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Is Toba, Yellowstone's "big sister" about to blow?

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posted on May, 6 2010 @ 07:03 PM
I've just been watching UK Channel 4 TV's "alternative election night" coverage, with a short segment in which comedian Jimmy Carr interviewed physicist Brian Cox on the top 5 things we should really be worried about. One of these was a super-volcanic eruption. We all know about Yellowstone, and I'm sure most of us are aware of the eruption of Lake Toba's caldera 74,000 years ago, the last super-volcano to erupt, and it's effect on the Human population of the earth (see the genetic bottleneck theory). According to Brian Cox he has read recently that the floor of Toba's caldera has risen half a kilometre in the last century. Others are suggesting that the recent seismic activity that caused the boxing day tsunami of 2004 could be associated with a process ending in another eruption of this beast, Yellowstone's "big sister" according to some.

This is news to me, so I have had a look at what's online regarding it. There doesn't seem to be much but here is what I have found. If anybody else finds anything relevant please post it here.

Distribution of magma beneath Toba caldera (2001)

posted on May, 6 2010 @ 07:25 PM
Well, when Toba blows, the best thing we could hope for is survival through humanity. I'm somehow glad weapon possession is something generally not tolerated where I live, after reading The Road. Cormack McCarthy.

posted on May, 6 2010 @ 07:52 PM
reply to post by Spinoza73
Sure, but the person with the gun will make sure his survival is ensured through won't be working for yourself if you can't fight off the man with the gun.

posted on May, 6 2010 @ 07:59 PM
Take the boat, airliners will fail.

That said to all offensive to me, I realise you weren't offensive in any other way than mentioning the power of the man with the gun. Sorry for not keeping up!

[edit on 6-5-2010 by Spinoza73]

posted on May, 7 2010 @ 03:34 AM

Here is an image demonstrating the diffierence in erupted material from Toba and Yellowstone.

I have never researched a subject online and come up with so many 404s. There are plenty of discussions on various fora, but the articles they all link to have been removed, and yet we have eminent physicists talking about uplift and imminent eruptions!? I'm assuming Cox must have seen a published paper, but I don't think it was published online.

Weird. I'm still looking.....

[edit on 7-5-2010 by Karilla]

posted on May, 7 2010 @ 04:41 AM
Is 74,000 years enough time for a super-colossal volcano like this to "reset" itself? I know the Yellowstone eruptions happen on average something like every 600,000+ years (I think we're just about due, give or take a few tens of thousands of years...). Would Toba, having the potential to be even bigger, take longer? I guess it depends on the processes going on underneath.

My hope is that if we get a belch from the thing in the near future, that it would be a much more minor event, and not the full-on kind of eruption that almost killed us all the first time.

[edit on 5/7/2010 by LifeInDeath]

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 05:22 AM
A big quake in Sumatra today, as referenced in the Quake Watch thread.

Significant? I don't know and nobody seems to be looking. There has been recent uplift at the western end of the island in the middle of lake Toba, described in the pdf linked to in the op.

Info on the quake:

According to this report on today's quake there have been many large scale quakes in the area recently. My eye was obviously not on the ball. I'm a bit worried now.

Indonesia rests on a series of fault lines that make the archipelago nation one of the most world’s most earthquake-prone. A quake last year killed more than 1,000 people on Sumatra, but a 7.7 quake last month in the same area caused only minor damage.


[edit on 9-5-2010 by Karilla]

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 12:46 PM

This image shows the intensity of today's quake in Sumatra, and how close it is to Toba, the lake in the bottom right hand corner of the image.

Too close for comfort, IMO.

Excuse the poor translation, but this apt....:

1. Earthquake “The Toba, of North Sumatra”

Toba earthquake is of volcanic earthquakes and classified as the largest earthquake in the history of the earth’s Happening in North Sumatra about 450,000 years ago. Volcanic earthquakes are the result of magma activity, which usually occurs before the volcano erupted. If the higher activeness will cause an explosion that also will cause an earthquake. The earthquake magnitude was estimated about 7-9 MSR.

Embossed effects of this earthquake is the creation of lake toba. The experts think if formerly sumatera a plateau, and lake toba volcanic earthquake occurred due. when there is continuous rain, and the result of volcanic debris that could cause the water is absorbed, so there toba lake like this.


Now this is seriously alarming!

Recent Sumatra earthquakes precursor to probable mega Volcano in 2012 that can end human civilization

According to computer models, somewhere near Toba, along the fault line there may be another super volcano getting ready for eruption. 3.1 mile sinking of Indo-Australian plate under the Euresian Plate in the last 74,000 years has created enough magma for a super volcano.

The recent series of volcanoes in that area have increased the level of alarm. Some of the quakes mistaken as aftershocks were harmonic tremors signifying lava movements. If Toba or along Toba the volcanic eruption take place, it can bring the human civilization to its knees. This has the potential 3000 cubic Kilometer of eruption. That can be so devastating that earth may experience a drop in temperature of 30degrees Fahrenheit for many years. It can actually larger than the one Toba experienced 74,000 years back.

