Salient Rates: Volcanic Eruptions

by / August 2, 2010

Holy shit, volcanoes are awesome. Remember when Mount Ruapehu erupted? And how about that volcano in Iceland with the name that no one can actually pronounce? Turns out there are quite a few volcano geeks around, fostered no doubt by high school geography classes, or perhaps all that sweet news footage of Mount Ruapehu blowing mud and ash and rocks and shit into the air. Given the sheer fucking-shit-up potential that is associated with volcanic eruptions, it seems only appropriate for Salient to rate the best volcanic eruptions in history in an issue that appears somewhat concerned with disasters. Oh and we can use sweet pictures. Yeah.

Krakatoa, Indonesia, 1883 10/10

This eruption was massive: thirteen times more massive than the nuclear bomb that was detonated over Hiroshima, and four times more massive than the biggest nuclear device ever detonated. The eruption could be heard in Perth, and it caused skies to darken across the globe for several years. The eruption also destroyed, like, half of Krakatoa and resulted in global temperatures dropping by as much as 1.2 degrees.

Vulcan, some sort of mythological god 0/10

Vulcan is not actually a volcano. And neither is Herman the Talking Volcano. The latter is a figment of someone’s imagination. But imagine a talking volcano?!

Taupo, New Zealand, c180 CE 7/10

So apparently Lake Taupo isn’t actually a lake. It’s a volcano. A really big one. The last eruption was, like, the biggest eruption the world has seen for 5000 years. Yes, bigger than Krakatoa. So why no ten outta ten for Taupo? Not sure, really. There were no humans in New Zealand at the time, and evidence is based on people digging shit up and looking at layers of rock. Not as exciting as eye witness accounts.

Mount St Helens, USA, 1980 5/10

The Americans always like to blow things out of proportion. Maybe I’ll cut them a bit of slack this time, but really, this is a bit much on ye olde Wikipedia, describing the eruption as “the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States”. Best thing about this eruption was the fact that it blew the side out of the volcano. Destroyed it. Shit got mean fucked up.

Mount Vesuvius, Italy, 79 CE 8/10

One of my all-time favourite historical eruptions. Had the best geek-out time ever at the Pompeii exhibition at Te Papa, complete with 3D movie! The town of Pompeii got buried and forgotten about for a few hundred years, until someone dug up some dirt and accidentally found it in the 16th century. Pompeii itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also, if Vesuvius blows its top in the right direction, and with enough force, Naples could be next.

White Island, New Zealand, it’s erupting all the time 3/10

Okay, so really awesome that you can get on a boat and go to a real-life erupting volcano, but to be honest, you’re not going to see any lava or mud shooting out of craters. It’s a bit tamer than that. But you do get to wear a gas mask, and there is a crater with hot water in it and that’s pretty fucking cool. Not to mention you’re WALKING ON A REAL-LIFE ERUPTING VOLCANO.

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