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Mount Tambora awakens
September 19, 2011 10:09 AM   Subscribe

After nearly 200 years of rest, Mount Tambora is rumbling again and spewing ash. The last eruption of Mount Tambora was in 1815 and at the time was the largest eruption in the world since 180 AD. The massive amount of volcanic ash kicked into the stratosphere (around 160 cubic kilometers of ejecta were released) cooled Earth's temperature by over a degree Fahrenheit and caused "The year without a summer". In comparison, the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens released around 1 cubic kilometer of ejecta.
posted by chakalakasp (48 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
There is nothing like triple-checking a submission, clicking submit, and realizing you misspelled the title.
posted by chakalakasp at 10:10 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


That first link doesn't work for me; here's another in case others are similarly afflicted.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:11 AM on September 19, 2011


So one eruption and we get bicycles, Frankenstein , Mormons, fertilizers, and some Turner paintings?

Not bad.
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


and you know ...food riots
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Historian John D. Post has called this "the last great subsistence crisis in the Western world".

Dear Historians:

Please continue calling things the "last" or "end of" anything, because it totally rules.

Tempted,
Fate
posted by DU at 10:15 AM on September 19, 2011 [26 favorites]


This is all the journalists could come up with? I think we're missing the part where the experts give a breakdown of the seismic data and what they think it means.
posted by crapmatic at 10:18 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Our seismic data indicate that the disruption could be the size of Texas with droughts lasting as long as 10 football fields.
posted by DU at 10:19 AM on September 19, 2011 [17 favorites]


Why do I have the feeling Sumatran coffee is about to get a lot more expensive (again)?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:26 AM on September 19, 2011


It's in Indonesia, for anyone else left hanging.
posted by smackfu at 10:26 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Tambora has erupted a few times since the VEI 7 event in 1815 -- but all were minor, a few VEI 2s and VEI 0s.
posted by eriko at 10:26 AM on September 19, 2011


I visited Sumbawa in 2000. Tambora is a handsome, rugged, dangerous and difficult to get to volcano in the middle of nowhere. Incidentally, this describes a great deal of Indonesia outside of Bali and Java (these are also full of picturesque and dangerous volcanoes, the difference being they are more conveniently located for day trips).
posted by rhymer at 10:36 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love the documentary "Little Ice Age, Big Chill".

Scientists call it the Little Ice Age--but its impact was anything but small. From 1300 to 1850, a period of cataclysmic cold caused havoc. It froze Viking colonists in Greenland, accelerated the Black Death in Europe, decimated the Spanish Armada, and helped trigger the French Revolution. The Little Ice Age reshaped the world in ways that now seem the stuff of fantasy--New York Harbor froze and people walked from Manhattan to Staten Island, Eskimos sailed kayaks as far south as Scotland, and "the year without a summer" saw two feet of snow fell on New England one June and July.

From Wikipedia:

NASA defines the term as a cold period between 1550 AD and 1850 AD and notes three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, each separated by intervals of slight warming.
posted by futz at 10:39 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tambora to Wellington: "You're welcome, asshole!"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:41 AM on September 19, 2011


And nearby, also with ongoing activity, is Krakatoa. So what makes an ELE out of a volcano or two going off ? (The survivalists I run into every now and then have always expressed a real interest in Krakatoa..)


and you know ...food riots
Proceed with plan alpha. Eliminate anything moving.

posted by k5.user at 10:45 AM on September 19, 2011


To be fair, it'll suck for the Sumatran coffee farmers, too.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:53 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


2012
posted by liza at 10:56 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


GOP solution to global warming. Let God take care of it.
posted by mygoditsbob at 11:03 AM on September 19, 2011


"A dragon sleeping inside the crater, that's what we thought. If we made him angry — were disrespectful to nature, say — he'd wake up spitting flames, destroying all of mankind."