Simultaneous Terrestrial and Solar polar reversal in 2012 accompanied by recent tectonic movement as well as harmonic tremor in the area shows high probability of a mega volcano in 2012 in that area.


[edit on 9-5-2010 by Karilla]

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 01:00 PM
S & F

This has been spoken about on some of the other earthquake threads because it is the 'Mother' to watch.

Good of you to start a new thread about it though, perhaps it is time to keep a closer eye on her, at least for the time being. I hadn't really thought about it last night when that quake hit, but I should have.

There is a monster beneath that lake and yes, the potential for a 'planet killer'. As to how long it would take for another big erruptions, I am not versed enough in the history of Toba to give an educated answer. There are a few posters here though that are, so I'm sure they'll chime in before long.

I DO know that as much as we like to make predictions and tract past history, the nature of these calderas is the unknown factor. We really don't know, and while we know the common warning signs for volcanos, the calderas are NOT the same, so we don't really know for sure what to look for. I would think though that several 7mag+ quakes in a short amount of time to be indicator that we should at least turn our heads and be listening a little more closely to what she is saying!

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 01:19 PM
Thanks, Westcoast!

Here is a research group investigating Toba....

74,000 years ago, a large section of the Indonesian island of Sumatra exploded in one of the biggest volcanic eruptions of the past 2 million years. The global environmental impact of the ash and gas clouds from this ‘super-volcano’ – known as Toba – is considered by some scientists to be the most catastrophic event the human species has ever endured.

But did we face extinction? What happened to the world’s climate? And how did Toba shape human evolution? This website describes the work of an international team of researchers investigating these questions. Using archaeology, genetics, geology, volcanology and climate modeling, this team is unraveling for the first time the full fascinating story behind the Toba super-eruption.


posted on May, 9 2010 @ 01:25 PM
I'll keep an eye out on this super volcano. I was worried about Yellowstone's because I live 500kms away from it. But Toba's with these strong earthquakes around it, I'm now very concerned, and the amount of ash that it could deliver from it's enormous caldera would be devastating, along with Yellowstone's.

S + F

[edit on 9-5-2010 by Shrukin89]

posted on May, 10 2010 @ 02:05 AM
Was this 7.2 quake registered as tectonic or volcanic?
At the depth it occured and at that location It's most likely tectonic and not volcanic. My guess of course.

I am following Toba since 2001 and till now there has been no real signs of eruption there. There have been quakes there, some big ones too, but no effect on Toba. We had appox. one month ago two 5+ quakes at the foot of the caldera(South/South-East) but no signs of an eruption.

Toba is composed of three big separated magma chambers. Those three chambers together have been estimated by one scientist, years ago, to have a volume of 33 000 km3 of magma (it is beleived YS has a reservoir of 25 000 km3). An earthquake could fissure or made one of the walls separating the magma chambers collapse and make the pressure build in one of the chambers but till now no quake around there has done this.

The eruption 72 000-74 000 years ago didn't reach the 1000 km3 erupted magme (VEI 8 = 1000 km3), it was a bit less so in some way it was not a super eruption.

For years scientist beleived and claimed Toba was extinct but that has been also said about Long Valley. None really knows I think.

Toba will probably blow one day. It can by a small, moderate or big eruption. You also have to understand that big volcanos/calderas can produce big eruption but also, and often the case, small eruptions.

Let us all hope we, our children and the children of the children of the ..., won't witness a Super Eruption on the scale some people predict. (VEI 8 3000+ km3 erupted magme)

Hope this helps a bit.

sorry for my English but it is only my third language

posted on May, 10 2010 @ 07:11 AM

Originally posted by Nidwin
Was this 7.2 quake registered as tectonic or volcanic?
At the depth it occured and at that location It's most likely tectonic and not volcanic. My guess of course.

As I understand it, it was registered as tectonic, on the faultline towards the northern end of Sumatra. This faultline runs right next to Toba though, as you can see from the map linked to above. Whether this is tectonic is not definitive though, there must be some doubt because of the lack of aftershocks? The paper linked to in the OP does say that some of the recent quakes in the area are volcanic in nature. There is definitely magma moving down there and at a similar depth to the quake of Sunday.

Toba is composed of three big separated magma chambers. Those three chambers together have been estimated by one scientist, years ago, to have a volume of 33 000 km3 of magma (it is beleived YS has a reservoir of 25 000 km3). An earthquake could fissure or made one of the walls separating the magma chambers collapse and make the pressure build in one of the chambers but till now no quake around there has done this.

I understood from reading the paper above that there are two chambers. Do you have any links to more recent info?

The eruption 72 000-74 000 years ago didn't reach the 1000 km3 erupted magme (VEI 8 = 1000 km3), it was a bit less so in some way it was not a super eruption.

