The world needs to do more to prepare for the next huge volcanic eruption, a team of leading scientists says. The devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and the Tōhoku earthquake in Japan in 2011 highlighted some of the worst-case scenarios for natural disasters. But humanity has not had to deal with a cataclysmic volcanic disaster since at least 1815, when the eruption of Tambora in Indonesia killed tens of thousands of people and led to a ‘year without a summer’ in Europe and North America.

Such world-altering blasts rank at 7 or more on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) scale of eruptions, which goes to 8. “The next VEI-7 eruption could occur within our lifetimes, or it could be hundreds of years down the road,” says Chris Newhall, a volcanologist with the Mirisbiris Garden and Nature Center in Santo Domingo, Philippines. But the time to have this discussion is now, he says, so that researchers and government officials can plan and prepare before an emergency strikes. READ MORE