all of the living members of a species. Traces of these near-extinction events show up even thousands of years later in our DNA.
It’s a tempting theory, but one that has been called into question multiple times by more recent research. A study of two archaeological sites in South Africa adds even more evidence that the Toba eruption may not have been as devastating to our ancestors as we thought — the inhabitants of these sites made it through just fine, says an international team of researchers.