Volcanoes are not only destructive destroyers!

Some of the most severe crises in the history of life on Earth are linked to massive volcanic events, so called Large Igneous Provinces or LIPs. For the most severe mass-extinction, the end-Permian event ~250 million years ago, the LIP involved is the Siberian Traps, while the end-Triassic event (~200 million yeasr ago) is linked to the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province or CAMP. Even the most well-known mass-extinction event, that which saw the demise of the dinosaurs at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary ~65 million years ago, is temporally linked to a LIP, namely the Deccan Traps in India. Although for the latter event, it is uncertain if we will ever be able to separate the effects of the Deccan Traps on life on Earth from the effects of the extraterrestrial Chixculub impact.

Even so, we are used to look upon volcanic activity as something devastating. Many are the historical reports of death and destruction by volcanic forces: the 1650 BC eruption of Santorini (Thera) in Greece which probably wiped out the Minoan culture, the famous Vesuvius eruption (Italy) in 79 AD which wiped out the Roman cities Pompeji and Herculaneum, or the 1815 AD eruption of Tambora in Indonesia which killed more than 83.000 Indonesians and changed the climate for years to come.

The famous Indonesian volcano Krakatoa had a massive eruption in 1883 releasing 200 megatons of energy!

But geologically speaking volcanoes helped build the land that we live on, and still do. The destructive forces are also constructive, adding new land where nothing was before. Like the new island, formed by volcanic activity in the Red Sea just off the coast of Yemen in December 2011. New crust formed in the Red Sea Rift, where Africa separates from the Arabian Plate…

Check out the images of the new island here!


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