News Stories

It Could Happen Again

Pompeii was the Roman resort town that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 79 AD, which happened so suddenly that people were frozen in their tracks, turned into statues of ash. Now a previously unknown Pompeii-type site has been discovered in Indonesia. This eruption took place about 2,000 years later than Pompeii. Scientists are worried that it could happen again.

Justin Huggler writes in the Independent that the lost Indonesian city on the island of Sumbaw was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. Archeologists have found the remains of a thatched hut with the carbonized bodies of two people inside, but they think that at least 10,000 people were killed.

When Tambora erupted on April 10, 1815, it was so loud that it was heard 1,700 miles away. People felt rumblings from the blast over an area of 1,000 square miles. "The explosion wiped out the language. That's how big it was," says archeologist Haraldur Sigurdsson. There are even footprints preserved in the ash, showing that some people did manage to evacuate the area.

"There was this Bronze-Age eruption about 4,000 years ago, and then 2,000 years ago there was the AD 79 event. It seems that just about every 2,000 years, there's been a major eruption of this scale at Vesuvius," says geologist Michael F. Sheridan, who has studied all of the major eruptions of Vesuvius, going back to the birth of the volcano 25,000 years ago.

Sheridan says that scientists need to make plans in case Vesuvius erupts again, burying Naples, which now has a population of 3 million. Sheridan studies hazards from active volcanoes in Italy, Mexico, Ecuador and around the world and helps plans evacuations. He also works with the US Department of Energy evaluating volcanic hazards at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, which is the planned final repository for all of the United States' nuclear waste.

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

The Mayans predicted the end of the world would come in 2012 because it?s the last date on their calendar. We don't know if their predictions are true, but we do know we need to work hard to reverse the effects of global warming.

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