The occurrence of a super-eruption would have severe environmental effects and might threaten global civilisation. This is the assessment of a Geological Society of London working group [Notes 1,2] composed of senior Earth Scientists. The effects of a super-eruption would be comparable to those predicted for the impact of a 1km-diameter asteroid with the Earth. In fact, super-eruptions are 5-10 times more likely to occur than such an impact. The assessment of the working party has been presented to the UK Government’s Natural Hazard Working Group [Note 3].
Many very large volcanoes on the Earth are capable of colossal eruptions with global consequences. Such eruptions are quite frequent on a “geological” timescale, although not one has occurred on Earth in the short time that an interdependent human civilisation has existed. However, our present civilisation depends on global trade and food production, air travel and space-borne communications, all of which could be at considerable risk if a super-eruption occurred.
There may be several super-eruptions large enough to cause a global disaster every 100,000 years. This means super-eruptions are a significant global humanitarian hazard. They occur more frequently than impacts of asteroids and comets of comparable damage potential.
1. Sparks, R S J & Self, S et al., 2005: Super-eruptions: global effects and future threats: Report of a Geological Society of London Working Group. Other authors include: Dr David Pyle (Cambridge University) Dr Clive Oppenheimer (Cambridge University) Dr Hazel Rymer (Open University) and Dr John Grattan (University of Wales, Aberystwyth) Published at: www.geolsoc.org.uk/supereruptions
2. The Geological Society of London is a learned and professional body, of some 9000 Earth scientists with a remit to investigate, interpret, discuss, inform and advise on the nature and processes of the Earth, their practical importance to humanity, and, in the interests of the public, to promote professional excellence. The Society offers advice to Parliament and Government, at individual and corporate levels. Registered Charity No. 210161.
3. The Natural Hazard Working Group (NHWG) has been established under the auspices of Sir David King, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, as an ad hoc advisory group to advise the Prime Minister on the mechanisms that could and should be established for the detection and early warning of physical natural hazards. This group has been established as part of the Government’s Response to the Asian Tsunami disaster. http://www.ost.gov.uk/policy/bodies/nhwg/
Ted Nield | alfa
In times of climate change: What a lake’s colour can tell about its condition
21.09.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?
21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy