link to Home Page

Volcanic Disasters

Date: 26. junij 1997 17:26
Subject: Global Effects of the Thera Eruption

Are Volcanic Disasters Overrated?
Acidity signals found in Greenland ice cores and corresponding narrow tree rings have been linked to major climate catastrophes and social upheavals before, during and after the Bronze Age. One of the most thoroughly researched volcanic exlosions detected in both Greenland ice cores and European tree rings occurred around 1628BC and is linked to the eruption of Thera in the Aegean. This natural disaster is of particular interest because it is associated with the collapse of the Minoan civilisation on Crete (and to the Atlantis myth by many scholars). Whilst the link between the actual eruption and the demise of the Minoans is still highly controversial (despite the discovery of a massive tsunamis layer and due to chronological problems), it is unquestionable that the Thera event had a catastrophic effect on a local and (tsunami related) regional level. But what are the ecological and social effects of volcanic eruptions of similar magnitude on a global level? This questions has now been raised by Dr Pyle of Cambridge University. According to his calculations, similar eruptions occur on a much more frequent scale but have much less global effects as currently believed.
Benny J Peiser
D M Pyle: "The global impact of the Minoan eruption of Santorini, Greece."
In: Environmental Geology, 1997, Vol.30, No.1-2, pp.59-61
The Minoan eruption of Santorini was a large-magnitude natural event. However, in terms of scale it ranks smaller in erupted volume and eruptive intensity than the historical eruption of Tambora in 1815 AD, and smaller in sulphur emission and, by inference, climatic effects than both the Tambora and Mt. Pinatubo, 1991, eruptions. Eruption statistics for the past 2000 years indicate that Minoan-size eruptions typically occur at a rate of several per thousand years. Eruptions resulting in a Minoan-scale injection of sulphur to the stratosphere occur far more frequently - at a rate of one or two per century. Inferences of massive sociological, religious and political impacts from such eruptions owe more to mythology than reality.