Experts’ warning over volcanic eruption that could push Europe into darkness this century The deadly eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia sparked what was known as the ‘Year Without Summer’ in 1815 as crops failed and livestock died in much of the Northern Hemisphere – causing the worst famine for hundreds of years. However, academics have warned that the chances of a similar disaster happening in the next 85 years, which could see the Earth flung back into a “pre-civilisation state”, was estimated to be as high as one in 10. Due to dense population, an eruption which killed tens of thousands only two centuries ago would now be “cataclysmic” for today’s population, the authors warned. “Large volcanic eruptions have the potential to impact climate, anthropogenic infrastructure and resource supplies on a global scale,” the panel of geologists, economists and climate scientists from the European Science Foundation have written in a new paper. “Under the present conditions of a global civilisation facing food, water and energy scarcity, the largest eruptions during the Holocene [the most recent geological epoch, which began about 12,000 years ago] would have had major global consequences.” A blast measuring seven on the volcanic explosivity index (VEI 7) – similar to that of the Tambora eruption – has a probability of between five and 10 per cent of happening before the year 2100, the researchers calculated. While an eruption measure eight on the VEI, such as the Toba volcano blast – also in Indoneisa – thought to have halved the world’s population 74,000 years ago, has a much smaller chance of occurring. A disaster on this scale could kill up to a tenth of the people on Earth, but eruptions this size are believed to happen only once every 800,000 years or so, according to the scientists. However, an event similar to the Laki eruption in Iceland that wiped out 23,000 people in 1783 is thought to be more likely to occur. MORE