By Ethan Shea
November is going out with a bang! On Sunday night, the world’s largest active volcano erupted for the first time in 38 years, but don’t worry, this isn’t a sign of the apocalypse.
According to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency, Mauna Loa, the volcano making headlines, poses no immediate threat to local communities. However, there is a risk that volcanic ash and other harmful substances could spread through the air with windy conditions.
Volcanic eruptions aren’t as rare as you think. In fact, according to the United States Geological Survey, there are 50-60 volcanic eruptions on Earth every year. A total of 12 American states have active volcanoes, but the vast majority are in Alaska, which is home to 141 active volcanoes. The state with the second most active volcanoes, California, only has 18.
Three of America’s active volcanoes are supervolcanoes. This means they’re extremely large and that their explosions would have devastating global consequences.
Luckily, none of the world’s supervolcanoes will erupt any time soon. Scientists believe the next supervolcanic eruption will not be for at least another 600,000 years, when Indonesia’s Lake Toba supervolcano is scheduled to explode.
In reality, volcanic eruptions are not always the explosive, cataclysmic events seen in movies. Because lava usually flows slowly, people tend to have sufficient time to evacuate.
Regardless, from Hollywood blockbusters to 17th century music, volcanic eruptions have had major impacts on popular culture. For example, scientists believe Stradivarius violins had incredible build quality during the 17th and 18th centuries because of the Little Ice Age caused by the eruption of the Indonesian volcano Samalas. Trees grew slower in some regions due to colder temperatures, so wood became increasingly dense, and dense wood is perfect for crafting violins.
If you’d like to read more about the recent eruption of Mauna Loa or volcanoes in general, Falvey has your back. To begin, check out this article about the recent Mauna Loa eruption with your complimentary access to the New York Times. You can also find an informative video on supervolcanoes here on Falvey’s website.
Here are a few more resources on volcanoes you can find in Falvey’s Stacks:
Volcanoes: Global Perspectives – John P. Lockwood
Volcanoes: Encounters Through the Ages – D. M. Pyle
Volcanoes: Crucibles of Change – Richard V. Fisher
Volcanoes – Robert & Barbara Decker
Ethan Shea is a graduate student in the English Department at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.