Uh-oh. If he was angry about the state of the environment in 1815, that dragon is going to be really pissed this time.
posted by homunculus at 11:03 AM on September 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


I usually hesitate to label things "first world problems" but seriously, when the biggest problem with a world-shaking volcanic eruption in a region is that the price of gourmet coffee might go up due to, you know, the farmers all being killed by lava...that's pretty....un....nice.
posted by DU at 11:08 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Looks like Rasputina is going to have to write a sequel.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:14 AM on September 19, 2011


This is nothing compared to what spews from the Yosemite caldera once every 600,000 years.

It has been 640,000 years since the last.

and it's all out of bubble gum.

USA! USA!

posted by hal9k at 11:14 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


hal9k: You mean "Yellowstone," I think.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:16 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can we discuss the volcano now?
posted by futz at 11:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I usually hesitate to label things "first world problems" but seriously, when the biggest problem with a world-shaking volcanic eruption in a region is that the price of gourmet coffee might go up due to, you know, the farmers all being killed by lava...that's pretty....un....nice.

Well, they're probably not going to be killed by lava because they're all leaving. So the price of Sumatran coffee might be going up whether or not a large volcanic eruption takes place, which the article suggests will probably not be the case due to an insufficiency of pressure.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:58 AM on September 19, 2011


Um....from the linked article:

No one expects a repeat of 1815 just yet — it takes much more than 200 years for that type of huge pressure to build up again, said de Boer, who teaches at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
posted by webhund at 12:01 PM on September 19, 2011


Can we discuss the volcano now?

probably not
posted by ninjew at 12:19 PM on September 19, 2011


I have a couple of friends who work as seismologists for national research institutions (one in Canada, another in France, and another in Japan), and what they like to point out is how little we really know about plate tectonics and the interrelationship between seismic events occurring in different parts of the world.

The earthquakes in Chile, Japan, and New Zealand are all probably interconnected somehow, as is current volcanic activity in Indonesia. As well, things were *relatively* quiet along the Pacific Rim during the 20th century, and we may well be returning to an era of more earthquakes and volcanic activity.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:28 PM on September 19, 2011


St. Helens killed my summer, that's for sure.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:37 PM on September 19, 2011


["First World Problems" as dismissive snark is pretty much not cool. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 12:48 PM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't hate the volcano, hate the geology.
posted by ob at 12:49 PM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


armchair idiot piping up but: does there exist the chance that this will provide a "respite" or whatever during which global warming might be dealt with, that is, getting things under control during the ice age so they can be ok when it is over

also thank you r_n "first world problems" is kind of a fart
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:05 PM on September 19, 2011


Snow into July for the Northeast? I would ditch the "Year without summer" moniker and work on a catchier slogan that highlights the extended ski season.
posted by not_on_display at 1:05 PM on September 19, 2011


A year without summer would be just fine after the one we've just had. I'm pretty sure it lasted three years, already.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:17 PM on September 19, 2011


DU: "Historian John D. Post has called this "the last great subsistence crisis in the Western world".

Dear Historians:

Please continue calling things the "last" or "end of" anything, because it totally rules.

Tempted,
Fate
"

Saying something is the "last" is not the same as saying it is the "last ever".
posted by telstar at 1:32 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


this will provide a "respite" or whatever during which global warming might be dealt with, that is, getting things under control during the ice age so they can be ok when it is over

The big human die off would probably have some positive effect on global warming in the short term.
posted by Mitheral at 1:36 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]



["First World Problems" as dismissive snark is pretty much not cool. ]
posted by restless_nomad


Complaining about coffee prices when there is the risk of a major geological event that could kill hundreds of people is perfectly fine though. Got it.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:38 PM on September 19, 2011


WinnipegDragon, I going to go out on a limb and suggest that it may have been an attempt at black humor. I know it's a mechanism I use to deal with potentially catastrophic events. Should Tambora erupt again in an explosively violent manner akin to the event in 1815... we will all have a new list of "concerns".

