In very dry geological terms, volcanoes are vents where lava and steam reach the surface of the Earth. While accurate, that description doesn't begin to do them justice. They have the potential to create significant hazards to communities close to them (as is the case near the Cascades), and the biggest have the potential to impact global climate. The figures can be staggering. For example, the loudest naturally occurring sound was the explosion at the volcano Krakatoa in 1883. The sound was reportedly heard 3,000 miles away. That eruption also generated a tsunami reaching over 40 meters high. To put that in perspective, had tall buildings been in the area, the wave would have reached roughly the tenth floor. In 1815, Mount Tambora erupted, ejecting approximately 200 cubic kilometers of material into the atmosphere. More recently, when the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted in 2022, a huge plume of water vapor was launched into Earth's atmosphere. It was so much water that it would have filled over 55,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Join me for this four-week study group in which we will explore the geology and geophysics of volcanoes and their eruptions. This will include a focus on notable eruptions from history as well as present day hazards.