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Eruptions that shook the world

Eruptions that shook the world

  Eruption event Eruption size* Extreme claims made
Eruption Deccan Traps, 65.5 million years ago (India) (11.6) 1.5 million km3 lava Mass extinction (including dinosaurs)
Eruption East African Rift Valley, repeated eruptions over last millions of years 7–8 Migrations of archaic and modern humans
Eruption Toba, 73,000 years ago (Sumatra) 8.8 Severe global climate change and near extinction of Homo sapiens
Eruption Campanian Ignimbrite, 39,300 years ago (Italy) 7.4–7.7 Acceleration of the European Palaeolithic Transition, demise of the Neanderthals
Eruption Mystery eruption, 17,000 years ago ? Extinction of Homo floresiensis (‘the Hobbit’)
Eruption Laacher See, 13,000 years ago (Germany) 6.2 Migration & cultural de-evolution of populations
Eruption Kikai, c. 5480 BCE (Japan) 7 Abandonment of southern Kyushu and cultural replacement
Eruption Witori & Dakataua, repeated eruptions over last thousands of years (Papua New Guinea) 5.8–6.5 Migrations of Lapita people; spectrum of response from adaptation to continuity
Eruption Santorini, c. 1640 BCE (Greece) 7.2 Decline of Minoan civilisation
Eruption Arenal, last thousands of years (Costa Rica) ~4 Adaptation & continuity
Eruption Popocatépetl, c. 50 CE (México) 5.3 Rise of Teotihuacán
Eruption Mystery eruption (?Ilopango), 536 CE 7 (if Ilopango) Justinian plague, fall of Teotihuacán
Eruption Mystery eruption, 1258 CE ?7–8 Famine & pestilence in Europe, religious fervour
Eruption Laki, 1783–4 (Iceland) 6.6 Famine, heat wave, severe cold, flooding, air pollution, crop damage
Eruption Tambora, 1815 (Indonesia) 6.9 Famine, poor harvests, social unrest in Europe, rise of extremism and introduction of social reforms in Europe
Eruption ?Yellowstone, 2XXX (USA) ?8.8 Transfer of human civilisation to a safer place in the solar system...

*A logarithmic scale based on the mass of lava/ash/pumice erupted