Me? I hope it's nothing more than a volcanic belch, then everyone can return home safely.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 2:07 PM on September 19, 2011


I going to go out on a limb and suggest that it may have been an attempt at black humor. I know it's a mechanism I use to deal with potentially catastrophic events.

dingdingding We have a winner!
posted by entropicamericana at 2:11 PM on September 19, 2011


does there exist the chance that this will provide a "respite" or whatever during which global warming might be dealt with, that is, getting things under control during the ice age so they can be ok when it is over

Another armchair idiot here: Probably not, CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries, so after the few years/decades of cooling, warming would resume as usual, as the only way to prevent it would be removing the excess CO2 from the atmosphere and, considering we're not too concerned about that now even with no "ice age" to worry about, it is a safe bet that no one would do anything along those lines. Moreover, given that in the meantime we'll certainly keep emitting more GHG (ie, making things even worse), the cooling would merely give a false sense of security and fodder for denial.
posted by Bangaioh at 2:18 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Moreover, given that in the meantime we'll certainly keep emitting more GHG (ie, making things even worse), the cooling would merely give a false sense of security and fodder for denial."

While continuing the acidification of the oceans
posted by Blasdelb at 2:31 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]



Complaining about coffee prices when there is the risk of a major geological event that could kill hundreds of people is perfectly fine though. Got it.


I've been away from MeFi for at least a year, IIRC. It's kinda startling how much it's changed. "First World Problems" is the kind of response I'd expect to be at the top of a Reddit thread. Probably as an image macro.
posted by chakalakasp at 3:05 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The volcanos are no threat to us today. Xenu's will not return with his nukes. So we got nothing to worry about. I learned this from a real scientologist, so he should know. I mean science duh.
posted by humanfont at 3:12 PM on September 19, 2011


If it comes down to it, I'll swallow and crap out a bunch of coffee beans to maintain the supply of special Kopi Luwak. 50% discount to my Metafilterites.
posted by Renoroc at 3:53 PM on September 19, 2011


To be fair, we in the Third World, specifically people on the other side of the Straits of Malacca, also drink Sumatran coffee, so complaining about a possible rise in Sumatran coffee prices is definitely not a First World problem.

It, however, smacks of entitlement; just because you're being "ironic" doesn't invalidate this.
posted by the cydonian at 10:20 PM on September 19, 2011


2006 story 'Lost Kingdom of Tambora' describes an 1815 village recently unearthed from 10 feet of ash by UofRI scientists. (NatGeo) (2011 story w/photos from excavations)
posted by Twang at 10:56 PM on September 19, 2011


CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries

Decades actually, 30-90 years depending on things like rainfall and deforestation. I think you may be thinking of other greenhouse gasses and/or pollutants like Sulfur Hexaflouride that can remain in the air for a couple thousand years or more and are even more detrimental.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:20 AM on September 20, 2011


i am sorry, i know privilege is real and other people have day-to-day survival troubles that i do not grasp but i have made an opera script to replace "first world problem" with "wiener"

i hope that this is forgivable
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:23 AM on September 20, 2011


Decades actually, 30-90 years depending on things like rainfall and deforestation

No:
What really governs the warming potential is how long the extra CO2 remains in the atmosphere. CO2 is essentially chemically inert in the atmosphere and is only removed by biological uptake and by dissolving into the ocean. Biological uptake (with the exception of fossil fuel formation) is carbon neutral: Every tree that grows will eventually die and decompose, thereby releasing CO2. (Yes, there are maybe some gains to be made from reforestation but they are probably minor compared to fossil fuel releases).

Dissolution of CO2 into the oceans is fast but the problem is that the top of the ocean is “getting full” and the bottleneck is thus the transfer of carbon from surface waters to the deep ocean. This transfer largely occurs by the slow ocean basin circulation and turn over. This turnover takes 500-1000ish years. Therefore a time scale for CO2 warming potential out as far as 500 years is entirely reasonable.

Of course, I'm assuming that massive reforestation won't happen due to my expectation that peak oil & friends will lead to even more cut-down forests (for agriculture/biomass production) rather than the inverse.
posted by Bangaioh at 5:15 PM on September 20, 2011


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