Scientists have numerous theories on how natural disasters will wipe out all people on Earth. The possibilities are scary and sometimes a little too extreme for some. But being prepared does not hurt, especially now that a new report by European scientists claims that a supervolcano eruption that can kill millions may occur in the next 80 years.
Experts from the European Science Foundation (ESF) say that the Earth is undergoing a 300-year period of extreme volcanic activity. Specifically, they predict that the supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming will erupt, causing a global disaster far more calamitous than asteroid crashes and global warming.
The report, entitled "Extreme Geohazards: Reducing the Disaster Risk and Increasing Resilience," analyzes the possible impacts of rare natural events that can significantly affect the world upon occurrence. Such events are said to heighten the stress of the global society to a level that may be hard to sustain.
"Recent large earthquakes have illustrated the extent of the destruction that extreme geohazards can inflict on a modern society, particularly through cascading effects and chains of failure," the authors write [pdf].
More Fatal Than Asteroids, Climate Change And Other Phenomena
Although the paper tackles different forms of geohazards, it emphasizes the impacts of a big volcanic eruption on continuously innovating populations and infrastructures.
After studying natural phenomena such as droughts, tsunamis, wildfires and avalanches, the authors found that these events occur more in the last 2,000 years. With this, nations are better prepared once these events happen again in the future.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for volcanic eruptions. The authors add that volcanic eruptions may result in greater threats than other natural phenomena with similar recurrence rates.
Communication Is Key
The report emphasizes the importance of developing effective dialogue between community stakeholders to address the issue. By establishing firm communication channels, the authors believe that key persons in society can create strong risk management, sustainability plans and disaster risk reduction in the coming decades.
Global Monitoring System
To ensure that things are at bay and impending doom is predicted accurately, the authors suggest the creation of a global monitoring system that can give due warnings.
Model-Based Simulation And Contingency Planning
One of the reasons why supervolcano eruptions will cause tremendous doom is the unpreparedness of governments. The authors highlight the need to assess the possible impacts of major events to provide guidance on what to do in case they occur.
Among the suggestions made by the scientists was to create a model-based simulation of one or more extreme volcanic eruptions that happened during the Holocene period. Such model is said to provide a strong basis for realistic assessment and determination of possible effects and failures.
The authors also suggest coming up with a contingency plan alongside the main strategies to address system weaknesses that could result in cascading effects.
The paper was presented at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly (EGU) in Vienna on April 14, 2015.
Photo: Don Graham | Flickr