A wall of fire has just been discovered on the eastern side of Australia, making this fiery and blazing land one of the world’s longest chain of volcanoes. Approximately 1,243 miles long, this chain spans from northern Hillsborough all the way to the southern island of Tasmania. With such a large discovery of volcanic activity, it is safe to say there will be a possibility of more super volcanoes in the making. With this new discovery, Australia has gotten a little deadlier; its animals are no longer the only things to be worrying about.
Before this discovery, scientists had an understanding that there were four separate volcanic structures across eastern Australia. There were some speculations on where they were located but with lava fields and leucitite (a dark grayish black igneous rock specific to being associated with volcanic minerals), a good portion of the locations were already previously discovered. Through looking at old and new data collected, scientists researching the Australian volcanoes have finally found that these seemingly separate volcanic sites have actually been a place in which the sites are inter-connected.
As of now, the region is classified as a super-chain of volcanoes since the structure of the volcanic activity are from the same vein of the mantle plum. The mantle plum is a source of magma on the boundaries of tectonic plates, seeping through the cracks of the Earth. It has been donned the name of the Cosgrove, supposedly formed between 9 million and 33 million years ago.
While the formation is considered active, the largeness of it does give a varying degree of activity, with some sections extremely susceptible to volcanic eruptions while others are barely even a threat. The multitude of spots on the super-chain are measured by the lithosphere (the outermost shell of the Earth) on the Australian tectonic plate. The parts that are extremely susceptible to actually erupt or produce magma at the surface are the thin sections of the lithosphere. In contrast, the safest parts of the lithosphere would be the thickest parts, where the mantle plume would be too deep to penetrate through the crust.
Super-chains, or volcanic belts as they are also called, usually have formations resembling the Hawaiian Islands. The chain takes a vein from the mantle plum, between the crevices of a tectonic plate, and has a long history with living out their life, becoming extinct, and another volcano coming up from the vein. The discovery of the super-chain in Australia is a big deal since it has opened up new volcanic activity to be studied more closely. With these discoveries comes the need to analyze whether the sites are active or not, and predicting eruption times.
From an apocalyptic or worst-case-scenario standpoint of the super-volcanoes, a world of ash, fire, earthquakes, and tectonic shifts of epic proportions could occur. By definition from the U.S. Geological Survey government website, super-volcanoes are classified by the Volcano Explosively Index (VEI) as having a magnitude 8 eruption where the explosion spans greater than 1,000 cubic kilometers. Some examples of the most destructive super-volcanoes are: The Yellowstone Caldera in Wyoming, The Long Valley Caldera in California, Valles Caldera in New Mexico, Lake Toba in Indonesia, and Taupo Caldera in New Zealand.
The effects of these ever erupting can be catastrophic, devastating the planet on a global level depending on the severity of the volcanic explosion. An eruption is speculated to disrupt the atmosphere of the Earth for many years and the atmosphere would be clouded with dust and chemicals. With so many extra particles in the atmosphere, the Sun would be screened out, drastically changing the weather patterns. Such a change would bring Earth to a long-lasting winter, where plant and animal life would rapidly die out and become extinct.
In the past, there have been studies on the effects of super-volcanoes and what happens if one erupts. One eruption, dating back 74,000 years ago, from the super-volcano dubbed Toba, plummeted the temperatures of the Earth 21 degrees. There was also an estimate by Michael Rampino, a biologist and geologist of New York University, where three-quarters of the Earth’s plant life perished in the aftermath of the explosion in the Northern Hemisphere.
For humans in both Rampino’s study and the estimated survival rate of another volcanic eruption the risk of partial extinction is a possibility. Toba pushed humanity to the edge and a few thousand possibly survived. If one like Yellowstone were to erupt, the states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana would be an immediate death zone from just the lava, the outer states would get the first wave of ash, and the rest of the states would get the second wave of ash. By that point, the world would slowly but surely reflect the same events played out in the eruption of Toba.
New volcanoes and volcanic chains being discovered puts another tally on the chart of predictions of global annihilation. While not every volcano is catastrophic and some others have stopped producing lava millions of years ago, others are ticking time bombs just waiting to erupt in a speculator and destructive manner. Humans are literally sitting ducks for a multitude of life-ending events and Australia just upped the ante.