Hu­man­ity lucky not to have been blasted back in time

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - JOHN VON RAD­OWITZ

Hu­man civil­i­sa­tion is lucky to have es­caped a vol­canic su­per-erup­tion pow­er­ful enough to blast us back to the Stone Age, say sci­en­tists.

Re­search sug­gests the av­er­age time be­tween cat­a­clysmic events is much less than pre­vi­ously thought.

Ex­perts now be­lieve the time in­ter­val to be only slightly longer than the age of civil­i­sa­tion, dat­ing from the agri­cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion 12,000 years ago.

Sci­en­tists have shown that su­per-erup­tions, which can blan­ket an en­tire con­ti­nent with vol­canic ash and al­ter the cli­mate on a global scale, would be ca­pa­ble of re­turn­ing hu­man­ity to a pre-civil­i­sa­tion state.

Ac­cord­ing to ge­o­log­i­cal records the two most re­cent su­per-erup­tions oc­curred be­tween 20,000 and 30,000 years ago.

Lead re­searcher Pro­fes­sor Jonathan Rougier, from Bris­tol Univer­sity, said: “On bal­ance, we have been slightly lucky not to ex­pe­ri­ence any su­per-erup­tions since then. But it is im­por­tant to ap­pre­ci­ate that the ab­sence of su­per-erup­tions in the last 20,000 years does not im­ply that one is over­due. Na­ture is not that reg­u­lar.

“We can say that vol­ca­noes are more threat­en­ing to our civil­i­sa­tion than pre­vi­ously thought.”

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