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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Super Volcanos

   
Author Topic: Super Volcanos
Keeley
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I'm posting this for two reasons:

1) I know some Hatrackers were trying to get together to create something that would raise money for the tsunami victims. After reading the first article I've linked, it makes me realize just how dangerous their situation is over there and how desperately they still need assistance.

2) (and this really is a much smaller reason) I thought the concept of volcanos and super volcanos might spark some story ideas.

Right, then.

First off, Mount Talang (Sumatra) is erupting. More than 20,000 people have been evacuated and scientists are worried that this is just the start of something more. They're saying that the activity is linked to the recent earthquakes, including the one that caused last year's tsunami.

Mount Talang isn't the only volcano that's coming to life in the region. A geophysicist quoted in the Yahoo! article above said that the December quake also woke up Laseur Mt. (part of the same chain as Talang) and the March quake has started activity in Lake Toba.

Now, the reason I mention Lake Toba is because apparently it's a "super volcano". In fact, according to an Australian scientist, it's the largest super volcano in the world. Its last eruption was approximately 73,000 years ago and was large enough to alter the earth's climate.

I'm not saying that it's going to erupt. The scientist makes it clear it could be another 1,000 years before anything happens. I've just never heard of the concept of a super volcano before. It sparked some ideas for a setting's backstory and I thought it might do the same for others.

And for those American factoid junkies out there, we have our own super volcano here in North America. It's called Yellowstone Park (see paragraph 4).


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TaShaJaRo
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There was a program on the National Geographic Channel just this evening that dealt with this. It's called Naked Science: Supervolcano. It aires again June 5th if you missed tonight's episode. I've watched several episodes of Naked Science and it's very interesting. They've had other topics such as Atlantis, giant asteroids, earthquakes, floods, Stonehenge, alien contact, and earth's core.
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Survivor
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Lots of big eruptions alter the planet's climate. I have to admit, 1,000 cubic kilometers (or a trillion cubic meters, which ever way you want to state that) being launched into the sky is certainly enough to bring an end to our current civilization and wipe out most plant and animal life.
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Robyn_Hood
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Not to get overly prophetic or anything, but according to the Bible, God destroyed the world the first time with water. The next time He will destroy it with fire...
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Josh Leone
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Not sure what it was called but there was just recently a "what if" style movie about a Yellowstone eruption, followed by an interview session with scientists. It was pretty frightening. There'd be hundreds of thousands dead. Most of the United States would be rendered an arctic wasteland. Ash would affect climates all over the world. And that's if it wasn't as bad as it could be! I suppose the movie makers had to leave some light at the end of the tunnel. Otherwise, the movie would have been too much of a bummer.

From what I understand, yellowstone has erupted a few times in the distant past. Scientists say we're due for another one soon. But you have to remember that geologists speak in different terms than the rest of us. "Soon" could very well mean within the next ten shousand years.

Josh Leone


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MaryRobinette
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I've been watching Mount St. Helen's up here in the Pacific Northwest. It's not a super-volcano by a long-shot, but I have to say there's something unsettling about a mountain with a plume of steam while biking home.
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EricJamesStone
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This is why Jonah Goldberg began his campaign for airborne-laser volcano lancing.
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Elan
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I, too, am in the Pacific Northwest and remember clearly when Mt. St. Helen blew in 1980. A friend of mine lost his mom and stepdad in the blast. You can't even imagine what it's like unless you've lived through the experience. It's beyond the total destruction of vegetation for miles and miles, or the fact that hundreds of feet of mountain simply disappeared. It's not just the bizarre placement of fallen timber, absolutely straight and parallel to each other, miles and miles of it, end to end, still laying where it fell 25 years ago. It's more than the memory of having to wear a kerchief to cover my nose to prevent the soft, fine ash - falling like snow - from getting into my lungs or eyes and cutting them with the razor sharpness of glass. There is a WEIRDNESS, a twisted energy, that still remains there, a feeling of not-rightness, of shock and disbelief. There was a change to the land that is still present, 25 years later.

For anyone interested in viewing a live volcano, check out the Mt. St. Helen webcam:
http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/
Some days are more intriguing than others, but it's fun to watch the mountain change with the weather and the various states of eruption.

[This message has been edited by Elan (edited April 13, 2005).]


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dpatridge
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it was just all black when i looked at it... try again tomorrow...
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Keeley
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Thanks for the link, Elan. That's gorgeous, the way the clouds are sitting on top of the mountain/volcano.

I was too young to really remember when Mt. St. Helens exploded. But I've seen enough documentaries since then that I know I'll never be able to understand the magnitude of what happened. I think I'd rather face a tornado here in Texas than a volcano.

EJS: I tried Googling "airborne-laser volcano lancing". All I got were some tantalizing (and very funny) references. Do you have a link to the original article? Or is there an original article?

Mary: I had no idea you lived that close to the volcano.

TaSha, Survivor, RH, and Josh: Yeah, it was hard trying to find a website to stick in my post that didn't have "armegeddon.com" or something similar as the url. Personally, I don't think a volcano will end our civilization, but as my mother-in-law says, "Ya nevah know."

From what Elan describes, it would be a horrific way to go. I think I'd rather see humans destroy each other than have the earth destroy us.


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Elan
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I've had friends from back east (and to those of us in Oregon, USA, everything east of Idaho is "back east") tell me they would never live here in the Pacific Northwest because they are afraid of the volcanos. I reply, "Volcanos stay put in one place. You can avoid them. On the other hand, hurricanes and tornados spring out of nowhere and move."

Me, I'll take the volcanos over the whirlwinds!


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MaryRobinette
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I live in Oregon, so there's a big river and a lot of distance between me and Mount St. Helen's, but on a clear day you can see it from Portland.

I'm with Elan on this; volcanoes stay put. Is there any place that doesn't have its regular natural disasters? I mean, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, monsoons, hurricanes...I guess the thing about volcanoes is that some of them have the potential to end the world.


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djvdakota
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For some more recent and better documented effects of a major volcanic eruption, do a bit of research on the Little Ice Age--around 1812.

The culprit volcano was, if I remember rightly, one of those SE Asian killers.


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Keeley
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Dakota: The Wikipedia entry I found didn't mention any significant explosions until around 1815. Not complaining. The Little Ice Age stuff is fascinating. Thanks for pointing it out.

Mary and Elan: It's true that volcanos stay in one spot, but tornados rarely last more than a half hour. And once they're gone, you just have to pick up the debris, get the victims food and housing, and make sure everyone's all right. It's unnerving at best, but it isn't paralyzing in the way that a volcano seems to be.

We had a series of tornados come through Fort Worth and Arlington (FW suburb) a few years ago, all packed in one storm. The early warning system didn't go off, so there were people who had no idea a tornado was on the ground until it was too late. The tallest building in Fort Worth was torn to shreds.

Now, that building has been refurbished and is an apartment complex. Believe it or not, people are moving in. The early warning system got fixed and it's almost like the tornado never happened.

Anyway, just my thoughts. You're right, everyone has their natural disaster to contend with. As twisted as it sounds, I like mine.


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