Really? All of the stuff I have read so far says that the YTT eruption 74,000 years ago expelled 2800 cubic kilometres of erupted ash and magma. Look here:

And its most recent eruption, about 75,000 years ago, was in Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8

The Young Toba Tuff has an estimated volume of 2,800 cubic kilometers (km) and was erupted about 74,000 years ago. The Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, erupted at Yellowstone 2.2 million years ago, has a volume of 2,500 cubic km. The Lava Creek Tuff, erupted at Yellowstone 600,000 years ago, has a volume of 1,000 cubic km. The May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens produced 1 cubic km of ash. Not shown in the diagram, is the Fish Canyon Tuff of the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The Fish Canyon Tuff was erupted 27.8 million years ago and has an estimated volume of 3,000 cubic km.

The volume of the youngest eruption is estimated at 2,800 cubic km, making the eruption the largest in the Quaternary. Pyroclastic flows covered an area of at least 20,000 square km. Up to 1200 feet (400 m) of Young Toba Tuff is exposed in the walls of the caldera. On Samosir Island the tuff is more than 1800 feet (600 m) thick. Ash fall from the eruption covers an area of at least 4 million square km (about half the size on the continental United States).


Do you have any links to where you got your erupted magma quantity figures from? Not doubting you, just want as complete a picture as I can get. Thanks, and pleased to meet you,

posted on May, 10 2010 @ 07:27 AM
Here is a very interesing paper on the dispersal of ash from the Young Toba Tuff eruption. Again, estimated erupted material is 2,800 cubic kilometres (670 cubic miles).

Paper by Rose - "Dispersal of ash in the great Toba eruption 75ka"

posted on May, 10 2010 @ 07:56 AM
reply to post by Karilla

in the map, look for medan, the quake epicenter is quite a distance from toba, which is in medan

posted on May, 10 2010 @ 07:58 AM
S & F
Thank you posting this!! I was aware of the EQ activity, but I forgot Toba was around there. We need a Toba watch thread with all the activity going on.
Weird though, last night I was looking up volcanoes and came across Toba. I have to tell you guys, when I saw the photo, I got the chills. My creation, that's one big freakin' volcano!!

posted on May, 10 2010 @ 01:13 PM
well big caldera's have erupted and almost destroyed mankind.

See Santorini for an example. According to the history channel it enveloped most of the earth. It also was the cause of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt.

So we mankind have survived these things before.

posted on May, 10 2010 @ 02:17 PM

Originally posted by dragnet53
So we mankind have survived these things before.

Yes indeed. From arachaeological evidence found both above and below the ash deposit layer from Toba in India it appears that the population there, although probably badly affected by th eruption, did survive with pretty much the same technology.

The genetic bottleneck caused by Toba has been challenged by these recent discoveries. Link

However, these were not the technologically advanced societies we have today. They were populations that relied on hunting and gathering, and were well used to dealing with a cold harsh climate and adapting to their surroundings to survive. Modern man will have a much harder time coping with the after-effects of an eruption of Toba.

Look how much chaos has been caused by the relatively miniscule amount of debris put into the atmosphere by the Icelandic volcano. If Toba or Yellowstone (or Heaven forbid, both) went off you could expect all satellite communications to be effected, a halt to air travel that could last many years, widespread food and water shortages, panic and rioting and also the ugly possibility of resource wars between nations.

I expect millions, possibly many millions, would die as a direct result.

posted on May, 10 2010 @ 11:38 PM
I am wrong about the 72 000 eruption.
It seems I confused the latest Yellow Stone eruption with the latest Toba one. So it was a 2800 km3 eruption at toba

Can't find although the paper where it said there where 3 chambers so I could be wrong there too.

Sorry for the confusion but that was what I remember having read years ago.


posted on Jul, 24 2010 @ 05:10 PM
More earthquake activity close enough to Toba to be of interest.

Here is a very interesting article that argues against the currently accepted model for subduction being the cause of the seismic activity along the Java trench.

An alternative interpretation of Wadati-Benioff zones is therefore that they are primarily thrust/reverse faults. They represent the deformation interface between the subsiding ocean crust and mantle and the sometimes uplifting island arc/continental region, and provide conduits for the release of mantle fluids and seismic and thermal energy. They may have originated as cooling cracks in Precambrian time, but were rejuvenated and assumed their present configuration after deep oceans began to form in the Mesozoic. Deep-sea drilling has revealed that the Pacific Ocean subsided by an average of 4 km during Mesozoic–Cenozoic time. It is also noteworthy that rapid subsidence of the Pacific trenches in the Plio-Pleistocene has gone hand in hand with the rapid uplift of neighboring mountain ranges.

I'm not sure whether this means that the amount of seismic activity in the region would point to a greater influx of magma underneath the resurgent dome, but I think so.

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