The theory of the eruption of the Toba volcano that almost caused the extinction of humanity

Controversial theory, attracting a lot of conflicting opinions about the period when humans were close to extinction.

In the list of 40 largest volcanic eruptions in Earth’s history analyzed and evaluated by scientists, there is one bright spot: the largest eruption in the past 1 million years is very likely to have caused The first inhabitants of the birth of mankind suffered.

It was the Toba disaster, with a scary, hair-raising theory.

The theory of the eruption of the Toba volcano that almost caused the extinction of humanity
Graphic simulation of the eruption of the Toba volcano.

This Toba eruption is real, however, below is a series of theories analyzed by scientists based on the evidence found. There may or may not have been consequential events that followed the Toba eruption .

The Toba supervolcano eruption took place about 75,000 (± 900) years ago, at what is now Lake Toba , in Sumatra, Indonesia. The Toba disaster hypothesis suggests that the eruption caused a volcanic winter – a phenomenon caused by the eruption of volcanic ash.

At the same time, because sulfuric acid and water particles block light coming from outer space, increasing the ability to reflect solar radiation for 6 – 10 years, it takes the Earth 1,000 years to cool down to normal temperature. .

The theory of the eruption of the Toba volcano that almost caused the extinction of humanity
Satellite image of Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia.

The volcanic eruption category (VEI) of this eruption is 8, the highest index on the list of known eruptions. It is the main cause of the 100×30 km wide area in Indonesia. Estimates show that the Toba eruption ejected 2,800km 3 of magma (about 7,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg = 7 trillion tons), with 800km 3 of ash. Geological samples taken from the East Sea show that the number of 2,800km 3 of Toba ejected material is still modest.

The above figures indicate that the Toba eruption was 100 times larger than the largest volcanic eruption in modern history, the eruption of Mount Tambora also in Indonesia, which caused the 1816 “Year without Summer” in the Hemisphere. North. It is estimated that a 15 cm thick ash mass has covered South Asia, spread to the East Sea, to the Indian Ocean.

Biologist Michael R. Rampino and volcanologist Stephen Self suggest that the eruption caused a prolonged “volcanic winter” , which caused the Earth’s surface temperature to drop to about 3-5 degrees Celsius. taken from ice cores in Greenland show that in Earth’s history, there was a period of low temperatures lasting approximately 1,000 years.

The two scientists suggested that the volcanic eruption was responsible for a prolonged “volcanic winter” , they believe that by the time global cooling was already underway, the Toba eruption was already underway. “a drop of water that overflowed the glass” of 75,000 years ago. Volcanic scientist Clive Oppenheimer refuses to accept the “last drop” hypothesis, but agrees that the Toba eruption caused the global climate to cool.

And according to analysis by Alan Robbock, a scientist who has studied nuclear winters, thinks that the Toba eruption did not cause the Earth to enter an glacial phase. But because the eruption was so large, an estimated 6 billion tons of sulfur dioxide went into the atmosphere, Robbock’s computer simulations showed that the Earth cooled by about 15 degrees Celsius over three years, a reduction. Global temperatures persist for decades, making it difficult for life on Earth to continue to exist.

The climate gradually recovered over the next several decades, however Robbock found no link between the Toba eruption and the 1,000-year low temperatures that evidence in the Greenland ice sheet indicates, nor evidence. prove the event “the teardrop overflows” just mentioned.

Although the estimates of scientists differ, they all agree that the Toba eruption threw into the air a huge amount of gas and ash, enough to affect global weather and climate. .

The theory of the eruption of the Toba volcano that almost caused the extinction of humanity
The controversial theory of the Toba eruption almost caused the extinction of Homo sapien, the human ancestor

Researchers have known for a long time that modern humans do not have the same genetic diversity as primates like chimpanzees or gorillas, even though we number in the billions. There is a reason to explain: it is very likely that humanity has experienced a “population bottleneck” event – a large part of the species has been wiped out or has no way to reproduce, causing the number of individuals to be reduced. reduced.

It is suspected that the eruption of the Toba volcano has something to do with this event. According to the Toba disaster hypothesis, between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, the number of individuals dropped to only 3,000 to 10,000. Some scientists believe that the Toba eruption caused the Earth to enter a period of prolonged volcanic winter that depleted food sources.

The theory of the eruption of the Toba volcano that almost caused the extinction of humanity
Volcano St. Helens, before and after the eruption.

This theory is met with a lot of conflicting opinions. Stone tools were found in India lying on top of the ash from the Toba eruption, indicating that Toba did not cause the Homo sapien massacre.

Evidence found in North and South India indicates that volcanic ash has not affected human life too much.

But the forests of South Asia have been severely affected, causing indigenous peoples to find ways to adapt to a new life. The researchers mentioned the possibility that Homo sapiens found a way to survive the terrible Toba eruption, so they were able to develop more, replacing other human races, such as Neaderthals. .

The theory of the eruption of the Toba volcano that almost caused the extinction of humanity
Huge volcanic ash column.

The fact that humans were able to face a catastrophe is truly terrifying to the hairs on the back of his neck. It is possible that Homo sapiens did not survive the hunter-gatherer period, using stone tools to build tall houses, living in a modern society like today. Fortunately, life still finds its own way, still overcomes all disasters that threaten to perish, or at least so far.

Each era faces different disasters: we are facing the danger of waste, the depletion of natural resources, the explosion of population. That’s not to mention the dangers coming from outer space: meteorites, solar storms or even aliens…

That’s why we’re thinking about moving to another planet to live in.