Icelandic Volcanoes “Just a Taste” of What’s to Come

Monday, June 13, 2011
By Paul Martin

Icelandic volcanoes “just a taste” of what’s to come – Cambridge academic’s warning
Monday, June 13, 2011

If you thought the Icelandic volcano was bad – think again. According to a new study by a Cambridge academic, the recent ash clouds that grounded aircraft and marooned holiday-makers were “just a taste” of what future, bigger eruptions could bring.

A new book, Eruptions that Shook the World, by University of Cambridge volcanologist Dr Clive Oppenheimer and released this week, explores both the nature and history of volcanoes.

It shows how eruptions that we may think of as disastrous for local communities actually had dramatic consequences for the Earth’s climate, and therefore sometimes for societies on the other side of the world.

Volcanic activity, Dr Oppenheimer argues, was at least part of the reason for numerous major events in world history – among them the collapse of Minoan civilisation, medieval bubonic plague, the 19th century prairie trail migrations to the American West; even the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

He said: “There is a lot to learn about volcanoes and they affect our lives in so many ways, even if we don’t live near one.

“The Japanese earthquake, tsunami and knock-on effects at the Fukushima nuclear plant shows that cascading failures can have massive impacts on societies.

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